Jim Bolger, born 1935, was the Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1990 to 1997 and has had a noteworthy career in politics for over 20 years.
He led the New Zealand National Party for 12 years and achieved the biggest electoral victory in New Zealand history in the election of 1990. He was also the first Prime Minister elected under the MMP electoral system.
He began his parliamentary career when he was elected as a Member of Parliament for the King Country in 1972 and went on to hold many ministerial portfolios over the next 15 years. He was Minister of Labour, Minister of Immigration, Minister in Charge of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service, and Minister of Maori Affairs.
He was also New Zealand’s first Minister of Fisheries and Associate Minister of Agriculture when he was engaged in international negotiations associated with New Zealand’s move to declare a 200 mile exclusive economic zone. He was also instrumental in introducing significant legislative changes, such as permitting weekend shopping and voluntary unionism.
In 1983, he was selected as President of the International Labour Organisation and elected Prime Minister of New Zealand in 1990.
Under his leadership, the country went through some notable changes. The economy evolved into having one of the OECD’s strongest growth rates, after previously having one of the lowest, and is now recognised as among the most open and competitive economies in the world. His administration also developed outward-looking foreign policy which strengthened New Zealand’s relationships with other countries, especially those in the Asia/Pacific region.
Jim Bolger took a leading role in the international debate on nuclear disarmament, particularly in the Pacific region. He chaired the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in New Zealand in 1995 and represented New Zealand at all of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation’s Leaders Summits since 1993.
In 1994, Jim Bolger was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Agriculture Economics from Khon Kaen University in Thailand.