Women, ethnic minorities and local electoral success in Auckland, New Zealand

Main Article Content

Karen Webster
Charles Crothers


This article examines the extent to which Auckland Council candidates and elected members have reflected the diversity of the unitary city’s population since the amalgamation in 2010 of eight former local authorities. The findings confirm that electoral candidates have become more ethnically and gender diverse at the local board level, but city-wide the trend away from New Zealand’s traditional European, male and older local representatives has been less pronounced. Overall the research presents an optimistic picture of post-reform representation in Auckland local democracy. There has been a significant increase in representation of women and Pacific and Asian people. However, the ongoing challenges facing Māori to achieve fair and effective representation in Auckland raise questions about the efficacy of the Local Electoral Act 2001, as the Auckland Council persistently chooses to retain first-past-the-post voting for its electoral system.

Article Details

How to Cite
Webster, K., & Crothers, C. (2022). Women, ethnic minorities and local electoral success in Auckland, New Zealand. Commonwealth Journal of Local Governance, (27), 57-82. https://doi.org/10.5130/cjlg.vi27.8277
Research and Evaluation (peer-reviewed)


AUCKLAND COUNCIL 2018. The Auckland Plan 2050. Auckland: Auckland Council.

AUCKLAND COUNCIL SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC RESEARCH TEAM 2014. Auckland's profile: Initial results of the 2013 Census. In: UNIT, R. I. A. M. (ed.). Auckland: Auckland Council.

CELIS, K. & CHILDS, S. 2012. The substantive representation of women: What to do with conservative claims? Political Studies, 60, 213-225.

CHEN, M. 2015. Superdiversity Stocktake: Implications for business, government and New Zealand. Auckland: Chen Palmer Partners.

CHEN, M. 2017. The diversity matrix. Auckland: Superdiversity Institute.

CHEYNE, C. & COMRIE, M. 2005. Empowerment or encumbrance? Exercising the STV option for local authority elections in New Zealand. Local Government Studies, 31, 185-204.

CHILDS, S. & KROOK, M. L. 2008. Critical mass theory and women's political representation. Political Studies, 56, 725-736.

CHOI, H. & HONG, S. 2021. Linking political and bureaucratic representation: Does minority representation on city councils affect the outcomes of street-level service? Public Administration, 99, 405-421.

CHUA, S. 2016. Culture Matters: How should New Zealand organisations develop intercultural competency? Human Resources, Spring, 8-10.

CONROY, D. 2011. Gendering local government amalgamations. In: PINI, B. & MCDONALD, P. (eds.) Women and representation in local government: International case studies. Abingdon, Axon: Routledge.

CURTIN, J. 2008. Women, political leadership and substantive representation: The case of New Zealand. Parliamentary Affairs, 61, 490-504.

DELBET, M. & WATSON, K. 2017. Capturing hearts: Auckland Council 2016 election campaign. Post Election Research Symposium. Massey University Wellington Campus.

DEPARTMENT OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS. 2013. Local authority election statistics 2013 [Online]. Wellington, New Zealand. Available: https://www.dia.govt.nz/diawebsite.nsf/wpg_URL/Services-Local-Elections-Local-Authority-Election-Statistics-2013?OpenDocument [Accessed 23 April 2015].

DEPARTMENT OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS. 2018. Single Transferable Vote [Online]. Wellington: New Zealand Government. Available: http://www.stv.govt.nz/stv/legislation.htm [Accessed 20 August 2019].

DEPARTMENT OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS. 2021. Review into the future for local government [Online]. Wellington: New Zealand Government. Available: https://www.dia.govt.nz/Future-for-Local-Government-Review#:~:text=a%20local%20government%20system%20that,through%20its%20functions%20and%20processes. [Accessed 19 May 2021].

DEPARTMENT OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS. 2021. Local authority election statistics [Online]. Wellington: New Zealand Government. Available: https://www.dia.govt.nz/Services-Local-Elections-Local-Authority-Election-Statistics-2019#two. [Accessed 13 July 2022].

DOVI, S. 2017. Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy: Political representation [Online]. Stanford: Stanford University. Available: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/political-representation/ [Accessed 3 February 2017].

DRAGE, J. & TREMAINE, M. 2011. Women in New Zealand local government. In: PINI, B. & MCDONALD, P. (eds.) Women and representation in local government: International case studies. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

FARRELL, C. & TITCOMBE, S. 2016. Gender and the experiences of local elected members - a focus on Wales. Local Government Studies, 42, 867-884.

GODFERY, M. 2016. Maori in local government. In: DRAGE, J. & CHEYNE, C. (eds.) Local government in New Zealand: Challenges and Choices. Auckland: Dunmore Publishing.

HAYWARD, J. 2016. Implementing "fair and effective representation": A review of the local electoral option. New Zealand Universities Law Review, 27, 388-401.

HENIG, R. & HENIG, S. 2001. Women and political power: Europe since 1945, London, Routledge.

HUTT, L. 2019. Young +Young Adjacent (U40) Candidates - Local Body 2019 [Online]. Waikato: Louise Hutt. Available: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1kd2jggqMICDjcn4BpUWB3Hbm9ZkA-ttqxNkHuO85QG8/edit?ts=6062814d#gid=0 [Accessed 30 April 2021].

KANTER 1977. Men and Women of the corporation, New York, Basic Books.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT NEW ZEALAND 2019. New Zealand's elected members: a profile. Wellington: Local Government New Zealand.

MCGREGOR, J., BELL, S. & WILSON, M. 2015. Fault lines: Human rights in New Zealand. Wellington: Law Foundation Te Manatū a Ture o Aotearoa.

MCGREGOR, J. & WEBSTER, K. 2017. Women's local government representation in Auckland - does size matter? Commonwealth Journal of Local Governance, 20.

MINTA, M. D. 2012. Gender, race, ethnicity and political representation in the United States. Politics & Gender, 8, 541-547.

NAKHID, C. 2016. Ethnic Communities' Perspectives of an Ethnic Advisory Panel in Local Government - A Case Study of Auckland. Representation, 52, 81-98.

NIALL, T. & KEOGH, B. 2019. Young candidates' secret Facebook page as they unite for local elections. Stuff, 22 July.

NZ STATS TATAURANGA AOTEAROA 2018. More women are over 30, and more men are under 30. Wellington: New Zealand Government.

NZ STATS TATAURANGA AOTEAROA. 2020. Auckland region [Online]. Wellington: New Zealand Government. Available: https://www.stats.govt.nz/tools/2018-census-place-summaries/auckland-region#population-and-dwellings [Accessed 18 December 2020].

PHILLIPS, A. 1995. The politics of presence, Oxford, Clarendon Press.

PINI, B. & MCDONALD, P. 2004. A good job for a women: The myth of local government as family friendly. Local Governance, 30, 144-151.

PINI, B. & MCDONALD, P. (eds.) 2011. Women and representation in local government: International case studies, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

PITKIN, H. 1967. The concept of representation, Berkeley, University of California Press.

RALLINGS, C., THRASHER, M., BORISYUK, G. & M., S. 2010. Parties Recruitment and Modernisation: Evidence from Local Election Candidates. Local Government Studies, 46, 19-35.

RAO, N. 1998. Representation in local politics: A reconsideration and some new evidence. Political Studies, XLVI, 19-35.

RAO, N. 2000. Representation and community in western democracies, London, MacMillan.

ROSEN, J. 2017. Gender quotas for women in politics: A comparative analysis across development thresholds. Social Science research, 66, 82-110.

SALMON, P., BAZLEY, M. & SHAND, D. 2009. Report of the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance. Auckland: Royal Commission on Auckland Governance.

SHIRLEY, I., MOLINEAUX, J., SHAND, D., JACKSON, N., DUNCAN, G. & LEWIS, N. 2016. The governance of Auckland five years on. AUT Policy Observatory: AUT Policy Observatory.

SPOONLEY, P. 2015. New diversity, old anxieties in New Zealand: The complex identity politics and engagement of a settler society. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 38, 650-661.

STATISTICS NEW ZEALAND. 2013. Census 2013 [Online]. Wellington: Statistics New Zealand. Available: http://nzdotstat.stats.govt.nz/wbos/Index.aspx [Accessed 7 August 2015].

STATISTICS NEW ZEALAND. 2019. Ethnic population projections: issues and trends [Online]. Wellington: New Zealand Government. Available: http://archive.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/population/estimates_and_projections/ethnic-pop-projections-issues-and-trends.aspx [Accessed 20 August 2019].

STATS NZ, T. A. 2017. Subnational Ethnic Population Projections: 2013(base)-2038 update - tables [Online]. Wellington: New Zealand Government. Available: http://archive.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/population/estimates_and_projections/SubnationalEthnicPopulationProjections_HOTP13base-2038update.aspx [Accessed 26 July 2018].

STATS NZ, T. A. 2018. Census. Wellington: New Zealand Government.

STATS NZ, T. A. 2019a. Auckland Region [Online]. Wellington: New Zealand Government. Available: https://www.stats.govt.nz/tools/2018-census-place-summaries/auckland-region [Accessed 27 January 2021].

STATS NZ, T. A. 2019b. New Zealand's population reflects growing diversity [Online]. Wellington: New Zealand Government. Available: https://www.stats.govt.nz/news/new-zealands-population-reflects-growing-diversity [Accessed 17 December 2020].

STATS NZ, n.d. NZ Social Indicators: Female representation in parliament and local government [Online]. Wellington: New Zealand Government. Available: http://archive.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/snapshots-of-nz/nz-social-indicators/Home/Trust%20and%20participation%20in%20government/female-rep-parl-local-govt.aspx [Accessed 12 July 2018].

STEVENS, A. 2007. Women, power and politics, Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, Palgrave McMillan.

THOMSON, R. 2018. PM Jacinda Ardern gives birth to baby girl. New Zealand herald, 21 June.

TREMAINE, M. 2000. Women mayors say what it takes to lead: setting theory against lived experience. Women in management review [Online], 15. https://doi.org/10.1108/09649420010372869

TREVETT, C. 2017. Stardust victory: The incredible rise of Jacinda Ardern New Zealand Herald.

VERTOVEC, S. 2007. New complexities of cohesion in Britain: Super-diversity, transnationalisn and civil integration. Commission on Integration and Cohesion.

WEBSTER, K. 2014. Social capital and voter turnout: The case of the Auckland Supercity Journal of African and Asian Local Government Studies, 3, 1-24.

WEBSTER, K. L. 2011. Te Ao Maori in local government. In: DRAGE, J., MCNEILL, J. & CHEYNE, C. (eds.) Along a faultline: New Zealand's changing local government landscape. Wellington: Dunmore Publishing.

WEBSTER, K. L. & FA'APOI, E. 2017. Political representation on the new Auckland Council - Has amalgamation led to greater diversity? Australian Journal of Public Administration, 77.