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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



The Order of Precedence at State functions in New Zealand is fixed by Her Majesty the Queen on the recommendation of the Governor-General. It is followed at all State functions, and is observed by civic and local authorities and by the Diplomatic Corps. Private citizens should also refer to the Order when inviting any of the officials or dignitaries on the list to a function of a public character. Minor variations so as to accord a more appropriate precedence on a particular State occasion may sometimes be made by the Prime Minister, and the Order is also varied in the case of civic functions, when the mayor or chairman of the local body, as chief citizen and host, takes his place at the head of the list.

Changes are not frequently or lightly made to the permanent Order. In 1947 the three Chiefs of Staff were raised above other public servants, and this was the first change for something over 50 years. Since then certain diplomatic missions in New Zealand have been raised to Embassy status. Ambassadors, together with High Commissioners for Her Majesty's Governments in other parts of the Commonwealth, have been raised above other diplomats.

The Order in New Zealand follows the commonly accepted pattern, though giving less prominence to Church dignitaries, to the Chief Justice, and to the Speaker of the House of Representatives. On the other hand, members of the Executive Council and the Diplomatic Corps occupy relatively higher places. The present list, which was adopted in May 1956, is as follows:

  1. His Excellency the Governor-General, or (whilst acting in place of the Governor-General) the Deputy of the Governor-General or the Officer Administering the Government.

  2. The Prime Minister.

  3. Members of the Executive Council other than the Prime Minister.

  4. Ambassadors and High Commissioners in New Zealand for Her Majesty's Governments elsewhere, according to date of presentation of Letters of Credence or of assumption of duty.

  5. Foreign Ministers and Envoys.*

  6. Privy Councillors.

  7. The Chief Justice.

  8. The Speaker of the House of Representatives.

  9. Puisne Judges.

  10. Members of the House of Representatives.

  11. Former members of the Executive Council entitled to retain the title “Honourable”.

  12. Knights of the various Orders and Knights Bachelor, according to the precedence in the United Kingdom.

  13. Bishops and Heads of New Zealand religious bodies (courtesy).

  14. The Mayor of Auckland, Wellington, Christ-church, or Dunedin, while in his own city (courtesy).

  15. The Chief of the General Staff; the Chief of the Naval Staff; the Chief of the Air Staff (or, in the absence from New Zealand, their deputies) according to date of appointment.

  16. The Chairman, State Services Commission; the Solicitor-General; the Controller and Auditor-General; Permanent Heads of Civil Departments of State; the Clerk of the Executive Council; the Clerk of the House of Representatives and Clerk of Parliaments.

  17. Consuls-General and Consuls of countries without diplomatic representation.

*Chargés d'Affaires will be given precedence immediately after the Foreign Ministers and Envoys.

by Charles Philip Littlejohn, LL.B., Clerk of the Journals and Records, House of Representatives, Wellington.


Charles Philip Littlejohn, LL.B., Clerk of the Journals and Records, House of Representatives, Wellington.