Frank O'Flynn

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Right Honourable
Frank O'Flynn
Frank O'Flynn.jpg
28th Minister of Defence
In office
26 July 1984 – 24 July 1987
Prime Minister David Lange
Preceded by David Spence Thomson
Succeeded by Bob Tizard
Personal details
Born (1918-10-24)24 October 1918
Greymouth, New Zealand
Died 17 October 2003(2003-10-17) (aged 84)
New Zealand
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Sylvia Elizabeth Hefford (m. 1942)
Children Four
Profession Lawyer
Military service
Allegiance Air Force Ensign of New Zealand.svg RNZAF
Years of service 1942–45
Rank NZ-Air-OF2.svg Flight lieutenant
Battles/wars World War II

Francis Duncan "Frank" O'Flynn QC (24 October 1918 – 17 October 2003) was a New Zealand politician of the Labour Party.


Early life[edit]

O'Flynn was born in Greymouth in 1918. He was the son of Francis Edward O’Flynn and Margaret Helen Valentine Duncan. He received his education at Christchurch Normal School and Christchurch Boys' High School.[1]

On leaving school he was employed as a clerk by the Education Department in Wellington and attended Victoria University College part-time. In 1939 he became a clerk to the Wellington Labourers’ Union Secretary and completed a BA in 1940. Further study was interrupted by the World War II and he joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force in 1942, serving in the Pacific and attaining the rank of flight lieutenant.

He married Sylvia Elizabeth Hefford in 1942 and they had four children.

Legal career[edit]

At the end of the war O’Flynn was employed as a law clerk in the Wellington firm O’Regan and Arndt. He continued to study law and completed an LLB in 1947 and LLM in 1948. Leaving O’Regan and Arndt in 1954, he practised in Wellington as a barrister and solicitor until 1968 when he was made a Queen’s Counsel (QC) and practised as such until 1972.

As one of New Zealand’s most prominent QCs, O’Flynn was renowned for his advocacy and willingness to take on the establishment of the time. His reputation as one of New Zealand’s leading advocates in the 1950s and 1960s was enhanced when he represented 126 survivors and families of victims in the Wahine ferry disaster inquiry held in June 1968.

O’Flynn was also the first (and only) lawyer to sue prime minister Robert Muldoon successfully on behalf of a client: Muldoon was forced to pay out $5,000 for defaming O’Flynn’s client Brian Brooks (who later became a professor of law at Victoria University).

Political career[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1972–1975 37th Kapiti Labour
1978–1981 39th Island Bay Labour
1981–1984 40th Island Bay Labour
1984–1987 41st Island Bay Labour

He represented the seat of Kapiti from 1972 to 1975, when he was defeated, and then Island Bay from 1978 to 1987, when he retired due to ill health.[2] He was the Minister of Defence from 1984 to 1987.[3]He was appointed to the Privy Council in 1987; however, that same ill-health prevented him from travelling to England to be sworn into the Council by Queen Elizabeth II.

O’Flynn died on 17 October 2003, and was buried at Karori Cemetery.[4]


  1. ^ "Rt Hon Francis Duncan O’Flynn QC, 1918–2003". New Zealand Law Society. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  2. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 224.
  3. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 98.
  4. ^ "Cemeteries search". Wellington City Council. Retrieved 8 December 2015. 


  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103. 
New Zealand Parliament
New constituency Member of Parliament for Kapiti
Succeeded by
Barry Brill
Preceded by
Gerald O'Brien
Member of Parliament for Island Bay
Succeeded by
Elizabeth Tennet