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Celebrating a quarter century of MMP

Media release: 12 October 2021

Today, 12 October 2021, marks the 25th anniversary of the first general election held under the mixed member proportional (MMP) voting system in Aotearoa New Zealand, says Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage Chief Historian Neill Atkinson.

"It’s certainly an event of huge significance to our nation. It was the most dramatic change to the country’s electoral system since the introduction of women’s suffrage one hundred years earlier.

"In 1993, New Zealanders voted in a referendum to change the voting system from the traditional first- past-the-post (FPP) method to MMP. Three years later, in 1996, the first votes under MMP were cast.

"One of the most significant outcomes has been an increase in the diversity of representation in Parliament, which was certainly one of its intended aims."

The proportion of women Members of Parliament (MPs) has more than doubled, from 21% in 1993 (before MMP) to 48% following the 2020 election.

Image of Cooch and Wal cartoon figures discussing MMP is courtesy of the Electoral Commission.

MMP also improved ethnic diversity in Parliament. After the final FPP election in 1993, eight MPs identified as Māori; in 2020 there were 25. Also in 2020, New Zealanders of Chinese, Cook Islands Māori, Eritrean, Indian, Iranian, Korean, Maldivian, Mexican, Samoan, Sri Lankan, and Tongan descent were elected.

Each year, Manatū Taonga marks anniversaries that commemorate significant moments in Aotearoa’s history and helps to coordinate the work of organisations planning activities centered on these events.

Electoral Commission Te Kaitiaki Take Kōwhiri and the Parliamentary Engagement group are running commemoration activities related to MMP.

"People can expect to see lots of great MMP-related content online this week, including the chance to re-watch the Footrot Flats ads, a real blast from the past available on the Electoral Commission’s website," says Neill Atkinson.

To join the conversation on social media, use the hashtag #MMP25.

For more information about the MMP electoral system and its history, visit:

Updated on 22nd October 2021