David Cunliffe

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David Cunliffe

David Cunliffe is a leading New Zealand Member of Parliament.


The son of an Anglican minister, David Cunliffe was born in 1963 in Te Aroha. His earliest memories are of growing up in the vicarage of the small Waikato town. The Cunliffes later moved to Te Kuiti, then south to Pleasant Point in Canterbury when he was 10.

In Pleasant Point his father became active in the Labour Party and sparked Cunliffee’s interest in politics. As a teenager, he worked evenings and weekends in a fish and chip shop, mucking out pig pens, ploughing fields and rousing for a shearing gang.

Cunliffe won a scholarship to study the International Baccalaureate at the United World College of the Atlantic in Wales. He studied politics at the University of Otago, where he was a member of the Otago University Debating Society, and gained a Bachelor of Arts with first-class honours.

David Cunliffe is married to lawyer Karen Price. They have two sons and live in Auckland. [1]


In 1987 David Cunliffe became a diplomat for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and was posted to Washington DC from 1990 to 1994. He continued studying during this time, gaining a Diploma in Social Sciences in economics with distinction from Massey University. He held a Fulbright Scholarship at Harvard University’s John F Kennedy School of Government in 1994-1995, earning a Master of Public Administration. David then worked as a management consultant with The Boston Consulting Group in Auckland from 1995 to 1999, when he decided to run for Labour in the seat of Titirangi, which became the New Lynn electorate the following election.[2]


During his first term, Cunliffe chaired the Commerce Select Committee and also sat on the Finance and Expenditure, and Regulations Review select committees. In 2003 he was appointed to Cabinet as Minister of State and Associate Minister of Finance; Revenue; and Communications and Information Technology. In 2004, he became Minister for Communications and Information Technology. He went on to become Minister of Immigration and later Minister of Health. As Minister for Communications and Information Technology he forced Telecom to unbundle its local loop monopoly. [3]

"Socialism's not a word that I use"

From a Michael Parkin interview with David Cunliffe and David Parker, Published September 22, 2013 Source: ONE News.[4]

MICHAEL David Cunliffe, we've seen that John Key has talked to the British Conservative Party recently. Helen Clark had a very close relationship with the British Labour Party. Is that something you're keen to continue with?

CUNLIFFE Certainly keen to continue good relationships with sister parties. We see quite a lot of the Australian Labor Party. We will have contact with the American Democrats and with the British Labour Party.

MICHAEL Ed Miliband in particular said there's going to be a return to socialism, that he's bringing it back. Is that a policy; is that a line you are going to take?

CUNLIFFE I've said in the primary race repeatedly that a Labour Party that I lead would be a true red Labour Party, be very clear about its social democratic roots and its social democratic agenda. We want to give the 800,000 people that could not be bothered getting out of bed to vote in the last election a reason to vote, and it will be because it is in their and their families' interests to do so.

MICHAEL Will socialism get those 800,000 people out to vote?

CUNLIFFE Socialism's not a word that I use. I say social democracy because I don't think the government needs to own all the means of production. That's not our intention. But we will be there for ordinary New Zealanders, and we will make a change for the better in their lives. That we guarantee.