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Bassett, Michael
Writer's File

Michael Bassett

Auckland - Tāmaki Makaurau
Bassett, Michael
In brief

Michael Bassett is a historian, politician and educator. He has held several lecturing posts in New Zealand and the USA, and he has had a distinguished political career, working variously as a city councilor, an MP, and a cabinet minister. His publications include, Depression of the Thirties (1967), Sir Joseph Ward (1993) and The State in New Zealand (1998). His biography of Peter Fraser, written with Michael King, is Tomorrow Comes the Song (2001). Basset is a regular newspaper commentator.

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Bassett, Michael (1938 - ) is an historian, politician, teacher, and political columnist. He was educated at Owairaka Primary School, Dilworth School and Mt Albert Grammar School; he took his MA from the University of Auckland in 1961 and his PhD from Duke University in 1964.

Dr Bassett has been a teacher since the 1960s, holding a variety of posts including lecturer, later senior lecturer, in history at the University of Auckland (1964-72) and the J. B. Smallman Professorship at the University of Western Ontario 1992-96 . He has lectured in Medical Humanities at the Auckland Medical School and since 1994 has been a member of the Waitangi Tribunal 1994-2005. In 2002 he was Fulbright Professor of New Zealand history at Georgetown University. He was a political columnist for Fairfax dailies 2001-2007, and won the Quantas Media Award as best political columnist in 2004.

Dr Bassett has also had a distinguished political career both at the local and national levels. He was a member of the Auckland City Council from 1971-1974. He served as the Labour MP for Waitemata 1972-75 and then as the Labour MP for Te Atatu from 1978 until he retired from politics in 1990. He held various cabinet posts during his terms in Parliament including Minister of Health 1984-87; Minister of Local Government 1984-90; Minister of Internal Affairs, Minister of Civil Defence and Minister of Arts and Culture 1987-90.

Dr Bassett has been a chair of the Lottery Grants Board, the 1990 Commission, and served on the Towards 2000 Taskforce.

His publications include: Depression of the Thirties (1967), Confrontation '51: The 1951 Waterfront Dispute (1972), The Third Labour Government (1976), Getting Together Again (1979), Three Party Politics 1911-31 (1982), Sir Joseph Ward (1993) and Coates of Kaipara (1995), The Mother of all Departments (1997) and The State in New Zealand (1998). His biography of Peter Fraser, written with Michael King, is Tomorrow Comes the Song (2001).

In 2006, with his wife Judith, he published Roderick Deane: His Life and Times, and in 2007, with Paul Goldsmith, The Myers. In 2008 his political memoir of working in Cabinet, David: Inside the Lange Cabinet, was released.