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Simon David Upton (born 7 February 1958) is a former New Zealand politician and member of Parliament from 1981 to 2001, representing the National Party, and the current Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

Simon Upton
Simon Upton 01 crop.jpg
Simon Upton at a sustainable development Forum in Prague, November 2014
4th Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment
Assumed office
16 October 2017
Prime MinisterBill English
Jacinda Ardern
Preceded byJan Wright
30th Minister of Health
In office
2 November 1990 – 27 March 1993
Prime MinisterJim Bolger
Preceded byHelen Clark
Succeeded byBill Birch
2nd Minister for the Environment
In office
2 November 1990 – 10 December 1999
Prime MinisterJim Bolger
Jenny Shipley
Preceded byGeoffrey Palmer
Succeeded byMarian Hobbs
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Waikato
In office
1981 – 1984
Preceded byLance Adams-Schneider
Succeeded byRob Storey
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Raglan
In office
1984 – 1996
Preceded byMarilyn Waring (in 1978)
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for National Party list
In office
1996 – 2001
Personal details
Born (1958-02-07) 7 February 1958 (age 61)
Political partyNational

Early lifeEdit

Upton was educated at Southwell School, St Paul's Collegiate School and the University of Auckland, where he gained degrees in English literature, music and law, and Wolfson College, Oxford, as a Rhodes Scholar.

Member of ParliamentEdit

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate List Party
1981–1984 40th Waikato National
1984–1987 41st Raglan National
1987–1990 42nd Raglan National
1990–1993 43rd Raglan National
1993–1996 44th Raglan National
1996–1999 45th List 11 National
1999–2001 46th List 12 National

Having joined the National Party in 1976, he served as Chairman of the New Zealand Young Nationals among other positions and became the then-youngest MP for Waikato in the 1981 election. In the 1984 election, he was elected MP for Raglan, which he held until the 1996 election, when he chose to become a list MP.

Cabinet ministerEdit

Upton became one of New Zealand's youngest ever Ministers in the Cabinet in 1990, when he became Minister of Health, Minister for the Environment, and Minister of Research, Science and Technology. As Environment minister, Upton promoted the enactment of the Resource Management Act 1991. He was responsible for establishing the Crown Research Institutes. He has an interest in sustainable development, and chaired the OECD's Round Table on Sustainable Development. He is a founding member of the Board of the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction.[1]

He was sworn to the Privy Council in 1999.[2]

Life after politicsEdit

He resigned from Parliament in 2001, and moved to France. He took up a full-time post at the OECD as the chair of the Round Table on Sustainable Development which he held until 2005. He was also a part-time consultant at PriceWaterhouseCoopers for several years. In April 2010 he was appointed as the head of the OECD Environment Directorate, in Paris, France.[3]

In April 2017, he was appointed by Parliament to be the next Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. He replaced the previous commissioner, Dr Jan Wright, when her second five-year term ended in October 2017.[4]

Personal lifeEdit

He has two adult children.[citation needed]

New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Lance Adams-Schneider
Member of Parliament for Waikato
Succeeded by
Rob Storey
Constituency abolished in 1978
Title last held by
Marilyn Waring
Member of Parliament for Raglan
Constituency abolished
Political offices
Preceded by
Helen Clark
Minister of Health
Succeeded by
Bill Birch
Preceded by
Geoffrey Palmer
Minister for the Environment
Succeeded by
Marian Hobbs


  1. ^ Markley, Rick (1 October 2005). "Holcim Hands out Building Prizes". Rock Products. 108 (10): 6.
  2. ^ "Privy Council Members". Privy Council Office. Archived from the original on 2 December 2010. Retrieved 12 December 2009.
  3. ^ "Simon Upton, Director, Environment Directorate". OECD. 2012. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  4. ^ "Upton to be Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment". Radio New Zealand. 13 April 2017. Retrieved 24 April 2017.

External linksEdit