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Michael Joseph Savage

Personal details

Full Name:

Michael Joseph Savage


23 Mar 1872 – 27 Mar 1940

Prime Minister:

6 Dec 1935–27 Mar 1940

Age on becoming Prime Minister:



Auckland West

Political Party:



Michael Joseph Savage
Michael Joseph Savage, New Zealand’s first Labour PM, was probably also it's best-loved. His avuncular image hung in the homes of the Labour faithful for decades.

Events In History

30 March 1940

New Zealand’s first Labour prime minister, Michael Joseph Savage, died in office on 27 March 1940. His body lay in state at Parliament for two days before his funeral cortège, which was more than 1.6 km long, set off for the railway station at 9 a.m. on 30 March.

25 March 1940

A charismatic ex-soldier, orator and writer, John A. Lee had been active in the New Zealand Labour Party since shortly after the First World War.

5 September 1939

When New Zealand declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939, Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage was recovering from an operation for colon cancer. Acting Prime Minister Peter Fraser issued a statement in his place.

2 February 1939

A massive fire destroyed the nearly completed three-storey Social Security building. Just seven weeks later, a replacement building was opened by Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage.

14 September 1938

The cornerstone of the first Labour government’s welfare programme, the Social Security Act overhauled the pension system and extended benefits for families, invalids and the unemployed.

18 September 1937

Most of the Labour Cabinet helped the first tenants move into 12 Fife Lane in Miramar, Wellington. Even Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage carried a cumbersome dining table through a cheering throng.

22 April 1936

The alliance between the Rātana Church and the Labour Party was cemented at an historic meeting between Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana and Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage.

27 November 1935

The 1935 general election has long been seen a defining moment in New Zealand history. Undermined by its failure to cope with the distress of the Depression, the Coalition (‘National’) government was routed by the Labour Party, led by Michael Joseph Savage.


State housing

New Zealand's first state house was formally opened on 18 September 1937. But the government has provided rental housing for New Zealanders for more than a century. Explore the history of this country's various state housing schemes and their contribution to the New Zealand way of life. Read the full article

Page 2 - The first state house

Prime Minister Savage helped out at the opening of the Labour government's first state house in 1937 at 12 Fife Lane, Miramar,

Election Days

When New Zealanders go to the polls on 26 November 2011, they will continue a 158-year-old tradition of parliamentary democracy in this country. Politics may have changed beyond recognition since 1853, but the cut and thrust of the campaign trail, the power of advertising, and the drama of polling day remain as relevant as ever. Read the full article

Page 6 - Radio and TV

Electoral advertising was transformed first by radio, and later by

Housing the Prime Minister

Almost 150 years after the government purchased the first official premier's residence on Tinakori Road, Wellington, the address of Premier House remains the same. But in the intervening years the building has been extended, renamed, abandoned and refurbished. Read the full article

Page 3 - Unofficial prime ministerial houses

From 1935 to 1975 our prime ministers lived in a series of 'unofficial'