POLS103-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023

Introduction to New Zealand Politics and Policy

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 20 February 2023
End Date: Sunday, 25 June 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 5 March 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 14 May 2023


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.

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 department 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”.

Overall aims

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.

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.

      Employable, innovative and enterprising

      Students will develop key skills and attributes sought by employers that can be used in a range of applications.

      Biculturally competent and confident

      Students will be aware of and understand the nature of biculturalism in Aotearoa New Zealand, and its relevance to their area of study and/or their degree.

      Engaged with the community

      Students will have observed and understood a culture within a community by reflecting on their own performance and experiences within that community.

      Globally aware

      Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.

Timetable Note

Field Trip –the required class field trip is likely to be Saturday 20 May (TBC), please keep date free & check if this clashes with set tests for any courses.

Course Coordinator

Bronwyn Hayward


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Field oral presentation 5% Due on 31 May/1 June
Final Exam 30%
Tutorial Oral submission 5% Oral submissions due in tutorials 26/27 April
Tutorial Assignment 02 Mar 2023 5% Kate Sheppard House
Tutorial Assignment 24 Mar 2023 10% Treaty Articles
Written submission 26 Apr 2023 10% 1000 words not including references
Field Assignment 03 Jun 2023 35% 2000 words not including references

Textbooks / Resources

J. Hayward, L. Greaves and C. Timperley; Government and Politics in Aotearoa New Zealand; Seventh edition; 2022

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $875.00

International fee $3,804.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, 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

  • POLS103-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023