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Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, in New Zealand, refers to the individual who chairs the country's legislative body, technically known as the House of Representatives but more generally known as Parliament. The Speaker also has a number of significant functions related to parliamentary matters.

The Speaker's most visible role is that of presiding over parliamentary sessions. This consists of overseeing the order in which business is conducted, determining who should speak at what time. The Speaker is also responsible for granting or declining requests for certain events, such as a snap debate on a particular issue. The Speaker has certain powers available to ensure reasonable behaviour by MPs, including the ability to remove disruptive MPs from the debating chamber. The Speaker has a position at the front of Parliament, presiding over all other MPs (including the Prime Minister). The Speaker also makes rulings concerning affairs of parliament as a body (such as many of its dealings with the Governor General), and administers the parliamentary complex itself.

The Speaker is always a Member of Parliament, and is elected by Parliament at the beginning of a parliamentary term. By convention, the Speaker is elected unopposed - any party able to form a government is presumably able to have its candidate installed as Speaker whether there is opposition or not. Historically, a Speaker lost the right to cast a vote, except when both sides were equally balanced. Now, however, the Speaker votes in the same way that any other MP does. In the past, the speaker's lack of a vote created problems for a governing party - when the party's majority was small, the loss of the Speaker's vote could be problematic.

The Speaker is expected to conduct the functions of the office in a neutral manner, even though the Speaker is generally a member of the governing party. Only three people have held the office despite not being so. In 1923, Charles Statham (an independent, but formerly a member of the Reform Party) was backed by Reform so as not to endanger the party's slim majority, and later retained his position under the Liberal Party. In 1993, Peter Tapsell (a member of the Labour Party) was backed by the National Party for the same reason. William Barnard, who had been elected Speaker in 1936, resigned from the Labour Party in 1940 but managed to retain his position.

The current Speaker is Jonathan Hunt, a member of the governing Labour Party. There is also a Deputy Speaker (Anne Hartley, Labour) and two Assistant Speakers (Ross Robertson, Labour, and Clem Simich, National Party).

Twenty-six people have held the office of Speaker since the creation of Parliament. Two people have held the office on more than one separate occasion. A full list of Speakers is below.

Name Took Office Left Office Speaker's Party Governing Party

1 Charles Clifford 1856 1860 None None

2 David Monro 1861 1870 None None

3 Francis Bell 1871 1875 None None

4 William Fitzherbert 1876 1879 None None

5 George O'Rorke 1879 1890 None None

6 William Steward 1891 1893 Liberal Liberal

7 George O'Rorke, 2nd time 1894 1902 Liberal Liberal

8 Arthur Guinness 1903 1913 Liberal Liberal

9 Frederick Lang 1913 1922 Reform Reform

10 Charles Statham 1923 1928 None Reform

Charles Statham, continued 1928 1935 None Liberal

11 William Barnard 1936 1940 Labour Labour

William Barnard, continued 1940 1943 None Labour

12 Frederick Schramm 1944 1946 Labour Labour

13 Robert McKeen 1947 1950 Labour Labour

14 Mathew Oram 1950 1957 National National

15 Robert Macfarlane 1958 1960 Labour Labour

16 Ronald Algie 1961 1966 National National

17 Roy Jack 1967 1972 National National

18 Alfred Allen 1972 1972 National National

19 Stanley Whitehead 1973 1976 Labour Labour

Roy Jack, 2nd time 1976 1977 National National

20 Richard Harrison 1978 1984 National National

21 Basil Arthur 1984 1985 Labour Labour

22 Gerard Wall 1985 1987 Labour Labour

23 Thomas Burke 1987 1990 Labour Labour

24 Robin Gray 1990 1993 National National

25 Peter Tapsell 1993 1996 Labour National

26 Doug Kidd 1996 1999 National National

27 Jonathan Hunt 1999 (present) Labour Labour

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