Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Helen Clark

This entry is about the NZ Prime Minister. For others, see Helen Clark (disambiguation).

Helen Elizabeth Clark (born February 26, 1950) has served as Prime Minister of New Zealand since December 1999.

Leader of the New Zealand Labour Party, she formed successive minority coalition governments with the Alliance party (1999, with parliamentary support from the Green Party) and with Jim Anderton's Progressive Coalition Party (2002, with parliamentary support from the Green Party and the United Future New Zealand).

The Honourable Helen Clark
Appointed PM:December, 1999
Predecessor:Jenny Shipley
Date of Birth:February 26, 1950
Place of Birth:Hamilton, New Zealand
Political Party:New Zealand Labour Party

Clark served in the Labour cabinets of David Lange, Geoffrey Palmer and Mike Moore, first as Minister of Housing and Conservation, then as Minister of Health and later as deputy Prime Minister. She functioned as Leader of the Opposition during the National Party administrations of Jim Bolger and Jenny Shipley during the 1990s. Seen as an Aucklander, an academic (former lecturer in industrial relations) and a feminist, she earned the distinction of becoming the first popularly-elected New Zealand female Prime Minister.

First elected to the New Zealand House of Representatives in 1981, representing the Mt. Albert electorate, in Auckland, she was one of four women who entered the parliament in that election. At the time she was only the second woman elected to an Auckland electorate and the seventeenth woman elected to the New Zealand parliament. During her first term (1981-1984) she was a member of the Statutes Revision Committee. In her second term (1984-1987) she chaired the Select Committees on Foreign Affairs and on Disarmament and Arms Control, both of which were combined with Defence in 1985 to form a single committee.

Prior to entering parliament she had been a lecturer in political science at Auckland University. She was educated at Auckland University, Epsom Girls' Grammar School in Auckland, and Te Pahu primary school. She was the eldest of an four girl farming family in the Waikato. Her mother was a primary school teacher and her father was a farmer who was a National Party supporter at the time of the 1981 election.

She married sociologist Peter Davis, who had been her partner of five years at that time, shortly before her 1981 election.

See Also: Politics of New Zealand, New Zealand

Further reading