New Zealand general election, 1943

New Zealand general election, 1943
New Zealand
24 (Māori) & 25 September (general) 1943

All 80 seats in the New Zealand Parliament
41 seats were needed for a majority
  First party Second party
Leader Peter Fraser Sidney Holland
Party Labour National
Leader since 1940 1940
Leader's seat Wellington Central Christchurch North
Last election 53 seats, 55.8% 25 seats, 40.3%
Seats won 45 34
Seat change Decrease 8 Increase 9
Percentage 47.6% 42.8%
Swing Decrease 8.2% Increase 2.5%

Prime Minister before election

Peter Fraser

Elected Prime Minister

Peter Fraser

The 1943 New Zealand general election was a nationwide vote to determine the shape of the New Zealand Parliament's 27th term. With the onset of World War II, elections were initially postponed, but it was eventually decided to hold a general election in September 1943, around two years after it would normally have occurred. The election saw the governing Labour Party re-elected by a comfortable margin, although the party nevertheless lost considerable ground to the expanding National Party.


The Labour Party had formed its first government after its resounding victory in the 1935 elections and had been re-elected by a substantial margin in the 1938 elections. Michael Joseph Savage, the first Labour Prime Minister, died in 1940; he was replaced by Peter Fraser, who was widely viewed as competent even if he was less popular than Savage. In the same year as Fraser took power, however, the opposition National Party had replaced the ineffectual Adam Hamilton with Sidney Holland, and was beginning to overcome the internal divisions that had plagued Hamilton's time as leader.

As World War II continued, the issues surrounding it naturally came to dominate political debate. Shortages appeared, prompting a certain amount of dissatisfaction with the government. The matter of conscription was also contentious although both Labour and National supported it, many traditional followers of Labour were angry at their party's stance. Many early Labour leaders, including Fraser, had been jailed for opposing conscription in World War I, and were branded hypocrites for later introducing it; Fraser justified his change of position by saying that World War I was a pointless war but that World War II was necessary. A faction of Labour, dissatisfied with the mainstream party's economic and conscription policies, followed dissident MP John A. Lee to his new Democratic Labour Party.

The election

The date for the main 1943 elections was 25 September, a Saturday. Elections to the four Maori electorates were held the day before. 1,021,034 civilians and an uncertain number of serving military personnel were registered to vote special legislation provided voting rights to all serving members of the armed forces regardless of age, and they voted over several days prior to 25 September.[1][2] Among the civilian population, there was a turnout of 82.8%. The number of seats in Parliament was 80, a number that had been fixed since 1902.[1]

There were three minor movements participating with 45 candidates: the People's Movement or Independent People's Group (25), the Real Democracy Movement (17) and the Fighting Forces League (3). However these groups got only 12,867 votes (provisional count: PM or IPG 7,389; RDM 4,421; Others or FFL 1,057 (0.89%, 0.53% & 0.13%).[3] Two of the three Fighting Forces League candidates were also supported by the Real Democracy Movement,[4] which had been formed by the Social Credit Association.

Two seats were uncontested: Awarua and Matarura. Both seats were held for the National Party by serving officers; James Hargest (Awarua) was interned in Switzerland, and Tom Macdonald (Mataura) had just been invalided home.[5] Labour did not contest those two electorates or Nelson where Harry Atmore stood. National did not contest three electorates: Kaipara and Palmerston North where Independent Nationalists stood, or Buller. 1943 was the last general election when some candidates were elected unopposed.[6]

Election results

The leaders of National and Labour, plus the 24 new MPs following the 1943 general election

The 1943 election saw the governing Labour Party retain office by a ten-seat margin, winning forty-five seats to the National Party's thirty-four, with one independent. The popular vote was considerably closer Labour won 47.6%, while National won 42.8%. Holland was stunned by the result, and called for a Commission of Inquiry to look at the servicemens’ vote, but was answered by a report from the Chief Electoral Officer. The Labour vote dropped, particularly in rural areas where the now more prosperous farmers returned to their normal political allegiance. There were strikes by the miners, and resentment at wartime restrictions. Lee’s "Democratic Soldier Labour" party took votes in closely contested seats, and there was a "vast and weird variety of miscellaneous candidates under strange labels". However the forces vote favoured both Labour and Democratic Soldier Labour, see table below. And 22 seats were won on a minority vote. [7]

On the morning of election day, overseas counts from London, Ottawa and the Middle East indicated a majority for Labour, but domestic results coming in during the evening suggested to several government officials and even to Walter Nash thal Labour would lose. By 10.30 pm only 35 of the 80 seats were certain for Labour, with Barclay (Marsden) defeated and even Nordmeyer (Oamaru) uncertain. But with 73,000 servicemens’ votes that came in during the day, Lowry (Otaki), Hodgens (Palmerston North) and Roberts (Wairarapa) scraped in. Over subsequent days with 60,000 special votes plus over 20,000 more servicemens’ votes, both Nordmeyer and Anderton (Eden) also scraped in. Fraser, who had campaigned among the troops, quipped that it was not only North Africa that the Second Division had saved.[8][9] By 7 October, National's lead in four seats had been overturned by the services votes,[10] and by 12 October, it was apparent that the result in six seats (Eden, Nelson, Oamaru, Otaki, Palmerston North and Wairarapa) had been overturned by the services vote.[11]

John A. Lee's new Democratic Labour Party won only 4.3% of the vote, and no seats. Bill Barnard and Colin Scrimgeour were formerly on the Labour left. Barnard had left the Labour Party with John A. Lee but had fallen out with him and left Lee's Democratic Labour Party, standing as an independent. Scrimgeour stood as an independent against Prime Minister Peter Fraser in Wellington Central and polled well, reducing Fraser's majority so that Fraser only sneaked back on a minority vote.

Albert Davy the organiser of the Independent People’s Group (IPG) or People's Movement complained that the election was decided on "strictly party" lines, and said that the effect of the Democratic Labour Party standing was to give six seats to the National Party. [12]

The election was also notable for the defeat of Apirana Ngata a renowned Māori statesman and member for Eastern Maori after 38 years in parliament, by Ratana- Labour candidate Tiaka Omana. Labour now held all four Māori seats and would continue to do so until 1993.

One independent was re-elected: Harry Atmore from Nelson this was the last electoral victory by a candidate not from the major parties until the 1966 election. Atmore had the tactical support of Labour who (as in 1935 and 1938) did not stand a candidate against him, and he generally voted with Labour.[13] The slight margin to National in Nelson on civilian votes was reversed by the service votes.[14]

Party standings

Election results
Party Candidates Votes Percentage Seats won change
Labour 77 447,919 47.56 45 -8
National 77 402,887 42.78 34 +9
Democratic Labour 54 40,443 4.29 0 ±0
People's Movement 25 7,389 0.89 0 ±0
Real Democracy 25 4,421 0.53 0 ±0
(including Harry Atmore, Bill Barnard & Colin Scrimgeour)
38 38,789 3.95 1 -1
Total 291 941,828 80

Votes summary

Popular Vote
Democratic Labour
Parliament seats

Initial MPs

The table below shows the results of the 1943 general election:


 Labour    National    Democratic Labour        Real Democracy  Independent  

[] Electorate results for the New Zealand general election, 1943[15]
Electorate Incumbent Winner Majority Runner up
General electorates
Auckland Central Bill Parry 4,769 W. G. S. Swabey
Auckland East Frederick Schramm 962 H. T. Merritt
Auckland Suburbs Rex Mason 3,028 T. A. Bishop
Auckland West Peter Carr 5,402 J. W. Kealy
Avon Dan Sullivan 4,460 J. N. Clarke
Awarua James Hargest Uncontested
Bay of Islands Charles Wallace Boswell Sidney Walter Smith 1,276 Charles Wallace Boswell
Bay of Plenty Bill Sullivan 1,679 C. Mills
Buller Paddy Webb 4,635 E. W. Nicolaus
Central Otago William Bodkin 2,723 J. Mackay
Christchurch East Mabel Howard 5,537 R. G. Brown
Christchurch North Sidney Holland 2,645 George Manning[16]
Christchurch South Robert Macfarlane 4,416 A. R. Guthrie
Clutha James Roy 1,587 H. K. Edie
Dunedin Central Peter Nielson 2,155 L. J. T. Ireland
Dunedin North James Wright Munro 2,798 A. L. S. Castle
Dunedin South Fred Jones 3,061 D. Murdoch
Dunedin West Gervan McMillan Philip Connolly 1,338 A. S. Falconer
Eden Bill Anderton 14 Wilfred Fortune
Egmont Charles Wilkinson Ernest Corbett 2,422 E. T. Cox
Franklin Jack Massey 3,285 A. Best
Gisborne David William Coleman 572 Harry Barker[17]
Grey Lynn John A. Lee Fred Hackett 6,059 John A. Lee
Hamilton Charles Barrell Frank Finlay 454 Charles Barrell
Hauraki Andrew Sutherland 2,723 E. C. R. N. Robinson
Hawke's Bay Edward Luttrell Cullen 1,636 Eric N. Pryor[18]
Hurunui George Forbes William Gillespie 1,566 J Morgan
Hutt Walter Nash 5,260 J H Hogan
Invercargill William Denham 987 W. Bell
Kaiapoi Morgan Williams 761 W. H. Overton
Kaipara Gordon Coates Clifton Webb 2,800 J. S. Stewart
Lyttelton Terry McCombs 1,374 Edward Bickmore Ellison Taylor[19]
Manawatu John Cobbe Matthew Oram 2,305 William Henry Oliver[nb 1]
Marlborough Edwin Meachen 450 Tom Shand
Marsden James Gillespie Barclay Alfred Murdoch 1,006 James Gillespie Barclay
Masterton John Robertson Garnet Hercules Mackley 494 John Robertson
Mataura Tom Macdonald Uncontested
Mid-Canterbury Mary Grigg Richard Gerard 634 D C Barnes
Motueka Clarence Skinner 301 J R Haldane
Napier Bill Barnard Tommy Armstrong 1,273 M. Spence
Nelson Harry Atmore 191 F. W. Huggins
New Plymouth Frederick Frost Ernest Aderman 1,276 Frederick Frost
Oamaru Arnold Nordmeyer 125 T. R. Beatty
Onehunga Arthur Osborne 3,324 J. Park
Otahuhu Charles Petrie 464 G. Hamilton
Otaki Leonard Lowry 191 Bertie Cooksley
Pahiatua Alfred Ransom Keith Holyoake 1,825 G. A. Hansen
Palmerston North Joe Hodgens 212 A. E. Mansford
Patea Harold Dickie William Sheat 912 A. H. Langslow
Raglan Lee Martin Robert Coulter 108 R. J. Glasgow
Rangitikei Edward Gordon 1,612 R. Freeman
Remuera Bill Endean Ronald Algie 4,183 Martyn Finlay
Riccarton Herbert Kyle Jack Watts 1,322 H. E. Denton
Roskill Arthur Richards 962 Roy McElroy[21]
Rotorua Alexander Moncur Geoffrey Sim 715 Alexander Moncur
Stratford William Polson 2,059 B. Richmond
Tauranga Frederick Doidge 3,625 D. A. Hill
Temuka Jack Acland 1,690 G. A. Harris
Thames Jim Thorn 935 W. A. Clark
Timaru Clyde Carr 1,701 J. S. Satherwaite
Waikato William Goosman 4,615 C. Croall
Waimarino Frank Langstone 1,404 R. O. Montgomerie
Waipawa Cyril Harker 2,091 A. Low
Wairarapa Ben Roberts 151 James Joseph Maher
Waitaki Doug Kidd 821 J. S. Adams
Waitemata Mary Dreaver Henry Thorne Morton 321 Mary Dreaver
Waitomo Walter Broadfoot 1,881 E. A. Waters
Wallace Adam Hamilton 1,607 J. J. Lynch
Wanganui Joseph Cotterill 2,437 E. J. Kirk
Wellington Central Peter Fraser 1,206 Will Appleton
Wellington East Bob Semple 2,588 Leonard Theodor Jacobsen[22]
Wellington North Charles Henry Chapman 1,897 Thomas Hislop
Wellington South Robert McKeen 4,156 Ernest Toop
Wellington Suburbs Harry Ernest Combs 2,581 Bill Veitch
Wellington West Catherine Stewart Charles Bowden 1,183 Catherine Stewart
Westland James O'Brien 2,600 E Frank Chivers[23][24]
Māori electorates
Eastern Maori Apirana Ngata Tiaki Omana 240 Apirana Ngata
Northern Maori Paraire Karaka Paikea Tapihana Paraire Paikea 2,438 E. M. Pou
Southern Maori Eruera Tirikatene 558 J. P. Tikao-Barrett
Western Maori Toko Ratana 3,309 Pei Te Hurinui Jones

Table footnotes:

  1. Father of the historian W. H. Oliver[20]


  1. 1 2 "General elections 1853–2005 - dates & turnout". Elections New Zealand. Retrieved 12 January 2011.
  2. Wood 1996, p. 108.
  3. "Party Support: Results analysed". Papers Past. 27 September 1943.
  4. "Election Today". Papers Past/New Zealand Herald. 25 September 1943.
  5. "To-Morrow's Election". Bay of Plenty Beacon. 7 (9). 24 September 1943. p. 4. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
  6. Wilson 1985, pp. 285–286.
  7. Lipson 2011, p. 218-19.
  8. Atkinson 2003, p. 154.
  9. Bassett 2000, p. ?.
  10. "Turned the Scales: Servicemen's Votes". Papers Past. 7 October 1943.
  11. "Election Result: State of Parties". Papers Past. 12 October 1943.
  12. "On Party Lines: Mr Davys' analysis". Papers Past. 27 September 1943.
  13. Milne 1966, p. 76.
  14. "Big Influence: Service votes". Papers Past. 7 October 1943.
  15. "The General Election, 1943". National Library. 1944. pp. 1–12. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
  16. Sharfe, Jean. "Manning, George". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 17 February 2010.
  17. Milton-Tee, Ann. "Harry Heaton Barker". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
  18. Gustafson 1986, p. 382.
  19. Gustafson 1986, p. 387.
  20. "William Henry Oliver". Auckland War Memorial Museum. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  21. Gustafson 1986, p. 375.
  22. "Public Notices". The Evening Post. CXXXVI (136). 6 December 1943. p. 4. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
  23. "General Election". Auckland Star. LXXIV (203). 27 August 1943. p. 4. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
  24. "Chivers, E Frank, DSM, MID". Torpedo Bay Navy Museum. Retrieved 3 November 2014.


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