The Panels for 60 Makers Of Modern New Zealand: 1930-1990.

60 Makers of New Zealand: 1930-1990:  is at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery from 24 November 2011 to 12 February 2012. It was curated by Brian Easton.

Keywords: Literature and Culture; Political Economy & History;

The following are the panels to go with the portraits. (Each is constrained to 250 words.) They are also tell a story of that period. The sequence is almost in order of birth with a few changes to improve the narrative. The list which immediately follows uses the conventional names; the panels have their full names.

1. Michael Joseph Savage

2. Gordon Coates

3. Ngata

4. AH & AW Reed

5. Ratana

6. Te Puea

7. William Goodfellow

8. Peter Fraser

9. Jim & James Fletcher

10. Bernard Freyberg

11. Rangimarie Hetet

12. Bruce Levy

13. Fintan Patrick Walsh

14. Gwen Somerset

15. Sister Mary Leo

16. Arthur Downer

17. Whina Cooper

18. Josef Babich

19. Bernard Ashwin

20 Douglas Robb

21. James Wattie

22. Clarence Beeby

23. Keith Holyoake

24. Jack Acland

25. John Ormond

26. Tupua Tamasese Mea’ole

27. Guy Powles

28. Alister McIntosh

29. Thaddeus McCarthy

30. Bill Sutch

31. Charles Brasch

32. Harold Wellman

33. Bill Gallagher

34. Allen Curnow

35. Jack Marshall

36. Elsie Lock

37. Owen Woodhouse

38. Charles Fleming

39. Arthur Lydiard

40. Lloyd Geering

41. Colin McCahon

42. Henry Lang

43. Ed Hillary

44. Fred Allen

45. Bruce Mason

46. Keith Sinclair

47. Norman Kirk

48. Sonja Davies

49. Ian Cross

50. Janet Frame

51. Joan Metge

52. Ranginui Walker

53. Ralph Hotere

54. Howard Morrison

55. Alison Holst

56. Ron Brierley

57. Ed Durie

58. Sandra Coney

59. Rob Muldoon

60. Roger Douglas

Mum and Dad.


Auckland MP, Prime Minister

23 March 1872, Tatong, near Benalla, Victoria, Australia –– 27 March 1940, Wellington

Micky (or Joe) Savage was New Zealand’s first Labour prime minister. He was born into a harsh life (his mother died when he was 5), coming to New Zealand in 1907. After a wide variety of jobs, he worked in an Auckland brewery, while actively promoting union and socialist views. In 1919 he won a parliamentary seat for Labour in Auckland, succeeding Harry Holland to the party leadership in 1933, and coming to personify the Party’s commonsense humanitarian approach. The party won the election in 1935, and he was Prime Minister until his death. His government introduced many reforms which enhanced the wellbeing of New Zealanders. He is particularly associated with the Social Security Act; while he did not invent the expression he described it as ‘applied Christianity’. He took an independent line on New Zealand’s foreign policy objecting to the international appeasement policies of the late 1930s; his was the first government to address the trusteeship of Samoa in a humane way. When the Second World War broke out in September 1939 he committed New Zealand, famously saying that where Britain ‘goes, we go; where she stands, we stand’, although New Zealand’s war effort was to be led by Peter Fraser [8]. But by now he was wracked with cancer, and he died in early 1940. at the height of his popularity; his photograph hung on the wall of thousands of New Zealand homes for many years after.


Kaipara MP, Prime Minister

3 February 1878, Hukatere (?), Northland – – 27 May 1943, Wellington.

While Gordon Coates was Prime Minister from 1925 to 1928, he also played the crucial role as Minister of Finance in the recovery from the Great Depression. Many of his policies were developed and extended by the following Labour Government. Coates was born on the Kaipara Harbour into a farming family. In 1911 he was elected to parliament. From 1917 to 1919 he served in Europe winning a Military Cross and bar. Perhaps it was there he became a committed New Zealand nationalist who was so influential over the younger men who worked with him (including Keith Holyoake [23] and Bill Sutch [29]). He started his political life as an independent Liberal but soon joined the Reform Party, succeeding to the premiership when Bill Massey died in 1925. Through the 1920s he was a major promoter of Maori development, closely consulting Apirana Ngata [3]. The Liberals won more seats in the 1928 election, although winning fewer votes than Reform, and Coates resigned. He became deputy leader of the Coalition Ministry in 1931 and Minister of Finance in 1933 (to 1935), following a dispute over exchange rate policy. He established the Reserve Bank, and developed housing and health policies while working on the depression recovery and attending Imperial Conferences. From 1940 until his death he was a member of the War Cabinet, where he continued to show his pragmatic commitment to policy and the interests of all New Zealanders rather than party, and his effectiveness as a politician and administrator.


Kaumatua, MP

3 July 1874, Te Aroaroa, East Coast – 14 July 1950, Waiomatatini, East Coast

Apirana Ngata was the Maori leader who, more than any other, contributed to the modernisation of Maori in the twentieth century. His knowledge of the Pakeha world and of tikanga and matauranga Maori together with his professional skills assisted his people to develop while also encouraging them to preserve their culture and maintain their own identity. Ngata was born on the East Coast of Ngati Porou and Scots descent. (He said that this Pakeha ancestry was the source of his methodical habits, but otherwise he did not regard it as important.) Grounded in Maoritanga (all things Maori) and te reo, he went to Te Aute College and to degrees in political science and law, being the first Maori to complete a degree from the University of New Zealand. Thereafter he threw himself into reforming the Maori social and economic situation while maintaining their cultural integrity, especially in the areas of farming and land reform. In 1905 he won the Eastern Maori parliamentary seat which he held until 1943, becoming native minister from 1928 to 1934. He had to resign from office when it was found that he did not keep to bureaucratic niceties; he was in too much of a hurry. When in opposition he advised Gordon Coates [2] and Peter Fraser [8]; he recorded Maori waiata, and wrote on Maori issues. As an elder statesman he continued to promote Maoritanga in a manner which contributed to the welfare of all New Zealanders.


Publishers, Writers

AHR: 30 December 1875, Hayes, Middlesex, England – 15 January 1975, Dunedin.

AWR: 7 March 1908, Ponsonby, Auckland – 19 October 1979, Wellington.

In order to talk about itself, a nation needs publishers to connect writers with their readers. While today there is a healthy book publishing industry, albeit one struggling with new electronic technologies, it arose out of a handful of pioneers who published books which were of no interest to their offshore counterparts. A.H. Reed Ltd was one of our first substantial publishers. Founded in 1907 – before Clif was born – by Alfred Reed and his wife to import Sunday School texts, it started publishing its own books from 1922. Clif joined him in 1925 and the company evolved into New Zealand’s largest publisher of books (and music), under the imprint of A. H. & A.W. Reed and a raupo (reed) symbol. Living in different cities, the two corresponded daily, providing an invaluable archive of how the business ran. The company published thousands of titles, encouraging a host of authors (finds included Barry Crump and Rob Muldoon [59]). Its list covered fiction, gardening, history, sport, education, natural history and Maori subjects and children’s books. However the company was not able to adapt to the rise of television and the changing reading habits of its middle-brow public, and was sold in 1983; many of its staff went on to careers in new and innovative publishing ventures. The most recent purchaser honours the company with its Raupo Publishing imprint. Each wrote many books – including AH’s accounts of his walks around New Zealand which gave him so much pleasure. Both remained devout Christians until their deaths.


Kaumatua, Founder of Religion

25 January 1873?, Te Kawau, near Bulls – 18 September 1939, Ratana Pa.

Ratana (Piri Wiri Tua – the campaigner) was the founder of a Maori religious movement which became politically influential, offering the ‘morehu’ (survivors) facing marginalisation and dispossession an alternative to the iwi from which they had become alienated. He grew up as a farmer with little education. After experiencing religious visions in 1918, with ‘the penetrating eyes of a mystic [and] the modesty of a great man’, he became a faith healer leading a sweeping religious revival. He demanded Maori abandon their dependence on tohungaism (especially witchcraft) and Maori gods and unite behind Ihoa o nga Mano (Jehovah of the Multitudes). The Ratana Church was formally established in 1925. It won a Maori parliamentary seat in 1932 and all four by 1943. Shortly after Labour won the 1935 election Ratana met with Prime Minister Savage [1] and gave him a potato (representing the loss of Maori land and means of sustenance), a broken gold watch (the broken promises of the Treaty of Waitangi), a pounamu heitiki (the mana of the Maori people) and a huia feather, the chiefly status which Savage would earn if he could restore the first three. (The gifts were buried with Savage.) Although the ties between the Ratana Church and Labour are no longer as close, the 1946 and 1958 Labour governments depended upon the Ratana MPs for their majority. In the 2006 Census about 50,000 said they were adherents of the Ratana church and over 100,000 of Maori descent said they did not know their iwi.



9 November 1883, Whatiwhatihoe, nr Pirongia – 12 October 1952, Ngaruawahaia

Te Puea Herangi, a descendant of the first Maori, King Potatau Te Wherowhero (she also had an English grandfather), was born when Tainui was still recovering from the confiscation of their lands following the wars of the 1860s. She was instrumental in developing the mana of the Kingitanga, and enabling her iwi to transform from the subsistence economy of the nineteenth century to a modern Tainui one. From her early years her talents were identified and encouraged. While as a young adult she led an exuberant life, cutting herself off from her people, by her late 1920s she had begun to play a central role in Tainui politics and life. This included resisting conscription during the First World War reflecting the ongoing bitterness at the confiscations, and establishing Turangawaewae, the Kingitanga marae at Ngaruawahia. Apirana Ngata [3] became a firm friend and ally, and she applied his economic development strategy of land development and dairy farming to the Tainui. Following a long, slow, painful and uneven reconciliation between Tainui and the Crown, she agreed with Peter Fraser [8] in 1946 for the Crown to pay an annual sum in recognition of the injustice of the confiscations, as recommended by the Sims Commission in 1927. (It became severely depreciated by inflation.) While there were ‘bitter, poignant memories’ of the confiscations, Te Puea had many personal friendships with Pakeha and a strong belief that the two peoples should learn to respect one another’s cultures so that they could live comfortably together.


Businessman in the Dairy Industry

26 May 1880, Alexandria (Pirongia) – 5 November 1974, Auckland.

We so assume the dairy industry as a significant part of New Zealand, that we often forget that it hardly existed before refrigeration in 1882, taking years to slowly build its current production, processing and distribution system. Many were involved – not least farmers who were technologically responsive but also the processors and distributors. Industry leadership was crucial. Although born near Pirongia, William Goodfellow grew up in Auckland. He started selling hardware, but being of an entrepreneurial disposition, when a purchaser defaulted on an order for dairy equipment in 1909, he formed what eventually became the New Zealand Cooperative Dairy Company. It was the first dairy company to have an onsite laboratory; it owned a radio station to keep in contact with its farmer-shareholders. Goodfellow managed NZCDC until 1932 and was subsequently an advising director. He also set up a fertiliser company and was on the boards of some big Auckland-based companies (as well as being a generous benefactor to some Auckland educational institutions). He insisted on firmly controlling offshore marketing, crusading for a unified marketing organisation to prevent the dairy co-operatives from competing against each other in London, getting him into conflict with other cooperatives: dairy politics is fractious because of all its independent farmer-shareholders. Eventually his strategy was adopted by the New Zealand Dairy Board, to which the NZCDC contributed. In 2001 they, and most other cooperatives, merged to form Fonterra which, selling a third of the internationally marketed milk, is New Zealand’s largest multi-national.


Wellington MP, Prime Minister

28 August 1884, Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland – 12 December 1950 Wellington

Peter Fraser would be included in any list of makers of New Zealand for his political leadership in arts and culture, education (with Clarence Beeby [21]) and health (his wife Janet Fraser had a very important role) in the first Labour government. But his singular achievement was to lead New Zealand through World War II. In effect leader from its beginning in September 1939, as prime minister Michael Savage [1] was dying, Fraser became premier in March 1940, when the war effort was still faltering. He brilliantly pursued the task of leading the nation through the war with energy, determination and judgement, developing into a statesman of international standing, including chairing the Trusteeship Committee of the United Nations which began the process of independence for the world’s colonies. Fraser was born in the Highlands of Scotland, when the crofters’ clearances from their land were still a living memory; hence his sympathy with the Maori. He had limited schooling because of family poverty, but was self-educated and extremely well-read, despite having very poor eyesight. He arrived in New Zealand in 1911, throwing himself into the labour movement, supporting direct action (strikes) and organising parliamentary elections. He was jailed for objecting to conscription during the First World War because it did not conscript capital, winning a parliamentary seat in 1918 which he held to his death. Alister McIntosh [27], head of his prime minister’s department, admired his ‘farsightedness, astuteness, breadth and enlightened humanitarianism.’ Many think he is New Zealand’s greatest prime minister.


Businessmen, Construction and Housing Industry

J: 29 March 1886, Kirkintilloch, Strathclyde, Scotland – 12 August 1974, Auckland

JMC: 25 December 1914, Dunedin – 29 August 2007, Auckland.

James Fletcher arrived in Dunedin in 1908, after completing a carpentry apprenticeship in Scotland, with his tools and a couple of pounds in his pocket. With the support of his family, he energetically seized opportunities in developing New Zealand to build one of its largest enterprises. He formed a house-building partnership and moved into construction work. ‘No job was too big’; although the firm sometimes took on projects beyond their capabilities. Many of the iconic public buildings of New Zealand are ‘Fletcher jobs’. Fletchers had a lead rebuilding role after the 1931 Napier earthquake; they are doing the same after the Canterbury earthquakes. When the first Labour Government got its housing program underway Fletchers built state houses (although its residential wing nearly went bankrupt in the process). Between 1942 and 1944, major defence-related construction projects were needed; Fletcher became commissioner of defence construction and controller of shipbuilding. The new managing director was his son Jim, known as ‘JC’, who qualified as an accountant in Auckland, where the company headquarters had moved. In the 1950s Fletchers built the giant Tasman pulp and paper works at Kawerau, becoming a minority shareholder. The firm had long been in the manufacturing sector owning brick, joinery, steel and timber suppliers. The recession of 1986-94 was not an easy time for the company. The merger into a group of related companies, Fletcher Challenge, did not really work. The company returned to Fletcher Building, its core business; a hundred years on it still bears its founder’s name.



21 March 1889, London – 4 July 1963, Windsor, England

The social devastation of the Great Depression left many young New Zealand males socially alienated. Yet ‘Tiny’ Freyberg (he was a strapping 183cms (6′) tall) welded those in the Second New Zealand Division into one of the finest fighting units of World War II. Born in London, he grew up in New Zealand, involved in school cadets and the territorial army. (He was a strike-breaker – future prime minister Peter Fraser [8] was on the other side – in the industrial disputes of 1911.) He left New Zealand in 1914, and after a number of adventures joined the British forces, fighting in Gallipoli and France, where he earned a VC and three of his four DSOs. He was retired as a British major-general in 1937 because of ill-health, including war wounds. In 1939 Fraser recruited him to command the Second Expeditionary Force which he led in North Africa, Greece, Crete and Italy. Although a part of the British formation, both Fraser and Freyberg himself insisted he was the servant of the New Zealand government which had a veto over the deployment of its troops. His war leadership was such, that despite political differences with Fraser (he was a British Conservative Party candidate in 1939), he was appointed governor-general in 1945 – retiring to Britain in 1952. New Zealand’s ‘greatest soldier’ is commemorated by the Freyberg Building (outside which stands his bust) in Wellington, the Freyberg Pool (he was a champion swimmer in his youth) and by Freyberg High School in Palmerston North.



24 May 1892, Oparure near Te Kuiti – 14 June 1985, Te Kuiti

Maori arts and crafts seemed to be dying at the beginning of the twentieth century. Under the influence of Apirana Ngata [3] they began to revive. Carving (whakairo), dancing (haka), music (puoro?), song (waiata) and weaving (nga-mahi a te whare pora) are now all thriving. Rangimarie Hetet was at the centre of the weaving revival. Born Rangimarie Hursthouse, she grew up in a whanau (extended family) even though she had three Pakeha grandparents. There she learned many crafts, most notably traditional Maori weaving. As with many women, her ultimate career was delayed by bringing up five children and supporting the family (her husband was gassed during the First World War), working as a hotel matron, domestic, cook and farmer. She did much teaching and demonstrating as well as weaving – fine cloaks were her speciality – and she was active in the Maori Women’s Welfare League [16] which she helped found. But her skills and artistic achievements were not widely noticed until her first exhibition in 1965, when she was 73. She continued to exhibit for the next 30 years, including internationally, not confining herself to traditional materials (some feathers were no longer available because the birds were extinct) and forms, so the craft evolved rather than fossilised. (True for the Pakeha craft movement too.) Failing eyesight and arthritis limited her ability to complete intricate weaving, but nothing could dull her passion; until the day she died – 103 years old – she continued to weave.



19 February 1892, Auckland – 16 October 1985, Tauranga

Lemuel Gulliver was told that ‘whosoever could make … two blades of grass to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would … do more essential service to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together.’ New Zealand’s second grasslands revolution (the first was the nineteenth-century conversion of native grasses to more palatable introduced ones) made the country a premium exporter of ‘processed grass’ – of wool, meat and dairy products. Instead of draining the natural fertility of the soils, practical farmers adopted the more productive pasture and livestock management techniques developed by scientists. Bruce Levy joined the Grasslands Division of the Department of Scientific Research when it was established in 1928, directing it from 1936 to 1951. Of course Levy, described as ‘the evangelist of grassland farming’, did not do all the science by himself . As well as a host of New Zealand scientists, who sometimes fought among themselves, there were important overseas contributions which the domestic scientists intelligently adapted for local conditions. Levy introduced new strains of grass. Observing that stock and their manure helped make the pasture grow, he researched and advocated ‘recycling of fertility’ from higher stocking rates. Honoured on his retirement – he was the first DSIR scientist to be knighted, Levy continued his proselytising underpinned by his science. He published the third edition of his Grasslands of New Zealand when he was 79, and applied his knowledge and enthusiasm to golf courses and bowling greens.



13 August 1894, Patutahi, Poverty Bay – 16 May 1963, Wellington.

The 1894 Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act left the union movement very dependent upon a state-determined framework, while – like all union movements – it was subject to internal tensions. ‘Jack’ Walsh (a.k.a. ‘the Black Prince’) was at the centre of these pressures. Born Patrick Tuohy on a farm in Poverty Bay, he joined the merchant marine aged 11. (He said he changed his name to Walsh to avoid victimisation from his union activities in the United States.) In 1920 he returned to New Zealand, briefly joining the Communist Party, although later he was vigorously anti-communist. In 1927 he became president of the seamen’s union, which led to involvement in peak union organisations such as the Federation of Labour. With the introduction of compulsory union membership in 1936 Walsh established a number of other unions, particularly for clerical workers. He formed close ties with the first Labour Government, becoming a committed supporter of arbitration and economic stabilisation. Keith Sinclair [35] said that he. along with Peter Fraser [8], Walter Nash and Bernard Ashwin [18] was one of New Zealand’s most powerful men in the 1940s. When Labour lost power in 1949, the union movement faced an unsympathetic climate; he kept shifting his rhetoric and alliances to maintain its power and his leadership, especially as president of the FOL. His failure to support the watersiders during the 1951 Waterfront Dispute was particularly controversial. Similar difficulties were experienced by his successors. When the IC&A Act was repealed in 1991, many unions collapsed.



16 November 1984, Springfield, North Canterbury – 31 October 1988, Wellington

Jenny Shipley, New Zealand’s first woman prime minister, got her initial political experience as a parent in the pre-school movement; this illustrates its importance to many mothers, while of course most children get their first outside-home educational experiences there. It has many components: kindergartens, play centres, kohanga reo, creches … Not only has their range and scope changed but they have become less formal and more child-centred. Gwen Somerset played a key role in that transformation. Born into the Alley family – many of her brothers were high achievers too, including Geoff who was both an All Black and the first National Librarian – Gwen grew up on a farm (her father was also a headmaster) and went to Teachers College, where she was greatly influenced by the idea that schooling should focus on the child. Her various primary teaching stints included Oxford, North Canterbury, where she teamed up with Crawford Somerset (who wrote the famous sociological study Littledene – actually Oxford), and Feilding. Gwen continued teaching when she had two young children, relying on child care. While she shared Crawford’s interest in continuing education, Gwen became increasingly involved in early learning, promoting creative expression and natural curiosity. When the couple moved to Wellington – Crawford to a chair in education – Gwen became, in 1948, the first (and inspirational) President of the New Zealand Federation of Play Centres, publishing a number of books about children’s growth and development, which were widely read by parents as well as educators.


Singing Teacher

3 April 1895, Auckland – 5 May 1989, Auckland.

New Zealand has produced many marvellous singers, a combination of natural talent, institutional and funding support, and brilliant teachers. Sister Mary Leo was an outstanding teacher, best known for her three operatic dames – Heather Begg, Malvina Major and Kiri Te Kanawa – but she had many other very successful students,. Her students won every Mobil Song Quest from 1959 until 1970; some went on to be outstanding teachers in their own right. Kathleen Agnus Niccol grew up on the North Shore with a vocation to be a nun, but first she went teaching, joining the Sisters of Mercy when she was 28. Entering St Mary’s Convent in Ponsonby, she was put in charge of music at the associated St Mary’s College; its choir soon became well known. She had surprisingly little formal training – just an LTC; as was common for her generation, she did not even attend teaching college. Her vital and creative energy and her exacting standards produced students – beginning with Mina Foley in 1950 – who won many competitions in New Zealand and overseas. The relaxations on her order which followed Vatican II in the 1960s enabled her to make a world tour in 1972, visiting her former pupils and hearing them sing in leading operatic roles. She continued to teach until she was 90, when a fall incapacitated her. While there is a multitude of talent among New Zealanders, much of which is internationally recognised, the teachers who fostered it should never be forgotten.


Businessman, Civil Engineer

4 February 1895, Alexandra, Victoria, Australia – 16 July 1984, Wellington

Today’s New Zealand landscape is not that of 1930. Engineers and others shaped it, changing the landforms and the course of its water; it is also smaller for they improved the networks which connect the country. Not least the tunnels. Arnold Downer was a tunneller, arriving in New Zealand at the age of four, and growing up in Feilding. He served in Egypt and France in the Great War, studying civil engineering in London before returning in 1920. Rejoining the Public Works Department, he was by 1927 engineer in charge of the Wellington-to-Tawa deviation of the main trunk line, building five kilometres of tunnels. After he left the PWD in 1930 Downer kept tunnelling: Wellington’s Mt Victoria road tunnel; hydroelectric works at Waiporui and Cobb River; Milford’s Homer tunnel. His firm took on earth-moving equipment, building airfields here and in the Pacific in the Second World War; afterwards they were used for coalmining, quarrying and dams. It helped build the Roxburgh power station and the Rimutaka rail tunnel. Eventually it merged into Cable Price Downer which survives to this day. Downer was not at the beginning of the PWD, founded by Julius Vogel in 1870 to drive New Zealand’s physical development, but he worked for and with it, as it evolved into the Ministry of Works and Development. He was not alive when the ministry was closed down in 1988-89. Vogel’s vision of government-led development, pursued expertly by skilled engineers, seemed to have come to an end.



9 December 1895, Te Karaka, North Hokianga – 26 March 1994, Hokianga

Whina Cooper (like Te Puea [6]) grew up believing that girls could do anything, long before the slogan was popular. And she did, including being the first president of the Maori Women’s Welfare League, founded in 1951, bringing together 180-odd local welfare committees established in the previous few years. They were empowering (some iwi prohibited women speaking on their marae atea), educative (one successful campaign was to improve Maori diet) and political. So was Whina. Born Hohepine (Josephine) Te Wake in the northern Hokianga, she had one American grandparent. Her father, a Te Rawara leader, prepared her for leadership. Her style, unlike the more consultative approach of today’s Maori, involved leading from the front perhaps inspired by the moment, which sometimes led to conflict and even exile from her whanau. She taught, kept store – proving commercially successful – and farmed. Before she was 20 she led a protest against a Pakeha farmer who wanted to drain some mudflats where Maori gathered seafood. It was the first of many victories, the most famous being the Land March (Hikoi) of 1975 – she was 80 – from Te Hapua in the Far North to Wellington to galvanise Maori and Pakeha support for Maori determination to retain their land and culture. She also was active in Maori development, implementing among her people the development strategy of Ngata [3], whom she first met in 1934 and greatly admired. Almost a third of New Zealand watched her tangihana (funeral) broadcast live on television.



23 October 1895, Runovi‰, Dalmatia – 22 August 1983, Henderson, Auckland.

Wine was hardly consumed in 1930 (1.4 litres a head), 85 percent was imported and that made here was often vile (it was said that the best was kept back for the discriminating wine-makers). By the 1990s consumption was 12 times higher and New Zealand wine was winning international awards. Much of the increase in wine’s market share came from displacing spirits, but beer fell from 65 to 58 percent. More important than the statistics has been the change in drinking patterns; today liquor, especially wine, is more likely to be drunk in mixed company with a meal; wine has been an integral part of the new cuisine (Wattie [21] Holst [55]). The revolution depended on improving the quality of New Zealand made wine. Josip Babi‰ came to New Zealand in 1910 from Dalmatia to escape economic hardship and military conscription. He and his brothers first went gum digging, but by 1916 he was planting vines, making mainly port and sherry for the public. It was not easy; he was even prosecuted for selling two bottles instead of the minimum two gallons (18 litres). The lawyer who got him off, told him to ‘get away from this place. There’s no future for a winemaker up here.’ Instead, he persevered; by the late 1930s most of his income was from wine. As the demand for good wine rose from the 1960s his family company expanded; its table wines remain a distinctive brand with a reputation for quality to this day.


Secretary of the Treasury

22 September 1896, Paeroa – 12 February 1975, Wellington.

Bernie Ashwin was the founder of the modern Treasury. Previously its staff were bookkeepers looking after the governments payments and receipts, so marginal that they were not involved in the National Industrial Conference in 1928. Ashwin was their first graduate economist, involved in many of the major decisions of the 1930s, including the founding of the Reserve Bank, becoming Secretary of the Treasury in 1939. Keith Sinclair [35] said that he, along with Peter Fraser [8], Walter Nash and Fintan Patrick Walsh [13], was one of New Zealand’s most powerful men in the 1940s, a position he continued through following the change of government in 1949. By the time he retired in 1955, Treasury was deeply involved in almost  all policy decisions, and staffed by a cadre of accountants and economists of great ability (including Henry Lang [41]). After his retirement he was particularly involved with the Tasman Pulp and Paper plant at Kawerau which he saw as part of the necessary diversification if New Zealand was to avoid being to over-dependent upon pastoral exports. Ashwin grew up near Thames, joining the Education Department on a cadetship when he was 16, shifting to the Treasury in 1922. He had served in Flanders, catching a bullet which hospitalised him. Had it been fatal, the history of the Treasury may have been very different. Over 18,500 service men were killed during the First World War. Perhaps one of them would have had as big an impact on New Zealand, had he survived.


Surgeon, Public Health Leader

29 April 1899, Auckland – 28 April 1974, Auckland

Douglas Robb had tuberculosis – a common disease before drug therapies – until he was almost 40. (An elder brother died from the disease in his teenage years). So he did not go to the Great War, but completed his medical degree. From 1923 to 1928 he was in Britain training as a surgeon. He returned when New Zealand surgery was largely a craft, determined to upgrade it to a science (he had an excellent bedside manner). This brought him into conflict with the medical establishment, particularly concerning upgrading the quality of care using medical auditing and postgraduate training. He was sufficiently unpopular that his position of part-time honorary surgeon at Auckland Hospital was not renewed in 1935. In a spectacular reversal of fortune, he joined the Greenlane thoracic unit in 1942 building it up to today’s world-class heart surgery unit. At the same time he became involved in the national debate about the health system, advocating a public health service based on group practices, polyclinics, and six regional health boards with base hospitals, and a national health council. Greenlane was not his only foundational achievement; he helped set up the Auckland Medical Research Foundation in 1956 and played a key role in establishing the medical school at the University of Auckland; he was its first Chancellor in 1961. Described as a ‘persistent dissenter’ and a ‘passionate reformer’ (in his case they were the same thing), he played a major role in bringing the medical profession into the twentieth century.


Businessman in the Food Processing Industry

23 March 1902, Harwarden, North Canterbury – 8 June 1974, Mangateretere, Hastings.

Once, almost every New Zealand household had a vege garden, a few fruit trees and a chook house. A seasonal activity was bottling and making jam. Today any garden is hobby (often organic or for flowers), and most households purchase their vegetables, fruit and eggs. Other traditional household work such as childcare and dressmaking is also outsourced. The work was mainly done in the home by women (men dug the spud patch); the outsourcing, plus the productivity gains from household appliances enabled them to enter paid employment. Those who supplied the goods and services contributed to women’s liberation. Not that Jim Wattie thought like this. There was fruit wasting on the ground around Hastings where he grew up after his shepherd father bought a nearby farm. Canning it enabled sales in stores and to manufacturers – at first in Auckland, later the world. It was a seasonal activity, so off-season he canned baked beans and spaghetti. Seeking the best technology available, he moved into frozen foods; the firm’s skills in promotion and distribution led to Tegel chickens and flour milling, the rew material supplied from throughout the country. An old-fashioned business man who knew his workers personally, he gave much to charity, including medical research; for many years ‘the Watties’ was the premier prize for books. (Today’s successor is NZ Post.) A nationalist, he would have been disappointed when his business was taken over by a global company but the hassled housewife-employee can still find his name in the supermarket.


Public Servant, Educationalist

16 June 1902, Leeds, England – 10 March 1998, Wellington

‘Beeb’ transformed New Zealand education. Arriving here at the age of four, he got from his Yorkshire family a sense of the tension between inherited culture and colonial adaptation. He studied philosophy, psychology and education at Canterbury University College taking his doctorate in Manchester (and later studying in the US). He became the first director of the NZ Council for Educational Research, catching the attention of the new Minister of Education, Peter Fraser [8], who arranged for his appointment as director of education in 1940. In his twenty-year stint he oversaw the development of preschool services; primary and secondary school curricula; advisory services and new teaching materials for teachers; new multi-purpose schools; and the evolution of technical high schools into tertiary technical institutes; gave greater attention to the education of children with disabilities and in remote rural districts and the Pacific Islands; rejuvenated apprenticeships; and expanded university education to a wider range of students. He wrote for Fraser one of the most noble sentiments in New Zealand’s social policy: ‘The government’s objective, broadly expressed, is that every person, whatever [her or] his level of academic ability, whether he [or she] be rich or poor, whether he [or she] live in country or town, has a right, as a citizen, to a free education of the kind for which he [or she] is best fitted and to the fullest extent of [her or] his power,’ the additions reflect the apology in his 1992 memoir, The Biography of an Idea.


Pahiatua MP, Prime Minister

11 February 1904, Piahiatua – 8 December 1983, Wellington

‘Kiwi Keith’ Holyoake presided over the post-war boom, as Minister of Agriculture 1949-1957, National Prime Minister in 1957 and 1960-1972, and an effective opposition leader between. His family led a peripatetic life until it settled on a hop, tobacco and fruit farm in Riwaka. Holyoake left school to work on the farm at 12 but continued his education at home with his schoolteacher mother. He won the Motueka parliamentary seat in 1932, to be mentored by Gordon Coates [2], losing it in the Labour landslide of 1938. He won the safe Pahiatua seat in the next election in 1943, retiring in 1977 when he became Governor-General. In the interim he was involved with many farmer organisations. Had he been in parliament in 1940 he may have become second leader of the recently formed National Party. Instead he took over from city-based Sidney Holland, who retired in 1957. He once portrayed his policies as ‘steady as she goes’, capturing his characteristic style of political management, for the longest period of relatively interrupted prosperity in New Zealand’s economic history enabled steady, if unimaginative progress, in many social areas. The last six years of his premiership were more troubled. He reluctantly agreed to the American request to send troops to Vietnam, upsetting the burgeoning youth movement of the 1960s. In late 1966 the price of wool collapsed, the post-war boom came to an end and his ministry struggled with rebalancing the economy, a task left to Rob Muldoon [59], whom he mentored.


Farmer, Chairman of the Wool Board

17 January 1904, Christchurch – 26 January 1981, Mt Peel, Canterbury.

From the early European settlement, New Zealand’s exports (gold rushes aside) were dominated by wool until 1966. Jack Acland, born into the family that had the high country sheep station at Mount Peel, played a key role in the wool industry in the 1930s to 1970s. He became a National Party MP in 1942 (he had been in local politics since 1934), but was given the unwinnable seat of Timaru in the 1946 election after the positions he took were thought more akin to Labour’s. He was elected a growers’ representative on the Wool Board from 1947 to 1973 (chairman from 1960). The collapse of wool prices in 1966 was due to the rise of synthetic fibres. Acland presided over a vigorous response of technological research, innovation, and international marketing. Despite these efforts – and a brief upsurge in 1972 – wool prices never really recovered; the New Zealand economy took a long time to adjust to the collapse of its premier export industry. Because the wool came mainly from crossbred sheep the wool and meat industries were inter-dependent. The intimate nature of the corporatist structure of New Zealand during this period is illustrated by Acland chairing the Wool Board at the same time as his brother-in-law John Ormond [25] chaired the Meat Board. Acland was a man with a genuine concern for the welfare of his fellow man, for the lives of women in the home, and for the idea and practice of the family farm.


Farmer, Chairman of the Meat Board

8 September 1905, Waipukurau – 8 March 1995, Waipukurau.

The introduction of refrigeration in 1882 enabled the export of meat, which became an increasingly important part of New Zealand’s foreign exchange earning. Since 1922 meat exports have been regulated (to some extent) by the Meat (Producers) Board. John Ormond was a member from 1933 – except when he did war service (he won a BEM for gallantry and was wounded in the withdrawal from Greece) – to 1972 (chairman from 1951). Ormond, with deep family roots in Hawkes Bay, was a brother-in-law to Jack Acland [24] who headed the Wool Board. While the two commodities had different challenges, they were interlinked because they mainly came from cross-bred sheep (although beef was also important). Red meats were under threat from white meats (chicken, pork and fish) but there was rising international demand and a need for market diversification, while the critical but increasingly restricted access to the British market (especially after the UK joined the European Union) had to be maintained. Ormond proved to be a formidable and tireless negotiator. The local meat processing industry also proved troublesome, complicated by a diversity of political views that demanded skilful management. Ormond’s mentor was Gordon Coates [2], but his dalliances with various political parties included the possibility of joining Labour. He was fiercely committed to a cooperatively run industry based on the family farm. When the price of wool collapsed those elements, its diversification and openness to technical change, enabled the meat industry to struggle through, although it was never easy.


Samoan Paramount Chief

? 1905, Samoa– 5 April 1963, Samoa.

New Zealanders cannot be proud of their first fifteen years of administration of Samoa, from 1920. Governmental blundering reached its lowest point on ‘Black Saturday’, 28 December 1929, when eleven Samoans and a European constable died during a demonstration welcoming home a political exile. The path to Samoan independence began with the 1935 Labour Government, but the development of the required political institutions (including fair treatment of European settlers) was a slow process with full independence beginning on 1 January 1962, the first such state in the Pacific. Tamasese Mea’ole, had taken the title of Tupua – the paramount chief of the SaTupua clan – when his older brother, Lealofi was shot in the back in the Black Saturday melee. (The other paramount chiefs were from the Malietoa, Mata’afa and Tuimaleali’ifano clans.) He was a fautua (adviser to the administrating authority) through the negotiations. Fortunately the Mau, the political movement of which Tamasese was a leader, had a non-violent philosophy. With the wisdom of the Samoan leadership and of Guy Powles [26] there was much goodwill, which continues to this day. One consequence is that more than 130,000 Samoans (and about the same number of other Pacific Islanders) live in, and are integral members, of New Zealand society, while celebrating their home islands and their culture. Tamasese chose not to be prime minister but was joint first head of state with Malietoa Tanumafili II. Alas he died less than two years after independence.


Diplomat, Ombudsman

5 April 1905, Otaki – 24 October 1994, Wellington

Guy Powles’sw father was a sawmiller later becoming a regular soldier who served with distinction in the First World War and as a senior officer in the 1920s. Powles studied law, followed by war service, including at Guadalcanal. Afterwards he joined the diplomatic service serving briefly in Washington. Working for the Far Eastern Commission he visited Japan, to be profoundly affected by its devastation from the atomic bombing. In 1949 he became High Commissioner in Samoa where, with a growing appreciation of Samoan culture and tradition, he established a close relationship with the two surviving fautua, Tupua Tamasese Mea’ole [26] and Malietoa Tanumafili II, to develop a series of constitutional changes that led to the independent state of Western Samoa. Given his heavy involvement it was deemed appropriate to change the high commissioner in the run-up to independence; in 1960 he went to India as High Commissioner. In 1962 Powles became New Zealand’s (and the English-speaking world’s) first Ombudsman, bringing to the office the same ‘fairness, reason and fairplay – with not a little compassion’ which marked his success in Samoa. His approach of being investigative and consultative rather than adversarial, and yet independent, won widespread acceptance of the office. His 1976 recommendations on the NZSIS’s treatment of Bill Sutch [30] precipitated the 1982 Official Information Act. Following his retirement in 1977, having also organised New Zealand’s South Pacific Year of 1971, he maintained an interest in numerous causes; which reflected his humanitarian instincts and interest in international affairs.


Secretary of External Affairs

29 November 1906, Picton – 30 November 1978, Wellington.

In 1932 New Zealand’s diplomatic service consisted of the High Commission in London and a couple of advisers (Carl Berendsen and Dick Campbell) in ministerial offices. Even relations with Australia, such as there were, operated through London. As secretary of external affairs from 1943 to 1966 Alister McIntosh presided over the development of New Zealand diplomatic service to a wide representation throughout the world, serviced by a career civil service. More important than the institutional arrangements, he, with prime ministers such as Peter Fraser [8] (Mac – as he was universally and affectionately known – also ran the prime minister’s office) evolved an independent approach to foreign affairs in which the diversity of missions showed that New Zealand was no longer dependent upon a single country but would pursue its own interests, judiciously mixing principled stances with a realistic appreciation of the limitations of effectiveness of a small country on the margins of the world. McIntosh took a university degree in history working part-time in the public service (he was a Carnegie fellow in 1932 studying libraries in the US) and joined the prime minister’s department in 1935. In 1966 he became ambassador in Rome – his first appointment to a mission. On retirement he was active in library and broadcasting affairs. While presenting himself of modest talents, he was an excellent administrator and a wise and perceptive strategic thinker, writing in 1943 ‘our rightful place is in the South Pacific paddling our own canoe as best we can.’


President of the Court of Appeal, Royal Commissioner

24 August 1907, Napier– 11 April 2007, Wellington.

Thaddy McCarthy was an eminent jurist – a ‘plain English’ judge with an outstanding ability to make complex matters understandable . He was President (chairman) of the Court of Appeal (then the highest court in the land) from 1973 to 1976 (and a member from 1963). Perhaps his greatest contribution to New Zealand was chairing seven Royal Commissions (a record for the Commonwealth); three on the State Sector (1961-2, 1968, 1972) and four on Horse Racing, Trotting and Dog Racing (1970), Social Security (1972) , Maori Land Courts (1976) and on Nuclear Generation (1976-78). All were distinguished contributions to public policy but perhaps most notable was his encoding the principles of the social security system, which the Labour government of Michael Savage [1] had instituted in 1938. Following his formal retirement he chaired a number of other agencies including the Press Council (which he helped found) and he was commissioner for security appeals from 1977 to 1994. There were few aspects of New Zealand’s development with which he was not involved. Born in Napier, he wanted to go into farming; but could not afford to so he articled as a law clerk, practising as a lawyer from 1931 before becoming a judge of the Supreme (now ‘High’) Court in 1957. He served in the Middle East and Italy during World War II, including working in the headquarters staff of Bernard Freyberg [10]. It is said he ‘thought of himself as an ordinary man [but] he was an extraordinary man with a common touch’.


Public Servant, Public Intellectual

27 June 1907, Southport, Lancashire, England – 28 September 1975. Wellington

Bill Sutch arrived in Wellington at eight months, growing up in a Lancashire Methodist working-class family. He completed a doctorate in economics at Columbia University, returning home through Europe observing the depths of the Great Depression. From 1933 he worked for Ministers of Finance Gordon Coates [2] and Walter Nash. War service, the Ministry of Supply and UNRRA led him to representing New Zealand at the United Nations (1947-1951), where he helped established UNICEF. He returned to be economist and later chief executive of the Department of Industries and Commerce, laying the foundations for the export diversification which followed the wool price collapse of 1966. Near the end of his life he was charged under the Official Secrets Act 1951. Little evidence was provided to the jury (his security files released 25 years later show no significant security concerns) and they acquitted him. From 1964 he was an independent consultant, but continued to play an active role in the public debate articulating in books and lectures the development of a national, rather than colonial, culture. Chairman Thaddeus McCarthy [29] described his submissions to the Royal Commission on Social Security as proposing a ‘minor social revolution’. People were at the core of his vision – children were a key to the future, and he was a vigorous advocate for women’s rights – pursued through an interventionist democratic state, promoting economic activity based on high-quality exports and providing protection and support by means of full employment and public education, health and welfare services.


Writer, Literary Editor, Patron

27 July 1909, Dunedin – 20 May 1973, Dunedin

Although Charles Brasch came from a privileged background, he lost his mother when he was four. He went to Oxford in 1927 and spent the next two decades mainly in Europe and as an archaeologist in Egypt, reflecting a belief that his future was in England with the European tradition. Arriving home in 1946, he established a quarterly journal Landfall, a title reflecting his personal situation as well as echoing the celebrated poem ‘Landfall in Unknown Seas’ by Allen Curnow [34]. For 20 years this meticulous and intelligent editor produced a literary journal of extraordinary quality which was also a forum for critical comment on society and culture. Even today, older readers will cite particular contributions as seminal. Typical of Brasch’s role was pushing Elsie Locke [36] to write with frank honesty about leaving the Communist Party in 1956. A distinguished poet, his standards reflected his belief that New Zealand must adhere to the highest standard of the European tradition, while aiming to establish a worthy New Zealand culture. Landfall depended on – like most literary publications – a subsidy. While the Literary Fund gave regular support, the main source was Brasch’s considerable personal fortune (inherited from his Hallenstein ancestors) which enabled him to edit it full-time. This was also used to support writers and artists and to found fellowships in writing (Burns), music (Mozart) and art (Hodgkins) at the University of Otago – typically anonymously. He left its libraries his rich legacy of books, paintings, and personal papers.



25 March 1909, Devon, England – 28 April 1999, Wellington

New Zealanders knew they lived in ‘the Shaky Isles’ with volcanoes to boot, but it is only recently that scientists have explained that New Zealand is part of a mostly submerged continent which broke away from Gondwanaland and straddles two clashing tectonic plates. At their interface is the Great Alpine Fault discovered in the early 1940s by Harold Wellman (with Dick Willett, a future director of the Geological Survey); the tradition is that they first found it at Hairy Mary Creek. Wellman had come out from England with his family in 1927. Initially trained as a surveyor, he was left unemployed by the Great Depression and bummed around the West Coast. In the 1930s he joined the Geological Survey at the Department of Scientific Research, which was now identifying the commercial opportunities from New Zealand’s mineral reserves. He transferred to Victoria University of Wellington’s geology department in 1958, where his interests spread from the geology of the West Coast to loess in Manawatu, Maori coastal occupation layers, Antarctic geology, sea-level changes, active faulting, recent crustal movements of the southern North Island, and the origins of the Southern Alps. Realising the importance of the new theory of plate tectonics, he proposed the then revolutionary idea that the horizontal displacement on the Alpine Fault had occurred within the last six million years. Today the coloured map of New Zealand with the Great Alpine Fault and the Hikurangi Trench cutting through is so familiar we may overlook the marvellous scientific effort behind it.


Businessman, Inventor

17 May 1911, Hamilton – 8 August-1990, Hamilton.

Nowadays we talk about ‘innovation’; Bill Gallagher and his family just did it. Their greatest legacy is the electric fence, which has been exported to over 100 countries, adapting the basic technology for local conditions: elephant control in Malaysia, protection of Canadian beehives from bears. The firm even designed an electric fence for snails – to stop the dratted molluscs climbing up and shorting the current. As for many inventions, the idea of the fence was serendipitous; a pesky horse was stopped from rubbing against a car by wiring it up. It took much development (and a change of law, because initially the fences could not be wired to the mains) before the boon to farmers managing their pastures became widely available. Bill Gallagher grew up on a farm. Although he got the idea for the electric fence in the mid-1930s, Gallagher Engineering was not established until 1963. In the interim there were many other inventions, boat building and sailing around the South Pacific. The firm thrived but the upheavals of the 1980s meant its engineering activities were sold off and the group concentrated on power fences (it has since expanded – sometimes by takeover – into other products). Why was it not destroyed by the sharemarket boom and bust of the mid 1980s like Allflex, the equally innovative maker of livestock eartags? The Gallagher Group is a family firm unavailable for takeover by short-term financiers who destroy long-term value. Bill’s family is there for the long haul.



17 June 1911, Timaru – 23 September 2001, Auckland.

Allen Curnow is New Zealand’s greatest poet. He began theological training – his father was a vicar – but settled for a BA. In an evolving literary community he began writing poetry, attempting to express an authentic but sceptical New Zealand vision, including the much quoted ‘Not I, some child, born in a marvellous year / Will learn the trick of standing upright here.’ While his introduction to a 1945 anthology of New Zealand poetry was sometimes misread as a narrow nationalist manifesto, it established many of the terms of debate about the history, character, purposes and value of poetry in New Zealand for the rest of the century. Although continuing to write political satire as ‘Whim Wham’, his later poetry turned to probing the relationship between the self and the world, problems of belief and ethics, and the nature of memory, myth, history and language. In 1951, after two decades as a journalist, he was appointed to the staff of Auckland University College. While not a great teacher, his top students found his meticulous analysis of a poem riveting. He continued to write in a long retirement increasingly gaining international recognition. His biographer, Terry Sturm, wrote ‘the two worlds represented by his father and mother – one strongly rooted in New Zealand, the other aware of colonial exile and loss – provided a formative dual influence.’ Curnow succeed in both, here and overseas; he was only the second poet outside Britain to receive the Queen’s Gold Medal for poetry.


Wellington MP, Trade Negotiator, Prime Minister

5 March 1912, Wellington – 30 August 1988, England (suddenly, he was resident in Wellington)

In 1933 Gordon Coates [2] suggested that Britain would be unable to take unlimited quantities of New Zealand produce; it began restricting access after the Second World War. Even though General de Gaulle famously said ‘Non’ to the British application to join the European Economic Community in 1963, thoughtful New Zealanders knew that eventually Britain would form very close links with the rest of Europe. Their response – Bill Sutch [30] was notable here – was a diversification of export products and markets plus an intensive effort to retain the British market for as long as possible. As Minister for Overseas Trade, Jack Marshall was the key politician negotiating the New Zealand Australian Free Trade Agreement in 1966 and the concessions for New Zealand when Britain joined the European Community in 1973. New Zealand did better than Australia over the EC in part because of Marshall’s outstanding negotiating skills. He took over from Keith Holyoake [23] in 1972 an attempt to renew the 12-year National Government, but lost the election at the end of the year. As premier he adopted Owen Woodhouse’s Accident Compensation Scheme [37] and Thaddeus McCarthy’s recommendations on Social Security [29], arguing that National Party was the party of social welfare. Britain was already a diminishing market for New Zealand in 1973, but the public thought Mummy was rushing off with a wicked Continental gentleman. Today there are at least five more important overseas markets but sentiment and history mean that Britain and New Zealand remain cousins.


Peace Worker, Children’s Writer, Historian, Feminist

17 August 1912, Waiuku, South Auckland – 8 April 2001, Christchurch.

New Zealand’s nuclear-free policy grew out of ordinary citizens’ demands. Christian Pacifists were conscientious objectors in both great wars, but it was nuclear weapons (and, later, the Vietnam War) which turned the peace people into a mass movement. Elsie Locke was a typical member, working at a host of activities, encouraging the young. But she was exceptional in the length and depth of her commitment. A second generation feminist, Elsie Farrelly was born in Waiuku, a South Auckland settlement near a Maori kainga. She wanted to write; her large corpus includes children’s books (often with an environmental slant) and histories (she was scrupulous about the treatment of Maori; some whanau call her ‘Aunty’); often both. After a part-time university degree she was active in the Working Women’s Alliance and the formation of the Family Planning Association in the 1930s, joining the Communist Party, which she believed was committed to peace. She left after the 1956 Hungarian Uprising showed it was not, participating in the newly established CND where she played a low-level, but very active, role (she did not want it associated with even ex-Communists). A keen tramper, she – typically for those in the peace movement – also pursued civil liberty, community, environmental and women’s concerns. She had four children and was hospitalised with TB. Christchurch named the park next to its main city pool after her; she biked there daily for a swim almost to the end. There is a bust of Elsie outside the Christchurch Arts Centre.


President of the Court of Appeal, Royal Commissioner

18 July 1916, Napier –

Owen Woodhouse is best known for chairing the Royal Commission on Personal Injury (universally known as the ‘Woodhouse Commission’) which recommended fault-free treatment and compensation for those suffering an accident. Especially because of this report, and his deliberations on matrimonial property, he is seen as an inventive Judge whose name has throughout the world been identified with enlightened reform. Born in Napier, he, like many lawyers of his generation, trained part-time (in Auckland) and did war service, including captaining a torpedo boat, liaising with the Yugoslav partisans, and acting as a naval attaché to the British Embassy in Belgrade, experiences which gave him an independence and confidence in himself and a faith in ordinary New Zealanders. His post-war legal career developed with a commitment to ‘decide cases upon the law as it has been developed and made applicable here for contemporary New Zealand needs and conditions.’ In 1973 he became a judge of the Court of Appeal (then the highest court in New Zealand) and its President (chairman) from 1981 to 1986. He also chaired an Australian enquiry recommending the ending of disparities between the way that victims of accident and sickness should be treated. He said ‘New Zealanders like to think they are good practical people, as they are, but I think they are also a caring community, though they don’t always say much about that. That scheme I tried to put together pulls those two qualities together.’


Natural Scientist, Conservationist

9 September 1916, Auckland – 11 September 1987, Wellington

New Zealand faces an ongoing tension between preserving its unique natural environment and transforming it for economic development. In the nineteenth century the second predominated with a great loss of biota and native locations. Popular and expert movements to protect the environment developed from the beginning of the twentieth century. Charles Fleming, one of New Zealand’s most distinguished environmental scientists, was also active in the conservation movement. He grew up surrounded by scientists, books and collections of natural history; in his teenage years he participate in some major collecting expeditions including one to the Three Kings Islands; later he would visit the Chatham Islands and the Auckland Islands where he did his war service. After arts and science degrees – his masters thesis was on birds – he joined the Geological Survey. Although his research on both land and sea was primarily on the origins of New Zealand’s flora and fauna, he also investigated iron-sand deposits for commercial use. From the 1970s he increased his conservation efforts in the Fauna Protection Advisory Council, the Environmental Council, and the National Parks Authority as well as in the non-government Native Forest Action Council and a wildlife sanctuary. He protested against raising Lake Manapouri to provide more electric power, His ability to cross interdisciplinary boundaries and to communicate his findings well beyond the scientific community, and his first-hand knowledge of many isolated areas, together with his industrious research and numerous publications, made him an accomplished advocate for the environment he so greatly loved.


Athletics Coach, Fitness Pioneer

6 July 1917, Auckland– 11 December 2007, Houston, Texas.

On a marvellous day (2 September 1960) New Zealanders won gold medals for the 800m and 5000m at the Rome Olympics. Peter Snell and Murray Halberg became national celebrities; the man who trained them changed New Zealand. The key to Arthur Lydiard’s scientific training system was an aerobic base, strength from running over hills or sand dunes, and speed from repeated short fast runs. For a while other New Zealand male and female athletes prospered. But training methods cannot be patented and New Zealand’s edge was lost as Lydiard’s approach was adopted throughout the world (for other sports as well). Today’s distance running is dominated by African athletes who, in effective, train on Lydiard principles. Meanwhile he helped found the Auckland Joggers’ Club, beginning a movement for mass fitness, attracting those with heart problems, who unprecedentedly were encouraged to ‘run for their lives’, an activity which has become world-wide. The joggers who populate the streets are partly reflecting the movement to cities with its more sedentary life, but they are also inspired by Lydiard. While he was not a great athlete himself, Lydiard made major sacrifices to pursue his chosen profession, once running daily as a mailman and – more controversially – working for a tobacco company. Sport was still largely amateur in those days. Later he practised as a coach overseas as well as occasionally coaching New Zealand teams. Lydiard was considered too uncompromising to play a significant administrative role in his chosen profession; pioneers often are.


Religious Scholar, Public Intellectual

26 February 1916, Rangiora –

Lloyd Geering is New Zealand’s leading public intellectual and religious thinker. Graduating from the University of Otago as a Doctor of Divinity, he first served as a parish minister in the Presbyterian Church, before turning to theological teaching in 1956, becoming Professor of Religious Studies at Victoria University of Wellington in 1971. In 1967 he was found not guilty in a heresy trial brought by the conservative members of his church, defending himself with a speech that Martin Luther would have approved. He is a radical (some would say ‘secular’) Christian; among Geering’s many provocative publications is Christianity without God. He rejects Christian (and Muslim) fundamentalism, but he also set a standard for all New Zealanders by demonstrating that everyone had the right to follow their own religious conscience. In 1951 82 percent of the population belonged to the big four churches (Anglican, Presbyterian, Catholic and Methodist); in 2006 it was 39 percent. Many give no religious status, but a multitude of smaller religions are flourishing, and the bigger churches tolerate greater diversity of belief. After his formal retirement in 1983, Geering continued active teaching and thinking. In 2010 at the age of 92, he gave four lectures which were published as a book, challenging (yet again) a part of the Bible, for Psalm 90 says the normal life span is ‘three score and ten’ years. In 2006, 8.6 percent of the population were over 70, although not all are as active as he is.



1 August 1919, Timaru – 27 May 1987, Auckland

Many visiting art experts remark on the extensive use of words in New Zealand paintings, one of the many innovations of Colin McCahon who shaped how our artists paint and how we see the world. In 1946 he painted biblical scenes in a New Zealand landscape rather than an Italian renaissance one. (Charles Brasch [31] may have mentioned that Palestine looked like Central Otago.) Today we can see New Zealand landscapes as ‘McCahons’. Following a 1952 trip to Australia sponsored by Brasch, he experimented with cubism; now it is widely accepted. After a trip to America in 1958 he painted on unstretched canvases, including the powerful Northland Panels. He was influenced by sign-writing and comics – later he used darker tones; and he painted words! Spiritual concerns were central to his work – his last paintings were words from the troubling Ecclesiastes scattered through the sky like stars, with a sliver of earth in the corner reflecting our insignificance. Yet he was never readily or quickly accepted. His first substantial painting was refused by the local arts society for an exhibition; other young painters withdrew their work in support. Rejection of McCahon’s innovations was common, although he also had a group of discerning supporters. When his work attracted derision, he was deeply hurt – but he continued to keep to his vision, sacrificing himself and his family for his art. Eventually his work attained international standing; eminent American art historian Thomas Crow brackets McCahon with contemporary American greats Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko.


Secretary of the Treasury

3 March 1919, Vienna – 17 April 1997, Wellington

New Zealand has been blessed with a fine public service notable for its competence, political independence and loyalty. Heinrich Georg Lang was an outstanding example of this tradition. He arrived in New Zealand as a refugee from Hitler in 1938 (remaining an opponent of authoritarianism for the rest of his life). He quickly adapted to his chosen country, including anglicising his name to Henry and going tramping. He took a number of manual jobs becoming a foreman, graduated with a degree in philosophy (later adding a Diploma in Public Administration) and joined the public service in 1946 after a period of war service in the air force. Eventually he settled in the Treasury as a protégé of Bernard Ashwin [18], like him having considerable influence before he became its Secretary in 1968, where he built up a cadre of officers in the best public service tradition, while presiding over, and requiring, a lively debate about the advice being tendered to the government. From the 1950s he supported economic liberalisation, but the greater challenge was managing the adaption of the economy to the structural fall in the wool price in December 1966. He retired in 1977 but continued to be involved in the policy debate, while actively promoting the arts (and continuing skiing). New Zealand took about 1000 Jewish refugees in the 1930s; Lang was only one of many who made significant contributions to New Zealand’s development; what if we had taken 2000?



20 July 1919, Auckland – 11 January, 2008, Auckland

While Ed Hillary is internationally known, with Nepali Tenzing Norgay, as the first to climb Mount Everest, his iconic status in New Zealand arises from the grace with which he approached his fame. ‘The media have classified me as a hero, but I have always recognised myself as being a person of modest abilities. My achievements have resulted from a goodly share of imagination and plenty of energy.’ To which can be added the intelligent application of practical manual skills, his decency and his commitment to good works, attributes also greatly valued by New Zealanders. Hillary grew up in rural Auckland; at first he was a beekeeper, but he was always mountaineering, even when he was in the RNZAF during the war. In the 1953 British expedition to Everest, he and Tenzing ‘knocked the bastard off’. For the rest of his life he made his living largely from expeditions and writing highly readable books with a spare, understated, and often humorous style. In the 1955 Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic expedition, Hillary’s team was the first to reach the South Pole overland since Robert Falcon Scott’s tragic journey. Shortly after, he established the Himalayan Trust, which built schools, airfields, bridges, hospitals and clinics and restored Buddhist monasteries in Nepal. The Sherpas called him Burra Sahib (‘big in heart’). He was the New Zealand high commissioner in Delhi and to Kathmandu from 1985 to 1989. New Zealand’s outbreak of grief at his death has been compared to that which occurred when Norman Kirk died [46].


Rugby Player & Coach

9 February 1920, Oamaru –

Sportswriter Don Cameron described Fred Allen as ‘THE man of New Zealand rugby’. He missed playing a lot of rugby because of the Second World War, fudging his age to join up in 1940, and serving in the Pacific and Italy where he was wounded, missing death by inches. At the war’s end he was commandeered by Bernard Freyberg [10], to join the famous ‘2NZEF Kiwis’ team. He was first picked for the All Blacks at the age of 26, captaining in all his 26 games, including the 1949 tour to South Africa, notorious among the game’s lovers for the All Blacks scoring more tries but losing all four tests, and its dissenters for going there for the second time without Maori in deference to apartheid. Disillusioned – dropping his boots into the Indian Ocean on the way home – Allen turned to coaching with the extraordinary record of Auckland’s 25 consecutive defences of the Ranfurly Shield from 1960 to 1963, and 14 wins, no losses with the All Blacks in 1966 and 1967. Later he became president of the Auckland Rugby Union, although the Wellington hierarchy never warmed to him. Despite his business activities, including the Fred R. Allen range of women’s fashion , his nickname ‘The Needle’ reflected his disciplined coaching. Asked to compare Auckland shield sides he said the recent ones were ‘fitter and stronger than we were in the 60s. They would win, but I wonder whether they would have had as much fun as we did.’



28 September 1921, Wellington – 31 December 1982, Wellington

Bruce Mason wanted to be a professional playwright. There was a long tradition of theatre in New Zealand, often amateur, sometimes professional visiting companies, presenting foreign and well-established plays. But professional local theatre with plays about New Zealand issues? Surely not? Today every major centre has at least one professional theatre, and they put on New Zealand plays – perhaps beyond Mason’s wildest dreams, although he was a founder of Downstage. He wrote solo plays, like his best known The End of the Golden Weather, for the practical reasons that they required minimal resources to produce and could be easily taken on tours. Golden Weather (written in 1959 and revised in 1970, later turned into a film by Ian Mune) reflects his childhood on Takapuna beach. (He said ‘This huge panorama has formed a backdrop to my life. No anguish but was not subtly redeemed by it: no joy not deepened by it’.) Other plays reflected Maori-Pakeha themes stimulated by his editorship of Te Ao Hou, a magazine about Maori issues. He wrote satirical pieces on such topics as a New Zealander returning from overseas to a stifling suburban life, New Zealand society crushing a different immigrant culture, and New Zealand’s jingoism, His works, though, were also imaginative, like his last (35th) play Blood of the Lamb. One of its characters observes, ‘Well, I guess that’s the most we can expect from this time and clime.’ With Mason we got better.



5 December 1922, Auckland – 20 June 1993, Auckland

Historians can make a profound difference. No one has contributed more to the study of history than Keith Sinclair, professor of history at the University of Auckland, whose colleagues and students are among the fine group of professional historians who have developed the understanding of our history which so influences all New Zealanders. A charismatic lecturer and a gifted, prolific and accessible scholar, his reputation spread far beyond New Zealand’s universities. He wrote many books, most notably his best selling Penguin History of New Zealand, but more typical are those which involved a close analysis of archives, covering the racial troubles of the nineteenth century and two major biographies, of William Pember Reeves and Walter Nash. (He also wrote an autobiography, Halfway Around the Harbour.) Sinclair was the founding editor of The New Zealand Journal of History, and proposed The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. He was born and grew up in Auckland, and spent much of his life in Auckland – he served overseas during the Second World War – completing his BA and going on to a PhD at the Auckland University College. Asked about his special interests when applying for training college, he was laughed at for saying ‘reading New Zealand literature’; the interviewing panel thought there was none. As well as his histories he wrote a children’s book and published many poems. Despite calling New Zealanders ‘Prussians of the Pacific’, his poem ‘The Bomb is Made’ is an integral part of our peace tradition.


Christchurch MP, Prime Minister

6 January 1923, Waimate – 31 August 1974, Wellington

Norm Kirk was prime minister for less than two years (1972-1974). But the development of the Labour Party under his leadership reflected an evolving New Zealand; he inspired Labour politicians through to the Clark government (1999-2008). Kirk was particularly committed to the welfare state and social justice, to an independent foreign policy, to the arts and education, and to harmonious race relations. His support for opening up the economy to the world was almost a change in direction, but it was in a context of ‘nationhood’, with a more inclusive vision than traditional chauvinism. People wondered whether he had Maori ancestry. He had not; he was just a great human being, spontaneously reaching out as portrayed in the famous photo with the boy on the Waitangi marae. Kirk was born in Waimate, grew up in straitened circumstances, even building his own house in Kaiapoi, where he became mayor at 30. He had limited formal education but his natural intelligence, his energy, and a drive for self-improvement, combining the charisma of Savage [1] with the political astuteness of Fraser [8] and the vision of them both, quickly marked him as a star when he entered parliament in 1958. His blind spot was a failure to recognise the increasing importance of women in public life; perhaps they would have made a lesser contribution to Labour had he lived longer. Even so, the outbreak of nation-wide grief at ‘Big Norm’s’ death has been compared to that which occurred when Savage died.

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Unionist, Feminist

11 November 1923, Upper Hutt – 12 June 2005, Wellington

Sonja Davies was a second-generation feminist who affected many aspects of New Zealand life including human rights, healthcare, and early childhood education; she also campaigned in the peace and anti-apartheid movements. No one has had more impact on women’s working conditions. Sonja Vile was born in Upper Hutt to a solo mother. (She did not discover that she had Ngai Tahu ancestry until she was 46.) Leaving home at 16, she became a nurse, contracting tuberculosis in her workplace (and also suffering sexual harassment). She was a solo mother herself for a time but married Charlie Davies, a union organiser, taking over his job when ill-health forced him to retire. She worked her way up through the union movement to become (the first woman) vice-president of the Federation of Labour in 1983, retiring in 1987. Earlier she had steered through the adoption of the Working Women’s Charter; the most contentious of its 16 points was the right to safe abortion. She spent 1987 to 1993 as a member of parliament opposing the economic policies of the Fourth Labour and National governments, a time she describes as the ‘worst years of my life’. In retirement she kept fighting for her causes as long as her health allowed. Her autobiography Bread and Roses was turned into a film by Gaylene Preston. There is an annual Sonja Davies Peace Award and a kowhai tree with a plaque honouring her in Parliament grounds, while the Labour Caucus Room in the building bears her name.

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Journalist, Novelist

6 November 1925, Masterton –

The media is such a dynamic fluid complex and fragmented phenomenon that it is difficult to represent it by a single portrait. Yet whether it was the radio from the 1930s, television from the 1960s, or newspapers from as far back as we can remember, it has shaped New Zealand in the way it thought about itself and what it knew. Ian Cross’s life involved various aspects of it. He worked as a journalist in the 1940s and 1950s (later switching sides to work in public relations), was a television commentator in the 1960s and 1980s, edited The New Zealand Listener from 1973 to 1977, and was chief executive of Television New Zealand from 1977 to 1986. when TV3 began competiting against it. Cross was born in Masterton and grew up in Wanganui with an ambition to be a novelist. His writing – he also served on the Indecent Publications Tribunal and the Arts Council – includes two memoirs and four novels, most notably the much praised The God Boy. He abandoned fiction in 1961, because he found it difficult to make a living. ‘I’m married and have three children [there was a fourth on the way] … like eating and drinking, and a reasonable degree of comfort, and must provide these and other satisfactions for five people … Nobody asked me to be a writer and I enjoy being a father much more.’ In 1993 he advised aspiring writers to ‘Leave New Zealand as fast as you can.’ Many stayed on.

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28 August 1924, Dunedin – 29 January 2004, Dunedin

Janet Frame overcame poverty, insecurity and exceptional shyness (which was cruelly mistaken for schizophrenia) in order to write. Yet her intelligence, her verbal dexterity, her imaginative powers and her cussed determination produced outstanding and internationally recognised novels, short stories, poems and three autobiographies. She came to the attention of the wider public with her autobiographical writing, which was filmed by Jane Campion as An Angel at My Table. Because her father was a railwayman, Janet moved around in her early childhood, eventually settling in Oamaru, her ‘kingdom by the sea’. Success at school did not translate into her becoming a teacher, and she ended up under psychiatric care, some of which would be judged barbaric today. The success of her first book persuaded her doctors not to proceed with a pre-frontal lobotomy. She lived a peripatetic life, living overseas and in a variety of New Zealand towns and sometimes cities, supported by the literary community (including Charles Brasch [31], Frank Sargeson, Karl Stead, Denis Glover and Michael King) despite its fractious nature. She showed other New Zealand writers that it was possible, with persistence,  to push boundaries and to remain true to one’s own vision. Widely respected and admired abroad, today’s writers have been influenced by her, and there is now a scholarly industry devoted to her work. In the long run, she is likely to have a similar role and status in New Zealand as Katherine Mansfield, but she was based here.


Anthropologist, teacher

21 February 1930, Auckland –

Joan Metge is an outstanding example of the many Pakeha New Zealanders who have helped non-Maori to come to terms with Maori. It was not so much of a problem before 1950, because most Maori lived in rural areas isolated from Pakeha. When they began arriving in the cities, cultural inter-relations became more common and intense. Joan’s life follows that story. She was born and grew up in Auckland with no Maori contacts. She was ten when her family moved to Pukekohe where a warm friendship with a Maori classmate revealed ‘a whole hidden Maori world that Pakeha didn’t know about, that I wanted to explore’. She trained as an anthropologist, doing her first fieldwork in in the Far North and Auckland, tracing the shift from country to city in her first book A New Maori Migration. Her ten books are the printed record of all her teaching in which she has shared the knowledge and insights entrusted to her by Maori mentors, and which highlight the rewards of cross-cultural dialogue. Fittingly The Treaty of Waitangi Companion ends with a quotation from her latest book Tuamaka: the Challenge of Difference in Aotearoa New Zealand, published when she was 80. It advises leaving Hobson’s’ ‘He iwi tahi tatou’ untranslated because of the complexities in its meaning, ‘while all of us continue to debate and work out how to relate to each other, with the Treaty as our guide.’

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Kaumatua, teacher

1 March 1932, Waiaua, Opotiki –

Rangi Walker has been deeply involved in the development of Maori following their migration to cities after the Second World War. As chairman of the Auckland Maori District Council from 1974 to 1990 (he was secretary from 1969), he played a pivotal role in the adaption of Maori and their institutions to urban life, including being associated with and influenced by – but not a member of – Nga Tamatoa, the new assertive generation of young Maori of the 1970s responding to Maori urbanisation. But he also interpreted Maori ways and concerns to the non-Maori, notably in a series of columns in The Listener (some of which were published in Nga Tau Tohetohe) and in other books, notably Ka Whawhai Tonu Matou: Struggle Without End, which provides Maori view of New Zealand’s history. He has also written the definitive biography of Sir Apirana Ngata [3], He Tipua: the Life and Times of Sir Apirana Ngata. An anthropologist with a doctorate, he has published numerous papers on Maori education and organised several Maori leadership conferences on urbanisation, gangs, Maori land, Maori fisheries, Maori educational development, and Maori representation in Parliament. Despite an active life in Auckland where he lives, he is closely involved with his iwi Whakatohea of Opotiki (where he was born). He is also of Lebanese descent. An emeritus Professor of the University of Auckland, he also worked as a primary school teacher and at the Auckland Teachers College.



11 August 1931, Mitimiti, Northland –

While some Maori preserved and developed traditional Maori arts and crafts (Hetet [11]), others seized on European art forms such as writing, music (Morrison [53]) and painting, creatively weaving into them Maori traditions and perspectives, but also breaking out in new directions which greatly influenced Pakeha artists too. Ralph Hotere is an outstanding example of the post-war Maori renaissance of artists who migrated from the countryside into the cities. Born just north of the Hokianga Harbour, he went to Teachers’ College and became a schools’ art advisor. In 1961 – he was 30 – a scholarship enabled him to study in London and visit Europe, including the Sangro War Cemetery, where his brother, who fought in the Maori Battalion in Italy, is buried. He returned home in 1965 to produce stunning series after stunning series. Many reflect political topics and Maori concerns; many are innovative in their use and treatment of materials notably metal for ‘canvases’ and car enamels for paint; some engage with New Zealand literature. They can be ironic but all are about religion, spirituality, silence and beauty. Often they involve an imaginative use of Maori ideas or words. It is said he made black a respectable colour – sometimes the only colour in his works. Hotere settled in Aramoana near Dunedin (where he protested against the aluminium smelter which was never built – some of those works are in aluminium frames), but he worked all over New Zealand and exhibited all over the world.

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Popular Singer

18 August 1935, Rotorua – 24 September 2009, Rotorua.

New Zealand’s early popular music came from Britain, although other migrants added to it. From the 1920s, popular American culture – especially film and music – had an impact while, as they urbanised, Maori contributions became prominent. (The Maori Battalion returned with a rich collection of Italian songs.) Legendary Howard Morrison – he was part Irish and Scottish – was born in Rotorua, then a village of 6500 souls. He grew up in a rural environment – except for a brief stint at Te Aute College near Napier (20,000) and died in a Rotorua of 55,000. In between, he toured New Zealand and the world. He first came to national prominence as the leader of the Howard Morrison Quartet which performed foreign songs adapted and interspersed with New Zealand material and approaches. Some were subversive, ‘The Battle of the Waikato’ is about the New Zealand Wars from a Maori perspective; ‘My Old Man’s a Dustman’ got changed to ‘My Old Man’s an All Black’ (Morrison’s father was a Maori All Black) with the line ‘There aint no horis in the scrum’ referring to the exclusion of the Maori from rugby tours to South Africa. Front-stage they built the audiences, back-stage the infrastructure required for indigenous popular music. After the quartet broke up, Morrison continued to perform solo, famously combining‘How Great Thou Art’,with ‘Whakaaria Mai’ at a 1981 Royal Command Performance. Today it is almost a national hymn, and a sign of how in a secular society Maori have maintained a spirituality.

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1 February 1938, Dunedin –

‘From foreigners with their unintelligible cooking … defend us’ was the ironic prayer from the early 1950s of M. K. Joseph, a soldier who had served in Italy. After the cuisine revolution, it would be rare for even the plainest meal to have no ‘foreign’ ingredient; Continental and Asian style meals are common. One of the leaders of the revolution was first chosen because she was conservative. Born Alison Payne (her diva sister Patricia says she cooks better than Alison sings), she graduated from, and taught in, the Otago School of Home Science. Her television career as a cook started in 1965, to offset ‘Galloping Gourmet’ Graham Kerr, whose approach was thought to be out of place in a home kitchen. Four million copies of 100 plus cookbooks followed, with ‘everyday food’ – nutritious, safe, affordable, time-efficient and practical, its ingredients available from local shops; a boon to the busy housewife, now probably in the paid workforce. The most significant food-writer in New Zealand over the past four decades, Holst’s recipes have evolved to suit new kitchen equipment, newly available imported foods, especially condiments, and new knowledge of nutrition. Today cooking has its practical side and its hobby side, for many men and women like to serve a sophisticated meal for the pleasure of doing so. Many more go to restaurants which offer a wide variety of menus, based on fresh produce with matching wine. We have moved from dull uniformity to a celebration of variety, just as our food has.



2 August 1937, Wellington –

After the war many New Zealand businesses were profiting comfortably, hiding behind external and internal protections and subsidies provided by the government, so they did not bother to explore new markets nor to pursue efficiency. Sometimes the firm founder retired leaving a generation which had neither his energy nor flair. ‘Corporate predator’ Ron Brierley raided companies whose assets were not generating sufficient profits. Reorganisation ‘unlocked value’ which frequently meant the stripping out of underutilised assets and redundancies in low productivity divisions. The business establishment hated Brierley, for their comfortable directorships were under threat from this bumptious young man. Many took action to protect themselves; some even improved their firm’s performance. Had there been no Brierley in the 1960s and 1970s, business would have found it much harder when the protection was removed the 1980s. Brierley grew up in Wellington, not even completing an accounting qualification – although he showed a mastery of company accounts – and founded Brierley Investments Limited in 1961. By 1981 the conglomerate was one of the largest companies in the New Zealand sharemarket. His investing strategy was actually quite cautious; BIL was slow into the sharemarket boom of 1985-87, avoiding the collapse after the October 1987 sharemarket crash experienced by many investment companies which did not do as much homework – but only by a ‘gnat’s tit’. But there were not the same takeover opportunities after 1990; without protection businesses were leaner and meaner. BIL became an ordinary investment company and Brierley stepped down.

57. SIR EDWARD TAIHAKURIE DURIE Jnr Ngati Raukawa, Ngati Kauwhata. Ngati Rangitane

Chairman of Waitangi Tribunal

18 January 1940, Fielding –

Eddie Durie was the first Maori judge of the Maori Land Court (from 1973), its first Maori Chief Judge (1981-1998) and the first Maori judge on the High Court (1998-2004). But his singular importance to the development of New Zealand is that from 1981 to 2000 he was (second) chairman of the Waitangi Tribunal, New Zealand’s ‘truth and reconciliation’ commission. Astute and creative, he transformed the Tribunal from a cultural sideshow to one of the central institutions for remaking Maori policy, especially after 1985 when the Tribunal’s scope was extended back to 1840. His lucid reports brought into prominence Maori perspectives in a multi-cultural framework, confronting all New Zealanders with the manifest wrongs of the past. He held Tribunal hearings on the marae increasing its sensitivity to Maori customary practices (kawa). Durie wrote there was a need to ‘move beyond guilt [i.e. the issue of the Crown’s wrongdoings and Maori grievances] and ask what can be done now and in the future to rebuild the tribes’, which he saw as a prime obligation under the Treaty of Waitangi. This key shift in approach paved the way for the settlements with iwi that began in the 1990s. In 2009 he chaired the Ministerial Taskforce on the Foreshore and Seabed Act, another Maori grievance. Durie grew up in the Manawatu and went to Te Aute College (as did Ngata [3] and Morrison [54] ); after graduating with arts and law degrees he practised as a lawyer in Tauranga, specialising in Maori land law.



22 October 1944, Wellington –

Sandra Coney is probably New Zealand’s best-known representative of third-wave feminism which has so dramatically changed women’s lives. In 1972 she was one of the founders and first editor (to 1985) of Broadsheet, the monthly magazine which supported the progress of women (especially vigorously supporting Maori women). Then there was no equal pay for the same job nor women judges, only four women members of parliament, child care outside the family was rare, sexual harassment in the workplace was tolerated, lesbians were in the closet, and 30 percent of the (market) labour force was female in 1971 (it was 47 percent in 2006; in 1936 it was 22 percent). To describe oneself then as ‘Ms’ was an act of aggression. A particular concern was women’s health – the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act was passed in 1977. Ms Coney, with Phillida Bunkle, wrote the ‘Unfortunate Experiment’ which precipitated the Cartwright Commission leading to better cervical health care and institutionalised informed consent for everyone. Sandra Pearce was born and grew up in Auckland. Like many of her generation she first went to Teachers College, moved on to university but it proved difficult because there were no creche facilities for her children; the university council rejected women’s demands for one. As in the case of other makers of New Zealand, many of the radical concerns of her youth are now accepted by almost everyone. More recently her political activities have extended to the environment; she represents Waitakere on the Auckland Council.


Auckland MP, Minister of Finance, Prime Minister

25 September 1921, Auckland – 5 August 1992, Auckland.

Rob Muldoon had the misfortune to take over the finance portfolio in early 1967 shortly after the long-term collapse of wool prices, struggling with the consequence throughout the following 17 years – except 1972-1975 when his party was in opposition. The collapse of a major export sector – wool plus the joint-product of sheep-meats were over half of export revenue – required a major economic adjustment. Rather than addressing it, Muldoon permitted inflation, shifting the real income reductions onto those whose savings were devalued. His mentor was Keith Holyoake [23], but his economic management became increasingly erratic and opportunistic, as with the major energy-based projects (Think Big) which left the financial risk with the public purse. Muldoon was an only child, with a permanently hospitalised father, hiding his private shyness by an aggressive and arrogant public persona, much disliked – from those who opposed his backing of the 1981 Springbok Rugby Tour to the new private enterprise sector which thought he favoured old interests. He did; his political survival depended upon them. But he also saw himself passionately defending the New Zealand values with which he had grown up, derived from the hardship of the Great Depression, the camaraderie of war service, and the opportunities which enabled him to train as an accountant in London. He believed in the importance of social cohesion, and yet was the most divisive premier in New Zealand’s history, as he tried to prevent social and economic change. When Muldoon left office, the pent-up pressures exploded into Rogernomics [60].


South Auckland MP, Minister of Finance

5 December 1937, Auckland –

For 50 years, the shadow of the 1930s Great Depression dominated New Zealand’s economic management. Roger Douglas was the first Minister of Finance to be born after it. In a third of the time of his predecessor, Robert Muldoon [59], his stewardship transformed the economic mechanism, abandoning the controls which had been built up since the Slump and intensified by Muldoon. So he quelled inflation and increased economic flexibility. But to do this he had to abandon fairness. The new aim was to eliminate ‘privilege’, the advantages which came with the old system’s controls. Douglas was privileged. His grandfather and father had held safe Labour seats. Trained as an accountant, Douglas himself held a South Auckland seat for 21 years. The ending of one privileged group created another, even allowing for those who committed kamikaze in the sharemarket boom and bust of 1986-7. The new wealthy were different from their predecessors. Instead of spending quietly, many flaunted their wealth; even charitable contributions – and there were many generous ones, as the state reduced its patronage – were no longer mainly anonymous. Yet the changes did not improve economic performance, precipitating New Zealand into a seven-year recession from 1986, the longest post-war stagnation (thus far); in four years almost half the labour force became unemployed. Douglas argued for more change, but the public turned from ‘Rogernomics’, although they remained uncertain as to which of the old values and ways they wanted to retain and how to adapt them for the new conditions.


New Zealanders’ Mothers and Fathers

DTE: 4 April 1919, Sheffield, England – 6 November 2005. Christchurch

HSPE: 12 July 1918, Trentham – 29 April, 2000, Christchurch

While there are New Zealanders who made an exceptional contribution to the making of New Zealand or who illustrate exceptional forces for change, all the individuals who lived through the period made a contribution and collectively had more impact than any single New Zealander, or even 60 of them.