What is an electorate?

New Zealand is divided into voting areas called electorates. When you enrol to vote, you’re enrolled in the electorate where you live.

During a general election or a by-election, you vote for a candidate to represent your electorate in Parliament. The candidate who wins the most votes becomes your local member of Parliament.

During a general election, you also vote for the party you want to be in government.

Each electorate has roughly the same number of people

While each electorate has about the same number of people, the geographic size of each area may be different. For example, an electorate in a rural area might take up a larger area of land than an electorate in a city where people live closer together. However, both electorates will still have about the same number of people.

New Zealand has two types of electorates: general and Māori

Everywhere in New Zealand is covered by both a general electorate and a Māori electorate.

New Zealand currently has 65 general electorates and seven Māori electorates. 

Voters of Māori descent can be in a general or Māori electorate

If you’re of Māori descent, you can choose to vote in the Māori electorate where you live or the general electorate. You make this choice when you first enrol to vote. You choose to be on either the Māori roll or the general roll.

You can also change your roll type at any time, except:

  • in the 3 months before a general election
  • in the 3 months before local elections which are held every 3 years
  • before a parliamentary by-election if the change would move you into the electorate where the by-election is being held.

Before 31 March 2023, you could choose which roll to be on when you first enrolled to vote, then could only change roll types during the Māori Electoral Option, which took place every 5 or 6 years.

What is the Māori Electoral Option? 

What does your choice mean for you? 

How to make your choice 

Find your electorate

Each electorate has a boundary showing its area. All you need to find your electorate is your address.

What is my electorate?

The number of electorates and their boundaries can change

The number of electorates and their boundaries are reviewed every 5 years to make sure that the number of people in each electorate is about the same. After a review, the number of electorates and their boundaries can change.

How are electoral boundaries decided?

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