Profile: Phil Goff

20:24, Nov 29 2011
Goff through the years
A file photo of Phil Goff from 1984.
Goff through the years
Phil Goff in 2006 at the announcement of the Vietnam veterans agent orange settlement in Parliament.
Goff through the years
Phil Goff, at the time Minister of Defence and Trade, left, and Winston Peters, at the time Minister of Foreign Affairs, during a press conference after meeting US senators in 2006.
Goff through the years
Dr. Michael Cullen, then Prime Minister Helen Clark, and Phil Goff celebrate 25 years of parliament in 2006.
Goff through the years
A file photo of Phil Goff checking in on a school.
Goff through the years
Phil Goff in 2001, at the time Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Goff through the years
Phil Goff poses with Jasper and Siegfried, two donkeys outside Parliament.
Goff through the years
Phil Goff tries on a NZ Army flak jacket and helmet before his trip to Afghanistan in 2002.
Goff through the years
Then Customs Minister Phil Goff with a pamphlet issued by the Government to deter illegal imigrants arriving by boat, 2002.

After three years at the helm, Phil Goff has announced he is stepping down as leader of the Labour Party.

He took up the job after the party's 2008 defeat when Helen Clark resigned, and has since struggled in the opinion polls.

Goff has had to regularly fend off rumours he was going to call it quits before Saturday's election, but today finally pulled the pin himself.

He has promised to stay in Parliament as the MP for Mt Roskill - a seat he first won in 1981.

Goff was born into a working-class Labour family in June 1953, the third of four children.

He grew up in the Auckland and  joined the Labour Party at 15, when he worked on his first election campaign with Mike Moore as the campaign manager for Manukau candidate Roger Douglas.


Goff cut his political teeth while working his way through Auckland University. An 'A' student, he went on to gain a masters degree with first class honours in politics and law.

He quit his freezing works job to work as a junior lecturer at the university.

After some time in Europe with wife Mary, who he has known since he was 16, he returned to New Zealand and worked with the Insurance Workers' Union.

When he was re-elected in 1984, Goff was the youngest of then Prime Minister David Lange's Cabinet, aged 31.

He lost his previously safe seat in 1990 to National's Gilbert Myles. He returned to his lecturing job at Auckland University, before taking back his Mt Roskill seat in 1993.

Three years later, he was among a handful of MPs who tried to convince Helen Clark to stand down in favour of Moore before that year's election.

That same year he stood in the new seat of New Lynn and won. In 1999, Goff became the minister of foreign affairs, trade, and justice.

He relinquished his prized foreign affairs portfolio to NZ First leader Winston Peters in 2005 in exchange for his coalition support, and instead took on defence.

Goff led negotiations for a free trade agreement in China and signed the deal in 2008 as minister of trade.

He took the job of leader of the opposition almost immediately after the 2008 election in a transition from the long-serving Helen Clark.

With deputy Annette King, Goff struggled for traction with the voting public, consistently polling far behind National's John Key in the preferred prime minister ratings.

On election night at the weekend, Goff held his Mt Roskill seat with a 6383 vote majority, but led Labour to its worst result in decades.

He today said he would carry on as a backbench MP and support whoever was elected the next leader.