POLS103-20S1 (C) Semester One 2020

Introduction to New Zealand Politics and Policy

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 17 February 2020
End Date: Sunday, 21 June 2020
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Friday, 28 February 2020
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 29 May 2020


How are decisions made in New Zealand? Who has how much power in this process? How can citizens, businesses, iwi, and a diverse range of groups have a say? This course is an introduction to New Zealand politics and public policy. The course examines the core features of New Zealand’s political landscape: The constitution, how MMP works, the roles of leaders, cabinet and parliament, and then explores issues that matter to the public, and asks how citizens can participate in politics, what role powerful groups including the media play in decision making and how new, diverse voices can be heard, including your own. The course includes a field day working in local communities learning about leadership and public attitudes.

This course aims to encourage students to revisit what we think we know about New Zealand, challenging dominant assumptions and thinking carefully, creatively, and critically about the current state of New Zealand politics now and in the future. Through participation in lectures, course readings, a field trip, assignments and tutorial discussion, successful students will be able to: understand and discuss New Zealand’s democratic institutions and political processes and engage in thoughtful, critical and informed debate about how power is exercised in this democracy, why, and with what effect.

In this class we take political analysis up close and personal, using theories and ideas about politics and political processes to better understand one of the world’s smallest and oldest democracies, New Zealand.  The Dept of Political Science and International Relations is proud that we are one of the oldest departments in the country, with high impact in research and student leadership. Our past alumni  include Sir Sir Āpirana Turupa Ngata, one of  NZ ‘s greatest political leaders and NZ’s first politics & Māori graduates in 1893, but many active citizens,  community leaders, politicians and entrepreneurs have also studied with us. We look forward to working with you and supporting you to make a difference in your own way to New Zealand, your local communities and wider world

No prior knowledge of politics or NZ politics is needed but our intention in the course is to support your political efficacy, that is your sense you “can understand politics’, and if you want to have a say, feel that you know ways you can “make a difference”.

We aim not to teach you what to think, but how to think: rigorously, creatively, and critically and above all, democratically about politics and policy problems New Zealand faces, and ways to tackle these.

Political science is often described as a study of the way power is exercised in a collective struggle that influences decisions for many people. We ask that you listen respectfully to the views of others, there is no point in studying politics or any social science if we are already certain our ways of seeing the world are “right".

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will be introduced to the study of political power in the context of New Zealand and to the art, craft and passion of politics as a process of establishing our visions of the good life, and to difficult common problems that face this small democratic polis or political community.
  • Successful students will understand and critically evaluate the processes and institutions and evolution of New Zealand politics and its diverse institutions including but not limited to understanding the constitutional debates and citizenship struggles that inform Te Tiriti and struggles for the franchise, Māori representation, indigenous politics, minority and civil, human and environmental rights in Aotearoa
  • Students will learn to conduct applied political analysis through tutorial and field exercises, and a field policy report including field observation and interviews.
  • Students will learn to write a critical essay and present an argument in politics with evidence
  • Students will understand the contemporary reality of tikanga and colonization in contemporary politics and policy.
  • Students will be able to identify and discuss the way issues like inequality and political ideas like neoliberalism have influenced broadcasting, social policy and economic development in a small society with a rapidly diversifying population.
    • University Graduate Attributes

      This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

      Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

      Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

Timetable 2020

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Wednesday 09:00 - 10:00 - (25/3, 22/4-27/5)
Rehua 009 (19/2-18/3)
17 Feb - 29 Mar
20 Apr - 31 May
Lecture B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Friday 13:00 - 14:00 - (24/4-29/5)
Rehua 102 (21/2-20/3)
17 Feb - 22 Mar
20 Apr - 31 May
Tutorial A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Thursday 13:00 - 14:00 - (23/4-28/5)
E12 (20/2-19/3)
17 Feb - 22 Mar
20 Apr - 31 May
02 Thursday 15:00 - 16:00 - (23/4-28/5)
Jack Erskine 340 (20/2-19/3)
17 Feb - 22 Mar
20 Apr - 31 May
03 Thursday 16:00 - 17:00 - (23/4-28/5)
Jack Erskine 101 (20/2-19/3)
17 Feb - 22 Mar
20 Apr - 31 May
04 Thursday 14:00 - 15:00 - (23/4-28/5)
Ernest Rutherford 460 (20/2-19/3)
17 Feb - 22 Mar
20 Apr - 31 May

Timetable Note

There will be one required class afternoon field trip to two contrasting electorates to be held on 15 May from 12.00-5.00pm.

Course Coordinator

Bronwyn Hayward


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Final Exam 30% writing 2 short essay style answers from 6-8 question choices
Tutorial reading note 13 Mar 2020 10% 500 words
Essay 04 May 2020 30% 1500 words
Field report 29 May 2020 30% 1500 words

Textbooks / Resources

Required Texts

Hayward, Janine; New Zealand government and politics; Sixth edition; Oxford University Press, 2015.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $828.00

International fee $3,426.00

* Fees include New Zealand GST and do not include any programme level discount or additional course related expenses.

For further information see Language, Social and Political Sciences.

All POLS103 Occurrences

  • POLS103-20S1 (C) Semester One 2020