Haddon Donald

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Haddon Donald

Haddon Donald, 1951.jpg
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Wairarapa
In office
Preceded by Bert Cooksley
Succeeded by Jack Williams
Personal details
Haddon Vivian Donald

(1917-03-20)20 March 1917
Masterton, New Zealand
Died 23 April 2018(2018-04-23) (aged 101)
Masterton, New Zealand
Political party National
Spouse(s) Ana Alice Beetham
Relations Charlie Mills (great-grandfather)[1]
Military service
Allegiance New Zealand
Service/branch New Zealand Army
Rank Lieutenant colonel
Commands 22nd Battalion
Battles/wars Second World War
Awards Distinguished Service Order
Military Cross
Mentioned in Despatches
Efficiency Decoration
Officer of the Legion of Merit (United States)

Haddon Vivian Donald, DSO, MC, ED (20 March 1917 – 23 April 2018) was a New Zealand soldier, businessman and politician of the National Party. He was the oldest living former New Zealand Member of Parliament, and at the time of his death, was the highest-ranking New Zealand army officer of World War II living.[1] During the war, Donald served as an officer for the 22nd Battalion rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel. After his military service, Donald represented Wairarapa in the parliament from 1963 to 1969.[1]

Early life

Donald was born in 1917 at Masterton,[2] the son of Vivian Everard Donald and Gertrude Blanche Donald (née Mills). He was educated at Nelson College from 1930 to 1932,[3] and afterwards at Wairarapa College.[2]

Military life

He joined the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in 1939.[2] During the Second World War he was an officer in the 22nd Battalion, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel. The history group of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage has an interview with Haddon on its website where he describes the events at the Maleme airfield as part of the Battle of Crete.[4] Donald was awarded the Military Cross in 1942,[5] and the Distinguished Service Order in 1945. In 1947 he was made an Officer of the Legion of Merit by the United States.[6] Donald later wrote about his experiences soldiering in Greece, Crete and Egypt in the book In Peace and War: A Civilian Soldier's Story, published in 2005.[7]

Political career

On his return from the war, he was a manufacturer based in the Wairarapa.[2] He represented the Wairarapa electorate from 1963 in succession to Bert Cooksley, who retired after five terms.[8] Donald held the electorate until 1969, when he was defeated by Labour's Jack Williams.[9] He lost the election by 467 votes.[10]

Donald worked for his family firm of Donald Presses Ltd for 50 years, and was chairman of the company from 1970 to 1986. He captained the New Zealand rifle team on five occasions.[3] Donald lived in Taupo.[11] In April 2013, Donald at 96 years old, visited the parliament for discussions with Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman and Speaker David Carter.[1]

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1963–1966 34th Wairarapa National
1966–1969 35th Wairarapa National

Personal life

Donald was married to Ana Beetham until she died in May 2014, aged 90; she was buried in Masterton.[12] The couple had four children and 14 grandchildren.[10] Donald turned 100 in March 2017[10] and died on 23 April 2018 in Masterton, at the age of 101.[13]


Donald was awarded the Distinguished Service Order, Military Cross, Efficiency Decoration, and made an Officer of the Legion of Merit.[10] In May 2017, Donald received a telegram from Queen Elizabeth II commemorating his 100th birthday.[10]


  • Donald, Haddon (2005). In Peace and War: A Civilian Soldier's Story. Masterton: Fraser Books. ISBN 0958252165. Retrieved 17 June 2015 – via New Zealand Electronic Text Centre.



  1. ^ a b c d Hyslop, Liam (11 April 2013). "Our oldest MP returns to Parliament". Dominion Post. Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d Gustafson 1986, p. 308.
  3. ^ a b "Full school list of Nelson College, 1856–2005". Nelson College Old Boys' Register, 1856–2006 (CD-ROM) (6th ed.). 2006.
  4. ^ "Haddon Donald describes defending Maleme airfield, Crete". Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  5. ^ "No. 35492". The London Gazette (Supplement). 19 March 1942. p. 1261.
  6. ^ "No. 37909". The London Gazette (Supplement). 20 March 1947. p. 1316.
  7. ^ Donald 2005.
  8. ^ Wilson 1985, pp. 190, 193.
  9. ^ Wilson 1985, pp. 193, 245.
  10. ^ a b c d e "Old soldier turns 100". Times. 24 May 2017. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  11. ^ Donoghue, Tim (14 May 2011). "Officer breaks rank over the Battle of Crete". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
  12. ^ Crombie, Nathan (21 May 2014). "Kiwi heroes of Crete remembered". Wairarapa Times-Age. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  13. ^ "Haddon DONALD". The Dominion Post. 25 April 2018. Retrieved 25 April 2018.


  • Donald, Haddon (2005). In Peace and War: A Civilian Soldier's Story. Masterton: Fraser Books. ISBN 0-9582521-6-5.
  • Gustafson, Barry (1986). The First 50 Years : A History of the New Zealand National Party. Auckland: Reed Methuen. ISBN 0-474-00177-6.
  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand parliamentary record, 1840–1984 (4 ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103.

External links

  • "Haddon Donald describes defending Maleme airfield, Crete". New Zealand History online. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. 15 July 2013.
  • "Old soldier turns 100". Wairarapa Times Age. 24 March 2017. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Bert Cooksley
Member of Parliament for Wairarapa
Succeeded by
Jack Williams
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