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Shields in 2008

Dame Margaret Kerslake Shields DNZM QSO JP (née Porter, 18 December 1941 – 29 May 2013) was a New Zealand politician of the Labour Party. She had three terms in the House of Representatives in the 1980s and was afterwards a member of the Greater Wellington Regional Council, including as chairman.

Early lifeEdit

Shields was born on 18 December 1941 in Wellington,[1] and was educated at Wellington Girls' College from 1955 to 1959.[2] She campaigned for women's rights throughout her career. In 1966 she was one of a group of Wellington women (members of Newlands Playcentre) who founded the Society for Research on Women (SROW).[3] She was a founding member of the Women's Electoral Lobby (WEL) in 1975 which aimed to get more women into parliament and public offices.[3][4] She worked at the Department of Statistics from 1973 to 1981 and served on the Wellington Hospital Board from 1977 to 1980.[3]

Political careerEdit

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1981–1984 40th Kapiti Labour
1984–1987 41st Kapiti Labour
1987–1990 42nd Kapiti Labour

Shields first stood for Labour in the 1975 election in the Karori electorate, coming second to Hugh Templeton.[5] Shields had initially been declared the winner of the 1978 election in the Kapiti electorate, but she lost by 83 votes on a magisterial recount to Barry Brill.[6]

From the 1981 election she represented the Kapiti electorate in Parliament, but in the 1990 election she was defeated by Roger Sowry; one of a number of losses contributing to the fall of the Fourth Labour Government. She was Minister of Customs and Consumer Affairs from 1984 and the Minister of Women's Affairs from 1987 to 1990.[6]

Post-parliamentary careerEdit

In 1990 she took up a position as director of INSTRAW, the United Nations International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women, based in the Dominican Republic.[7] She also held offices with the UN Development Fund for Women, the National Council of Women and the Federation of Graduate Women.[3]

In 1995, Shields was elected to the Greater Wellington Regional Council. She became its deputy chairwoman in 1998, and was its first female chair from 2001 to 2004.[5]


In 1993, Shields was awarded the New Zealand Suffrage Centennial Medal.[8] In the 1996 Queen's Birthday Honours she was appointed a Companion of the Queen's Service Order and later in the 2008 New Year Honours was appointed a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. In the Special Honours 2009, Shields accepted redesignation as a Dame Companion, following the reintroduction of titular honours by the government.[9][10]


Shields died in Paraparaumu in 2013 and was survived by her husband Pat and one of her two daughters.[11]


  1. ^ Who’s Who in New Zealand, 12th edition, edited by Max Lambert p.575 (1981, Reed, Wellington)
  2. ^ School Ties: Wellington Girls' College alumnae newsletter. Issue 16, December 2012. Retrieved 20 July 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d Blundell, Kay (8 June 2013). "Feminist devoted career to boosting women's status". Dominion Post. Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  4. ^ Carlyon, Jenny; Morrow, Diana (2013). Changing times : New Zealand since 1945. Auckland: Auckland University Press. p. 226. ISBN 9781775585251. OCLC 873807321.
  5. ^ a b Schouten, Hank (3 June 2013). "Women's champion Margaret Shields dies". Fairfax NZ News. Retrieved 23 May 2015.
  6. ^ a b "Dame Margaret Shields dead". Radio New Zealand. 3 June 2013. Retrieved 23 May 2015.
  7. ^ "New Zealand and the international women's movement". Walking backwards into the future : a collection of essays. Hamilton [N.Z.]: Women's Electoral Lobby (N.Z.). 1993. p. 120. ISBN 047701674X. OCLC 34630564.
  8. ^ "The New Zealand Suffrage Centennial Medal 1993 – register of recipients". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 26 July 2018. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  9. ^ "Dames and Knights Honours 2009 List" (12 August 2009) 118 New Zealand Gazette 2691.
  10. ^ Young, Audrey (14 August 2009). "Helen Clark loses: Ex-Labour MP takes title". The New Zealand Herald.
  11. ^ Dame Margaret Shields dies aged 71. (3 June 2013). New Zealand Herald.
Political offices
Preceded by
Keith Allen
Minister of Customs

Succeeded by
Trevor de Cleene
Preceded by
Trevor de Cleene
Succeeded by
Peter Neilson
Preceded by
Ann Hercus
Minister for Women
Succeeded by
Jenny Shipley
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Barry Brill
Member of Parliament for Kapiti
Succeeded by
Roger Sowry