Brian Elwood

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Sir Brian Elwood
President of the International Ombudsman Institute
In office
5th New Zealand Chief Ombudsman
In office
December 1994 – June 2003
Preceded by John Robertson
Succeeded by John Belgrave
23rd Mayor of Palmerston North
In office
Preceded by Desmond Barry Black
Succeeded by Paul Rieger
Personal details
Born Brian George Conway Elwood
5 April 1933
Political party National Party
Profession Barrister

Sir Brian George Conway Elwood CBE JP (born 5 April 1933) is a former New Zealand lawyer, politician, and public servant. He served as mayor of Palmerston North from 1971 to 1985, and was the Chief Ombudsman of New Zealand from December 1994 to June 2003. In the latter role, he was responsible for investigating complaints against central and local government agencies, including Ministers of the Crown.[1]

Early life[edit]

Elwood was educated at Palmerston North Boys' High School.[2]


Elwood is a barrister and solicitor. He was first elected to the Palmerston North City Council in 1968 and became the mayor from 1971 to 1985. He was an executive member of the Municipal Association of New Zealand from 1974 to 1985, and president of the association from 1976 to 1979. Other positions were chairman of the Manawatu United Council, member of the Wellington Harbour Board, Commissioner for the Wellington Area Health Board and a member of the Massey University Council.[3]

Elwood contested the Palmerston North electorate in the 1981 election for the National Party. He was defeated by Labour's Trevor de Cleene, with whom he had a long-standing rivalry.[2]

Elwood was chairman of the Local Government Commission from 1 April 1985 to 1 November 1992.[4] In 1989 this commission undertook a major review of local government in New Zealand. With backing from the Local Government Minister Michael Bassett, the commission reduced the number of councils from more than 800 to fewer than 100.[5] The council decided that the new Regional councils were to be based around watersheds.[6]

Elwood was appointed an ombudsman in November 1992, and Chief Ombudsman in December 1994, holding this position until June 2003. In 1999 he was elected President of the International Ombudsman Institute.[1] In this role, in July 2000 he met with President Chen Shui-bian of Taiwan, discussing human rights protection.[7] He retired from the International Ombudsman Institute in 2002.[3] Speaking to the 9th World Conference of the International Ombudsman Institute in Stockholm in 2009, he attributed the growing acceptance of independent review of government operations to a "shift away from the primacy of nation state towards the primacy of the individual citizen and how they were to be regarded by the nation state".[8]

In 2008 Elwood was chairman of the Waterview Connection Procurement Steering Group, reviewing the feasibility of making a proposed State Highway extension in Auckland a public/private partnership (PPP).[9] The Steering Group's work was praised as providing a model for future PPP projects.[10]



  1. ^ a b "Past Ombudsmen". Office of the Ombudsmen. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Hancock, Mervyn (December 2005). "Trevor Albert De Cleene : Member of Parliament for Palmerston North 1981–1990" (PDF). Palmerston North Library. Retrieved 28 December 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c "Sir Brian Elwood is to retire" (PDF). Office of the Ombudsmen. March 2003. 
  4. ^ "Commission Members since 1947". Local Government Commission. Archived from the original on 7 February 2013. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  5. ^ Brian Rudman (15 August 2007). "Brian Rudman: Sir Brian Elwood struck the right note with big reforms of 19890". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  6. ^ Ron Lambert. "Whangamomona". NZ Geographic. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  7. ^ "President Chen Meets with Sir Brian Elwood". Office of the President, Republic of China (Taiwan). 11 July 2000. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  8. ^ Sir Anand Satyanand (6 May 2010). "Speech to the Australian and New Zealand Ombudsman Association Conference, Wellington". Governor General of New Zealand. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  9. ^ "Waterview Connection PPP Procurement Investigation". Treasury of New Zealand. 26 August 2008. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  10. ^ Annette King (26 August 2008). "Government welcomes steering group finding on Waterview Connection PPP". New Zealand Government. 
  11. ^ London Gazette (supplement), No. 51982, 29 December 1989. Retrieved 10 January 2013.
  12. ^ London Gazette (supplement), No. 49970, 28 December 1984. Retrieved 3 February 2013.
Government offices
Preceded by
John Robertson
New Zealand Chief Ombudsman
Succeeded by
John Belgrave
Political offices
Preceded by
Desmond Barry Black
Mayor of Palmerston North
Succeeded by
Paul Rieger