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Warren Wilfred Freer QSO (27 December 1920 – 29 March 2013) was a New Zealand politician and member of the Labour Party. He represented the Mount Albert electorate from 1947 to 1981.

Warren Freer

Warren Freer.jpg
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Mount Albert
In office
24 September 1947 – 28 November 1981
Preceded byArthur Shapton Richards
Succeeded byHelen Clark
Personal details
Warren Wilfred Freer

(1920-12-27)27 December 1920
Died29 March 2013(2013-03-29) (aged 92)
Political partyLabour Party


Early lifeEdit

Freer was born in 1920. His parents were Charles and May Freer. Both lived in Waihi during the Waihi miners' strike in 1913 and had to leave the town. They married in 1914 in Remuera.[1]

He went to Royal Oak Primary School in Auckland. During the early days of the Great Depression he was embarrassed to be the only one of his class not bare-footed, so used to take off his shoes and socks on the way to school and replace them before getting home. Michael Joseph Savage frequently went to the Freer home for Sunday roasts, and on his thirteenth birthday gave Warren a copy of Edward Bellamy's novel Looking Backward, which he "devoured and cherished".[2]

As a school boy at Auckland Grammar School, Warren Freer suffered a spinal injury, and he subsequently did not join the war.[1] He initially worked as a shop assistant in "Milne and Choice" a large Queen Street department store, but moved to journalism.[3]

Member of ParliamentEdit

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1947–1949 28th Mt Albert Labour
1949–1951 29th Mt Albert Labour
1951–1954 30th Mt Albert Labour
1954–1957 31st Mt Albert Labour
1957–1960 32nd Mt Albert Labour
1960–1963 33rd Mt Albert Labour
1963–1966 34th Mt Albert Labour
1966–1969 35th Mt Albert Labour
1969–1972 36th Mt Albert Labour
1972–1975 37th Mt Albert Labour
1975–1978 38th Mt Albert Labour
1978–1981 39th Mt Albert Labour

Freer stood unsuccessfully in the 1946 election for the "hopeless" (for Labour) Eden electorate. He was then asked to stand for the Mount Albert electorate in a 1947 by-election, which he won. Freer was only 26[1] when he entered Parliament following the death of Arthur Richards, and was relatively unknown to Labour executive members, but local supporter Dick Barter convinced Peter Fraser that his work in Eden was adequate apprenticeship.[4][5]

In 1955 he was the first Western politician to visit China, against the wishes of Labour leader Walter Nash, but with the encouragement of Prime Minister Sidney Holland.[1][6]

He was a cabinet minister in the Third Labour Government of 1972–1975, holding the portfolios of Trade and Industry and of Energy Resources.[7] He stood as a candidate for the deputy leadership of the New Zealand Labour Party in 1974 after Norman Kirk's death only to prevent Arthur Faulkner winning on the first ballot, hoping that either Bob Tizard or Colin Moyle would win the subsequent ballot(s). He lost on the third ballot. Initially he had no intention of standing, and preferred Tizard (who won).[8] He was acting Prime Minister three times, and was "appalled" by the amount of paper Kirk was given to read, with "international secrets" that he could read in that week's Time. On the first occasion, Kirk congratulated him that there were no industrial disputes and that he had not gone to war against anyone.[9]

Freer represented the Mount Albert electorate for 34 years.[10] He chose not to seek re-election at the 1981 election, and was succeeded by Helen Clark.[11]

Later yearsEdit

In the 1987 Queen's Birthday Honours, Freer was made a Companion of the Queen's Service Order for public services.[12] In 1996, he moved to Noosa on the Sunshine Coast in Australia.[13]

Warren Freer Park, in the Auckland suburb of Sandringham, is named for him.[14]


Freer's first wife died in 2003; they had been married for 62 years. His second marriage was to Joyce. Freer died on 29 March 2013 after a long illness.[15] He is survived by his two sons from his first marriage, and by his second wife.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Labour MP's China trip a milestone". The Press. 6 April 2013. p. C14.
  2. ^ Freer 2004, p. 14.
  3. ^ Freer 2004, p. 14,15.
  4. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 230.
  5. ^ Freer 2004, p. 26.
  6. ^ Freer 2004, p. 71.
  7. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 92.
  8. ^ Freer 2004, p. 198.
  9. ^ Freer 2004, p. 190.
  10. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 198.
  11. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 189.
  12. ^ London Gazette (supplement), No. 50950, 12 June 1987. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  13. ^ Freer 2004, p. 254f.
  14. ^ "Balmoral & Sandringham Heritage Walks" (PDF). Auckland Council. 15 May 2011. p. 37.
  15. ^ "Long-serving politician Warren Freer dies". Television New Zealand. 29 March 2013. Retrieved 29 March 2013.


  • Freer, Warren (2004). A Lifetime in Politics: the memoirs of Warren Freer. Wellington: Victoria University Press. ISBN 0-86473-478-6.
  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103.
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Arthur Shapton Richards
Member of Parliament for Mount Albert
Succeeded by
Helen Clark