Jack Ridley (engineer)

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John Wallace "Jack" Ridley QSO (29 April 1919 – 23 August 2006) was a New Zealand Member of Parliament for Taupo in the North Island, a Rhodes Scholar and a civil engineer. He was awarded the QSO and the New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal for services to New Zealand. He was notable for his contributions to hydro engineering.

Early years[edit]

Ridley was born in Invercargill, New Zealand in 1919. He attended Timaru Boys' High School and then studied engineering at Canterbury University in Christchurch. After the Second World War (in which he served as an engineering officer) he spent two years, 1946–1947, as a Rhodes Scholar at University College, Oxford University, graduating with an MA (Honours) in engineering science. He married Avis (née Reed) in 1949.[1]

Ridley was a civil engineer of dams for power schemes like Benmore Dam in the South Island and Wairakei in the North Island. For his contributions, he was awarded with the Fulton Gold Medal, at the time the highest award of the New Zealand Institution of Engineers.[1]

Political career[edit]

Member of Parliament[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1972–1975 37th Taupo Labour
1978–1981 39th Taupo Labour

Ridley was the MP for Taupo for six years from 1972 to 1975, and from 1978 to 1981.[2]

He was once asked why there were so few engineers in Parliament, to which he replied: "Because engineers are realists and politicians are idealists."[1]


In 1984 Ridley stood in the new Tongariro electorate as an Independent but was not successful. A large proportion of the Tongariro electorate had been part of Taupo.[3][4]


Ridley died in Auckland on 23 August 2006.[5] He was survived by his wife and four sons.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Pickmere, Arnold (16 September 2006). "Obituary: Jack Ridley". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 6 March 2012.
  2. ^ Wilson 1985.
  3. ^ McRobie & Levine 2002, p. 117.
  4. ^ Ridley's letter to Mel Courtney, 22 July 1984
  5. ^ "Obituaries — John (Jack) Wallace Ridley QSO". New Zealand Parliament. 24 August 2006. Retrieved 6 March 2012.


  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First published in 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103.
  • Wood, G. Anthony, ed. (1996). Ministers and Members: In the New Zealand Parliament. Dunedin: Otago University Press.
  • From Muldoon to Lange: New Zealand Elections in the 1980s by Alan McRobie and Steven Levine (2002, MC Enterprises, Rangiora)
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Rona Stevenson
Member of Parliament for Taupo

Succeeded by
Ray La Varis
Preceded by
Ray La Varis
Succeeded by
Roger McClay