Jim Anderton dies aged 79

Jim Anderton in 2002.
Jim Anderton in 2002. Photo credit: Getty

Former Deputy Prime Minister Jim Anderton has died.

He passed away peacefully at Cashmere View Hospital in Christchurch, his wife Carole said in a statement. He was 79.

Mr Anderton graduated from university with a teaching degree, but it was politics in which he carved out a career.

He started out in the Manukau City Council in the 1960s, soon making it to Parliament, representing the Labour Party for the Christchurch suburb of Sydenham in 1984.

His colourful political career saw him part ways with Labour in 1989 due to its adoption of 'Rogernomics'. In his view, he didn't leave the Labour Party - it left him.

A decade later he became Deputy Prime Minister as an Alliance MP through a coalition with his former party.

Mr Anderton retired from Parliament at the 2011 election, and most recently has been a vocal supporter for restoring the ChristChurch Cathedral.

In June this year he was recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours for services as a Member of Parliament, an award that reflected a life long dedication to politics.

He was two weeks short of his 80th birthday. 

'Practical and compassionate'

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand has "lost a man of integrity, compassion and dedication to public service".

"He was a towering figure in the Labour movement for several decades. He will be remembered as someone who stood up for his principles and for the people he represented. His integrity during difficult times marked him out as a true leader."

She praised his "trailblazing" move to establish new parties after splitting with Labour, saying he never gave up on the wider labour movement.

"There are few figures in New Zealand politics like Jim Anderton. A man of deeply-held values and ideals, he was practical and compassionate. We mourn his loss, and extend our heartfelt sympathies to Jim’s wife Carole, his family and friends."

National MP Steven Joyce called Mr Anderton a "passionate advocate and a committed servant to the public".

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark, who was Mr Anderton's boss, called him a "powerful advocate for the voiceless and marginalised".

Others have been sharing their memories of Mr Anderton on social media.

"Jim Anderton forced Lange and Palmer to refuse the US request for the USS Buchanan to dock here, taking NZ down the anti-nuclear path," wrote political commentator Bryce Edwards.

He will "always be remembered as the main politician to stand up against the neoliberal 'Rogernomics' reforms implemented by the Fourth Labour Government," Dr Edwards added.

"My memories of Jim Anderton look like this. Anti-Springbok Tour meeting outside the Auckland Museum," wrote Rachel Stewart.

"In 1969 he managed my Remuera campaign with great energy," wrote Hamish Keith, who unsuccessfully stood for Labour.

Mr Anderton "was outside beehive once in '80s protesting about low wages for hotel/hospital workers," wrote Katherine Curran.

"He went over the road and came back & joined us with fish n chips for everyone. Genuine man."

Newshub.