Colin Moyle

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Colin Moyle

Colin Moyle.jpg
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries
In office
Prime MinisterNorman Kirk, Bill Rowling
Preceded byDouglas Carter (Agriculture) Peter Gordon (Fisheries)
Succeeded byDuncan MacIntyre
Minister of Forests
In office
Prime MinisterNorman Kirk, Bill Rowling
Preceded byDuncan MacIntyre
Succeeded byVenn Young
Minister of Agriculture
In office
Prime MinisterDavid Lange, Geoffrey Palmer
Preceded byDuncan MacIntyre
Succeeded byWilliam Sutton
Minister of Fisheries
In office
Prime MinisterDavid Lange, Geoffrey Palmer
Preceded byDuncan MacIntyre
Succeeded byKen Shirley
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Manukau
In office
Preceded byLeon Götz
Succeeded byRoger Douglas
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Mangere
In office
Preceded byNew electorate
Succeeded byDavid Lange
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Hunua
In office
Preceded byWinston Peters
Succeeded bySeat abolished
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Otara
In office
Preceded byNew electorate
Succeeded byTaito Phillip Field
Personal details
Colin James Moyle

(1929-06-18) 18 June 1929 (age 90)
Thames, New Zealand
Political partyLabour

Colin James Moyle CBE (born 18 July 1929) is a former politician of the New Zealand Labour Party. He was a Government Minister in the Third Labour and Fourth Labour Governments. In the Fourth Labour Government he oversaw the removal of farming subsidies and the establishment of a fisheries quota system.

Early years[edit]

Moyle was born on 18 July 1929 in Thames.[1] Before entering parliament, Moyle was a secondary school teacher and also had a dairy farm.[2]

Moyle joined the Labour Party and was president of the Hobson Labour Representation Committee for two years. He then became secretary of the Labour Party's Regional Advisory Committee and later a national organiser for the party. He also helped organise the publishing of the party newspaper The Statesman.[3]

Member of Parliament[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1963–1966 34th Manukau Labour
1966–1969 35th Manukau Labour
1969–1972 36th Mangere Labour
1972–1975 37th Mangere Labour
1975–1977 38th Mangere Labour
1981–1984 40th Hunua Labour
1984–1987 41st Otara Labour
1987–1990 42nd Otara Labour

MP and Minister, 1963–75[edit]

Moyle stood unsuccessfully for the Hobson electorate in 1957

He first entered parliament in the 1963 general election, as a Labour MP for the South Auckland electorate of Manukau. In 1969 the Mangere electorate was created in the same general area, and Moyle moved his candidacy there, allowing Roger Douglas to take over Manukau. Moyle was elected for Mangere in the 1969 election, and would hold the electorate for another eight years.[4]

In the 1972 general election, the Labour Party came to power for the first time in over a decade, forming the Third Labour Government led by Norman Kirk. Moyle was appointed to the Ministerial positions of Agriculture and Fisheries, Forests, and Science. In September 1975 he also became Minister responsible for the newly formed Rural Banking and Finance Corporation.[5] He was generally well-regarded, especially as Minister of Agriculture. He was 'enduringly popular with the farming community',[6] and was instrumental in opening up New Zealand's meat trade with the Middle East.[7] As Minister of Forests, Moyle also helped preserve the remaining stands of giant kauri.[8]

In August 1974, Kirk died suddenly, and Bill Rowling took over as Prime Minister and Labour Party leader.

Opposition and the Moyle affair[edit]

Labour lost power in the 1975 general election, bringing to power the Third National Government led by Robert Muldoon. Many within Labour were dissatisfied with their party's performance under Rowling, and began a campaign to replace him. According to political commentator Bruce Jesson, Moyle was the preferred candidate due to his strong performance as Minister of Agriculture.[9] However any potential leadership coup was derailed due to what became known as 'the Moyle Affair' of 1977.

Muldoon accused Moyle in Parliament of having been questioned by the police on suspicion of homosexual activities, which were then illegal in New Zealand. After changing his story several times, Moyle resigned from Parliament. He later said that he had not been obliged to resign, but had done so because "the whole thing just made me sick".[10] It has been suggested that Muldoon saw him as a leadership threat and acted accordingly.[11] Ironically, the subsequent 1977 by-election was won by David Lange, and the attention that this got him helped propel him to the leadership of the Labour Party and his landslide victory over Muldoon in the 1984 election. In a 1990 interview, Moyle said that the scandal had made him a "sadder and wiser person".[10]

Re-election and new Ministerial career[edit]

In the 1978 election, Moyle stood for and failed to win the Whangarei electorate. In the 1981 election, Moyle stood for and won the Hunua electorate. This was abolished before the 1984 election, and Moyle stood for, and won, the new electorate of Otara, which he held until his retirement in 1990.[4] In 1984 Labour was again returned to power, forming the Fourth Labour Government under David Lange. As one of the few Labour MPs with Ministerial experience, Moyle was reappointed to Cabinet, again holding the portfolios of Agriculture and Fisheries (now separate departments) and regaining charge of the Rural Banking and Finance Corporation.[12]

The government's policy was market liberal and reformist. Driven by Finance Minister Roger Douglas, it embarked on a programme, known as Rogernomics, aimed at deregulating the economy. Moyle's portfolio of Agriculture was strongly affected by this, as the farming sector had been one of New Zealand's most heavily subsidised. In the 1982-83 financial year, for example, it has been estimated that farm subsidies cost 'well over' a billion New Zealand dollars.[13] Under the Fourth Labour Government, virtually all state financial assistance was removed from agriculture.[14] Moyle was a supporter of the reforms,[7] but was not associated with them to the same extent as many of his colleagues despite their effect on his portfolio.[15]

The fishing industry was also overhauled at this time. In particular, a Quota Management System was introduced in order to manage the country's fishing stocks. Because this initially made little provision for traditional or other Māori fishing rights, it was challenged by the Waitangi Tribunal and several iwi.[16] Under Moyle, a Maori Fisheries Act was introduced to deal with this, recognising Māori rights to a share of fisheries and the fishing industry.[17]

Although involved in several important reforms, Moyle had a low profile in the government, avoiding publicity.[7] At the 1987 election he had announced that he would probably retire from parliament at the 1990 election, and in 1989 he confirmed this.[18] Along with other Ministers who had announced their retirement, Moyle was dropped from Cabinet by Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer in early 1990. He had wanted to keep his Ministerial position until that year's election in order to complete the restructuring of the meat industry.[7]

In the June 1990 Queen's Birthday Honours List, Moyle was appointed a CBE for public service.[19]

Life outside politics[edit]

Moyle is a convert to Roman Catholicism.[2]

References and notes[edit]


  1. ^ Lambert 1981, p. 453.
  2. ^ a b Hayward 1981, p. 103.
  3. ^ "Lives of 11 New Members". The New Zealand Herald. 2 December 1963. p. 5.
  4. ^ a b Wood 1996, p. 98.
  5. ^ Wood 1996, p. 59.
  6. ^ Calder and Tyson 1999, p. 19.
  7. ^ a b c d The Evening Post. 25 August 1990. p. 25. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ Hayward 1981, p. 131.
  9. ^ Metro: 142. November 1988. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ a b "Interview with Colin Moyle". The Evening Post. 25 August 1990. p. 25.
  11. ^ Lange 2005, p. Chapter 7.
  12. ^ Wood 1996, p. 68.
  13. ^ McLauchlan 2006, p. 154.
  14. ^ Rudd 1990, pp. 93f.
  15. ^ Lange 2005, p. 253.
  16. ^ Sharp 1990, p. 262.
  17. ^ Johnson 2004, p. 395–397.
  18. ^ The Evening Post. 5 September 1989. p. 1. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  19. ^ 1990 Queen's Birthday Honours List


  • Calder, Mick; Tyson, Janet (1999). Meat Acts: The New Zealand Meat Industry 1972–1997. Wellington: Meat New Zealand.
  • Hayward, Margaret (1981). Diary of the Kirk Years. Queen Charlotte Sound and Wellington: Cape Catley.
  • Johnson, David (2004). Hooked: The Story of the New Zealand Fishing Industry. Christchurch: Hazard Press.
  • Lambert, Max, ed. (1981). Who's Who in New Zealand (12th ed.). Wellington: Reed.
  • Lange, David (2005). My Life. ISBN 0-670-04556-X.
  • McLauchlan, Gordon (2006). The Farming of New Zealand (2nd ed.). Auckland: Penguin.
  • Rudd, Chris (1990). "The role of the state in the New Zealand economy". In Holland, Martin; Boston, Jonathan (eds.). The Fourth Labour Government: Politics and Policy in New Zealand (2nd ed.). Auckland: Oxford University Press.
  • Sharp, Andrew (1990). "The problem of Maori Affairs, 1984–1989". In Holland, Martin; Boston, Jonathan (eds.). The Fourth Labour Government: Politics and Policy in New Zealand (2nd ed.). Auckland: Oxford University Press.
  • Wood, G. A. (1996). Ministers and Members in the New Zealand Parliament. Dunedin: Oxford University Press.
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Leon Götz
Member of Parliament for Manukau
Succeeded by
Roger Douglas
New constituency Member of Parliament for Mangere
Succeeded by
David Lange
Preceded by
Winston Peters
Member of Parliament for Hunua
Constituency abolished, recreated in 1996
Title next held by
Warren Kyd
New constituency Member of Parliament for Otara
Succeeded by
Trevor Rogers