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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Auckland Provincial District]

Auckland Members of The Legislative Council

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Auckland Members of The Legislative Council.

Of present members of the Legislative Council, Auckland has seven, of whom three are life members, the Hon. Henry Williams, William Swanson, and G. B. Morris. The first of these members was appointed on the 7th of March, 1882, and the others on the 15th of May, 1885. Of those appointed since 1891, who are therefore holders of the office for seven years only, but are eligible for re-appointment, the Hon. W. T. Jennings was appointed on the 15th of October, 1892, and re-appointed on the 16th of October, 1899; the Hon. Benjamin Harris and William Kelly on the 3rd of February, 1897; and the Hon. A. J. Cadman on the 21st of December, 1899.

The payment of Legislative Councillors is at the rate of £150 per annum, payable monthly, and actual travelling expenses to and from the seat of Government are allowed. On the other hand, should a Councillor be absent more than five sitting days during any session, through avoidable causes, a deduction of £1 5s per day is made; and should he be absent without permission for more than one session his seat becomes vacant. The number of Councillors for the whole Colony must not be less than ten, but there is no maximum limit, except such as is imposed by the conscience of the party in power.

Discussion frequently arises as to the advisableness of abolishing the system of Crown nomination in favour of some improved system of popular election of Legislative Councillors; and even the leading members of that party in the Lower House which is sometimes called “The Conservative,” have expressed themselves in favour of a change in that direction.

The Hon. William Swanson, M.L.C., is one of Auckland's best known and most trusted politicians; he has had a somewhat eventful career, and the record of many vicissitudes which he has experienced will show the general trend of colonial life. Born in Leith, near Edinburgh, on the 30th of May, 1819, he early suffered the loss of both his parents, and was brought up under the care first of his paternal grandfather, and subsequently of an uncle. Shortly after attaining his majority, Mr. Swanson completed his apprenticeship as a shipwright, and lost little time in trying his fortunes in the colonies. Arriving in Auckland in 1844, he found employment in various lines, but wages at that time were low in the Northern Capital, and Mr. Swanson visited California in the hope of striking something better. His voyage thither was eventful enough, as may be imagined from the fact that it was undertaken in a vessel of fourteen tons. The shipwright, however, had confidence in his own work, and, when the customs officer at Auckland declined to clear the vessel outwards on account of her being too small for a foreign voyage, Mr. Swanson, the builder and owner, quietly took his departure for the Bay of Islands, where he found an officer either more ignorant, or less strict as to the tonnage of his little craft. His mates, though possessing a theoretical knowledge of seamanship, were divided in opinion on some of the more abstruse points of navigation, and had it not been for the timely aid of a “passenger”—the late Mr. Bell, brother of Mrs. Allan O'Neill—there is no doubt that the desired haven could never have been reached. With Mr. Bell's assistance, however, Mr. Swanson and his little company found their way to Tahiti, and on to Honolulu, where the vessel was sold, Mr. Swanson, by the transaction, becoming a landed proprietor on a small scale. After working some time in Honolulu at four dollars a day, Mr. Swanson continued his journey, and arrived in California at a time when the wages of skilled artisans ranged from sixteen to twenty-five dollars per day; he was fortunate in obtaining employment for some length of time at the maximum wage. Returning to this colony in 1852, Mr. Swanson took up land at the place now bearing his name, and engaged heartily in the timber industry. Here he not only met with personal prosperity, but put many others in the way of making a competence. Being popular with all classes, and thoroughly trusted, Mr. Swanson was early marked out for a public career. The first position of importance to which he was elected was that of representative of the West Ward on the City Board, immediately on the formation of that body. The next step was to the Provincial Council, in which he represented first the Northern District of Auckland and then the City West; in 1871 he was elected without contest to a seat for Newton in the General Assembly. Mr. Swanson continued a member of the Provincial Council until the abolition of those bodies in 1876. In the House of Representatives he sat continuously until 1884, when, for the first and only time, he was beaten. This is a splendid record for a politician who has, throughout his career, conscientiously abstained from soliciting votes on his own behalf. Though lost to the Lower House, Mr. Swanson was not long out of harness, for in May, 1885, he was offered a seat in the Upper House, as a fitting acknowledgment of past services and present usefulness as a legislator. This offer was made by the Stout-Vogel Government, and was accepted by Mr. Swanson on condition of its being understood that he was free to act as independently as had always been his principle. Ever since his appointment Mr. Swanson has been an active member—not greatly given to talking, but exercising a salutary influence on the deliberations of the Council. As a citizen. Mr. Swanson is held in high esteem. No charitable object has ever been denied his aid, and his private acts of kindness and generosity have all been done with an absence of ostentation well worthy of imitation. The giving of annual treats to the children of the public schools has been a favourite means with Mr. Swanson of affording pleasure to others, and these have generally been given on the reassembling of school after the summer vacation. Of Mr. Swanson's eight children, seven survive and six are married. Mrs. Swanson was a chieftainess belonging to a powerful native tribe, and it is popularly supposed that she brought her husband many broad acres. This is, however, erroneous, as Mr. page 90 Swanson duly purchased from the Crown all his landed estates. His daughters are finished musicians, their indulgent father having provided his children with every opportunity of culture, besides attending to their material well being. For some time before her death, which occurred early in 1897, Mrs. Swanson was in very delicate health.

Hon. W. Swanson.

Hon. W. Swanson.

The Hon. William Thomas Jennings, M.L.C., is a native of Auckland, receiving his education at the old St. Paul's school, and learning his trade—that of a printer—in the same city. He was apprenticed in the early sixties with his uncle, Mr. W. Siffern, at the old “New Zealander” office, and, after completing his term, went to the Thames, where he became foreman on the “Thames Guardian.” Later on Mr. Jennings proceeded to Dunedin, where he occupied the position of foreman of the “Guardian,” and was also manager of the “Dunedin Age”; subsequently going to Oamaru, he received a similar appointment in connection with the “Oamaru Mail.” He returned to Auckland in 1882, and accepted the position of foreman on the “Evening Star.” Mr. Jennings has been connected with the Knights of Labour and the Trades and Labour Council, and was for some years hon. secretary to the Auckland Liberal Association. He now holds the positions of past district grand president of the order of Druids, and chairman of the Auckland Typographical Association. Politically, Mr. Jennings is well known and popular. On labour questions his views have ever been moderate, and they have been invariably characterised by sound common sense. The hon. gentleman takes a great interest in social reform, and, in conjunction with the secretary of the New Zealand Tailoresses' Union, has worked hard to improve the condition of women workers engaged in that industry. He was called to a seat in the Legislative Council by Mr. Ballance's ministry on the 15th of October, 1892, and, as a representative of labour, it would be hard to excel him. Enjoying as he does the confidence and esteem of his fellow workmen, and possessing both ability and courtesy, he is better calculated to advance the cause of labour, and the condition of the labouring classes generally, than a host of loud talkers. Mr. Jennings was one of the earliest members of the Hobson Rifle Volunteer Corps (which has now been extinet for some years), and held the position of lieutenant in that company. His term of office as Legislative Councillor expired by effluxion of time on the 15th of October, 1899, but he was re-appointed next day for another term of seven years.

The Hon. William Kelly was born in County Louth, Ireland, in 1840. He arrived in New Zealand in the year 1863, and in the following year he became contractor for the troops stationed in Auckland. In 1865 Mr. Kelly went to Opotiki, where he established a large business and had several vessels running between there and Auckland. He contracted also for the troops stationed there and at Tauranga. In 1868 he was elected captain of the Bay of Plenty cavalry corps, and saw some active service in the Maori war. Mr. Kelly represented Howick and Opotiki in the Auckland Provincial Council until the abolition of the Provinces. He sat in the House of Representatives for a number of years, and was called to the Legislative Council in 1897.

Hon. W. Kelly.

Hon. W. Kelly.

The Hon. Alfred Jerome Cadman was called to the Legislative Council on the 21st of December, 1899. Mr. Cadman first entered Parliament in 1881, when he was elected to sit for Coromandel in the House of Representatives. He afterwards represented Thames, City of Auckland, Waikato and Ohinemuri. Mr. Cadman was called to Mr. Ballance's Cabinet, and was successively Minister of Native Affairs, Minister of Mines, and Minister of Justice, and Minister of Railways in the Seddon Government. He did not stand at the general election in December, 1899, and was thereupon called to the Legislative Council. A biographical sketch of Mr. Cadman is given at pages 45 and 46 of the Wellington volume of this Cyclopedia.

Hon. A. J. Cadman.

Hon. A. J. Cadman.