Newman was born in northern England, but arrived in New Zealand at the age of eight. She was raised in Whangarei. She gained a BSc in mathematics from University of Auckland, and then a Ph.D. in mathematics education from Rutgers University in the United States. After working in the education sector for twenty years, she entered the business world with Michael Hill International, eventually becoming the deputy general manager of the New Zealand operation before being elected to Parliament. She has been a president of the Northland Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Northland Health Board, and member of the Northland Conservation Board.
Member of Parliament
Parliament of New Zealand Years Term Electorate List Party 1996–1999 45th List 8 ACT 1999–2002 46th List 7 ACT 2002–2005 47th List 3 ACT
Newman was a founding member of the ACT New Zealand party, and was one of its candidates in its first election. She was elected to Parliament as a list MP. In 2004, when Richard Prebble stepped down as ACT's leader, Newman chose to step forward as a candidate to succeed him. In the end, the leadership was won by Rodney Hide, but Newman nevertheless emerged with the role of deputy leader.
After leaving Parliament in 2005 Muriel Newman established a political think tank organisation, the New Zealand Centre for Political Debate (since renamed the New Zealand Centre for Political Research) which has had many prominent New Zealand and overseas guests write columns including: Sir Roger Douglas (Finance minister of the New Zealand Labour party from 1984 to 1988 and ACT New Zealand co-founder), Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Prof. David Bellamy, Dr Don Brash, Alan Duff, Richard Epstein, Lord Nigel Lawson, Owen McShane, Johan Norberg, Professor Peter Saunders, and others.
- ACT Members of Parliament. (2001), Closing the gaps: policy papers, Wellington, [N.Z.]: ACT New Zealand Parliamentary Office, ISBN 0-958-21781-5
- Newman's contribution is a paper entitled: "Welfare reform: for the sake of our children."
- from ACT Members of Parliament. (2002), Old values, new ideas, Wellington, [N.Z.]: ACT New Zealand Parliamentary Office, ISBN 0-477-01964-1
- Newman's contribution is a paper entitled: "For the general welfare."
- Liberal thinking, Wellington, [N.Z.]: ACT New Zealand Parliamentary Office, 2003
- Newman's contribution is a paper entitled: "ACT's welfare vision."
- Newman, Frank; Newman, Muriel (1991), How to live off the smell of an oily rag, Auckland, [N.Z.]: Pursuit Books, ISBN 0-959-79042-X
- Newman, Frank; Newman, Muriel (1995), How to live off the smell of an oily rag (rev. ed.), Auckland, [N.Z.]: Oily Rag Books, ISBN 0-959-79045-4
- Newman, Frank; Newman, Muriel (1996), More ways to live off the smell of an oily rag, Auckland, [N.Z.]: Oily Rag Books, ISBN 0-959-79047-0
- Porter, Ruth (ed.) (2007), Pursuing social justice in New Zealand: 14 New Zealanders share their stories of communities helping people in ways government cannot, Auckland, [N.Z.]: Maxim Institute, ISBN 0-958-26526-7
- Newman's contribution is a chapter entitled: "Lessons from the past."
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