Warren Cooper

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Warren Cooper
Warren Cooper as Minister of Foreign Affairs, during a meeting with Caspar Weinberger at the Pentagon in 1983
31st Minister of Defence
In office
2 November 1990 – 1 March 1996
Prime MinisterJim Bolger
Preceded byPeter Tapsell
Succeeded byPaul East
19th Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
11 December 1981 – 26 July 1984
Prime MinisterRobert Muldoon
Preceded byBrian Talboys
Succeeded byDavid Lange
47th Postmaster-General
In office
22 August 1980 – 11 December 1981
Prime MinisterRobert Muldoon
Preceded byBen Couch
Succeeded byJohn Falloon
22nd Minister of Tourism
In office
13 December 1978 – 12 February 1981
Prime MinisterRobert Muldoon
Preceded byHarry Lapwood
Succeeded byDerek Quigley
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Otago
Central Otago (1975–1978)
In office
29 November 1975 – 12 October 1996
Preceded byIan Quigley
Succeeded byGavan Herlihy
Personal details
Born (1933-02-21) 21 February 1933 (age 91)
Dunedin, New Zealand
Political partyNational

Warren Ernest Cooper CNZM JP (born 21 February 1933) is a former New Zealand politician. He was a National Party MP from 1975 to 1996, holding cabinet positions including Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Defence.[1] Cooper also twice served as Mayor of Queenstown, from 1968 to 1975 and 1995 to 2001.[2]

Early life and career[edit]

Cooper was born in Dunedin in 1933.[3] He received his education at Musselburgh School and King's High School. He later moved to Queenstown after leaving school at 15.[4] He worked as a retailer, a painting, decorating and signwriting contractor, and a motel manager.[5] He then became a real estate agent and was a leading member of the Jaycees, being awarded with life membership.[6]

Political career[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1975–1978 38th Otago Central National
1978–1981 39th Otago National
1981–1984 40th Otago National
1984–1987 41st Otago National
1987–1990 42nd Otago National
1990–1993 43rd Otago National
1993–1996 44th Otago National

Cooper was Mayor of Queenstown Borough from 1968 to 1975.[7] As mayor Cooper successfully lobbied the then Minister of Finance Robert Muldoon to allow the Queenstown Borough Council to sell land in the Queenstown Hill Commonage in order to fund new water and sewerage schemes.[4] He joined the National Party and was elected a member of the party's dominion council in 1973.[6]

He was first elected to Parliament in the 1975 election as MP for Otago Central,[8] defeating the newly elected Ian Quigley of the Labour Party.[9] In the 1978 election, he successfully contested the replacement electorate Otago.[8]

Just after the 1978 election, his ministerial career started. He was Minister of Tourism (1978–1981), Minister of Regional Development (1978–1981), Postmaster-General (1980–1981), and Minister of Broadcasting (1981).[10] When Brian Talboys retired from Parliament in 1981, Cooper was appointed to replace him as Minister of Foreign Affairs; he held this position until the government of Robert Muldoon was defeated in 1984.[10] He got along well with the now Prime Minister Muldoon despite having differing views on policy, Cooper describing Muldoon as a socialist while Muldoon thinking Cooper the caucus' chief private enterpriser (a label Cooper embraced).[4]

After the governments defeat he was retained on the frontbench by Muldoon and was designated Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs and Overseas Trade.[11] He retained those portfolios for most of Jim McLay's brief tenure as National leader (1984–86) before being dropped from Foreign Affairs by McLay's successor Jim Bolger and instead given the Local Government, Regional Development and South Island Development portfolios.[12] Following National's defeat in 1987 he had another portfolio shift, retaining only Overseas Trade while also gaining Transport. In a reshuffle in early 1990 he swapped the Transport portfolio for Tourism.[13]

Later, in the government of Jim Bolger, Cooper served as Minister of Defence (1990–96), Minister of Local Government (1990-94) and Minister of Internal Affairs (1993–96). Cooper remained in Parliament until the 1996 election, when he stepped aside in favour of Gavan Herlihy.[14]

He transitioned back to local-body politics and was Mayor of Queenstown-Lakes from 1995 to 2001.[7] Still an MP and minister at the time of his election as mayor there was speculation he might resign from cabinet or parliament altogether but stated he would not do so unless asked to by Bolger.[15] He was involved in a public disagreement over development with actor Sam Neill in 2000, over development in Queenstown.[16][17] Cooper said he enjoyed the stoush with Neill (a known Labour Party supporter) who later gave him a case of "socialist chardonnay".[4]

Honours and awards[edit]

In 1977, Cooper was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal, and in 1990 he received the New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal.[18] In the 1997 New Year Honours, Cooper was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for public services.[19]

Personal life[edit]

Cooper and his wife Lorraine have five children.[6] His future wife had been employed at a hotel in Queenstown owned by his father. They married in Brisbane in 1956.[20]


  1. ^ Trevett, Claire (21 April 2007). "Jim Bolger – regrets and legacies". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 4 July 2009.
  2. ^ McKinnon, Malcolm. "Government and politics – Otago Association and Otago province". Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 4 July 2009.
  3. ^ Lambert 1991, p. 133.
  4. ^ a b c d "If Warren Cooper was in charge…". Mountain Scene. 21 February 2013. Retrieved 17 September 2021.
  5. ^ Gustafson 1986, p. 305.
  6. ^ a b c "A Host of New Faces for New Parliament". The Evening Post. 1 December 1975.
  7. ^ a b "Past Mayors of the QLDC". Queenstown Lakes District Council. Archived from the original on 2 November 2012. Retrieved 15 November 2010.
  8. ^ a b Wilson 1985, p. 190.
  9. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 228.
  10. ^ a b Wilson 1985, p. 96.
  11. ^ "Line-up For Opposition". The New Zealand Herald. 28 July 1984. p. 5.
  12. ^ "National's 'Front Bench' Line-up". The New Zealand Herald. 8 April 1986. p. 5.
  13. ^ "National Party's new parliamentary line-up". The New Zealand Herald. 12 February 1990. p. 5.
  14. ^ "Electorate candidates for election". The Dominion. 19 September 1996. p. 17.
  15. ^ "Cooper leaves decision to PM". Otago Daily Times. 16 October 1995. p. 1.
  16. ^ "Former mayor and Sam Neill make up". The New Zealand Herald. 25 May 2005. Retrieved 4 July 2009.
  17. ^ Pavlova Paradise Revisited: Episode One Part 4
  18. ^ Taylor, Alister; Coddington, Deborah (1994). Honoured by the Queen – New Zealand. Auckland: New Zealand Who's Who Aotearoa. p. 106. ISBN 0-908578-34-2.
  19. ^ "New Year honours list 1997". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 31 December 1996. Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  20. ^ "Marriage survives early hiccup to endure 60 years". Otago Daily Times. 24 January 2019. Retrieved 17 September 2021.


Political offices
Preceded by Minister of Defence
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Preceded by Postmaster-General
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Tourism
Succeeded by
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Otago Central
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Otago
Succeeded by