Jenny Shipley

Last updated

Shipley (centre) with United States President Bill Clinton, 15 September 1999. Clinton Shipley walk.jpg
Shipley (centre) with United States President Bill Clinton, 15 September 1999.

Shipley grew increasingly frustrated and disillusioned with the cautious pace of National's leader, Jim Bolger, and with what she saw as the disproportionate influence of New Zealand First. She began gathering support to replace Bolger in mid-1997. Later that year, while Bolger attended the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Shipley convinced a majority of her National Party colleagues to back her bid for the leadership. Bolger returned to New Zealand and discovered that he no longer had the support of his party. Rather than face being voted out, he resigned, and Shipley replaced him. As leader of the governing party, she became Prime Minister on 8 December 1997. [8] On 21 May 1998 Shipley was appointed to the Privy Council and became The Right Honourable Jenny Shipley. [9]

Despite continued economic growth, the Shipley government became increasingly politically unstable. In particular, the relationship between National and New Zealand First deteriorated. While Bolger had been able to maintain good relations with New Zealand First and with its leader, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, the alliance became strained after Shipley rose to power. Finally, on 14 August 1998, Shipley sacked Peters from Cabinet. [10] [11] [ self-published source ]

Shipley was nicknamed "the perfumed steamroller," when she first became prime minister. [12] During a later interview with Guyon Espiner, Shipley stated that female politicians were labelled differently in the media; she uses the example that male politicians are called bold where female politicians are called vindictive; although she notes that this is an observation, not something that hurts her personally. [13] Shipley's ascension to the leadership marked a shift to the right politically with subtle returns to the neo-liberal policies of the first term of the Bolger government. This was labelled by some commentators (usually critically) as "Jennycide", a portmanteau of "Jenny" and "genocide". [14]

Shipley, along with the New Zealand Tourism Board, backed the quasi-national emblem of the silver fern on a black background as a possible alternative flag, [15] [16] along the lines of the Canadian flag, but she took pains to publicly dissociate herself from Bolger's support for republicanism. As the debate continued in 1999, the Princess Royal visited New Zealand, and Shipley stated, "I am an unashamed royal supporter, along with many New Zealanders". [17] However, the debate was muted by the controversy surrounding Tourism Board contracts going to the public-relations firm Saatchi & Saatchi, whose World CEO Kevin Roberts, also an advocate of the silver fern flag, was a good friend of Shipley. [18]

The APEC Summit was hosted in Auckland in September 1999. Shipley met with the President of the United States, Bill Clinton, in one of only two state visits to New Zealand by a US President. [19]

Shipley was the first Prime Minister to attend the gay and lesbian Hero Parade, [20] being the first National Party leader to seek to make electoral overtures to the gay and lesbian voting public. She advocated lowering the alcohol purchase age from 20 to 18 and achieved this in 1999. [11] This was part of her expressed desire to expand the traditional National Party voting base.

Shipley became a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an international network of current and former women presidents and prime ministers. [21]

Defeat and resignation

Shipley led the National Party into the 1999 election, hoping to become the first woman to be elected prime minister in her own right. However, she was defeated by the Labour Party, also led by a woman, Helen Clark. This election was a significant moment in history for New Zealand as it was the first New Zealand election in which the leaders of both major parties were women. [22]

Shipley served as the Leader of the Opposition until October 2001, when Bill English took over as National Party leader. [23] She retired from Parliament in January 2002. [24]

In the 2003 New Year Honours, Shipley was appointed a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services as a Member of Parliament. [25]


Shipley suffered a heart attack in 2000, leading to an emergency angioplasty procedure. [26] She made modifications to her lifestyle and lost weight, though she was diagnosed with diabetes in 2004. She underwent gastric bypass surgery in late 2007. [21]

Life after politics

Shipley attending the Wellington celebration of the anniversary of suffrage day, 19 September 2013 Jenny Shipley 2013.jpg
Shipley attending the Wellington celebration of the anniversary of suffrage day, 19 September 2013

Since leaving politics, Shipley has involved herself with various business and charitable interests. In 2007, she joined the financial services firm Source Sentinel, and in 2009, she was appointed chair of the Genesis Energy Limited board. [27] As of 2012, she was on the board of the New Zealand branch of the state-owned China Construction Bank. [28] [29] In December 2012, Shipley resigned from the board of directors of Mainzeal Property & Construction (MPCL), which went into receivership on 6 February 2013. At mid-day on 5 February 2013 she was one of four independent directors who resigned from the board of Mainzeal Group Ltd. [30] MPCL and Mainzeal Group Limited are part of the Richina group, controlled and majority owned by Yan Ci Lang (also known as Richard Yan). [31] [32] [33] [34] Mainzeal went into liquidation on 28 February 2013, owing some NZ$110 million. In May 2015, the receiver of Mainzeal, BDO, filed a civil lawsuit against the former Mainzeal directors, including Shipley, for an alleged breach of directors' duties. [35] In February 2019, the High Court of New Zealand found that the Mainzeal directors had breached their duty to avoid reckless trading and assessed their total liability at NZ$36 million, of which Shipley's share was assessed at NZ$6 million. [36] Within a week of the Court delivering its verdict, Shipley resigned from her Chair of the China Construction Bank New Zealand. An appeal against this judgment was filed along with a counter claim brought by the original plaintiffs for a vastly higher award against the Directors. [37] Both appeals failed. [38]

Shipley accepted redesignation as a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit on 14 August 2009, following the reintroduction of titular honours by the Fifth National Government. [39] Also in 2009, Shipley appeared on an episode of the television reality/travel show Intrepid Journeys , where she visited Namibia. [40] She later started a charity to help a school she came across on that trip called the Namibian Educational Trust. [41] Shipley chairs Global Women NZ, and is Patron of the Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre and the New Zealand National Heart Foundation's campaign "Go Red for Women". [21]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Prime Minister of New Zealand</span> Head of government of New Zealand

The prime minister of New Zealand is the head of government of New Zealand. The incumbent prime minister, Chris Hipkins, leader of the New Zealand Labour Party, took office on 25 January 2023.

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 Labour Party.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bill English</span> Prime Minister of New Zealand from 2016 to 2017

Sir Simon William English is a New Zealand former National Party politician who served as the 39th prime minister of New Zealand from 2016 to 2017. He had previously served as the 17th deputy prime minister of New Zealand and minister of finance from 2008 to 2016 under John Key and the Fifth National Government.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ruthanasia</span> New Zealand free-market policies 1990–93

Ruthanasia, a portmanteau of "Ruth" and "euthanasia", is the pejorative name given to the period of free-market policies conducted during the first term of the fourth National government in New Zealand, from 1990 to 1993. As the first period of reform from 1984 to 1990 was known as Rogernomics after the Labour Party Minister of Finance, Roger Douglas, so the second period became known as "Ruthanasia", after the National Party's Minister of Finance, Ruth Richardson.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jim Bolger</span> Prime minister of New Zealand from 1990 to 1997

James Brendan Bolger is a New Zealand retired politician of the National Party who was the 35th prime minister of New Zealand, serving from 1990 to 1997.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ruth Richardson</span> New Zealand politician

Ruth Margaret Richardson is a retired New Zealand politician of the National Party who served as Minister of Finance from 1990 to 1993. Her 1991 budget, which she dubbed the "Mother of all Budgets", formed the catalyst for her party's economic reforms known in the media as "Ruthanasia".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1999 New Zealand general election</span> General election in New Zealand

The 1999 New Zealand general election was held on 27 November 1999 to determine the composition of the 46th New Zealand Parliament. The governing National Party, led by Prime Minister Jenny Shipley, was defeated, being replaced by a coalition of Helen Clark's Labour Party and the smaller Alliance. This marked an end to nine years of the Fourth National Government, and the beginning of the Fifth Labour Government which would govern for nine years in turn, until its loss to the National Party in the 2008 general election. It was the first New Zealand election where both major parties had female leaders.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1993 New Zealand general election</span> General election in New Zealand

The 1993 New Zealand general election was held on 6 November 1993 to determine the composition of the 44th New Zealand Parliament. Voters elected 99 members to the House of Representatives, up from 97 members at the 1990 election. The election was the last general election to use the first-past-the-post electoral system, with all members elected from single-member electorates.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Murray McCully</span> New Zealand politician

Murray Stuart McCully is a former New Zealand politician. He is a member of the National Party, and served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2008 to 2017.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wyatt Creech</span> New Zealand politician

Wyatt Beetham Creech is a United States-born retired New Zealand politician. He served as the 14th deputy prime minister of New Zealand in Jenny Shipley's National Party government from August 1998 to December 1999.

Marie Bernadine Hasler is a former New Zealand politician. She was a member of Parliament for the National Party from 1990 to 1993, and then again from 1996 to 2002.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">45th New Zealand Parliament</span>

The 45th New Zealand Parliament was a term of the Parliament of New Zealand. Its composition was determined by the 1996 election, and it sat until the 1999 election.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tau Henare</span> New Zealand politician

Raymond Tau Henare is a former New Zealand Māori parliamentarian. In representing three different political parties in parliament—New Zealand First, Mauri Pacific and the National Party—Henare served as a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1993 to 1999 and from 2005 to 2014.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Women's suffrage in New Zealand</span> Womens voting rights in New Zealand

Women's suffrage in New Zealand was an important political issue in the late nineteenth century. In early colonial New Zealand, as in European societies, women were excluded from any involvement in politics. Public opinion began to change in the latter half of the nineteenth century and after years of effort by women's suffrage campaigners, led by Kate Sheppard, New Zealand became the first nation in the world in which all women had the right to vote in parliamentary elections.

The Fourth National Government of New Zealand was the government of New Zealand from 2 November 1990 to 27 November 1999. Following electoral reforms in the 1996 election, Jim Bolger formed a coalition with New Zealand First. Following Bolger's resignation, the government was led by Jenny Shipley, the country's first female Prime Minister, for the final two years.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wellington Central (New Zealand electorate)</span> Electoral district in Wellington, New Zealand

Wellington Central is an electorate, represented by a Member of Parliament in the New Zealand House of Representatives. Its MP since November 2008 has been Labour Party's Grant Robertson. In the 2020 election he was opposed by James Shaw (Greens) and Nicola Willis (National), both also entered parliament via their respective party lists.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Helen Clark</span> Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1999 to 2008

Helen Elizabeth Clark is a New Zealand politician who served as the 37th prime minister of New Zealand from 1999 to 2008, and was the administrator of the United Nations Development Programme from 2009 to 2017. She was New Zealand's fifth-longest-serving prime minister, and the second woman to hold that office.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1999 New Zealand MP reduction referendum</span>

The 1999 New Zealand MP reduction referendum was held during the 1999 general election on 27 November 1999. The Referendum considered two questions, in which one brought upon the question on whether New Zealand Parliament should be restructured - reducing the number of MPs from 120 to 99 members in the House of Representatives.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Women in New Zealand</span> Overview of the status of women in New Zealand

Women in New Zealand are women who live in or are from New Zealand. Notably New Zealand was the first self-governing country in the world where women were entitled to vote. In recent times New Zealand has had many women in top leadership and government roles, including three female Prime Ministers, most recently Jacinda Ardern. New Zealand has a gender pay gap of 9.5%.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1997 New Zealand National Party leadership election</span>

The New Zealand National Party leadership election was an election for the National leadership position in 1997.


  1. "Jenny Shipley". New Zealand history online. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. 27 October 2017. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  2. Skard, Torild (2014) "Jenny Shipley and Helen Clark" in Women of Power – Half a century of female presidents and prime ministers worldwide. Bristol: Policy Press, ISBN   978-1-44731-578-0
  3. "Judith Collins is new National Party leader, Gerry Brownlee her deputy". The New Zealand Herald . 14 July 2020. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  4. 1 2 3 Wolfe, Richard (2005). Battlers Bluffers & Bully Boys. Random House New Zealand. ISBN   1-86941-715-1.
  5. "National Party's new parliamentary line-up". The New Zealand Herald . 12 February 1990. p. 5.
  6. "Minister of Women's Affairs". Ministry of Women's Affairs. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 27 January 2011.
  7. "The New Zealand Suffrage Centennial Medal 1993 – register of recipients". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 26 July 2018. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  8. "Jenny Shipley, Prime Minister; Swearing-in fuels hopes of more women in Cabinet". The Evening Post . 8 December 1997. p. 1.
  9. Appointments to the Privy Council (28 May 1998) 74 New Zealand 1613 at 1644.
  10. Barber, David (15 August 1998). "Shipley sacks rebel minister". The Independent. Wellington. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  11. 1 2 Thompson, Alasdair (2013). Life Changing: Learning from the past; fixing the future. Xlibris Corporation. p. 333. ISBN   9781483668437.[ self-published source ]
  12. Denny, Charlotte. "Prepare to meet the perfumed steamroller." Guardian, 24 November 1997, p. T4+. Academic OneFile, Accessed 15 May 2018.
  13. "'Look at the language: men are bold, women are vindictive' – ex-PM Jenny Shipley on depictions of politicians (WATCH)". 28 April 2017. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  14. "Now it's Jennycide". Daily News . 9 April 1998. p. 6.
  15. "Calls for a new flag". Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 8 June 2018.
  16. Blundell, Sally (12 March 2014). "A symbol solution". Noted. The Listener. Archived from the original on 8 September 2017. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  17. "Princess Royal's Unfailing Efforts Praised By Pm" (Press release). Government of New Zealand. 17 March 1999. Archived from the original on 8 September 2017. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  18. "Standfornz – when social media goes bad « The Standard". 10 May 2015. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  19. "State visit of the United States President" (Press release). Government of New Zealand. 27 August 1999. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  20. "Pride and Progress: The Past and the Future of Auckland's Pride Parade – Tearaway". Tearaway. 24 February 2017. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  21. 1 2 3 McLeod, Rosemary (22 October 2011). "Jenny Shipley: 'Leadership is a life sentence'". The Dominion Post . Stuff. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  22. Vowles, Jack (2013). "Gender and Leadership". Proportional Representation on Trial: The 1999 New Zealand General Election and the Fate of MMP?. Auckland: Auckland University Press. ISBN   9781869407155.
  23. Small, Vernon; Armstrong, John; Mold, Fran (9 October 2001). "Shipley out, English next in line". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 10 September 2017.
  24. "Jenny Shipley Announces Retirement". Scoop News. 31 January 2002. Retrieved 10 September 2017.
  25. "New Year honours list 2003". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 31 December 2002. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  26. Fraser, Fiona (8 September 2009). "Jenny's change of heart". New Zealand Woman's Weekly . Archived from the original on 29 December 2010. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
  27. "Shipley, Withers take senior SOE roles". New Zealand Herald. 20 October 2009.
  28. "Board of Directors – China Construction Bank" . Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  29. Meadows, Richard (11 May 2015). "Shipley v Brash: Who earns more Chinese bank cash?". Stuff. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  30. "Mainzeal in receivership; Jenny Shipley and Paul Collins resign from the board". Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  31. "Failed Mainzeal faces $93.5m in claims". 16 March 2013.
  32. "Mainzeal collapse hits subcontractors". Dominion Post. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  33. "Richina accused of polluting Shanghai". Archived from the original on 16 May 2021. Retrieved 16 March 2013.
  34. "Meet Mainzeal's man at the top, the enigmatic migrant made good – until now". New Zealand Herald. 9 February 2013.
  35. Harris, Catherine (30 May 2015). "Jenny Shipley among Mainzeal directors facing legal action". p. C24. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
  36. "Mainzeal Property and Construction Ltd (In Liq) v Yan and Others [2019] NZHC 255" (PDF). 26 February 2019.
  37. "Mainzeal Property and Construction Limited (in liq) v Yan [2019] NZHC 1637". 12 July 2019.
  38. Hutching, Chris (29 July 2019). "Dame Shipley and Mainzeal directors fail to overturn $36m penalties". Stuff.
  39. "Prime Minister congratulates knights and dames". Television New Zealand . 1 August 2009. Archived from the original on 4 August 2009.
  40. "Jenny Shipley: Namibia". Intrepid Journeys . Television New Zealand . Retrieved 26 June 2009.
  41. "The lights are on at Ehomba School in Africa!". Namibian Educational Trust. Retrieved 26 June 2009.
Dame Jenny Shipley
Jenny Shipley and Winnie Laban (crop).jpg
Shipley in 2018
36th Prime Minister of New Zealand
In office
8 December 1997 10 December 1999
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by Member of Parliament
for Ashburton

Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament
for Rakaia

Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Minister for Social Welfare
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Women's Affairs
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Health
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of New Zealand
Succeeded by
Preceded by Leader of the Opposition
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Leader of the National Party
Succeeded by
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by Chair of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
Succeeded by