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2017 General Election

Elections logo.

Election day for the 2017 New Zealand General Election is Saturday 23 September. The General Election provides a useful context to build students' understanding of Parliament and the voting process. This resource page provides ideas and resources to help you plan programmes of learning around this significant event.

Image sourced from the Electoral Commission website.

Links to The New Zealand Curriculum

By focusing on the General Election and the New Zealand system of government in your curriculum you can explore the values of equity, and community and participation with your students. Conceptual understandings from social sciences can be examined, especially those derived from the identity, culture, and organisation strand:

Social sciences learning area image.

Identity, culture, and organisation – Students learn about society and communities and how they function. They also learn about the diverse cultures and identities of people within those communities and about the effects of these on the participation of groups and individuals.

Students can also develop key competencies as they consider the relationship between local issues and our national system of government, and how they themselves can participate in this system.

Did you know?

  • The first parliamentary elections were held in New Zealand in 1853.
  • Not everyone had the right to vote back then. Women, most Māori men, and a minority of European men were excluded.
  • Over the next 50 years the vote was extended to all and New Zealand became one of the most democratic nations in the world.
  • New Zealand is known as a parliamentary democracy.
  • New Zealanders aged 18 and over can vote for members of Parliament (MPs).
  • Elections are held every three years.
  • Under the mixed member proportional system (MMP), New Zealanders cast two votes – one for a political party, and one for a local MP.
  • The number of seats each party gains in Parliament is determined by how much of the total party vote the party gets. The party which has a majority in the House of Representatives forms the government.
  • Under MMP it is less likely than under ‘first-past-the-post’ that a single party will have a majority. Coalition or minority governments have become usual.
  • Under the 1975 Māori electoral option, Māori can choose whether to vote in a general or a Māori electorate. The number of Māori seats in Parliament can change depending on how many voters opt to be on the Māori electoral roll.

Electoral commission teaching resources

Kids voting programme 
Kids Voting is a chance for your students to take part in this year's general election. Students vote for real candidates, on a real ballot paper, and compare the results of their classrooms' election with the results of the real election.

Your voice, your choice: Have your say
The aim of this Level 3 and Level 4 resource is to encourage students to have a say on the decisions that affect their lives now and in the future. It is based on civics education, which promotes engagement and participation in the democratic process.  It focuses on promoting students' critical thinking and their knowledge of citizens' rights and responsibilities to contribute and participate in decision-making.

Your voice, your choice: Be heard
The focus of these Level 5 teaching units is on connecting the voting system to students’ own lives to deepen their understanding about how New Zealand’s system of government operates. The students will consider the relationship between local issues and our national system of government, and how they themselves can participate in this system.

Your voice, your choice: Tūranga mua, tūranga tika
This secondary resource is aligned with Te Marautanga o Aotearoa - Tikanga-ā-Iwi, and is intended for use in Māori-medium classrooms. By exploring the participation of Māori in decision-making in different environments over time, students will see that Māori have sought and been able to meet their physical, social, environmental and spiritual needs.

Votes for women teaching resource
The Your Voice, Your Choice: Votes for Women teaching resource provides a range of activities designed to develop students’ understanding of the suffragists’ achievement 120 years ago and to encourage voter participation today. The focus of the resource is on the right to participate and engage in the democratic process.

Supporting resources

Understanding New Zealand's Constitution
This resource provides support for social studies teachers to incorporate learning related to understanding our constitution into their social studies programmes. The materials use fact sheets produced for the ‘Constitution Conversation’. It is envisaged that the teaching and learning can be integrated into current classroom programmes. This resource has been developed for level 5 and can be adapted to suit the needs of your students and their particular level. 

Explore Parliament
Explore Parliament resource materials focus on the work of Parliament as well as providing teacher support material and links to the New Zealand curriculum. Two sets are available – a primary set (Years 5-8) and a secondary set (Years 9-10).  Each set contains ten laminated cards and a teacher’s guide.

Te Ara – Institutions of Government
Te Ara provides a good overview of the New Zealand Government including the history of our government, where New Zealand fits in with the rest of the world, and our electoral systems.

New Zealand History Online – Politics and government
New Zealand History Online provides information on elections from the past leading up to the present.

New Zealand History Online – Parliament's people
This section from New Zealand History Online takes a look at the people in New Zealand's Parliament, the Members of Parliament (MPs), staff, spectators, reporters and broadcasters.

New Zealand History Online – Parliament in words and pictures
This section from New Zealand History Online explores Parliament in words and pictures - how the business, buildings, and people of the House have been portrayed in media ranging from cartoons to postcards.

On the democracy road
This teaching and learning sequence from ESOL Online suggests activities to help students learn about the NZ system of government and know how to vote.

Senior secondary guides – Legal studies
This level 6 senior secondary guide has been designed to help teachers create quality teaching and learning programmes around legal concepts and principles which include democracy, government, law, and justice.

Updated on: 13 Mar 2017