The New Zealand Government
New Zealand is a democratic country in which the Members of Parliament (MPs) are chosen in free and fair elections. Citizens and permanent residents who are aged 18 years and over are required to enrol to vote. Voting is not compulsory.
New Zealand has a single chamber of Parliament which consists of the House of Representatives, which generally has 120 MPs, and the Governor-General (who does not personally attend the House). The House is elected for a maximum three-year term.
Every New Zealand citizen who is enrolled as an elector is eligible to be a candidate for election as an MP.
The Government is accountable to Parliament for its actions and policies. So ministers are answerable to Parliament for their own actions and policies and for the actions and policies of the departments and state agencies for which they are responsible. Most ministers are members of cabinet, which is the main decision-making body of the Government.
New Zealand has an unwritten constitution and is a constitutional monarchy. The Queen of New Zealand, Queen Elizabeth II, is the Head of State. The Queen’s representative in this country is the Governor-General who has all the powers of the Queen in relation to New Zealand.
Although an integral part of the process of government, the Queen and the Governor-General remain politically neutral and do not get involved in the political contest. The Governor-General does play an important constitutional role in the calling of elections, the life of Parliament, and the formation of a Government.
Local government is the system of locally elected members representing their communities and making decisions on their behalf.
Local factors such as geography, the environment, ethnic make-up, economic opportunities and health can be better taken account of by locally elected councils charged with making decisions that affect their communities.
These decisions can relate to the effective and efficient provision of services to meet community needs, to regulation of certain functions, to facilitation of local activities to pursue community goals. In making these decisions, councils have to report to their communities in a clear and accountable way.
Local authorities cannot achieve their objectives alone. They work closely with central government and with other organisations, public bodies, businesses and citizens.