October 2023 | National Party defeats Labour in general election
The conservative National Party defeated the incumbent Labour Party in New Zealand’s 2023 general election on 14 October. Although Labour lost half of its seats and media described the election as a “landslide”, the National Party still needed to secure the support of smaller parties to build a government. Voter turnout was 78 per cent, roughly in line with other recent elections. Official data on gender balance was not yet available due to the pending by-election in the constituency of Port Waikato on 25 November 2023. Some political analysts credited the change in government to voters’ wish to vote out the governing Labour Party, in part over frustration over cost-of-living increases.
August 2023 | Government to introduce pay gap reporting
New Zealand’s government announced it would follow Australia, France, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom in requiring companies to report on their gender pay gap. The rule will initially cover only companies with more than 250 employees, but will be expanded to those with more than 100 employees in four years. The announcement was welcomed but called “overdue” by Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Saunoamaali'i Karanina Sumeo, who cited the need for parliament to draft and pass the relevant legislation and the current lack of reporting on ethnic or disability-related pay gaps, which the government said it is interested in investigating, as an area for necessary improvement.
June 2023 | Independent panel recommends sweeping electoral changes
The Independent Electoral Review Panel examining New Zealand’s electoral law recommended lowering the voting age from 18 to 16, lowering the parliamentary threshold to 3.5 per cent, as well as other changes. The draft recommendations are the result of 58 public meetings and more than 1700 submissions from New Zealand citizens, a process commissioned by former Justice Minister Kris Faafoi in 2022. The expert panel is due to submit its final recommendations to the government in November. Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said there are no plans to hold a referendum to assess public opinion of the changes before general elections in October.
March 2023 | Teachers strike over pay and resources
Most schools were closed on 15 March as 50,000 primary, secondary, and kindergarten teachers walked out after negotiations with the Ministry of Education reached an impasse over what teacher unions argued was a lack of resources to allow teachers to provide quality education to all students and pay rises that did not keep pace with inflation. It was the second time that both primary and secondary teachers went on strike together, and the first to include kindergarten teachers.