Jenny Shipley

Dame Jennifer Mary Shipley DNZM PC (née Robson; born 4 February 1952)[1] is a New Zealand former politician who served as the 36th prime minister of New Zealand from 1997 to 1999. She was the first female prime minister of New Zealand, and the first woman to have led the National Party.[2][3]


Dame Jenny Shipley

Shipley in 2018
36th Prime Minister of New Zealand
In office
8 December 1997  10 December 1999
MonarchElizabeth II
Governor-GeneralMichael Hardie Boys
DeputyWinston Peters
Wyatt Creech
Preceded byJim Bolger
Succeeded byHelen Clark
28th Leader of the Opposition
In office
10 December 1999  8 October 2001
Prime MinisterHelen Clark
Preceded byHelen Clark
Succeeded byBill English
8th Minister for State Owned Enterprises
In office
16 December 1996  8 December 1997
Prime MinisterJim Bolger
Preceded byPhilip Burdon
Succeeded byTony Ryall
32nd Minister of Health
In office
29 November 1993  16 December 1996
Prime MinisterJim Bolger
Preceded byBill Birch
Succeeded byBill English
19th Minister for Social Welfare
In office
2 November 1990  29 November 1993
Prime MinisterJim Bolger
Preceded byMichael Cullen
Succeeded byPeter Gresham
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Rakaia
Ashburton (1987–1990)
In office
15 August 1987  27 July 2002
Preceded byRob Talbot
Succeeded byBrian Connell
Personal details
Born
Jennifer Mary Robson

(1952-02-04) 4 February 1952 (age 69)
Gore, New Zealand
Political partyNational
Spouse(s)
Burton Shipley
(m. 1972)
Children2

Shipley was born in Gore, Southland. She grew up in rural Canterbury, and attended Marlborough Girls' College and the Christchurch College of Education. Before entering politics, she worked as a schoolteacher and was involved with various community organisations. Shipley was elected to Parliament at the 1987 election, winning the Ashburton electorate (later renamed Rakaia). When the National Party returned to power in 1990, she was appointed to Cabinet under Jim Bolger. Shipley subsequently served as Minister of Social Welfare (1990–1996), Minister for Women's Affairs (1990–1996), Minister of Health (1993–1996), and Minister of Transport (1996–1997).

In December 1997, Bolger resigned as Prime Minister after losing the confidence of his party. Shipley was elected as his replacement unopposed. She inherited an uneasy coalition with New Zealand First, led by Winston Peters. The coalition was dissolved in August 1998, but Shipley was able to remain in power with the aid of Mauri Pacific, an NZ First splinter group. At the 1999 election, Shipley's government was defeated by the Labour Party, led by Helen Clark. She continued on as Leader of the Opposition until October 2001. Shipley has involved herself with business and charitable interests since leaving politics, and is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders.