The Minister of Finance is responsible for producing an annual Budget outlining the government's proposed expenditure. The Minister of Finance also supervises the Treasury, which is the government's primary advisor on matters of economic and financial policy. As such, the Minister of Finance has broad control of the government's spending, making the position quite powerful.
Some analysts, such as Jonathan Boston, claim that the Minister of Finance can sometimes hold more influence than the Prime Minister, if the conditions are right. Gordon Coates, Finance Minister in the early 1930s, was sometimes such a figure. Some political scientists, such as Boston, believe that in the government of David Lange, Minister of Finance Roger Douglas held more power than was proper, and that the Treasury was using its control of government finances to take a supervisory role across the whole administration. It was probably for this reason that Lange's successor, Geoffrey Palmer, established the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, which could offer the Prime Minister advice independent of that given by individual ministers.
Historically, the Minister of Finance has often also served as the Deputy Prime Minister. In the MMP environment, however, there is a much greater chance of coalition governments, and this may require the role of Deputy Prime Minister to be given instead to leader of the junior party. This was the case between 1999 and 2002 - Jim Anderton, the leader of the Alliance (Labour's junior coalition partner) served as Deputy Prime Minister, while Labour's Michael Cullen served as Finance Minister. The present Minister of Finance, however, does indeed serve as Deputy Prime Minister.
After the 1996 elections, the role of the Minister of Finance was split between two portfolios - that of Minister of Finance and that of Treasurer. The position of Treasurer was senior to that of the Minister of Finance, and was created as part of the coalition agreement between the National Party and New Zealand First. It was established especially for Winston Peters, leader of New Zealand First, who demanded it as part of the deal. When Peters ended the coalition, the position reverted to the National Party, and after the change of government in 1999, it was reincorporated into the old Minister of Finance portfolio.
The current Minister of Finance is Michael Cullen. There are also two Associate Minister roles. They are currently held by Trevor Mallard and David Cunliffe.
The following is a partial listing of New Zealand's past Finance Ministers. (Gaps still exist in this list, and it does not cover ministers serving before 1912. Also, some dates may be incorrect.)
|Name||PM served||Took Office||Left Office|| Party|
|William Hall-Jones||(himself)||June 1906||August 1906|| Liberal|
|Joseph Ward||(himself)||August 1906||March 1912|| Liberal|
|Thomas MacKenzie||(himself)||March 1912||July 1912|| Liberal|
|James Allen||Massey||July 1912||August 1915|| Reform|
|Joseph Ward, 2nd time||Massey||August 1915||August 1919|| Liberal|
|James Allen, 2nd time||Massey||August 1919||April 1920|| Reform|
|William Downie Stewart||Coates||1926||December 1928|| Reform|
|Joseph Ward, 3rd time||(himself)||December 1928||May 1930|| Liberal|
|George William Forbes||(himself)||May 1930||September 1931|| Liberal|
|William Downie Stewart, 2nd time||Forbes||September 1931||January 1933|| Reform|
|Gordon Coates||Forbes||January 1933||December 1935|| Reform|
|Walter Nash||Savage, Fraser||December 1935||December 1949|| Labour|
|Sidney Holland||(himself)||December 1949||November 1954|| National|
|Jack Watts||Holland, Holyoake||November 1954||December 1957|| National|
|Arnold Nordmeyer||Nash||December 1957||December 1960|| Labour|
|Harry Lake||Holyoake||December 1960||March 1967|| National|
|Robert Muldoon||Holyoake, Marshall||March 1967||December 1972|| National|
|Bill Rowling||Kirk||December 1972||August 1974|| Labour|
|Bob Tizard||Rowling||August 1974||December 1975|| Labour|
|Robert Muldoon, 2nd time||(himself)||December 1975||July 1984|| National|
|Roger Douglas||Lange||July 1984||July 1989|| Labour|
|David Caygill||Lange, Palmer, Moore||July 1989||November 1990|| Labour|
|Ruth Richardson||Bolger||November 1990||November 1993|| National|
|Bill Birch||Bolger||November 1993||December 1996|| National|
|Bill Birch||Treasurer: Winston Peters||Bolger, Shipley||December 1996||August 1998|| National|
|Bill Birch||Treasurer: (himself)||Shipley||August 1998||January 1999|| National|
|Bill English||Treasurer: Bill Birch||Shipley||January 1999||June 1999|| National|
|Bill Birch||Treasurer: Bill English||Shipley||June 1999||November 1999|| National|
|Michael Cullen||Clark||November 1999||(present)|| Labour|