John O'Brien (New Zealand politician)

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For other people of the same name, see John O'Brien (disambiguation).

John O'Brien (c1924–1990) was a political candidate and party leader of Social Credit in New Zealand.

In the late 1960s, O'Brien was deputy to Vernon Cracknell, leader and sole MP of the Social Credit Party. Following the sudden death of Bill Brown, O'Brien unsuccessfully contested the Palmerston North electorate in the 1967 by-election.[1]

Cracknell lost his seat in the 1969 election, and the following year, O'Brien challenged him for the leadership. The contest was bitter, even resulting in brawling between supporters of the two camps. Eventually, O'Brien was successful.

Although a powerful speaker and an energetic organiser, O'Brien was accused by his opponents of being abrasive and overly confrontational. He quickly antagonised many party members, particularly those in the Christchurch branch. O'Brien's leadership of the party lasted only until 1972, when, with Tom Weal, the deputy leader, and others, he quit the party and was replaced by Bruce Beetham.

O'Brien then formed his own group, the New Democratic Party. The New Democrats were one of the larger parties to contest the 1972 election, standing candidates in all but one electorate. In the end, they placed fifth overall, winning 0.66% of the vote. They did not win any seats.

He was from the Palmerston North area. After politics, he ran a shop in Nelson then retired and later died there, aged 65.


  1. ^ Hancock, Mervyn (December 2005). "Joseph Albert Walding : Member of Parliament for Palmerston North 1967–1975 1978–1981" (PDF). Palmerston North Library. Retrieved 25 December 2011. 
  • Obituary in Dominion (Wellington) of 15 October 1990 page 3.