Hon Dr Nick Smith was born and educated in North Canterbury in a bridge construction family. He subsequently completed a first-class honours degree in civil engineering and a PhD in landslides at Canterbury University.
Nick was politically active from a young age and influenced by a year as an AFS scholar to Delaware, USA. He became a district councillor while studying and has held many offices in Young Nationals and in the senior National Party prior to being selected as the National candidate for Tasman in 1989.
He won the Tasman seat in 1990 and 1993, and following the introduction of MMP, Nelson in 1996, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2011 and 2014 despite both having a long previous history as Labour areas.
In 2014, he secured exactly 20,000 votes, increased his majority to 7,605 and National secured its highest ever party vote in Nelson of 16,904 votes.
Nick has held 12 Ministerial portfolios in the Bolger, Shipley and Key Cabinets, covering Conservation, Building and Construction, Housing, Education, Immigration, Corrections, Social Welfare, Treaty Negotiations, Environment, ACC, Climate Change and Local Government.
His greatest passion has been improving New Zealand’s management of the environment and natural resources. In 1998, he founded the Bluegreens as a group within National that wish to advance policies that support economic prosperity and a clean, green New Zealand.
National achievements in which Nick has played a significant role include the creation of the Kahurangi and Rakiura National Parks, 17 Marine Reserves, the introduction of the Emissions Trading Scheme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the establishment of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, and the Environment Protection Authority.
Nick’s recreational interests include kayaking, tramping, tennis, golf, and he plays the left wing in the Parliamentary Rugby team. He completed the Coast to Coast and kayaked the Cook Strait with friend and colleague Rt Hon Bill English.