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LEARN- The Three Branches

The Three Branches


Power in the NZ Government is split between three branches: the Executive branch, Judiciary branch, and Parliament.



Administers the law

The Executive is made up of Ministers both inside and outside Cabinet, and Government departments such as the Department of Conservation and the Department of Corrections.

The Executive are essentially the caretakers of the law: they are in charge of administering the law, which encompasses both writing and amending laws. They also decide policy. While the Executive proposes new laws, these must be approved by Parliament.


Makes the laws

Parliament consists of the Crown, represented here in NZ by the Governor General, and the Members of Parliament who make up the House of Representatives.

Parliament guards the Executive, and scrutinizes their actions. This way, someone is always guarding the guards! Parliament is the only branch which can pass laws. However, they can share some of the responsibility with the other branches of Government and local authorities, allowing them to make small changes to laws without consulting Parliament each time.  Parliament thus decides which policies the Government will follow.


     Interprets and enforces the law

The Judiciary branch is like a referee in a baseball game. The Judiciary determine who can do what - they ensure that the Government doesn’t take any actions which are outside the laws made by Parliament.

This makes it especially important that the Judiciary is independent from the other branches, as they act as a brake on the power that the government holds.

Why Split?

In theory, separation of power stops power from being concentrated in one place. In New Zealand, each branch acts as a check and balance to the other branches. The Executive branch have to approve each law drafted by Parliament before it gets passed, and the Judiciary branch can rule that the Government’s actions are not in line with the law.


Separation of  


each branch performs only their own functions, and can’t poke around into the work of other branches.


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