Frank Kitts

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Sir Frank Kitts
Frank Kitts Portrait.jpg
27th Mayor of Wellington
In office
Preceded by Robert Macalister
Succeeded by Michael Fowler
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Wellington Central
In office
Preceded by Charles Henry Chapman
Succeeded by Dan Riddiford
Personal details
Born 1 May 1912
Waimate, New Zealand
Died 16 March 1979(1979-03-16) (aged 66)
Wellington, New Zealand
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Iris May Woodcock

Sir Francis "Frank" Joseph Kitts (1 May 1912 – 16 March 1979) was a New Zealand politician. He was the longest-serving mayor of Wellington, holding the post from 1956 to 1974. He was the Labour Member of Parliament for Wellington Central between 1954 and 1960.


Early life[edit]

Kitts was born in Waimate, the son of an Australian quarryman, and educated at Timaru Boys' High School. He joined the Timaru branch of the Labour Party at 13 or 16, and was branch president at 22.[1] In 1938 Kitts stood unsuccessfully for the Timaru Borough Council as a Labour candidate.[2] Later, he moved to Wellington, working for the Government Stores Board. Newspaper reports after his death say he was a "man of mystery" as little is known about his early life,[3][4] and his Who’s Who in New Zealand entries in 1971 and 1978 both start with his election to Wellington local bodies in 1950. Kitts enlisted in the Royal New Zealand Air Force in July 1940 during World War II.[5]

Political career[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1954–1957 31st Wellington Central Labour
1957–1960 32nd Wellington Central Labour

Kitts stood unsuccessfully for Labour in two elections, in 1949 for Waitomo, and in 1951 for Mount Victoria. He was finally elected as the Member of Parliament for Wellington Central from 1954 to replace the retiring Charles Henry Chapman. He was to hold the seat to 1960, when he was defeated by the National candidate Dan Riddiford.[6]

Kitts was on the Wellington City Council from 1950 to 1956, when he became Mayor. In 1950 the Labour Party had no obvious mayoral candidate, and Labour councillor Gerald O'Brien suggested to Kitts, then a civil servant, that he should stand. Kitts was the highest-polling councillor, although he did not win the mayoralty until 1956. Like Norman Kirk, also from Waimate, he was a big man, using his imposing six foot two inch, 17 stone frame to overshadow his opponents. [7]

He also served on the Wellington Fire Board from 1954, and the Wellington Hospital Board from 1950 to 1956, and the Wellington Harbour Board from 1950 until his death in 1979.

Kitts was known for his tireless public service, which continued after his retirement, including helping Wellington's immigrant community. In the 1966 New Year Honours, he was appointed a Knight Bachelor for services as mayor of Wellington.[8]

Frank Kitts Park[edit]

Frank Kitts Park.

Frank Kitts Park on Wellington's waterfront is named after him. The park, on the site formerly used for a row of wharf sheds, was opened in 1976 and extended in the late 1980s. There is a children's playground, the orange foremast recovered from TEV Wahine, and a water sculpture The Albatross by Tanya Ashken.


  1. ^ "Timaru and South Canterbury News". Press. LXXI (21438). 2 April 1935. p. 6. Retrieved 20 August 2016. 
  2. ^ "Local Body News". Press. LXXIV (22399). 12 May 1938. p. 12. Retrieved 20 August 2016. 
  3. ^ The Dominion (Wellington) 17 March 1979
  4. ^ The Evening Post (Wellington) 20 & 21 March 1979
  5. ^ "Trainees for Air Force". Press. LXXVI (23083). 27 July 1940. p. 12. Retrieved 20 August 2016. 
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ Wellington: Biography of a city by Redmer Yska (Reed, Auckland, 2006) pages 168-169 ISBN 0-7900-1117-4
  8. ^ "No. 43856". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 January 1966. p. 41. 

External links[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Charles Chapman
Member of Parliament for Wellington Central
Succeeded by
Dan Riddiford
Political offices
Preceded by
Will Appleton
Mayor of Wellington
Succeeded by
Michael Fowler