The awesome family stats of Bill English

With thirty years of marriage, six kids, and a record of pro-life and pro-family voting behind him, New Zealand’s new Prime Minister, Bill English, has a pretty good record for a politician in a very secularised Western country.

Of course, he hasn’t done it all on his own.

His wife, Mary, who is also a doctor, shares his values and has also defended them publicly – most recently in an oral submission to a government committee studying end-of-life issues as a result of the latest campaign for euthanasia in this country.

It’s no secret that the couple are practising Catholics, and they both come from large families.

Mary is the eldest of 13 children of a Samoan father and an Italian mother, while Bill is the third youngest of 12, brought up on a farm in the south of New Zealand, helping with both farm work and domestic chores from a young age.

(He famously at one stage made school lunches for most of his siblings.)

In a recent profile of the couple in the New Zealand Women’s Weekly, billed as the couple’s “private love story”, Mary said a large family was part of the plan when they married in their mid-20s:

“Bill was quite keen for a big family and I said I was up for that – as long as they were all girls!” laughs Mary. “It tempted the fates because I ended up with five sons!”

Politics being a rather brutal thing at times, Bill’s generally second-fiddle role in politics (he was deputy prime minister and finance minister under John Key, who resigned from the top job in December) has probably protected the English children while they were growing up.

With five now in their twenties and the youngest 17 (the only one at home), the risks are not so great, but their opinion on dad taking on the PM’s role was sought anyway – and they were supportive. Continue reading


  • MercatorNet, article by Carolyn Moynihan, who is deputy editor of MercatorNet.
  • Image: Stuff
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News category: Features.

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