Catherine Isaac

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Catherine Isaac is a past president of the New Zealand political party ACT, and managing director of Awaroa Partners. She was formerly director of JM Communications. After a previous divorce from diplomat Hugo Judd, she married former Business Roundtable director Roger Kerr in 2010.[1]

Early life[edit]

Isaac was raised in Christchurch and completed a BA in English and Languages at the University of Canterbury in 1970.[citation needed] She is the niece of Diana Isaac.[2]

Career prior to presidency of ACT New Zealand[edit]

Isaac was communications and public affairs manager for the National Provident Fund through its extensive restructuring from 1988 to 1991. In the 18 month lead-up to the completion of the NPF tender process Isaac was also General Manager, Regional Operations, responsible for management of six regional offices and five branch offices.[3]

She worked for four years as a communications consultant to the New Zealand Treasury, the GST Launch Team and various ministers of the crown.[citation needed]

Prior to that, Isaac worked for three years as a public relations and communications consultant for a Washington DC consultancy. She spent three years working as a current affairs journalist for Television New Zealand and four years in documentary film production with the New Zealand National Film Unit.[citation needed]

Isaac was a member of the Board of the Wellington Community Trust from 1999 to 2003.[4]

She was a founding director of the St Lukes' Group from 1993 to 1996. From 1990 to 1994 she was a Trustee of the Royal New Zealand Ballet. From 1995 to 2001 she served on the Board of Trustees of Wellington College.[5]

Presidency of ACT New Zealand, 2001–2006[edit]

Isaac was elected President of ACT New Zealand in March 2001. Her bid for the presidency was support by the founders of ACT, Sir Roger Douglas and Derek Quigley.[6] A key feature of her presidency was the Liberal Project, which was designed to focus the party on its classical liberal roots.[7] However her moves to get the party more focussed on liberal issues were relatively unsuccessful, and in the 2002 election the party largely repeated its socially conservative positions which it had used in 1999.[8]

Isaac was one of a handful of people that Richard Prebble confided in prior to announcing to the ACT caucus on 27 April 2004 that he intended to retire as leader of the party.[1] Isaac oversaw the membership primary [2] that the party ran to assist in selecting a new leader. Rodney Hide was selected following the primary [3] and a caucus vote [4].

Isaac announced publicly in January 2006 that she would not be standing for re-election as party president.[9] She stepped down at the March 2006 annual conference and was replaced by Hamilton businessman Garry Mallett.[citation needed]

Since retiring as president of ACT[edit]

In 2007, a number of newspapers speculated that Isaac would run for the mayoralty of Wellington, however, this did not occur.[citation needed]

Isaac stood for parliament in the 2011 election. She was ranked second on ACT's party list, but did not stand as an electorate candidate because of her husband's illness.[10][11] Because of ACT's low vote-share, she was not elected to Parliament.

Isaac has been involved in a number of National Government's initiatives, including the Welfare Working Group, and the Partnership Schools/Kura Hourua Working Group. She is currently Chair of the Kura Hourua Authorisation Board.[12]


  1. ^ Matthews, Philip (7 April 2012). "A controversial way of learning". The Press. 
  2. ^ "Diana, Lady Isaac dies". The Press. 24 November 2012. Retrieved 24 November 2012. 
  3. ^ "Catherine Isaac". ACT. Retrieved 23 October 2011. 
  4. ^ "Catherine Isaac". Victoria University of Wellington. Retrieved 28 June 2014. 
  5. ^ Kate Shuttleworth. "Banks announces charter schools authorisation board". NZ Herald. Retrieved 28 June 2014. 
  6. ^ Armstrong, John (12 March 2001). "Douglas' choice cruises in". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 19 July 2010. 
  7. ^ "Act contemplates future under a Liberal banner". The New Zealand Herald. 12 November 2002. Retrieved 2 May 2014. 
  8. ^ Edwards, Brian (7 April 2009). "[Act Party history] 28: The Liberal Project". Liberation. Retrieved 2 May 2014. 
  9. ^ "Act members to elect new president". The New Zealand Herald. 20 January 2006. Retrieved 2 May 2014. 
  10. ^ "ACT Confirms List Positions". ACT New Zealand. 10 October 2011. 
  11. ^ "Catherine Isaac back as ACT candidate". Stuff. 20 October 2011. 
  12. ^ "Awaroa Partners: Our Team". Awaroa Partners. Retrieved 2 May 2014. 

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