Maryan Street

Maryan Street (born 5 April 1955) is a former Member of the New Zealand Parliament (MP) for the New Zealand Labour Party. She was a Cabinet Minister in the 2005–08 Coalition Government led by former Prime Minister Helen Clark. She has been active in the field of human rights and good governance, particularly for women and the labour movement. In the 2005 election, she became the first openly gay female MP elected to the New Zealand Parliament.[1] She was an MP for nine years between 2005 and 2014.

Maryan Street
Maryan Street, 2012.jpg
Maryan Street in 2012
22nd Minister of Housing
In office
31 October 2007 – 3 October 2008
Prime MinisterHelen Clark
Preceded byChris Carter
Succeeded byPhil Heatley
Minister for ACC
In office
31 October 2007 – 3 October 2008
Prime MinisterHelen Clark
Preceded byRuth Dyson
Succeeded byNick Smith
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Labour Party List
In office
17 September 2005 – 20 September 2014
29th President of the Labour Party
In office
Preceded byRuth Dyson
Succeeded byMichael Hirschfeld
Personal details
Born (1955-04-05) 5 April 1955 (age 64)
New Plymouth, New Zealand
Political partyLabour Party

Early yearsEdit

Street was born and raised in New Plymouth, and studied at Victoria University of Wellington, receiving a BA (Hons) in 1976. She joined the Labour Party in 1984, and was President of the Labour Party from April 1993 to November 1995. In 1990 she was appointed Director of Labour Studies at Auckland University, where she gained a Master of Philosophy in Industrial Relations in 1993. She served on the boards of government agencies Housing New Zealand and the Crown Forestry Rental Trust. In 1990 she was awarded the New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal for service to New Zealand.

In 1993, Street was awarded the New Zealand Suffrage Centennial Medal for service to women.[2]

Member of ParliamentEdit

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate List Party
2005–2008 48th List 36 Labour
2008–2011 49th List 9 Labour
2011–2014 50th List 7 Labour

In the 2005 election, Street was ranked thirty-sixth on its party list. This was the second highest position given by Labour in 2005 to a person who was not already a member of Parliament. She also contested the safe National seat of Taranaki-King Country against the incumbent National Party MP, Shane Ardern. Street was elected to parliament as a list MP.

In her first speech to the New Zealand Parliament in 2005 Street set out a human rights agenda. She said she stood for public office to campaign for social justice and believed human rights were at the core of democracy. “I have not come into this House to be less than brave about the human rights of those whom some would seek to marginalise. I seek an inclusive, just, and tolerant society as one that is more likely to be peaceful, productive, and safe for our children to grow up in. A pluralist society is stable because of its differences, not despite them. It is the very differences between people, working together peacefully and with respect for each other, that allow a society to remain strong and cohesive.”[3]

During her nine years as an MP and Cabinet Minister she held a range of roles. Her main responsibilities involved foreign affairs, human rights, workplace relations and higher education, and economic development. In the Helen Clark-led Government of 2005–2008 she was Minister of Housing, Minister for the Accident Compensation Corporation, Associate Minister of Tertiary Education, and Associate Minister of Economic Development. [4]

Street advanced legislation addressing tenants’ insurance rights, ethical investment, banning the importation of goods made by slave labour, and the right to die with dignity. She has also been a lead supporter of legislated human rights for the LGBTQI communities.

Street advocated on behalf of political prisoners and refugees from Myanmar. In 2010 she put a motion before the New Zealand Parliament to affirm the commitment to human rights for political prisoners in Myanmar. [5]

She also worked with a local Myanmar refugee group while she was a Member of Parliament based in the city of Nelson. During 2011 she raised the profile of the refugee community by organising cultural events and working with authorities to obtain special immigration visas. [6]

She visited Myanmar in November 2012 to observe the rollout of the Gavi vaccination programme to immunise in excess of one million children. [7]

Street supported the professional development of young leaders from Myanmar who made an official visit to New Zealand in June 2015. Even though she had left Parliament by this time, an overseas aid project funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked her to contribute to its Myanmar Young Leaders Programme. [8]

Retirement from ParliamentEdit

Following the election of the 51st New Zealand Parliament Street failed to be returned on the list despite her high placing. Maryan Street had the opportunity to return to Parliament when Jacinda Ardern won the seat vacated by David Shearer at the 2017 Mount Albert by-election, which allowed the next highest candidate from the Labour list to enter Parliament. Street declined the offer.

After leaving Parliament Street continued to maintain a high profile as a campaigner for other human rights causes, such as the right to death with dignity. In a ‘National Portrait’ newspaper article published in major Fairfax dailies in 2016, Street discussed how she once planned to train as a Presbyterian Minister and how that upbringing had influenced her to take a “compassionate” approach to policies. [9]

Street works full-time for KiwiRail as the Employee Relations Manager[10] under Andrew Norton, Group General Manager Human Resources. Street has been an employee of KiwiRail since 20 April 2015.

International workEdit

Street worked as an international observer of general elections across Africa and Asia, mostly on behalf of the Commonwealth, with a focus on human rights and good governance.

In 2007 she travelled to Lesotho to join the Commonwealth Expert Team observing the parliamentary elections. [11]

In 2009 the United Nations Development Programme asked her to participate in a seminar in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on the issue of power sharing in multi-party democracies.

She represented New Zealand at a joint European Parliament-United Nations conference of international parliamentarians in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2012. The conference addressed the implementation of the programme of action of the International Conference on Population and Development. [12]

She returned to Lesotho in 2015 as a member of the Commonwealth Observer Group for the Lesotho National Assembly elections. [13]

In 2018 she was a member of the Commonwealth Observer Group which assessed the general elections in Sierra Leone.[14]

She was a member of the Commonwealth Observer Group which monitored the 2019 Parliamentary elections in Maldives.[15]

She is an alumna of the New Zealand Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians group, part of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), which works to increase gender diversity in CPA activities and programmes.[16]


  1. ^ "20 Years On – Homosexual Law Reform Conference" (PDF). Lesbian and Gay Archives of New Zealand. p. 7.
  2. ^ "The New Zealand Suffrage Centennial Medal 1993 – register of recipients". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 26 July 2018. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  3. ^ "Street, Maryan: Address in Reply". New Zealand Parliament.
  4. ^ "Street, Maryan". New Zealand Parliament.
  5. ^ "Street, Maryan: Motions — Burma—Human Rights". New Zealand Parliament.
  6. ^ "The crowd goes wild".
  7. ^ "Burma today".
  8. ^ "Evaluation report" (PDF). 2015. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  9. ^ "National Portrait: Maryan Street, the campaigner".
  10. ^ "KiwiRail's Evolution: Annual Integrated Report 2019" (PDF). 2019. p. 28.
  11. ^ "Lesotho: Final Report, General Elections, Commonwealth (2007)".
  12. ^ "IPCI report" (PDF). 2012. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  13. ^ "Lesotho Election 2015: Commonwealth Observer Group Arrival Statement". The Commonwealth.
  14. ^ "Observer group's report on Sierra Leone's elections released". The Commonwealth.
  15. ^ "Observers gear up for Maldives' 2019 parliamentary election". The Commonwealth.
  16. ^ "Inter-Parliamentary Organisations". New Zealand Parliament.

External linksEdit

Party political offices
Preceded by
Ruth Dyson
Labour Party President
Succeeded by
Michael Hirschfeld
Political offices
Preceded by
Chris Carter
Minister of Housing
Succeeded by
Phil Heatley
Preceded by
Ruth Dyson
Minister for ACC
Succeeded by
Nick Smith