Steve Maharey

New Zealand Labour Party Massey University New Zealand Parliament

Steve Maharey

Steve Maharey, 2008.jpg
22nd Minister for Research, Science and Technology
In office
21 December 2004[1] – 31 October 2007[2]
Prime MinisterHelen Clark
Preceded byNew office
Succeeded byPete Hodgson
42nd Minister of Education
In office
October 2005[3] – 31 October 2007[2]
Prime MinisterHelen Clark
Preceded byTrevor Mallard
Succeeded byChris Carter
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Palmerston North
In office
Preceded byTrevor de Cleene
Succeeded byIain Lees-Galloway
Vice-Chancellor of Massey University
In office
October 2008 – December 2016
Preceded byJudith Kinnear
Succeeded byJan Thomas
Personal details
Born (1953-02-03) 3 February 1953 (age 67)
Palmerston North,
 New Zealand
Political partyLabour

Steven Maharey CNZM (born 3 February 1953) is a former Member of Parliament for Palmerston North in New Zealand, as a member of the Labour Party. In the fifth Labour Government, he held various ministerial roles including Minister of Education and Minister of Social Developing and Employment, before standing down before the 2008 general election to become the Vice-Chancellor at Massey University.[4]

Early life

Maharey was born in Palmerston North in 1953, the son of William Maharey and his wife Irene. He attended Freyberg High School in 1966–1969. After gaining an MA Hons in sociology from Palmerston North's Massey University (1972–1976), he was a lecturer at that institution from 1978, teaching both sociology and business administration. His particular specialty within sociology was social change and cultural studies.[5]

Political career

Palmerston North City Council

Maharey served one term on the Palmerston North City Council (1986–1989).[5]

Member of Parliament

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate List Party
1990–1993 43rd Palmerston North Labour
1993–1996 44th Palmerston North Labour
1996–1999 45th Palmerston North none Labour
1999–2002 46th Palmerston North 3 Labour
2002–2005 47th Palmerston North 4 Labour
2005–2008 48th Palmerston North 5 Labour

In the 1990 election, Maharey stood as the Labour Party candidate for Palmerston North, replacing retiring MP Trevor de Cleene, and was elected to Parliament.[5] After Maharey left the Labour party, Iain Lees-Galloway successfully held the seat for Labour in the 2008 election.

Cabinet minister

Maharey immediately became Labour's spokesperson on broadcasting issues, and also gained associate responsibility for education. In 1994, he switched roles and became spokesperson on labour relations. In 1996, he became spokesperson on social welfare, employment, and tertiary education, and dropped the labour relations portfolio in 1997.

After the 1999 election, a Labour-Alliance government was formed, Maharey became Minister of Social Services and Employment, having responsibility for social welfare, youth services, and the reduction of unemployment. In 2002 the title changed to Minister for Social Development and Employment. He also became Associate Minister of Education holding special responsibility for tertiary education. After the 2002 election, in which Labour was re-elected, Maharey also became Minister of Broadcasting. In a December 2004 cabinet reshuffle, Maharey dropped the Associate Minister of Education portfolio and became Minister for Education, Minister for Research, Science and Technology, Minister for Crown Research Institutes, and Minister for Youth Affairs. He was officially ranked fourth in the Cabinet hierarchy.

Maharey stood down from his ministerial roles in 2007, pending his appointment as Vice-Chancellor of Massey University.[2][4] In the 2009 New Year Honours, Maharey was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services as a Member of Parliament.[6]

Roles after Parliament

From 2008 until 2016, Steve Maharey was the Vice-Chancellor of Massey University. In August 2018, Maharey became the Chair of the Board of Pharmac.[7]


While former colleague John Tamihere described Maharey as 'smarmy' in an Investigate magazine interview, Maharey's personality publicly surfaced during the Christine Rankin Employment Court Hearing in 2001, where Rankin and Maharey publicly exchanged insults.[8] The New Zealand Herald quoted several exchanges between the two verbatim that were alleged to have occurred by Rankin.[9] The court did not uphold Rankin's claims.

In April 2007, Maharey came under criticism for saying 'fuck you' in parliamentary question time on 4 April.[10] He apologised shortly afterwards. The outburst was elicited when Maharey was questioned by Jonathan Coleman about the appropriateness of his actions as broadcasting minister threatening to complain to the Radio New Zealand board when he was displeased by a host Sean Plunket referring to a comment Maharey had made about the need for the Cambridge exam in Botswana as 'racist.'[11]


  1. ^ "Cullen gets Attorney General role". Television New Zealand. 20 December 2004. Retrieved 21 November 2007.
  2. ^ a b c "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.
  3. ^ "Clark announces cabinet portfolios". Television New Zealand. 19 October 2005. Retrieved 21 November 2007.
  4. ^ a b Claire Trevett (19 October 2007). "Maharey quitting Cabinet to join University". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 19 October 2007.
  5. ^ a b c Hancock, Mervyn (December 2005). "Steven Maharey : Member of Parliament for Palmerston North 1990 – Present" (PDF). Palmerston North Library. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 October 2008. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  6. ^ "New Year honours list 2009". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 31 December 2008. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  7. ^ "Board members | PHARMAC". Retrieved 1 September 2019.
  8. ^ "Letter No.149". The Jobs Letter. 16 July 2001. Retrieved 19 October 2007.
  9. ^ Vernon Small and Francesca Mold (26 June 2001). "Officials planned to lie says Rankin". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 19 October 2007.
  10. ^ Audrey Young (5 April 2007). "A couple of quick words from the Minister ... whoops". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 19 October 2007.
  11. ^ "Radio New Zealand—Ministerial Process". New Zealand Parliament (Hansard). 4 April 2007. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 19 October 2007.