Sandra Lee-Vercoe

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Sandra Lee-Vercoe

Sandra Lee 1990's.jpg
Lee in the 1990s
2nd Leader of the Alliance
In office
10 November 1994 7 May 1995
Preceded by Jim Anderton
Succeeded byJim Anderton
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Auckland Central
In office
6 November 1993 12 October 1996
Preceded by Richard Prebble
Succeeded by Judith Tizard
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Alliance list
In office
12 October 1996 27 July 2002
Personal details
Born (1952-08-08) 8 August 1952 (age 67)
Wellington, New Zealand
Political party Mana Motuhake (1991)
Alliance (1991–2002)

Sandra Rose Te Hakamatua Lee-Vercoe QSO (born 8 August 1952) is a former New Zealand politician and diplomat. She served as deputy leader (and briefly leader) of the Alliance party and was later High Commissioner to Niue.


Early life

Lee was born in Wellington, and grew up in a two bedroom Māori Affairs house with her parents, grandfather and great grandfather. [1] She was educated at Onslow College. Lee later moved to Auckland, settling on Waiheke Island. [1] Her involvement in politics began with the foundation of Mana Motuhake, a Māori issues party, in 1979. Her political career, however, did not begin until 1983, with her election to the Waiheke County Council. She became chairperson of the Council in 1989. When Waiheke was amalgamated into Auckland proper, Lee became a member of the Auckland City Council.

Member of Parliament

New Zealand Parliament
1993 1996 44th Auckland Central Alliance
1996 1999 45th List2 Alliance
1999 2002 46th List2 Alliance

In 1991, Lee became president of Mana Motuhake. Shortly after this, Mana Motuhake agreed to become a founding member of the Alliance, a coalition of minor parties.

In the 1993 election, Lee became the first Māori woman to win a general seat, [2] when she successfully contested the Auckland Central electorate as an Alliance candidate, defeating the incumbent Richard Prebble. [3] Upon the retirement of Mana Motuhake founder Matiu Rata in 1994, Lee became Mana Motuhake's political leader. In November 1994, when Jim Anderton stepped down as leader of the Alliance for personal reasons, Lee took his place but Lee persuaded Anderton returned to the leadership in May 1995. Lee lost her Auckland Central seat to Labour's Judith Tizard at the 1996 election. [4] She lost the position as Mana Motuhake leader in 2001, after a leadership challenge by Willie Jackson [5] but stayed on as the deputy leader of the Alliance until 2002 before announcing her retirement.

Cabinet member

When a Labour-Alliance coalition government was formed after the 1999 election, Lee became Minister of Local Government, Minister of Conservation, and Associate Minister of Māori Affairs. [4] She was ranked seventh in Cabinet. During her time as Minister of Conservation Lee was known as an outspoken opponent of commercial whaling. [6] In 2002, the Alliance began to split between a strongly left-wing faction (led by Matt McCarten and Laila Harré) and a more moderate faction (led by Anderton), Lee generally backed Anderton, but eventually decided to retire from politics. In the 2002 election, she did not stand for either the Alliance (now led by McCarten and Harré) or Anderton's new Progressive Coalition.


Lee was High Commissioner to Niue, representing the New Zealand and UK governments, from 12 February 2003 to 3 October 2005. [7]

Board member

In September 2006 Lee was appointed to the board of Housing New Zealand. In July 2007 she was appointed to the board of Te Papa Tongarewa.

Political offices

Personal life

At age 16 Lee married Mike Lee, giving birth to the oldest of their two daughters at age 17. They separated in 1992. [8] Lee has been married to Anaru Vercoe since 2002.

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  1. 1 2 "Sandra Lee: If you're Māori, you can't help growing up political - E-Tangata". E-Tangata. 12 August 2017. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  2. "Māori MPs - Parliament's people | NZHistory, New Zealand history online". Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  3. Fox, Karen (2011). Maori and Aboriginal Women in the Public Eye: Representing Difference, 1950–2000. ANU E Press.
  4. 1 2 Young, Audrey (24 August 2001). "Sandra Lee – bad news and proud of it". The New Zealand Herald . Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  5. "Sandra Lee retires". The New Zealand Herald . 17 June 2002. ISSN   1170-0777 . Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  6. "Sandra Lee's speech to the International Whaling Commission". The New Zealand Herald . 25 July 2001. ISSN   1170-0777 . Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  7. "Niue MPs to hear departing NZ representative". Radio NZ. 22 September 2005. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  8. Hewitson, Michele (16 December 2005). "ARC chairman keeps the reindeer galloping". The New Zealand Herald . ISSN   1170-0777 . Retrieved 4 September 2018.
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Richard Prebble
Member of Parliament for Auckland Central
Succeeded by
Judith Tizard
Political offices
Preceded by
Jack Elder
Minister of Local Government
Succeeded by
Chris Carter
Preceded by
Nick Smith
Minister of Conservation