Graeme Lee (politician)

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For other people named Graeme Lee, see Graeme Lee (disambiguation).

Graeme Ernest Lee, MNZM, JP (born 1 September 1935 in Paeroa)[1][2] is a former New Zealand politician. Originally a National Party MP, he broke away to found the Christian Democrat Party.

Member of Parliament[edit]

Parliament of New Zealand
Years Term Electorate Party
1981–1984 40th Hauraki National
1984–1987 41st Hauraki National
1987–1990 42nd Coromandel National
1990–1993 43rd Coromandel National
1993–1994 44th Matakana National
1994–1996 Changed allegiance to: Christian Democrats

Lee was first elected to Parliament in the 1981 elections, winning the seat of Hauraki as the National candidate. Lee replaced Leo Schultz, a prominent National MP. He retained his seat from then until the 1996 elections, although a change of electoral boundaries resulted in the seat which covered the Thames-Coromandel district being renamed Coromandel in 1996.

Lee, a principally conservative member of the National Party caucus would later come to believe that the National Party was drifting away from conservatism, but initially resolved to fight the shift from within the party. After a brief period as a Cabinet Minister in the Bolger government, Lee resigned from the National Party in 1993.

Christian Democrats[edit]

At first, it was thought likely that Lee would join the Christian Heritage Party, but talks between Lee and Christian Heritage broke down. An important issue was that of "confessionalism": Lee, while strongly believing in Christian teachings as a basis for morality, believed that anyone who shared the proper principles should be allowed to contribute, even if they were not actually Christian. The Christian Heritage Party, being strongly confessionalist, rejected this, saying that it was only logical that a Christian party should bar non-Christians from membership. This issue, as well as a number of smaller points, caused Lee to turn away from Christian Heritage and establish his own party in 1994. Lee initially called his group the United Progressive Party, but in 1995, it was relaunched as the Christian Democrats.

Sporadic talks with Christian Heritage continued, with many Christian activists putting pressure on both sides to unify. Eventually, in late 1995, the Christian Coalition was established. In the 1996 election, however, the Coalition narrowly missed out on entering Parliament. It later collapsed amid many accusations and recriminations.

Lee had told his family that if he failed to remain in Parliament, he would retire from politics. After his departure from politics, he became involved with the Christian housing provider Habitat for Humanity and wrote an autobiography about his religious views and political life within the National and Christian Democrat parties, as well as his ongoing political stance. For his current organisational affiliation, see concluding paragraph and links section.

As party president Anthony Walton led the Christian Democrats after his departure. The party then renamed itself Future New Zealand and contested the 1999 elections. It later merged with Peter Dunne's United Party to form United Future New Zealand in 2000. The party received 8 seats at the 2002 election. However, most New Zealanders realised that this was merely a cosmetic change during the 47th New Zealand Parliament, with most of the caucus professing either fundamentalist Protestant or conservative Catholic religious beliefs.

Later years[edit]

Graeme Lee was a minister at Auckland's Greenlane Christian Centre for a brief period of time, and was also one of the co-ordinators of Vision New Zealand, a national evangelical/ecumentalist umbrella group. Subsequently, Lee was involved in organising the New Zealand itinerary of a US Pentecostal televangelist, Greg Laurie, in 2011.

He has been leading the New Zealand branch of Christians for Israel, a Christian Zionist and anti-Arab organisation, since 2012.[3]

His daughter, Denise Krum, stood for United Future in the 2008 general election. However, UFNZ Leader Peter Dunne was the only UFNZ MP returned to Parliament, due to his anchoring constituency seat. Krum joined the National Party in 2009, becoming a deputy chair of the Northern Region. She unsuccessfully applied to become National Party candidate for the Epsom electorate, but became a National Party List MP candidate at the New Zealand general election, 2011. However, she was ranked at 69 on the National Party list and consequently did not enter Parliament.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Stringer p. 12
  2. ^ Temple, Philip (1994). Temple’s Guide to the 44th New Zealand Parliament. Dunedin: McIndoe Publishers. p. 70. ISBN 0 86868 159 8. 
  3. ^ "Andrew Tucker's visit to Australia, New Zealand and Singapore". Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  • Michael Bassett: Mother of All Departments: A History of the Department of Internal Affairs: Auckland: Auckland University Press: 1997: ISBN 1-86940-175-1.
  • Graeme Lee: Faith, Politics and Servant Leadership: Auckland: Castle: 2002: ISBN 0-9582124-9-X (autobiography)
  • John Stringer: 1990 Parliamentary Candidates for the New Zealand National Party (New Zealand National Party, 1990)

See also[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Leo Schultz
Member of Parliament for Hauraki
1981–1987
Vacant
Constituency abolished, recreated in 1993
Title next held by
Warren Kyd
Vacant
Constituency recreated after abolition in 1978
Title last held by
Leo Schultz
Member of Parliament for Coromandel
1987–1993
Vacant
Constituency abolished, recreated in 1996
Title next held by
Murray McLean
New constituency Member of Parliament for Matakana
1993–1996
Constituency abolished