Helen Elizabeth Clark (1950-)
Prime Minister of New Zealand 1999 - present

Helen Elizabeth Clark was born in Hamilton in 1950. She started school at Te Pahu Primary School. She boarded at Epsom Girls Grammar School in Auckland and then went on to study at Auckland University. In 1974, she graduated with MA (Hons) and went on to postgraduate research in rural political behaviour and representation, of which lead on to her gaining her PhD.

At Auckland University, she became a junior lecturer in politcal studies in 1973. She studied abroad in 1976 on a scholarship, then returned the following year to continue lecturing political studies until 1981 when she was elected into Parliament.

Helen Clark joined the New Zealand Labour party while at University. The political issues at the time included New Zealand's participation in the Vietnam War and apartheid in South Africa, of which the party's stance Helen supported.

In 1986 she was awarded the annual Peace Prize of the Danish Peace Foundation for her work in promoting international peace and disarmament.

Helen Clark is married to Peter Davis, and they do not have any children.

Helen Clark is the current party leader of the New Zealand Labour party. She is the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage and is the MP for the electorate of Mt Albert, Auckland where she lives.

During her career, Helen Clark has held a wide range of portfolios as Minister of Conservation, Minister of Housing, Minister of Health and Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage.

Helen Clark is one of few women as world leaders. She was the first elected woman Prime Minister of New Zealand. (But not the first, Jenny Shipley became the first woman NZ Prime Minister when she staged a National Party coup, taking the leadership of the National Party and the Prime Minister position from Jim Bolger.)

Being a rare woman among world leaders has made her stand out and has brought her some controversy. During the Treaty of Waitangi celebrations one year, her right to speak during the powhiri on the marae was challenged because she was a woman.

Helen Clark has seen her fair share of scandal. The most interesting came from the lead up to the 2002 General Election. With Labour high in the polls, she declared an early election. During the lead up, a book entitled "Seeds of Distrust" by Nicky Hager of the Green Party alleged that the Labour Government had covered up a contamination of GE corn in 2000. An interview with TV3 presenter John Campell about this issue was angrily terminated by Helen Clark when she was taken by surprise from these allegations, which she claimed to have known nothing about prior to the interview. This was dubbed the Corngate scandal by the media.

Also it was during this time that it was discovered that a charity painting she had donated turned out to be a painting she had asked another to paint and she signed it, passing it off as her own work. The investigation cleared her of any wrongdoing, but her dishonesty did not help her party's credibility.

The Labour Party won the 2002 general election, keeping Helen Clark as Prime Minister for at least another term. This spurred a parody of the Eminem hit Without Me. Instead of Slim Shady it was Helen's back! Back again!

Helen is also a woman of the great outdoors. She is interested in outdoor pursuits such as tramping, cross-country skiing and mountaineering. In 1999 she climbed Mt Kilimanjaro. She also made a special appearance on The Discovery Channel programme The Royal Tour to promote New Zealand as a tourist destination.


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