David James Shearer MBE (born 28 July 1957) is a New Zealand United Nations worker and politician. He spent nearly 20 years working for the UN, managing the provision of aid to countries including Somalia, Rwanda, Liberia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Iraq.[1] In 1992, Shearer was (together with his wife) named as New Zealander of the Year by the New Zealand Herald.[2] The following year he was appointed as Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the British New Years Honours list. In 2009 he won the Mount Albert by-election becoming a Member of the New Zealand Parliament for the Labour Party. He was the Leader of the Labour Party from December 2011 to August 2013. He resigned from parliament in December 2016 and currently heads the United Nations peace keeping mission in South Sudan.[3]

David Shearer

David Shearer.jpg
Special Representative of the Secretary-General for South Sudan
Assumed office
1 January 2017
Secretary-GeneralAntónio Guterres
Preceded byEllen Margrethe Løj
33rd Leader of the Opposition
In office
13 December 2011 – 15 September 2013
DeputyGrant Robertson
Preceded byPhil Goff
Succeeded byDavid Cunliffe
14th Leader of the Labour Party
In office
13 December 2011 – 15 September 2013
DeputyGrant Robertson
Preceded byPhil Goff
Succeeded byDavid Cunliffe
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Mount Albert
In office
13 June 2009 – 31 December 2016
Preceded byHelen Clark
Succeeded byJacinda Ardern
Personal details
David James Shearer

(1957-07-28) 28 July 1957 (age 62)
Auckland, New Zealand
Political partyLabour
Spouse(s)Anuschka Meyer
Alma materUniversity of Auckland
University of Canterbury
OccupationPolitician, humanitarian worker

Early lifeEdit

Shearer was born and brought up in the Auckland suburb of Papatoetoe. He was the eldest of three children in a family of schoolteachers. His father being a Presbyterian elder, he was a church-goer in his youth.[4] He attended Papatoetoe High School, where he was head boy and developed a friendship with Phil Goff.[2] He then graduated from the University of Auckland with a BSc and the University of Canterbury with a MSc (Hons) in Resource Management.[1]

From 1983 to 1987 he was a teacher at Massey High School and Onehunga High School.[1]

Public service and non-government organisation careerEdit

Shearer has conducted various assignments with the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Save the Children Fund, and the International Crisis Group, and is the author of numerous publications in the areas of humanitarian affairs and conflict resolution.[5]

Between 1987 and 1989 he was a consultant for the Tainui Trust Board assisting with the preparation of its land claims to the Waitangi Tribunal. In 1989 he was appointed as UN Co-ordinator for Humanitarian Operations in Africa and the Balkans and served as head of the Save the Children Fund in Rwanda, Somalia, Northern Iraq and Sri Lanka.[1] In 1995 he served as the Senior Humanitarian Affairs Adviser in Liberia.[5] From 1999 Shearer served in various UN posts including Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator for the United Nations in Rwanda, Senior Humanitarian Adviser in Albania and Chief of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Belgrade.[5] He then left the United Nations to work as an adviser to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Phil Goff for two years.

In 2002 Shearer returned to the United Nations, serving as a Senior Adviser to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.[5] In February 2003 Shearer was appointed head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Jerusalem.[5] During the conflict in Lebanon in 2006 he served as the Humanitarian Coordinator organising assistance for civilians caught up in the conflict between Israeli and Lebanon.[6]

In 2007 Shearer was appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as his Deputy Special Representative (Humanitarian, Reconstruction and Development) for Iraq.[5] While in Iraq, Shearer also served as the United Nations Resident Coordinator and the Humanitarian Coordinator. In this role he was responsible for managing over $2 billion in aid for developmental projects for 16 different UN agencies.[1]

In March 2013 Shearer admitted he had not declared a US-based bank account in which he received his salary from the UN, saying he had simply forgotten about it.[7]

Member of Parliament 2009-2016Edit

Shearer speaking to University of Otago academic Bryce Edwards in November 2011
New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate List Party
2009–2011 49th Mount Albert Labour
2011–2014 50th Mount Albert 31 Labour
2014–2016 51st Mount Albert 13 Labour

Before his election as a Member of Parliament Shearer had twice previously stood for the Labour party: in 1999 he stood as a list-only candidate and in 2002 he unsuccessfully contested the Whangarei electorate. In May 2009 he returned to New Zealand and won the Labour Party nomination for Mount Albert against seven other candidates.[8] He then won the 2009 Mt Albert by-election on 13 June 2009 with 13,260 votes, a majority of 9,718 over National's Melissa Lee.[9] Shearer extended his majority over Lee to 10,021 in the 2011 general election.[10] In the 2014 general election, Shearer further extended his majority over Lee to 10,656.

Opposition leader 2011-2013Edit

Shearer addresses NetHui, July 2012

On 13 December 2011, following the resignation of Phil Goff, the Labour Party's caucus elected Shearer as the new leader of the party over David Cunliffe. Grant Robertson won election as Shearer's deputy.[11]

In November 2012 during a Labour Party conference, media speculation suggested that economic development spokesperson David Cunliffe would launch a challenge against Shearer for leadership of the party.[12] On the morning of 19 November, Cunliffe confirmed he was not challenging Shearer, and would indeed back him if a vote was taken. However, he also said he would not commit to supporting Shearer when he faces a formal confidence vote in February 2013. Media speculation about Cunliffe's intentions marred Shearer's first 12 months as leader.[13] Labour MPs unanimously endorsed leader Shearer at the annual caucus, and Shearer subsequently demoted Cunliffe from the front bench.[14]

Shearer announced his resignation as Labour leader on 22 August 2013, stating that: "My sense is I no longer have the full confidence of many of my caucus colleagues".[15][16] Following a party-wide leadership election, Cunliffe was elected Shearer's successor over Deputy Leader Robertson.[17] Shearer remained in parliament and retained his seat at the 2014 election.[18]


On 8 December 2016 Shearer announced he would resign from Parliament after being chosen to head a peace keeping mission to South Sudan by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.[19] His resignation forced a by-election for his seat in the Mount Albert electorate.

Personal achievementsEdit

In 1992 Shearer, and his wife Anuschka Meyer, were named the New Zealanders of the Year by The New Zealand Herald after running one of the biggest aid camps in Somalia.[2][20]

In the 1993 New Year Honours Shearer was appointed as a Member of the Order of the British Empire for welfare services to children in Somalia.[21] In 1994 he was awarded Save the Children's international Award for Gallantry for service in areas of conflict.[22]


  1. ^ a b c d e David Shearer CV posted on Scoop
  2. ^ a b c Gower, Patrick (23 April 2009). "UN 'special guy' eyes Mt Albert seat". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
  3. ^ "Secretary-General Appoints David Shearer of New Zealand Special Representative for South Sudan". United Nations. 13 December 2016.
  4. ^ "The world according to David Shearer", Stuff.co.nz, 17-12-2011
  5. ^ a b c d e f Secretary-General appoints David Shearer of New Zealand Department of Public Information, News and Media Division, 2007
  6. ^ Interview with David Shearer, UN Humanitarian Coordinator IRIN, 23 August 2006
  7. ^ "Banks calls for Shearer's resignation". 3 News NZ. 19 March 2013.
  8. ^ Field, Michael (3 May 2009). "David Shearer Labour's man in Mt Albert". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
  9. ^ Anna Rushworth and Nicola Shepheard (14 June 2009). "Shearer defends 'fortress' for Labour". The New Zealand Herald.
  10. ^ "Official Count Results – Mt Albert". Electoral Commission. 10 December 2011. Retrieved 13 December 2011.
  11. ^ "Shearer, Robertson new Labour leaders". 3 News. MediaWorks New Zealand. 13 December 2011. Retrieved 13 December 2011.
  12. ^ "Labour's Shearer still under pressure". 3 News NZ. 18 November 2012. Archived from the original on 14 October 2013. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  13. ^ "Cunliffe: I'm backing Shearer". 3 News NZ. 19 November 2012. Archived from the original on 22 February 2013. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  14. ^ Labour MPs vote for Shearer; Cunliffe demoted
  15. ^ Watkins, Tracy; Small, Vernon; Fox, Michael (22 August 2013). "David Shearer quits as Labour leader". Fairfax New Zealand. Archived from the original on 22 August 2013.
  16. ^ Trevett, Claire (22 August 2013). "Labour leader David Shearer steps down". The New Zealand Herald. APN News & Media. Retrieved 22 August 2013.
  17. ^ "Cunliffe wins Labour leadership". Stuff.co.nz. 15 September 2013. Retrieved 15 September 2013.
  18. ^ "Official Count Results – Mt Albert (2014)". Electoral Commission. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  19. ^ "Shearer a big loss but we wish him well". The New Zealand Herald. 9 December 2016. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  20. ^ "1992: David Shearer and Anuschka Meyer". The New Zealand Herald. 18 October 1992. Retrieved 28 January 2017.
  21. ^ "No. 53153". The London Gazette (1st supplement). 30 December 1992. p. 19.
  22. ^ "David Shearer Biography". Archived from the original on 20 August 2012. Retrieved 13 August 2012.

External linksEdit

New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Helen Clark
Member of Parliament for Mount Albert
Succeeded by
Jacinda Ardern
Party political offices
Preceded by
Phil Goff
Leader of the Labour Party
Succeeded by
David Cunliffe
Political offices
Preceded by
Phil Goff
Leader of the Opposition
Succeeded by
David Cunliffe