The Title “Premier”
In the constitutional debates of 1854 during the first session of the New Zealand Parliament, the term “Prime Minister” was frequently used in a somewhat casual fashion. This explains in part why it was some years before the term “Premier” came into general usage. William Fox, who took office in July 1861, was described in the Gazette as Attorney-General “with first seat in the Ministry”. In November 1864 Weld was gazetted as holding “a seat in the Executive Council and the office of Premier”. Stafford, his successor, in October 1865 was termed “First Minister”. In June 1869, when Fox again headed a Ministry, he was described officially as “Premier and member of the Executive Council.” Thereafter the term “Premier” was regularly used. Nevertheless, in the Schedule of the Civil List Act of 1873, provision was made for the salary of the Leader of the Government “being the Prime Minister”. The first Premier to use the title “Prime Minister” officially was Richard John Seddon. It was used in the New Zealand Year Book of 1900 and the Imperial Conference of 1903 confirmed the practice. A.H.MCL.
|Leader of Ministry||From||To|
|1. Sewell||7 May 1856||20 May 1856|
|2. Fox I||20 May 1856||2 Jun 1856|
|3. Stafford I||2 Jun 1856||12 Jul 1861|
|Fox II||12 Jul 1861||6 Aug 1862|
|4. Domett||6 Aug 1862||30 Oct 1863 (1)|
|5. Whitaker I||30 Oct 1863||24 Nov 1864|
|6. Weld||24 Nov 1864||16 Oct 1865|
|Stafford II||16 Oct 1865||28 Jun 1869|
|Fox III||28 Jun 1869||10 Sep 1872|
|Stafford III||10 Sep 1872||11 Oct 1872|
|7. Waterhouse||11 Oct 1872||3 Mar 1873 (2)|
|Fox IV||3 Mar 1873||8 Apr 1873 (3)|
|8. Vogel I||8 Apr 1873||6 Jul 1875|
|9. Pollen||6 Jul 1875||15 Feb 1876|
|Vogel II||15 Feb 1876||1 Sep 1876|
|10. Atkinson I||1 Sep 1876||13 Sep 1876 (4)|
|Atkinson II||13 Sep 1876||13 Oct 1877|
|11. Grey||13 Oct 1877||8 Oct 1879|
|12. Hall||8 Oct 1879||21 Apr 1882|
|Whitaker II||21 Apr 1882||25 Sep 1883|
|Atkinson III||25 Sep 1883||16 Aug 1884|
|13. Stout I||16 Aug 1884||28 Aug 1884|
|Atkinson IV||28 Aug 1884||3 Sep 1884|
|Stout II||3 Sep 1884||8 Oct 1887|
|Atkinson V||8 Oct 1887||24 Jan 1891|
|14. Ballance||24 Jan 1891||27 Apr 1893 (5)|
|Interregnum||27 Apr 1893||1 May 1893 (6)|
|15. Seddon||1 May 1893||10 Jun 1906|
|Interregnum||10 Jun 1906||21 Jun 1906 (6)|
|16. Hall-Jones||21 Jun 1906||6 Aug 1906 (3)|
|17. Ward I||6 Aug 1906||28 Mar 1912|
|18. Mackenzie||28 Mar 1912||10 Jul 1912|
|19. Massey I||10 Jul 1912||12 Aug 1915|
|Massey II (National)||12 Aug 1915||25 Aug 1919 (7)|
|Massey III||25 Aug 1919||10 May 1925|
|Interregnum||10 May 1925||14 May 1925 (6)|
|20. Bell||14 May 1925||30 May 1925 (8)|
|21. Coates||30 May 1925||10 Dec 1928|
|Ward II||10 Dec 1928||28 May 1930|
|22. Forbes I||28 May 1930||22 Sep 1931|
|Forbes II (Coalition)||22 Sep 1931||6 Dec 1935 (9)|
|23. Savage||6 Dec 1935||27 Mar 1940|
|Interregnum||27 Mar 1940||1 Apr 1940 (6)|
|24. Fraser I||1 Apr 1940||30 Apr 1940 (10)|
|Fraser II||30 Apr 1940||13 Dec 1949|
|War Cabinet||16 Jul 1940||21 Aug 1945 (11)|
|War Administration||30 Jun 1942||2 Oct 1942 (12)|
|25. Holland I||13 Dec 1949||26 Nov 1954 (13)|
|Holland II (reconstructed)||26 Nov 1954||20 Sep 1957|
|26. Holyoake I||20 Sep 1957||12 Dec 1957|
|27. Nash||12 Dec 1957||12 Dec 1960|
|Holyoake II||12 Dec 1960|
Notes to Table of Ministries
(1) Domett was the only Prime Minister to resign mainly because of the adverse action of the Legislative Council.
(2) Prime Minister tendered his resignation after difference with his colleague (Vogel) whom he recommended should succeed him.
(3) As Vogel was in Australia at the time and could not be sworn in, the Governor used his discretionary power to summon a new Premier. He chose Fox, who had been the last Premier of the same party as Waterhouse. He held office until Vogel returned to New Zealand. A similar situation arose in 1906. Ward, Seddon's obvious successor, was overseas; the Governor therefore sent for Hall-Jones, who held office pending Ward's return.
(4) This Ministry contravened the Disqualification Act 1870, and probably had no legal existence. Atkinson therefore resigned and reformed his Ministry.
(5) All Prime Ministers since Ballance have either been elected, or have been confirmed in office, by the party caucus in the House of Representatives. Fox was the first Prime Minister to be elected by caucus.
(6) The interregnum arises because, when the Prime Minister dies, his Ministry ceases to exist; in such cases, however, his successor is appointed on the day of the funeral. In effect, during the interregnum there is a ministry but no Prime Minister.
(7) New Zealand's first real Coalition Ministry, formed of elements of the Reform and Liberal Parties.
(8) Bell was summoned at the end of the interregnum following Massey's death. The Reform caucus asked him to continue in office, but Bell refused on the grounds that he was too old. Caucus thereupon elected Coates to succeed him. Bell's refusal to remain in office had no connection with his membership of the Legislative Council.
(9) Coalition between Forbes's United Party and Coates's Reform Party.
(10) Fraser accepted office following the interregnum, on condition that the Labour caucus approved. When the caucus ratified the Ministry, Fraser resigned formally and was reappointed. Since this caucus the Labour Party has elected its ministers.
(11) Fraser invited two Opposition members to join a War Cabinet. These had no official portfolios, but did have administrative duties. The War Cabinet coordinated New Zealand's war effort while the ordinary Cabinet continued to administer purely domestic affairs.
(12) The War Administration was an expansion of the War Cabinet. More Opposition members were added and were given portfolios connected with the war effort. The Domestic Cabinet continued, and when this arrangement ended the War Cabinet was reconvened.
(13) Following the 1954 election, Holland reconstructed his Ministry. The Prime Minister himself did not resign and thus the change scarcely constitutes a change of ministry; however, the scope of the reconstruction was such that it can be best shown in this manner.