Walter Nash


At almost 76, Walter Nash was New Zealand’s oldest incoming PM and the last one born outside New Zealand. He had two wives, Lotty, and Parliament. He was still an MP when he died aged 86.

A solid deputy but flawed leader, Nash was so indecisive that people joked that if asked to name his favourite colour he would have replied ‘plaid’. His ill-advised statement during the bitter 1951 waterfront dispute that Labour ‘are not for the waterside workers, and we are not against them’ typified this failing.

At his worst, Nash was a verbose, vain vacillator who drowned people in paperwork. At his best he served Savage and Fraser ably as finance minister, introducing guaranteed prices for dairy produce. He also played a major role in creating Labour’s social welfare system. In 1942-3 he worked in Washington as resident minister to co-ordinate the war effort. In 1944 he attended meetings that created the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He never lost his love of travel (it was said he would attend the opening of an envelope) and interest in international relations.

When Peter Fraser died in 1950, Nash took over. His brief prime ministership was memorable mainly for its frequent overseas travel, the 1958 ‘Black Budget’ and for an industrialisation programme that included the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter. He was replaced as party leader in 1963 and knighted two years later.

By Gavin McLean

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Posted: 15 Jul 2016

This is a very anti write-up. Where's the information about all the wonderful things he did?