Jim Sutton

New Zealand Labour Party New Zealand Parliament 2005 New Zealand general election

Jim Sutton

Jim Sutton New Zealand MP.jpg
Sutton in 2007
Minister of Agriculture
In office
9 February 1990 – 2 November 1990
Prime MinisterGeoffrey Palmer
Mike Moore
In office
10 December 1999 – 19 October 2005
Prime MinisterHelen Clark
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Waitaki
In office
1984 – 1990
Preceded byJonathan Elworthy
Succeeded byAlec Neill
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Timaru
In office
1993 – 1996
Preceded byMaurice McTigue
Succeeded byConstituency abolished
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Aoraki
In office
1996 – 2005
Preceded byConstituency established
Succeeded byJo Goodhew
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Labour Party list
In office
2005 – 1 August 2006
Succeeded byCharles Chauvel
Personal details
Born (1941-11-07) 7 November 1941 (age 78)
Reading, Berkshire, England
NationalityNew Zealand
Political partyLabour

James Robert Sutton CNZM (born 7 November 1941), generally known as Jim Sutton, is a New Zealand politician who was a Member of Parliament between 1984 and 1990 and again between 1993 and 2006. He has held a range of ministerial portfolios including Agriculture, Forestry, Rural Affairs, Biosecurity, and Trade Negotiations.[1]


Sutton was born in Reading, Berkshire, England. He came to New Zealand while young, arriving in 1949. He attended Timaru Boys' High School before becoming a farmer. Sutton is married, and has three children.

He has held a number of offices in Federated Farmers, a nationwide agricultural association. He was also Director of Trustbank South Canterbury, chaired the New Zealand Aids Foundation, served as a board member of the Public Health Commission, and was Deputy Chair of both the New Zealand Lotteries Commission and Meridian Energy. His brother Bill Sutton has also been a Labour MP.

Honours and awards

Sutton was appointed as a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year Honours List 2007 for public services as a member of parliament and Minister of the Crown[2]

Member of Parliament

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate List Party
1984–1987 41st Waitaki Labour
1987–1990 42nd Waitaki Labour
1993–1996 44th Timaru Labour
1996–1999 45th Aoraki 18 Labour
1999–2002 46th Aoraki 11 Labour
2002–2005 46th Aoraki 8 Labour
2005–2006 46th List 11 Labour

Sutton first stood for parliament in the election of 1981, becoming the Labour Party's candidate for the Waitaki electorate. He was unsuccessful against National's Jonathan Elworthy. In the 1984 election, however, he stood again, and won the electorate. Most rural electorates in New Zealand traditionally support the National Party, and so Sutton's victory as a Labour candidate was noteworthy.

Sutton retained his electorate in the 1987 general election, but was defeated in the election of 1990. He returned to farming for three years before being returned to Parliament as the MP for Timaru in the 1993 general election. The switch to the MMP electoral system caused significant redistribution of electorates for the 1996 general election, and Sutton became the MP for Aoraki, which included both of his former electorates.

Ministerial role

Sutton's first ministerial role had come in the dying days of the Fourth Labour Government, shortly before he lost the Waitaki electorate. He served as Minister of Agriculture and Minister of Forestry for most of 1990, leaving cabinet when Labour was defeated in that year's election. However, when Labour won the 1999 general election, Sutton became a minister once again in the Fifth Labour Government. He resumed his Agriculture portfolio while also becoming Minister for Rural Affairs and Minister for Trade Negotiations. In 2001, he gained the Biosecurity portfolio, and in 2002, he regained the Forestry portfolio. In the December 2004 cabinet reshuffle he dropped the Forestry portfolio and for Rural Affairs became Associate Minister.[3]

Retirement from politics

In the 2005 general election, Sutton lost his electorate by a substantial margin, facing the biggest drop in support in any electorate. This has been attributed to anger over things such as school closures, and his role in the "speeding motorcade" affair.[4] He remained in parliament as a list MP, but announced his retirement from politics on 10 July 2006, effective from 1 August 2006.[5] He was replaced from the Labour list by Charles Chauvel.

Sutton subsequently became Ambassador for Trade[6] and the chairman of Landcorp, an appointment renewed by the National government in 2009.[7]


  1. ^ "Former MPs – Hon. Jim Sutton". New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved 27 January 2010.
  2. ^ "New Year Honours List 2007". C.N.Z.M. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
  3. ^ Wilson, Peter (20 December 2004). "Clark names her 'transition' cabinet". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 27 January 2010.
  4. ^ O'Sullivan, Fran (20 January 2007). "Only a purge will work". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 27 January 2010.
  5. ^ Berry, Ruth (10 July 2006). "Jim Sutton to quit politics". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 27 January 2010.
  6. ^ "Hong Kong Review – September/October 2007". New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Retrieved 27 January 2010.
  7. ^ Trevett, Claire (20 May 2009). "National is busily appointing its own to prime positions". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 27 January 2010.