8 Jan 2018

Jim Anderton 'gave a voice to the voiceless' - Clark

9:50 am on 8 January 2018

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark says Jim Anderton, who died yesterday, was an inspiring politician and a loyal deputy.

Labour leader and Prime Minister Helen Clark and Jim Anderton, leader of the coalition partner the Alliance, hold up their coalition agreement in 1999.

Helen Clark and Jim Anderton hold up their coalition agreement in 1999. Photo: teara.govt.nz

Mr Anderton died at the age of 79 in the Cashmere View Hospital yesterday, after a long illness.

Miss Clark told Summer Times Mr Anderton's legacy was a strong one.

"I think it goes over and beyond the creation of institutions like Kiwibank, or building up what was then the Ministry of Economic Development. I think the legacy is that this man stood for the poor and marginalised, and gave a voice to the voiceless. He really cared about people."

She said he was the politician she worked with for the longest during her tenure in government and she has decades of memories with him.

"I knew Jim Anderton from the early 1970s when I first got involved in local body, campaigning for the Labour Party and then of course general elections. We served on the New Zealand executive of the Labour Party together from the late seventies through until the eighties and of course we were in parliament together and then eventually in government together for nine years.

"So many decades of memories there. Probably the relationship I had with him goes back further than that with any politician I worked with in the fifth labour government."

"Of course it was a relationship that had its ups and downs with what happened with the fourth Labour government and with the Alliance but that's down the memory hole now."

In 1990 Mr Anderton formed the NewLabour Party after resigning from the Labour Party the year before.

A few years later he took NewLabour into an alliance with four other small, centre-left parties and helped lead the campaign for proportional voting.

Miss Clark said getting the Alliance over the line was testament to his motivation.

"Governments can be quite tough on smaller parties in arrangements as we've seen with MMP but nonetheless Jim did a remarkable job getting the Alliance to be the force it actually was in New Zealand politics."

In the 1999 election the Alliance formed a coalition with the Clark-led Labour party and Mr Anderton became Deputy Prime Minister.

"Jim was a very loyal deputy, and over and above that he was a major contributor to the government. he took on big portfolios he built that Ministry of Economic Development and the regional development arm and the sector strategies that we had for the new Zealand economy from nothing into something."

Miss Clark said his commitment to New Zealand and the economy was inspiring.

"He was principled and pragmatic, he knew how far to push, on what and where. If I think back to earlier times he was a very charismatic young leader within the Labour party and certainly inspired me to give everything I had to work and campaigns."

Jim Anderton at his Special Investiture ceremony in 2017.

Jim Anderton at his Special Investiture ceremony in 2017. Photo: Office of the Governor-General

Wigram MP Megan Woods said a requiem mass will be held at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Addington at 2pm on Thursday.

"Sacred Heart is a church that Jim has had a lot to do with. It's his local church, it's certainly a hall that Jim held a lot of political meetings at. So I think it's a very fitting place, it's very local and it's very Jim."

Mr Anderton will be buried on Auckland's Waiheke Island on Saturday.

Politicians past and present have paid tribute to the former deputy prime minister.

  • Tributes for Jim Anderton: 'A man of integrity'
  • Former Deputy Prime Minister Jim Anderton has died