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Sir Leslie Knox Munro KCMG KCVO (26 February 1901 – 13 February 1974) was a New Zealand lawyer, journalist, and politician of international standing.

Sir Leslie Munro

Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Hamilton West
In office
1969 – 1972
Succeeded byDorothy Jelicich
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Waipa
In office
1963 – 1969
Preceded byHallyburton Johnstone
14th President of the United Nations General Assembly
In office
17 September 1957 – 16 September 1958
Preceded byWan Waithayakon
Succeeded byCharles Habib Malik
3rd Minister from New Zealand in the United States
In office
Preceded bySir Carl Berendsen
Succeeded byLloyd White (as Chargé d'Affaires)
Personal details
Leslie Knox Munro

(1901-02-26)26 February 1901
Auckland, New Zealand
Died13 February 1974(1974-02-13) (aged 72)
Hamilton, New Zealand
Spouse(s)Christine Priestley (m. 1927)
Muriel Sturt (m. 1931)


Law and mediaEdit

Munro studied at Auckland Grammar School and the University of Auckland, where he graduated with a Master of Laws in 1923. He became dean of the law faculty at the University of Auckland in 1938, and taught and administrated at the university in a variety of roles until 1951. Munro was also president of the Auckland District Law Society from 1936 to 1938. Munro gave radio talks on world events for the New Zealand National Broadcasting Service (NBS), and wrote for The New Zealand Herald, where he was editor from 1942 to 1951.[1]

Diplomatic careerEdit

1954 TV interview

Munro was a founding member of the New Zealand National Party, and held significant executive positions in the party, helping it to victory in the 1949 general election. In 1952 the new Prime Minister, Sidney Holland, appointed Munro the New Zealand ambassador to the United States, and the permanent representative of New Zealand to the United Nations.[2] In that capacity, he lobbied for the New Zealand government to support efforts by the United States to increase its involvement in Indochina in response to the success of the Viet Minh during the First Indochina War.[3] While he came to recognize the Viet Cong as an indigenous movement, he still contended that it was supported by North Vietnam and the People's Republic of China as part of a campaign of Communist subversion against South Vietnam.[4] As New Zealand's permanent representative to the UN, he served as president of the Trusteeship Council from 1953 to 1954 and President of the United Nations General Assembly for its twelfth session (1957–1958). He was also three times President of the Security Council, and was serving in that position at the outbreak of Suez Crisis in 1956. At the UN he was an outspoken critic of the Soviet response to the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, and was appointed the special representative for the 'Hungarian question'.

Munro was knighted in 1955 with a KCMG, followed by a KCVO in 1957. Although he was removed from his position as permanent representative in 1958 by the second Labour government he remained a special representative until 1962, and was also secretary-general of the International Commission of Jurists from 1961. He wrote the widely read United Nations:Hope for a divided world in 1960. For the academic year 1960–1961, he was a Fellow on the faculty in the Center for Advanced Study at Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut.[5]

National politicsEdit

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1963–1966 34th Waipa National
1966–1969 35th Waipa National
1969–1972 36th Hamilton West National

At the end of Munro's appointment to Washington he had been replaced by a career diplomat. After the 1960 New Zealand election Munro expected the new National government to either reappoint him to Washington or to give him the post of High Commissioner to London. His personal traits had however made him unpopular amongst the senior officials of the Prime Minister's Department and External Affairs.[6] A recommendation was made to the new Prime Minister Keith Holyoake that Monro not be reappointed to an overseas diplomatic position.[7]

Munro returned to New Zealand and was elected as a National Party Member of Parliament, first for Waipa in 1963 and then for Hamilton West in 1969. Munro had proposed to stand for Tamaki in 1960 but only if he was unopposed for the party selection. Muldoon wanted to enter parliament so went for selection despite the request of the National Party president Alex McKenzie to stand aside. Muldoon won the selection, and won the seat from Bob Tizard.[8]

However, personal and professional antagonisms with two Prime Ministers Keith Holyoake then John Marshall prevented him from attaining high rank in those administrations, and he retired in 1972. Holyoake usually kept him from speaking in caucus until the end of the debate, when the conclusion had been decided.[9]

Private lifeEdit

Munro was married twice, and had a daughter from each marriage. His first marriage, to Christine Priestley, lasted for two years, as it was cut short by her death in 1929 three days after the birth of their daughter. Munro's second marriage, to Muriel Sturt in 1931, was to last until his death in Hamilton in 1974.

Further readingEdit

  • Rabel, Roberto (2005). New Zealand and the Vietnam War: Politics and Diplomacy. Auckland, New Zealand: Auckland University Press. ISBN 978-1-77558-128-4.
  • Reeves, Bernie (July 2003). "Me and the Cold War". Metro Magazine. Retrieved 25 May 2006.
  • "Sir Leslie Munro: 12th session". United Nations. Retrieved 25 May 2006.
  • Round, Derek. "Munro, Leslie Knox – Biography". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
  • Templeton, Hugh (1995). All Honourable Men: Inside the Muldoon Cabinet, 1975-1984. Auckland: Auckland University Press. ISBN 1-86940-128-X.

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. ^ Roberto Rabel, New Zealand and the Vietnam War, p.15
  2. ^ Roberto Rabel, New Zealand and the Vietnam War, p. 15
  3. ^ Roberto Rabel,New Zealand and the Vietnam War, pp. 15-18, 24-27
  4. ^ Roberto Rabel, New Zealand and the Vietnam War, p.76
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 March 2017. Retrieved 4 April 2010.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ Gustafson, Barry. Kiwi Keith: a biography of Keith Holyoake. p. 171. ISBN 978-1-86940-400-0.
  7. ^ Gustafson, Barry. Kiwi Keith: a biography of Keith Holyoake. p. 172. ISBN 978-1-86940-400-0.
  8. ^ Templeton 1995, p. 18.
  9. ^ Templeton 1995, p. 20.

External linksEdit

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Wan Waithayakon
President of the United Nations General Assembly
Succeeded by
Charles Habib Malik
Preceded by
Sir Carl Berendsen
Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York
Succeeded by
Foss Shanahan
Minister from New Zealand in the United States
Succeeded by
Lloyd White
as Chargé d'Affaires
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Hallyburton Johnstone
Member of Parliament for Waipa
Constituency abolished, recreated in 1978
Title next held by
Marilyn Waring
New constituency Member of Parliament for Hamilton West
Succeeded by
Dorothy Jelicich