The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]
Dr. Isaac Earl Featherston was the first member returned to the House of Representatives for this seat after the establishment of responsible government in 1854. He continued a member for various constituencies till 1871. Further reference to this distinguished politician appears on page 68 of this volume.
Mr. Henry Shafto Harrison represented the constituency of Wanganui during the third Parliament (1861–5) and the greater part of the succeeding one (1867–70). Born in Wake-field, Yorkshire, in 1810, Mr. Harrison came to Port Nicholson, with his family and a large retinue of servants, in 1840 in the ship “Bolton.” Some time afterwards he removed to Wanganui—then the principal main settlement of the West Coast—where he took part in the native war of 1847 as captain of the militia, afterwards serving for some years as captain of the Alexandra Cavalry. Mr. Harrison represented Wanganui in the Wellington Provincial Council, and his name is identified with all the progressive movements of his time. He was one of the founders of the Wanganui Acclimatisation Society, and was a leading member of the Wanganui Jockey Club, over which he presided for a long period. Mr. Harrison was a graduate of Cambridge University. He died in Wanganui on the 3rd of July, 1892, leaving four daughters and two sons.
Photo by A. Martin.
The late Mr. H. S. Harrison.
Mr. William Hogg Watt sat as member for the Wanganui Electoral District in the eighth Parliament, 1882–4.
The Late Hon. John Ballance, whose career as a Minister of the Crown and as Premier of New Zealand is given on pages 64 and 65 of this volume, represented Wanganui in the House of Representatives from 1884 to 1892.
Mr. A. D. Willis, who represented the Wanganui Electorate from the death of the Hon. J. Ballance in 1893 till 1896, was born in Middlesex, England, in the year 1842, his mother being an Englishwoman, and his father, who died soon after his birth, an Edinburgh man. On the death of his mother, some years later, Mr. Willis left England to try his fortune in New Zealand. He worked his passage to Auckland by ship “Dinapore,” landing in 1857, with empty pockets and all the world before him. Mr. Willis worked at his trade as a printer in various parts of New Zealand. He was the originator of the Hawkes Bay Herald, and has been closely associated with the profession ever since. On the breaking out of the Otago goldfields, Mr. Willis was seized with the “gold fever.” He was at the celebrated Gabriel's Gully for about six months, but was soon satisfied, and decided to turn his attention again to ordinary business pursuits. About thirty years ago Mr. Willis settled in Wanganui with the intention of starting a newspaper, but on the very day he arrived the native trouble broke out, and one of the first things he heard was that he must at once be sworn in as a militiaman. Mr. Willis was for some time in partnership with the late Hon. J. Ballance as proprietors of the Wanganui Herald, and hence the friendship that existed between the two, and ended only with Mr. Ballance's death. Mr. Willis was a member of the Wanganui Borough Council for six or seven years, and was instrumental in accomplishing a good deal during his time of office, among which may be named the securing of the reserve of 1200 acres for the town, and, in conjunction with Mr. J. G. Sharpe, the planting of the town with trees. Mr. Willis was also a member of the Harbour Board, and during a portion of the time occupied the position of chairman. When the office was vacant he was the only member that would accept the position, as the board was almost in a bankrupt condition, and six months after his accepting the office the financial affairs were put in such a satisfactory state that from that time to the present the board has been in a thoroughly healthy condition. Mr. Willis has also been a member of the school committee, and whatever position he has occupied he has always filled with credit to himself and profit to the ratepayers. As a member of the House, Mr. Willis was honoured by being asked to move the Address-in-reply in the first session of the last Parliament, and in answer to a question, stated that the particular reason for the Government suggesting this was for the purpose of giving first honour to the successor of the late worthy Premier.