By WAYNE THOMPSON
Former Labour politician. Died aged 87.
Norman James King's three years' work as Minister of Social Welfare bear his humanitarian stamp - new measures to help solo parents, pensioners, the disabled and at-risk youth.
A man who had no secondary schooling, who had lived in a state house and been a storeman in the Minties lolly factory, he argued tirelessly on behalf of society's strugglers since becoming an MP in 1954.
The Labour Government of 1972-75, headed first by his friend Norman Kirk, was the chance to work through his list of things to change.
Customer service at his own department was one. He called for the single counter at Social Welfare's public offices to be replaced by an open desk, a bowl of flowers, some shrubs and carpet on the floor.
He advised staff to say to clients: "Good morning, what can I do for you?" This was to break the ice and calm angry clients.
Other innovations King promoted included the domestic purposes benefit, Christmas bonuses for beneficiaries, wheelchair access to buildings and measures to keep children out of court.
King was particularly proud of the Children and Young Persons Act, saying it was one of the major social welfare bills of the 20th century and would reduce child abuse and juvenile offending.
His time in the Cabinet ended abruptly in 1975 when the Labour Government, beset by the country's economic problems and depleted by Kirk's death, was tipped out by National.
King lost his Birkenhead seat to a young lawyer, Jim McLay, later to be National's leader.
Disappointed, he retired from politics, painted his modest Bayswater home and took his wife, Marjorie, off to tour Europe in a campervan.
He later served, for nine years, the Auckland, Hamilton and Taranaki district law societies as their first lay observer, acting as independent adjudicator in public complaints against lawyers.
His son, Dr Lewis King, of Northcote, said that for his father, politics was about respecting all people.
Norman King's community work was recognised when the causeway to Herald Island was named Kingsway, and by Norman King Square in the Northcote shopping centre.
King kept in touch with many community and sporting organisations, including the North Shore IHC, of which he was patron for 40 years.
During World War II he served in the Pacific with the Royal New Zealand Air Force equipment section.
He later held office in the Orakei branch of the Labour Party and was vice-president of the Storemen and Packers Union.
Marjorie King died 13 years ago.
King is survived by his son, Lewis, daughter-in-law Elizabeth, and two grandsons.
By WAYNE THOMPSON