Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand

Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand
New Zealand

This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
New Zealand


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The Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand is second most senior officer in the Government of New Zealand, although this seniority does not necessarily translate into power.

Generally, the position is held by the deputy leader of the ruling party, but now that the MMP electoral system makes coalitions more likely, the role may increasingly go to the leader of a junior party. This occurred with Winston Peters, leader of New Zealand First, and Jim Anderton, leader of the Alliance.

The post of Deputy Prime Minister was established in 1949. Since then, sixteen people have held the position (one of them doing so twice). Of those people, only Holyoake, Marshall, Muldoon, Palmer, and Clark have eventually served as Prime Minister.

Little scholarly attention has focused on deputy prime ministers in New Zealand or elsewhere. In 2009, an article by Steven Barnes appeared in Political Science where nine 'qualities' of deputy prime ministership were identified: temperament; relationships with their Cabinet and caucus; relationships with their party; popularity with the public; media skills; achievements as Deputy Prime Minister; relationship with the Prime Minister; leadership ambition; and method of succession. Barnes conducted a survey of journalists, academics, and former Members of Parliament to rank New Zealand's Deputy Prime Ministers since 1960. Across the nine deputy prime minister 'qualities', Don McKinnon achieved the number one ranking, followed by Brian Talboys, Michael Cullen, and John Marshall. In a second 'overall' ranking, Cullen was ranked number one, followed by Talboys, McKinnon, and Marshall. Jim Anderton, Winston Peters, and Bob Tizard were ranked lowest in both sections of the survey.[1]

Name PM Served Took Office Left Office Party
1 Keith Holyoake Sidney Holland 13 December 1949 20 September 1957 National
2 Jack Marshall Keith Holyoake 20 September 1957 12 December 1957 National
3 Clarence Skinner Walter Nash 12 December 1957 12 December 1960 Labour
Jack Marshall, 2nd time Keith Holyoake 12 December 1960 9 February 1972 National
4 Robert Muldoon Jack Marshall 9 February 1972 8 December 1972 National
5 Hugh Watt Norman Kirk, Bill Rowling 8 December 1972 10 September 1974 Labour
6 Bob Tizard Bill Rowling 10 September 1974 12 December 1975 Labour
7 Brian Talboys Robert Muldoon 12 December 1975 4 March 1981 National
8 Duncan MacIntyre Robert Muldoon 4 March 1981 15 March 1984 National
9 Jim McLay Robert Muldoon 15 March 1984 26 July 1984 National
10 Geoffrey Palmer David Lange 26 July 1984 8 August 1989 Labour
11 Helen Clark Geoffrey Palmer, Mike Moore 8 August 1989 2 November 1990 Labour
12 Don McKinnon Jim Bolger 2 November 1990 16 December 1996 National
13 Winston Peters Jim Bolger, Jenny Shipley 16 December 1996 14 August 1998 New Zealand First
14 Wyatt Creech Jenny Shipley 14 August 1998 5 December 1999 National
15 Jim Anderton Helen Clark 5 December 1999 15 August 2002 Alliance
16 Michael Cullen Helen Clark 15 August 2002 19 November 2008 Labour
17 Bill English John Key 19 November 2008 (Present) National
  1. ^ Steven Barnes, 'What About Me? Deputy Prime Ministership in New Zealand', Political Science, Vol. 61, No. 1, 2009, pp. 33-49

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