Author(s): Edmund Bohan
It would be easy to make assumptions about someone like Philip Burdon. The product of a long line of landed gentry going back to the fourteenth century, and of well-heeled pilgrims on CanterburyÃÂÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂs First Four Ships, brought up and educated as one of South Canterbury's privileged landowners, a distinguished old boy of Christ's College ÃÂÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ and a self-made multimillionaire to boot. Burdon might appear to be the archetypal New Zealand Anglocentric conservative. The truth is very different. This man is also a passionate republican, a businessman with an acute social conscience, a liberal politician who fought relentlessly against the right-wing ideologues of his own National Party, and not only slowed their extremist free-market reforms but convinced his caucus that this philosophy must wear a human face. As Minister of Trade Negotiations, he steered New Zealand through the labyrinth of GATT reforms that made up the Uruguay Round, oversaw a tremendous expansion of New Zealand's trading links into the Middle East, Asia and south and Central America, and championed the cause of regional economic development in the Pacific-Asia area. And, especially through the Asia 2000 Foundation, he has striven for multi-racial harmony and to encourage New Zealand's Asian community to take a full part in this countryÃÂÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂs public affairs. But this is much more than the biography of a complex and interesting man. Critically acclaimed historian Edmund Bohan has also created a fascinating, lively and important portrait of an extraordinary period in New Zealand's history.
Edmund Bohan graduated with honours in History from the University of Canterbury before setting out on a long career as a concert and operatic tenor in New Zealand and overseas. Since his return to New Zealand in late 1987 he has devoted most of his time to writing, researching and lecturing. In 1995 he was the John David Stout Fellow at Victoria University of Wellington.