Frank Kitts

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Parliament of New Zealand
Years Term Electorate Party
1954–1957 31st Wellington Central Labour
1957–1960 32nd Wellington Central Labour

Sir Francis "Frank" Joseph Kitts (1 May 1912 – 16 March 1979) was the longest-serving Mayor of Wellington, New Zealand, having held the post from 1956 to 1974. He was the Labour Member of Parliament for Wellington Central from 1954 to 1960, when he was defeated by the National candidate Dan Riddiford.

He was born in Waimate, the son of an Australian quarryman, and educated at Timaru Boys' High School. He joined the Timaru branch of the Labour Party at 13 or 16, and was branch president at 22. In 1938 aged 26 he moved to Wellington, working for the Government Stores Board. Newspaper reports after his death say he was a man of mystery;[1][2] and his Who’s Who in New Zealand entries in 1971 & 1978 start with his election to Wellington local bodies in 1950.

Kitts stood unsuccessfully for Labour in two elections, in 1949 for Waitomo, and in 1951 for Mount Victoria.[3]

Kitts was on the Wellington City Council from 1950 to 1956, when he became Mayor. In 1950 the Labour Party had no obvious mayoral candidate, and Labour councillor Gerald O'Brien suggested to Kitts, then a civil servant in the Government Stores Board, that he should stand. Kitts was the highest-polling councillor, although he did not win the mayoralty until 1956. Like Norman Kirk, also from Waimate, he was a big man, using his imposing six foot two inch, 17 stone frame to overshadow his opponents. [4]

He also served on the Wellington Harbour Board from 1950 to 1979, the Wellington Fire Board from 1954, and the Wellington Hospital Board from 1950 to 1956.

Kitts was known for his tireless public service, which continued after his retirement, including helping Wellington's immigrant community. He was born in Waimate, South Canterbury. He was knighted in 1966, and when he died in 1979 he was still on the Wellington Harbour Board.

Frank Kitts Park on Wellington's waterfront is named after him. The park, on the site formerly used for a row of wharf sheds, was opened in 1976 and extended in the late 1980s. There is a children's playground, the orange foremast recovered from TEV Wahine, and a water sculpture The Albatross by Tanya Ashken.

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Dominion (Wellington) 17 March 1979
  2. ^ The Evening Post (Wellington) 20 & 21 March 1979
  3. ^ Norton, Clifford (1988). New Zealand Parliamentary Election Results 1946-1987: Occasional Publications No 1, Department of Political Science. Wellington: Victoria University of Wellington. ISBN 0-475-11200-8. 
  4. ^ Wellington: Biography of a city by Redmer Yska (Reed, Auckland, 2006) pages 168-169 ISBN 0-7900-1117-4
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Charles Chapman
Member of Parliament for Wellington Central
1972–1981
Succeeded by
Dan Riddiford
Political offices
Preceded by
Will Appleton
Mayor of Wellington
1956–1974
Succeeded by
Michael Fowler