John Phillip Key is the 38th
and current Prime Minister of New Zealand and leader of the New Zealand
Key (born August 9, 1961) was born in New Zealand's largest city Auckland, before moving as a child with his family to the city of Christchurch on the South Island. Key's father was an English
immigrant and a veteran of the Spanish Civil War and World War II and he was raised by Austrian-Jewish immigrant mother. Key attended the University of Canterbury and graduated in 1981 with a bachelor of commerce, also later undertaking management studies at Harvard University in Boston.
After a career in foreign exchange, Key entered the New Zealand House
of Representatives in 2002 representing the Auckland electorate of Helensville. In 2004, he was appointed Finance
Spokesman for National and eventually succeeded Don Brash as the National
Party leader in 2006. Key led his party to victory in the November 2008
At the 2002
elections, Key won the seat of a new electorate called Helensville with a majority of 1,705, ahead of Labour's
Gary Russell, with long-serving
MP Brian Neeson, now standing as an independent, coming third.
Key was re-elected with ease at the 2005 election garnering 63% of votes
cast in Helensville, and increased his majority again in 2008, gaining
73% of the electorate vote. In 2004, Key was promoted to the Opposition
front benches by party leader Don Brash and was made the party spokesman
for finance. In late 2006 Brash resigned as leader, citing damaging
speculation over his future as the reason.
Key became Prime Minister following the general election on November 8,
2008, which signalled an end to 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 (including
a two-seat overhang), a substantial margin over the Labour Party, which
won 43 seats.
Key was sworn in as Prime Minister on November 19, 2008, along with his
new cabinet. His first radio interview after being sworn in as Prime Minister was done with a station in Israel and his first international outing as Prime Minister was the
20th APEC meeting in Peru the following day.