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Norman King (New Zealand politician)

Norman James King QSO (28 December 1914 – 28 May 2002) was a New Zealand politician of the Labour Party, and a cabinet minister.

Norman King

Norman King, 1966.jpg
12th Minister for Social Welfare
In office
8 December 1972 – 12 December 1975
Prime MinisterNorman Kirk
Bill Rowling
Preceded byLance Adams-Schneider
Succeeded byBert Walker
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Birkenhead
In office
29 November 1969 – 29 November 1975
Preceded byseat established
Succeeded byJim McLay
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Waitemata
In office
13 November 1954 – 29 November 1969
Preceded byseat created
Succeeded byFrank Gill
Personal details
Born28 December 1914
Auckland, New Zealand
Died28 May 2002
Auckland, New Zealand
Political partyLabour


Early life and careerEdit

King was born in Auckland in 1914. He had no secondary schooling and lived in a state house. He worked as a storeman in the Minties confectionary factory.[1]

Political careerEdit

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1954–1957 31st Waitemata Labour
1957–1960 32nd Waitemata Labour
1960–1963 33rd Waitemata Labour
1963–1966 34th Waitemata Labour
1966–1969 35th Waitemata Labour
1969–1972 36th Birkenhead Labour
1972–1975 37th Birkenhead Labour

In both 1950 and 1953 King stood unsuccessfully on a Labour ticket for the Auckland City Council.[2][3]

King first stood for Parliament in Hobson in 1951, coming second. He then represented the Waitemata electorate from 1954 to 1969, and the Birkenhead electorate from 1969 to 1975, when he was defeated by Jim McLay.[4]

In 1957 he defeated Robert Muldoon in his second attempt to enter parliament. Zavos says that King:[5]

was a poor speaker, a tiny birdlike man, a storeman and packer before taking up politics ... (but) a shrewd operator, however, whose greatest strength was that he was aware of his limitations. He realised he could not match the expert debating techniques Muldoon had developed.

So King restricted himself to two campaign meetings, and the slight swing to Labour carried King back.[5] He was described by contemporaries as "gentle and hard working".[6] King was adept at engaging with labourers and factory workers more so than any of his more intellectual colleagues in caucus, who considered him a lightweight, but Warren Freer said he possessed the "common touch".[7]

Cabinet MinisterEdit

King was Minister of Social Welfare (1972–1975), first under Norman Kirk, then under Bill Rowling for the duration of the Third Labour Government.[8] He was noted by cabinet colleagues for his dedication to fulfilling all of Labour's election pledges regarding his portfolio, being said to "work like a beaver". Warren Freer stated "It seemed that no cabinet meeting could be held without another proposal from Norman in his desire to honour every promise involving social welfare and pensioners."[9]

He introduced new measures to help solo parents, pensioners, the disabled and at-risk youth. King introduced the Domestic Purposes Benefit, Christmas bonuses for beneficiaries, wheelchair access to buildings. He was particularly proud of the Children and Young Persons Act which reduced child abuse and juvenile offending by keeping children out of court.[1] King felt almost a personal connection with the people who the payments were intended for as well as the hardships they faced which matched his own experiences earlier in his life.[10]

Later life and deathEdit

King later spent nine years as first lay observer for the Auckland, Hamilton and Taranaki district law societies where he acted as public adjudicator in public complaints against lawyers. He was also patron of the North Harbour of IHC.[1]

In the 1977 New Year Honours, King was made a Companion of the Queen's Service Order for public services.[11]

He died on 28 May 2002.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d "Fighter for the underdog". The Evening Post. 6 June 2002. p. 5.
  2. ^ "Electoral". New Zealand Herald. 30 November 1950. p. 14.
  3. ^ "Declaration of Poll". The New Zealand Herald. 16 November 1953. p. 16.
  4. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 210.
  5. ^ a b Zavos 1978, p. ?.
  6. ^ Grant 2014, p. 222.
  7. ^ Freer 2004, p. 235.
  8. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 92-3.
  9. ^ Freer 2004, p. 182.
  10. ^ Grant 2014, p. 347.
  11. ^ London Gazette (supplement), No. 47104, 31 December 1976. Retrieved 15 March 2013.


Political offices
Preceded by
Lance Adams-Schneider
Minister for Social Welfare
Succeeded by
Bert Walker
New Zealand Parliament
Constituency abolished in 1946
Title last held by
Henry Thorne Morton
Member of Parliament for Waitemata
Succeeded by
Frank Gill
New constituency Member of Parliament for Birkenhead
Succeeded by
Jim McLay