Kerry Burke

For other uses, see Kerry Burke (reporter).
For other people named Thomas Burke, see Thomas Burke (disambiguation).
The Honourable
Sir Kerry Burke
22nd Speaker of the House of Representatives
In office
Prime Minister David Lange
Preceded by Gerard Wall
Succeeded by Robin Gray
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for West Coast
In office
1978  1990
Preceded by Paddy Blanchfield
Succeeded by Margaret Moir
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Rangiora
In office
1972  1975
Preceded by Herbert Pickering
Succeeded by Derek Quigley
Personal details
Born (1942-03-24) 24 March 1942
Christchurch, New Zealand
Nationality New Zealand
Political party Labour
Profession Teacher

Sir Thomas Kerry Burke (born 24 March 1942) served as Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives from 1987 to 1990. He was a member of the Labour Party, and served throughout the second term of the Fourth Labour Government.

Early life

Burke was born in Christchurch, New Zealand. In 1960, he began three years of study at the University of Canterbury, after which he studied for a year at the Christchurch College of Education. He taught at Rangiora High School from 1967 to 1972 and at Greymouth High School from 1976 to 1978.[1]

Political career

Parliament of New Zealand
Years Term Electorate Party
19721975 37th Rangiora Labour
19781981 39th West Coast Labour
19811984 40th West Coast Labour
19841987 41st West Coast Labour
19871990 42nd West Coast Labour

Burke was first elected to Parliament as the Labour MP for Rangiora in the 1972 election. In the 1975 election, however, he lost his seat, and remained outside Parliament for three years. In the 1978 election, Burke was elected as the Labour MP for the West Coast electorate.

When Labour won the 1984 election, Burke became Minister of Immigration and Minister of Employment. He held these roles until the 1987 election, when he was chosen to replace the outgoing Gerard Wall as Speaker. At 45 he was the second youngest Speaker in the history of the Parliament of New Zealand.

He served in this role for three years, losing the Speakership and his seat when Labour lost the 1990 election.

He was first elected councillor of the Canterbury Regional Council in 1998 and was chairman from 2004. On 24 October 2007, following the local body elections, he was elected Chairman for a further term.[2] On 24 September 2009, Burke lost a motion of no confidence and was replaced as Chairman.[3] In 2010 the New Zealand Government fired Burke, and the remaining Regional Councillors of Environment Canterbury, two years after the previous Local Body Elections. They were replaced by Government-appointed Commissioners and elections for Environment Canterbury are to be held in 2013. The reason cited for the sacking was due to poor direction, "woeful" performance and governance and an overall collapse of confidence in the organisation.[4]

Outside politics

He was knighted in the 1990 New Year Honours.[5] He is currently president of the board of Cholmondeley Children's Home in Governors Bay.[6] In March 2012 Sir Kerry joined the board of the Draco Foundation (NZ) Charitable Trust, an organisation whose purpose is the protection and promotion of democracy and natural justice in New Zealand.[7]

In January 2016 aged 73 Burke was convicted of drink driving having 517mcg of alcohol to a litre of breath. He was fined $400 and disqualified from driving for six months.[8]


  1. "Biographies of Former and Current Speakers of the New Zealand House of Representatives" (PDF). New Zealand Parliamentary Library. Retrieved 23 May 2015.
  2. ECan chair re-elected, new deputy, Environment Canterbury Press Release, 24 October 2007, retrieved 9 December 2007.
  3. Environment Canterbury new chair, deputy chair unchanged, Environment Canterbury Press Release, 24-09-09, retrieved 24-09-09. See also Alec Neill replaces Sir Kerry, The Press/ on-line, 24-09-09, retrieved 24-09-09. Archived at WebCite
  4. "ECan council canned in favour of commissioners". Television New Zealand. 30 March 2010. Retrieved 12 October 2011.
  5. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 51982. p. 29. 29 December 1989. Retrieved 31 August 2015.
  6. Glass, Amy (28 August 2011). "Happy days in home recalled". The Press. Retrieved 10 September 2011.
  7. "About the Draco Foundation". Draco Foundation (NZ) Charitable Trust. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
  8. Clarkson, David (9 January 2016). "Former Parliament Speaker Sir Kerry Burke admits drink-driving". The Press. p. A5. Retrieved 29 January 2016.

Further reading

  • Regional development policy: supporting statement to submission to the Hon. Kerry Burke, Minister of Regional Development [prepared by Canterbury Regional Development Council and Canterbury United Council], Christchurch, [N.Z.]: The Councils, 1986 
  • Submission to the review of financial assistance to students: presented to the Hon. Russell Marshall, Minister of Education and to Hon. Kerry Burke, The Minister of Employment, Hon. Koro Wētere, The Minister of Maori Affairs, Hon. Ann Hercus, The Minister of Social Welfare and of Women's Affairs, The Right Hon. David Lange, The Minister of Foreign Affairs., Wellington, [N.Z.]: NZUSA, 1985 
  • Burke, Kerry (1985), Labour market assistance measures: a paper from the Minister of Employment, Wellington, [N.Z.]: Employment Promotion Conference 
  • Burke, Kerry (1985), A new deal in training and employment opportunities, December 1985, Wellington, [N.Z.]: Dept. of Labour 
  • Burke, Kerry (1986), From the Minister: the Minister of Employment Kerry Burke answers questions on the government's employment programmes, Wellington, [N.Z.]: Dept. of Labour 
  • Scott, Noel (convenor); Austin, Margaret; Mallard, Trevor (1985), Interim report of Government Committee on Transition Education to Hon. Russell Marshall, Minister of Education, Hon. Kerry Burke, Minister of Employment, Wellington, [N.Z.]: The Committee 
Political offices
Preceded by
Dr Gerard Wall
Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Robin Gray
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Herbert Pickering
Member of Parliament for Rangiora
Succeeded by
Derek Quigley
Preceded by
Paddy Blanchfield
Member of Parliament for West Coast
Succeeded by
Margaret Moir
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