How are electoral boundaries decided?

The Representation Commission reviews and adjusts electorate boundaries after each 5-yearly population census.

The next boundary review will take place before the 2026 General Election.

What is an electorate?

Adjusting electorate boundaries gives all New Zealanders equal representation

Regularly adjusting the electorate boundaries makes sure each electorate has about the same number of people. This gives all New Zealanders equal representation in Parliament.

The Representation Commission uses total populations to adjust boundaries, rather than just registered voters, because members of Parliament represent everyone living in their area, not just those who can register to vote.

Timeline for the next review

Before the boundary review, the Government Statistician at Stats NZ works out how many electorates there should be, and the average populations of those electorates. 

The Electoral Commission provides Stats NZ with the numbers of  Māori  on the general and Māori electoral rolls on 1 April 2024.

Stats NZ uses the results of the 2023 Census and the electoral data to calculate the number of general and Māori electorates for the 2026 General Election. 

There are currently seven Māori electorates and 65 general electorates.

Working out how many electorates there should be

The Representation Commission will then review the names and boundaries of the electorates. Any changes they make will apply for the 2026 General Election. 

Changes to the Māori Electoral Option

Previously the number of Māori on the Māori and general rolls was provided to Stats NZ for the electoral calculations at the end of a 4-month Māori Electoral Option period when Māori could change between the Māori roll or general roll.  

A law change in November 2022 replaced the 4-month Option period with a continuous Option which means people of Māori descent choose which roll to be on when they first enrol, and can then change rolls 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 them into the electorate where the by-election is being held.

The date electoral roll data is supplied to Stats NZ also changed. Generally, the number of Māori electors provided to Stats NZ will be on the day of the census which takes place every five years.  

If the census and general election take place in the same year, as they did in 2023, the data is provided as at 1 April the following year.

What is the Māori Electoral Option? (

What happens in a boundary review?

The Representation Commission has 6 months to:

  • agree on the boundaries and names of the proposed electorates
  • release the proposed boundaries for public consultation
  • consider public submissions and finalise the boundaries
  • publish its report on the final electorate names and boundaries.

What happens in a boundary review?

Who reviews electorate boundaries?

The Representation Commission is an independent body. Public officials and government and opposition appointees make up the Commission.

Who reviews electorate boundaries?

The Representation Commission is not responsible for local council boundary reviews. Local councils and the Local Government Commission are responsible for the review of local council boundaries.

About local government reorganisation (Local Government Commission)

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