Kerry Burke

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Sir Kerry Burke
22nd Speaker of the House of Representatives
In office
Prime MinisterDavid Lange
Preceded byGerard Wall
Succeeded byRobin Gray
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for West Coast
In office
1978 – 1990
Preceded byPaddy Blanchfield
Succeeded byMargaret Moir
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Rangiora
In office
1972 – 1975
Preceded byHerbert Pickering
Succeeded byDerek Quigley
Personal details
Born (1942-03-24) 24 March 1942 (age 77)
Christchurch, New Zealand
NationalityNew Zealand
Political partyLabour

Sir Thomas Kerry Burke (born 24 March 1942) is a New Zealand politician. He represented the Labour Party, and serving throughout the second term of the Fourth Labour Government, served as Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives from 1987 to 1990.

Early life[edit]

Burke was born in Christchurch, New Zealand. In 1960, he began three years of study at the University of Canterbury, after which he studied for a year at the Christchurch College of Education. He taught at Rangiora High School from 1967 to 1972 and at Greymouth High School from 1976 to 1978.[1]

Political career[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1972–1975 37th Rangiora Labour
1978–1981 39th West Coast Labour
1981–1984 40th West Coast Labour
1984–1987 41st West Coast Labour
1987–1990 42nd West Coast Labour

Burke was first elected to Parliament as the Labour MP for Rangiora in the 1972 election. In the 1975 election, however, he lost his seat, and remained outside Parliament for three years. In the 1978 election, Burke was elected as the Labour MP for the West Coast electorate.

When Labour won the 1984 election, Burke became Minister of Immigration and Minister of Employment. He held these roles until the 1987 election, when he was chosen to replace the outgoing Gerard Wall as Speaker. At 45 he was the second youngest Speaker in the history of the Parliament of New Zealand.

He served in this role for three years, losing the Speakership and his seat when Labour lost the 1990 election. In the 1990 New Year Honours, Burke was appointed a Knight Bachelor,[2] and the same year he was awarded the New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal.[3]

He was first elected councillor of the Canterbury Regional Council in 1998 and was chairman from 2004. On 24 October 2007, following the local body elections where he stood in the Christchurch South constituency, he was elected Chairman for a further term.[4][5]

On 24 September 2009, Burke lost a motion of no confidence and was replaced as Chairman.[6] In 2010 the New Zealand Government fired Burke, and the remaining Regional Councillors of Environment Canterbury, two years after the previous local body elections. They were replaced by Government-appointed Commissioners and elections for Environment Canterbury were to be held in 2013, but a return to full democracy was delayed until the 2019 local elections. The reason cited for the sacking was due to poor direction, "woeful" performance and governance and an overall collapse of confidence in the organisation.[7] In the 2010 local elections, Burke stood for Christchurch City Council in the Spreydon-Heathcote ward but was beaten by the two incumbents (Sue Wells and Barry Corbett).[8]

Outside politics[edit]

Burke was patron of Cholmondeley Children's Home in Governors Bay but relinquished this role according to the 2015 Annual Report prior to his drink driving conviction in January 2016 (below).[9] In March 2012 Sir Kerry joined the board of the Draco Foundation (NZ) Charitable Trust, an organisation whose purpose is the protection and promotion of democracy and natural justice in New Zealand.[10] The trust was denied charitable status by the Charities Commission and on appeal by the High Court of New Zealand (Judgement Ron Young J The Draco organisation was judged to have no public benefit and was set up for political purposes.

In January 2016 aged 73 Burke was convicted of drink driving having 517mcg of alcohol to a litre of breath. He was fined $400 and disqualified from driving for six months.[11]


  1. ^ "Biographies of Former and Current Speakers of the New Zealand House of Representatives" (PDF). New Zealand Parliamentary Library. Retrieved 23 May 2015.
  2. ^ "No. 51982". The London Gazette (2nd supplement). 30 December 1989. p. 29.
  3. ^ Taylor, Alister; Coddington, Deborah (1994). Honoured by the Queen – New Zealand. Auckland: New Zealand Who's Who Aotearoa. p. 84. ISBN 0-908578-34-2.
  4. ^ ECan chair re-elected, new deputy, Environment Canterbury Press Release, 24 October 2007, retrieved 9 December 2007.
  5. ^ "Local election of ECan candidates". Environment Canterbury (Press release). 24 August 2007. Retrieved 22 March 2019.
  6. ^ Environment Canterbury new chair, deputy chair unchanged Archived 18 December 2009 at the Wayback Machine, Environment Canterbury Press Release, 24-09-09, retrieved 24-09-09. See also Alec Neill replaces Sir Kerry, The Press/ on-line, 24-09-09, retrieved 24-09-09. Archived at WebCite
  7. ^ "ECan council canned in favour of commissioners". Television New Zealand. 30 March 2010. Retrieved 12 October 2011.
  8. ^ Sullivan, Clare (14 October 2010). "Declaration of Result of Election" (PDF). Christchurch City Council. Retrieved 22 March 2019.
  9. ^ Glass, Amy (28 August 2011). "Happy days in home recalled". The Press. Retrieved 10 September 2011.
  10. ^ "About the Draco Foundation". Draco Foundation (NZ) Charitable Trust. Archived from the original on 5 May 2013. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
  11. ^ Clarkson, David (9 January 2016). "Former Parliament Speaker Sir Kerry Burke admits drink-driving". The Press. p. A5. Retrieved 29 January 2016.

Further reading[edit]

  • Regional development policy: supporting statement to submission to the Hon. Kerry Burke, Minister of Regional Development [prepared by Canterbury Regional Development Council and Canterbury United Council], Christchurch, [N.Z.]: The Councils, 1986
  • Submission to the review of financial assistance to students: presented to the Hon. Russell Marshall, Minister of Education and to Hon. Kerry Burke, The Minister of Employment, Hon. Koro Wētere, The Minister of Maori Affairs, Hon. Ann Hercus, The Minister of Social Welfare and of Women's Affairs, The Right Hon. David Lange, The Minister of Foreign Affairs., Wellington, [N.Z.]: NZUSA, 1985
  • Burke, Kerry (1985), Labour market assistance measures: a paper from the Minister of Employment, Wellington, [N.Z.]: Employment Promotion Conference
  • Burke, Kerry (1985), A new deal in training and employment opportunities, December 1985, Wellington, [N.Z.]: Dept. of Labour
  • Burke, Kerry (1986), From the Minister: the Minister of Employment Kerry Burke answers questions on the government's employment programmes, Wellington, [N.Z.]: Dept. of Labour
  • Burke's contribution is entitled: "The youthful, united cabinet."
  • Scott, Noel (convenor); Austin, Margaret; Mallard, Trevor (1985), Interim report of Government Committee on Transition Education to Hon. Russell Marshall, Minister of Education, Hon. Kerry Burke, Minister of Employment, Wellington, [N.Z.]: The Committee
Political offices
Preceded by
Dr Gerard Wall
Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Robin Gray
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Herbert Pickering
Member of Parliament for Rangiora
Succeeded by
Derek Quigley
Preceded by
Paddy Blanchfield
Member of Parliament for West Coast
Succeeded by
Margaret Moir