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John Baldwin Munro QSO JP (né John Baldwin, 15 August 1936 – 4 June 2018), better known as J. B. Munro, was a New Zealand politician of the Labour Party. He was also a notable disability advocate.

Early life and education

Born in Gore in 1936, Munro's birth name was John Baldwin.[1] Having had poliomyelitis as a baby, he was a state ward and raised as a foster child.[2] At the age of nine he was adopted by his foster parents, the Munro family in Invercargill,[3] and his name was changed to John Baldwin Munro.[1] His adoptive father was William Munro[4] and his adoptive brother was Burt Munro, a New Zealand motorcycle racer who was the subject of The World's Fastest Indian.

Munro was educated at St George Primary (now Fernworth Primary), Tweedsmuir Junior High, and Southland Boys' High School.[4]


Munro was a clerk for the Vacuum Oil Company from 1954 to 1957. He was secretary for the YMCA in Invercargill, Australia, and Dunedin between 1958 and 1968.[4][3]

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.[4][3] For seven years, he chaired the New Zealand Federation of Voluntary Welfare agencies.[3]

Munro was the Southland regional chairman of the Commonwealth Games Appeal. He was also a member of the Invercargill City Council.[5]

He represented the Invercargill electorate in Parliament from 1972 to 1975, when he was defeated by Norman Jones.[6] Previously he had been a member of the National Party.[7] In Parliament, Munro was notable for advocating the passage of the Disabled Persons' Community Welfare Act.[8] 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.[8] Munro worked as a Labour Party fund-raiser during the general election.[8]

In October 1977, Munro moved to Wellington following his political career.[8] 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.[3] He retired from IHC in 1998 as chief executive officer.[3]

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.[2] In the 1990 New Year Honours, Munro was appointed a Companion of the Queen's Service Order for public services.[9]

Personal life

On 6 October 1962, Munro married Valmai "Val" Sharfe, the daughter of Walter Sharfe. They had one son and one daughter.[4] Hilary Stace was writing a biography of Munro in 2015.[3]

He died in Christchurch on 4 June 2018, aged 81.[10]

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