Claire Stewart (politician)

Claire Lois Stewart QSO (17 June 1941 – 29 March 2020) was a New Zealand politician who served as mayor of New Plymouth from 1992 until 2001. She was the first woman to hold this position.

Claire Stewart
22nd Mayor of New Plymouth
In office
Preceded byDavid Lean
Succeeded byPeter Tennent
Personal details
Claire Lois Campbell

17 June 1941
Died29 March 2020(2020-03-29) (aged 78)
Tewantin, Queensland, Australia
(m. 1961; died 2002)



Stewart was born on 17 June 1941.[1] In 1961 she married JJ Stewart,[2] a high school teacher and rugby coach eighteen years her senior and a drinking mate of her father.[3] By the time she was 28, they had five children together.[4]

Stewart was elected to the New Plymouth District Council in 1989. She also served on the Taranaki Regional Council and the Taranaki District Health Board. In 1992, she was elected mayor. During her time in office she extended the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway, built a domestic violence shelter, and began the process of building Puke Ariki.[4][5] In 2000, she was considered a frontrunner to be elected president of Local Government New Zealand,[6] but the position was ultimately filled by Basil Morrison, the mayor of Hauraki.[7] She retired in 2001 to look after her husband who was ill.[4] He died the next year.[3]

In the 2002 New Year Honours, Stewart was appointed a Companion of the Queen's Service Order for public services.[8] In 2010, she moved to the Shire of Noosa in Australia to be closer to family.[9] Stewart died at her nursing home in Tewantin on 29 March 2020 after a long illness,[4] one day after her daughter-in-law, also named Clare Stewart, was elected mayor of Noosa.[5] After two years of delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a memorial service in New Plymouth is planned for 17 June 2022.[10]


  1. ^ "Claire STEWART Obituary (1941–2020)". New Zealand Herald. 2 April 2020.
  2. ^ "Stewart, Claire Lois, active 1961–2010". National Library of New Zealand.
  3. ^ a b Cameron, D.J. (22 November 2002). "Obituary: J.J. Stewart". New Zealand Herald.
  4. ^ a b c d Persico, Christina (2 April 2020). "Former New Plymouth mayor, loving mum and community advocate remembered". Taranaki Daily News. Stuff.
  5. ^ a b Ockhuysen, Stephanie (26 March 2022). "Seeing double – Daughter-in-law of former New Plymouth mayor has same name and career". Taranaki Daily News. Stuff.
  6. ^ "Women on upper – ex-mayor". New Zealand Herald. 26 October 2000.
  7. ^ "Life members". Local Government New Zealand.
  8. ^ "New Year honours list 2002". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 31 December 2001.
  9. ^ Maetzig, Rob (15 May 2010). "Former mayor off to sonshine". Taranaki Daily News. Stuff.
  10. ^ McLean, Glenn (9 June 2022). "Memorial service for former mayor Claire Stewart to be held in New Plymouth". Taranaki Daily News. Stuff.