The Hon. Captain William Russell Russell,
the Leader of the Opposition, is the member for the Hawkes Bay constituency. Born at Sandhurst, Berkshire, England, on the 12th of November, 1838, the future politician visited New Zealand in the forties with his father, who belonged to the 58th Regiment. Returning to England in 1848, Captain Russell was educated at the
Photo by Wrigglesworth and Binns.
Royal Military College of Sandhurst. After leaving college, he entered the 58th Regiment as an ensign, and came to the Colony in 1857 per ship “Chapman” with troops, returning to the Old Land in 1858. He came out to Auckland in the year 1861, and, till 1862, served as a captain in the 14th regiment. In 1861 Captain Russell was stationed at Wellington, where he sold his commission the next year, and then settled in Hawkes Bay as a sheep-farmer. He lives on his estate known as Flaxmere, near Hastings, and also owns the Tunanui Station, about twenty miles from Napier. Captain Russell first entered political life in 1870, as a member of the Hawkes Bay Provincial Council, in which he sat till the abolition of Provincial Governments in 1876. In December, 1875, the hon. gentleman was returned as member of the House for Napier and country districts of Hawkes Bay, and also at the next general election. He was not so fortunate in 1881, being defeated by Mr. Fred. Sutton, but after a rest of about three years he was again successful, beating the gentleman who had wrested the seat from him on the previous occasion. Since that time Captain Russell has represented the same constituency in Parliament. As a Minister he joined the Atkinson Government in 1884, taking the portfolio of Postmaster-General, but after fourteen days the Ministry was defeated. In October, 1889, he again occupied office as a Minister of the Crown, becoming Colonial Secretary and Minister of Defence and Justice, and remaining in office till the Ballance Government took the reins in 1891. Captain Russell has represented the Colony on at least two important occasions, viz., at the Federation Conference in Melbourne in 1890, and at the Australian National Convention held in Sydney in 1892. For about thirty years he has held the Commission of the Peace, and has been prominent in many other ways. In the House Captain Russell is deservedly popular, having won the respect of all parties for his straightforwardness and ability. He is a lover of sport, and occupies the position of president of the New Zealand Jockey Club. He married in 1867, and has eight children—four daughters and four sons.