Story: Referendums

The 'anti-smacking' referendum, 2009

The 'anti-smacking' referendum, 2009

This cartoon illustrates the overwhelming 'no' vote in the citizens-initiated referendum on the 'anti-smacking' legislation in August 2009. The referendum was launched in response to an amendment to the Crimes Act in 2007, which had removed the defence of 'reasonable force' for the physical punishment of children. Conducted by a postal ballot in July/August 2009, the referendum asked, 'Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?'. Of the 56% of registered voters who participated, 88% voted 'no'. Opponents of the referendum complained that the wording of the proposition was misleading and ambiguous.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: DCDL-0012157
Cartoon by Alistair Nisbet

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Nigel Roberts, 'Referendums - Citizens-initiated referendums', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 16 August 2022)

Story by Nigel Roberts, published 20 Jun 2012, reviewed & revised 30 Aug 2016, updated 1 Dec 2020