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Nelson by-election, 1976

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Title: Nelson by-election, 1976  
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Nelson by-election, 1976

The Nelson by-election was a by-election in the New Zealand electorate of Nelson a predominantly urban seat at the top of the South Island.

The by-election occurred on 28 February 1976, and was precipitated by the death of sitting Labour Party MP and Speaker of the House Sir Stanley Whitehead on 9 January 1976.

The by-election was contested by all major parties. It was won by Mel Courtney, the Labour Party candidate, with a majority of 1505 (Courtney increased the majority Whitehead had achieved in the 1975 general election by an impressive 50 per cent-only three months after the National Party's landslide victory). Wellington's Dominion newspaper reported that: "The defeat was a shock to the super-confident National Party organisers, including some of the party's top officials who were predicting a 2000-vote National majority".[1]

Mel Courtney, a 32 year old supermarket proprietor, proved "an excellent choice" as a candidate, the victory at the polls vindicated the decision of the Labour Party's selection committee. Courtney stressed Nelson's needs as a community as the major theme of his campaign. He had "lived in Nelson for a number of years", was a Nelson City Councillor [2] and struck a chord with electors: "Nelson is a unique place to live and consequently a local person (Mr Courtney) can best serve local interests" (1976 Survey).


Further reading

  • "The Nelson By-Election: Politics in a New Zealand Community" by Levine, S (ed.) in Politics in New Zealand: A Reader (Sydney: George Allen and Unwin, Australia, 1978)
  • "Spending the Allowance" p. 49 in Political People by Dreaver, A.J. (Auckland: Longman Paul, New Zealand, 1978)

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