Sandra Lee-Vercoe

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The Honourable
Sandra Lee-Vercoe
2nd Leader of the Alliance
In office
Preceded by Jim Anderton
Succeeded by Jim Anderton
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Auckland Central
In office
1993 – 1996
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Alliance list
In office
1996 – 2002
Personal details
Born (1952-08-08) 8 August 1952 (age 64)
Wellington, New Zealand
Political party Mana Motuhake (1991)
Alliance (1991–2002)

Sandra Rose Te Hakamatua Lee-Vercoe QSO (born 8 August 1952) is a former New Zealand politician and diplomat. She served as deputy leader (and briefly leader) of the Alliance party, and was later High Commissioner to Niue.

Early life[edit]

Lee was born in Wellington, but has spent much of her life in Auckland. She was educated at Onslow College.[1] Her involvement in politics began with the foundation of Mana Motuhake, a Māori issues party, in 1979. Her political career, however, did not begun until 1983, with her election to the Waiheke County Council. She became chairperson of the Council in 1989. When Waiheke was amalgamated into Auckland proper, Lee became a member of the Auckland City Council.

Member of Parliament[edit]

Parliament of New Zealand
Years Term Electorate List Party
1993–1996 44th Auckland Central Alliance
1996–1999 45th List 2 Alliance
1999–2002 46th List 2 Alliance

In 1991, Lee became president of Mana Motuhake. Shortly after this, Mana Motuhake agreed to become a founding member of the Alliance, a coalition of minor parties.

In the 1993 elections, Lee successfully contested the Auckland Central electorate as an Alliance candidate, defeating the incumbent Richard Prebble.[2] Upon the retirement of Mana Motuhake founder Matiu Rata in 1994, Lee became Mana Motuhake's political leader. In November 1994, when Jim Anderton stepped down as leader of the Alliance for personal reasons, Lee took his place but Lee persuaded Anderton returned to the leadership in May 1995. Lee lost her Auckland Central seat to Labour's Judith Tizard at the 1996 elections.[1] She lost the position as Mana Motuhake leader in 2001, in part due to a personal relationship with a member of her staff.[3]

Cabinet member[edit]

When a Labour-Alliance coalition government was formed after the 1999 elections, Lee became Minister of Local Government, Minister of Conservation, and Associate Minister of Māori Affairs.[1] She was ranked seventh in Cabinet. However, in 2002, the Alliance began to split between a strongly left-wing faction (led by Matt McCarten and Laila Harré) and a more moderate faction (led by Anderton), Lee generally backed Anderton, but eventually decided to retire from politics. In the 2002 elections, she did not stand for either the Alliance (now led by McCarten and Harré) or Anderton's new Progressive Coalition.


Lee was High Commissioner to Niue, representing the New Zealand and UK governments, from 12 February 2003 to 3 October 2005.[4]

Board member[edit]

In September 2006 Lee was appointed to the board of Housing New Zealand. In July 2007 she was appointed to the board of Te Papa Tongarewa.

Political offices[edit]

  • 1983–1989: Member, Waiheke County Council
  • 1989: Chair, Waiheke County Council
  • 1989–1994 (January): Councillor, Auckland City Council
  • 1993–1996: Member of Parliament (Alliance), Auckland Central
  • 1996–2002: Member of Parliament (List) (Alliance)
  • 1999 (December) – 2002: Minister of the Crown (Local Government, Conservation, Associate Māori Affairs), Labour-Alliance government

Personal life[edit]

Lee married at age 17 and had two daughters.[1] She was also formerly married to Mike Lee.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Young, Audrey (24 August 2001). "Sandra Lee - bad news and proud of it". NZ Herald. Retrieved 19 June 2016. 
  2. ^ Fox, Karen (2011). Maori and Aboriginal Women in the Public Eye: Representing Difference, 1950-2000. ANU E Press. 
  3. ^ Young, Audrey (11 June 2001). "Lee's private life plays part in dumping". NZ Herald. Retrieved 19 June 2016. 
  4. ^ "Niue MPs to hear departing NZ representative". Radio NZ. 22 September 2005. Retrieved 19 June 2016. 
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Richard Prebble
Member of Parliament for Auckland Central
Succeeded by
Judith Tizard