- New Zealand introduces anti-nuclear policy.
- Prime Minister David Lange wins the 1985 Oxford Union debate arguing that "nuclear weapons are morally indefensible". A transcript and recording of his speech is available from Public Address.
- Rainbow Warrior sunk in Auckland harbour.
- Royal Commission on the Electoral System established.
- Jim Bolger becomes leader of the National Party.
- New Zealand Party merges with National.
- Royal Commission into the Electoral System recommends referendum on change from First Past the Post (FFP) to Mixed Member Proportional (MMP), but the report is shelved for several years.
- Labour re-elected as government.
- Anti-nuclear legislation passed.
- Māori Language Act passed making Māori an official language of New Zealand.
- Government announces return of Bastion Point to Māori owners.
- Jim Anderton founds New Labour Party.
- David Lange resigns as Prime Minister and is replaced by Geoffrey Palmer.
- Christian Heritage Party (later Christian Heritage New Zealand) launched.
- Dame Catherine Tizard becomes New Zealand’s first woman Governor General.
- Values Party merges with other 'Green' groups to form the Green Party of Aotearoa.
- New Zealand Bill of Rights Act passed, protecting the democratic, civil and legal rights of the individual.
- Mike Moore replaces Geoffrey Palmer as Prime Minister.
- National Party wins election and Jim Bolger becomes Prime Minister.
- Jim Anderton wins Sydenham seat for New Labour.
- Employment Contracts Bill passed.
- Alliance Party formed, consisting of New Labour, Mana Motuhake, Democratic (formerly Social Credit) and the Green Party.
- Indicative referendum rejects FFP (First Past the Post) system for MMP (Mixed Member Proportional), but second referendum required for legislation to proceed.
- Winston Peters forms New Zealand First Party.
- Citizens Initiated Referenda Act passed, allowing a referendum to be held on a subject if sufficient support is gained in a petition.
- National Party wins election, with Alliance and New Zealand First winning two seats each.
- Helen Clark becomes the first woman leader of a major political party when she wins the leadership of the Labour Party.
- Referendum results support introduction of MMP (Mixed Member Proportional) system.
- Taito Phillip Field becomes the first New Zealand member of parliament of Pacific Island descent.
- Chris Carter elected as the first openly gay member of parliament.
- Human Rights Act bans discrimination on 13 different grounds, including race, sex and age, and establishes the office of the Race Relations Conciliator.
- Roger Douglas (ex Labour) and Derek Quigley (ex National) found The Association of Consumers and Taxpayers.
- Supporters of The Association of Consumers and Taxpayers form the ACT New Zealand political party with Richard Prebble as leader.
- Christian Heritage and United New Zealand parties founded.
- 60 general electorates and 5 Māori electorates set for first MMP election.
- Georgina Beyer (formerly George Bertrand) becomes world’s first transsexual mayor when elected mayor of Carterton.