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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Auckland Provincial District]

Mr. Peter Dignan

Mr. Peter Dignan was elected Mayor of Auckland in May, 1897, shortly after the resignation of Mr. A. Boardman, and at the end of the same year he was returned unopposed for a further term; he was the first New Zealand born occupant of the position. Mr. Dignan was born in Auckland on the 24th of April, 1847, and is the eldest son of the late Hon. P. Dignan, M.L.C. He was educated at St. Peter's school, Auckland, by the late Mr. R. J. O'Sullivan, and completed his studies privately under that gentleman and the Franciscan monks. Having been articled to Judge O'Brien, the Sheriff and Registrar of the Supreme Court, and Judge of the Native Land Court, Auckland, he was admitted as a barrister and solicitor, after passing a very successful examination, in 1868. In 1871 Mr. Dignan commenced to practise his profession, and established the legal firm of Dignan and Armstrong; the late Hon. John Sheehan being at one time a member of the firm. Mr. Dignan took a great interest in the Sunday school work of St. Patrick's Cathedral, and was for twenty-three years president of the Christian Doctrine Society, the organisation under which the Sunday school of that church is carried on. He was for many years a prominent member and officer of the Auckland Catholic Literary Institute, and was mainly instrumental in raising a volunteer corps in connection therewith, namely, the Hobson Rifles, in which he served as private for twelve years, and was subsequently captain. When the battalions were organised by Major-General Sir George Whitmore, Captain Dignan was promoted to major, and a few years later, to lieutenant-colonel and commander of No. 2 Battalion (rifles) of the Auckland Volunteer District. Being senior officer, he has filled the position of commanding officer of the district during the absence on leave of the permanent officer. Colonel Dignan holds the long service medal and the Imperial officer's decoration. While commanding officer of the district he held an Easter encampment at Otahuhu, in 1894, and throughout the camp raised a subscription to provide funds for renovating the Nixon monument, a memorial to the warriors of New Zealand. For twenty-two years Mr. Dignan has been trustee of the Auckland Working Men's Club, and president for a great part of the time. He was a member of the Auckland City Council for twelve years, and his services in this connection were of benefit to the city. During his first term of office as Mayor, the Queen's Jubilee
Mr. P. Dignan.

Mr. P. Dignan.

was celebrated, and a statue of her Majesty erected in Albert Park. The Auckland Exhibition was held during the second term. As a public man, Mr. Dignan has willingly given his services; for many years he was a member of the Auckland Harbour Board, member and chairman of the Hospital and Charitable Aid Board, member of the council of the Auckland University College, and a governor of the Auckland College and Grammar School. He was also a Commissioner of the Auckland Exhibition, a trustee of the Sailors' Home, and a member of the Scenery Conservation Society. Mr. Dignan is now vice-president of the Auckland Technical School.