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Jonathan Hunt (New Zealand politician)

Jonathan Lucas Hunt ONZ (born 2 December 1938) is a New Zealand politician, and was New Zealand's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom from 2005 to March 2008.[1] He formerly served as Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives. He is a member of the Labour Party, and was until recently the longest-serving MP in Parliament. Hunt is a member of the Order of New Zealand, New Zealand's highest civilian honour. Hunt was given the nickname the "Minister for Wine and Cheese" after his well-known liking of the combo.[2]

Jonathan Hunt

Jonathan Hunt.jpg
Jonathan Hunt in 2006, in the penthouse in New Zealand House, London
26th Speaker of the House of Representatives
In office
5 December 1999 – 3 March 2005
Prime MinisterHelen Clark
Preceded byDoug Kidd
Succeeded byMargaret Wilson
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for New Lynn
In office
Preceded byRex Mason
Succeeded byPhil Goff
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Labour Party list
In office
Succeeded byLesley Soper
Personal details
Jonathan Lucas Hunt

(1938-12-02) 2 December 1938 (age 80)
Lower Hutt, New Zealand
NationalityNew Zealand
Political partyLabour
ProfessionHigh school teacher

Early lifeEdit

Hunt was born in Lower Hutt, but grew up in Palmerston North. He had a twin brother, David, who died four days after they were born.[2] Hunt's father was a child welfare officer, reassigned to the Manawatu in 1942. Hunt was educated at Palmerston North Boys' High School and later Auckland Grammar School, later he enrolled at the University of Auckland, where he gained a BA (Hons) degree in history.

In 1958 Hunt was elected editor of the Auckland University Students' Association's (AUSA) Craccum magazine for the 1959 year. While at University Hunt is also credited with founding the Princes Street Labour branch.

After graduating, Hunt became a History, English and Latin teacher from 1961 to 1966 at Kelston Boys High School in West Auckland where he also coached cricket.[2] He was then a university tutor. Hunt also has a long-standing relationship with the Department of Political Studies at the University, which for many years has collected and archived Hunt's personal and professional papers.

Member of ParliamentEdit

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate List Party
1966–1969 35th New Lynn Labour
1969–1972 36th New Lynn Labour
1972–1975 37th New Lynn Labour
1975–1978 38th New Lynn Labour
1978–1981 39th New Lynn Labour
1981–1984 40th New Lynn Labour
1984–1987 41st New Lynn Labour
1987–1990 42nd New Lynn Labour
1990–1993 43rd New Lynn Labour
1993–1996 44th New Lynn Labour
1996–1999 45th List 7 Labour
1999–2002 46th List 6 Labour
2002–2005 47th List 3 Labour

In 1966, Hunt was elected to Parliament in Auckland's New Lynn electorate replacing the retiring Rex Mason, whom Hunt was to later write a biography of in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography.[3] He remained MP for New Lynn until 1996, when he became a list MP after losing in Tamaki to National's Clem Simich. Hunt was returned twice more as a list MP; losing Waitakere to National's Brian Neeson in the 1999 election, and as a list-only candidate in the 2002 election.

In mid-January 1970, United States Vice President Spiro Agnew visited Wellington. Hunt along with several other Labour Members of Parliament including Bob Tizard, Arthur Faulkner, and Martyn Finlay boycotted the state dinner to protest American policy in Vietnam. However, other Labour MPs including Opposition Leader Norman Kirk attended the function which dealt with the Nixon Doctrine.[4]

Hunt was appointed junior government whip upon Labour's victory in 1972 election.[5] He was later promoted further in 1974 by Prime Minister Bill Rowling to the position of Chairman of Committees.[6]

Cabinet MinisterEdit

During the Fourth Labour Government he served as Minister of Telecommunications and Broadcasting, Minister of Tourism, Minister of Housing, and Postmaster-General.[2] In 1989, Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer nominated Hunt a member of the Privy Council in recognition of his long service.

Upon the retirement of Sir Robert Muldoon, Hunt was the longest-serving member of Parliament between 1991 and 2005, earning him the unofficial title of 'Father of the House'.

Speaker of the House of RepresentativesEdit

Hunt (right) and Australian cricket captain Allan Border in 1986.

He was elected Speaker unopposed when the fifth Labour government came to power in 1999. Hunt had previously served as Chairman of Committees from 1974 to 1975 which had since been rebranded as the Deputy-Speaker. Hunt became the eighth Chairman of Committees to later serve as Speaker. He retained his position following the election in 2002 serving in total as Speaker for six years from 1999–2005.[2]

High Commissioner to the United KingdomEdit

In December 2004, it was announced that he would retire from politics and replace Russell Marshall as New Zealand High Commissioner in London, a move that had long been anticipated. He was replaced as Speaker by Margaret Wilson on 3 March 2005, and left Parliament on 30 March. As a list MP, his vacant parliamentary seat was filled by the next available candidate on the Labour Party list, Lesley Soper.

Some controversy arose in mid-2005, when recently after he arrived in London, Hunt was told publicly by the New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark that he could not apply for the U.K pension as it was not appropriate given his position of New Zealand High Commissioner and the fact that he was already collecting a New Zealand parliamentary pension.[7]

On 21 November 2007 the New Zealand Foreign Minister, Winston Peters, announced that the next High Commissioner to London would be Derek Leask from March 2008.[8]

Personal lifeEdit

Hunt has never been married and has no children. He is the patron of the University of Auckland Debating Society.[9]



Hunt was also the subject of a documentary, "Father of the House", directed by Simon Burgin and Xavier Forde, which was filmed in Wellington in 2005. The film was a finalist in the DocNZ film festival in the same year. It has also been regularly screened on the Documentary Channel on Sky Television since 2006.


  1. ^ New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade web site
  2. ^ a b c d e "More than just wine and cheese". 18 April 2008. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  3. ^ Hunt, Jonathan. "Mason, Henry Greathead Rex". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
  4. ^ Rabel, Roberto (2005). New Zealand and the Vietnam War: Politics and Diplomacy. Auckland: Auckland University Press. pp. 299–300. ISBN 1-86940-340-1.
  5. ^ Wilson 1985, pp. 279–80.
  6. ^ Wilson 1985, pp. 251–252.
  7. ^ "Hunt not allowed British pension". Television New Zealand. 3 May 2005. Retrieved 8 October 2011.
  8. ^ New Zealand High Commission web site
  9. ^ "UoA Debating Society". Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  10. ^ "New Year honours list 2005". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 31 December 2004. Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103.
Political offices
Preceded by
Ron Bailey
Chairman of Committees of the House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Richard Harrison
Preceded by
Rob Talbot
Succeeded by
Richard Prebble
Preceded by
Doug Kidd
Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Margaret Wilson
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Rex Mason
Member of Parliament for New Lynn
Succeeded by
Phil Goff
Party political offices
Preceded by
Russell Marshall
Senior Whip of the Labour Party
Succeeded by
Michael Cullen
Preceded by
Trevor Mallard
Succeeded by
Mark Burton
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Russell Marshall
High Commissioner of New Zealand to the United Kingdom
Succeeded by
Derek Leask
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Robert Muldoon
Father of the House
Succeeded by
Helen Clark