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Richard William Prebble, CBE (born 7 February 1948), was for many years a member of the New Zealand Parliament. Initially a member of the Labour Party, he joined the newly formed ACT New Zealand party under Roger Douglas in 1996, becoming its leader from 1996–2004.

Richard Prebble

Richard Prebble.jpg
Member of the New Zealand Parliament for Auckland Central
In office
29 November 1975 – 6 November 1993
Preceded byNorman Douglas
Succeeded bySandra Lee
Member of the New Zealand Parliament for Wellington Central
In office
12 October 1996 – 27 November 1999
Preceded byElectorate re-created
Succeeded byMarian Hobbs
Personal details
Born (1948-02-07) 7 February 1948 (age 71)
Kent, England
Political partyACT New Zealand (1996 – 2004)
Other political
Labour (until 1996)

Early and personal lifeEdit

Prebble was born in Kent, England, to Kenneth Ralph Prebble and Mary Prebble (née Thoad), and raised in Auckland. His father was an Anglo-Catholic Anglican priest, and a leader in the Charismatic Renewal as archdeacon at St. Pauls, on retirement he and Mary were received into the Roman Catholic Church.[1]

Prebble's older brother, John Prebble QC, is a law professor at Victoria University of Wellington. His younger brother, Mark Prebble was the State Services Commissioner and head of New Zealand's public service. John's daughter Antonia Prebble is an actor with a number of television roles.

Prebble has been married three times. His first wife was Nancy Cocks, and his second was Doreen Kuper, a former Honorary Consul for the Solomon Islands in New Zealand.[2] His current wife is former Press Gallery radio journalist Ngahuia Wade.[3]

Member of ParliamentEdit

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate List Party
1975–1978 38th Auckland Central Labour
1978–1981 39th Auckland Central Labour
1981–1984 40th Auckland Central Labour
1984–1987 41st Auckland Central Labour
1987–1990 42nd Auckland Central Labour
1990–1993 43rd Auckland Central Labour
1996–1999 45th Wellington Central 1 ACT
1999–2002 46th List 1 ACT
2002–2005 47th List 1 ACT

1975 election to 1984Edit

Prebble was originally a member of the Labour Party and stood as its candidate for the Auckland Central electorate in the 1975 election. His candidacy was successful.

From 1978 until 1980 he was the Labour Party's junior whip.[4]

From 1975 to 1984 Labour was in opposition, and Ross Meurant recalled that:

Sir Rob has often said that when he was in government, the most irritating and damaging of his opponents was Richard Prebble. "Always at it" said Sir Rob, "Always a bother to us. Even if some thought he was mad the way he carried on, we never knew what he was going to come up with next."[5]

1984 and 1987 electionsEdit

When the Fourth Labour Government was formed after the 1984 election, Prebble aligned himself with Roger Douglas, the controversial Minister of Finance, and was an associate finance minister. Douglas, Prebble and David Caygill were together dubbed "the Treasury Troika",[6] and were responsible for most of the economic reform undertaken by the Labour government. The "Rogernomics" reforms, which were based on free market economic theory, were unpopular with many traditional Labour supporters.

1990 and 1993 electionsEdit

Prebble on the campaign trail in 1993

Prebble retained his Auckland Central seat in the 1990 election. In the 1993 election, Prebble lost his seat to Sandra Lee, deputy leader of the left-wing Alliance.

In the 1995 New Year Honours, Prebble was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, for public services.[7]

ACT New ZealandEdit

New Zealand switched to the mixed-member proportional (MMP) representation electoral system in 1996. Roger Douglas established the ACT New Zealand party, and was joined by Prebble. In March 1996, Douglas stepped down as the new party's leader, and Prebble took over.

1996 electionEdit

In the 1996 election, the first to be held under MMP, ACT won eight seats in Parliament. Prebble won the Wellington Central electorate.

1999 electionEdit

Prebble lost his Wellington Central seat in the 1999 election, but remained in Parliament as a list MP and leader of ACT.

2002 electionEdit

Prebble was re-elected as a list MP and leader of ACT in the 2002 election.


Prebble was replaced as ACT leader by Rodney Hide in 2004, and did not stand in the 2005 election.

Prebble's book, Out of the Red, was released on 23 October 2006.


  • Values not politics: ACT New Zealand campaign manifesto: general election 1996, Auckland, [N.Z.]: ACT New Zealand, 1996, ISBN 0-477-01901-3
  • Values not politics: the first 1000 days, Wellington, [N.Z.]: ACT New Zealand Parliamentary Office, 2000, ISBN 0-477-01901-3
  • ACT Members of Parliament. (2001), Closing the gaps: policy papers, Wellington, [N.Z.]: ACT New Zealand Parliamentary Office, ISBN 0-9582178-1-5
  • Prebble's contribution was the paper: "New Zealand: tenth by 2010."
  • from ACT Members of Parliament. (2002), Old values: new ideas, Wellington, [N.Z.]: ACT New Zealand Parliamentary Office, ISBN 0-477-01964-1
  • Prebble's contribution was the paper: "Old values, new ideas."
  • Prebble, Richard (1983), Labour's views on Transport Amendment Bill (no. 5) and future transport policy, n.p.: n.p.
  • Prebble, Richard (1987), Muldoon vs. Bolger, Wellington, [N.Z.]: R. Prebble
  • Prebble, Richard (1996), I've been thinking, Auckland, [N.Z.]: Seaview Publishing, ISBN 1-86958-170-9
    • The second edition of this book is entitled Now it's time to act.
  • Prebble, Richard (1997), What happens next, Auckland, [N.Z.]: Seascape Press, ISBN 0-473-04859-0
  • Prebble, Richard (1999), I've been writing, Wellington, [N.Z.]: Fraser Holland Publishers, ISBN 0-473-06031-0
  • Prebble, Richard (2006), Now it's time to act, Auckland,[N.Z.]: Seaview Press, ISBN 1-86958-170-9
    • This is the second edition of I've been thinking - containing additional material.
  • Prebble, Richard (2006), Out of the red, Rotorua, [N.Z.]: The Letter Ltd., ISBN 0-473-11249-3
  • Prebble, Richard; Bassett, Michael; Harris, Peter (1978), Environment, energy, forestry: Labour's 1978 manifesto, Wellington, [N.Z.]: Labour
  • Prebble, Richard (1987), National's promises, promises, promises-- : or, how to buy an election with other people's money: or, the world's longest political suicide note, Wellington, [N.Z.]: N.Z. Labour Party
  • Prebble, Richard (2003), Liberal thinking, Wellington, [N.Z.]: ACT New Zealand Parliamentary Office, ISBN 0-477-01979-X
  • Prebble's contributions are the papers: "Why I do not vote National"; and (co-authored with Deborah Coddington) "Lessons of freedom and choice."


  1. ^ "Kenneth Ralph Prebble". The Dominion Post. 10 July 2008. Archived from the original on 12 September 2012. Retrieved 25 January 2009.
  2. ^ "Dogged by the past – Uncategorized – The Listener". Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  3. ^ "Today in politics". Fairfax New Zealand. 9 February 2013.
  4. ^ Wilson 1985, pp. 281.
  5. ^ Meurant, Ross The Beat to the Beehive (1989, Harlen Books, Auckland) ISBN 978-0-908757-05-3 p. 174
  6. ^ Bassett, Michael (2008). Working with David: Inside the Lange Cabinet. Auckland: Hodder Moa. pp. 108, 279.
  7. ^ London Gazette (supplement), No.53894, 30 December 1994. Retrieved 7 January 2013.


  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First published in 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103.
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Norman Douglas
Member of Parliament for Auckland Central
Succeeded by
Sandra Lee
Constituency abolished in 1993
Title last held by
Chris Laidlaw
Member of Parliament for Wellington Central
Succeeded by
Marian Hobbs
Political offices
Preceded by
George Gair
Minister of Railways
Succeeded by
Roger Sowry
Preceded by
Jonathan Hunt
Succeeded by
David Butcher