NZ cannabis referendum finalised


The results of the New Zealand election were finalised yesterday, with the reporting of the special votes.

The final result saw the National Party lose two seats, with Labour gaining a 65th seat, and the Māori Party gaining a second seat.

But today I’m more interested in the results of the referendums held alongside the election.

The first referendum, on voluntary euthanasia, was very decisive, but the second referendum on legalising cannabis, was very close.

The ordinary vote count gave 46.4% of the vote to the “yes” case, but the special votes broke strongly in favour of “yes”, winning 60.3%. This led to a final figure of 48.8% for “yes” and 51.2% for “no”.

This sort of split leads to an interesting map when show the results by electorate, which I’ve done below.

There’s a weird quirk in the vote counts. Ordinary votes are listed based on which general electorate the vote was cast in, including votes cast in Māori electorates. Votes cast as special votes are instead grouped by the electorate the person is enrolled in, with Māori electorates listed separately. I have combined these totals ignoring the Māori electorate special votes, which is not perfect but gives you a sense of the geographic trends.

Most rural electorates voted “no”, although there were “yes” wins in Northland and Whangarei in the north, West Coast-Tasman in the south, and East Coast in the east.

The “yes” case did much better in the cities. Yes won in five out of six seats in Wellington, including 67% in Rongotai and over 70% in Wellington Central. Three of five seats in Christchurch voted yes, although the margins did not get to the levels seen in Wellington. There was also a solid yes win in Dunedin and a narrow yes win in Nelson.

The “yes” case did not do so well in Auckland. It did very well in the inner city seats of Auckland Central and Jacinda Ardern’s electorate of Mount Albert, but “no” won a majority of seats, including some reasonably big margins in the south-east of the city.

Liked it? Take a second to support the Tally Room on Patreon!


  1. What a disgrace, euthenasia which is suicide and is wrong passes. Yet recreational marijuana doesn’t pass. What a disgrace. The rural areas decided this and that isn’t very fair, the only Green areas are in the cities where most people live.

  2. If you think euthanasia is wrong I invite you to not partake in it yourself. Allow other people to do it in a regulated and secure way though.

    I very much doubt that legal euthanasia causes an increase in people committing suicide.

  3. The South Auckland result is interesting. I know the area is generally considered to be NZs equivalent to Western Sydney in that it generally votes for left-of-centre parties but is otherwise very religious, churchgoing and socially conservative. In the euthanasia vote, the only three electorates to vote ‘no’ were all in South Auckland. The ‘yes’ vote was higher in rural NZ in both referendums, much like it was in Australia with the 2017 marriage plebiscite.

    Still, it was painfully close. Given how fast public opinion is changing on cannabis, I strongly suspect it would pass if you ran it again in 3 years time.

  4. Given the way that cannabis legalisation / decriminalization comfortably passed in recent referendums in America, I imagine that it would pass if it ran again in 3 weeks time.

  5. Migrant groups ended up playing a huge role in determining whether the marijuana referendum would pass or fail

  6. Yes:
    Green Party
    Helen Clark (Labour PM 1999-2008)
    The Opportunities Party
    At least one current Labour MP

    Sir John Key (National PM 2008-16)
    New Conservative Party
    At least two current National MPs
    One of the new Labour MPs

Comments are closed.