Maggie's Bio

In the 51st Parliament, Maggie Barry holds three portfolios within Cabinet and is the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Conservation and Senior Citizens. Maggie is the Lead Minister for New Zealand’s First World War Centenary Programme.

The National Party’s Member of Parliament for North Shore in Auckland, Maggie was the first woman the party ever selected for an electorate north of the Auckland Harbour Bridge. She won the seat in 2011 with a majority of 15,228. In 2014, Maggie increased her majority to 16,503.

During the 50th Parliament, Maggie was the Chair of the Local Government and Environment Select Committee, Deputy Chair of the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee, and served on the Education and Science Select Committee.

A former Chair and now an active member of the Bluegreens Caucus, the National Party’s advisory group on conservation and environmental issues, which is committed to exploring policy in areas such as biosecurity, conservation and outdoor recreation, and also represented the Prime Minister on the Lottery Grants Board.

During her 30-year media career, Maggie Barry was an award-winning news and current affairs television and radio broadcaster, a senior feature writer for the NZ Listener magazine and co-producer and presenter of the long-running television programme Maggie’s Garden Show.

Awarded the Order of New Zealand Merit for services to Broadcasting in 1996, Maggie also has the rare honour of having a rose named after her by the internationally renowned rose breeder, Sam McCready.

A successful businesswoman and owner of a specialist travel company, Maggie led garden tours to Europe, Africa and China for 20 years.

Previously, Maggie has also worked with successive governments as the consumer representative on the National Health Committee, chaired a working party into Palliative Care and headed a review into NZ Maternity services for the Minister of Health.

Her extensive community work includes being a former Patron of Hospice NZ and of Alzheimers Wellington and she is currently Patron of Tennis Northern. Her governance experience includes two terms as a Director of Outward Bound and three years as Chair of the NZ Book Council.

Maggie lives in her North Shore electorate in the historic village of Devonport with her teenage son and her partner, Grant Kerr, a consultant, lawyer and avid collector of contemporary New Zealand photography.

Maggie was awarded the Order of NZ Merit for services to Broadcasting in 1996.  

“I decided to go into politics because after 30 years of reporting from the sidelines, it was time to step up to the plate and see if I could make a difference on some of the issues that matter to me. I’ve always believed saving the world starts in your own backyard and I encourage people to make the most of all the natural resources we have.

I remain convinced that we can grow both our economy and manage our environment better – and that improving the economy need not and must not be at the expense of the environment. We have to be vigilant and face up to our responsibilities and our woeful environmental track record. Down the years we’ve let too many introduced pests decimate our native plants and birds. As an island nation we haven’t treated our ocean with the respect it deserves. We’ve allowed some of our waterways to become badly polluted and I want to be part of a government that puts that right.

I’m also very aware after experiences with my own mothers decline into dementia that there are many vulnerable elderly who don’t have the advocates and safeguards they need and they deserve dignity and our respect in their final years.

I intend to work very hard in my Select Committees. I’ll personally welcome the opportunities to work constructively with politicians from other parties to secure the best outcome for the greater good.

My constituents will always have my first loyalty and I will do my very best to represent their best interests. I will be a strong voice for the North Shore and I am very ambitious for my electorate.”