Katherine O'Regan

Katherine Victoria O'Regan QSO (née Newton, 24 May 1946 – 2 May 2018) was a New Zealand politician. She was an member of parliament from 1984 to 1999, representing the National Party. She served as a minister for the National Government for six of those years.

Katherine O'Regan

Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Waipa
In office
1984 – 1996
Preceded byMarilyn Waring
Succeeded byElectorate abolished
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for National Party List
In office
Personal details
Katherine Victoria Newton

(1946-05-24)24 May 1946
Te Mata, New Zealand
Died2 May 2018(2018-05-02) (aged 71)
Political partyNational
Spouse(s)1. Neil O'Regan
2. Michael Cox

Early lifeEdit

O'Regan was born to farming parents at Te Mata, on the West Coast of the North Island and attended Hamilton Girls' High School. She chose a nursing career but had to leave it.

Political careerEdit

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate List Party
1984–1987 41st Waipa National
1987–1990 42nd Waipa National
1990–1993 43rd Waipa National
1993–1996 44th Waipa National
1996–1999 45th List 10 National

Previous to entering parliament she was the first woman to be elected in 1977 to the then Waipa County Council where she served as a county councillor for 8 years. She was involved in community organisations like the NZ Plunket Society, SPELD and Hamilton Speech Therapy Association. She was first elected to Parliament in the 1984 general election as MP for Waipa, replacing the retiring Marilyn Waring. She had served as Waring's personal assistant since 1975. She held the electorate of Waipa for twelve years until it was abolished in 1996.[1] On her entry to parliament O'Regan sought to highlight the plight of children with specific learning disabilities by introducing a private members bill seeking recognition by the education system of children with these disabilities. It was not successful, but the bill was carried over by the Labour Party in government. It was finally discharged after 1990.

In the 1990 election Prime Minister Bolger appointed her Minister of Consumer Affairs, Associate Minister of Health, Associate Minister of Social Welfare and Associate Minister of Women's Affairs-these remained her portfolio's until the 1996 election with Minister of Youth Affairs added briefly at the end of 1996.

She became associate minister of Women's Affairs under Minister Jenny Shipley on 2 November 1990. The ministry had existed since 1984 (first held by Ann Hercus), but the associate minister's position was newly created and first held by O'Regan. She held this role until 12 December 1996, when a new (National) government was formed with NZ First Party following the first MMP 1996 general election. The associate minister role was vacant for almost a year and next held by Deborah Morris.[2]

In 1993, O'Regan was awarded the New Zealand Suffrage Centennial Medal.[3]

In 1994, O'Regan led the New Zealand Delegation to the UN Population and Development Conference in Cairo and also gave the Second Country Report to CEDAW at the UN in New York.

A supporter of human rights, as Associate Minister of Health she amended the Human Rights Act to outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and having organisms in the body which might cause disease.

In the 1996 general election, she unsuccessfully contested the electorate of Tauranga against Winston Peters, but remained in Parliament as a list MP.[1] She was appointed the Chairperson of the Internal Affairs select committee from 1996 to 1999. O'Regan continued her interest in population and development issues by establishing with the help of Family Planning International a New Zealand Parliamentarians' Group on Population and Development [4]

In the 1999 general election, she again challenged Peters, and came within 62 votes of defeating him — had she won, the New Zealand First party would have lost all parliamentary representation. Labour's candidate Margaret Wilson, who came third in the electorate, requested a recount.[5] The final result was a 63 votes majority for Peters.[6] O'Regan attempted to oust Peters from the electorate by encouraging voters to vote tactically, and vote for her rather than the Labour's Wilson. However, according to Wilson, O'Regan's plan backfired, and Peters was re-elected but with a much reduced margin.[7] Unlike in 1996, O'Regan was not high enough on National's party list to remain in Parliament without winning an electorate. She was 27 on the list, and the last list seat went to Marie Hasler, who was placed 24th.[8] Both Arthur Anae and Alec Neill, who were placed 25th and 26th on the list, replaced retiring National Party members during the term of the 46th Parliament, and O'Regan would have been next had a third person from her party resigned. O'Regan has not returned to Parliament since 1999.

In the 2002 Queen's Birthday and Golden Jubilee Honours O'Regan was appointed a Companion of the Queen's Service Order for public services.[9]

Outside politicsEdit

O'Regan was a council member of Family Planning New Zealand. She favoured compulsory sex education from age ten and condom vending machines in all secondary schools and public toilets.[10]

She was the chair of the Te Awamutu Community Public Relations Organisation.[11]

She was Chair of the Human Ethics in Research Committee for eight years at Waikato Institute of Technology and served on the New Zealand Law Society Waikato/Bay of Plenty Complaints Committee.

O'Regan died on 2 May 2018.[12]


  1. ^ a b "Women in parliament 1933 - 2005". Elections New Zealand. Archived from the original on 8 February 2013. Retrieved 27 January 2011.
  2. ^ "Minister of Women's Affairs". Ministry of Women's Affairs. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 27 January 2011.
  3. ^ "The New Zealand Suffrage Centennial Medal 1993 – register of recipients". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 26 July 2018. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  4. ^ "Family Planning International". Retrieved 30 January 2011.
  5. ^ "PM says 'get a move on' with recount". The New Zealand Herald. 14 December 1999. Retrieved 30 January 2011.
  6. ^ "Winning Electorate Candidate Votes". Elections New Zealand. Retrieved 30 January 2011.
  7. ^ "National votes 'helped Peters'". The New Zealand Herald. APN News & Media. 30 November 1999. Retrieved 30 January 2011.
  8. ^ "Party Lists of Successful Registered Parties". Elections New Zealand. Retrieved 30 January 2011.
  9. ^ "Queen's Birthday and Golden Jubilee honours list 2002". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 3 June 2002. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  10. ^ "No bitter pill to swallow". Waikato Times. 20 April 2010. Retrieved 27 January 2011.
  11. ^ Feek, Belinda (16 March 2009). "The town that finally found itself". Waikato Times. Retrieved 30 January 2011.
  12. ^ "Katherine O'Regan death notice". New Zealand Herald. 4 May 2018. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
Political offices
New office Associate Minister of Women's Affairs
In abeyance
Title next held by
Deborah Morris
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Marilyn Waring
Member of Parliament for Waipa
Constituency abolished