“Palmerston North is my tūrangawaewae. The city has opened 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. It is the centre of New Zealand. 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 with his School Certificate in four subjects (missed mathematics by 2 points) to work for the Valuation Department (now Quotable New Zealand) and went on to become a retail manager before deciding that he needed further education to open the pathway to more opportunities.
Queen Elizabeth Night School provided him with the support to study for and gain his University Entrance.
He paid his way through Massey University, gaining a BA and a MA (Hons) in Sociology by working as a gardener at the Esplanade and a professional musician.
University study unearthed a fascination with change.
In the 1970s and 1980s, he was heavily involved through teaching and writing in organisational change as a Junior Lecturer in Business Administration and then as a Senior Lecturer in Sociology 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, while still an academic, at a time of major change in the economy of regional New Zealand. He 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 Member of Parliament for Palmerston North and spent the next nine years as a senior member of the Opposition Labour Party.
He became a Senior Cabinet Minister in 1999 and held a wide range of portfolios including education, higher education, social development, child youth and family, employment, broadcasting, housing, research, science and technology, Crown Research Institutes, youth and community organisations.
In 2008 he stepped down from Cabinet to take up the position of Vice-Chancellor of Massey University.
He left Massey University at the end of 2016 to take up governance roles (he is currently Chair of Pharmac, Chair of Education New Zealand, Deputy Chair of Asia New Zealand, Member of the University of South Pacific Council, a Board member of Venture Taranaki Trust and The Factory. He serves on the New Zealand Police Audit and Risk Committee and is a member of the Varkey Foundation former Ministers of Education Atlantis Group. He is a consultant and is a frequently invited speaker on education, food systems and social issues.
He has contributed to 10 books and all forms of media.
He was awarded the Companion of New Zealand Medal (CNZM) in 2008 for his services to government and education.
His non-work interests include family (including a dog called Hazel), tramping, running, mountain biking, travel (to date he has worked in and/or visited 29 countries), gardening, food, reading and music.
Favourite place – walking south along the Manawatu River during an early evening in spring.