Hon. James Carroll,
member of the Ministry without portfolio, and Maori member of the Executive Council, was born on the 20th of August, 1857, at Te Wairoa, in the province of Hawkes Bay. His birthplace is writ large in the annals of New Zealand History, as it was, during the Maori War, the base of the military operations on the East Coast. Mr. Carroll is a son of Mr. Joseph Carroll, a very old settler in the Wairoa, who married Tapuke, a chieftainess of high rank in the Ngatikahungunu tribe. After receiving a very slight education at one of the native schools in the district, Mr. Carroll, who was then about eight years old, was sent to a European school at Napier. Here he remained only two years, retiring from the pursuit of knowledge to take to an outdoor life on his father's station. Two years later we find young Carroll, although but a boy in years a man in pluck, fighting with a native expedition sent out under the command of Mr. F. E. Hamlin, in pursuit of the notorious Te Kooti. This gallant company was on the warpath for five months, and had three engagements with Te Kooti's party. During that time they captured 150 prisoners of war; compelled the Hauhaus to conclude terms of peace, and swear allegiance to the Queen. Mr. Carroll, who then could hardly have been fourteen years of age, was specially mentioned in despatches, the Government awarding him the New Zealand Medal, and a bonus of £50 for the services he had rendered. Soon after this he was appointed as a cadet in the office of Mr. Commissioner Locke at Napier. While so engaged he attracted the attention of Sir Donald McLean, who gave him a more responsible position in the native office at Wellington. After a year's service he was again promoted, being made native interpreter to Judge Rogan of the Native Land Court. In 1879 Mr. Carroll was appointed interpreter to the House of Representatives; in this capacity he gained a very high reputation as an able an eloquent speaker. This was the turning point of his career. In 1883 he resigned this office and contested the Eastern Maori Electorate with Mr. Wi Pere, but having only two weeks in which to contest the seat, Mr. Carroll was defeated by twenty-three votes. After the election
Photo by Wrigglesworth and Binns.
Sir Maurice O'Rorke, who was then Speaker of the House, pressed Mr. Carroll to take up his old post, but he declined, preferring to enter into private business. In 1886 he once more entered the
political arena, against Mr. Wi Pere, whom he defeated by 200 votes. After Mr. Carroll's first session in Parliament, it was said of him by an able and far-sighted writer that “were he to do nothing else his efforts in the direction of the political and social union of the two races in this Colony, would hand his name down in New Zealand history as that of a statesman of broad and comprehensive views, farseeing, and a benefactor alike to Maori and European. As one of the foremost young chiefs of the large and powerful Ngatikahungunu, whose mana extends nearly the whole length of the East Coast of the North Island, he exercises a vast influence with the native race, and his opinions on native questions naturally command the greatest attention. On the other hand his fine presence, his youth, his genial and courteous bearing, his past services and his signal ability as a public speaker command the friendship, the admiration, and the attention of European members. James Carroll is, in fact, one of the few remarkable men in the House. His political future should be a great one in its personal advancement, and in its usefulness to the European and Maori races. As an outcome of native representation, he is in himself a valuable and instructive lesson to colonists.” This graphic pen and ink portraiture of Mr. Carroll's character and abilities was written as far back as 1887, and has since been amply borne out by his political career. In 1890 the honourable gentleman was once more returned for his old constituency by a large majority, again defeating Mr. Wi Pere, who is now the Maori member for the East Coast. At the last general election in 1892 he decided to contest the Waiapu European electorate, and was opposed by Mr. De Latour, whom he defeated by the substantial majority of 497 votes. Mr. Carroll became a Minister of the Crown in 1892; and, although holding no portfolio, he specially represents the native race. Owing to his great tact and influence with the natives, by whom he is known as “Timi Kara,” he has been able to amicably settle a number of disputes of a threatening nature, and his services have proved of the utmost benefit to the Colony, and the race he so ably represents. No one in the House occupies so unique a position. Twice be has acted as the representative of the East Coast Native Electorate; while he is now M.H.R. for a European Constituency, and specially represents the Maori race in the Seddon Ministry.