Early life and education
Born in Gore in 1936, Munro's birth name was John Baldwin. Having had poliomyelitis as a baby, he was a state ward and raised as a foster child. At the age of nine he was adopted by his foster parents, the Munro family in Invercargill, and his name was changed to John Baldwin Munro. His adoptive father was William Munro and his adoptive brother was Burt Munro, a New Zealand motorcycle racer who was the subject of The World's Fastest Indian.
He was the Southland administrator for IHC New Zealand from 1968 to 1973. He was the chairman for the Paraplegic Trust Appeal in 1973 and set up the Fundraising Institute of New Zealand. For seven years, he chaired the New Zealand Federation of Voluntary Welfare agencies.
He represented the Invercargill electorate in Parliament from 1972 to 1975, when he was defeated by Norman Jones. Previously he had been a member of the National Party. In Parliament, Munro was notable for advocating the passage of the Disabled Persons' Community Welfare Act. It was passed during the last week of Parliament before the Labour Party was defeated in the 1975 general election, giving disabled people community services as of right for the first time. Munro worked as a Labour Party fund-raiser during the general election.
In October 1977, Munro moved to Wellington following his political career. He was appointed national secretary of IHC. Munro was vice-chairman of the 1981 telethon, which raised NZ$6 million and which funded the introduction of teletext in New Zealand. He retired from IHC in 1998 as chief executive officer.
Awards and honours
On his retirement from IHC, Munro was made a life member, and in 2014 was inducted into the Attitude Hall of Fame. In the 1990 New Year Honours, Munro was appointed a Companion of the Queen's Service Order for public services.