Jonathan Lucas Hunt, ONZ (born December 2, 1938) is a New Zealand politician, and was New Zealand's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom from 2005 to March 2008 . He formerly served as Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives. He is a member of the Labour Party, and was until recently the longest serving MP in Parliament. Hunt is a member of the Order of New Zealand, New Zealand's highest civilian honour.
Hunt was born in Lower Hutt
, but grew up in Palmerston North
. After studying at Palmerston North Boys' High School
and later Auckland Grammar School
, he enrolled at the University of Auckland
, where he gained a BA (Hons)
In 1958 Hunt was elected editor of the Auckland University Students' Association's (AUSA) Craccum magazine for the 1959 year. While at University Hunt is also credited with founding the Princes Street Labour branch.
After graduating, Hunt became a high school teacher and then a university tutor. Hunt also has a long-standing relationship with the Department of Political Studies at the University, which for many years has collected and archived Hunt's personal and professional papers.
Member of Parliament
In 1966, Hunt was elected to Parliament in Auckland's New Lynn electorate. He remained MP for New Lynn until 1996, when he became a list MP. At various times, he served as Minister of Telecommunications and Broadcasting, Minister of Tourism, Minister of Housing, and Postmaster General. He was the longest serving member of Parliament, earning him the unofficial title of 'Father of the House'. In 1989, Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer
nominated Hunt a member of the Privy Council
in recognition of his long service.
Speaker of the House of Representatives
After first serving as Deputy Speaker during the fourth Labour Government
, he was elected Speaker when the fifth Labour government came to power in 1999. He retained his position following the election in 2002 serving in total as Speaker for six years from 1999 - 2005.
High Commissioner to the United Kingdom
In December 2004, it was announced that he would retire from politics and replace Russell Marshall
as New Zealand High Commissioner
, a move that had long been anticipated. He was replaced as Speaker by Margaret Wilson
on 3 March 2005
, and left Parliament on 30 March
. As a list MP
, his vacant parliamentary seat was filled by the next available candidate on the Labour Party list, Lesley Soper
Some controversy arose in mid-2005, when recently after he arrived in London, Hunt was told publicly by the New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark that he could not apply for the U.K pension as it was not appropriate given his position of New Zealand High Commissioner and the fact that he was already collecting a New Zealand parliamentary pension.
On 21st November 2007 the New Zealand Foreign Minister, Winston Peters, announced that the next High Commissioner to London would be Derek Leask from March 2008.
Jonathan Hunt has never been married and has no children.
Hunt was also the subject of a documentary, "Father of the House", directed by Simon Burgin and Xavier Forde, which was filmed in Wellington in 2005. The film was a finalist in the DocNZ film festival in the same year. It has also been regularly screened on the Documentary Channel on Sky Television since 2006.