Terry McCombs

Sir Terence Henderson McCombs OBE ED (5 September 1905 – 6 November 1982) was a New Zealand politician of the Labour Party, a High Commissioner, and the first principal of Cashmere High School.

Sir Terry McCombs

Terry McCombs.jpg
Terence McCombs in 1935
24th Minister of Education
In office
18 October 1947 – 13 December 1949
Prime MinisterPeter Fraser
Preceded byRex Mason
Succeeded byRonald Algie
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Lyttelton
In office
1935 – 1951
Preceded byElizabeth McCombs
Succeeded byHarry Lake
15th High Commissioner from New Zealand to the United Kingdom
In office
MonarchElizabeth II
Preceded byMerwyn Norrish
Succeeded byHugh Watt
Personal details
Born(1905-09-05)5 September 1905
Christchurch, New Zealand
Died6 November 1982(1982-11-06) (aged 77)
Political partyLabour
1. Beryl Lavinia Butterick
(m. 1935; died 1952)

2. Christina Mary Tulloch
RelationsJames McCombs (father)
Elizabeth McCombs (mother)
Christina Henderson (aunt)
Stella Henderson (aunt)
ProfessionSchool teacher and headmaster

Early lifeEdit

McCombs was born in 1905.[1] His parents, Elizabeth McCombs (née Henderson) and James McCombs, were both socialists. Between them, his parents represented the Lyttelton electorate from 1913 to 1935.[1][2][3] McCombs was educated at Christchurch Boys' High School and Waitaki Boys' High School and graduated from Canterbury University College with MSc(Hons) in chemistry in 1929.[4][5] He was appointed as a teacher at Seddon Memorial Technical College in Auckland in 1934.[6]

Member of ParliamentEdit

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1935 24th Lyttelton Labour
1935–1938 25th Lyttelton Labour
1938–1943 26th Lyttelton Labour
1943–1946 27th Lyttelton Labour
1946–1949 28th Lyttelton Labour
1949–1951 29th Lyttelton Labour

He represented the Lyttelton electorate from 1935, when he won the by-election following his mother's death, until he was defeated in the bitter 1951 election.[1]

He was Minister of Education from 1947 to 1949, near the end of the term of the First Labour Government.[7]

Later lifeEdit

In 1936, McCombs was appointed to the Canterbury University College Council, and he remained a member until 1947, when he became Minister of Education.[8] As Minister of Education, he was involved on behalf of the Government in the purchase of the Ilam campus for the university.[9] In the centennial history of the university, it is stated that "Canterbury has never enjoyed greater ministerial support than it did from McCombs".[10] In 1957, he again became a member of the council; in the meantime, the name of the institution had been changed to University of Canterbury.[11] He was Chancellor of the University of Canterbury from 1968 to 1971.[12]

After his defeat in 1951, McCombs returned to teaching. His wife Beryl died in 1952, and he became a solo parent with four school-age children remarrying to Christina (née Tulloch). In 1956, he became the founding headmaster of Cashmere High School in Christchurch.[13]

From 1973 to 1975 he was New Zealand's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.[14]

He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to education in the 1971 Queen's Birthday Honours[15] and a Knight Bachelor in April 1975.[16] He died in 1982 and was buried at Waimairi Cemetery in Christchurch.[17]

McCombs' second wife, Christina, Lady McCombs, was awarded the Queen's Service Medal for community service in the 2007 New Year Honours.[18] She died in Christchurch on 13 August 2016, aged 99 years.[19]


  1. ^ a b c Wilson 1985, p. 214.
  2. ^ Garner, Jean. "McCombs, Elizabeth Reid". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
  3. ^ Garner, Jean. "McCombs, James". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 28 January 2011.
  4. ^ "Labour's choice". Auckland Star. 21 June 1935. p. 3. Retrieved 19 April 2014.
  5. ^ "NZ university graduates 1870–1961: Mc". Retrieved 19 April 2014.
  6. ^ "Technical College". New Zealand Herald. 23 March 1934. p. 11. Retrieved 19 April 2014.
  7. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 84.
  8. ^ Gardner et al 1973, pp. 336, 454.
  9. ^ Gardner et al 1973, p. 336.
  10. ^ Gardner et al 1973, p. 338.
  11. ^ Gardner et al 1973, p. 454.
  12. ^ Gardner et al 1973, p. 451.
  13. ^ "School History". Cashmere High School. Retrieved 30 December 2011.
  14. ^ "Heads of Missions List: U". New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. 8 July 2006. Archived from the original on 30 September 2006.
  15. ^ "No. 45386". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 June 1971. p. 5998.
  16. ^ "No. 46549". The London Gazette (Supplement). 18 April 1975. p. 5021.
  17. ^ "Cemeteries database result detail". Christchurch City Council. Retrieved 25 June 2015.
  18. ^ "New Year honours list 2007". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 30 December 2006. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  19. ^ "Lady McCombs death notice". The Dominion Post. 18 August 2016. Retrieved 18 August 2016.


  • Gardner, W. J.; Beardsley, E. T.; Carter, T. E. (1973). Phillips, Neville Crompton (ed.). A History of the University of Canterbury, 1873–1973. Christchurch: University of Canterbury.
  • 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
Elizabeth McCombs
Member of Parliament for Lyttelton
Succeeded by
Harry Lake
Political offices
Preceded by
Rex Mason
Minister of Education
Succeeded by
Ronald Algie
Preceded by
Arnold Nordmeyer
Minister for Science and Industrial Research
Succeeded by
Keith Holyoake
Academic offices
Preceded by
Alwyn Warren
Chancellor of the University of Canterbury
Succeeded by
John Matson
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Denis Blundell
Merwyn Norrish (acting)
High Commissioner of New Zealand to the United Kingdom
Succeeded by
Hugh Watt