The Government of New Zealand (MÄori: Te KÄwanatanga o Aotearoa), formally Her Majesty's Government in New Zealand, is the administrative complex through which authority is exercised in New Zealand. Based on the Westminster system of responsible government, executive power in New Zealand is based on the principle that "The Queen reigns, but the government rules, so long as it has the support of the House of Representatives".
The head of state of New Zealand is the Queen, Elizabeth II, who is represented in New Zealand by the Governor-General. The Queen and the Governor-General follow the advice of the government and play only a formal role in the executive, except with respect to the formation of governments and the use of reserve powers.
The head of government is the Prime Minister. Prime ministers are not directly elected; by convention the office is held by the party leader who commands a majority in the House. Prime ministers will typically resign if they lose a leadership challenge or lose their majorityâ€”usually at an election. The Prime Minister is formally appointed by the Governor-General who also has the reserve power to dismiss a Prime Minister. In practice the Prime Minister is determined by size of each political party, support agreements between parties and leadership votes in the party that leads the government.
As of October 2014 the Prime Minister of New Zealand is the leader of the National Party, John Keyâ€”who has negotiated formal support agreements for the incoming Parliament with the MÄori Party, United Future and Act.
The Executive Council is the formal body that exercises government's regulatory power. It contains all government ministers and the Governor-General. Ministers must be members of Parliament and appointments are made by the Governor-General on the advice of the Prime Minister. The majority of ministers are also members of Cabinet, the government's political decision-making committee. A few more junior ministers are part of the executive council but are outside of cabinet. Most ministers have a portfolio of specific responsibilities such as departments or policy areas, although ministers without portfolio are sometimes appointed.
^ "Seal of New Zealand Act 1977".
^ Sir Kenneth Keith, quoted in the Cabinet Manual