Lockwood Smith

His Excellency The Right Honourable
Sir Lockwood Smith

Lockwood Smith speaking at the 70th anniversary of the arrival of US Forces in New Zealand
26th High Commissioner from New Zealand to the United Kingdom
Assumed office
25 March 2013
Preceded by Derek Leask
28th Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives
In office
8 November 2008  1 February 2013
Prime Minister John Key
Preceded by Margaret Wilson
Succeeded by David Carter
38th Minister of Education
In office
2 November 1990  1 March 1996
Prime Minister Jim Bolger
Preceded by Phil Goff
Succeeded by Wyatt Creech
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Kaipara
In office
14 July 1984  12 October 1996
Preceded by Peter Wilkinson
Succeeded by electorate abolished
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Rodney
In office
12 October 1996  2011
Preceded by vacant (last held by Don McKinnon)
Succeeded by Mark Mitchell
Majority 15,635[1]
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for National Party list
In office
10 December 2011  15 February 2013
Personal details
Born (1948-11-13) 13 November 1948
Nationality New Zealand
Political party National
Spouse(s) Alexandra, Lady Smith
Residence Ruawai

Sir Alexander Lockwood Smith KNZM (born 13 November 1948) is the current High Commissioner of New Zealand to the United Kingdom and a former New Zealand politician who served as the 28th Speaker of the House of Representatives from 2008 to 2013. Smith is a member of the New Zealand National Party and served as a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1984 until his retirement to pursue diplomatic roles in 2013. He represented first the Kaipara electorate and then Rodney, and has held a number of Cabinet positions; he was Minister of Education from 1990 to 1996 and subsequently served as Minister of Agriculture, Minister for International Trade, and Associate Minister of Finance.

Early years

Smith attended Auckland Grammar School in 1961.[2] He has a PhD in Animal science from the University of Adelaide. Before entering politics he lectured at Massey University, worked as a television quizmaster for the children's quiz shows It's Academic and The W 3 Show, and was Marketing Manager at the New Zealand Dairy Board.

Member of Parliament

Parliament of New Zealand
Years Term Electorate List Party
19841987 41st Kaipara National
19871990 42nd Kaipara National
19901993 43rd Kaipara National
19931996 44th Kaipara National
19961999 45th Rodney 8 National
19992002 46th Rodney 5 National
20022005 47th Rodney 11 National
20052008 48th Rodney 9 National
20082011 49th Rodney 12 National
20112013 50th List 3 National

Smith was first elected in 1984 as the MP for Kaipara. He represented this electorate until it was abolished in 1996 during the shift to MMP. Since then he has been the representative for Rodney.

Minister in the Fourth National Government

Smith served as Minister of Education from 1990 until 1996 in the Fourth National Government of New Zealand. During this period he implemented a number of changes to the tertiary education sector (universities and technical institutions). One high-profile change involved a radical increase in student fees, as recommended by the Todd Report, which the government had commissioned to address issues of funding.

As opposition education spokesman in 1990, Smith promised to remove the Labour Government's tertiary tuition fee of $1250, if elected. Once in office, he kept this promise on a technicality: he shifted the burden of charging fees for courses from the government to the institutions, who then had to charge even higher tuition fees due to decreased government funding.

Smith's term as Education Minister also saw the introduction of means-testing for student allowances, with the effect that students of middle-class parents became ineligible for allowances until they reached 25 years of age.

In 1996 Smith took up the Agriculture and Trade Negotiation portfolios: Wyatt Creech succeeded him as Education Minister. Smith also became Minister for International Trade and for Tourism, as well as holding responsibilities as Associate Minister of Finance, Associate Minister of Immigration (International Access and Processing), and Minister Responsible for Contact Energy Ltd.

As Trade Minister, Smith spearheaded New Zealand's efforts at the 1999 APEC negotiations. He successfully negotiated New Zealand's free-trade agreement with Singapore, which became the NZ – Singapore Closer Economic Partnership. At the WTO Ministerial in Seattle, he took part in efforts which later lead to the Doha Development Round.

Opposition, 1999–2008

In opposition, Smith held a number of spokesperson roles for the National Party, including those of Foreign Affairs, Commerce, and Immigration. In his role as Immigration spokesman, Smith challenged Mangere MP Taito Phillip Field over alleged impropriety in Field's dealings with constituents.[3]

During the 2008 election campaign, on 22 October 2008, Smith made some comments in an interview with the Marlborough Express concerning seasonal Asian and Pacific workers that caused controversy. Regarding Pacific workers he said that some employers "are having to teach them things like how to use a toilet or shower..." And he said that for pruning trees: "some of the Asian workers have been more productive... because their hands are smaller." Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia described these remarks as "racist", and the Prime Minister Helen Clark characterised them as "absolutely daft". Smith later stated that the media had presented his comments out of context, and that he had repeated the views of employers whom he had talked to; he expressed regret at any unintended offence taken. The parliamentary leader of the National Party, John Key, subsequently referred to this statement as an apology.[4][5]

Speaker of the House

Following the National Party's successes in the 2008 election, Members of Parliament unanimously elected Smith as Speaker of the House. Smith has taken a rather different approach from his predecessor, being more active in requiring ministers to provide answers to oral questions. Smith was re-elected as Speaker of the House again on 20 December 2011.

Smith was expected to retire from Parliament and to be appointed High Commissioner of New Zealand to the United Kingdom later in 2012,[6] but stayed on until February 2013. He gave his valedictory speech on 13 February 2013; this was in fact his first speech in Parliament in four years, as Speakers perform an apolitical role. Reflecting on his nearly 30 years in Parliament, he listed voting against the Homosexual Law Reform Bill in 1986 as his biggest regret:[7]

I faced the classic dilemma of voting according to my own judgement or the opinion of those I was elected to represent. As a new member, I opted for the latter and I've always regretted it.

In the Queen's Birthday Honours 2013, Smith was appointed a Knight Companion of The New Zealand Order of Merit for services as a Member of Parliament and as Speaker of the House of Representatives.[8][9]

High Commissioner to the United Kingdom

Smith began his term as High Commissioner of New Zealand to the United Kingdom on 25 March 2013, with a powhiri at New Zealand House in London.[10]

Personal life

On 4 July 2009 he married longtime partner, Alexandra Lang, in the Legislative Council Chamber of Parliament.[11]


  1. At 2008 election
  2. "News of Old Boys" (PDF). Auckland Grammar School. May 2009. p. 32. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
  3. "Immigration manager approved illegitimate payouts – MP". Stuff. New Zealand. NZPA. 5 August 2008. Retrieved 15 October 2011.
  4. Audrey Young (23 October 2008). "Smith and Williamson pay the price". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2 January 2009.
  5. "'Asians have small hands' remarks 'racist', 'daft', say leaders". The New Zealand Herald. 22 October 2008. Retrieved 15 August 2009.
  6. "Speaker gets chance to check out London digs". The Dominion Post. 30 June 2012. p. A2.
  7. Trevett, Claire (14 February 2013). "Departing veteran tells of regret over gay vote, MMP". The New Zealand Herald. p. A8. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  8. "The Queen's Birthday Honours 2013" (24 June 2013) 80 New Zealand Gazette 2171.
  9. "Queen's Birthday Honours List 2013". Honours List. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet of New Zealand. 3 June 2013. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  10. "Lockwood Smith begins new job". 3 News NZ. 26 March 2013.
  11. Married 4 July 2009
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lockwood Smith.
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Derek Leask
High Commissioner of New Zealand to the United Kingdom
Political offices
Preceded by
Phil Goff
Minister of Education
Succeeded by
Wyatt Creech
Preceded by
Margaret Wilson
Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives
Succeeded by
David Carter
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Peter Wilkinson
Member of Parliament for Kaipara
Constituency abolished
Constituency recreated after abolition in 1987
Title last held by
Don McKinnon
Member of Parliament for Rodney
Succeeded by
Mark Mitchell
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