Obituary: Colin Moyle, politician

Colin Moyle is one of the great "what-ifs" of New Zealand politics. A farmer and teacher, he was first elected to Parliament as the Labour MP for Manukau in 1963, and by 1969 was a key figure in organising Labour’s election campaign. After Labour finally won in 1972, Mr Moyle became Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Forests and Science. In 1974 his close ally, Bill Rowling, unexpectedly became prime minister when Norman Kirk died, and Mr Moyle was widely regarded as a potential leader. However in 1976, with Labour back in Opposition, then National Prime Minister Rob Muldoon used the privilege of speaking in the House to allude Mr Moyle — a married man with three children — had been questioned by police on suspicion of homosexual activities (then illegal).

Mr Moyle resigned soon after, but was re-elected four years later as MP for Hunua — while Mr Muldoon was still PM — and then Otara in 1984. After the 1984 Labour landslide, Mr Moyle returned to Cabinet and to the same agricultural portfolios. However, with what was by now known as "the Moyle affair" still fresh in people’s minds, he kept a determinedly low profile. In 1989 he confirmed he would retire at the following year’s election, and was dropped to the back bench. In 1990, Mr Moyle was awarded a CBE for public services, before retiring to a farm in the Bay of Plenty. Mr Moyle died on May 11, aged 94.  — Agencies.