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Maggie Barry

The Honourable
Maggie Barry
Maggie Barry crop.png
Barry in 2010
13th Minister of Conservation
Assumed office
8 October 2014
Prime Minister John Key
Bill English
Preceded by Nick Smith
3rd Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage
Assumed office
8 October 2014
Prime Minister John Key
Bill English
Preceded by Chris Finlayson
Member of the New Zealand Parliament for North Shore
Assumed office
30 November 2011
Preceded by Wayne Mapp
Majority 16,503
Personal details
Born Margaret Mary Barry
(1959-10-05) 5 October 1959 (age 57)[1]
Thorndon, New Zealand[1]
Political party National Party
Spouse(s) Grant Kerr
Children 1
Occupation Broadcaster

Margaret Mary "Maggie" Barry ONZM (born 5 October 1959) is a New Zealand politician and a member of the House of Representatives, first elected in the 2011 general election. She is a member of the National Party, and is Minister for Conservation, Seniors Citizens, and Arts, Culture and Heritage. Barry has had a long career in broadcasting, including gardening shows, and has a rose named after her.

Early life

Barry's father was an accountant for the railways, and her mother was a florist. Both were strict Catholics. Barry was born in Wellington and went to Erskine College, a Roman Catholic school in Wellington.[2][3]

Broadcasting career

Maggie Barry, a Hybrid Tea rose named after her

She was a radio and television presenter for over 30 years.[4] She began her broadcasting career in 1986 on National Radio's Morning Report and moved on to Nine to Noon in 1990. In 1992 she was a news interviewer for TV2's Counterpoint, and she was news presenter for Primetime in 1993.[3][5]

Her garden show, originally titled Palmers Garden Show but renamed to Maggie's Garden Show, ran on TV ONE from 1991 to 2003, with her as co-producer and presenter. Featured were ‘bug man’ Ruud Kleinpaste, gardening experts Bill Ward, Jack Hobbs, Gordon Collier and Professor Thomas William Walker ("John Walker").[6] She also produced several television documentaries. In the 1996 Queen's Birthday Honours, Barry was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to broadcasting.[7]

Barry has written for the New Zealand Listener since 2007, producing a fortnightly gardening column and occasional interview articles.[5]

She hosted Radio Live Drive from March 2009[8] to December 2010.[9]

Member of Parliament

Parliament of New Zealand
Years Term Electorate List Party
2011–2014 50th North Shore 57 National
2014–present 51st North Shore 40 National

First term

Barry was interested in standing for the National Party in the 2011 Botany by-election, but did not become the candidate.[10] She was selected as the National candidate for the safe seat of North Shore in May 2011 after the sitting MP Wayne Mapp decided not to run in the 2011 general election.[11] Placed in number 57 on the National Party list,[12] Barry was elected to Parliament by winning the electorate vote with an increased majority of 41.87% over her nearest rival, a Labour Party candidate. She also increased the Party Vote to 62.16%, 45.9% clear of the Labour Party.[13][14]

She became a member of the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee upon entering parliament; she was appointed its Deputy Chairperson in 2013.[15] In 2014 she became Chairperson of the Local Government and Environment Select Committee, and stood down from Finance and Expenditure and instead became a member of the Education and Science Select Committee.[15]

During the 2011 election campaign Barry was spat at in Devonport, which appeared to shock her.[16]

Cabinet minister

On 6 October 2014, Prime Minister John Key appointed Barry to the portfolios of Minister for Arts, Culture & Heritage, Minister of Conservation, and Minister for Senior Citizens. She was ranked 20th in Cabinet under the Key Ministry.[17] After Prime Minister Key's resignation, Prime Minister Bill English reshuffled the Cabinet. Barry retained all three of her portfolios and is ranked 18th.[18]

Minister of Arts, Culture, and Heritage

World War I, 100th anniversary celebrations have been taking place since Barry took office. As Minister she has been in charge of the World War 100 celebrations, which include commemorations within New Zealand and overseas.[19] While World War 100 is based within the Arts, Culture, and Heritage Ministry, it relies on support from Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the New Zealand Defence Force and the Department of Internal Affairs.[20]

Minister of Conservation

As Minister of Conservation, Barry launched Predator Free 2050, a programme to ensure that New Zealand's native animals were free from being attached by predators.It looks at controlling predators using community volunteers, private residents, philanthropists and government investment.[21] With over 80% of New Zealand's birds and reptiles endangered, Predator Free 2050 focuses on protecting these species from rats, stoats, possums, weasels and ferrets.[22]

In 2015, Barry urged the SPCA to put down stray cats instead of just neutering and releasing them.[23]

Minister for Senior Citizens

Under Prime Minister Bill English, National launched a policy to increase the superannuation age from 65 to 67.[24] As Minister for Seniors much of the groundwork for implementing this policy will fall under her portfolio.

During the difficulties with the switch over from senior citizens being able to use their gold card on buses, to having to use an AT HOP card, Barry announced that the Ministry of Social Development, in which the Office of Seniors sits, will be assisting with the changeover.[25]

Personal life

She has never married. Her partner, Grant Kerr, is a lawyer.[3] She has a son.[26]

A Hybrid tea rose dark pink rose has been named after her.[27]In the late 1990s she was a lay representative from the National Health Committee advising the Minister of Health, and was involved in reports on palliative care, cancer, and maternity services. She was the Chair of the Board of the New Zealand Book Council in 2006.[5]

She has been a patron for the Mary Potter Hospice,[28] Alzheimer's Wellington, and Hospice New Zealand.[26]

On 4 July 2014, Barry said that she was groped by Australian entertainer Rolf Harris when he was in New Zealand during the 1980s and she was recording an interview she hosted from Palmerston North. She said that Harris "came into the studio and they sat down and then he started to do the old wandering hands thing and she stood up and said 'well you can stop that right now'." Barry also said that he turned nasty on her before switching his charm back for the interview.[29][30][31] At the time, a similar celebrity sexual conduct case was in the news, and retired parliamentarian Rodney Hide taunted Barry in his newspaper column, urging her to use her parliamentary privilege to breach the name suppression order against the defendant in the Queenstown suppressed indecency case.[32]


  1. ^ a b "Maiden speech: Maggie Barry". New Zealand National Party. 16 February 2012. Retrieved 20 July 2014. 
  2. ^ Lambert, Max (1991) [Originally published in 1908]. Who's Who in New Zealand (12 ed.). Wellington: Reed. p. 36. ISBN 0790001306. 
  3. ^ a b c Woulfe, Catherine (14 March 2010). "Maggie Barry on gardening". Retrieved 1 December 2011. 
  4. ^ Her page at Celebrity Speakers website
  5. ^ a b c "Maggie Barry". Captive Audience. Retrieved 1 December 2011. 
  6. ^ "Maggie's Garden Show". NZ On Screen. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  7. ^ Queen's Birthday Honours List 1996. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 18 July 2013.
  8. ^ "Maggie Barry Announced as New Radio Live Drive Host". MediaWorks NZ. 2009. Retrieved 1 December 2011. 
  9. ^ "Maggie Barry Farewells Radio Live". MediaWorks NZ. 2010. Retrieved 1 December 2011. 
  10. ^ "Main parties pick candidates for Botany by-election". Radio New Zealand. 27 January 2011. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  11. ^ "Maggie Barry selected as National's North Shore candidate". The National Business Review. 12 May 2011. Retrieved 1 December 2011. 
  12. ^ "Party lists for the 2011 General Election". Elections New Zealand. Retrieved 14 December 2011. 
  13. ^ "Official Count Results -- North Shore". New Zealand Electoral Commission. Retrieved 13 December 2011. 
  14. ^ "Official Count Results -- Successful Candidates". New Zealand Electoral Commission. Retrieved 13 December 2011. 
  15. ^ a b "Members of Parliament". Retrieved 2017-03-03. 
  16. ^ 'Shaken', 'shocked' Nats Maggie Barry spat at on Shore New Zealand Herald, 22 November 2011
  17. ^ "Ministerial List | DPMC". Retrieved 2016-01-06. 
  18. ^ "Ministerial List | DPMC". Retrieved 2016-12-20. 
  19. ^ "Activities and Projects | WW100 New Zealand". Retrieved 2017-03-03. 
  20. ^ "Contact Us | WW100 New Zealand". Retrieved 2017-03-03. 
  21. ^ (DOC), corporatename = New Zealand Department of Conservation. "Predator Free 2050: Our work". Retrieved 2017-03-03. 
  22. ^ "Predator Free New Zealand - Predator Free NZ". Predator Free NZ. Retrieved 2017-03-03. 
  23. ^ Wannan, Olivia (4 June 2015). "Maggie Barry urges SPCA to kill stray cats". Retrieved 5 March 2017. 
  24. ^ "A guide to NZ Superannuation - what you need to know, and why". Stuff. Retrieved 2017-03-06. 
  25. ^ "MSD to assist Auckland Transport switch". The Beehive. Retrieved 2017-03-06. 
  26. ^ a b "Maggie Barry 50 Forward article". RadioLIVE. 2010. Retrieved 1 December 2011. 
  27. ^ "Maggie Barry". Retrieved 1 December 2011. 
  28. ^ "Mary Potter Hospice Ambassador". Retrieved 1 December 2011. 
  29. ^ "Maggie Barry: I was groped by Rolf Harris". The New Zealand Herald. 4 July 2014. Retrieved 4 July 2014. 
  30. ^ "Rolf Harris groped me: Maggie Barry". Stuff/Fairfax. 4 July 2014. 
  31. ^ "Maggie Barry: I was groped by Rolf Harris". New Zealand Herald, dated 2014-07-04, viewed 2014-07-21
  32. ^ "Rodney Hide: Forget Rolf, Maggie. We have our own sexual predator to name and shame". New Zealand Herald, dated 2014-07-13, viewed 2014-07-21

New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Wayne Mapp
Member of Parliament for North Shore
2011 – present