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Taito Phillip Field

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Taito Phillip Field
Field in 1991.
Leader of New Zealand Pacific Party
In office
15 April 2007 – 2 September 2010
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Mangere
In office
12 October 1996 – 8 November 2008
Preceded byDavid Lange
Succeeded byWilliam Sio
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Otara
In office
6 November 1993 – 12 October 1996
Preceded byTrevor Rogers
Succeeded bySeat Abolished
Personal details
Phillip Hans Field

(1952-09-26)26 September 1952
Apia, Western Samoa
Died23 September 2021(2021-09-23) (aged 68)
Auckland, New Zealand
NationalitySamoan citizenship, New Zealand citizenship - Dual citizenship
Political partyLabour Party
New Zealand Pacific Party

Taito Phillip Hans Field (26 September 1952 – 23 September 2021) was a Samoan-born New Zealand trade unionist and politician. A Member of Parliament (MP) for South Auckland electorates from 1993 to 2008, Field was the first New Zealand MP of Pasifika descent.[1] He was a minister outside Cabinet in a Labour-led government from 2003 to 2005.

Following charges of bribery and perverting the course of justice, Field was defeated in the 2008 New Zealand general election. He was found guilty on some of the charges in August 2009[2] and was sentenced to six years jail in October 2009.[3]

Early life[edit]

Born in Apia, the capital of what was then the Territory of Western Samoa, he gained the name of Taito, the matai (paramount chief) title of the village of Manase on Savai'i, Samoa, in 1975. He was of Samoan, Cook Island, German, English, and Jewish ancestry.[4] He was a pioneering figure for Pasifika New Zealanders while in the Labour Party.

He worked for the New Zealand Treasury in the 1970s and then as a union official for the Hotel, Hospital & Restaurant Union and the Service Workers Union (now E tū).[5]

In 1990 he was awarded the New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal.[5]

Member of Parliament[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate List Party
1993–1996 44th Otara Labour
1996–1999 45th Mangere none Labour
1999–2002 46th Mangere 14 Labour
2002–2005 47th Mangere none Labour
2005–2007 48th Mangere 13 Labour
2007–2008 Changed allegiance to: Independent
Field (right) with Ian Revell and Max Bradford on a working MPs trip to Vanuatu in 1991.

Field first became a Member of Parliament when elected by the South Auckland seat of Otara in the 1993 election. He had stood for Otara in 1990 to replace Colin Moyle who was retiring, but with the swing against Labour in 1990 he was defeated by Trevor Rogers of the National Party.

In 1996 he was elected as MP for Mangere, succeeding David Lange. He was appointed parliamentary under-secretary for Pacific island affairs, social services and justice in 2002.[6] He held the position of Minister outside Cabinet, with the portfolios of Associate Minister for Pacific Island Affairs, Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment, and Associate Minister for Justice, from 2003[7] until he was stood down in 2005.

In the September 2005 general election, Field won a majority of more than 16,000 over his nearest opponent, Clem Simich of the National Party. This was the largest majority in any electorate seat in New Zealand.

Conflict of interest allegations[edit]

In October 2005, Field lost his ministerial posts[8] following controversies around allegations that he had improperly used his influence as an MP to receive material gain. In particular, it was alleged that he had used his position as a Member of Parliament to obtain a work permit for a non-resident who had worked as a tiler at reduced hourly rates on his home in Samoa. It was also alleged that Field had used his position to obtain a discounted price for a property deal he had constructed with low-income welfare beneficiaries in his electorate. An inquiry cleared him of any conflict of interest, but did criticise his judgement over the events.[9]

Further allegations of improper behaviour were made by the Television New Zealand Sunday programme on 27 August 2006, which led to Prime Minister Helen Clark saying that Field should reconsider his future as an MP.[10] Police launched an investigation the following day into claims that Field had benefited from helping people with immigration applications. Field was put on indefinite paid leave from Parliament by the Labour Party.[11] After Field made comments to the media that he might run against the Labour Party in a future election, steps were taken on 13 February 2007 by Labour to expel Field from the party.


On 14 February 2007, Field was formally expelled from the parliamentary caucus of the Labour Party.[12] This was announced by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Margaret Wilson. To forestall moves to expel him from the Labour Party altogether, Field resigned on 16 February 2007, returning to Parliament as an independent, but promising to support the Government's legislative programme.[13] However, on 21 February, he voted against the Labour Party on Green MP Sue Bradford's Members' Bill to amend Section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961 (see Child Discipline Act 2007).[14]

New political party[edit]

In April 2007 Field told The Sunday Star-Times he would form a new political party based on family values. Field cited opposition to Sue Bradford's Bill to remove the defence for child discipline as an example of a "groundswell of Christian people" and stated "There is a vacuum, there is room for a political party... people are looking for a new vehicle."[15] Field also had meetings with Richard Lewis, leader of Destiny Church political party Destiny New Zealand, over a possible alliance.[16] In January 2008, Field moved to register the New Zealand Pacific Party.[17]

In the 2008 New Zealand general election, Field lost his seat to incoming new Labour MP William Sio by 7126 votes. The New Zealand Pacific Party won 0.37% of party votes cast, well below the 5% threshold needed to gain list representation, so won no seats in Parliament.[18]

Corruption charges[edit]

On 24 May 2007, police announced that they would seek the leave of the High Court to lay corruption charges against Field (a necessary procedural step when such charges are laid in New Zealand). The offence, corruption and bribery of a member of Parliament, carries a maximum sentence of 7 years' imprisonment. If Field was convicted while still a member, his Parliamentary seat would have been vacated.[19][20]

At a press conference following the police announcement, Field asserted his innocence of the charges and expressed his intention to fight both the laying of the charges at the leave hearing, and any charges that might result from the police application.[21][22] On 5 October 2007 the High Court ruled that the police could lay corruption charges against Field.[23] The Thai tiler at the centre of the corruption allegations, Sunan Siriwan, announced he would sue Field for $200,000 compensation for the year's work he undertook on Field's property in Samoa.[24]

Field appeared in court on 26 November 2007 on 15 counts of bribery and 25 of attempting to pervert the course of justice, and was released on bail without entering a plea.[25] After a depositions hearing in mid-2008, he was remanded to the High Court for trial on 40 charges.[26] On 20 April 2009, his trial commenced on 35 charges, 12 for corruption and bribery as a member of Parliament and 23 for wilfully perverting the course of justice. On 4 August 2009, Field was found guilty of 26 charges at the High Court in Auckland. The ten member jury found Field guilty of 11 of the 12 bribery and corruption charges, and 15 of 23 charges relating to attempting to pervert the course of justice.[2]

On 6 October 2009, Field was jailed for six years on corruption charges, with the sentencing judge saying his offending threatened the foundation of democracy and justice.[3] Field's wife, Maxine Gallagher-Field, has said that her husband is treated like a chief in jail by other inmates.[27]

The Court of Appeal upheld the conviction and sentence in November 2010.[28] An appeal began to be heard in the Supreme Court in June 2011.[29]

He was released from prison on parole on 17 October 2011.[30][31] Shortly after his release, his appeal in the Supreme Court was unanimously dismissed.[32] The appeal revolved around a de minimis defence.

Illegal building[edit]

Field and the company T P Field Developments Limited (of which Field was one of two directors, and the sole shareholder[33]) admitted illegally converting a garage into a family room and a carport into a garage at a Papatoetoe residence and were fined a total of $20,000 plus costs in 2008.[34]

After release[edit]

After his release, Field worked on property development projects in New Zealand and Samoa, and started work on a biography.[35]

Field died in Auckland on 23 September 2021, aged 68.[36]

Political offices[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Otara
Seat abolished
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Mangere
Succeeded by
Party political offices
New political party Leader of the New Zealand Pacific Party
Political party deregistered


  1. ^ "Former Minister Taito Phillip Field has died aged 68". Radio New Zealand. 23 September 2021. Retrieved 23 August 2022.
  2. ^ a b Koubaridis, Andrew (4 August 2009). "Guilty verdicts for Taito Phillip Field". The New Zealand Herald.
  3. ^ a b Gadd, David (6 October 2009). "Taito Phillip Field jailed for six years". Stuff. Retrieved 14 February 2010.
  4. ^ Haas, Anthony (2006). "Tackling Pacific Island problems from within the parliament". Asia Pacific Economic News. Archived from the original on 14 October 2008.
  5. ^ a b "Field, Phillip - New Zealand Parliament".
  6. ^ "Clark announces new Cabinet". The New Zealand Herald. 14 August 2002. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  7. ^ "Cabinet reshuffle announced in wake of Gosche resignation". The New Zealand Herald. 16 May 2003. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  8. ^ "New Cabinet announced, King gets police". The New Zealand Herald. 19 October 2005. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  9. ^ "Inquiry questions MP Field's judgment". The New Zealand Herald. 18 July 2006. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  10. ^ "Clark says Field's future as MP in doubt". The New Zealand Herald. 28 August 2006. Retrieved 3 May 2007.
  11. ^ Fleming, Grant; Tait, Maggie (31 August 2006). "Supporters welcome police investigation into Field". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 3 May 2007.
  12. ^ "Field gone but not forgotten". Waikato Times. 17 February 2007. p. A14.
  13. ^ "Labour to get Field's vote despite resignation". The New Zealand Herald. 16 February 2007. Retrieved 3 May 2007.
  14. ^ Dewes, Haydon (17 May 2007). "Smackers now outlaws". The Dominion Post. p. A1.
  15. ^ "Field to set up 'family values' political party". The New Zealand Herald. 16 April 2007. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  16. ^ "Destiny Church and Phillip Field alliance?". Newstalk ZB. Archived from the original on 29 April 2007. Retrieved 3 May 2007.
  17. ^ "Field moves to register 'Pacific Party'". Fairfax New Zealand. 20 February 2008. Archived from the original on 14 September 2012.
  18. ^ 2008 election official results
  19. ^ "Police seek to charge Taito Phillip Field with bribery". The New Zealand Herald. 24 May 2007. Retrieved 24 May 2007.
  20. ^ "Taito Phillip Field case: The law". The New Zealand Herald. 24 May 2007. Retrieved 27 May 2007.
  21. ^ "TVNZ coverage of press conference". Retrieved 24 May 2007.
  22. ^ "Taito Phillip Field: I have not broken the law". The New Zealand Herald. 24 May 2007. Retrieved 24 May 2007.
  23. ^ "Field to face corruption charges". Stuff. 5 October 2007. Retrieved 10 May 2007.
  24. ^ "Tiler to sue Taito Phillip Field". The New Zealand Herald. 7 October 2007. Retrieved 10 July 2007.
  25. ^ "MP bailed on bribery charges". The New Zealand Herald. 26 November 2007.
  26. ^ Eames, David (9 May 2008). "MP to stand trial on bribery, corruption charges". The New Zealand Herald.
  27. ^ Wood, Stacey (22 June 2011). "Phillip Field 'treated like a chief in jail'". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  28. ^ "MP Field loses appeal". The New Zealand Herald. 26 November 2010. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  29. ^ "Jailed former MP Field in Supreme Court bid". Stuff. 21 June 2011. Retrieved 21 June 2011.
  30. ^ "Taito Phillip Field granted parole". The New Zealand Herald. 5 October 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2011.
  31. ^ "Disgraced former MP released on parole". The New Zealand Herald. 17 October 2011. Retrieved 17 October 2011. Jailed former MP Phillip Field was released on parole today after serving a third of his sentence for bribery and corruption.
  32. ^ "Disgraced former MP's final fail". The New Zealand Herald. 27 October 2011. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  33. ^ "View All Details".
  34. ^ "MP guilty of illegal building". The New Zealand Herald. 5 February 2008. Retrieved 6 February 2008.
  35. ^ Day, Simon (25 November 2012). "'Gay' Labour has lost its way, says Field". Stuff. Archived from the original on 14 November 2020. Retrieved 23 September 2021.
  36. ^ Manch, Thomas (23 September 2021). "Former Labour Party minister Taito Phillip Field has died". Stuff. Archived from the original on 23 September 2021. Retrieved 23 September 2021.