Philip George Connolly DSC VRD (14 November 1899 – 13 February 1970) was a New Zealand politician of the Labour Party.

Phil Connolly

Phil Connolly.jpg
Connolly in 1943
22nd Minister of Defence
In office
12 December 1957 – 12 December 1960
Prime MinisterWalter Nash
Preceded byDean Eyre
Succeeded byDean Eyre
Personal details
Born(1899-11-14)14 November 1899
Dunedin, New Zealand
Died13 February 1970(1970-02-13) (aged 70)
Dunedin, New Zealand
Political partyLabour
Spouse(s)Phyllis Mirfin (1929-1934†)
Molly Noton (1943-1970)
Military service
AllegianceNaval Ensign of New Zealand.svg New Zealand Navy
RankUK-Navy-OF3 infobox.svg Lieutenant-Commander
Battles/warsWorld War II

Early lifeEdit

Connoly was born in Dunedin on 14 November 1899 to Hugh Babbington Connolly and Evelyn Emily Connolly (née Smith).[1] He was educated at McAndrew Road School and Otago Boys' High School until leaving school in 1914 upon the death of his father to work for a living as an apprentice fitter.[2] Connolly first developed an interest in politics upon the formation of the Labour Party in 1916.[3] He also worked in the NZR Hillside Workshops.

Military careerEdit

During World War II Connolly served in the Royal New Zealand Navy in both the Atlantic and Pacific, commanding the minesweeper ship HMS Deodar and antisubmarine vessel HMNZS Moa. He was decorated with the Distinguished Service Cross in 1941 for his service in safeguarding Channel convoys.[4]

Political careerEdit

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1943–1946 27th Dunedin West Labour
1946–1949 28th Dunedin Central Labour
1949–1951 29th Dunedin Central Labour
1951–1954 30th Dunedin Central Labour
1954–1957 31st Dunedin Central Labour
1957–1960 32nd Dunedin Central Labour
1960–1963 33rd Dunedin Central Labour

Connolly represented the Dunedin West electorate from 1943 to 1946, and then the Dunedin Central electorate from 1946 to 1963, when he retired.[5] He narrowly missed selection for a cabinet portfolio under Peter Fraser, though in 1947 was elected as the Labour Party's junior Whip, being elevated to the senior Whip in 1951.[4]

Connolly was an agitator against the leadership of Walter Nash during Labour's spell in opposition in the 1950s. He was one of the main instigators of the challenge to Nash in June 1954, which was unsuccessful. As a result, Connolly together with Bill Anderton and Arnold Nordmeyer were called before Labour's National Executive and given warnings about the threat of divisiveness to the party.[6]

He was later appointed a Cabinet Minister by Walter Nash, and was Minister of Defence and from 12 December 1957 to 12 December 1960 in the Second Labour Government.[7] He also was the Minister responsible for Police and War Pensions.[4]

Connolly was also deeply involved in local body politics in Dunedin. He first ran for local office in 1933, and was first elected in a 1939 by-election.[8] He would serve as a councilor later in life too, until his death and also served on the Otago Harbour and Hospital boards. Connolly ran as the Labour candidate for Mayor in 1953, but lost to incumbent Len Wright.[4]

Later lifeEdit

In 1970, Connolly was offered a knighthood, though declined. He died suddenly at his Dunedin home on 13 February 1970, aged 70.[9]


  1. ^ Jamieson 2009, p. 14.
  2. ^ Jamieson 2009, p. 295.
  3. ^ Jamieson 2009, p. 25.
  4. ^ a b c d Jamieson 2009, p. 296.
  5. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 190.
  6. ^ Logan 2008, p. 281.
  7. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 88.
  8. ^ Jamieson 2009, pp. 295-6.
  9. ^ Jamieson 2009, p. 286.


  • Jamieson, Rosemary (2009), In Command: Minesweeper Captain and Labour Parliamentarian (1st ed.), Wellington, [N.Z.]: Steele Roberts
  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103.
  • Logan, Mary (2008). Nordy, Arnold Nordmeyer a political biography. Wellington: Steele Roberts Publishers. ISBN 978-1-877448-33-1.
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Peter Neilson
Member of Parliament for Dunedin Central
Succeeded by
Brian MacDonell
Political offices
Preceded by
Dean Eyre
Minister of Defence
Succeeded by
Dean Eyre
Party political offices
Preceded by
Robert Macfarlane
Senior Whip of the Labour Party
Succeeded by
Joe Cotterill