John McKinnon (diplomat)

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Left-right : John McKinnon, Defence Minister Jonathon Coleman, Chief of Defence Force Lt General Rhys Jones, outside Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917, Belgium, February 2012

John Walter McKinnon QSO (born 1950) is a New Zealand diplomat and public servant.

McKinnon was educated at Nelson College from 1963 to 1967,[1] Victoria University of Wellington, and the London School of Economics. He is the younger brother of former New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, and, former Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon; and of Ian McKinnon, Chancellor of Victoria University of Wellington and the current Deputy Mayor of Wellington City; twin-brother of historian and New Zealand international relations expert Malcolm McKinnon; and, the son of Major-General Walter McKinnon, a one time Chief of General Staff and Chairman of New Zealand Broadcasting.

McKinnon joined the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1974, and was posted to Beijing as second secretary in 1978. In 1985, he was posted to Washington as First Secretary, then to Canberra as Counsellor in 1986.

In 1992, McKinnon became New Zealand’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York and was the only senior New Zealand diplomat to preside over the entirety of New Zealand's third tenure on the United Nations Security Council (1993–1994). On returning to Wellington in 1995 he become Director of the External Assessments Bureau. In 2001, McKinnon became New Zealand’s Ambassador to Beijing.

McKinnon has been Deputy Secretary of Foreign Affairs since 2004, responsible for international politics and security (Programme One). Coupled with his previous role running one of New Zealand's intelligence agencies, he is considered an expert in international security. In October 2006, the Government announced that he would succeed Graham Fortune as New Zealand’s Secretary of Defence.

In the Queen's Birthday Honours 2013, McKinnon was appointed a Companion of The Queen's Service Order for services to the State.[2][3]


  1. ^ Nelson College Old Boys' Register, 1856–2006, 6th edition
  2. ^ "The Queen's Birthday Honours 2013" (24 June 2013) 80 New Zealand Gazette 2171.
  3. ^ Queen's Birthday Honours List 2013. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 3 June 2013.

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