Fran Wilde

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Dame Fran Wilde
Fran Wilde 2017.jpg
Wilde in 2017
5th Chairperson of the Wellington Regional Council
In office
30 October 2007 – 30 June 2015
Preceded byIan Buchanan
Succeeded byChris Laidlaw
31st Mayor of Wellington
In office
10 October 1992 – 14 October 1995
DeputyDavid Watt
Preceded byJim Belich
Succeeded byMark Blumsky
28th Minister of Tourism
In office
24 August 1989 – 2 November 1990
Prime MinisterGeoffrey Palmer
Mike Moore
Preceded byJonathan Hunt
Succeeded byJohn Banks
2nd Minister of Disarmament and Arms Control
In office
24 August 1989 – 2 November 1990
Prime MinisterGeoffrey Palmer
Mike Moore
Preceded byRussell Marshall
Succeeded byDoug Graham
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Wellington Central
In office
28 November 1981 – 10 October 1992
Preceded byKen Comber
Succeeded byChris Laidlaw
Personal details
Frances Helen Kitching

(1948-11-11) 11 November 1948 (age 74)
Wellington, New Zealand
Political partyLabour
Alma materVictoria University

Dame Frances Helen Wilde DNZM QSO (née Kitching, born 11 November 1948) is a New Zealand politician, and former Wellington Labour member of parliament, Minister of Tourism and Mayor of Wellington. She was the first woman to serve as Mayor of Wellington. She was chairperson of the Greater Wellington Regional Council from 2007 until 2015, and since 2019 she has chaired the board of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

Early life and career[edit]

Wilde was born Frances Helen Kitching on 11 November 1948 in Wellington, New Zealand.[1] She attended St Mary's College and later at Wellington Polytechnic (gaining a diploma in journalism) and Victoria University (graduating with a degree in political science). Upon finishing her education Wilde gained employment as a journalist.[2]

In 1968, she married Geoffrey Gilbert Wilde, and the couple went on to have three children before divorcing in 1983.[1]

She joined the Labour Party in 1972 and was later the editor of the party newsletter, New Nation. She later became the chairperson of the electorate in which she resided and a member of Labour's executive council in the Wellington region.[2]

Political career[edit]

Member of Parliament and Minister[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1981–1984 40th Wellington Central Labour
1984–1987 41st Wellington Central Labour
1987–1990 42nd Wellington Central Labour
1990–1992 43rd Wellington Central Labour

Wilde was a Member of Parliament for the Wellington Central seat, winning it from sitting National MP Ken Comber in the 1981 general election. In 1983 she was appointed as Labour's spokesperson for State Services by Labour leader David Lange.[3] Wilde retained the seat at the subsequent 1984 general election.[4] She was Labour's junior Parliamentary Whip from 1984 to 1987.[5]

In 1985, Wilde moved what became the Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986, which legalised homosexual acts in New Zealand between consenting men. The 16-month debate about the bill polarised the country, and sparked violent demonstrations and angry rallies at Parliament. Her other main legislative achievement in Parliament was an Adoption Reform Act, which made it possible for adopted people and their birth-parents to contact each other.[2]

From 1987 Wilde served as an Associate Minister outside Cabinet in the Foreign Affairs, Housing, Conservation and Pacific Island Affairs portfolios and Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control in the second term of the Fourth Labour Government. When Geoffrey Palmer became Prime Minister, Wilde was promoted into Cabinet and appointed Minister of Tourism alongside her continuing roles as Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control and Associate Minister of External Affairs and Trade. Between 1990 and 1992, in opposition, she was Labour's spokesperson for Tourism, Disarmament and Ethnic Affairs.[6][7]

Mayor of Wellington[edit]

Fran Wilde Walk, the accessway to Sky Stadium

In 1992 she resigned from Parliament to stand for Mayor of Wellington.[8] Her seat was retained by Labour, with Chris Laidlaw winning the 1992 by-election caused by Wilde's resignation.[9] She won the Mayoralty, and remained in office until 1995 when she chose to retire. During her time as Mayor, Wilde worked to improve Wellington's image and continuing on from the city's strong anti-nuclear sentiments she declared Wellington a Peace Capital in 1993. Wilde also spearheaded initiatives like the planning and construction of the WestpacTrust Stadium which features an elevated accessway to its entrance known as the "Fran Wilde Walk" which was opened in June 2005.[10]

After leaving the mayoralty Wilde was appointed the chair of the Housing New Zealand board and, from 1997 to 2003, chief executive of Trade New Zealand.

Greater Wellington Regional Council[edit]

Wilde returned to local politics in 2004, successfully contesting a seat on the Wellington Regional Council. It had been suggested that she would retire after a single term;[11] however, Wilde was re-elected to the Regional Council in 2007[12] and was elected, by her fellow councillors, the chair of the council on 30 October that year.[13] She was returned as both a councillor and the chair in 2010 and 2013.

Wilde was a strong proponent of the super city proposal for Wellington. When the Local Government Commission rejected the proposal, Wilde received a letter signed by nine of her fellow councillors asking her to stand down as chair. Wilde stepped down from the chair's position from 30 June 2015, but remained a regional councillor.[14] She was succeeded as chair by Chris Laidlaw[15] and did not stand for re-election in 2016.

District Health Board[edit]

Wilde contested and was elected to the Capital and Coast District Health Board in 2016[16] and was appointed the deputy chair of the board.[17] Wilde did not seek re-election in 2019.

Career after politics[edit]

Following her departure from the Regional Council, Wilde was appointed as the Chair of the Remuneration Authority.[10] She has also served as the deputy chair and acting chair of the NZ Transport Agency.[18][19]

Wilde was appointed to the board of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in 2015.[20] She became the board's deputy chair in January 2019, and has been its chair since 1 July 2019.[20]

Wilde is on the board of Kiwi Can Do, an organisation which helps unemployed New Zealanders get back into work.[21]


In 1993, Wilde was awarded the New Zealand Suffrage Centennial Medal.[22] Wilde was appointed a Companion of the Queen's Service Order for public services in the 1996 New Year Honours;[23] a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2012 New Year Honours for services to local-body affairs and the community;[24] and a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2017 for services to the State and the community.[25]


She has three adult children from her first marriage to Geoffrey Wilde. Her husband Christopher Kelly, a former veterinary surgeon, was CEO of Landcorp.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Taylor, Alister, ed. (2001). "New Zealand Who's Who Aotearoa 2001". New Zealand Who's Who, Aotearoa. Auckland: Alister Taylor Publishers: 941. ISSN 1172-9813.
  2. ^ a b c Who's Who 1990, p. 71.
  3. ^ "Labour leader allocates responsibilities". The Press. 17 March 1983. p. 3.
  4. ^ Norton 1988, pp. 387.
  5. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 280.
  6. ^ "All Labour's 29 MPs get areas of responsibility". Otago Daily Times. 28 November 1990. p. 4.
  7. ^ "Labour line-up". The New Zealand Herald. 6 December 1991. p. 5.
  8. ^ Bly, Ross (1992). City of Wellington: Local Body Elections, 1992 (Report). Wellington City Council.
  9. ^ "By-election Special". The Evening Post. 14 December 1992. pp. 23–4.
  10. ^ a b Maxwell, Joel; Mussen, Deidre (8 December 2015). "Fran Wilde to ditch Greater Wellington Regional Council to become politicians' paymaster". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  11. ^ "King announces transport appointments". The Beehive. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  12. ^ "Election results 2007". Greater Wellington Regional Council. 15 October 2007. Archived from the original on 28 October 2007. Retrieved 16 October 2007.
  13. ^ Newstalk ZB (30 October 2007). "Wilde elected Wellington regional council chair". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 30 October 2007.
  14. ^ "Councillors force Wilde to step down". The Press. 15 June 2015. p. A4.
  15. ^ "Chris Laidlaw chosen as chairman of Greater Wellington Regional Council". The Dominion Post. 26 October 2016. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  16. ^ " » Fran Wilde elected to health board". Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  17. ^ "Deloitte Top 200: Dame Fran Wilde – Visionary Leader for getting things done". The New Zealand Herald. 5 December 2019. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  18. ^ "Appointments to New Zealand Transport Agency Board". The Beehive. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  19. ^ "New Zealand Transport Agency Chair appointed". The Beehive. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  20. ^ a b "Dame Fran Wilde appointed as Chair of Te Papa's board". Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. 3 July 2019. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  21. ^ "About".
  22. ^ "The New Zealand Suffrage Centennial Medal 1993 – register of recipients". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 26 July 2018. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  23. ^ "No. 54256". The London Gazette (2nd supplement). 30 December 1995. p. 34.
  24. ^ "New Year honours list 2012". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 31 December 2011. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  25. ^ "New Year Honours List 2017". New Zealand Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 30 December 2016. Retrieved 30 December 2016.


  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103.
  • Norton, Clifford (1988). New Zealand Parliamentary Election Results 1946–1987: Occasional Publications No 1, Department of Political Science. Wellington: Victoria University of Wellington. ISBN 0-475-11200-8.
  • Who's Who in the New Zealand Parliament 1990. Wellington: Parliamentary Service. 1990.

External links[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Wellington Central
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Minister of Disarmament and Arms Control
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Tourism
Succeeded by
Preceded by Mayor of Wellington
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Ian Buchanan
Chairperson of the Wellington Regional Council
Succeeded by