He was born in Wellington; his parents had arrived from Palestine in 1940, and his father Sigi Hirschfeld started the firm of Mico Wakefield, which was sold to an Australian company in 1994. His grandparents were Austrian, and he was a ‘secular Jew’ and agnostic.
Hirschfeld went to Wellington College and Victoria University of Wellington, where he was active in the anti-Vietnam War movement. He was elected to the Labour executive in 1971 aged 27, but was not re-elected.
He then joined the family firm. He had been on the boards of several companies, the New Zealand Shipping Corporation and the Pacific Forum Line, as well as boards of organizations like Circa Theatre, the Victoria University Council and Amnesty International. The Michael Hirschfeld Gallery on Wellington's Waterfront is named after him.
- Obituary in Evening Post (Wellington) of 7 January 1999 p5.
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