The Hon. Matthew Holmes
was for thirty-five years a member of the Legislative Council, to which he was nominated in 1866, and in which he retained his seat up to the time of his death, on the 27th of September, 1901. He was born in 1817 in Strabane. County Tyrone, Ireland, where he received a good education, and was brought up to commercial life. In 1837 he set out for Australia and settled in Victoria, where he engaged in business, and exported to England some of the first wool shipped from that colony. In 1854 Mr. Holmes left Victoria for Scotland, where he purchased an estate near Edilburgh, and resided for some years. His thoughts, however, turned again to the colonies, and in 1859 he came out to New Zealand in the S. S. “Pirate.” Shortly afterwards two large ships,
the “Cheviot” and “Bruce,” arrived with full cargoes of station implements and stock for the New Zealand and Australian Land Company, of which Mr. Holmes was general manager for New Zealand. In 1862 he went to England as Commissioner for New Zealand to the great Exhibition of that year, and two years later he sold his estate in Scotland, and brought his wife and family out to New Zealand. He acquired very large holdings throughout the South Island, on behalf of the New Zealand and Australian Land Company and the Canterbury and Otago Association (subsequently amalgamated), and afterwards took some of these over when he severed his connection with that company. His principal properties were “Awamoa,” near Oamaru, and “Castle Rock,” in Southland. Mr. Holmes was for some time a member of the Provincial Council of Otago, and in 1871 was returned for Oreti in the re-united provinces of Otago and Southland, and held his seat for two years. He took a very keen interest in agricultural and pastoral matters, and was the first to introduce pedigree stock to improve the breed of Clydesdale horses and long-woolled sheep. Mr. Holmes was a liberal supporter of all agricultural and pastoral exhibitions, and his stock were not only known but famous in New Zealand, and even beyond it. Although never a very keen politician, Mr. Holmes regularly attended to his duties in Parliment. Mrs Holmes predeceased him by about four years, and they left a family of three sons and three daughters.