Nikki Kaye

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Nikki Kaye

Nikki Kaye NZgovt.jpg
46th Minister of Education
In office
2 May 2017 – 26 October 2017
Prime MinisterBill English
Preceded byHekia Parata
Succeeded byChris Hipkins
Minister for Youth
In office
22 January 2013 – 26 October 2017
Prime MinisterJohn Key
Bill English
Preceded byPaula Bennett
Succeeded byPeeni Henare
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Auckland Central
Assumed office
8 November 2008
Preceded byJudith Tizard
Majority1,497 (4.38%)
Minister for ACC
In office
6 October 2014 – 20 December 2016
Prime MinisterJohn Key
Bill English
Preceded byJudith Collins
Succeeded byMichael Woodhouse
22nd Minister of Civil Defence
In office
22 January 2013 – 20 December 2016
Prime MinisterJohn Key
Bill English
Preceded byChris Tremain
Succeeded byGerry Brownlee
Personal details
Born (1980-02-11) 11 February 1980 (age 39)
Auckland, New Zealand
Political partyNational Party

Nicola Laura "Nikki" Kaye[1] MP (born 11 February 1980) is the member of the New Zealand Parliament for the Auckland Central electorate. In January 2013, she was appointed to the Cabinet by Prime Minister John Key, giving her the portfolios of Food Safety, Civil Defence, and Youth Affairs, and Associate Minister of Education and Immigration. From September 2016 to early 2017 she was on sick leave from the House of Representatives, after a breast cancer diagnosis.[2] She returned to Parliament in early 2017 to resume full duties.[3]

Early life[edit]

Kaye was born in Auckland and grew up in Epsom and Kohimarama.[4] Kaye's parents separated when she was seven years old. Her family includes a brother and sister, "two half-brothers, four half-sisters, one stepbrother and two step-parents".

She was educated at Corran School, where she was Head Prefect, before earning a science degree in genetics from the University of Otago, where she also began her Bachelor of Laws, later completing it in Wellington.[4][5]

Kaye is an accomplished competitive athlete, having been the Auckland Women's 3,000 m running champion in 1997, and has raced in numerous marathons and multi-sport events. In 2008 Kaye competed in the Coast to Coast multi-sport event. In February 2013, Kaye completed the Coast to Coast race a second time, becoming the first New Zealand Cabinet Minister to do so.[citation needed]

In 1997, Kaye participated in a television documentary called Fish out of Water, in which she and five other teenagers were marooned on Rakitu Island (off Great Barrier Island) and fended for themselves for eight days.[4] The documentary footage was located in March 2014 and was published on New Zealand on Air's on-line archive NZ On Screen as part of its "before they were famous" series.[6]

Kaye joined the National Party in 1998, becoming women's vice-chair of the southern region of the New Zealand Young Nationals. She is a former International Vice-Chairman of the International Young Democrat Union.[7]

Kaye began working for Bill English in the office of the Leader of the Opposition in 2002 as a policy researcher. In 2003 she travelled to the United Kingdom, where she worked as a policy officer and project manager at the London boroughs of Enfield and Bromley, and then at Transport for London, where she managed a disabled people transport program, before working as an IT project manager at the Halifax Bank of Scotland.[4]

In 2006, Kaye co-founded a website,, and acts as Director of Communications for that company.[citation needed]

Member of Parliament[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate List Party
2008–2011 49th Auckland Central 57 National
2011–2014 50th Auckland Central 33 National
2014–2017 51st Auckland Central 19 National
2017–present 52nd Auckland Central 13 National

Kaye returned to New Zealand in late 2007 to contest the National Party candidacy for the Auckland Central electorate. Standing against three other nominees, Kaye was considered an outsider to win a close selection battle against sitting National MP Jackie Blue for the nomination.[citation needed]

Kaye worked full-time as the National Party candidate from the time of her selection. Kaye campaigned on improving public transport infrastructure, improving marine protection on Great Barrier Island, and taking a greater interest in small businesses in Auckland. During her campaign she knocked on 10,000 doors.[8]

At the general election on 8 November 2008, Kaye was elected as National's MP for Auckland Central, defeating incumbent Labour MP Judith Tizard. This was greeted as one of the most significant upsets of the 2008 general election, breaking a 90-year hold by left-wing parties over the seat, and becoming the first ever National MP for the electorate.[citation needed]

First term[edit]

As an MP, Kaye has, amongst other things, supported applications for the New Zealand Cycle Trail fund for routes in urban Auckland, on Waiheke Island and Great Barrier Island (the latter two islands being in her electorate as well).[9] In early 2010, she broke with the National Party's policy of encouraging mining in conservation land, including on Great Barrier – claiming long connections to the island, and fitting in with her known support for environmental causes. She had noted during her maiden speech in parliament that "Our environment is the greatest gift we have been given as a nation", and that economical considerations, especially of the short term, should not trump this.[5] Kaye is a supporter of reinstating trams for Auckland, and has called for a feasibility study into extending the new Wynyard Loop.[10]

She holds up former National MP Katherine Rich as one of her role models.[4] Kaye's own policies, placing her in the socially liberal wing of the National Party,[5] have been criticised by some people in her own party, where some have called her a "high maintenance backbencher". Others have called her "obsessive", or, in a more positive vein, "driven".[5] However, commentators have argued that her stance is unlikely to hurt her in her marginal electorate, which has traditionally voted Labour.[5]

Kaye was elected the deputy chair of the Government Administration Select Committee in February 2011. In her first parliamentary term, she also sat on the Local Government and Environment Select Committee and the Auckland Governance Legislation Select Committee. Through her time in Parliament on these committees she has been heavily involved in the review of the Resource Management (Simplifying and Streamlining) Amendment Bill and legislation creating the Auckland Council.[11]

In May 2011, Kaye appeared in an episode of the TVNZ series Make the Politician Work. The episode featured Kaye working a shift on a rubbish collection route and highlighted her campaign for waste minimisation in Auckland.[12]

At the 2011 election, Kaye stood again in Auckland Central in a high-profile race to retain the seat. She was challenged for the seat by Labour list MP Jacinda Ardern and Green candidate Denise Roche, and was placed at position 33 on the National Party list. She defeated Ardern, although her majority was halved to 717, her share of the vote increased to 45.39%, due to significant strategic voting by Green Party voters supporting Ardern for the electorate vote.[13]

Second term[edit]

Following the 2011 election, Kaye was elected Chair of Parliament's Education and Science Select Committee. During this time, despite a minority of Government members on the Committee, she managed to progress a significant number of inquiries and pieces of legislation through the House process.[14] At the end of 2012 the Education and Science Select Committee completed an inquiry into 21st Century Learning Environments and Digital Literacy, which Kaye championed.[15]

Kaye was instrumental in bringing a gay pride event back to Auckland,[16] where there is a significant LGBT community in her electorate. In 2012 she worked with Green MP Kevin Hague on a private member's bill to reform adoption and surrogacy laws, which was introduced to Parliament that year.[17] In August 2012, Kaye successfully led the campaign within the National Party to retain the alcohol purchase age at 18, despite significant support from parliamentary colleagues to raise the purchase age.[18]

On 29 August 2012 Kaye delivered a speech at Parliament in favour of Louisa Wall's Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Act 2013, which she voted for through all stages. This was met with positive reception from members of the LGBT community.[citation needed]

Third term and promotion to Cabinet Minister[edit]

On 22 January 2013 Kaye was appointed by Prime Minister John Key to the Cabinet of New Zealand[19] and was appointed as Minister for Food Safety, Minister of Civil Defence and Minister of Youth Affairs; along with being made the Associate Minister of Education and Associate Minister of Immigration.[20][21]

After the 2014 general election, Kaye was appointed Minister for ACC,[22] while retaining her other portfolios, except Food Safety and Associate Immigration.[23] In 2016 she took leave from Parliament and her ministerial duties while being treated for breast cancer.[24] She returned to Parliament in early 2017 to resume full duties.[3]

New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Judith Tizard
Member of Parliament for Auckland Central
Political offices
Preceded by
Hekia Parata
Minister of Education
Succeeded by
Chris Hipkins
Preceded by
Judith Collins
Minister for ACC
Succeeded by
Michael Woodhouse
Preceded by
Chris Tremain
Minister of Civil Defence
Succeeded by
Gerry Brownlee
Preceded by
Paula Bennett
Minister for Youth
Succeeded by
Peeni Henare


  1. ^ "New Zealand Hansard – Members Sworn [Volume:651;Page:2]". New Zealand Parliament.
  2. ^ "Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye stands down after breast cancer diagnosis". The Aucklander. NZME. 6 September 2016. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  3. ^ a b "National MP Nikki Kaye returning to full duties after breast cancer treatment". Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Battle looming in Auckland Central". The New Zealand Herald. 4 May 2008. Retrieved 4 April 2010.
  5. ^ a b c d e Young, Audrey (27 March 2010). "Blue-green ambitions". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 4 April 2010.
  6. ^ "Fish out of Water (1997)". NZ On Screen. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  7. ^ "New Zealand Election Report – a victory for those who kept the faith". International Young Democrat Union. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  8. ^ "Nikki makes history in Auckland Central". Auckland City Harbour News. 11 November 2008. Retrieved 6 January 2011.
  9. ^ Dearnaley, Mathew (11 January 2010). "Great Barrier wants cycleway link". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 30 October 2011.
  10. ^ "Auckland Central MP calls for new tram line routes". 5 July 2011. Retrieved 16 August 2011.
  11. ^ "Nikki Kaye – Profile". 19 April 2011.
  12. ^ "Make the Politician Work". TVNZ. 4 May 2008. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
  13. ^ "Official Count Results – Auckland Central – 2011 General Election". Electoral Commission (New Zealand). 10 December 2011. Retrieved 28 November 2011.
  14. ^ Vance, Andrea (26 January 2013). "Kaye brings energy, humanity and commitment to Cabinet". Dominion Post. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
  15. ^ "Welcome to the world of a teacher-less classroom". 10 February 2013.
  16. ^ Andrew, Dickison (10 February 2013). "NewztalkZB Speaks to National MP Nikki Kaye". Retrieved 12 February 2013.
  17. ^ Audrey, Young (28 May 2012). "Political rials unite on gay adoption laws". NZ Herald. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
  18. ^ "Q+A Debate Nikki Kaye debates with Tim McIndoe". 26 August 2012. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
  19. ^ "Members of Executive Council Appointed" (7 February 2013) 13 New Zealand Gazette 209 at 438.
  20. ^ "Appointment of Ministers" (7 February 2013) 13 New Zealand Gazette 209 at 238.
  21. ^ "Ministerial List for Announcement on 22 January 2013" (PDF). Beehive. 22 January 2013.
  22. ^ "Appointment of Ministers" (16 October 2014) 127 New Zealand Gazette 3475 at 3552.
  23. ^ "Resignation of Ministers" (16 October 2014) 127 New Zealand Gazette 3475 at 3551.
  24. ^ "Breast cancer diagnosis 'devastating news for me and my family' – Govt Minister Nikki Kaye | ONE News Now". TVNZ. 14 February 2016. Retrieved 11 September 2016.

External links[edit]