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|The Right Honourable
|13th Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand|
August 1998 – 5 December 1999
|Prime Minister||Jenny Shipley|
|Preceded by||Winston Peters|
|Succeeded by||Jim Anderton|
13 October 1946 |
|Spouse(s)||Diana (Danny) Marie|
Wyatt Beetham Creech, CNZM (born 13 October 1946) is a United States-born New Zealand politician. He served as Deputy Prime Minister in Jenny Shipley's National Party government from August 1998 to December 1999.
Creech was born in Oceanside, California, United States. His father (Jesse Wyatt Creech) hailed from North Carolina, USA, had enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1939. He served in the 3rd Defense Battalion, which saw action at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 (which launched the US into World War II), the Battle of Midway Island in June 1942, and through the whole Guadalcanal Campaign from 7 August 1942 until early 1943.
His mother, a New Zealander, met his father when the 3rd Defense Battalion was deployed to Masterton, New Zealand, for rest and recovery following the successful conclusion of the Guadalcanal Campaign. When Creech was a few months old, the family returned to New Zealand, settling in Wairarapa where his father became a sheep and beef farmer. Creech received his primary education in Masterton and his secondary education in Wanganui. Initially Creech farmed at his family farm before obtaining and agricultural qualification at Massey University.
Following completion of that course Creech travelled extensively overseas including an overland drive from India to the United Kingdom (passing through as well as India, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Greece, Yugoslavia, Italy, Switzerland and France).
Further travel took him extensively through Eastern Europe (including Russia). On his return to New Zealand he obtained a degree double majoring in political science and international politics from Victoria University of Wellington. After completing his degree, Creech again travelled overseas this time with his travels focussed on North America. He subsequently returned to Wairarapa and established a vineyard in the newly developing wine growing region of Martinborough.
|New Zealand Parliament|
In the 1987 election, Creech contested the Wairarapa seat for the National Party. On election night, Creech won on the provisional vote count by 65 votes, and attended the first National caucus. The official count (completed two weeks later) reversed the election night provisional count and the constituency was won by the incumbent Labour Party MP, Reg Boorman by seven votes. Creech challenged that result with a petition under the provisions of the Electoral Act; supported initially by MPs Roger McClay and Winston Peters (who had been involved in recounts in Taupo and Hunua ) but not the party hierarchy, according to Creech's account in a book by Ross Meurant. A Judicial Recount, the initial step, saw Boorman's lead reduced to one vote.
Creech then launched a full Electoral Petition on two counts. First, that a number who had voted in the election were not qualified to vote in the Wairarapa constituency on various grounds (including failure to qualify under the residency rules), and second, that Boorman had violated laws that set a limit on election spending by candidates. Boorman in his counter challenge also challenged a number of votes on various grounds. In all, more than 200 votes were reviewed by the Electoral Court. The process took eleven months to complete. On 12 July 1988, the Electoral Court found in Creech's favour on both counts in its judgement on the Wairarapa Election Petition, and he took his seat immediately with a majority of 34 votes (9994 to 9960). Over his period as MP for Wairarapa his majority significantly increased from this narrow initial victory.
When the National Party won the 1990 election, Creech was appointed to the Cabinet of the fourth National government as its most junior member. Initially, his two main roles were Minister of Revenue and Minister of Customs. Over the three terms of the National (and after the 1996 Election the National-led) government he held a number of other Cabinet portfolios, including Minister of Education, Minister of Health, Minister for State Owned Enterprises, Minister of Courts, Minister of Employment, and Associate Minister of Finance.
Creech chaired the cross party committees of MP's that developed the Superannuation Accord and the Employment Accord. Creech supported Jenny Shipley's December 1997 party-room coup against Prime Minister Jim Bolger, and Creech became Deputy Leader of the National Party on 8 December 1997.
In August 1998, the coalition between the National Party and New Zealand First broke down, and New Zealand First's Winston Peters was sacked as Deputy Prime Minister. Shipley appointed Creech to fill the vacancy. However, barely a year later, the Shipley government was heavily defeated by Labour. Prior to this election, Creech had stood aside from contesting the Wairarapa Electorate as the National Party candidate and became a List MP. Under National Party rules, his position as Deputy Leader automatically put him in the second position on National's Party's Party List, assuring his reelection as a Member of Parliament even as National was forced into opposition.
Following his retirement from politics, Creech headed up a small group that took advantage of the opportunities created by the deregulation of the dairy industry by the founding of the Open Country Cheese Company, located near Matamata, in Waikato. This has now grown into Open Country Dairy Co Ltd with both milk powder and cheese production facilities in Waharoa (near Matamata), Waikato, Awarua (near Invercargill) and Wanganui. The original cheese company was formed on 28 November 2001 (the date on which the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 received the Royal Assent. Manufacturing commenced in October 2004.
He stood down from the board of this company in 2008. In 2007 Creech and his associates launched as an offshoot from the commodity product manufacturing operation Open Country a new specialty cheese production focussed operation Kaimai Cheese (named after the local mountain range) and served from commencement as its Chairman.
He stood down from the board of this company in 2013 when there assets were sold to a new producer. In 2009 he joined the board of NZ Windfarms. retiring from that board in December 2013. Creech also served for a two-year period on the boards of Seales Limited, a Waikato-based stock feed manufacturing firm, the Cognition Education Trust, a trust supporting education research in New Zealand. he then joined the board of Healthcare Holdings Limited (providing various community-based health services).
In September 2009 Creech joined the New Zealand Fire Service Commission as Deputy Chair. As of mid 2014 he serves as Chair of the New Zealand Fire Service Commission and Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga (replacement crown entity for the New Zealand Historic Places Trust) and Deputy Chair of Healthcare Holdings Limited.
In 2009–10, Creech was commissioned by the Minister for the Environment and the Minister of Local Government to head a review of the performance of Environment Canterbury. Their report was highly critical of the performance and capability of the organisation, and while the recommendations were controversial, were fully implemented by the government.
Creech served as part of the Solomon Islands International Election Observer Team in the 2001 General Election in that nation. He also led the New Zealand Election Observer Team in the August 2010 General Election in Solomon Islands. He also served on the International Election Observer Team for the Falkland Islands referendum on its future status in 2013.
Creech served from December 2004 until June 2006 as a director of investment and property company Bluechip. He resigned in June 2006. The company failed in November 2008. As former directors, Creech and John Luxton (who resigned in October 2006) were included (2012) in two lawsuits which alleged breach of their duty to investors. No in-court proceedings in relation to this claim eventuated, and in 2014 all legal claims against the former directors were abandoned.
|New Zealand Parliament|
|Member of Parliament for Wairarapa
|Minister of Education
|Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand
|Minister of Health