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Chris Leach's cancer battle: What happened to the leader of the Social Credit Party?  Explained

We regret to inform you that NZ Social Credit Party leader Chris Leitch has passed away after a long illness. Leach has been a long-time Social Credit campaigner and has served in almost every office in the party since he first became interested in it in 1972. Everyone knows the cause of his death, but those who loved him most are especially eager to know what cancer he was diagnosed with and how he managed to survive it. You can read more about what happened to him and the circumstances of Chris Leach’s cancer battle in this post.

What happened to Chris Leitch?

Chris Leitch, the leader of the Social Credit Party, died on Friday morning after a long battle with neck cancer, the party chairman said in a statement.

Since its founding in 1953, the Social Credit Political League has fielded candidates in nearly every general election and midterm election.
During that time, six MPs were successfully elected to parliament.

Leitch’s brother has run for office multiple times, and his father ran for office in the 1960s. His wife Anne, son Andrew, stepdaughters Tracy and Darian and brother Tim are still alive.

Chris Leitch is battling cancer

Chris Leitch, the leader of the Social Credit Party and resident of Whangarei, died on Friday morning after long battle with neck cancer.

Leitch, 70, is survived by his wife Ann, son Andrew, stepdaughters Tracey and Darian and brother Tim. Leach was a long-time Social Credit campaigner, holding almost every post in the party since he first joined it in 1972. In 2012, he was given life membership in recognition of this achievement.

His brother ran several times and his father ran in the 1960s. Since its founding in 1953, the Social Credit Political League has fielded candidates in nearly every general election and midterm election. Six MPs were successfully elected to Parliament during that time.

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Leitch persisted in pursuing his causes to the very end, petitioning the government late last year to keep operations at the Marsden Pt oil refinery.

Chris Leitch

Social Credit Party leader Chris Leitch stood six times for the Whangārei electorate in the general election. Credit (NZ Herald)

New Zealand politics and ballroom dancing

His party presented a petition in parliament with 18,000 signatures calling on the government to designate the refinery as a national strategic asset and force the private owners to sell all their interests to the government using funds created by the Reserve Bank.

Leitch was particularly drawn to New Zealand politics, although his passion for ballroom dancing earned him international fame and the establishment of his dance studio.

He joined Social Credit in the 1970s and remained an active supporter of the party until the end of his life. Leitch held the positions of branch chairman, party president and finally party leader. He stood for office in six general elections as a Whangrei candidate.
He is also running for Whangrei District Council.

He recently campaigned heavily to prevent New Zealand from joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership and to block Chinese funding of infrastructure in the Northland.

Also, to maintain the operation and ownership of the Marsden Pt Refinery and to prevent government mandates that prevent the employment of New Zealand teachers, health professionals, police and other public servants.

Leitch said he joined the Social Credit Party in an attempt to “try to change things”. He went to great lengths to make things better for all New Zealanders. The Social Credit Party campaigned under that name, Democrats for Social Credit, and as a component of the Alliance Party during his tenure.

Short facts about Christopher John Leitch

A New Zealand politician named Christopher John Leitch was in office from 1953 until 20 January 2023. Between 2018 and 2023, when he died, he was leader of the Social Credit Party.

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Love for dancing

Leach was first interested in football and cricket, but at the age of 11 he also developed a love for dancing (which was also a passion of his parents). First he danced for fun, then for competition.

When he was between the ages of 15 and 17 he won competitions in the Auckland Region Youth Age Division and went on to win numerous national competitions.

When he was 18, he began both studying and teaching dance under Maurice Taylor, a Fellow of the New Zealand Federal Dance Teachers Association and one of New Zealand’s top dance examiners.

The John Leitch Dance Studio

At the age of 20, Leitch moved to Whangarei where he opened his own dance school called ‘The John Leitch Dance Studio’ which served nine other communities in the Northland.

He was a life member of the New Zealand Federal Dance Teachers’ Association, which was affiliated to the Imperial Society of Dance Teachers in London and registered with the New Zealand Dance Council.

Political career: First campaign

Following in his father’s footsteps, Leach joined the Social Credit Party in the early 1970s “to try and change things”. His first political campaign was for Joyce Ryan, former mayor of Whangarei, who later rose to the position of head of the Whangarei branch of Social Credit.

In 1984 for Social Credit and again in 1987 for the Democratic Party, he stood for office in the Whangarei electorate (renamed Social Credit). He was elected President of the Democratic Party in 1988. The Democrats entered a four-party coalition known as the Alliance in late 1991, along with New Labor, Mana Motuhake and the Greens.

He was elected to represent the Alliance in the 1992 Tamaki by-election, which was held as a result of the departure of Sir Robert Muldoon. Having broken numerous campaign promises, the national administration was not well liked at the time.

Leitch had a strong campaign, leading Clem Simic of the National Party by eight points five days before Election Day in two of the three polls taken.

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He came close to winning the traditionally safe national seat, reducing the party’s margin of victory by 29.5% and pushing the Labor candidate into a distant third. He called his close call a “miracle.”

Soon after his campaign for Tamaki, he ran successfully for the Alliance Party in the 1992 local elections for the newly created Auckland Regional Services Trust. When he decided to leave politics in 1997, he remained a member of the trust.

Leitch’s return to politics

Leitch re-entered politics before the 2014 election, being elected Deputy Leader of the Democratic Party in September 2013 and as a candidate for the electorate of Whangarei. He ran once more for the post of Fangarei in 2017 and finished second.

Leach also campaigned against the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the Northern Territory in 2015, and later campaigned against Chinese involvement in funding and infrastructure development in the region in 2017. He stood unsuccessfully in a by-election for Denbigh Ward on the county council of Whangarei in late 2017.

Social Credit Party

After Leitch was elected party leader in June 2018, the party decided to revert to its Social Credit name. The party’s operations grew significantly under Leach’s leadership, with more frequent press releases and sporadic full-page newspaper advertisements.

Social Credit issued a press release on 8 February 2022 calling for the government’s vaccine requirement to be dropped. Leitch traveled to Wellington to take part in the 2022 anti-mandate demonstrations in Wellington. And on February 11, 2022, he directly addressed the demonstrators. Leitch later demanded that the government pay everyone who lost their jobs as a result of rules requiring vaccinations.


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