Anderton: His Life and Times
Written by: David Grant
Te Herenga Waka University Press
Reviewed by: Kerry Lee
For a lot of adult New Zealanders living and working in the 1980s, Jim Anderton might conjure up a number of different opinions. For some, he was a fighter who advocated for the less well-off, opposing Roger Douglas and his sale of state assets coined ‘Rogernomics’. Others felt he was a grandstander who used his natural charisma and boisterous nature to grab headlines while in parliament. Whatever your views, we can all agree that he was a particular breed of politician – one we may never see again.
Anderton: His Life and Times tells the story of both his triumphs and the roadblocks he faced while a member of the Labour, New Labour, Alliance, and lastly the Progressive Coalition parties. These include the formation of the locally owned Kiwibank, the friendships and enemies he made along the way, and his unshakeable faith that there had to be a better way forward for our small country.
I believe that you can tell a good memoir, biography, or autobiography by the lessons you learn from it. Well I can tell you that I learned a tonne from Anderton; his good-hearted stubbornness, unwavering loyalty, and determination to get things done for the electorate of what was then called Sydenham (now Wigram) showed that good things could be achieved through hard work.
I absolutely loved this book, and think that author David Grant has done an amazing job of capturing the man that Jim Anderton was. His refusal to quit on things he believed in, his love for the people he represented, and his aforementioned loyalty – that at times I felt was his own downfall (no spoilers here).
If I was pushed to find a negative, it would be that the nature of politics simply is not for everyone, and not everyone will pick up this book and appreciate like I have. It really was an amazing read, and after putting it down I found myself with a new appreciation for the man, and what he had done for me.