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New Book Appraises Political Leadership in NZ

Media release
21 April 2006

New Auckland University Book Appraises Political Leadership in New Zealand

Political Leadership in New Zealand (Auckland University Press), a new book appraising political leadership in this country, will be launched today by the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Helen Clark.

Editors Raymond Miller and Michael Mintrom, from the Department of Political Studies at the University of Auckland, say, “Now is a fantastic time to be analysing political leadership in New Zealand.”

Up until this point, the study of political leadership in New Zealand has been dominated by biographies that have tended to combine narratives of leaders’ private lives with analysis of their public actions. These make very important contributions to our understanding of political history and, to an extent, political leadership.

But, Miller and Mintrom believe, other research strategies that pay more attention to political context and the interactions between leaders and followers can shed important new light on the exercise of political leadership.

“While New Zealand’s parliamentarians have been operating within an environment shaped by MMP for a decade now, the election of 2005 gave the strongest indication to date of the considerable negotiating talent that a would-be prime minister must exercise in order to form a stable government that is acceptable to a majority of voters.”

Political leadership is now a very much broader role than in the past – adversarial and debating skills alone are no longer enough to be an effective leader and the arena itself stretches out into in the wider community. Political leadership can be exercised by business groups, environmentalists and diverse entities such as the Human Rights Commission and Equal Employment Opportunities Trust, for example. And the media plays a pivotal role.

Michael Mintrom comments, “It’s an enormously complex business being an effective political leader today and the variety of chapters in this book reflect that”:

Constructing New Zealand in the World (David Capie, VUW)
Globalisation and the Knowledge Economy (Jacqui True, UoA)
Populist Roots of Leadership in New Zealand (Barry Gustafson, UoA)
Leadership Styles of Helen Clark and Don Brash (John Henderson (Canterbury) and Seishi Gomibuchi)
Leadership in Cabinet Under MMP (Elizabeth McLeay, VUW)
Minor Party Leadership Under MMP (Raymond Miller, UoA)
Maori Conceptions of Leadership and Self-Determination (Ranginui Walker)
Asian New Zealanders: Emergent Political Leadership and Politicised Communities (Manying Ip, UoA)
Media and Leadership (Margie Comrie, Massey)
Resolving the Foreshore and Seabed Dispute (Matthew Palmer, VUW)
Regional Economic Development (Michael Mintrom and Luke Williams, UoA).

The New Zealand Leadership Institute at the University of Auckland played a vital role in the conception of Political Leadership in New Zealand through its support of the initial planning workshop in June 2004.

In his Foreword to the book, the Institute's leader, Professor Lester Levy, acknowledges the Institute’s profound interest in creating a nexus between academic theory, research and practice to transform the understanding and practice of leadership in New Zealand.

“This excellent book achieves this goal and creates a platform for the type of conversations that can lead to more and better political leadership. I congratulate Raymond Miller and Michael Mintrom and their fellow authors on this important initiative which has the capacity to create both more understanding and action.”

Political Leadership in New Zealand (PB; $49.99) will be launched at a function co-hosted by Professor Lester Levy of the New Zealand Leadership Institute and Professor Robert Nola, Chair of the AUP Board.


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