1975 New Zealand general election

← 1972 29 November 1975 (1975-11-29) 1978 →

All 87 seats for New Zealand House of Representatives
44 seats were needed for a majority
  First party Second party
Leader Robert Muldoon Bill Rowling
Party National Labour
Leader since 9 July 1974 6 September 1974
Leader's seat Tamaki Tasman
Last election 32 seats, 41.5% 55 seats, 48.4%
Seats won 55 32
Seat change Increase 23 Decrease 23
Popular vote 763,136 634,453
Percentage 47.6% 39.6%
Swing Increase 6.1% Decrease 8.8%

Results of the election.

Prime Minister before election

Bill Rowling

Elected Prime Minister

Robert Muldoon

The 1975 New Zealand general election was held on 29 November to elect MPs to the 38th session of the New Zealand Parliament. It was the first general election in New Zealand where 18- to 20-year-olds[1] and all permanent residents of New Zealand were eligible to vote, although only citizens were able to be elected.


The incumbent Labour Party, following the sudden death of Labour leader Norman Kirk, was led by Bill Rowling, a leader who was characterised as being weak and ineffectual by some political commentators. Labour's central campaign was the so-called "Citizens for Rowling" petition which attacked National leader Robert Muldoon's forthright leadership style. This campaign was largely seen as having backfired on Labour.

The National Party responded with the formation of "Rob's Mob". As former Minister of Finance in the previous National government, Muldoon focused on the economic impact of Labour's policies; National's campaign advertising suggested that Labour's recently introduced compulsory personal superannuation scheme would result in the government owning the New Zealand economy by using the worker's money, akin to a communist state. Muldoon argued that his New Zealand superannuation scheme could be funded from future taxes rather than an additional tax on current wages.

In July 1974, Muldoon as opposition leader had promised to cut immigration and to "get tough" on law and order issues. He criticized the Labour government's immigration policies for contributing to the economic recession and a housing shortage which undermined the New Zealand "way of life."

During the 1975 general elections, the National Party had also played an electoral advertisement that was later criticized for stoking negative racial sentiments about Polynesian migrants.[2]

The campaign also achieved notoriety due to an infamous television commercial featuring "Dancing Cossacks", which was produced by Hanna Barbera on behalf of National's ad agency Colenso.[3]

A consummate orator and a skilled television performer, Muldoon's powerful presence on screen increased his popularity with voters.[4]

MPs retiring in 1975

Four National MPs and Three Labour MPs intended to retire at the end of the 37th Parliament.

Party Name Electorate
National Percy Allen Bay of Plenty
Logan Sloane Hobson
Jack Marshall Karori
Douglas Carter Raglan
Labour Norman Douglas Auckland Central
Ethel McMillan Dunedin North
Hugh Watt Onehunga

Opinion polling


Poll Date[nb 1] National Labour Social Credit Values Lead
1975 election result 29 Nov 1975 47.59 39.56 7.43 5.19 8.03
NRB Nov 1975 46 44 6 4 2
TVNZ Heylen Nov 1975 44 43 7 5 1
NRB Sep 1975 52 39 5 4 13
TVNZ Heylen Sep 1975 51 42 5 3 9
TVNZ Heylen Jul 1975 50 42 5 3 8
TVNZ Heylen May 1975 49 42 5 4 7
NRB Mar 1975 46 42 6 6 4
TVNZ Heylen Feb 1975 48 46 5 2 2
NRB Nov 1974 44 44 7 4 Tie
TVNZ Heylen Sep 1974 45 47 5 3 2
NRB May 1974 44 44 5 5 Tie


Celebrating on election night
Celebrating on election night

The final results saw National won 55 seats, and Labour 32 seats. Thus Robert Muldoon replaced Bill Rowling as Prime Minister, ending the term of the Third Labour government, and beginning the term of the Third National government. The party seat numbers were an exact opposite of the 1972 election. No minor parties won seats, though the election saw the best ever result for New Zealand's first green political party, Values. There were 1,953,050 electors on the roll, with 1,603,733 (82.11%) voting.

While Muldoon would be re-elected twice, this would be the only time between 1969 and 1990 that National polled more votes than Labour.

Notable electorate results included the election of two Māori MPs to general seats; the first time that any Māori had been elected to a non-Māori electorate since James Carroll in 1893. The MPs in question were Ben Couch in Wairarapa and Rex Austin in Awarua.

In Palmerston North and Western Hutt, Labour was first on election night but lost when special votes were counted.

Party Candidates Total votes Percentage Seats won Change
National 87 763,136 47.59 55 +23
Labour 87 634,453 39.56 32 -23
Social Credit 87 119,147 7.43 0 ±0
Values 87 83,241 5.19 0 ±0
Socialist Unity 15 408 0.03 0 ±0
Independent 67 3,756 0.23 0 ±0
Total 415 1,603,733 87

Votes summary

Popular Vote
Social Credit
Parliament seats

The table below shows the results of the 1975 general election:


 National    Labour    Social Credit  

Electorate results for the 1975 New Zealand general election[7]
Electorate Incumbent Winner Majority Runner up
General electorates
Auckland Central Norman Douglas Richard Prebble 289 Murray McCully
Avon Mary Batchelor 5,503 Tom George
Awarua Aubrey Begg Rex Austin 2,150 Aubrey Begg
Bay of Plenty Percy Allen Duncan MacIntyre 3,960 Robert Frederick McKee
Birkenhead Norman King Jim McLay 2,816 Norman King
Christchurch Central Bruce Barclay 2,973 T G B Armitage
Clutha Peter Gordon 4,735 F A O'Connell
Coromandel Leo Schultz 4,724 Raymond C. Bradley
Dunedin Central Brian MacDonell 1,428 A R Bright
Dunedin North Ethel McMillan Richard Walls 958 Brian Arnold
East Coast Bays Frank Gill 5,594 Rex Stanton
Eden Mike Moore Aussie Malcolm 1,331 Mike Moore
Egmont Venn Young 4,120 Dennis Duggan
Franklin Bill Birch 7,605 Ron Ng-Waishing
Gisborne Trevor Davey Bob Bell 1,321 Trevor Davey
Grey Lynn Eddie Isbey 2,839 Jens Meder
Hamilton East Rufus Rogers Ian Shearer 2,246 Rufus Rogers
Hamilton West Dorothy Jelicich Mike Minogue 2,069 Dorothy Jelicich
Hastings Richard Mayson Bob Fenton 491 Richard Mayson
Hawkes Bay Richard Harrison 3,805 David Butcher
Henderson Martyn Finlay 401 Warren Adams
Heretaunga Ron Bailey 336 Julie Cameron[8]
Hobson Logan Sloane Neill Austin 4,101 Howard Manning[nb 2]
Hutt Trevor Young 1,019 Brett Newell
Invercargill J. B. Munro Norman Jones 2,533 J. B. Munro
Island Bay Gerald O'Brien 1,274 Bill Nathan
Kapiti Frank O'Flynn Barry Brill 2,222 Frank O'Flynn
Karori Jack Marshall Hugh Templeton 4,830 Margaret Shields
King Country Jim Bolger 4,316 Thomas Varnam
Lyttelton Tom McGuigan Colleen Dewe 999 Tom McGuigan
Manawatu Allan McCready 2,918 Alan Charles Eyles
Mangere Colin Moyle 1,604 Stanley Lawson
Manukau Roger Douglas 678 Brian Leaming
Manurewa Phil Amos Merv Wellington 1,358 Phil Amos
Marlborough Ian Brooks Edward Latter 3,010 Ian Brooks
Miramar Bill Young 1,749 John Wybrow
Mt Albert Warren Freer 247 Frank Ryan
Napier Gordon Christie 931 J K W Isles
Nelson Stanley Whitehead 1,093 Ian McWhannel
New Lynn Jonathan Hunt 890 Barry O'Connor
New Plymouth Ron Barclay Tony Friedlander 1,935 Ron Barclay
North Shore George Gair 5,247 Wyn Hoadley
Oamaru Bill Laney Jonathan Elworthy 2,196 Bill Laney
Onehunga Hugh Watt Frank Rogers 1,044 Kevin O'Brien
Otago Central Ian Quigley Warren Cooper 2,371 Ian Quigley
Otahuhu Bob Tizard 3,785 Lois Morris
Pahiatua Keith Holyoake 6,769 P R Thornicroft
Pakuranga Gavin Downie 7,016 Geoff Braybrooke
Palmerston North Joe Walding John Lithgow 142 Joe Walding
Papanui Bert Walker 2,985 Rod Garden
Petone Fraser Colman 2,834 Brel Gluyas
Piako Jack Luxton 6,174 Helen Clark
Porirua Gerry Wall 2,265 Ross Doughty
Raglan Douglas Carter Marilyn Waring 3,756 Bill Pickering
Rakaia Colin McLachlan 5,237 Graeme Lowrie
Rangiora Kerry Burke Derek Quigley 1,386 Kerry Burke
Rangitikei Roy Jack 1,756 Bruce Beetham
Remuera Allan Highet 8,656 G B Mead
Riccarton Eric Holland 4,766 D A Johnson
Rodney Peter Wilkinson 7,817 John Prebble
Roskill Arthur Faulkner 530 John Maurice Priestley[9]
Rotorua Harry Lapwood 3,605 Peter Tapsell
Ruahine Les Gandar 2,763 Rex Willing
St Albans Roger Drayton 1,570 Prudence Rotherberg
St Kilda Bill Fraser 1,890 Gordon Heslop
South Canterbury Rob Talbot 4,301 N B Lambert
Stratford David Thomson 5,667 P P Hopkins
Sydenham John Kirk 3,817 Paul Matheson
Tamaki Robert Muldoon 6,735 Tim Kaye
Tasman Bill Rowling 529 Peter Malone
Taupo Jack Ridley Ray La Varis 1,614 Jack Ridley
Tauranga Keith Allen 4,843 Richard Hendry
Timaru Sir Basil Arthur 1,011 Dave Walker
Waikato Lance Adams-Schneider 7,073 Brian West
Wairarapa Jack Williams Ben Couch 1,468 Jack Williams
Waitemata Michael Bassett Dail Jones 1,385 Michael Bassett
Wallace Brian Talboys 6,978 Ian Lamont
Wanganui Russell Marshall 1,244 J G Rowan
Wellington Central Ken Comber 1,076 David Shand
West Coast Paddy Blanchfield 2,401 Barry Dallas
Western Hutt Henry May Bill Lambert 109 Henry May[nb 3]
Whangarei Murray Smith John Elliott 2,710 Murray Smith
Wigram Mick Connelly 1,967 Neil Russell
Māori electorates
Eastern Maori Paraone Reweti 6,261 Monty Searancke
Northern Maori Matiu Rata 4,151 Winston Peters
Southern Maori Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan 6,452 Willard Amaru
Western Maori Koro Wētere 8,925 Emerson Studholme Rangi

Table footnotes:

  1. ^ These are the survey dates of the poll, or if the survey dates are not stated, the date the poll was released.
  2. ^ David Lange came third for Labour in Hobson
  3. ^ Henry May was first on election night, but lost when special votes were included


  1. ^ Levine & Lodge 1976, p. ?.
  2. ^ National Party advertisement (documentary). TVNZ Television New Zealand, Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. 1975.
  3. ^ "Dancing Cossacks political TV ad". Ministry for Culture and Heritage. 23 August 2013. Retrieved 3 February 2014.
  4. ^ Atkinson 2003, pp. 188f.
  5. ^ "Historical Pollling Data 1974–2021". Patrick Leyland. Retrieved 31 July 2021.
  6. ^ Calderwood, David (2010). Not a Fair Go: A History and Analysis of Social Credit's Struggle for Success in New Zealand's Electoral System (PDF) (MA). University of Waikato. Retrieved 27 September 2021.
  7. ^ Norton 1988, pp. ?.
  8. ^ Gustafson 1986, p. 358.
  9. ^ Gustafson 1986, p. 382.