Labour leader David Shearer lasted less than two years in the top job, winning a two-man contest in December 2011 against David Cunliffe.
He took over from Phil Goff, who resigned following the election defeat to National.
Shearer had entered Parliament in 2009, winning the Mt Albert by-election - prompted by the departure of ex-PM Helen Clark - with a majority of 9718.
In the 2011 National landslide he retained Mt Albert with a majority of 10,021; not far short of Clark's 10,351 majority from 2008. Previously he had stood, unsuccessfully, for election in Waitakere and then Whangarei.
As leader, Shearer fired some big policy shots to grab attention, including a populist pitch to first-home buyers with a plan to ban foreign speculators from the housing market, and build tens of thousands of cheap new homes.
He moved to arrest the inertia in his back office by bringing back former chief press secretary, Fran Mold, and installing her as his chief of staff.
He was quick to latch on to the right side of issues such as the row over snapper bag limits but his leadership seemed to be at half-throttle.
Hapless episodes included the man ban, or this week's debacle over his request for a not-so-secret meeting with Prime Minister John Key to find a way through the impasse over legislation extending the powers of the Government Communications Security Bureau.
The intention behind him seeking the meeting was good – the execution was not. It was another reminder that he would have to be much faster on his feet on the campaign trail to get one up on Key.
It's all a long way from where Shearer made his mark in the 1990s - in international aid development.
He was once a United Nations co-ordinator of aid in Africa, the Balkans, and was head of Save the Children Fund in Rwanda, Somalia, Iraq and Sri Lanka.
He was awarded an MBE in the 1993 British honours list, and in 1994 he was given Save the Children's international award for gallantry.
There followed a stint as a researcher in London and as adviser to then-foreign affairs minister Goff in the Beehive until 2002.
But, in 2003, he was back in Jerusalem as the head of the UN's humanitarian office.
He went on to lead UN humanitarian work in Lebanon and, from 2007-09, was head of the UN mission in Iraq, then became deputy head of the UN Development Programme in Iraq before getting the top job.
Born in 1957, Shearer was educated at Papatoetoe High School where he was head boy, senior athletics champion, first XI cricket captain and a member of the rugby first XV and swimming team.
After a teaching diploma and degrees in science and resource management at Auckland and Canterbury universities, he had a stint as a tour guide, spent four years as a science teacher, then contracted on environmental and Maori issues at the Tainui Trust Board - a time he credits with changing his attitude to things Maori.
Shearer and his wife, Anuschka Meyer, returned home after two decades in the world's trouble spots - Sri Lanka, Rwanda, Somalia, Jerusalem and Iraq - so their children could grow up as New Zealanders.
Married in 1987 in Bangkok, they spent their honeymoon in Burma.
In Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, Shearer ''burst with a bang into the aid world'' earning an MBE for his work with Save the Children.
It was harrowing and dangerous work. In one stand-off, Shearer negotiated for half an hour when his wife was held captive at gunpoint.
Later, when they went to the Middle East, Shearer did some of the most defining work of his aid career, charting the building of Israel's ''security'' wall and the impact on Palestinians, and travelling to south Lebanon for several months during the brutal 2006 conflict.
When Shearer was posted to Baghdad, during the Iraq war, the family lived in Amman, Jordan, before returning home for Shearer to contest the Mt Albert seat - and begin his Beehive career.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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