David Caygill

David Francis Caygill CNZM (born 15 November 1948) is a former New Zealand politician. Caygill was born and raised in Christchurch. He entered politics in 1971 as Christchurch's youngest city councillor at the age of 22.[1] He served as a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1978 to 1996, representing the Labour Party. A supporter of Rogernomics, he served as Minister of Finance between 1988 and 1990. From 2010 to 2019, he was one of the government-appointed commissioners at Environment Canterbury.

David Caygill

David Caygill, 2015.jpg
Caygill in 2015
28th Minister of Health
In office
24 August 1987 – 30 January 1989
Prime MinisterDavid Lange
Preceded byMichael Bassett
Succeeded byHelen Clark
ConstituencySt Albans
36th Minister of Finance
In office
14 December 1988 – 2 November 1990
Prime MinisterDavid Lange
Geoffrey Palmer
Mike Moore
Preceded byRoger Douglas
Succeeded byRuth Richardson
Personal details
David Francis Caygill

(1948-11-15) 15 November 1948 (age 71)
Christchurch, New Zealand
Political partyLabour

Early life and familyEdit

Caygill was born in Christchurch on 15 November 1948, the son of Gwyneth Mary Caygill (née Harris) and Bruce Allot Caygill.[2][3] He was educated at Christchurch Boys' High School, and then studied at the University of Canterbury, graduating Bachelor of Arts in 1971 and Bachelor of Laws in 1974.[3] In 1974, he married Eileen Ellen Boyd, and the couple went on to have four children.[3]

Political careerEdit

Caygill's early political philosophies were aligned with the National Party and he chaired the St Albans branch of the Young Nationals as a schoolboy. His allegiance switched to Labour in part due to the Vietnam War,[4] which Labour opposed.

Christchurch City CouncilEdit

Caygill was a councillor of Christchurch City Council from 1971 to 1980.[5] On 29 April 1974, he became the city's youngest ever acting Mayor for a period of five days.[6]

Member of ParliamentEdit

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1978–1981 39th St Albans Labour
1981–1984 40th St Albans Labour
1984–1987 41st St Albans Labour
1987–1990 42nd St Albans Labour
1990–1993 43rd St Albans Labour
1993–1996 44th St Albans Labour

Caygill was first elected to Parliament in the 1978 elections as MP for the Christchurch electorate of St Albans. He served for six terms.[7]

Lange Ministry (1984–1989)Edit

When the Fourth Labour Government was formed after the 1984 elections, Caygill aligned himself with Roger Douglas, the controversial Minister of Finance. Douglas, Caygill, and Richard Prebble were together dubbed "the Treasury Troika",[8] and were responsible for most of the economic reform undertaken by the Labour government. The "Rogernomics" reforms, which were based on free market economic theory, were unpopular with many traditional Labour supporters, but Caygill managed to avoid the worst of the condemnation directed towards Douglas and Prebble. When the two became founding members of the ACT New Zealand political party in 1994, Caygill chose not to join them.

Caygill was appointed Minister of Trade and Industry, and Minister of National Development, on 26 July 1984.[9] The Prime Minister at that time was David Lange.

Minister of Finance (1988–1990)Edit

When Douglas was fired by Prime Minister Lange, Caygill was appointed Minister of Finance in his place. After Lange himself had resigned, Caygill retained his position under both Geoffrey Palmer and Mike Moore, Lange's short-lived successors as Prime Minister.

In his last budget as Minister of Finance, Caygill lifted the quarantining of rental losses on investment property, allowing an investor to offset losses on their investment property against their other taxable income.

Opposition (1990–1996)Edit

In 1991, a year after the Labour Party had lost office, Caygill was replaced as finance spokesperson by Michael Cullen, who was more moderate in his economic policies. Caygill continued to hold a senior position in the Labour Party, however, and when Helen Clark became leader in 1993, Caygill replaced her as deputy leader. At the 1996 elections, Caygill retired from Parliament. He was replaced as deputy leader by Michael Cullen.

Life after politicsEdit

After leaving politics, Caygill returned to his original occupation, law. For some time, he was a partner at Buddle Findlay, a prominent law firm. He also worked for a number of government bodies, and was chair of the Accident Compensation Corporation. He chaired a ministerial inquiry into the New Zealand electricity market in 2000, and was appointed chairman of the Electricity Commission in 2007. He is a board member of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority. He is the chair of the Education New Zealand Trust.[7]

From 2010 to 2019, Caygill was one of the commissioners at Environment Canterbury appointed by the National Government. He held the role of deputy chair.[7] Caygill was appointed, in December 2010, as the Chair of the 2011 NZ ETS Review Panel.[10]

Honours and awardsEdit

In 1990, Caygill was awarded the New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal.[3] In the 1997 New Year Honours, he was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for public services.[11] He was conferred an honorary Doctor of Commerce degree by Victoria University of Wellington in 2004.[12]


  1. ^ McCrone, John (12 March 2016). "The rational approach: meeting David Caygill". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  2. ^ Temple, Philip (1994). Temple’s Guide to the 44th New Zealand Parliament. Dunedin: McIndoe. p. 58. ISBN 0-86868-159-8.
  3. ^ a b c d Taylor, Alister; Coddington, Deborah (1994). Honoured by the Queen – New Zealand. Auckland: New Zealand Who's Who Aotearoa. p. 94. ISBN 0-908578-34-2.
  4. ^ John McCrone (12 March 2016). "The rational approach: meeting David Caygill". The Press. Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  5. ^ "Councillors of the City of Christchurch". Christchurch: Christchurch City Council. Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 17 August 2010.
  6. ^ Christchurch Chronology (2nd ed.). Christchurch: Christchurch City Council. 1990. p. 55. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  7. ^ a b c "About the Commissioners". Environment Canterbury. Archived from the original on 10 June 2015. Retrieved 17 August 2010.
  8. ^ Bassett, Michael (2008). Working with David: Inside the Lange Cabinet. Auckland: Hodder Moa. pp. 108, 279.
  9. ^ Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. p. 97. OCLC 154283103.
  10. ^ "NZ ETS Review Panel Biographies". New Zealand Government. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
  11. ^ "New Year honours list 1997". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 31 December 1996. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  12. ^ "Honorary graduates and Hunter fellowships". Victoria University of Wellington. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Roger Drayton
Member of Parliament for St Albans
Constituency abolished
Political offices
Preceded by
Hugh Templeton
Minister of Trade and Industry
Succeeded by
David Butcher
Preceded by
Michael Bassett
Minister of Health
Succeeded by
Helen Clark
Preceded by
Roger Douglas
Minister of Finance
Succeeded by
Ruth Richardson
Party political offices
Preceded by
Helen Clark
Deputy Leader of the Labour Party
Succeeded by
Michael Cullen