MMP in bold letters with a tick either side

Electoral remix: adoption of MMP in New Zealand

Tuesday 12 October 2021 marks the 25th anniversary of New Zealand’s first Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) general election.

Steps to adopt this new system originated in 1986, when growing dissatisfaction with the first-past-the-post system led to a Royal Commission investigation into electoral reform.

The Commission’s report, submitted in December of that year, put forward four key recommendations:

  • Adopt a proportional representation system
  • Increase the number of MPs from 99 to 120
  • Abolish the Māori seats
  • Increase the term of office to four years.

Much debate followed, and although not all recommendations were accepted, the proposal to switch electoral systems was put to an indicative public referendum in 1992. A second binding referendum was then included as part of the 1993 general election. The results clearly showed change was desired, and that MMP would be the system for the future.

TV and Radio playlist

Media Services have compiled a selection of televised debates and broadcast coverage leading up to and including this historic event.

Watch the playlist

Media Services, Cultural Collections 

Further reading

New Zealand. Royal Commission on the Electoral System. (1986). Towards a better democracy : Report of the Royal Commission on the Electoral System. (Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives of New Zealand ; H. 3). Wellington, N.Z.: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer.