Jerry Skinner

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Clarence Skinner

CF Skinner.tif
3rd Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand
In office
12 December 1957 12 December 1960
Prime Minister Walter Nash
Preceded by Jack Marshall
Succeeded by Jack Marshall
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Motueka
In office
1938   1946
Preceded by Keith Holyoake
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Buller
In office
1946   1962
Preceded by Paddy Webb
Succeeded by Bill Rowling
Personal details
Born19 January 1900
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Died26 April 1962(1962-04-26) (aged 62)
Takaka, New Zealand
Political party Labour
Spouse(s)Julia Buckley Gray (m. 1924)
Lois McHaffey (m. 1958)
Awards Military Cross
Military service
Allegiance New Zealand Army
Years of service1939-43
Rank British&Commonwealth-Army-Maj(1920-1953).svg Major
Battles/wars World War II

Clarence Farrington Skinner MC (19 January 1900 – 26 April 1962) (also known as Gerry or Jerry) was a Labour politician from New Zealand, former Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand and a Minister from 1943 to 1949 and 1957 to 1960 in the First and Second Labour governments.


Early life

Skinner as an Army Major in WWII. Clarence Skinner.jpg
Skinner as an Army Major in WWII.

Skinner was born on 19 January 1900 in Melbourne, Australia, before subsequently emigrating to New Zealand. His father was a missionary in Te Kopuru, near Hokianga.

Skinner settled in the Waitaki District and married Julia Buckley Gray in 1924. Skinner established himself politically as a union leader there whilst working as a carpenter by trade. [1] He then turned his profession to farming up until the depression in the early 1930s. [2]

He distinguished himself after being elected the president of the Inangahua Medical Association. He was instrumental in setting up a co-operative medical insurance scheme for labourers working building the Waitaki hydroelectric station alongside Andy Davidson, Arnold Nordmeyer and Gervan & Ethel McMillan. [1] All subsequently becoming members of the Labour party.

Skinner served in the New Zealand Army in the Middle East during World War II. Starting out as a Sapper, Skinner rose to the rank of Major. He was later awarded the Military Cross in 1943 for mine clearing in the North African campaign. [2] He was flown back to New Zealand later that year after promotion to cabinet because of his fine record as a soldier by Prime Minister Peter Fraser. [3]

Member of Parliament

Skinner was a Member of Parliament from 1938 to 1962; he was MP for Motueka between 1938 and 1946 (having defeated new MP Keith Holyoake in 1938), then MP for Buller from 1946 to 1962. Early on in his career as an MP, Skinner was somewhat sympathetic to the plight of John A. Lee, but did not to support him openly. [4] Skinner made good impressions as an MP and gained a reputation for possessing "down-to-earth Kiwi common sense". [5]

New Zealand Parliament
1938 1943 26th Motueka Labour
1943 1946 27th Motueka Labour
1946 1949 28th Buller Labour
1949 1951 29th Buller Labour
1951 1954 30th Buller Labour
1954 1957 32nd Buller Labour
1957 1960 33rd Buller Labour
1960 1962 34th Buller Labour

Cabinet minister

Between 1943 and 1949 he held several ministries; Lands, Rehabilitation, Valuation and State Forests. From 1957 to 1960 he was Minister of Agriculture, Lands and Rehabilitation. As a result of his work in the area, it is said that Skinner was an instrumental figure in the establishment of New Zealand's pulp and paper industry. [2] As a minister Skinner gained a reputation of sincerity, which helped his otherwise lackings as an orator. [3]

Skinner was seen by many as Labour's rising star. [6] In recognition of this, he was subsequently elected deputy-leader of the Labour Party in 1951 while it was in opposition. [2] However, there had been speculation that he had sought the leadership, but this was dismissed as merely media gossip. [7] In the attempted coup against Walter Nash's leadership in 1954, Skinner sided with Nash and his status as the deputy-leader was reaffirmed when he remained unopposed in the position. [8]

Following Labour's victory in the 1957 election, Skinner became Deputy Prime Minister in Walter Nash's ministry. He also held the Lands and Agriculture portfolio. [2] In government, Skinner still did not make further impressions in public opinion, where he was still seen by the public as merely in Nash's shadow. [9]

Following the Labour defeat at the 1960 election, Walter Nash favoured first Skinner, and then Fred Hackett to replace him when he retired as leader, but with the sudden deaths of first Skinner and then Hackett, Nash was replaced by Arnold Nordmeyer when he eventually resigned in 1963.


  1. 1 2 Gustafson 1986, pp. 156.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Gustafson 1986, pp. 298.
  3. 1 2 Hobbs 1967, pp. 111.
  4. Gustafson 1986, pp. 200.
  5. Hobbs 1967, pp. 112.
  6. Hobbs 1976, p. 112.
  7. Sinclair 1976, p. 281.
  8. Sinclair 1976, p. 295.
  9. Sinclair 1976, p. 304.


Political offices
Preceded by
Jack Marshall
Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand
Succeeded by
Jack Marshall
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Keith Holyoake
Member of Parliament for Motueka
Constituency abolished
Preceded by
Paddy Webb
Member of Parliament for Buller
Succeeded by
Bill Rowling
Party political offices
Preceded by
Walter Nash
Deputy-Leader of the Labour Party
Succeeded by
Fred Hackett