Norman Kirk

Norman Eric Kirk PC (6 January 1923 – 31 August 1974) was a New Zealand politician who served as the 29th prime minister of New Zealand from 1972 until his sudden death in 1974.


Norman Kirk
Kirk in 1966
29th Prime Minister of New Zealand
In office
8 December 1972  31 August 1974
MonarchElizabeth II
DeputyHugh Watt
Governor-GeneralDenis Blundell
Preceded byJack Marshall
Succeeded byBill Rowling
19th Leader of the Opposition
In office
16 December 1965  8 December 1972
DeputyHugh Watt
Preceded byArnold Nordmeyer
Succeeded byJack Marshall
7th Leader of the New Zealand Labour Party
In office
16 December 1965  31 August 1974
Preceded byArnold Nordmeyer
Succeeded byBill Rowling
20th President of the Labour Party
In office
12 May 1964  11 May 1966
Vice PresidentJim Bateman
Preceded byMartyn Finlay
Succeeded byNorman Douglas
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Sydenham
In office
29 November 1969  31 August 1974
Preceded byMabel Howard
Succeeded byJohn Kirk
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Lyttelton
In office
30 November 1957  29 November 1969
Preceded byHarry Lake
Succeeded byTom McGuigan
Personal details
Born(1923-01-06)6 January 1923
Waimate, Canterbury, New Zealand
Died31 August 1974(1974-08-31) (aged 51)
Wellington, New Zealand
Resting placeWaimate Lawn Cemetery, Waimate, Canterbury, New Zealand
Political partyLabour
Spouse(s)
(m. 1943)
Children5, including John Kirk
RelativesJo Luxton (great-niece)
ProfessionRailway engineer
Signature

Kirk joined the New Zealand Labour Party in 1943. He was mayor of Kaiapoi from 1953 until 1957, when he was elected to the New Zealand Parliament. He became the leader of his party in 1964. Following a Labour victory in the 1972 election, Kirk became Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. He stressed the need for regional economic development and affirmed New Zealand's solidarity with Australia in adopting a foreign policy more independent of the United States. In 1973, he strongly opposed French nuclear tests in the Pacific. He promoted racial equality at home and abroad; his government prevented the South African rugby team from touring New Zealand during 1973.

Kirk had a reputation as the most formidable debater of his time and once famously said that "there are four things that matter to people: they have to have somewhere to live, they have to have food to eat, they have to have clothing to wear, and they have to have something to hope for,"[1] often misquoted as "Someone to love, somewhere to live, somewhere to work and something to hope for."[2] Owing to his energy, charisma and powerful oratory, as well as his untimely death, Kirk remains one of the most popular New Zealand prime ministers.