Sir Geoffrey Winston Russell Palmer served as the 33rd Prime Minister of New Zealand from August 1989 until September 1990, leading the Fourth Labour Government. He was responsible for major reforms of the country’s legal and constitutional framework, such as the creation of the Constitution Act 1986, New Zealand Bill of Rights, Imperial Laws Application Act and the State Sector Act. A highly regarded lawyer, In 2010 Palmer was chosen to chair a UN Inquiry panel into the fatal Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara, supporting the Israeli Security Forces’ legitimate use of force. Sir Geoffrey is also a renowned Environmentalist, in 2002 he was appointed as New Zealand’s representative to the International Whaling Commission. In 1991 he was listed on the UN Global Roll of Honour.
Palmer was educated at the Victoria University of Wellington and at the University of Chicago receiving a Juris Doctor in 1967. He worked as a solicitor for a Wellington law firm before turning to teaching, becoming a lecturer in political science at Victoria University of Wellington, Professor of Law at the Universities of Iowa and of Virginia, and Professor of English and New Zealand law at Victoria again. After joining the New Zealand Labour Party in 1975, he was elected to Parliament in 1979. He became personal assistant to the Prime Minister Wallace Edward Rowling and soon was deputy leader of the party and deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice and Attorney General.