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Sir Arnold Nordmeyer papers.

Identifier: MSS-Archives-90/1

Scope and Contents

The majority of material in this collection relates to the period 1960- 1969 when Nordmeyer was the Leader of the Labour Party (1963-1965) and Member of Parliament for Island Bay (1960-1969). However, the material which falls outside this period remains relevant to his activities and interests.

The collection includes correspondence, working notes, copies of government bills and reports with related submissions, leaflets and brochures, newspaper clippings and some photographic material.


  • ca.1960 -1969


Conditions Governing Access

PARTLY RESTRICTED – Permission of the Special Collections Manager is required for access to all records less than 30 years old. Access to material over 30 years old is unrestricted, except where records are restricted for reasons of confidentiality and privacy. These items are restricted for a period of 70 years from the date of creation, and are indicated in the inventory.

Biographical / Historical

Heinrich Arnold Nordmeyer (1901-1989), later known as Arnold Henry (Nordy) Nordmeyer, successfully ran as the Labour Party candidate for the Oamaru seat in the 1935 general election. Under Labour Prime Minister Peter Fraser, Nordmeyer was elected to cabinet as Minister of Health in 1941. However, in 1947 he was removed from this portfolio and given the position Minister of Industries and Commerce. He only held this position for two years as in 1949 Labour was defeated in the general election and Nordmeyer lost the Oamaru seat, causing him to leave government. Fraser died in December 1950 leaving the Brooklyn (Wellington) seat open. Nordmeyer was elected to the seat in February 1951 but this was too late for him to be elected as the new leader of the Labour Party.

Nordmeyer challenged this decision in 1954 when he ran against Walter Nash for the leadership position. He was defeated. The same year, his electorate of Brooklyn was abolished and Nordmeyer moved to his new electorate of Island Bay. Nordmeyer would hold this seat until his retirement. In 1957 Nordmeyer suffered a severe heart attack but still participated in the campaigning for the 1957 general election. Labour won with a narrow margin and Nordmeyer was appointed Minister of Finance. It was in this role that Nordmeyer, responding to a balance of payments crisis, released the 1958 budget with increases on taxation for petrol, tobacco, cars and alcohol as well as benefit increases for those affected by job losses, rising costs and wage freezes. This budget is infamously known as the “Black Budget of ‘58”. Labour was defeated in the 1960 election and Nordmeyer found himself in opposition.

Nash retired in 1963 and Nordmeyer was elected Leader of the Labour Party. He served in this role until December 1965 when Norman Kirk challenged him for the role and won. Thereafter, Nordmeyer remained a backbencher serving as MP for Island Bay until his retirement in 1969. In his later years, Nordmeyer served on the Wellington Hospital Board (1971-1974), as a director of the Reserve Bank (1970s), Maui Development Limited and as Chair of the New Zealand Superannuation Corporation (1974-1975). He was awarded a Companion of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George in 1970 and this was increased to a Knight Commander in 1975 after which he was officially Sir Nordmeyer. In 1987 he was appointed to the Order of New Zealand as a foundation member. He was too ill to attend the ceremony and after a series of strokes died on February 2 1989.


6 metres (12 cartons.)

Language of Materials



The arrangement of this collection reflects the way the material was received from Political Studies in clearly labelled bundles and boxes of related material.


In off site storage. Expect delay of 12-24 hours from time of order.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Papers were donated to the Library by the secretary of Political Studies in the late 1980s. The papers appear to have been collected and lodged in the Department by Jonathan Hunt, (Labour MP for New Lynn 1966-1996) who has always had close associations with the Department and is currently listed as an Honorary Research Fellow, Auckland University.

Inventory of the papers of Sir Arnold Nordmeyer, 1960-1969
Sarah Dunbar
February 2014
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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections, University of Auckland Repository

5 Alfred Street
Private Bag 92019
Auckland 1142 New Zealand