Chris Carter (politician)

New Zealand Labour Party Te Atatū (New Zealand electorate) New Zealand Parliament

Chris Carter
Chris Carter, 2008.jpg
8th Minister of Conservation
In office
15 August 2002 – 5 November 2007
Preceded bySandra Lee
Succeeded byStephanie Chadwick
Minister of Ethnic Affairs
In office
15 August 2002 – 19 November 2008
Preceded byGeorge Hawkins
Succeeded byPansy Wong
11th Minister of Local Government
In office
15 August 2002 – 19 October 2005
Preceded bySandra Lee
Succeeded byNanaia Mahuta
Minister of Housing
In office
19 October 2005 – 5 November 2007
Succeeded byMaryan Street
Minister for Building Issues
In office
21 December 2004 – 19 October 2005
43rd Minister of Education
In office
5 November 2007 – 19 October 2008
Preceded bySteve Maharey
Succeeded byAnne Tolley
Minister Responsible for the Education Review Office
In office
5 November 2007 – 19 October 2008
Succeeded byAnne Tolley
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Te Atatu
In office
27 November 1999 – 30 September 2011
In office
6 November 1993 – 12 October 1996
Preceded byBrian Neeson
Succeeded byPhil Twyford
Personal details
Born (1952-05-04) 4 May 1952 (age 68)
New Zealand
NationalityNew Zealand
Political partyLabour
Domestic partnerPeter Kaiser[1]
OccupationMember of Parliament, Cabinet minister; United Nations administrator; former secondary school teacher

Christopher Joseph Carter[2] (born 4 May 1952) is a former New Zealand Labour Party and independent Member of the New Zealand Parliament. He was a senior Cabinet Minister in the Fifth Labour Government of New Zealand, serving lastly as Minister of Education, Minister Responsible for the Education Review Office and Minister of Ethnic Affairs.[3] He was the Member of Parliament for the Te Atatu electorate, where he was first elected in 1993. He did not win re-election (to the replacement seat, Waipareira) in 1996, but won a new and expanded Te Atatu seat in 1999. In 2010 he was suspended from the Labour Party caucus following a dispute with party leader Phil Goff, shortly afterwards he became an independent MP.[4][5] He was expelled by the Labour Party for breaching the Party's constitution in bringing the Party in disrepute, on 11 October 2010.[6] In September 2011 Carter resigned from Parliament following his appointment to a United Nations position in Afghanistan where he served for 4 years. In 2015 he was appointed to head UN operations in Rakhine State in Myanmar where he served for 3 years. In 2018 he rejoined the New Zealand Labour Party and stood for election as a Labour Party representative in the 2019 New Zealand local elections. Carter was elected and appointed as Chairperson of the Henderson Massey Local Board with 11,250 votes. He also won election in 2019 as one of the 7 elected Board Members of the Waitemata District Health Board with 14,593 votes. Both positions have three year terms.

Early and personal life

Carter was born on 4 May 1952, and brought up in the Auckland suburb of Panmure. He was educated at St Peter's College, Auckland and at the University of Auckland where he received an MA (Hons) in history.

Before entering politics, Carter had served as a teacher and as a poultry farmer. His partner is Peter Kaiser, a headmaster, and they have been together for over 40 years. On 10 February 2007, Carter and Kaiser were joined[7] in the first civil union for a Cabinet Minister or Member of Parliament since civil unions in New Zealand were introduced after legislation was passed in December 2004.

Member of Parliament

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate List Party
1993–1996 44th Te Atatu Labour
1999–2002 46th Te Atatu 34 Labour
2002–2005 47th Te Atatu 25 Labour
2005–2008 48th Te Atatu 19 Labour
2008–2010 49th Te Atatū 7 Labour
2010–2011 Changed allegiance to: Independent

Carter was the first openly gay man ever appointed as a New Zealand Cabinet minister. He had been a strong advocate of gay equality for some time, and continued this role on entering Parliament.

In 1994, Carter was named by the Speaker of the House Peter Tapsell for calling John Banks a hypocrite over his pro-life stance on abortions.[8]

Carter started one of the first branches of New Zealand Rainbow Labour for centre-left lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender people (LGBT) and others during the 1996–1999 term, after having lost the newly created Waipareira electorate to National's Brian Neeson by just 107 votes,[9] and not having been placed on the Labour list for the election.[10]

At the 2005 election, Carter was re-elected to his seat with 59.4% of the vote, a majority of 10,447.

Labour lost power in the 2008 election. Carter was re-elected, but his majority was almost halved to 5,298.[11]

On 14 June 2010, 4 days after the release of ministerial credit card records, Carter along with two other MPs Shane Jones MP and Mita Ririnui MP (Lab – Lists) were demoted by Opposition Leader Phil Goff MP (Mount Roskill) for misuse of such credit cards. In the case of Carter, he was accused of purchasing personal items with the card, which was outside the rules for Ministerial expenditure as a minister under the former Clark government over a six-year period. Carter repaid the money in full, a total of $26 ($NZ). His main dispute with Phil Goff was over allegations by Goff that Carter had travelled too much as a Cabinet Minister. All of Carter's travel as a minister was official travel and approved by Cabinet (of which Goff was a member). Carter's demotion included removal from the front bench, and loss of the shadow portfolio of Foreign Affairs. Carter subsequently speculated publicly about whether he would continue as a Member of Parliament.

As a cabinet minister, Carter was entitled to the title of The Honourable and became The Hon. Mr Chris Carter,[12] which is a title granted for the rest of his life.[13]

On 29 July 2010 Carter was suspended from the Labour Party caucus for allegedly being behind an anonymous letter sent around the press gallery claiming there was a leadership challenge against Phil Goff; a charge he later admitted.[4] On 17 August 2010, Speaker Lockwood Smith announced that Carter was officially an independent MP and no longer a Labour MP.[5]

Carter remained an independent MP until his resignation as a Member of Parliament on 30 September 2011. Because Carter's resignation was less than six months prior to the general election on 26 November 2011 election, no by-election was held to fill the vacancy he created.

United Nations

In early September 2011 Carter was appointed as programme manager of the Governance Unit of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Afghanistan, leading the strengthening of local governance in all 34 Afghan Provinces. He served in that role for 4 years.

On 18 October 2013, Carter was waiting for a colleague to leave his compound in Kabul when a suicide bomber attacked a passing military convoy on the street some 25 metres (82 ft) away; he was separated from the blast by a glass wall. If his Australian colleague had not been late, they could have been the victims of the attack themselves. Carter considered it a "close shave".[14]

In September 2015 Carter was appointed as the Senior UN Advisor for Rakhine State in Myanmar after serving for 4 years in Afghanistan. His Myanmar role, which he filled until 2019, was to lead and coordinate development by UN Agencies operating in Rakhine State, a region of Myanmar marked by serious religious and ethnic conflict between Buddhist and Muslim communities.

Local politics

In 2019, Carter retired from the United Nations after seven years' service and returned to New Zealand to live in Te Atatū. He had rejoined the New Zealand Labour Party in 2018. In the 2019 New Zealand local elections, he was elected a member of Auckland Council's Henderson-Massey Local Board and became Chairperson. He was also elected as a member of the Waitemata District Health Board.[15]


  1. ^ Meng-Yee, Carolyne (13 June 2010). "Big-spending MP may quit". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 13 June 2010.
  2. ^ "New Zealand Hansard – Members Sworn Volume:651;Page:2". New Zealand Parliament.
  3. ^ "Ministerial List for Announcement on 31 October 2007" (Press release). New Zealand Government. 31 October 2007. Archived from the original (DOC) on 1 October 2008. Retrieved 22 November 2007.
  4. ^ a b "Ousted MP's letter "stupid and disloyal"". Television New Zealand. 29 July 2010. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
  5. ^ a b "Speaker: Carter now an independent". The New Zealand Herald. 17 August 2010. Retrieved 18 August 2010.
  6. ^ "Carter tells Labour council: I'll dish dirt on senior MPs". The New Zealand Herald. 12 October 2010. Retrieved 25 October 2010.
  7. ^ McNaughton, Maggie; Perry, Keith (10 February 2007). "Minister to marry in gay union". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 5 February 2010.
  8. ^ Hansard. 542. New Zealand Parliament. p. 768.
  9. ^ "Electorate Candidate and Party Votes Recorded at Each Polling Place – Waipareira" (PDF). Retrieved 6 July 2013.
  10. ^ "Part III – Party Lists of Successful Registered Parties" (PDF). Electoral Commission. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 February 2013. Retrieved 14 June 2013.
  11. ^ Te Atatu results 2008.
  12. ^ "Members of Executive Council Appointed". The New Zealand Gazette: 2948. 20 August 2002. Retrieved 22 July 2012.
  13. ^ "Retention of the Title "The Honourable"". The New Zealand Gazette: 5156. 18 December 2008. Retrieved 22 July 2012.
  14. ^ Forbes, Michael (21 October 2013). "Taliban bomb explodes close to ex-NZ MP". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
  15. ^ Todd Niall, "MP Chris Carter returns for elections", The Dominion Post, 12 March 2019, p. 10.