Jack Marshall

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Sir Jack Marshall

Jack Marshall, 1957.jpg
Marshall in September 1957
28th Prime Minister of New Zealand
In office
7 February 1972 8 December 1972
Monarch Elizabeth II
Governor-General Arthur Porritt
Denis Blundell
Deputy Robert Muldoon
Preceded by Keith Holyoake
Succeeded by Norman Kirk
2nd Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand
In office
20 September 1957 12 December 1957
Prime MinisterKeith Holyoake
Preceded byKeith Holyoake
Succeeded by Jerry Skinner
In office
12 December 1960 7 February 1972
Prime MinisterKeith Holyoake
Preceded byJerry Skinner
Succeeded byRobert Muldoon
Personal details
John Ross Marshall

(1912-03-05)5 March 1912
Wellington, New Zealand
Died30 August 1988(1988-08-30) (aged 76)
Snape, Suffolk, England
Political party National
Jessie Margaret Livingston(m. 1944)
Alma mater Victoria University of Wellington
Occupation Lawyer
Military service
Allegiance New Zealand Army
Years of service1941–1945
Rank British Army (1920-1953) OF-4.svg Lieutenant Colonel [1]
Battles/wars World War II

Sir John Ross Marshall GBE CH ED PC [1] (5 March 1912 – 30 August 1988), commonly known as Jack Marshall, was a New Zealand politician of the National Party. He entered Parliament in 1946 and was first promoted to Cabinet in 1951. After spending twelve years as Deputy Prime Minister, he served as the 28th Prime Minister for most of 1972.

Order of the Companions of Honour Order founded as an award for outstanding achievement

The Order of the Companions of Honour is an order of the Commonwealth realms. It was founded on 4 June 1917 by King George V as a reward for outstanding achievements and is "conferred upon a limited number of persons for whom this special distinction seems to be the most appropriate form of recognition, constituting an honour disassociated either from the acceptance of title or the classification of merit."

Efficiency Decoration

The Efficiency Decoration, post-nominal letters TD for recipients serving in the Territorial Army of the United Kingdom or ED for those serving in the Auxiliary Military Forces, was instituted in 1930 for award to part-time officers after twenty years of service as an efficient and thoroughly capable officer. The decoration superseded the Volunteer Officers' Decoration, the Colonial Auxiliary Forces Officers' Decoration and the Territorial Decoration.

New Zealand National Party Major New Zealand political party

The New Zealand National Party, shortened to National or the Nats, is a centre-right political party in New Zealand. It is one of two major parties that dominate contemporary New Zealand politics, alongside its traditional rival, the New Zealand Labour Party.


He became head of government in February 1972. The Second National Government, in office since 1960, appeared worn-out and out of touch, and at the time of Marshall's appointment seemed headed for heavy electoral defeat. After Labour's victory in the November 1972 election, Marshall became Leader of the Opposition. He was determined to remain as leader of the National Party, but in July 1974 was challenged for the leadership by Robert Muldoon, his deputy, rival and successor.

Second National Government of New Zealand

The Second National Government of New Zealand was the government of New Zealand from 1960 to 1972. It was a conservative government which sought mainly to preserve the economic prosperity and general stability of the early 1960s. It was one of New Zealand's longest-serving governments.

The New Zealand Labour Party, or simply Labour, is a centre-left political party in New Zealand. The party's platform programme describes its founding principle as democratic socialism, while observers describe Labour as social-democratic and pragmatic in practice. It is a participant of the international Progressive Alliance.

Leader of the Opposition (New Zealand) parliamentary position of the Parliament of New Zealand

In New Zealand, the Leader of the Opposition is the politician who commands the support of the Official Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition by convention leads the largest party not supporting the government: this is usually the parliamentary leader of the second largest caucus in the House of Representatives. In the debating chamber the Leader of the Opposition sits directly opposite the Prime Minister.

Marshall's politeness and courtesy were well known, and he was sometimes nicknamed Gentleman Jack. [2] He disliked the aggressive style of some politicians, preferring a calmer, less confrontational approach. These traits were sometimes misinterpreted as weakness by his opponents. Marshall was a strong believer in common sense and pragmatism, and he disliked what he considered populism in other politicians of his day.

Common sense set of widely accepted beliefs

Common sense is sound practical judgment concerning everyday matters, or a basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge that is shared by nearly all people. The first type of common sense, good sense, can be described as "the knack for seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done." The second type is sometimes described as folk wisdom, "signifying unreflective knowledge not reliant on specialized training or deliberative thought." The two types are intertwined, as the person who has common sense is in touch with common-sense ideas, which emerge from the lived experiences of those commonsensical enough to perceive them.

Pragmatism Philosophical movement

Pragmatism is a philosophical tradition that began in the United States around 1870. Its origins are often attributed to the philosophers Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, and John Dewey. Peirce later described it in his pragmatic maxim: "Consider the practical effects of the objects of your conception. Then, your conception of those effects is the whole of your conception of the object."

Populism political orientation or standpoint

Populism refers to a range of political stances that emphasise the idea of "the people" and often juxtapose this group against "the elite". Within political science and other social sciences, various different definitions of populism have been used; some scholars propose rejecting the term altogether. There is no single definition of the term, which developed in the 19th century and has been used to mean various things since that time. Few politicians or political groups describe themselves as "populist" and the term is often applied to others pejoratively.

Early life

Marshall was born in Wellington. He grew up in Wellington, Whangarei, and Dunedin, attending Whangarei Boys' High School and Otago Boys' High School. He was noted for his ability at sports, particularly rugby. [2]

Wellington Capital city of New Zealand

Wellington is the capital and second most populous urban area of New Zealand, with 418,500 residents. It is located at the south-western tip of the North Island, between Cook Strait and the Remutaka Range. Wellington is the major population centre of the southern North Island, and is the administrative centre of the Wellington Region, which also includes the Kapiti Coast and Wairarapa. Its latitude is 41°17′S, making it the world's southernmost capital of a sovereign state. Wellington features a temperate maritime climate, and is the world's windiest city by average wind speed.

Whangarei City in Northland, New Zealand

Whangarei is the northernmost city in New Zealand and the regional capital of Northland Region. It is part of the Whangarei District, a local body created in 1989 from the former Whangarei City, Whangarei County and Hikurangi Town councils, to administer both the city proper and its hinterland. The city population was estimated to be 58,800 in June 2018, an increase from 47,000 in 2001.

Dunedin City in Otago, New Zealand

Dunedin is the second-largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, and the principal city of the Otago region. Its name comes from Dùn Èideann, the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland.

After leaving high school, Marshall studied law at Victoria University College. He gained an LL.B. in 1934 and an LL.M. in 1935. He also worked part-time in a law office. He also wrote a series of children's books called Dr Duffer. [2]

Victoria University of Wellington public university in New Zealand

Victoria University of Wellington is a university in Wellington, New Zealand. It was established in 1897 by Act of Parliament, and was a constituent college of the University of New Zealand.

In 1941, during World War II, Marshall entered the army, and received officer training. In his first few years of service, he was posted to Fiji, Norfolk Island, New Caledonia, and the Solomon Islands, eventually reaching the rank of major. During this time he also spent five months in the United States at a marine staff school in Virginia. On 29 July 1944, while on leave in Perth, Western Australia, Marshall married Jessie Margaret Livingston, a nurse. [2] At the start of 1945, Marshall was assigned to a unit sent to reinforce New Zealand forces in the Middle East. This unit later participated in the battle of the Senio River and the liberation of Trieste. [2]

Fiji Country in Oceania

Fiji, officially the Republic of Fiji, is an island country in Melanesia, part of Oceania in the South Pacific Ocean about 1,100 nautical miles northeast of New Zealand's North Island. Its closest neighbours are Vanuatu to the west, New Caledonia to the southwest, New Zealand's Kermadec Islands to the southeast, Tonga to the east, the Samoas and France's Wallis and Futuna to the northeast, and Tuvalu to the north. Fiji consists of an archipelago of more than 330 islands—of which 110 are permanently inhabited—and more than 500 islets, amounting to a total land area of about 18,300 square kilometres (7,100 sq mi). The most outlying island is Ono-i-Lau. The two major islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, account for 87% of the total population of 898,760. The capital, Suva, on Viti Levu, serves as the country's principal cruise-ship port. About three-quarters of Fijians live on Viti Levu's coasts, either in Suva or in smaller urban centres such as Nadi—where tourism is the major local industry—or Lautoka, where the sugar-cane industry is paramount. Due to its terrain, the interior of Viti Levu is sparsely inhabited.

Norfolk Island external territory of Australia in the South Pacific Ocean, consisting of the island of the same name plus neighbouring islands

Norfolk Island is an island in the Pacific Ocean located between Australia, New Zealand, and New Caledonia, 1,412 kilometres (877 mi) directly east of mainland Australia's Evans Head, and about 900 kilometres (560 mi) from Lord Howe Island. Together with the two neighbouring islands Phillip Island and Nepean Island it forms one of the Commonwealth of Australia's external territories. At the 2016 Australian census, it had 1748 inhabitants living on a total area of about 35 km2 (14 sq mi). Its capital is Kingston.

New Caledonia Overseas territory of France in the southwest Pacific Ocean

New Caledonia is a special collectivity of France, currently governed under the Nouméa Accord, located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, to the south of Vanuatu, about 1,210 km (750 mi) east of Australia and 20,000 km (12,000 mi) from Metropolitan France. The archipelago, part of the Melanesia subregion, includes the main island of Grande Terre, the Loyalty Islands, the Chesterfield Islands, the Belep archipelago, the Isle of Pines, and a few remote islets. The Chesterfield Islands are in the Coral Sea. French people, and especially locals, refer to Grande Terre as Le Caillou.

Member of Parliament

New Zealand Parliament
1946 1949 28th Mount Victoria National
1949 1951 29th Mount Victoria National
1951 1954 30th Mount Victoria National
1954 1957 31st Karori National
1957 1960 32nd Karori National
1960 1963 33rd Karori National
1963 1966 34th Karori National
1966 1969 35th Karori National
1969 1972 36th Karori National
1972 1975 37th Karori National

After the war, Marshall briefly established himself as a barrister, but was soon persuaded to stand as the National Party's candidate for the new Wellington seat of Mt Victoria in the 1946 election. He won the seat by 911 votes. He was, however, nearly disqualified by a technicality – Marshall was employed at the time in a legal case for the government, something which ran afoul of rules barring politicians from giving business to their own firms. However, because Marshall had taken on the case before his election (and so could not have influenced the government's decision to give him employment), it was obvious that there had been no wrongdoing. As such, the Prime Minister, Peter Fraser of the Labour Party, amended the regulations. [2]

Marshall's political philosophy, which was well-defined at this stage, was a mixture of liberal and conservative values. He was opposed to laissez-faire capitalism, but was equally opposed to the redistribution of wealth advocated by socialists – his vision was of a property-owning society under the benign guidance of a fair and just government. Barry Gustafson states, "[Marshall] was strongly motivated by his Christian faith and by an equally deep intellectual commitment to the principles of liberalism." [2]

Cabinet Minister

In the 1949 election, Marshall kept his seat. The National Party gained enough seats to form a government, and Sidney Holland became Prime Minister. Marshall was elevated to Cabinet, taking ministerial responsibility for the State Advances Corporation. He also became a direct assistant to Holland. [2]

Marshall as a Cabinet minister in 1951 Jack Marshall 1951.jpg
Marshall as a Cabinet minister in 1951

After the 1951 election, Marshall became Minister of Health (although he also retained responsibility for State Advances until 1953). In the 1954 election, his Mt Victoria seat was abolished, and he successfully stood for another Wellington electorate, Karori. After the election, he lost the Health portfolio, instead becoming Minister of Justice and Attorney-General. In these roles, he supported the retention of the capital punishment for murder. In 1957, he proposed a referendum on capital punishment. [3] (New Zealand's last execution was carried out in 1957, during Marshall's time in office. [3] ) He also supported the creation of a separate Court of Appeal. [2]

When Holland became ill, Marshall was part of the group that persuaded him to step down. Keith Holyoake became Prime Minister. Marshall sought the deputy leadership, managing to defeat Jack Watts for this post. [2]

Deputy Prime Minister

Shortly after the leadership change, National lost the 1957 election to Labour's Walter Nash. Marshall, therefore, became deputy leader of the Opposition. The Nash government did not last long, however – its drastic measures to counter an economic crisis proved unpopular. Marshall was later to admit that the crisis had been prompted by a failure to act by the National government, [2] although other members of the National Party dispute this assertion.[ citation needed ] Labour lost the 1960 election, and National returned to power. [4]

Marshall became Deputy Prime Minister, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice again. He also took up several new positions, including ministerial responsibility for Industries and Commerce, and Overseas Trade, Immigration, and Customs. [2] One of his major achievements was the signing of trade arrangements with Australia and the United Kingdom. Marshall also supported the abolition of compulsory union membership, which had been a National Party election policy – when the government eventually decided not to push forward with the change, Marshall's relations with some of his colleagues were strained. [2]

Marshall promoted the retention of capital punishment for murder. [3] However, Labour under Sir Arnold Nordmeyer was opposed, and in 1961 ten National MPs, including Robert Muldoon, crossed the floor and voted with Labour to abolish it. [5]

Increasingly, as time went on, Marshall became overworked, with Holyoake giving him more and more cabinet responsibilities. In the 1960s he led negotiations over trade consequences if Britain joined the European Economic Community. [2] [6] Marshall was also put under considerable pressure by ongoing labour disputes, which he took a significant role in resolving. Relations between Marshall and Robert Muldoon, the Minister of Finance, grew very tense, with Marshall resenting Muldoon's open interference in the labour negotiations. Marshall was also responsible for establishing the Accident Compensation Corporation. [6]

Prime Minister

On 7 February 1972, Holyoake stepped down as Prime Minister. Marshall contested the leadership against Muldoon, and won. Muldoon became Deputy Prime Minister. Marshall was keen to organise the government, believing that it had become stagnated and inflexible. The public, however, were tired of the long-serving National government, and considered the reforms insufficient. [2]

In the 1972 general election, Norman Kirk's Labour Party was triumphant. On 8 December, after less than a year in office, Marshall resigned as Prime Minister to become leader of the Opposition. [2]

Later life

On 4 July 1974, Marshall was informed that a leadership challenge was imminent. Aware that much of his support had drained away, Marshall resigned, and Muldoon became party leader. Marshall's decline was primarily the result of his inability to damage the highly popular Kirk; Marshall's quiet, understated style did not fit well with the aggressive tactics required of an opposition party seeking to return to government. Ironically, Kirk died later that same year and his replacement, Bill Rowling, was perceived as a quiet and non-confrontational leader, just as Marshall had been.

He remained active in the National Party organisation, and was highly respected for his many years of service. Over time he grew ever more critical of Muldoon, accusing him of being overly aggressive and controlling. Muldoon's highly controversial decision to allow a visit by a rugby union team from apartheid South Africa exasperated Marshall even more.[ citation needed ]

Marshall wrote and published several children's books, his memoirs and a law book. He was active in various charities and cultural organisations, including the New Zealand Chess Association, [7] and was a founder of the New Zealand Portrait Gallery. [8] [6] Many of his later activities were related to his strong Christian faith. Marshall died in Snape, Suffolk, England on 30 August 1988, en route to Budapest to give an address at the world conference of the United Bible Societies. He was survived by his wife and four children. [2]


In 1953, Marshall was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal, and in 1977 he received the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal. [9]

In the 1973 New Year Honours, Marshall was appointed a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour, in recognition of his service as New Zealand prime minister, [10] and the following year he was bestowed with a knighthood as a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire. [11]

In the 1992 Queen's Birthday Honours, Margaret, Lady Marshall, was appointed a Companion of the Queen's Service Order for community service. [12]

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  1. 1 2 New Zealand Army Orders 1952/405
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 Gustafson, Barry. "Marshall, John Ross". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography . Ministry for Culture and Heritage . Retrieved 27 August 2013.
  3. 1 2 3 "NZ behind UN resolution to abolish death penalty". beehive.govt.nz. New Zealand Government. 11 October 2007. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  4. Chapman, R M; Jackson, W K; Mitchell, A V (1962). New Zealand Politics in Action: the 1960 General Election. London: Oxford University Press.
  5. "Capital punishment in New Zealand - The death penalty". NZ History. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. 5 August 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  6. 1 2 3 McLean, Gavin (8 November 2017). "John Marshall". NZ History. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  7. "NZ Federation". NZ Federation. Archived from the original on 29 August 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  8. "About New Zealand Portrait Gallery". New Zealand Portrait Gallery. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  9. Taylor, Alister; Coddington, Deborah (1994). Honoured by the Queen – New Zealand. Auckland: New Zealand Who's Who Aotearoa. p. 345. ISBN   0-908578-34-2.
  10. "No. 45861". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 1972. p. 33.
  11. "No. 46360". The London Gazette (2nd supplement). 4 October 1974. p. 8345.
  12. "No. 52953". The London Gazette (2nd supplement). 13 June 1992. p. 30.
Government offices
Preceded by
Keith Holyoake
Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand
Succeeded by
Jerry Skinner
Preceded by
Jerry Skinner
Succeeded by
Robert Muldoon
Preceded by
Keith Holyoake
Prime Minister of New Zealand
Succeeded by
Norman Kirk
Political offices
Preceded by
Jack Watts
Minister of Health
Succeeded by
Ralph Hanan
Preceded by
Clifton Webb
Succeeded by
Rex Mason
Preceded by
Ralph Hanan
Succeeded by
Dan Riddiford
Preceded by
Clifton Webb
Minister of Justice
Succeeded by
Rex Mason
New Zealand Parliament
New constituency Member of Parliament for Mount Victoria
Constituency abolished
Preceded by
Charles Bowden
Member of Parliament for Karori
Succeeded by
Hugh Templeton