Katherine Rich

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Katherine Rich
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for National list
In office
27 November 1999 – 8 November 2008
Personal details
Born16 December 1967
Political partyNational

Katherine Rich (née Allison, born 16 December 1967) served as a member of the New Zealand House of Representatives for the National Party from 1999 to 2008. She has been chief executive of the New Zealand Food & Grocery Council, an industry lobby group, since 2009.

Early life and family[edit]

Rich was born in Australia on 16 December 1967, the daughter of agricultural scientist Jock Allison, and moved to New Zealand in 1969. She was educated at St Hilda's Collegiate School in Dunedin from 1980 to 1985, and studied at the University of Otago, from where she graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce in 1990 and a Bachelor of Arts in 1993.[1] When she voted for the first time, in the 1987 election, she gave her vote to her uncle, the Labour MP Clive Matthewson.[2]

After leaving university she held a number of management and analytical roles in both the public and private sectors. Her jobs were:

  • Project analyst for the Ministry of Agriculture in Palmerston North
  • Project analyst for the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology in Wellington
  • Marketing manager for the knitting yarns division of Alliance Textiles
  • General manager of Silverstream Ltd in Dunedin[3]

Political career[edit]

Member of Parliament[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate List Party
1999–2002 46th List 23 National
2002–2005 47th List 14 National
2005–2008 48th List 14 National

Rich entered Parliament in 1999 as a list MP for the National Party. She had contested the Dunedin North electorate, but finished second behind incumbent Labour MP Pete Hodgson. At this election, Rich was ranked twenty-third, which was high enough to return her as a list MP.

Once in Parliament, Rich rose quickly through the National Party hierarchy, and eventually was ranked fourth in the party caucus. At various times she served as her Party's spokesperson for employment, broadcasting, economic development, state-owned enterprises, and culture. In January 2005, however, she refused to give full support to the "tough-on-welfare" Orewa Speech by then-party leader Don Brash, who demoted her to tenth place and dismissed her as social-welfare spokesperson and gave the portfolio to Judith Collins.[4] Following the resignation of Don Brash as National Party leader on 27 November 2006, the incoming Leader of the Opposition, John Key, elevated Rich to eighth place within the National caucus and shadow Cabinet. She was appointed, on 1 December 2006, the party's spokesperson on education.[citation needed] Some notable achievements included co-presenting to Parliament a petition for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Peter Ellis case (2003); exposing a huge rise in the number of unallocated cases of physically and sexually abused children (2005); highlighting Labour Government inaction over understaffed PlunketLine (2005); leading National’s support for a bill to allow mothers in prison to keep their babies with them until they turn two (2006); revealing irresponsible government spending, including the hip-hop tour spending debacle (2004).

In 2002 Rich was the second woman MP (after Ruth Richardson) to take her baby to parliament and breastfeed there.[5]

For both the 2002 and 2005 general elections, Rich stood unsuccessfully in the Dunedin North electorate, but was returned as a list MP. She announced, on 13 February 2008, that she would not stand in the 2008 general election, saying that she wanted to spend more time with her children.[6] She was replaced as National candidate for Dunedin North by Michael Woodhouse.

Political views[edit]

Rich, who has described her own position as "centrist" and "centre right",[7] had a reputation as one of the more liberal members of the National Party.[8] She was the inaugural parliamentary co-chair of the party's internal Classical Liberal Policy Advisory Group, which advocates policies that are both economically and socially liberal.[9]

National MP Nikki Kaye, herself known for what has been described as "socially liberal" views, has cited her as a role model.[10][11]

Career after Parliament[edit]

Rich took up the position of Chief Executive of the New Zealand Food & Grocery Council in March 2009, following appointment in November 2008.[3][12] The Council represents grocery manufacturers and suppliers.[13][14]

She was appointed to the board of the Health Promotion Agency in June 2012. Prime Minister John Key of the National Party said she would be able to manage conflicts of interest with her role with the Food & Grocery Council.[14]

Dirty Politics controversy[edit]

Emails leaked to political writer Nicky Hager implied that Rich, in her role as Chief Executive of the Food & Grocery Council, has while on the board of the Health Promotion Agency (a Crown entity) given prominent blogger Cameron Slater information that rebutted comments made by academics. These allegations were denied by Rich.[15][16][17] HPA chair Lee Mathias said she believed any potential conflicts of interest with Rich's dual roles had been managed in terms of the State Services Commission's guidelines. "She's been a very strong supporter of every decision made by this agency."[18] A subsequent review of Rich's role by the Auditor-General found no conflict of interest and Rich said she felt vindicated by the Auditor-General’s declaration.[19][20] She said "I'm pleased with the result, which vindicates my position. Accusations that I had broken the law and not declared interests were disappointing, wrong and defamatory.”[21]


  1. ^ Taylor, Alister, ed. (2001). New Zealand Who's Who Aotearoa 2001. Auckland: Alister Taylor Publishers. ISSN 1172-9813.
  2. ^ Stuart, Sarah (19 March 2013). "Twelve Questions: Katherine Rich". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 10 June 2015.
  3. ^ a b South, Gill (31 August 2009). "Labelling near top of Rich grocery list". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 30 June 2012.
  4. ^ Hager, Nicky (2006). The Hollow Men. Nelson, New Zealand: Craig Potton Publishing. p. 145. ISBN 1-877333-62-X.
  5. ^ "Breastfeeding babies in the debating chamber becoming normalised". Stuff (Fairfax). 9 November 2017.
  6. ^ "Rich to quit politics for children". The New Zealand Herald. 13 February 2008.
  7. ^ "Rich puts parenting before parliament". Television New Zealand. 13 February 2008. Retrieved 27 July 2008. "[...] certainly I'm very centrist with my views, centre right," says Rich.
  8. ^ "Rich says shock retirement decision due to family". The New Zealand Herald. 13 February 2008. Retrieved 27 July 2008. The 40-year-old list MP first came to Parliament in 1999 and has been on the liberal wing of the National Party.
  9. ^ "National Party Board approves Classical Liberal Policy Advisory Group" (Press release). New Zealand National Party. 13 May 2004. Retrieved 30 June 2012.
  10. ^ Phare, Jane (4 May 2008). "Battle looming in Auckland Central". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 4 April 2010.
  11. ^ Young, Audrey (27 March 2010). "Blue-green ambitions". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 4 April 2010.
  12. ^ "Katherine Rich to head Food & Grocery Council" (Press release). New Zealand Food & Grocery Council. 26 November 2008. Retrieved 30 June 2012.
  13. ^ "About the FGC". New Zealand Food & Grocery Council. Archived from the original on 2 June 2010. Retrieved 30 June 2012. The New Zealand Food & Grocery Council (FGC) represents New Zealand manufacturers and suppliers to the grocery industry.
  14. ^ a b Davison, Isaac (25 June 2012). "Lobbyist appointment no conflict: Key". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 30 June 2012.
  15. ^ British Medical Journal (29 October 2014). "Katherine Rich replies to Martin McKee". BMJ. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  16. ^ Nippert, Matt (24 August 2014). "The hacker revealed". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  17. ^ Heather, Ben (20 February 2015). "Ties to liquor industry hamstring Health Promotion Agency". Retrieved 11 June 2015 [1]
  18. ^ Scoop (11 September 2014). "Katherine Rich stands firm against calls to resign". Scoop. BusinessDesk. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  19. ^ Office of Auditor-General (14 May 2015). "Health Promotion Agency – Katherine Rich – Possible conflict of interest". Auditor-General. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  20. ^ Newton, Kate (14 May 2015). "Rich 'vindicated' by food council inquiry". Radio NZ. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  21. ^ Jones, Nicholas (14 May 2015). "No inquiry into former MP Katherine Rich's alleged conflict of interest". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 11 June 2015.