The head of New Zealand’s government is the New
Zealand Prime Minister concomitant on being the head
of the coalition or party with the support of the
majority in New Zealand’s Parliament.
Since November 19, 2008, the National Party’s John
Key has been the Prime Minister.
It was not until the Schedule of the Civil List Act
of 1873 that the position title of Prime Minister
had made its first official appearance. Originally,
the Prime Minister was called the First Minister or
In 1869, this was officially changed to "Premier".
Nevertheless, this title also did not last for long, being
informally altered in 1901 to Prime Minister by Richard
Seddon during his term of office. Succeeding the
proclamation in 1907 of New Zealand as a Dominion, the title
"Prime Minister" has been used solely.
The Prime Minister’s role is not defined formally, being
founded on the convention of constitution instead of
specific statute law. According to these rules, the Prime
Minister is the head of Cabinet (which is in itself a body
which exists by convention), and assumes a role of
coordination. The Prime Minister is looked upon by rule as
"first among equals".
The Prime Minister does in fact
merits the post most senior in the government, but
is also expected to stick to any determinations made
by Cabinet. The real ability of a Prime Minister to
impart direct orders is amazingly restricted; a
majority of the power of the position comes about
via other ways, such as the power to set the agenda
of the Cabinet, thereby manipulating what subjects
will be talked about, and the power to nominate and
send packing ministers. The degree to which this
ability can be practiced varies among various
parties. For example, the Labor Party places nearly
all of this duty in the Caucus’ hands, resulting in
the Prime Minister having only with the ability to
select which functions a minister is assigned.
Moreover, the electoral system of the MMP has made
this complicated, as the Prime Minister may need to
confer with another leader of the party.
The Prime Minister’s influence is in all likelihood to have
as head of the prevailing party. These abilities may afford
him or her more control which is direct over underlings than
is inhered in the role of the Prime Minister itself.
Like other positions of ministerial nature, the position of
Prime Minister is an appointment made by the
Governor-General "awaiting the Queen's pleasure".
Nevertheless, the rule has long since been laid down that
the Prime Minister must possess and hold the support of a
bulk of Parliament’s Members. Historically, this has
generally signified that the Prime Minister is the
democratic leader of the House of Representative’s most
prominent political party.
In the last 50 years, a pattern has also formulated of
nominating a Deputy Prime Minister. The Deputy generally
holds significant ministerial offices and turns into Acting
Prime Minister in the incapacitation or absence of the Prime
Minister. The Deputy is normally affiliated with same party
as that of the Prime Minister, but it is not a requirement.