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Dame Frances Helen Wilde DNZM QSO JP (née Kitching, born 11 November 1948) is a New Zealand politician, and former Wellington Labour MP, Minister of Tourism and Mayor of Wellington City. She was the first woman to serve as Mayor of Wellington. She was chairperson of the Greater Wellington Regional Council from 2007 until 2015.

Dame Fran Wilde

Fran Wilde 2017.jpg
Wilde in 2017
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Wellington Central
In office
28 November 1981 – 10 October 1992
Preceded byKen Comber
Succeeded byChris Laidlaw
31st Mayor of Wellington City
In office
10 October 1992 – 14 October 1995
DeputyDavid Watt
Preceded byJim Belich
Succeeded byMark Blumsky
Chairperson of the Wellington Regional Council
In office
30 October 2007 – 30 June 2015
Preceded byIan Buchanan
Succeeded byChris Laidlaw
Personal details
Frances Helen Kitching

(1948-11-11) 11 November 1948 (age 70)
Wellington, New Zealand
Political partyLabour
Alma materVictoria University


Early life and careerEdit

Wilde was born Franes Helen Kitching on 11 November 1948 in Wellington, New Zealand.[1] She attended St Mary's College and later at Wellington Polytechnic (gaining a diploma in journalism) and Victoria University (graduating with a degree in Political Science). Upon finishing her education Wilde gained employment as a journalist.[2]

In 1968, she married Geoffrey Gilbert Wilde, and the couple went on to have three children before divorcing in 1983.[1]

She joined the Labour Party in 1972 and was later the editor of the party newsletter, New Nation. She later became the chairperson of the electorate in which she resided and a member of Labour's executive council in the Wellington region.[2]

Political careerEdit

Member of Parliament and MinisterEdit

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1981–84 40th Wellington Central Labour
1984–87 41st Wellington Central Labour
1987–90 42nd Wellington Central Labour
1990–92 43rd Wellington Central Labour

Wilde was a Member of Parliament for the Wellington Central seat, winning it from sitting National MP Ken Comber in the 1981 general election. Wilde retained the seat at the subsequent 1984 general election.[3]

In 1985, Wilde moved what became the Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986, which legalised homosexual acts in New Zealand between consenting men. The 16-month debate about the bill polarised the country, and sparked violent demonstrations and angry rallies at Parliament. Her other main legislative achievement in Parliament was an Adoption Reform Act, which made it possible for adopted people and their birth-parents to contact each other.[2]

Wilde was Labour's junior Parliamentary Whip from 1984 to 1987,[4] and became Minister of Tourism, Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control, and Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Associate Minister of External Relations and Trade during Labour's second term. Between 1990-92 she was Labour's spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Tourism.[2]

Mayor of WellingtonEdit

Fran Wilde Walk, the accessway to Westpac Stadium

In 1992 she resigned from Parliament to stand for Mayor of Wellington.[5] Her seat was retained by Labour, with Chris Laidlaw winning the 1992 by-election caused by Wilde's resignation.[6] She won the Mayoralty, and remained in office until 1995 when she chose to retire. During her time as Mayor, Wilde worked to improve Wellington's image and continuing on from the city's strong anti-nuclear sentiments she declared Wellington a Peace Capital in 1993. Wilde also spearheaded initiatives like the planning and construction of the WestpacTrust Stadium which features an elevated accessway to its entrance known as the "Fran Wilde Walk" which was opened in June 2005.[7]

Greater Wellington Regional CouncilEdit

Since then, Wilde has been appointed CEO of Trade New Zealand (until February 2003) and was elected as a councillor for the Wellington Regional Council. The council has occupied much of her time in recent years. Wilde was re-elected to the Regional Council in 2007.[8] On 30 October, Wilde was elected by her fellow councillors Chair of the Council.[9]

Wilde was a strong proponent of the super city proposal for Wellington. When the Local Government Commission rejected the proposal, Wilde received a letter signed by nine of her fellow councillors asking her to stand down as chair. Wilde has announced that she would step down from the chair's position from 30 June 2015, but that she would remain a regional councillor.[10] She was succeeded as Chair by Chris Laidlaw[11] and did not stand for re-election in 2016.

Career after politicsEdit

Following her departure from the Regional Council she was appointed as the Chair of the Remuneration Authority.[7]


In 1993, Wilde was awarded the New Zealand Suffrage Centennial Medal.[12] Wilde was appointed a Companion of the Queen's Service Order in 1996; a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2012 New Year Honours for services to local-body affairs and the community;[13] and a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2017 for services to the State and the community.[14]


She has three adult children from her first marriage to Geoffrey Wilde. Her husband Christopher Kelly was CEO of Landcorp and a former veterinary surgeon.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Taylor, Alister, ed. (2001). New Zealand Who's Who Aotearoa 2001. Auckland: Alister Taylor Publishers. p. 941. ISSN 1172-9813.
  2. ^ a b c d Who' Who 1990, p. 71.
  3. ^ Norton 1988, pp. 387.
  4. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 280.
  5. ^ Bly, Ross (1992). City of Wellington: Local Body Elections, 1992 (Report). Wellington City Council.
  6. ^ "By-election Special". The Evening Post. 14 December 1992. pp. 23–4.
  7. ^ a b Maxwell, Joel; Mussen, Deidre (8 December 2015). "Fran Wilde to ditch Greater Wellington Regional Council to become politicians' paymaster". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  8. ^ "Election results 2007". Greater Wellington Regional Council. 15 October 2007. Archived from the original on 28 October 2007. Retrieved 16 October 2007. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  9. ^ Newstalk ZB (30 October 2007). "Wilde elected Wellington regional council chair". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 30 October 2007.
  10. ^ "Councillors force Wilde to step down". The Press. 15 June 2015. p. A4.
  11. ^ "Chris Laidlaw chosen as chairman of Greater Wellington Regional Council". The Dominion Post. 26 October 2016. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  12. ^ "The New Zealand Suffrage Centennial Medal 1993 – register of recipients". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 26 July 2018. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  13. ^ "New Year honours list 2012". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 31 December 2011. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  14. ^ "New Year Honours List 2017". New Zealand Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 30 December 2016. Retrieved 30 December 2016.


  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103.
  • Norton, Clifford (1988). New Zealand Parliamentary Election Results 1946–1987: Occasional Publications No 1, Department of Political Science. Wellington: Victoria University of Wellington. ISBN 0-475-11200-8.
  • Who's Who in the New Zealand Parliament 1990. Wellington: Parliamentary Service. 1990.

External linksEdit

New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Ken Comber
Member of Parliament for Wellington Central
Succeeded by
Chris Laidlaw
Political offices
Preceded by
Jim Belich
Mayor of Wellington
Succeeded by
Mark Blumsky
Preceded by
Ian Buchanan
Chairperson of the Wellington Regional Council
Succeeded by
Chris Laidlaw