HOLYOAKE, Right Hon. Keith Jacka, C.H.
A new biography of Holyoake, Keith Jacka appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.
Keith Jacka Holyoake was born at Scarborough, near Pahiatua, on 11 February 1904, the son of Henry Victor Holyoake, a storekeeper, and of Esther, née Evis. He was educated at Hastings, Omokoroa (Tauranga), and Brooklyn (Motueka). A keen sportsman, he represented Motueka – Golden Bay in rugby and Motueka in tennis and was also an enthusiastic cyclist. He has had diverse experience of farming, including dairying, fruit, hops, and tobacco growing, and, in later years, of sheep and cattle raising in the Dannevirke district. In Motueka he had been most active in all progressive movements, including six years on the Cawthron Institute Trust Board. For seven years he was Dominion vice-president of the Dominion Council of the Farmers Federation, which became Federated Farmers of New Zealand, and he represented New Zealand farmers at the First World Conference of Farmers in London, 1946. From this conference was established the International Federation of Agricultural Producers. In 1955 he was president of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation Conference at Rome. Concurrently with these activities was his parliamentary career which began when he won Motueka in a by-election in 1932 as a Coalition (Reform Party) candidate. He was then the youngest member of the House. Except for a break from 1938 to 1943 he has been in Parliament ever since, but from 1943 as member for Pahiatua. He became Deputy Leader of the Opposition (National Party) in 1947 and Leader and Prime Minister in 1957 for a brief period following the retirement of Sir Sidney Holland. With the return of the National Government in 1960 he again became Prime Minister. He was created Companion of Honour in 1963.