Jim McLay

The Honourable
Sir Jim McLay
9th Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand
In office
15 March 1984  26 July 1984
Prime Minister Robert Muldoon
Preceded by Duncan MacIntyre
Succeeded by Geoffrey Palmer
Constituency Birkenhead
24th Leader of the Opposition
In office
29 November 1984  26 March 1986
Preceded by Robert Muldoon
Succeeded by Jim Bolger
Personal details
Born (1945-02-21) 21 February 1945
Devonport, Auckland, New Zealand
Political party National
Spouse(s) Marcy Farden
Children Denis McLay
Alma mater University of Auckland
Profession Lawyer

Sir James Kenneth "Jim" McLay KNZM QSO (born 21 February 1945) is a New Zealand diplomat and former politician. He was Deputy Prime Minister, leader of the National Party and Leader of the Opposition for a short time.[1] McLay was New Zealand's Permanent Representative to the United Nations. In May 2015, McLay became New Zealand's Representative to the Palestinian Authority.[2]

Early life

McLay was born in Devonport, Auckland, the son of Robert and Joyce McLay.[3] Peter Wilkinson was his half-brother.[4] He was educated at King's College, Auckland and the University of Auckland, gaining a law degree in 1967. He worked as a lawyer for some time, and also became involved in a number of law associations. In 1983 he married Marcy Farden, who was an assistant to American congressman Daniel Akaka.[5]

Member of Parliament

Parliament of New Zealand
Years Term Electorate Party
19751978 38th Birkenhead National
19781981 39th Birkenhead National
19811984 40th Birkenhead National
19841987 41st Birkenhead National

McLay had joined the National Party in 1963, and held a number of prominent positions within the party's Auckland branch. He also served on the party's national council. In the 1975 election, he stood as the National Party's candidate for the Birkenhead electorate, and defeated the incumbent Labour MP, Norman King.[6]

Cabinet Minister

In Parliament, McLay was known as one of the more liberal members of the National Party, and had a particular focus on reforming laws that related to women's rights. In 1978, Prime Minister Robert Muldoon appointed McLay to the posts of Attorney General and Minister of Justice.[7]

Deputy Prime Minister

In early 1984, following the retirement of Duncan MacIntyre, McLay became deputy leader of the National Party, and thus Deputy Prime Minister.

Leader of the Opposition

When National lost the 1984 election, there was widespread desire in the party for a leadership change. This desire came mainly from the younger and less conservative wing of the party, which saw Robert Muldoon as representing an era that had already passed. Muldoon, however, refused to leave the position voluntarily, thereby forcing a direct leadership challenge. The two main candidates in the leadership race (apart from Muldoon himself) were Jim McLay and Jim Bolger. McLay, in distinct contrast to Muldoon, promoted free market economic policies and a relatively liberal social outlook. Bolger, meanwhile, was seen as a more traditionalist and pragmatic candidate, although he was not so conservative as Muldoon. McLay won the caucus vote with slightly over half the votes.[8]

McLay's first major challenge was Muldoon himself. On his defeat, Muldoon refused to accept any portfolios offered him, thereby becoming a backbencher. McLay's attempts to give Muldoon an "elder statesman" role within the party were rebuffed, with Muldoon insisting on an active role. The relationship between McLay and Muldoon deteriorated further as McLay outlined a major departure from Muldoon's interventionist economic policies. Muldoon's hostility was to prove a major problem for McLay's leadership, and undermined all attempts to promote unity within the party. Later, when Muldoon made a strong public criticism of the entire party leadership, Muldoon (along with loyalist Merv Wellington) was demoted to the lowest ranking within the National caucus.[9]

Muldoon, apparently realising that there was little chance of him regaining the leadership, threw his support behind Jim Bolger, who remained opposed to McLay. There was considerable media speculation that McLay would be deposed before the end of 1985. The rumoured challenge, however, failed to eventuate, and McLay remained leader. In early 1986, however, McLay made a fatal mistake – in an attempt to "rejuvenate" the party's upper ranks, he demoted George Gair and Bill Birch, both of whom were highly respected for their long service. Gair and Birch, two of National's most experienced politicians, quickly allied themselves with Jim Bolger. From this point, McLay's fall was almost guaranteed.[10]


On 26 March, Gair, Birch, and party whip Don McKinnon presented McLay with a letter signed by a majority of MPs in the National Party caucus asking him to step aside. Jim Bolger received a clear majority in the resulting caucus vote, ending McLay's leadership of the National Party.[1]

McLay is the only leader of the National Party who neither became Prime Minister nor led his party to an election.

After Parliament

McLay retired from Parliament at the 1987 election. Between 1994 and 2002 he was the New Zealand representative on the International Whaling Commission. He served as chairman of the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development, an independent industry body which advances best practice in infrastructure development, investment and procurement, from 2005 to 2006 and remained as patron until 2009.

Permanent Representative to the United Nations

In July 2009 McLay took up the role of New Zealand's Permanent Representative to the United Nations.[1] On 16 October 2014, McLay led New Zealand to victory in the United Nations Security Council election for a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council winning in the first round of voting with 145 votes out of a possible 193 beating both Spain and Turkey.[11] McLay took up New Zealand's seat on the United Nations Security Council on 1 January 2015.

Representative to the Palestinian Authority

On 20 February 2015, it was announced that McLay is to finish his role as Permanent Representative after the end of his second term. McLay is set to become New Zealand's Representative to the Palestinian Authority, as well as being a special advisor to Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully and, when required, a Prime Ministerial special envoy.[12]


McLay was appointed a Companion of the Queen's Service Order for public services in the 1987 Queen's Birthday Honours.[13] In the 2003 Queen's Birthday Honours he was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to conservation.[14] In 2012, McLay was awarded an honorary degree, a Doctor of Humane Letters, by Juniata College.[15] In the 2015 Queen's Birthday Honours McLay was promoted to Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to business and the State.[16]

Honorific eponym

The McLay Glacier in Antarctica's Churchill Mountains is named in McLay's honour, in recognition of his service as the New Zealand representative on the International Whaling Commission during which he advocated for the establishment of a whale sanctuary in the Southern Ocean.[17]


  1. 1 2 3 "Jim McLay NZ's next representative to UN". The New Zealand Herald. 11 March 2009. Retrieved 11 March 2009.
  2. "McCully thanks departing Permanent Representative | Scoop News". Scoop.co.nz. 20 February 2015. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  3. "Births". New Zealand Herald. 23 February 1945. p. 1. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
  4. Gustafson 1986, p. 134.
  5. "Political marriage". Ottawa Citizen. 13 October 1983. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
  6. Wilson 1985, p. 216.
  7. Wilson 1985, p. 96.
  8. Gustafson 1986, p. 158.
  9. Gustafson 1986, p. 162.
  10. Gustafson 1986, p. 164.
  11. "NZ wins seat on Security Council: 'Victory for the small states' - National - NZ Herald News". Nzherald.co.nz. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  12. "New Zealand's UN representative Jim McLay to be replaced - National - NZ Herald News". Nzherald.co.nz. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  13. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 50950. p. 33. 13 June 1987. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
  14. "Queen's Birthday honours list 2003". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 2 June 2003. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
  15. "Juniata College - President - Honorary Degree Recipients". Juniata.edu. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  16. "Queen's Birthday honours list 2015". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 1 June 2015. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
  17. "McLay Glacier". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 1 June 2015.


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jim McLay.
Government offices
Preceded by
Duncan MacIntyre
Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand
Succeeded by
Geoffrey Palmer
Political offices
Preceded by
Peter Wilkinson
Succeeded by
Geoffrey Palmer
Preceded by
David Spence Thomson
Minister of Justice
Succeeded by
Geoffrey Palmer
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Norman King
Member of Parliament for Birkenhead
Succeeded by
Jenny Kirk
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Rosemary Banks
Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York
Succeeded by
Gerard van Bohemen
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 10/8/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.