Dove-Myer Robinson

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Sir Dove-Myer Robinson
Dove-Myer Robinson Aotea.jpg
Statue of Sir Dove-Myer Robinson in Aotea Square, Auckland.
32nd Mayor of Auckland City
In office
Preceded by Keith Buttle
Succeeded by Roy McElroy
In office
Preceded by Roy McElroy
Succeeded by Colin Kay
Personal details
Born 15 June 1901
Sheffield, England
Died 14 August 1989(1989-08-14) (aged 88)
Auckland, New Zealand
Nationality  New Zealand

Sir Dove-Myer Robinson (15 June 1901 – 14 August 1989) was Mayor of Auckland City from 1959 to 1965 and from 1968 to 1980, the longest tenure of any holder of the office.[1]

He was a colourful character and became affectionately known across New Zealand as "Robbie".[2] He was one of several Jewish mayors of Auckland, although he rejected Judaism as a teenager and became a lifelong atheist.[3] He has been described as a "slight, bespectacled man whose tiny stature was offset by a booming voice and massive ego".[3]


Born Mayer Dove Robinson in Sheffield, England, he was the sixth of seven children of Ida Brown and Moss Robinson. While his father described himself as a master jeweller, he actually sold trinkets and second-hand furniture, and the family was poor and often on the move. Robinson's mother influenced his upbringing by transmitting the strict values her rabbi father had taught her. His Jewish heritage ensured that he was often targeted by anti-semitic violence in the schools he attended. The family moved to New Zealand in 1914, where his father worked as a pawnbroker. Dove-Myer, as he later called himself (ignoring his Robinson family name), found New Zealand agreeable and lacking in the intermittent persecutions he had previously faced.[3]

Robinson entered politics in the late 1940s when he led the opposition to a sewage dumping scheme that would have discharged untreated effluent into the Hauraki Gulf. When elected in 1953 as a councillor, he proposed and eventually realised a scheme to break down the sewage in oxidation ponds ('Robbie's ponds') near the Manukau Harbour. His success in the scheme later on helped him gain his first mayoralty of Auckland City.[1] It was in his second term as Mayor that he led the push to found the Auckland Regional Council and he went on to be its first chairman.[4]


Dame Barbara Goodman, former Auckland Mayoress and councillor, was his niece, and spearheaded a campaign for the Auckland City Council to build a statue of him in Aotea Square; the statue was completed in 2002.[5]

Mayoral terms[edit]

Robinson lost the 1965 mayoral election by 1134 votes to Roy McElroy, the Citizens and Ratepayers candidate, but in the next election in 1968 he defeated McElroy by 6000 votes.


Robinson died in Auckland on 14 August 1989.


  1. ^ a b Robbie's Ponds (from Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Accessed 2008-06-06.)
  2. ^ Dove-Myer Robinson [with appropriately colourful picture] (from Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Accessed 2008-06-06.)
  3. ^ a b c Robinson, Dove-Myer (entry in the Dictionary of NZ Biography)
  4. ^ John Edgar 2012 Urban Legend Sir Dove-Meyer Robinson. Hodder Moa.
  5. ^ Statue of Sir Dove-Myer Robinson (from the Auckland City Council website. Accessed 2008-06-06.)
Political offices
Preceded by
Keith Buttle
Mayor of Auckland City
Succeeded by
Roy McElroy
Preceded by
Roy McElroy
Succeeded by
Colin Kay