Lianne Dalziel


Lianne Dalziel
Lianne Dalziel September 2017.jpg
Dalziel in September 2017
46th Mayor of Christchurch
Assumed office
24 October 2013
Preceded byBob Parker
6th Minister of Commerce
In office
15 August 2002 – 21 February 2004
Prime MinisterHelen Clark
Preceded byPaul Swain
Succeeded byMargaret Wilson
In office
19 October 2005 – 19 November 2008
Preceded byPete Hodgson
Succeeded bySimon Power
6th Minister for ACC
In office
28 March 2001 – 15 August 2002
Prime MinisterHelen Clark
Preceded byMichael Cullen
Succeeded byRuth Dyson
49th Minister of Immigration
In office
10 December 1999 – 21 February 2004
Prime MinisterHelen Clark
Preceded byTuariki Delamere
Wyatt Creech (Acting)
Succeeded byPaul Swain
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Christchurch Central
In office
27 October 1990 – 12 October 1996
Preceded byGeoffrey Palmer
Succeeded byTim Barnett
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Labour List
In office
12 October 1996 – 27 November 1999
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Christchurch East
In office
27 November 1999 – 11 October 2013
Preceded byLarry Sutherland
Succeeded byPoto Williams
Personal details
Born (1960-06-07) 7 June 1960 (age 61)
Christchurch, New Zealand
NationalityNew Zealander
Political partyLabour
Rob Davidson
(m. 2000; died 2020)
OccupationTrade unionist
CommitteesCommerce Committee (chairperson)
Privileges Committee

Lianne Audrey Dalziel (/dælˈzɛl/; born 7 June 1960) is New Zealand politician and the current Mayor of Christchurch. Prior to this position, she was a member of the New Zealand Parliament for 23 years, serving as Minister of Immigration, Commerce, Minister of Food Safety and Associate Minister of Justice in the Fifth Labour Government.[1] She resigned from Cabinet on 20 February 2004 after apparently lying about a leak of documents to the media, but was reinstated as a Minister following Labour's return to office after the 2005 election. She resigned from Parliament effective 11 October 2013 to contest the Christchurch mayoral election. The incumbent, Bob Parker, decided not to stand again, and she was widely regarded as the top favourite and won with a wide margin to become the 46th Mayor of Christchurch.

Early life

Dalziel was born in 1960[2] raised in Christchurch, and attended Canterbury University. She graduated with a law degree and was admitted to the Bar. She served as the legal officer for the Canterbury Hotel and Hospital Workers' Union, and later became the union's Secretary. She also participated in national groups such as the Federation of Labour and the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions.

Member of Parliament

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate List Party
1990–1993 43rd Christchurch Central Labour
1993–1996 44th Christchurch Central Labour
1996–1999 45th List 4 Labour
1999–2002 46th Christchurch East 8 Labour
2002–2005 47th Christchurch East 14 Labour
2005–2008 48th Christchurch East 26 Labour
2008–2011 49th Christchurch East 15 Labour
2011–2013 50th Christchurch East none Labour

Dalziel entered Parliament as a Labour Party MP for Christchurch Central in 1990, replacing outgoing former Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer.[3] She held this seat until the 1996 election (being replaced by Tim Barnett), when she became a list MP under the new MMP electoral system. In the 1999 election, she chose to contest an electorate again, and won the Christchurch East seat. She held the seat in the 2002, 2005, 2008 and 2011 elections. In 2011 she opted not to go on the Labour list.

In November 1990 she was appointed as Labour's spokesperson for the Audit Department and Customs by Labour leader Mike Moore.[4] After Helen Clark replaced Moore as leader in December 1993 Dalziel was promoted and given the Health portfolio.[5] Time magazine picked her as a future leader in its December 1994 edition.[3]

In August 1997 Dalziel was replaced in the Health portfolio by Annette King due to perceived ineffectiveness against Minister of Health Bill English, media believing Alliance Health spokesperson Phillida Bunkle was performing better. Instead she was made Shadow Attorney-General and given the portfolios of immigration, youth affairs and statistics. Dalziel expressed enthusiasm for the chance to utilise her law degree in politics as Shadow Attorney-General.[6]

Cabinet minister

In the new government formed by Labour, Dalziel became Minister of Immigration, Minister for Senior Citizens, and Minister for Disability Issues. When Labour won re-election in the 2002 election, Dalziel also became Minister of Commerce (while ceasing to be Minister for Disability Issues). In 2003, she ceased to be Minister for Senior Citizens. As Minister of Immigration, Dalziel was often in the spotlight. In particular, she often clashed with Winston Peters, leader of the anti-immigration New Zealand First party.

After the 2005 election, Dalziel was re-elected by her caucus colleagues to Cabinet and was given the portfolios of Commerce, Small Business, and Women's Affairs.

Mike Williams, President of the Labour Party from 2000 to 2009, states that he was surprised by Clark appointing Dalziel Minister of Commerce and thought of it as an "odd choice". But she worked herself into the portfolio, paid attention to detail, and within a year had "proved herself". Williams believes this is due to her high intelligence and her ability to listen.[3] Tim Barnett, MP for Christchurch Central from 1996 to 2008, and today General Secretary of the Labour Party (equivalent to CEO), credits her training as a lawyer and "having a bigger brain than most of us" for her success.[3] Williams states that as Minister of Commerce, Dalziel worked closely with National's Simon Power and built "cross-party unity on various issues".[3]


Dalziel's position became difficult after she was accused of giving certain documents to the press to bolster the case for a decision her Associate Minister had made. The decision, concerning the deportation of a Sri Lankan teenager who was seeking asylum but who had originally lied about the reasons, was controversial, and Dalziel leaked the notes of the teenager's lawyer to TV3, attempting to discredit the teenager's case for asylum.[7] Dalziel tried to avoid admitting to being the source of the documents, but was forced to admit that the leak had been at her direction. There was also significant controversy about how Dalziel had obtained the documents in the first place. Dalziel offered her resignation which Prime Minister Helen Clark accepted.[8]

Opposition and mayoral ambitions

After Labour was defeated in the 2008 general election, Dalziel became the Opposition spokesperson on Justice and Commerce and, from 2011, the spokesperson for the Christchurch Earthquake Recovery, Civil Defence & Emergence Management, Consumer Rights & Standards, and associate spokesperson for Justice.[9]

Rumours of Dalziel standing as Mayor of Christchurch go back to at least 2009.[3] Since the February 2011 earthquake, the rumours that Dalziel would contest the 2013 Christchurch mayoralty became more consistent. In May 2012, Dalziel tried to put an end to these rumours by announcing: "The job I really want is Gerry Brownlee's, rather than Bob Parker's."[10] Brownlee is Earthquake Recovery Minister, and Parker was the Mayor of Christchurch at the time.[10] In the February 2013 reshuffle of opposition portfolios, Dalziel dropped out of the top 20 (only the first 20 positions are ranked by the Labour Party).[11] An editorial in The Press presumed that her strong support for David Cunliffe was part of the reason for her demotion. The editorial also speculated that she might reconsider her political future:[12]

The demotion is bound to concentrate Dalziel's mind on whether she should run for the Christchurch mayoralty. As things stand, a place for her in a Labour cabinet as minister for the earthquake recovery looks unlikely, but she would be a strong candidate for mayor.

Following months of speculation, The Press reported on 20 April 2013 that Lianne Dalziel would challenge Parker for the mayoralty, and that she had asked 24-year-old Student Volunteer Army organiser Sam Johnson to be her running mate, with a view of Johnson becoming deputy mayor. The newspaper expressed surprise by this pairing, given that Dalziel was a Labour Party member, and Johnson a member of the Young Nats, the youth arm of the National Party.[13] Saying that: "It was a really difficult decision to make, but I don't think it is the right thing for me right now", Johnson eventually decided against running.[14] On 19 June, Dalziel formally confirmed that she would contest the mayoralty, also announcing that she would resign from Parliament, which would trigger a by-election in the Christchurch East electorate.[15][16] Dalziel delivered her resignation letter on 17 September and delivered her valedictory speech the following day with her resignation taking effect on Friday, 11 October; the day before the local body election[17] so that the by-election campaign did not interfere with the local body election.[16] In a later interview, Dalziel confirmed that she would have left Parliament even if Shearer had put her onto the front bench.[3]

Although some expressed concerns about Dalziel's Labour Party background, including central city property developer Antony Gough, who talked of her "red apron strings" getting in the way of working with local business owners,[3] she also nevertheless open support from the political right for her mayoral ambitions:[3] Christchurch City Councillor Tim Carter, son of Christchurch property developer Philip Carter and nephew of Speaker David Carter, encouraged her to stand for the mayoralty;[18] former National Party cabinet minister Philip Burdon was one of her nominees when she lodged her nomination for the mayoralty with the returning officer;[19] and blogger Cameron Slater, by many considered a "conduit for factions of the National Party"[3] wrote:[3][20]

Christchurch needs a uniter, not a divider, and the word is that National would far rather deal with Lianne and the competent councillors she is bringing with her than Bob Parker.

Dalziel's Earthquake Recovery portfolio in Labour's shadow cabinet was split and given to Ruth Dyson and Clayton Cosgrove.[21]

Mayor of Christchurch

Launch of a tramway extension on 12 February 2015 by Prime Minister John Key and Dalziel

Dalziel was elected Mayor of Christchurch in the October 2013 mayoral election, with a margin of almost 50,000 votes over the next candidate, businessman Paul Lonsdale.[22] She was sworn in on 24 October,[23] with a past mayor, Vicki Buck as her deputy.[24] At the 2019 local election, she won the mayoralty for a third time.[25]

In late February 2020, the New Zealand Police referred Dalziel's election expenses during the 2019 Christchurch mayoral election to the Serious Fraud Office. Two complainants, including rival mayoral candidate John Minto, had filed a complaint regarding donations by six people that exceeded the $1,500 limit under the Local Electoral Act.[26][27][28][29] On 17 December, the Serious Fraud Office cleared Mayor Dalziel, stating that it found no evidence of criminal conduct relating to donations made to the Mayor by several Chinese businessmen during the 2019 mayoral election.[30]

On 1 July 2021 she announced she would not seek re-election as mayor at the local body elections in 2022.[31]

In October 2021, Dalziel expressed opposition to the Sixth Labour Government's Three Waters reform programme, criticising the Government for "mandating councils."[32]

Personal life

Dalziel married Mike Pannell in 1988. The pair divorced in 1995 and indicated that the stress of parliamentary life was a major factor in the decision to separate.[33] In 2000, Dalziel married Christchurch lawyer Rob Davidson. He died of prostate cancer in August 2020, aged 69 years.[34]

See also


  1. ^ "Ministerial List for Announcement on 31 October 2007" (Press release). New Zealand Government. 31 October 2007. Archived from the original (DOC) on 1 October 2008.
  2. ^ "Hon Lianne Dalziel". New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved 25 May 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Matthews, Philip (21 September 2013). "A Point of Principle". The Press. pp. C1–C3.
  4. ^ "All Labour's 29 MPs get areas of responsibility". Otago Daily Times. 28 November 1990. p. 4.
  5. ^ "The Labour Shadow Cabinet". The Dominion. 14 December 1993. p. 2.
  6. ^ Venter, Nick; Ross, Frances (9 August 1997). "Dalziel dumped from health job". The Dominion.
  7. ^ "Dalziel loses job over leak". TVNZ. 20 February 2004. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  8. ^ MacLeod, Scott (20 February 2004). "Dalziel forced to quit". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 17 June 2021.
  9. ^ "Lianne Dalziel". New Zealand Labour Party. Archived from the original on 10 August 2013. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
  10. ^ a b Gorman, Paul (12 May 2012). "Dalziel won't run for mayor". The Press. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  11. ^ Vance, Andrea (25 February 2013). "Dalziel dropped from Labour's top 20". The Press. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
  12. ^ "Labour's new faces". The Press. 26 February 2013. p. A12. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
  13. ^ "Dalziel invites Johnson to join mayoral race". The Press. Christchurch. 20 April 2013. p. A1. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  14. ^ "Student Army head won't run for mayor". 3 News NZ. 22 April 2013.
  15. ^ Cairns, Lois (19 June 2013). "Heavyweights fight for city". The Press. p. A1. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
  16. ^ a b Cairns, Lois (19 July 2013). "Dalziel formally enters mayoralty race". The Press. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
  17. ^ Conway, Glenn (17 September 2013). "Dalziel officially resigns from Parliament". The Press. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
  18. ^ Cairns, Lois (25 April 2013). "Carter out, backs Dalziel". The Press. Christchurch. p. A1.
  19. ^ Cairns, Lois (19 July 2013). "Dalziel formally enters mayoralty race". The Press. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
  20. ^ Slater, Cameron (18 June 2013). "Onya Lianne". Whale Oil Beef Hooked. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
  21. ^ Cairns, Lois (11 July 2013). "Two MPs to take over Dalziel's portfolio". Retrieved 23 August 2013.
  22. ^ "Elections 2013: Final declaration of results" (Press release). Christchurch City Council. 18 October 2013. Archived from the original on 22 October 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  23. ^ Cairns, Lois (25 October 2013). "Dalziel chained into office". The Press. p. A2. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
  24. ^ Vicki Buck named deputy mayor. Fairfax NZ News. 22 October 2013.
  25. ^ Law, Tina (12 October 2019). "Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel holds on for third term". Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  26. ^ "Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel's election expenses referred to the Serious Fraud Office". Radio New Zealand. 28 February 2020. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  27. ^ Harris, Dominic; MacDonald, Liz (28 February 2020). "Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel under scrutiny as expenses complaint referred to Serious Fraud Office". Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  28. ^ "Serious Fraud Office confirms it is assessing Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel's election expenses". The New Zealand Herald. 28 February 2020. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  29. ^ "Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel blames husband for donor non-disclosure". RNZ. 19 December 2019. Retrieved 10 June 2020.
  30. ^ Radio New Zealand (17 December 2020). "SFO clears Christchurch Mayor over election donation complaint". 1 News. Archived from the original on 17 December 2020. Retrieved 17 December 2020.
  31. ^ "Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel will not seek another term". 1 July 2021. Retrieved 1 July 2021.
  32. ^ Wade, Amelia (27 October 2021). "How mayors across New Zealand reacted to Three Waters mandate". Newshub. Archived from the original on 27 October 2021. Retrieved 27 October 2021.
  33. ^ "Marriage victim of politics". The New Zealand Herald. 9 May 1995. p. 5.
  34. ^ "Christchurch mayor's husband Rob Davidson dies after battle with cancer". 7 August 2020. Retrieved 7 August 2020.

External links

  • New Zealand Labour Party bio
  • Video of valedictory speech
  • part 1
  • part 1
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Christchurch Central
Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Christchurch East
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Minister of Immigration
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister for Senior Citizens
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister for ACC
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Commerce

Succeeded by
Preceded by Succeeded by
Preceded by Mayor of Christchurch