John Key

Prime Minister of New Zealand from 2008 to 2016

Sir John Phillip Key GNZM AC (born 9 August 1961) is a New Zealand retired politician and diplomat who was the 38th Prime Minister of New Zealand and was the 11th Leader of the New Zealand National Party. He entered the New Zealand Parliament in 2002 representing the north-west Auckland area of Helensville as a National MP, a seat that he still holds. In 2006 he succeeded Don Brash as the National Party leader in 2006. Key led his party to victory in the 2008 New Zealand general election.

John Key

Head and shoulders of John Key in a dark suit and pale blue spotted tie
Key in February 2015
38th Prime Minister of New Zealand
In office
19 November 2008 – 12 December 2016
MonarchElizabeth II
DeputyBill English
Preceded byHelen Clark
Succeeded byBill English
31st Leader of the Opposition
In office
27 November 2006 – 19 November 2008
DeputyBill English
Preceded byDon Brash
Succeeded byPhil Goff
11th Leader of the National Party
In office
27 November 2006 – 12 December 2016
DeputyBill English
Preceded byDon Brash
Succeeded byBill English
3rd Chairman of the International Democracy Union
In office
21 November 2014 – 21 February 2018
DeputyTony Clement
Preceded byJohn Howard
Succeeded byStephen Harper
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Helensville
In office
27 July 2002 – 14 April 2017
Preceded byConstituency established
Succeeded byChris Penk
Majority20,547 (56.49%)[1]
Personal details
Born (1961-08-09) 9 August 1961 (age 62)
Auckland, New Zealand
Political partyNational
Bronagh Dougan (m. 1984)
  • George Key (Father)
  • Ruth Lazar (Mother)
Alma materUniversity of Canterbury (BCom)
OccupationPolitician, Diplomat
WebsiteOfficial website

In March 2016, Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of New Zealand, approved the appointment of Dame Patsy Reddy as the next Governor-General of New Zealand, for a five-year term starting in September 2016, on the advice of John Key.[2]

In December 2016, Key has announced his resignation as prime minister and leader of the National Party. He also instructed the party to put into motion the processes to elect a new leader. He expressed interest in spending more time with his family, stating that he had "never seen [himself] as a career politician" and that "this feels the right time to go". Media reports described the decision as unexpected, and noted the popularity of Key and his party.[3][4] Bill English won the leadership election and succeeded Key on 12 December.[5] Key was very popular when he left office.

Personal Life

Key with his wife and two children

Key was born in Auckland, New Zealand, to George Key and Ruth Key. His father, who was from the UK, died of a heart attack in 1967. Key and his two sisters were raised in a state house in Christchurch by his Jewish mother.[6]

He attended Burnside High School, and earned a Bachelor of Commerce degree in accounting from the University of Canterbury in 1981.[7] He has attended management studies courses at Harvard University, although he did not receive a degree from this institution.[8][9]

Key met his wife Bronagh when they were both students at Burnside High School. They married in 1984. They have two children, Stephie and Max.[10]

Before politics


In 1995, he joined Merrill Lynch as head of Asian foreign exchange in Singapore. That same year he was promoted to Merrill's global head of foreign exchange, based in London, where he may have earned around US$2.25 million a year including bonuses, which is about NZ$5 million at 2001 exchange rates.[7][11] Some co-workers called him "the smiling assassin" for maintaining his usual cheerfulness while sacking dozens (some say hundreds) of staff after heavy losses from the 1998 Russian financial crisis.[10][11] He was a member of the Foreign Exchange Committee of the New York Federal Reserve Bank from 1999 to 2001.[9]

Parl. Electorate List Pos. Party
47th Helensville 43 National
48th Helensville 7 National
49th Helensville 1 National

Prime Minister (2008-2016)

Key after winning the 2008 election

Key became Prime Minister following the general election on 8 November 2008 which ended the Labour-led government of nine years under Helen Clark. The National Party, promoting a policy of "change", won 45% of the party vote and 59 of the 122 seats in Parliament, a big margin over the Labour Party which won 43 seats.

Key was sworn in as Prime Minister on 19 November 2008 along with his new cabinet. His first international outing as Prime Minister was the 20th APEC meeting in Peru the following day.

Key announced he will step down from the role of Prime Minister and leader of the National Party effective 12 December 2016.[12]


  1. "Official Count Results–Helensville". Electoral Commission. 12 November 2008. Archived from the original on 21 June 2009. Retrieved 12 November 2008.
  2. Key, John (22 March 2016). "PM welcomes Dame Patsy Reddy as the next Governor-General". (Press release).
  3. "New Zealand prime minister John Key resigns". The Guardian. 5 December 2016. Archived from the original on 5 December 2016. Retrieved 5 December 2016.
  4. "John Key's eight-year reign comes to an end as Bill English gets head-start in leadership race". 5 December 2016. Retrieved 5 December 2016.
  5. Davison, Isaac (8 December 2016). "Bill English will be next Prime Minister, Judith Collins, Jonathan Coleman stand aside". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 5 June 2017.
  6. "". Archived from the original on 2008-04-05. Retrieved 2008-03-19.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "POLITICS: John Key - A snapshot". Sunday Star Times. 2008-02-03. Archived from the original on 2008-03-19. Retrieved 2008-02-28.
  8. Maggie Tait (2006-11-27). "Profile: John Key". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2008-02-28.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "New Zealand Parliament - Key, John". Archived from the original on 2008-03-03. Retrieved 2008-02-28.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Bevan Rapson (2005-04-26). "Golden Boy". Metro Magazine. Archived from the original on 2008-02-28. Retrieved 2008-02-28.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Gillian Tett and Ruth Laugesen (2008-02-03). "Who is John Key?". Sunday Star Times. Archived from the original on 2008-03-18. Retrieved 2008-02-28.
  12. "New Zealand Prime Minister John Key announces resignation". 5 December 2016. Retrieved 5 December 2016.