Jennifer M Shipley

Born:February 4, 1952 (age 72)
Career:Prime Minister of New Zealand 1997-1999
Member, New Zealand Parliament, 1987-2002
Party:National Party
Education:Christchurch Teachers' College

Jennifer "Jenny" Shipley served as New Zealand's first woman prime minister from December 8, 1997, to December 5, 1999, assuming the position after staging a carefully planned coup against Jim Bolger.

Shipley was born on February 4, 1952, in Gore, New Zealand. She graduated from Christchurch Teachers' College in 1972 and taught primary school.

She joined the National Party in 1975 and, in 1987, she was elected to parliament. From 1990 to 1993, she served as minister of social welfare and, from 1990 to 1996, she served as minister of women's affairs. In 1996, Shipley was named minister of state services, transport, and state owned enterprises.

In 1997, unpopular policies and charges of misconduct led to growing dissatisfaction with Bolger's administration, and Shipley mounted a campaign to unseat him. Rather than face a confidence vote, Bolger stepped down as prime minister and party leader in November 1997. Shipley was sworn in on December 8, 1997. Once in office, she sought to cut the national debt, simplify the tax system, and decrease welfare benefits. In August 1998, the coalition government collapsed, and Shipley called for a vote of confidence to show that her administration still had the parliament's support. The vote—the first of its kind to be held in New Zealand—took place in September 1998, and Shipley narrowly won. The following year she faced another such vote, but again avoided being removed from office. In the 1999 elections, she was defeated by Helen Clark of the Labour Party.

Shipley continued as leader of the National Party until 2001, when she was replaced by Bill English. She retired from politics the following year but remains active in nongovernmental organizations, such as the Council of Women World Leaders and the Club of Madrid.


Club de Madrid (n.d.). “Jennifer Mary Shipley” Club de Madrid. Retrieved December 9, 2022.