Murray McCully

Murray Stuart McCully CNZM CF (born 19 February 1953) 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.[1]

Murray McCully

McCully in 2016
26th Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
19 November 2008  2 May 2017
Prime MinisterJohn Key
Bill English
Preceded byWinston Peters
Helen Clark (Acting)
Succeeded byGerry Brownlee
7th Minister for Sport and Recreation
In office
16 December 1996  10 December 1999
Prime MinisterJim Bolger
Jenny Shipley
Preceded byJohn Banks
Succeeded byTrevor Mallard
In office
19 November 2008  6 October 2014
Prime MinisterJohn Key
Preceded byClayton Cosgrove
Succeeded byJonathan Coleman
2nd Minister for the Rugby World Cup
In office
19 November 2008  12 December 2011
Prime MinisterJohn Key
Preceded byClayton Cosgrove
Succeeded byAbolished
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for East Coast Bays
In office
Succeeded byErica Stanford
In office
Preceded byGary Knapp
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Albany
In office
Preceded byDon McKinnon
Personal details
Murray Stuart McCully

(1953-02-19) 19 February 1953 (age 68)
Whangārei, New Zealand
Political partyNational Party

Early life

Born in Whangārei, McCully was educated at Arapohue Primary School, Dargaville High School, the University of Auckland, and Victoria University of Wellington.[2] He has a Bachelor of Laws degree and is a qualified barrister and solicitor, working as a lawyer before entering politics. He had a long-term relationship with political journalist and columnist Jane Clifton, with whom he had two sons,[1][3] which ended in the 2010s.[4]

Member of Parliament

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate List Party
19871990 42nd East Coast Bays National
19901993 43rd East Coast Bays National
19931996 44th East Coast Bays National
19961999 45th Albany 21 National
19992002 46th Albany None National
20022005 47th East Coast Bays None National
20052008 48th East Coast Bays 11 National
20082011 49th East Coast Bays 11 National
20112014 50th East Coast Bays 11 National
20142017 51st East Coast Bays 11 National

McCully first stood for Parliament in 1975 in Auckland Central, reducing Richard Prebble's majority to 289. He next stood for East Coast Bays in 1984, coming second to Gary Knapp.

In 1987, McCully defeated Knapp and entered Parliament as MP for East Coast Bays on Auckland's North Shore. He held that seat at three general elections.

At the 1996 election he became MP for the new seat of Albany before returning, in the 2002 election, as MP for the reconstituted East Coast Bays seat. McCully retired from parliamentary politics in 2017.[5]

Over his career, McCully held senior ministerial appointments in both the Fourth and Fifth National Governments. He had a reputation as a party strategist, "fix-it man" and "Machiavellian Dark Prince."[1][3]

New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully (left) meet with British Foreign Secretary William Hague (right) in London, England, on 6 August 2012.

Fourth National Government, 1990–1999

McCully's first ministerial appointment was as Minister of Customs and Associate Minister of Tourism in 1991. He held later appointments under the premierships of Jim Bolger and Jenny Shipley as Minister of Housing, Minister of Immigration and Minister for Sport, Fitness and Leisure.

As Sport and Tourism Minister, McCully reportedly "headhunted" future Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to head up the new Office of Sport and Tourism.[6]

Murray McCully resigned from his Tourism portfolio in April 1999[7] after questions were raised regarding his handling of the resignation and subsequent payout of members of the Tourism board.[8] These questions culminated in a report of the Controller and Auditor General that deemed these payouts "unlawful," although the report accepted that all involved had proceeded on the basis of advice and "their genuine perception of what was in the best interests of New Zealand’s tourism industry."[9]

Opposition, 1999–2008

The National Party lost government at the 1999 general election and did not regain the treasury benches until 2008. During nine years of opposition, McCully held various opposition spokesperson roles including in the local government, housing, sport, state services, immigration, foreign affairs and defence portfolios.

McCully is understood to have been a key player in many of the leadership changes the National Party experienced while in opposition. McCully supported Bill English to replace Jenny Shipley as National Party leader in the 2001 New Zealand National Party leadership election,[10] Don Brash to replace English in 2003, and Gerry Brownlee to replace Nick Smith as deputy leader in 2003.[11] McCully was appointed "parliamentary assistant" to Brash and was reportedly the only MP Brash told about his decision to stand down in 2006.[12]

Papua New Guinea Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato (left), Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop (center) and New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully (right) at SIDS, in August 2014.

Fifth National Government, 2008–2017

After the National Party won the 2008 election, McCully was sworn in as a Cabinet Minister on 19 November 2008. McCully was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister for Sport and Recreation, and Minister for the Rugby World Cup by New Zealand Prime Minister John Key.[1][13]

In November 2015, McCully was off work after surgery for removal of a growth that was found to be benign.[14]

On 15 December 2016, following the announcement that Key would retire from politics and the appointment of Bill English as Prime Minister, McCully announced that he would not stand for parliament in 2017 (in that year's general election).[5] English and McCully had previously had a fractious relationship, relating to when McCully orchestrated the removal of English as party leader in 2003.[1] Reflecting on his time as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, McCully said his most challenging and rewarding work was New Zealand's role in the Pacific: "I’ve put a lot of my personal effort into ensuring that we actually live up to the expectations our neighbours have of us and the responsibilities we should carry."[15] He continued as Minister of Foreign Affairs under English until 2 May 2017, when he was succeeded by Gerry Brownlee.

In December 2016, McCully played a critical role in the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334.[16]

Political views

In 2004, McCully voted against a bill to establish civil unions.[17] In 2005, he voted for the Marriage (Gender Clarification) Amendment Bill 2005, which would have amended the Marriage Act to define marriage as only between a man and a woman.[18]

In 2013, McCully voted against the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill, a bill allowing same-sex couples to marry in New Zealand.[19]

Awards and honours

While still a Member of Parliament, McCully was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to foreign policy in the 2015 New Year Honours.[20]

In 2019, McCully was appointed an Honorary Companion of the Order of Fiji, for services to relations between Fiji and New Zealand.[21]

See also


  1. Watkins, Tracy (29 November 2008). "Coming out of the shadows". The Dominion Post. Archived from the original on 1 December 2008. Retrieved 16 January 2009.
  2. "Hon Murray McCully". New Zealand Government. Archived from the original on 21 April 2009. Retrieved 17 January 2009.
  3. "McCully - the private but international face of the John Key Government". Stuff. 27 April 2017. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  4. Claire Trevett (27 February 2016). "'Black Prince' to spin the wheel again". NZ Herald.
  5. "Murray McCully says he won't stand again in next election". The New Zealand Herald. 15 December 2016. Retrieved 16 December 2016.
  6. "ScoMo Dundee: A future Aussie PM's role in New Zealand's great tourism wars". Stuff. 15 February 2020. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  7. Laxon, Andrew (7 May 1999). "Payout recovery vexing National". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 14 December 2010.
  8. "Parliamentary Hansard – Report on Tourism Board". NZ Parliament. 21 April 1999. Retrieved 12 December 2010.
  9. "Report of the Controller and Auditor General: Inquiry into certain events concerning the New Zealand Tourism Board". Controller and Auditor General. 19 April 1999. Retrieved 12 December 2010.
  10. "Shipley's night of long knives". NZ Herald. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  11. "McCully at centre of Nats whisper row". NZ Herald. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  12. The Letter Limited. "The Letter – Wednesday, 29 November 2006". Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  13. "Key's Government". The New Zealand Herald. 17 November 2008. Retrieved 16 January 2009.
  14. "Murray McCully off work following surgery". The New Zealand Herald. 4 November 2015. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  15. "High-flying McCully prepares for life on firm ground". Newsroom. 1 May 2017. Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  16. Ravid, Barak (27 December 2016). "Britain Pulled the Strings and Netanyahu Warned New Zealand It Was Declaring War: New Details on Israel's Battle Against the UN Vote". Haaretz. Retrieved 28 December 2016.
  17. "Civil Unions Act". Archived from the original on 20 January 2019. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  18. "Marriage (Gender Clarification) Amendment Bill – First Reading". New Zealand Parliament. 7 December 2005. Archived from the original on 29 February 2016. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
  19. "Gay marriage: How MPs voted". The New Zealand Herald. 18 April 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2016.
  20. "New Year honours list 2015". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 31 December 2014. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  21. Raman, Venkat (14 July 2019). "Fiji honours Murray McCully with highest award". Indian newslink. Retrieved 9 February 2020.