Opening of Parliament

Senior Judges are present at the Commission Opening of Parliament, Confirmation of Speaker and the State Opening of Parliament.

Commission Opening of Parliament

Following a general election, the Governor-General by Proclamation summons the Members of Parliament (MPs) to meet in the Debating Chamber at Parliament (pursuant to the Constitution Act 1986 section 18).  However, the Governor-General does not attend this first meeting which is called the Commission Opening of Parliament.  The Governor-General appoints Commissioners, usually the Chief Justice as the Chief Commissioner and two senior judges to declare Parliament open on her behalf.

The Commissioners are escorted to and from Parliament by the Sheriff of the High Court.  That position is held by the Registrar of the High Court in Wellington.

In the Debating Chamber where the Members of Parliament are gathered the Commissioners declare Parliament open on behalf of the Governor-General.  The Commissioners leave, and the Members of Parliament then elect a Speaker of the House

Confirmation of Speaker

The Confirmation of Speaker by the Governor-General is attended by all members of Parliament and the three Commissioners in a separate ceremony held in the Legislative Council Chamber.  The Commissioners do not have any formal role in this ceremony but support the Governor-General by their presence.

State Opening of Parliament

The final ceremony is the State Opening of Parliament. The Governor-General on behalf of the Queen who is New Zealand’s Head of State officially opens Parliament. The Chief Justice and 11 judges attend the ceremony.  They are escorted to and from Parliament by the Sheriff of the High Court.  The Judges do not have a formal role during the State Opening of Parliament. 

Bibliography

  • McGee, Parliamentary Practice in New Zealand (3rd Edn) (2005)
  • The Laws of New Zealand, Constitutional Law (2003)
  • Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives publications.