Fraser Colman

Fraser MacDonald Colman QSO PC (23 February 1925 – 11 April 2008) was a New Zealand politician of the Labour Party. He represented the electorates of Petone from 1967 to 1978, and then when Petone was renamed, Pencarrow from 1978 to 1987, when he retired. He was the cabinet minister chosen to represent New Zealand in 1973 on its warships during their protest against the nuclear weapons testing carried out by France.

Fraser Colman

Fraser Colman.jpg
31st Minister of Works and Development
In office
26 July 1984 – 15 August 1987
Prime MinisterDavid Lange
Preceded byTony Friedlander
Succeeded byRichard Prebble
43rd Postmaster-General
In office
10 September 1974 – 12 December 1975
Prime MinisterBill Rowling
Preceded byRoger Douglas
Succeeded byHugh Templeton
37th Minister of Immigration
In office
8 December 1972 – 12 December 1975
Prime MinisterNorman Kirk
Bill Rowling
Preceded byDavid Thomson
Succeeded byFrank Gill
30th Minister of Mines
In office
8 December 1972 – 12 December 1975
Prime MinisterNorman Kirk
Bill Rowling
Preceded byLes Gandar
Succeeded byEric Holland
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Pencarrow
Petone (1967–1978)
In office
15 April 1967 – 15 August 1987
Preceded byMick Moohan
Succeeded bySonja Davies
Personal details
Born23 February 1925
Wellington, New Zealand
Died11 April 2008
Lower Hutt, New Zealand
Political partyLabour
Noeline Jean Allen
(m. 1958)

Early life and familyEdit

Colman was born in Wellington on 23 February 1925, one of five children of Kenneth and Emily Colman.[1][2] He attended primary school in Wellington before his family moved to Paraparaumu, where he went to Horowhenua College.[1] Upon leaving school he found employment as a boilermaker at the firm of William Cables; he worked in that profession for 13 years.[1]

He soon became active in the union movement, becoming a shop steward. He joined the Labour party, organising and distributing pamphlets and writing for the Labour Party newspaper, The Southern Cross.

In 1958, Colman married Noeline Jean Allen, after first meeting her in 1954, and the couple went on to have four children.[1][2] They moved to Wainuiomata in 1959,[3] where they built a home and lived the remainder of their life.[1]

Political careerEdit

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1967–1969 35th Petone Labour
1969–1972 36th Petone Labour
1972–1975 37th Petone Labour
1975–1978 38th Petone Labour
1978–1981 39th Pencarrow Labour
1981–1984 40th Pencarrow Labour
1984–1987 41st Pencarrow Labour

He served as campaign manager for Henry May in the Onslow electorate in 1954. In 1955 he became assistant general secretary of the Labour Party. He held the position until he was persuaded to stand for Labour in the by-election for the Petone electorate in 1967 following the death in office of Mick Moohan, its existing MP.[1] He was elected in the 15 April 1967 by-election.[4] He held Petone until it was abolished in 1978.[5] He represented the Pencarrow electorate, which replaced Petone, from 1978 to 1987.[1]

Third Labour GovernmentEdit

He was a Cabinet Minister in the third Labour Government. In the cabinet of Norman Kirk, he held the positions of Minister of Mines (1972–1974),[6] Minister of Immigration (1972–1974),[6] Associate Minister of Labour, and Associate Minister of Works.[3] In the cabinet of Bill Rowling, he was Minister of Mines, Minister of Immigration and Postmaster-General (all 1974–1975).[7]


In 1973, the government decided to dispatch a Royal New Zealand Navy frigate to protest against French nuclear testing on Mururoa Atoll in the South Pacific. It was decided that a cabinet minister should accompany the frigate to demonstrate the seriousness of the New Zealand government's position. Norman Kirk put all the Cabinet ministers' names into a hat and drew out the name of Colman. He departed from Auckland on 28 June aboard the Otago, which reached Mururoa a month later where he witnessed the first atmospheric test. Colman transferred to the Canterbury when it arrived to relieve the Otago, from which he witnessed the second French atmospheric test.[8]


Following the defeat of the Third Labour Government he held the position of Opposition Spokesman on Immigration.[9] In 1978 he became Shadow Minister of Energy and Shadow Minister for the Environment.[10] A year later he was allocated the Housing portfolio by Rowling instead.[11][12] Ahead of the 1981 election he was shifted to be Shadow Minister of Transport.[13] After the election he became Shadow Minister of Works and Shadow Minister of Mines.[14] When David Lange replaced Rowling as leader Colman retained the Works portfolio.[15] He criticised the Muldoon Government for outsourcing the construction of many Think Big projects, including hiring foreign contractors at the Clyde Dam, rather than using the Ministry of Works and Development employees, stating the government "sacrificed the ministry to private enterprise."[16]

Fourth Labour GovernmentEdit

In the fourth Labour Government, he again served as a cabinet minister holding the posts of Minister of Works and Development,[17] Minister in Charge of the Earthquake and War Damages Commission, and Associate Minister of Energy.[1] He ended the policy of the Muldoon Government of outsourcing works projects to contractors which he had previously been critical of. He also expanded the scope of the Ministry of Works and Development to include constructing irrigation infrastructure.[16]

Life after politicsEdit

Colman retired from Parliament at the 1987 election. He was replaced in Pencarrow by Sonja Davies.[1] He was subsequently appointed as chairman of the New Zealand Fire Service Council for a three-year term.[1]

Colman had a stroke in 1991. Another stroke in 1999 removed his ability to speak. He died on 11 April 2008, and was survived by his wife and three of their four daughters.[1]

Honours and awardsEdit

Plaque commemorating Colman

In 1977, Colman was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal.[2] He was appointed a member of the Privy Council in 1985,[18] and in 1990 received the New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal.[2] In the 1992 New Year Honours, Colman was made a Companion of the Queen's Service Order for public services.[19] His wife, Noeline, had previously been appointed a Companion of the Queen's Service Order for community service in the 1987 Queen's Birthday Honours.[20]

Colman was a life member of the Wellington Rugby League Club.[1]

Honorific eponymEdit

Fraser Colman Grove, a street in Wainuiomata is named after him.[21]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Colman the ideal politician". The Hutt News. 22 April 2008. p. 66. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d Taylor, Alister; Coddington, Deborah (1994). Honoured by the Queen – New Zealand. Auckland: New Zealand Who's Who Aotearoa. p. 104. ISBN 0-908578-34-2.
  3. ^ a b "?". Wainuiomata Times. 17 April 2008. p. 3.
  4. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 190.
  5. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 270.
  6. ^ a b Wilson 1985, p. 92.
  7. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 93.
  8. ^ "Nuclear testing in the Pacific – nuclear-free New Zealand". Ministry for Culture and Heritage. 12 March 2012. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  9. ^ "Surprises Among Party Spokesmen". The New Zealand Herald. 30 January 1976. p. 10.
  10. ^ "Rowling shuffles his pack". Auckland Star. 9 December 1978. p. 3.
  11. ^ "Heads of Labour Posts Named". The New Zealand Herald. 15 December 1979. p. 12.
  12. ^ "The Team". The New Zealand Herald. 15 December 1979. p. 12.
  13. ^ "Labour's shadow line-up". The Evening Post. 13 March 1981. p. 4.
  14. ^ "How They Line-up". The New Zealand Herald. 20 February 1982. p. 3.
  15. ^ "Labour leader allocates responsibilities". The Press. 17 March 1983. p. 3.
  16. ^ a b "Ministry Has Solid Ally In Mr Colman". The New Zealand Herald. 31 July 1984. p. 20.
  17. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 98.
  18. ^ "Privy Council Places for Ministers". The New Zealand Herald. 24 December 1985. p. 8.
  19. ^ "No. 52768". The London Gazette (2nd supplement). 31 December 1991. p. 30.
  20. ^ "No. 50950". The London Gazette (4th supplement). 13 June 1987. p. 32.
  21. ^ "Proposed New Street Name – Fraser Colman Grove. Report No. WCB2007/1/2" (PDF). Hutt City Council. Retrieved 24 April 2008.


  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103.

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Tony Friedlander
Minister of Works and Development
Succeeded by
Richard Prebble
Preceded by
Roger Douglas
Succeeded by
Hugh Templeton
Preceded by
David Thomson
Minister of Immigration
Succeeded by
Frank Gill
Preceded by
Les Gandar
Minister of Mines
Succeeded by
Eric Holland
New Zealand Parliament
New constituency Member of Parliament for Pencarrow
Succeeded by
Sonja Davies
Preceded by
Mick Moohan
Member of Parliament for Petone
Constituency abolished