New Zealand: Government

New Zealand Flag
Coat of Arms of New Zealand

Key Figures

Chief of State: Queen Elizabeth II

Head of Government: Prime Minister John Key


Government Name: New Zealand

Constitution: Adopted: 1987; Consists of a collection of statutes. No supreme document or supreme law in the constitution, and the constitution is not elevated above any other law.

Government Type: Parliamentary Democracy and a Commonwealth Realm

Main Powers Election Process Election Cycle Source: ElectionGuide,

Monarch has formal role in executive, but also in charge of formation and dismissal of governments. Governor-general acts as the monarch's vice-regal representative, has a ceremonial role in terms of traveling to attend conferences, and summons or dissolves parliament. The prime minister sets cabinet agenda, as well as appoints and dismisses ministers.

Monarch is hereditary, governor-general is appointed by the monarch, and prime minister is appointed by the governor-general.

Governor-General & Prime Minister: At Her Majesty's discretion


Acts as the highest court and the court of last resort for New Zealand.

Appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Attorney-General.

Life appointment


House of Representatives serves as the sole house in parliament and proposes bills to later become laws. They become Acts after being approved three times by house votes and then receiving the Royal Assent from the Governor-General.

Elections are by the Mixed Member Proportional electoral system (MMP).

3 years

International Relations

Foreign Policy Trends: New Zealand's foreign policy is oriented chiefly toward developed democratic nations and emerging Pacific economies. The country's major political parties have generally agreed on the broad outlines of foreign policy, and the current coalition government has been active in multilateral fora on issues of recurring interest to New Zealand--trade liberalization, environment, and arms control. New Zealand values its long-term relationship with the United Nations and values the organization as a mechanism to promote and protect its interests. It is a vocal supporter of the principles of the UN Charter, is very active in UN fora, and regularly contributes to UN peacekeeping missions. New Zealand's economic involvement with Asia has become increasingly important through expanding trade with the growing economies of Asia. New Zealand is a "dialogue partner" with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and an active participant in APEC.

Regional Trade Blocs: APEC

Treaties: No multilateral military treaties

Tax Authority: Inland Revenue & New Zealand Customs

Tax Name: GST


CIA World Factbook and U.S. Bilateral Relations Fact Sheets except where stated otherwise.