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William Blair Tennent CBE (4 December 1898 – 1 May 1976), known as Blair Tennent, was a New Zealand politician of the National Party and a cabinet minister. In Palmerston North he was a dentist, and a local body politician.

Blair Tennent

Blair Tennent, 1954.jpg
Blair Tennent in 1954
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Palmerston North
In office
Preceded byOrmond Wilson
Succeeded byPhilip Skoglund
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Manawatu
In office
Preceded byMatthew Oram
Succeeded byLes Gandar
27th Minister of Education
In office
12 December 1960 – 20 December 1963
Prime MinisterKeith Holyoake
Preceded byPhilip Skoglund
Succeeded byArthur Kinsella
20th Mayor of Palmerston North
In office
Preceded byGeoffrey Tremaine
Succeeded byGilbert Murray Rennie
Personal details
Born4 December 1898
Died1 May 1976(1976-05-01) (aged 77)
Political partyNational Party

Early lifeEdit

Tennent was born at Greymouth on 4 December 1898 to Elizabeth Blair and her husband, David Tennent. He was dux at Greymouth District High School.[1]

Local body politicsEdit

Tennent was a councillor for Palmerston North City Council from 1933 to 1941. He was Mayor of Palmerston North from 1956 to 1959.[2][3]

He was on the Board of Governors for Palmerston North Boys' High School, and in 1954 led the conservative opposition to the appointment of Guthrie Wilson to head either Palmerston North Boys' High School or Freyberg High School because of the frank and sexually explicit language in his novels.[4]

Member of ParliamentEdit

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1949–1951 29th Palmerston North National
1951–1954 30th Palmerston North National
1957–1960 32nd Manawatu National
1960–1963 33rd Manawatu National
1963–1966 34th Manawatu National

Tennent represented the Palmerston North electorate from 1949 to 1954, when he was defeated by Philip Skoglund. He then represented the Manawatu electorate from 1957 to 1966, when he retired.[5]

He was Minister of Education in the Second National Government from 1960 to 1963.[5]

Later lifeEdit

He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, for services in politics and education, in the 1973 New Year Honours.[6] Tennent died at his home in Palmerston North on 1 May 1976.[1]


  1. ^ a b Pilkington, Dorothy. "Tennent, William Blair - Biography". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
  2. ^ "1950s". Palmerston North City Council. Archived from the original on 9 January 2010. Retrieved 23 February 2010.
  3. ^ Matheson, Ian Roderick (2003). "Palmerston North Borough and City Councillors". Council and community: 125 years of local government in Palmerston North 1877-2002. pp. 91–97. ISBN 0-473-09340-5.
  4. ^ Guthrie Wilson by Julia Millen pp124-126 (2006, First Edition Ltd, Wellington) ISBN 1-877391-63-8
  5. ^ a b Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First published in 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. pp. 89, 239. OCLC 154283103.
  6. ^ "No. 45861". The London Gazette (2nd supplement). 1 January 1973. p. 34.

Further readingEdit

New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Ormond Wilson
Member of Parliament for Palmerston North
Succeeded by
Philip Skoglund
Preceded by
Matthew Oram
Member of Parliament for Manawatu
Succeeded by
Les Gandar
Political offices
Preceded by
Philip Skoglund
Minister of Education
Succeeded by
Arthur Kinsella