Damien O'Connor

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The Honourable
Damien O'Connor
Damien O'Connor.jpg
Minister of Tourism
In office
19 October 2005 – 19 November 2008
Prime Minister Helen Clark
Succeeded by John Key
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for West Coast
In office
1993 – 1996
Preceded by Margaret Moir
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for West Coast-Tasman
In office
1996 – 2008
Succeeded by Chris Auchinvole
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Labour Party list
In office
2009 – 2011
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for West Coast-Tasman
Assumed office
Preceded by Chris Auchinvole
Personal details
Born (1958-01-16) 16 January 1958 (age 59)
Nationality New Zealand
Political party Labour
Committees Primary Production Committee
Religion Roman Catholic

Damien Peter O'Connor (born 16 January 1958) is a New Zealand politician from the West Coast of the South Island. He is a member of the Labour Party and a Member of Parliament.

Early years[edit]

O'Connor was born in Westport in 1958.[1] He attended primary school in his home town before going on to St Bede's College, Christchurch, a Roman Catholic school, and Lincoln University.[citation needed]

Before becoming an MP, he worked in a variety of jobs in farming and tourism. During a five-year stint in Australia, he worked as a machinery operator and in sales. On his return to New Zealand he established Buller Adventure Tours, an adventure tourism company, which he owned and operated in a partnership.[citation needed]

Member of Parliament[edit]

Parliament of New Zealand
Years Term Electorate List Party
1993–1996 44th West Coast Labour
1996–1999 45th West Coast-Tasman 32 Labour
1999–2002 46th West Coast-Tasman none Labour
2002–2005 47th West Coast-Tasman none Labour
2005–2008 48th West Coast-Tasman none Labour
2009–2011 49th List 37 Labour
2011–2014 50th West Coast-Tasman none Labour
2014–present 51st West Coast-Tasman 22 Labour

He was first elected to Parliament in the 1993 election, recapturing the West Coast seat after the upset victory of National's Margaret Moir in the 1990 election.

He won the reconfigured West Coast-Tasman seat in the 1996 election, and was the MP for the electorate until 2008.

O'Connor is regarded as being on the right of the Labour Party and has, with permission, voted against his colleagues on at least one occasion.[citation needed]

He was the Minister of Rural Affairs, the Minister of Tourism, Minister of Immigration and Associate Minister of Health.

At the 2008 general election O'Connor was beaten by National candidate Chris Auchinvole, who had previously been a list MP. Auchinvole's majority was 971.[2] His position on the Labour Party list meant that O'Connor couldn't return to Parliament immediately. When the list MP Michael Cullen retired in May 2009, O'Connor regained his position as Member of the House of Representatives because he was the highest-ranked candidate on the list not already an MP.[3]

In the 49th Parliament of New Zealand, O'Connor was Labour's spokesperson for Rural Affairs, Spokesperson for Biosecurity and Associate Spokesperson for Agriculture. For the election of the 50th New Zealand Parliament O'Connor announced he would only contest the electorate and not seek another selection for the list.[citation needed]

In April 2011 O'Connor attracted criticism from Labour Party leader Phil Goff after describing the list MP selection process as being run by "self-serving unionists and a gaggle of gays."[4]

At the 2011 general election O'Connor regained the West Coast-Tasman electorate from National's Chris Auchinvole with a majority of 2287 votes.[4] He is currently the Labour spokesperson for Primary Industries, Biosecurity and Food Safety.[5]

In 2012, O'Connor voted against the passing the first reading of the Marriage Equality Bill which aims to permit gay marriage in New Zealand.[6]

In the 2014 election, O'Connor defended a challenge by former Mayor of Westland District, Maureen Pugh.[7]

Business activities[edit]

O'Connor is past president of the Buller Promotion Association, a member of the West Coast Tourism Development Group, a member of the West Coast Business Development Board and a founding director of Buller Community Development Company. He also won West Coast Young Farmer of the Year.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "New Zealand Official Yearbook 1997". Statistics New Zealand. Archived from the original on 1 May 2012. Retrieved 27 October 2012. 
  2. ^ "Official Count Results -- West Coast-Tasman". Chief Electoral Office, Wellington. Retrieved 21 November 2011. 
  3. ^ "O'Connor to return to Parliament". Radio New Zealand. 13 April 2009. Archived from the original on 5 May 2009. 
  4. ^ a b Basham, Laura (28 November 2011). "Time for action to stop asset sales, says O'Connor". Retrieved 20 September 2014. 
  5. ^ "Damien O'Connor". New Zealand Labour Party. Archived from the original on 24 September 2014. Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  6. ^ "Marriage equality bill: How MPs voted". The New Zealand Herald. 29 August 2012. Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  7. ^ Mathewson, Nicole; Stylianou, Georgina; Fulton, Tim (21 September 2014). "Election 2014: Canterbury decides". The Press. Retrieved 21 September 2014. 

External links[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Margaret Moir
Member of Parliament for West Coast
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament
for West Coast-Tasman

Succeeded by
Chris Auchinvole
Preceded by
Chris Auchinvole
Political offices
Preceded by
Paul Swain
Minister of Corrections
Succeeded by
Phil Goff