NZ Politics: 1873-1893 – Universal Suffrage


  • Women rate-payers given the right to vote in local body elections.


  • Provincial governments abolished and replaced by local government through county and borough councils.


  • Education Act passed to provide free primary education for every child.
  • Women ‘householders’ (that is, all adult women) given the right to vote in and stand for school committees and education boards.


  • All males over the age of 21 years given the right to vote to elect members of parliament.
  • Term for parliament reduced to three years.


  • First general election held under universal male suffrage.
  • ‘Country quota’ introduced, allowing country electorates to have fewer numbers of voters than city electorates.
  • £10 poll tax imposed on new Chinese arrivals (increased to £100 in 1896).
  • Invasion of Māori village at Parihaka.


  • First election on one-man, one-vote basis (voters no longer able to vote in more than one electorate even if property owned in other electorates).
  • First example of ‘special votes’, allowing a seaman to vote for a candidate in the electorate where he was registered even if he was not in that electorate on polling day.
  • 74 MPs elected.


  • John Ballance becomes premier of New Zealand’s first Liberal government.
  • Also attempts to form first national political organisation in New Zealand.
  • Kate Sheppard founds Women’s Franchise League to fight for votes for women.


  • First Kotahitanga Māori parliament meets.
  • Naturalisation legislation excludes Chinese.


  • Electoral Act introduces major changes in New Zealand politics.
  • Women given the right to vote to elect members of parliament (first country in the world).
  • Māori women win right to vote for members of the Māori Parliament, as well as the general Parliament.
  • James Carroll (Ngati Kahungunu) becomes first Māori to win a general (European) seat.
  • Richard John Seddon becomes Prime Minister.
  • Elizabeth Yates becomes first woman mayor (Onehunga) in the British Empire.


Print this page