Tauranga is a New Zealand parliamentary electorate, returning one Member of Parliament to the House of Representatives of New Zealand. The current MP for Tauranga is Simon Bridges of the National Party, who won the seat in the 2008 New Zealand general election, after the previous MP, Bob Clarkson of the National Party, retired.
The previous electoral redistribution was undertaken in 1875 for the 1875–76 election. In the six years since, New Zealand's European population had increased by 65%. In the 1881 electoral redistribution, the House of Representatives increased the number of European representatives to 91 (up from 84 since the 1875–76 election). The number of Māori electorates was held at four. The House further decided that electorates should not have more than one representative, which led to 35 new electorates being formed, including Tauranga, and two electorates that had previously been abolished to be recreated. This necessitated a major disruption to existing boundaries.
The electorate includes Tauranga, Mt Maunganui and Omanu Beach, but excluding Hairini, Maungatapu, Matapihi and Welcome Bay.
Tauranga electorate was created for the 1881 election, which determined the composition of the 8th Parliament. Initially, it existed until the 1890 election and during that time, it was represented by four MPs.
The 1881 election was hotly contested. Four candidates were nominated: George Morris, who had previously represented the East Coast electorate; George Vesey Stewart, then the owner of the Bay of Plenty Times; William Kelly, who had also previously represented the East Coast electorate; and Henry Thomas Rowe, a surveyor and commission agent. Rowe announced his retirement from the contest on 6 December three days out from election day, urging his supporters to vote for Stewart instead. The unofficial results were released the day after the election (Saturday, 10 December) and Morris had a majority of 13 votes over Stewart, with the official declaration to be made on 12 December. This was deferred until 14 December, with Morris ahead by 10 votes. Stewart stood for the Tauranga mayoralty a few months later and was elected the town's first mayor.
Morris was re-elected in the 1884 election, but resigned in April 1885, as he had been appointed to the Legislative Council. The resulting by-election on 22 May 1885 was won by John Sheehan, who died on 12 June 1885. The second 1885 by-election on 11 July was won by Lawrence Grace, who represented the electorate until the end of the term in 1887. The 1887 election was won by William Kelly, who represented the electorate until the end of the term in 1890, at which time the electorate was abolished.
The electorate was recreated in 1908. William Herries was the first representative, elected at the 1908 election; he had since the 1896 election represented the Bay of Plenty electorate. He became a member of the Reform Party when it formed itself in the following year. Herries represented the electorate until his death on 22 February 1923.
The resulting 1923 by-election was won by Charles MacMillan, who also represented the Reform Party. MacMillan won the three subsequent general elections before he was beaten in the 1935 election by Labour's Charles Harris Burnett. At the next election held in 1938, Burnett was beaten by National's Frederick Doidge, who held the electorate until his retirement in 1951.
Doidge was succeeded by George Walsh, who won the 1951 election. Walsh served for seven terms and retired in 1972. Keith Allen was the next representative, first elected in 1972 and an MP until his death shortly before the 1984 election.
Allen's death did not cause a by-election, as it occurred within six months of the next general election. The 1984 election was won by Winston Peters, who had previously represented the Hunua electorate. In 1990 until March 1991, Peters was Minister of Māori Affairs, but he was sacked from Cabinet by Prime Minister Jim Bolger in October 1991 after repeatedly criticising his National Party leadership. Peters remained as a National backbencher, continuing to criticise the party. In late 1992, when the National Party was considering possible candidates for the elections in the following year, it was decided that Peters would not be allowed to seek renomination for the Tauranga electorate. Peters unsuccessfully challenged this decision in the High Court, and in early 1993, he chose to resign from the party and from Parliament. This prompted a by-election in Tauranga some months before the scheduled general election. Peters stood as an independent and won with over 90% of the vote, assisted by the major parties not standing candidates against him. Shortly before the 1993 election, Peters established New Zealand First and retained the Tauranga electorate. He continued to represent Tauranga until he was defeated in the 2005 election by National's Bob Clarkson.
Clarkson's defeat of Winston Peters was significant, as this resulted in New Zealand First losing its only electorate seat. The party still gained parliamentary representation by polling over the five percent threshold, however. Clarkson retired at the end of the parliamentary term. He was succeeded by National's Simon Bridges, who won the 2008 election, with Peters coming a distant second. Bridges was re-elected in 2011.
Independent Reform Labour National NZ First United Future
Members of Parliament elected from party lists in elections where that person also unsuccessfully contested the Tauranga electorate. Unless otherwise stated, all MPs terms began and ended at general elections.
Electorate (as at 26 November 2011): 48,133