John Phillip Key (born 9 August 1961) is the 38th and current Prime Minister of New Zealand and leader of the New Zealand National Party.
After a career in foreign exchange Key entered the New Zealand House of Representatives in 2002 representing the Auckland constituency of Helensville, a seat that he has held since then. In 2004 he was appointed Finance Spokesman for National and eventually succeeded Don Brash as the National Party leader in 2006. Key led his party to victory in the November 2008 general election.
Key was born in Auckland, New Zealand, only son of George Key and Ruth Key (née Lazar), on 9 August 1961. His father was an immigrant from Britain, and a veteran of the Spanish Civil War and World War II. He died of a heart attack in 1967. Key and his two sisters were raised in a state house in Christchurch by his Austrian-Jewish immigrant mother.
He attended Aorangi School, then Burnside High School, and earned a Bachelor of Commerce degree in accounting from the University of Canterbury in 1981. He has attended management studies courses at Harvard University.
Key met his wife Bronagh when they were both students at Burnside High School. They married in 1984. She also has a BCom degree, and worked as a personnel consultant before becoming a full-time mother. They have two children, Stephie and Max
In 2004, Key was promoted to the Opposition front benches by party leader Don Brash and was made the party spokesman for finance. In late 2006 Brash resigned as leader, citing damaging speculation over his future as the reason. His resignation followed controversies over an extramarital affair, and over leaked internal National Party documents which were later published in the book The Hollow Men.
Leader of the Opposition
In his maiden speech as leader on 28 November 2006, Key talked of an "underclass" that had been "allowed to develop" in New Zealand, a theme which received a large amount of media coverage. Key followed this speech up in February 2007 by committing his party to a programme which would provide food in the poorest schools in New Zealand.
He relented on his stance in opposition to Sue Bradford's Child Discipline Bill, which sought to remove "reasonable force" as a defence for parents charged with prima facie assault of their children. Many parents saw this bill as an attempt to ban smacking outright. Key and Prime Minister Helen Clark agreed a compromise giving police the discretion to overlook smacking they regard as "inconsequential".
In August 2007, Key came in for criticism when he changed his position regarding the Therapeutic Products and Medicine Bill:
"John Key had finally slipped up. National's leader had told the Herald on Tuesday he would have signed up to a New Zealand First-initiated compromise on the stalled Therapeutic Products and Medicines Bill had he seen it - and was still willing to sign up - only to change his mind yesterday after his remarks appeared in print.
Key became Prime Minister following the general election on 8 November 2008 which signalled an end to the Labour-led government of nine years under Helen Clark. The National Party, promoting a policy of "change", won 45% of the party vote and 59 of the 122 seats in Parliament (including a two-seat overhang), a substantial margin over the Labour Party, which won 43 seats.
Key was sworn in as Prime Minister on 19 November 2008 along with his new cabinet. His first international outing as Prime Minister was the 20th APEC meeting in Peru the following day.
Arriving at the Ngapuhi Te Tii marae the day before Waitangi Day 2009, Key was briefly shoved and grabbed by two protesters before diplomatic protection officers pulled them off. He told reporters he was "quite shocked" but continued onto the marae and spoke, while police took the two men away and charged with them with assault.
Key attends church frequently but is agnostic when it comes to belief in God.] He has stated that he does not believe in life after death, and that he sees religion as 'doing the right thing'. Key's wife, Bronagh (née Dougan) Key, is the daughter of Northern Irish immigrants of Catholic and Protestant confession. Key is the third prime minister or premier of New Zealand (after Julius Vogel and Francis Bell) with Jewish ancestry.