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The 52nd Parliament dissolved on Sunday 6 September at 11 am, originally meant to be running on 12 August.
In terms of Wellintons sketchy weather, it wasn’t exactly the best day to run the service on 12 August due to the shower of rain and wind on that day, and the date was changed to 6 September after the Prime Minister announced its postponement.
You may be questioning what exactly does the dissolution of the 52nd Parliament mean for New Zealanders.
The dissolution of Parliament is a service, that is most commonly held on the steps of Parliament House in Wellington City. The New Zealand Herald of Arms publicly reads a proclamation to dissolve Parliament on behalf of the Governor-General, witnessed by the Clerk of the House of Representatives and also two others.
During the dissolution, aspects of the service include a karanga, a procession led by the Serjeant-at-Arms, a fanfare performed by the Royal New Zealand Air Force Band, waiata performed by a kapa haka while the proclamation is witnessed, and a ruruku given by Parliament’s Tumu Whakarae.
Since a worldwide pandemic has shocked the world, changes were made to suit the dissolution if necessary which did happen as Wellington and the rest of the country was in COVID-19 Alert Level 2 lockdown.
“If the dissolution is held under alert level 2 or higher, the biggest change will be the number of people involved. Changes will be made to the ceremony to ensure that only the minimum number of people attend, and physical distancing will be observed. Due to the risks of singing and speaking loudly, the ceremony will no longer include a karanga, fanfare by the Royal New Zealand Air Force Band, waiata, or singing of the National Anthem.”
The service usually gets live-streamed to Facebook and broadcasts on Parliament TV for the reason of interest at home. This year, members who wished to attend the service were told to wear masks and practise careful distancing. Numbers were also limited due to COVID-19. However, Alert level 2 meant the public was unable to attend.
The Alert Level 2 limitations prevented the traditional services taking place including karanga, the fanfare by the Air Force Band, waiata and the singing of the national anthem. The Herald at Arms Phillip O’Shea read the proclamation issued by the governor-general to dissolve Parliament.
Since Parliament has dissolved, this means there will no longer be ‘daily’ press briefings for COVID-19 developments and updates according to the Prime Minster’s office.
The Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield and Health Minister Chris Hipkins will be holding one press briefing a week.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will keep New Zealanders updated if a decision is made on an alert level, or essential message is to be said to the press.
The last day for the sitting of Parliament was on Wednesday 2 September. MPs who spoke said political statements before hitting the election road trip.
The general election will be held on Saturday 17 October.