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New Zealand - Constitution Act 1986 Index Page Document Table of Contents

    { Adopted on: 1 Jan 1987 }
    { In force since: 1 Jan 1987 }
    { ICL Document Status: 3 Aug 1999 }

    { Editor's Note:
    The consolidated ICL edition does not contain the schedules or references to old law, but includes changes by the Constitution Amendment Act 1987.  Furthermore, the Constitution Amendment Act 1999 (3 Aug 1999) has been included into this ICL edition (new Sections 3A, 3B, 9A, 9B, and 9C).  For an official source of legislative documents see the New Zealand Legislation project. }

 
[Preamble]
An Act to reform the constitutional law of New Zealand, to bring together into one enactment certain provisions of constitutional significance, and to provide that the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 of the Parliament of the United Kingdom shall cease to have effect as part of the law of New Zealand
BE IT ENACTED by the General Assembly of New Zealand in Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
 

[Part 0  Short Title and Commencement]

 

Section 1  Short Title and commencement

(1) This Act may be cited as the Constitution Act 1986.
(2) This Act shall come into force on the 1st day of January 1987.
 

Part I  The Sovereign

 

Section 2  Head of State

(1) The Sovereign in right of New Zealand is the head of State of New Zealand, and shall be known by the royal style and titles proclaimed from time to time.
(2) The Governor-General appointed by the Sovereign is the Sovereign's representative in New Zealand.
 

Section 3  Exercise of royal powers by the Sovereign or the Governor-General

(1) Every power conferred on the Governor-General by or under any Act is a royal power which is exercisable by the Governor-General on behalf of the Sovereign, and may accordingly be exercised either by the Sovereign in person or by the Governor-General.
(2) Every reference in any Act to the Governor-General in Council or any other like expression includes a reference to the Sovereign acting by and with the advice and consent of the Executive Council.
 

Section 3A  Advice and consent of Executive Council

(1) The Sovereign or the Governor-General may perform a function or duty, or exercise a power, on the advice and with the consent of the Executive Council if that advice and consent are given at a meeting of the Executive Council at which neither the Sovereign nor the Governor-General is present if the Sovereign or the Governor-General is prevented from attending the meeting by some necessary or reasonable cause.
(2) The performance of the function or duty, or the exercise of the power takes effect from the date of the meeting unless another time is specified for the performance of the function or duty, or for the exercise of the power, to take effect.
(3) Neither the validity of the performance of the function or duty, nor the validity of the exercise of the power, can be challenged in any legal proceedings on the ground that the Sovereign or the Governor-General was not prevented from attending the meeting of the Executive Council by some necessary or reasonable cause.
 

Section 3B  Exercise of powers and duties by Administrator

(1) The Administrator of the Government may perform a function or duty imposed on the Governor-General, or exercise a power conferred on the Governor-General, if--
(a) The office of Governor-General is vacant; or
(b) The Governor-General is unable to perform the function or duty or exercise the power.
(2) The performance or exercise by the Administrator of the Government of a function or duty imposed, or a power conferred, on the Governor-General is conclusive evidence of the authority of the Administrator to perform the function or duty or exercise the power.
 

Section 4  Regency

(1) Where, under the law of the United Kingdom, the royal functions are being performed in the same and on behalf of the Sovereign by a Regent, the royal functions of the Sovereign in right of New Zealand shall be performed in the name and on behalf of the Sovereign by that Regent.
(2) Nothing in subsection (1) of this section limits, in relation to any power of the Sovereign in right of New Zealand, the authority of the Governor-General to exercise that power.
 

Section 5  Demise of the Crown

(1) The death of the Sovereign shall have the effect of transferring all the functions, duties, powers, authorities, rights, privileges, and dignities belonging to the Crown to the Sovereign's successor, as determined in accordance with the enactment of the Parliament of England intituled The Act of Settlement (12 & 13 Will. 3, c. 2) and any other law relating to the succession to the Throne, but shall otherwise have no effect in law for any purpose.
(2) Every reference to the Sovereign in any document or instrument in force on or after the commencement of this Act shall, unless the context otherwise requires, be deemed to include a reference to the Sovereign's heirs and successors.
 

Part II The Executive

 

Section 6  Ministers of Crown to be members of Parliament

(1) A person may be appointed and may hold office as a member of the Executive Council or as a Minister of the Crown only if that person is a member of Parliament.
(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1) of this section,
(a) A person who is not a member of Parliament may be appointed and may hold office as a member of the Executive Council or as a Minister of the Crown if that person was a candidate for election at the general election of members of the House of Representatives held immediately preceding that person's appointment as a member of the Executive Council or as a Minister of the Crown but shall vacate office at the expiration of the period of 40 days beginning with the date of the appointment unless, within that period, that person becomes a member of Parliament; and
(b) Where a person who holds office both as a member of Parliament and as a member of the Executive Council or as a Minister of the Crown ceases to be a member of Parliament, that person may continue to hold office as a member of the Executive Council or as a Minister of the Crown until the expiration of the 28th day after the day on which that person ceases to be a member of Parliament.
 

Section 7  Power of member of Executive Council to exercise Minister's powers

Any function, duty, or power exercisable by or conferred on any Minister of the Crown (by whatever designation that Minister is known) may, unless the context otherwise requires, be exercised or performed by any member of the Executive Council.
 

Section 8  Appointment of Parliamentary Under-Secretaries

(1) The Governor-General may from time to time, by warrant under the Governor-General's hand, appoint any member of Parliament to be a Parliamentary Under-Secretary in relation to such Ministerial office or offices as are specified in that behalf in the warrant of appointment.
(2) A Parliamentary Under-Secretary shall hold office as such during the pleasure of the Governor-General, but shall in every case vacate that office within 28 days of ceasing to be a member of Parliament.
 

Section 9  Functions of Parliamentary Under-Secretaries

(1) A Parliamentary Under-Secretary holding office as such in respect of any Ministerial office shall have and may exercise or perform under the direction of the Minister concerned such of the functions, duties, and powers of the Minister of the Crown for the time being holding that office as may from time to time be assigned to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary by that Minister.
(2) Nothing in subsection (1) of this section limits the authority of any Minister of the Crown to exercise or perform personally any function, duty, or power.
(3) The fact that any person holding office as a Parliamentary Under-Secretary in respect of any Ministerial office purports to exercise or perform any function, duty, or power of the Minister concerned shall be conclusive evidence of that person's authority to do so.
 

Section 9A  Solicitor-General may perform functions of Attorney-General

The Solicitor-General may perform a function or duty imposed, or exercise a power conferred, on the Attorney-General.
 

Section 9B  Appointment of person to act in place of Solicitor-General

(1)The Governor-General may appoint a barrister or solicitor of at least 7 years' practice to act--
(a) In place of, or for, the Solicitor-General during the absence from office of the Solicitor-General or if the Solicitor-General is incapacitated in a way that affects the performance of his or her duties; or
(b)During a vacancy in the office of Solicitor-General.
(2) The performance of a function or duty or the exercise of a power by a person appointed under subsection (1) is, in the absence of proof to the contrary, sufficient evidence of the authority of that person to do so.
 

Section 9C  Delegation of powers of Attorney-General and Solicitor-General

(1) The Solicitor-General may, with the written consent of the Attorney-General, in writing delegate to a Deputy Solicitor-General, any of the functions or duties imposed, or powers conferred, on the Attorney-General.
(2) The Solicitor-General may in writing delegate to a Deputy Solicitor-General any of the functions or duties imposed, or powers conferred, on the Solicitor-General, except for the power to delegate conferred by this subsection.
(3) A delegation is revocable and does not prevent the Attorney-General or the Solicitor-General from performing the function or duty or exercising the power.
(4) A delegation may be made on conditions specified in the instrument of delegation.
 

Part III The Legislature

 

[Chapter 1]  The House of Representatives

 

Section 10  House of Representatives

(1) There shall continue to be a House of Representatives for New Zealand.
(2) The House of Representatives is the same body as the House of Representatives referred to in section 32 of the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
(3) The House of Representatives shall be regarded as always in existence, notwithstanding that Parliament has been dissolved or has expired.
(4) The House of Representatives shall have as its members those persons who are elected from time to time in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 1956, and who shall be known as "members of Parliament".
 

Section 11  Oath of allegiance to be taken by members of Parliament

(1) A member of Parliament shall not be permitted to sit or vote in the House of Representatives until that member has taken the Oath of Allegiance in the form prescribed in section 17 of the Oaths and Declarations Act 1957.
(2) The oath to be taken under this section shall be administered by the Governor-General or a person authorised by the Governor-General to administer that oath.
 

Section 12  Election of Speaker

The House of Representatives shall, at its first meeting after any general election of its members, and immediately on its first meeting after any vacancy occurs in the office of Speaker, choose one of its members as its Speaker, and every such choice shall be effective on being confirmed by the Governor-General.
 

Section 13  Speaker to continue in office notwithstanding dissolution or expiration of Parliament

A person who is in office as Speaker immediately before the dissolution or expiration of Parliament shall, notwithstanding that dissolution or expiration, continue in office until the close of polling day at the next general election unless that person sooner vacates office as Speaker.
 

[Chapter 2]  Parliament

 

Section 14  Parliament

(1) There shall be a Parliament of New Zealand, which shall consist of the Sovereign in right of New Zealand and the House of Representatives.
(2) The Parliament of New Zealand is the same body as that which before the commencement of this Act was called the General Assembly (as established by section 32 of the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 of the Parliament of the United Kingdom) and which consisted of the Governor-General and the House of Representatives.
 

Section 15  Power of Parliament to make laws

(1) The Parliament of New Zealand continues to have full power to make laws.
(2) No Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed after the commencement of this Act shall extend to New Zealand as part of its law.
 

Section 16  Royal assent to Bills

A Bill passed by the House of Representatives shall become law when the Sovereign or the Governor-General assents to it and signs it in token of such assent.
 

Section 17  Term of Parliament

(1) The term of Parliament shall, unless Parliament is sooner dissolved, be 3 years from the day fixed for the return of the writs issued for the last preceding general election of members of the House of Representatives, and no longer.
(2) Section 189 of the Electoral Act 1956 shall apply in respect of subsection (1) of this section.
 

Section 18  Summoning, proroguing, and dissolution of Parliament

(1) The Governor-General may be Proclamation summon Parliament to meet at such place and time as may be appointed therein, notwithstanding that when the Proclamation is signed or when it takes effect Parliament stands prorogued to a particular date.
(2) The Governor-General may by Proclamation prorogue or dissolve Parliament.
(3) A Proclamation summoning, proroguing, or dissolving Parliament shall be effective
(a) On being gazetted; or
(b) On being publicly read, by some person authorised to do so by the Governor-General, in the presence of the Clerk of the House of Representatives and 2 other persons, whichever occurs first.
(4) Every Proclamation that takes effect pursuant to subsection (3) (b) of this section shall be gazetted as soon as practicable after it is publicly read.
 

Section 19  First meeting of Parliament after general election

After any general election of members of the House of Representatives, Parliament shall meet not later than 6 weeks after the day fixed for the return of the writs for that election.
 

Section 20  Carrying over of Parliamentary business

Where the House of Representatives resolves that any Bill, petition, or other business before it or any of its committees be carried over to the next session of Parliament (whether the same Parliament or not), that Bill, petition, or other business shall not lapse upon the prorogation or dissolution or expiration of the Parliament in being when that resolution is passed but shall be carried over accordingly.
 

[Chapter 3]  Parliament and Public Finance

 

Section 21  Bills appropriating public money

The House of Representatives shall not pass any Bill providing for the appropriation of public money or for the imposition of any charge upon the public revenue unless the making of that appropriation or the imposition of that charge has been recommended to the House of Representatives by the Crown.
 

Section 22  Parliamentary control of public finance

It shall not be lawful for the Crown, except by or under an Act of Parliament,
(a) To levy a tax; or
(b) To raise a loan or to receive any money as a loan from any person; or
(c) To spend any public money.
 

Part IV  The Judiciary

 

Section 23  Protection of Judges against removal from office

A Judge of the High Court shall not be removed from office except by the Sovereign or the Governor-General, acting upon an address of the House of Representatives, which address may be moved only on the grounds of that Judge's misbehaviour or of that Judge's incapacity to discharge the functions of that Judge's office.
 

Section 24  Salaries of Judges not to be reduced

The salary of a Judge of the High Court shall not be reduced during the continuance of the Judge's commission.
 

Part V Miscellaneous Provisions

 

Section 25  General Assembly Library to be known as the Parliamentary Library

(1) The Library heretofore known as the General Assembly Library shall, as from the commencement of this Act, be known as the Parliamentary Library.
(2) The officer heretofore known as the Chief Librarian of the General Assembly Library shall be known, as from the commencement of this Act, as the Parliamentary Librarian.
(3) Subject to section 27 of this Act, all references to the General Assembly Library or to the Chief Librarian of the General Assembly Library in any other enactment or in any document whatsoever shall hereafter, unless the context otherwise requires, be read as references to the Parliamentary Library and to the Parliamentary Librarian respectively.
 

Section 26  United Kingdom enactments ceasing to have effect as part of the law of New Zealand

(1) As from the commencement of this Act the following enactments of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, namely,
(a) The New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 (15 and 16 Vict., c. 72); and
(b) The Statute of Westminster 1931 (22 Geo. V, c. 4); and
(c) The New Zealand Constitution (Amendment) Act 1947 (11 Geo. VI, c. 4), shall cease to have effect as part of the law of New Zealand.
(2) The provisions of sections 20, 20A, and 21 of the Acts Interpretation Act 1924 shall apply with respect to the enactments specified in subsection (1) of this section as if they were Acts of the Parliament of New Zealand that had been repealed by that subsection.
(3) Without limiting the provisions of subsection (2) of this section, it is hereby declared that the effect of section 11 of the Statute of Westminster 1931 (22 Geo. V, c. 4) (which section declared that the expression "Colony" shall not, in any Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed after the commencement of the Statute of Westminster 1931, include a Dominion or any Province or State forming part of a Dominion) shall not be affected by virtue of the Statute of Westminster 1931 ceasing, by virtue of subsection (1) of this section, to have effect as part of the law of New Zealand.
 

Section 27  Consequential amendments to other enactments

The enactments specified in the First Schedule to this Act are hereby amended in the manner indicated in that Schedule.
 

Section 28  Repeals

(1) The enactments specified in the Second Schedule to this Act are hereby repealed.
(2) The Regulations Amendment Act 1962 is hereby consequentially repealed.
(3) Section 2 (2) of the Primary Products Marketing Amendment Act 1977 is hereby consequentially repealed.
(4) Section 5 of the Civil List Amendment Act 1985 is hereby consequentially repealed.
 

Section 29  Transitional and consequential provisions relating to Parliament

(1) The Parliament in being at the commencement of this Act (before the commencement of this Act called the General Assembly) shall continue in accordance with and subject to the provisions of this Act.
(2) As from the commencement of this Act, every reference to the General Assembly or to the General Assembly of New Zealand in any enactment passed before the date of commencement of this Act and in any document executed before that date shall, unless the context otherwise requires, be read as a reference to the Parliament of New Zealand.
(3) Subsection (2) of this section shall not apply in respect of the Acts Interpretation Act 1924.

For methodology see: Comparing Constitutions and International Constitutional Law.
© 1994 - May 29th, 2010 / For corrections please contact A. Tschentscher.