The Prime Minister of New Zealand (Māori: Te Pirimia o Aotearoa) is the head of government of New Zealand. The incumbent Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, leader of the New Zealand Labour Party, took office on 26 October 2017.
The Prime Minister (informally abbreviated to PM) ranks as the most senior government minister. She or he is responsible for chairing meetings of Cabinet; allocating posts to ministers within the government; acting as the spokesperson for the government; and providing advice to the sovereign or the sovereign's representative, the governor-general. She or he also has ministerial responsibility for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
The office exists by a long-established convention, which originated in New Zealand's former colonial power, the then United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The convention stipulates that the governor-general must select as prime minister the person most likely to command the support, or confidence, of the House of Representatives. This individual is typically the parliamentary leader of the political party that holds the largest number of seats in that chamber.[b] The prime minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their actions to the governor-general, to the House of Representatives, to their political party, and ultimately to the national electorate.
Originally the head of government was titled "colonial secretary" or "first minister". This was changed in 1869 to "premier". That title remained in use for more than 30 years, until Richard Seddon informally changed it to "prime minister" in 1901 during his tenure in the office. Following the declaration of New Zealand as a Dominion in 1907, the title of Prime Minister has been used exclusively in English. In Māori, the title pirimia, meaning "premier", continues to be used. New Zealand prime ministers are styled as "The Right Honourable", a privilege they retain for life.
|Prime Minister of New Zealand
Te Pirimia o Aotearoa
since 26 October 2017
|Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet|
|Style||The Right Honourable|
|Status||Head of government|
|Reports to||House of Representatives|
|Residence||Premier House, Wellington|
|Seat||The Beehive, Wellington|
|Appointer||Governor-General of New Zealand|
|Term length||At the Governor-General's pleasure[a]|
|Constituting instrument||None (constitutional convention)|
|Inaugural holder||Henry Sewell|
(as Colonial Secretary)
|Formation||7 May 1856|
The post of prime minister is, like other ministerial positions, an appointment by the governor-general on behalf of the monarch. By the conventions of responsible government, the governor-general will call to form a government the individual most likely to receive the support, or confidence, of a majority of the elected members of parliament. In making this appointment, convention requires the governor-general to act on the outcome of the electoral process and subsequent discussions between political parties; and act on the outcome of the political process by which the person who will lead the government as prime minister is identified. In practice, the position falls to the parliamentary leader of the largest political party among those forming the government. The prime minister may lead a coalition government and/or a minority government dependent on support from smaller parties during confidence and supply votes.
Once appointed and sworn in by the governor-general, the prime minister remains in the post until dismissal, resignation, or death in office.[c] The prime minister, like other ministers, holds office "during the pleasure of the Governor-General", so theoretically, the governor-general can dismiss the prime minister at any time; however, their power to do so is heavily circumscribed by convention. The governor-general might rarely exercise reserve power to dismiss the prime minister in circumstances pertaining to a non-confidence motion against the government in parliament.
The office is not defined by codified laws, but by unwritten customs known as constitutional conventions which developed in Britain and were replicated in New Zealand. These conventions are for the most part founded on the underlying principle that the prime minister and fellow ministers must not lose the confidence of the democratically elected component of parliament, the House of Representatives. The prime minister is leader of the Cabinet (itself a body existing by convention), and takes a coordinating role.
The Cabinet Manual 2008 provides an outline of the prime minister's powers and responsibilities.
By constitutional convention, the prime minister holds formal power to advise the sovereign. This means that as long as the prime minister has the confidence of parliament, they alone may advise the monarch on:
As head of government, the prime minister alone has the right to advise the governor-general to:
The prime minister is regarded by convention as "first among equals". They do hold the most senior post in government, but are also required to adhere to any decisions taken by Cabinet, as per the convention of collective ministerial responsibility. The actual ability of a prime minister to give direct orders is largely limited; most of the position's power comes about through other means, such as:
Since the introduction of the MMP electoral system, there has been an increased need for the prime minister to be able to negotiate and maintain relationships with support parties, which places some constraints on their abilities.
|'New Zealand's darkest day'. Prime Minister John Key addresses the nation live on television following the earthquake that devastated Christchurch on 22 February 2011. Providing reassurance and leadership at times of national crisis is the traditional responsibility of the prime minister.|
The prime minister is also expected to take on additional portfolios. Historically, the prime minister looked after colonial and revenue portfolios. As New Zealand expanded, the role of minister of finance became too big; Prime Minister Sir Robert Muldoon was criticised for taking on the finance portfolio during his time in office as it resulted in a large concentration of power in one individual.
Before 1987, it was also common for Prime Ministers to take the role of minister of foreign affairs, so they could represent New Zealand on an international stage. More recent Prime Ministers have taken portfolios relevant to their interests, or to promote specific areas they saw as important. For example, David Lange took the education portfolio in his second term; Helen Clark took the role of Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage; and John Key was Minister for Tourism.
Although no longer likely to be the minister of foreign affairs, the prime minister is still responsible for welcoming foreign heads of government, visiting leaders overseas, and attending Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings.
Conventionally, the prime minister is the responsible minister for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC), which is tasked with supporting the policy agenda of Cabinet through policy advice and the coordination of the implementation of key government programmes. Under the Fifth National Government the DPMC expanded to give prime ministers greater supervision of security and intelligence. The prime minister was also responsible for the New Zealand Security and Intelligence Service (NZSIS) and the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB).
Under the Remuneration Authority Act 1977, and the Members of Parliament (Remuneration and Services) Act 2013, a prime minister's salary is determined annually by the Remuneration Authority, an independent body established by parliament to set salaries for members of parliament and other government officials. For the fiscal year from 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018, the Prime Minister's salary is NZ$471,049, plus a tax-free allowance of NZ$22,606 to cover out-of-pocket official expenses such as meals, gifts, and entertainment. In addition, like all other ministers and members of parliament, the Prime Minister receives annual allowances for travel and lodging, as do the Prime Minister's spouse and children.
The incumbent Prime Minister's official residence is Premier House, Tinakori Road, Wellington. Unlike the residences of certain other heads of government (e.g. the White House and 10 Downing Street), Premier House does not serve as the government headquarters; instead the Beehive is the location of the prime minister's office. The prime minister's governmental work is supported by the non-partisan Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The separate Private Office of the Prime Minister provides advice and support on political party matters.
The style of "The Right Honourable" (abbreviated to "The Rt Hon") is always granted to the prime minister. Former prime ministers retain this style for the remainder of their lives. The written form of address for the head of government should use their full parliamentary title as applicable: The Right Honourable [name], [post-nominal letters], Prime Minister of New Zealand.
Should a serving or former prime minister die, she or he is accorded a state funeral (subject to the approval of the family). Two prime ministers who died in office were buried in mausoleums: William Massey (died 1925) in the Massey Memorial in Wellington, and Michael Joseph Savage (died 1940) in the Savage Memorial at Bastion Point in Auckland.
Assuming that Henry Sewell is counted as the first prime minister, 40 individuals have held the office since it was established. Some of these people have held it on several different occasions, with the record for maximum number of times being shared between William Fox and Harry Atkinson (both of whom served four times). The longest that anyone has served in the office is 13 years, a record set by Richard Seddon. The first holder of the office, Henry Sewell, led the country for the shortest total time; his only term lasted just 13 days. The shortest term belonged to Harry Atkinson, whose third term lasted only seven days, but Atkinson served longer in total than did Sewell. The youngest was Edward Stafford, who was appointed Premier in 1856, at 37 years, 40 days old. The oldest was Walter Nash, who was 78 years old when he left office in 1960 (and 75 upon taking office in 1957).
New Zealand is one of the few countries in the world to have had three female heads of government, and one of only three countries to have had a female head of government directly succeed another. The first female prime minister was Jenny Shipley of the National Party, who replaced Jim Bolger in late 1997; Shipley was succeeded by Helen Clark in 1999. Jacinda Ardern, the second female leader of the Labour Party after Clark, became prime minister in 2017.
On becoming the Colony of New Zealand in 1841, New Zealand was directly governed by a governor, appointed by the Colonial Office in Britain. Self-government was established in 1853, following the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852, and the First Parliament met on 24 May 1854.
The origins of the office of prime minister are disputed. Use of the words "prime minister" as a descriptive term date back to the First Parliament, where they are applied to James FitzGerald and Thomas Forsaith. FitzGerald and Forsaith had no official titles, however, and New Zealand had not yet obtained self-government. As such, they are not usually considered prime ministers in any substantive sense.
The first person to be formally appointed to a position of executive leadership was Henry Sewell, who formed a brief ministry in April 1856, at the beginning of the Second Parliament. Despite his formal leadership role, however, his only actual title was "colonial secretary", a position comparable to a minister of internal affairs. His successor, William Fox, was also given a formal leadership role, but was not colonial secretary. When Frederick Weld became the sixth person appointed to formal leadership, a substantive leadership title, "premier", appeared. Weld's successor, Edward Stafford, briefly changed the title to "first minister", but it was soon restored to premier during the second tenure of Fox. From that point, the term "premier" was used almost exclusively for the remainder of the 19th century. Nevertheless, in the Schedule of the Civil List of 1873, provision was made for the salary of the head of government, referred to as the "Prime Minister".
Initially, premiers acted as mere advisers to the governor—with the governor at times a very active partner. This began to change during the first tenure of Edward Stafford. Stafford met with his ministers and made decisions outside of the Executive Council, thus establishing the modern convention of cabinet government. Stafford also clashed with the governor over control of native affairs, which was eventually to fall within the premier's powers.
The political position of the premier was enhanced by the development of modern political parties; premier John Ballance organised the first formal party in New Zealand, forming the Liberal Government in 1891. (Subsequent governments were led by prime ministers from the Reform, United, Labour and National parties). Although not every government would have a large majority, the party system and tight control of party members by whips helped heads of government to direct the passage of legislation in the House of Representatives. In 1893, the premier gained the ability to restrict the term of appointments to the Legislative Council.
The title of "prime minister" was used by Richard Seddon after 1901, following New Zealand's self-exclusion from the Federation of Australia. Seddon's immediate successor, William Hall-Jones, was the first to be sworn-in as "prime minister", in 1906.
The expanding power of the prime minister was kept in check by the need to build consensus with other leading members of Cabinet and of the governing party, including those who represented various ideological wings of the party. Other institutions, including Parliament itself and the wider state bureaucracy, also acted as limits on prime ministerial power; in 1912 Thomas Mackenzie was the last prime minister to lose power through an unsuccessful confidence motion in the House of Representatives.
One change brought about by the First World War was direct participation in governing the British Empire. Previously, New Zealand prime ministers had attended occasional colonial and imperial conferences, but they otherwise communicated with London through the governor (a position then appointed by the British government). In 1917, however, British Prime Minister David Lloyd George offered the New Zealand prime minister a seat in the Imperial War Cabinet, the British Empire's wartime coordinating body. In 1919, Bill Massey signed the Treaty of Versailles on behalf of New Zealand, signalling both prestige within the Empire as well as a new independence for the country.
Constitutional conventions adopted in 1930, following the Imperial Conference held that year, increased the domestic and international prestige of the prime minister. The Statute of Westminster 1931 confirmed that Dominions had exclusive power to make their laws. New Zealand initially resisted greater autonomy and did not adopt the statute until 1947. Increasingly, however, New Zealand began to act independently in foreign affairs. During the 1940s the prime minister's profile rose as New Zealand signed a number of international treaties. In 1967, Keith Holyoake became the first New Zealand prime minister to select candidates for the position of governor-general without any involvement of the British government. Holyoake advised the monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, to appoint Sir Arthur Porritt, the first New Zealand–born governor-general.
After the mixed-member proportional (MMP) system was introduced in 1996, prime ministers have had to manage minority governments. The skill of MMP management was exemplified by Helen Clark's nine years as prime minister (1999–2008), when her Labour Party remained in power thanks to a range of confidence and supply agreements with five smaller parties.
Until the premiership of Helen Clark, it was customary for senior members of the legislature, executive and judiciary—including the prime minister—to be appointed to the British Privy Council, granting them the style "Right Honourable". This practice was discontinued at the same time as the abolition of knighthoods and damehoods in 2000 from the New Zealand honours system. National's John Key became Prime Minister in 2008 and restored titular honours, but did not resume appointments to the Privy Council, meaning Key was styled "The Honourable". However, on 3 August 2010 the Queen granted the prime minister, along with the governor-general, speaker of the House of Representatives and chief justice, the style "Right Honourable" upon appointment. This decision will not affect past officeholders.
As of May 2019, there are seven living former New Zealand Prime Ministers, as seen below.
Since 1954 New Zealand has appointed a deputy prime minister. The deputy typically holds important ministerial portfolios and, by convention, becomes acting prime minister in the absence or incapacity of the prime minister. The deputy is commonly a member of the same party as the prime minister, but not necessarily so; in coalition governments the parliamentary leader of a junior party may be offered the post. Winston Peters, leader of New Zealand First, is the current Deputy Prime Minister, also serving as Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Lists of the 40 people who have so far held the premiership:
Now that New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has hit world headlines by becoming only the second elected head of government to give birth in office, attention has naturally been drawn to the first such leader – Pakistan's late two-time Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
She is only the second world leader in history to give birth while in office. Pakistan's former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto gave birth to a daughter in 1990.
Barrow Nook is a small rural hamlet on the fringes of Bickerstaffe in the county of Lancashire, England.Stone quarried from Barrow Nook was used to build the church and school at Bickerstaffe in the early 1840s.
Barrow Nook Hall was the former home of Richard John Seddon, until he emigrated in 1866. He later became Prime Minister of New Zealand.Bill English
Sir Simon William English (born 30 December 1961) is a retired New Zealand politician who served as the 39th Prime Minister of New Zealand from 2016 to 2017. He was the leader of the National Party from 2001 to 2003 and 2016 to 2018, also serving two terms as Leader of the Opposition.
A farmer and public servant before entering politics, English was elected to the New Zealand Parliament in 1990 as the National Party's candidate in the Wallace electorate. He was elevated to Cabinet in 1996 and in 1999 was made Minister of Finance, although he served for less than a year due to his party's worst loss at the 1999 general election. In October 2001, English replaced Jenny Shipley as the leader of the National Party (and consequently as Leader of the Opposition). He led the party to its worst defeat in the 2002 general election, and as a consequence, in October 2003 he was replaced as leader by Don Brash.
In November 2006, after Brash's resignation, English became deputy leader under John Key. After National's victory at the 2008 general election, he became Deputy Prime Minister and was also made Minister for Finance for the second time. Under English's direction New Zealand's economy maintained steady growth during National's three terms of government. He became a list-only MP after stepping down as an electorate MP at the 2014 general election.
John Key resigned as leader of the National Party and prime minister in December 2016. English won the resulting leadership election unopposed and was sworn in as prime minister on 12 December 2016. In the 2017 general election, National won the largest number of seats but fell short of a majority. The parties holding the balance of power declined to support the existing government, and English was subsequently replaced as prime minister by Jacinda Ardern, leader of the Labour Party. English initially continued on as Leader of the Opposition, but resigned as leader of the National Party on 27 February 2018 and left parliament two weeks later.China–Niue relations
Sino-Niuean relations are relations between China and Niue.
Niue has been self-governing in free association with New Zealand since 3 September 1974 when the people endorsed the Constitution in a plebiscite. Niue is fully responsible for its internal affairs. Niue's position concerning its external relations is less clear cut. Section 6 of the Niue Constitution Act provides that:
Nothing in this Act or in the Constitution shall affect the responsibilities of Her Majesty the Queen in right of New Zealand for the external affairs and defence of Niue.
Section 8 elaborates as follows:
Effect shall be given to the provisions of sections 6 and 7 [concerning external affairs and defence and economic and administrative assistance respectively] of this Act, and to any other aspect of the relationship between New Zealand and Niue which may from time to time call for positive co-operation between New Zealand and Niue after consultation between the Prime Minister of New Zealand and the Premier of Niue, and in accordance with the policies of their respective Governments; and, if it appears desirable that any provision be made in the law of Niue to carry out these policies, that provision may be made in the manner prescribed in the Constitution, but not otherwise.
Niue established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China on December 12, 2007. Notwithstanding Niue's constitutional position, the New Zealand government is clear that it does have the capacity and right to establish diplomatic relations with any country, the New Zealand government website stating that:
For all practical purposes Niue conducts its own external relations, including establishing formal diplomatic relations with other states.
Traditionally, Niue's foreign relations and defence have been regarded as the responsibility of New Zealand, which has full diplomatic relations with China. Importantly, it is a requirement of Niue's constitution that in such matters," consultation between the Prime Minister of New Zealand and the Premier of Niue" must take place and it is not clear that such consultation did in fact take place before Niue purported to establish diplomatic relations with China. As such, Niue's authorities may have acted outside the powers conferred on them under Niue's constitution.
Another notable matter is that the Joint Communique signed by Niue and China is different in its treatment of the Taiwan question from that agreed by New Zealand and China. New Zealand "acknowledged" China's position on Taiwan but has never expressly agreed with it, but Niue "recognizes that there is only one China in the world, the Government of the People's Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China and Taiwan is an inalienable part of the territory of China." Critics have asked whether Niueans can continue to benefit from free association with New Zealand and yet disregard New Zealand's advice and establish an independent foreign policy.On 18 October 2008, Zhang Limin, China's first ambassador to Niue, presented his credentials to Niue Prime Minister Toke Talagi in the capital of Alofi. His credentials were accepted by the Niuean Premier. Mr. Zhang is also China's ambassador to New Zealand where he is based.
In July 2009, Talagi stated that, if development aid were not forthcoming from New Zealand, he would request aid from China instead.China's opening of diplomatic relations with Niue may be seen within the wider context of China's relations with the Pacific region. Every independent country in Oceania currently maintains diplomatic and economic relations either with the People's Republic of China or with the Republic of China (Taiwan).Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand
The Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand (Māori: Te Pirimia Tuarua o Aotearoa) is the second-most senior minister in the Government of New Zealand, although this seniority does not necessarily translate into power. The office was created as a ministerial portfolio in 1954. The officeholder usually deputises for the prime minister at official functions. The current Deputy Prime Minister is Winston Peters, the Leader of New Zealand First.Division of Grey
The Division of Grey is an Australian electoral division in South Australia. The division was one of the seven established when the former Division of South Australia was redistributed on 2 October 1903 and is named for Sir George Grey, who was Governor of South Australia from 1841 to 1845 (and later Prime Minister of New Zealand).Electoral history of Michael Joseph Savage
This is a summary of the electoral history of Michael Joseph Savage, Prime Minister of New Zealand (1935–40), Leader of the Labour Party (1933–40), and Member of Parliament for Auckland West (1919–40).Fox Glacier
Fox Glacier / Te Moeka o Tuawe is a 13-kilometre-long (8.1 mi) temperate maritime glacier located in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island. It was named in 1872 after a visit by then Prime Minister of New Zealand Sir William Fox. With the passage of the Ngai Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998, the glacier's name changed to Fox Glacier / Te Moeka o Tuawe.Geoffrey Palmer (politician)
Sir Geoffrey Winston Russell Palmer (born 21 April 1942) is a New Zealand lawyer, legal academic, and past politician, who was a member of Parliament from 1979 to 1990. He served as the 33rd Prime Minister of New Zealand for a little over a year, from August 1989 until September 1990, leading the Fourth Labour Government. As Minister of Justice from 1984 to 1989, Palmer was responsible for considerable reforms of the country's legal and constitutional framework, such as the creation of the Constitution Act 1986, New Zealand Bill of Rights, Imperial Laws Application Act, and the State Sector Act. He served as president of the New Zealand Law Commission, from 2005 to 2010.Greendale, New Zealand
Greendale is a lightly populated rural area, part of the Selwyn District, Canterbury, a region of New Zealand's South Island.
One of the first farmers was Thomas William Adams, a pioneer of forestry and education in the area.
Another one of the first farmers was Charles Early who moved to Greendale(Water ford) in 1876.
It is notable as the birthplace of former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Sidney Holland.
On 4 September 2010, Greendale became further notable as the location of the strongest earthquake ground-shaking ever recorded in New Zealand, registering an acceleration 1.25 times that of gravity. This was later exceeded by the 2.2 g recordings during the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake at Heathcote Valley.Helen Clarke
Helen Clarke may refer to:
Helen Clarke (field hockey) (born 1971), New Zealand field hockey player
Helen A. Clarke (1860–1926), American literary critic and editor
Helen P. Clarke (1846–1923), American actress and bureaucrat
Helen Clark, 37th Prime Minister of New ZealandHugh Watt
Hugh Watt (19 March 1912 – 4 February 1980) was a Labour member of Parliament and the Interim Prime Minister of New Zealand between 1 and 6 September 1974, following the death of Prime Minister Norman Kirk. He had been Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand since 8 December 1972. Watt later served as High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.Jenny Shipley
Dame Jennifer Mary Shipley (née Robson; born 4 February 1952) is a former New Zealand politician who served as the 36th Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1997 to 1999. She was the first female Prime Minister of New Zealand, and is the only woman to have led the National Party.Shipley was born in Gore, Southland. She grew up in rural Canterbury, and attended Marlborough Girls' College and the Christchurch College of Education. Before entering politics, she worked as a schoolteacher and was involved with various community organisations. Shipley was elected to Parliament at the 1987 election, winning the Ashburton electorate (later renamed Rakaia). When the National Party returned to power in 1990, she was appointed to Cabinet under Jim Bolger. Shipley subsequently served as Minister of Social Welfare (1990–1996), Minister for Women's Affairs (1990–1996), Minister of Health (1993–1996), and Minister of Transport (1996–1997).
In December 1997, Bolger resigned as Prime Minister after losing the confidence of his party. Shipley was elected as his replacement unopposed, becoming New Zealand's first female head of government. She inherited an uneasy coalition with New Zealand First, led by Winston Peters. The coalition was dissolved in August 1998, but Shipley was able to remain in power with the aid of Mauri Pacific, an NZ First splinter group. At the 1999 election, Shipley's government was defeated by the Labour Party, led by Helen Clark. She continued on as Leader of the Opposition until October 2001. Shipley has involved herself with business and charitable interests since leaving politics, and is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders.Jerry Skinner
Clarence Farrington Skinner (19 January 1900 – 26 April 1962) (also known as Gerry or Jerry) was a Labour politician from New Zealand, former Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand and a Minister from 1943 to 1949 and 1957 to 1960 in the First and Second Labour governments.Leader of the House (New Zealand)
In the New Zealand Parliament, the Leader of the House is the government minister appointed by the Prime Minister of New Zealand to be responsible for the management of government business in the House of Representatives. The Leader of the House is also an ex officio member of the Parliamentary Service Commission.Mount Albert Lions
The Mount Albert Lions are a rugby league club based in Mount Albert, New Zealand. The Lions home ground is at Fowlds Park. Their patron is the former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark. In 2008 and 2009 the Lions won the Fox Memorial.
In 2010 the team is coached by Steve Buckingham.Owairaka (New Zealand electorate)
Owairaka was a New Zealand parliamentary electorate that existed for one parliamentary term from 1996 to 1999. Located in suburban Auckland, it was held by Helen Clark, who would become Prime Minister of New Zealand immediately after Owairaka was abolished.Spaghetti pizza
Spaghetti pizza is a variety of pizza where the topping consists of cooked spaghetti, typically a in a tomato sauce. Additional toppings may include cheddar and mozzarella cheeses and pepperoni, bell peppers and mushrooms.
In 2017, spaghetti pizza gained media attention when then Prime Minister of New Zealand Bill English posted a recipe to his Facebook account that included tinned spaghetti. The recipe included pineapple as a topping.
Responses on social media included support for spaghetti pizza as a simple and cheap family meal.Spouse of the Prime Minister of New Zealand
The Spouse of the Prime Minister of New Zealand is an unofficial title, the holder of which, by convention, is the host or hostess of Premier House, the official residence of the Prime Minister. An unpaid position that has no official responsibilities, the role has gained significance since the 1960s, with the prime minister's spouse acting as a key national figure on social issues and a prominent symbol of government. The spouse also assists the prime minister in welcoming foreign dignitaries to Parliament House and the official residences.
The 23rd Prime Minister, Michael Joseph Savage, was a bachelor during his term, but otherwise, until the tenure of the 36th Prime Minister, Jenny Shipley, the post had always been filled by a woman; Burton Shipley was Jenny Shipley's husband. The current Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, is unmarried; her partner (since May 2019, fiancé) is radio personality Clarke Gayford.William Massey
William Ferguson Massey (26 March 1856 – 10 May 1925), commonly known as Bill Massey, was an Irish-born politician in New Zealand who served as the 19th Prime Minister of New Zealand from May 1912 to May 1925. He was the founding leader of the Reform Party, New Zealand's second organised political party, from 1909 until his death.
Massey was born in County Londonderry in Ireland. After migrating to New Zealand in 1870, Massey farmed near Auckland (earning his later nickname, Farmer Bill) and assumed leadership in farmers' organisations. He entered parliament in 1894 as a conservative, and from 1894 to 1912 was a leader of the conservative opposition to the Liberal ministries of Richard Seddon and Joseph Ward. Massey became the first Reform Party Prime Minister after he led a successful motion of no confidence against the Liberal government. Throughout his political career Massey was known for the particular support he showed for agrarian interests, as well as his opposition to organised labour. He pledged New Zealand's support for Britain during the First World War.
Massey led his Reform Party through four elections, although only the 1919 election was a decisive victory over all other parties. Following increasingly poor health in his fourth term, Massey died in office. After Richard Seddon, he is the second-longest-serving Prime Minister of New Zealand.
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