Hon Steve Maharey
“Palmerston North is my tūrangawaewae. The city has opened up opportunities for me throughout my life and been the place I return to after working/travelling around New Zealand and the world. It is where I have the best of friends and I know every corner of the city and its surrounding landscape.”
Born in Palmerston North, Steve Maharey attended Terrace End, Ross Intermediate and Freyberg High Schools.
He left school to work for the Valuation Department and went on to become a retail manager before deciding that he needed further education to open up more opportunities.
Steve gained his University Entrance through Queen Elizabeth College Night School and then paid his way through Massey University by working as a professional musician and as a gardener at Victoria Esplanade. He graduated with a BA and a MA (Hons) in Sociology.
University study unearthed a fascination with change and in the 1970s and 1980s, Steve lectured in organisational change at Massey University, seeking to understand the enormous changes taking place in New Zealand society.
He was elected to the Palmerston North City Council in the mid-1980s, at a time of major change in the economy of regional New Zealand. Steve established one of the first economic development agencies in New Zealand following an extensive study tour of Britain.
In 1990 he entered Parliament as the MP for Palmerston North and spent the next nine years as a senior member of the Opposition Labour Party. He then became a Senior Cabinet Minister in 1999 and held a wide range of portfolios including education, social development, child youth and family, employment, broadcasting, housing, science and technology and more.
In 2008 Steve stepped down from Cabinet to take up the position of Vice-Chancellor of Massey University, he stayed in this role until 2016. Since then he has had a focus on governance roles and is currently Chair of several national and global organisations and serves on a number of public sector committees. He is a consultant and is frequently invited to speak on education, food systems and social issues. He has contributed to 10 books and all forms of media.
Steve was awarded the Companion of New Zealand Medal (CNZM) in 2008 for his services to government and education.