Sir Wallace Edward Rowling

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Wallace Edward Rowling

Also Known As: "Bill"
Birthplace: Motueka, Tasman, New Zealand
Death: Died in Nelson, New Zealand
Immediate Family:

Son of <private> Rowling and <private> Rowling (Davy)
Husband of <private> Rowling (Reeves)
Father of <private> Rowling
Brother of <private> Rowling and <private> Rowling

Managed by: Jason Scott Wills
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

    • <private> Rowling (Reeves)
    • <private> Rowling
    • <private> Rowling
    • <private> Rowling (Davy)
    • <private> Rowling
    • <private> Rowling

About Sir Wallace Edward Rowling

Sir Wallace Edward Rowling, KCMG PC (15 November 1927 – 31 October 1995), often known as Bill Rowling, was the 30th Prime Minister of New Zealand. He was in office for just over a year, having been appointed Prime Minister following the death of the highly popular Norman Kirk. Rowling was unable to retain the premiership but remained leader of the Labour Party until 1983.


Norman Kirk’s death in office brought Bill Rowling to the prime ministership unexpectedly in August 1974. A member of an old Tasman Bay farming family, and a teacher by training, he had been finance minister since 1972.

Many thought that had Rowling called an election, he might have won on a wave of sympathy over Kirk’s death. New Zealand weathered the worldwide economic crisis better than some countries. But National’s Robert Muldoon labelled Rowling’s policy of borrowing to keep people and industry working ‘borrow and hope’. Muldoon also portrayed Rowling as weak. He was not, but Muldoon’s mastery of the media and energetic campaigning gave National 23-seats more than Labour in 1975, exactly reversing Labour’s 1972 majority.

Rowling rebuilt his party but luck eluded him. Despite impressive personal campaign performances, in both 1978 and 1981 Labour outpolled National but won fewer seats. In 1983 a frustrated caucus replaced him with the charismatic tyro, David Lange.

After leaving Parliament in 1984, Rowling (later knighted) served as ambassador to the United States and played a prominent role in creating Te Papa.

By Gavin McLean

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Sir Wallace Edward Rowling's Timeline

November 15, 1927
Motueka, Tasman, New Zealand
October 31, 1995
Age 67
Nelson, New Zealand