Terry McCombs

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The Honourable
Sir Terry McCombs
Terence McCombs, 1936.jpg
Terence McCombs in 1936
24th Minister of Education
In office
18 October 1947 – 13 December 1949
Prime Minister Peter Fraser
Preceded by Rex Mason
Succeeded by Ronald Algie
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Lyttelton
In office
1935 – 1951
Preceded by Elizabeth McCombs
Succeeded by Harry Lake
15th High Commissioner from New Zealand to the United Kingdom
In office
Monarch Elizabeth II
Preceded by Merwyn Norrish
Succeeded by Hugh Watt
Personal details
Born (1905-09-05)5 September 1905
Christchurch, New Zealand
Died 6 November 1982(1982-11-06) (aged 77)
Political party Labour
Relations Father - James McCombs
Mother - Elizabeth McCombs
Profession School teacher and headmaster

Sir Terence "Terry" Henderson McCombs OBE ED (5 September 1905 – 6 November 1982) was a New Zealand politician of the Labour Party, a High Commissioner, and the first principal of Cashmere High School.

Early life[edit]

McCombs was born in 1905.[1] His parents, Elizabeth McCombs (née Henderson) and James McCombs, were both socialists. Between them, his parents represented the Lyttelton electorate from 1913 to 1935.[1][2][3] McCombs was educated at Christchurch Boys' High School and Waitaki Boys' High School and graduated from Canterbury University College with MSc(Hons) in chemistry in 1929.[4][5] He was appointed as a teacher at Seddon Memorial Technical College in Auckland in 1934.[6]

Member of Parliament[edit]

Parliament of New Zealand
Years Term Electorate Party
1935 24th Lyttelton Labour
1935–1938 25th Lyttelton Labour
1938–1943 26th Lyttelton Labour
1943–1946 27th Lyttelton Labour
1946–1949 28th Lyttelton Labour
1949–1951 29th Lyttelton Labour

He represented the Lyttelton electorate from 1935, when he won the by-election following his mother's death, until he was defeated in the bitter 1951 election.[1]

He was Minister of Education from 1947 to 1949, near the end of the term of the First Labour Government.[7]

Later life[edit]

In 1936, McCombs was appointed to the Canterbury University College Council, and he remained a member until 1947, when he became Minister of Education.[8] As Minister of Education, he was involved on behalf of the Government in the purchase of the Ilam campus for the university.[9] In the centennial history of the university, it is stated that "Canterbury has never enjoyed greater ministerial support than it did from McCombs".[10] In 1957, he again became a member of the council; in the meantime, the name of the institution had been changed to University of Canterbury.[11] He was Chancellor of the University of Canterbury from 1968 to 1971.[12]

After his defeat in 1951, McCombs returned to teaching. His wife died in 1952, and he became a solo parent with four school-age children. In 1956, he became the founding headmaster of Cashmere High School in Christchurch.[13]

From 1973 to 1975 he was New Zealand's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.[14]

He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to education in the 1971 Queen's Birthday Honours[15] and a Knight Bachelor in April 1975.[16]


  1. ^ a b c Wilson 1985, p. 214.
  2. ^ Garner, Jean. "McCombs, Elizabeth Reid". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  3. ^ Garner, Jean. "McCombs, James". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 28 January 2011. 
  4. ^ "Labour's choice". Auckland Star. 21 June 1935. p. 3. Retrieved 19 April 2014. 
  5. ^ "NZ university graduates 1870–1961: Mc". Retrieved 19 April 2014. 
  6. ^ "Technical College". New Zealand Herald. 23 March 1934. p. 11. Retrieved 19 April 2014. 
  7. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 84.
  8. ^ Gardner et al 1973, pp. 336, 454.
  9. ^ Gardner et al 1973, p. 336.
  10. ^ Gardner et al 1973, p. 338.
  11. ^ Gardner et al 1973, p. 454.
  12. ^ Gardner et al 1973, p. 451.
  13. ^ "School History". Cashmere High School. Retrieved 30 December 2011. 
  14. ^ "Heads of Missions List: U". New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. 8 July 2006. Archived from the original on 30 September 2006. 
  15. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 45386. p. 5998. 12 June 1971. Retrieved 19 April 2014.
  16. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 46549. p. 5021. 18 April 1975. Retrieved 19 April 2014.


  • Gardner, W. J.; Beardsley, E. T.; Carter, T. E. (1973). Phillips, Neville Crompton, ed. A History of the University of Canterbury, 1873–1973. Christchurch: University of Canterbury. 
  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First published in 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103. 
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Elizabeth McCombs
Member of Parliament for Lyttelton
Succeeded by
Harry Lake
Political offices
Preceded by
Rex Mason
Minister of Education
Succeeded by
Ronald Algie
Academic offices
Preceded by
Alwyn Warren
Chancellor of the University of Canterbury
Succeeded by
John Matson
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Denis Blundell
Merwyn Norrish (acting)
High Commissioner of New Zealand to the United Kingdom
Succeeded by
Hugh Watt