Norman Douglas (New Zealand politician)

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Norman Vazey Douglas, QSO (15 March 1910[1] – 26 August 1985) was a New Zealand trade unionist and left-wing politician. He joined the New Zealand Labour Party in 1932, but when John A. Lee was expelled from the party in 1940, Douglas followed to join the new Democratic Labour Party. He rejoined the Labour Party in 1952 and represented the Auckland Central electorate in Parliament from 1960 until his retirement in 1975, serving time on the Opposition front bench.


Douglas was born in Hikurangi in 1910, the son of a policeman. He lost his left arm in a duck-shooting accident in 1927. Joining the Grey Lynn branch of the Labour Party in 1932, he became a close friend of Member of Parliament (MP) John A. Lee (who lost his left arm in World War I). He became president of the branch in 1935. That same year he was elected to the Auckland City Council for Labour and served three years until Labour's defeat. He became the assistant secretary of the Auckland Coach and Car Builders' Union and the Auckland Brewers', Wine and Spirit Merchants' Employees' Union in 1936, and then secretary of both unions the following year, remaining in that post for the latter union until 1963. He was secretary of the Auckland Trades Council from 1939 to 1941 and led the Labour Party's Junior Labour League.[1]

When Lee was expelled from the Labour Party in 1940, Douglas left also and helped him set up the Democratic Labour Party. He was a member of the party's national executive and edited John A. Lee's Weekly. He ran for Parliament in 1941 and 1943 but was defeated. He operated a bookselling business for about 15 years from 1944, first with Lee and then on his own after he and Lee fell out in 1954.[1]

Member of Parliament[edit]

Parliament of New Zealand
Years Term Electorate Party
1960–63 33rd Auckland Central Labour
1963–66 34th Auckland Central Labour
1966–69 35th Auckland Central Labour
1969–72 36th Auckland Central Labour
1972–75 37th Auckland Central Labour

Douglas rejoined the Labour Party in 1952. When his father-in-law Bill Anderton, Labour MP for Auckland Central, retired from Parliament in 1960, Douglas was elected in his place. He served as president of the Labour Party from 1966 to 1970, and sat on the Opposition front bench as spokesperson for education, social security and industrial relations from 1967 to 1972. When Labour came to power in 1972, Douglas missed selection for cabinet and took himself to the back benches in disappointment. He retired from Parliament at the 1975 general election.[1][2]

Family and death[edit]

Douglas married Dorothy Jennie Anderton, a daughter of fellow politician Bill Anderton, in 1937. They had one daughter and three sons.[1] Two sons, Roger Douglas and Malcolm Douglas, also became Labour MPs, the former becoming Minister of Finance and later founder and leader of the right-wing ACT New Zealand party.

Douglas was awarded a QSO in 1976. He died in Auckland in 1985.


  1. ^ a b c d e Hudson, Switzer. "Douglas, Norman Vazey 1910 - 1985". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  2. ^ Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103. 

External links[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Bill Anderton
Member of Parliament for Auckland Central
Succeeded by
Richard Prebble