The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]
Although since the establishment of Responsible Government in the Colony, there have been twenty-six Ministries—excluding the Seddon Administration, which is now in Power—there have been only fourteen Premiers. Of these, eight held office only during the lives of single Ministries, three were twice called upon to occupy the position of Prime Minister, and the remaining three gentlemen held the office respectively during three, four, and five Governments. Sir Edward William Stafford, C.M.G., though occupying the Prime Minister's place in but three Cabinets, was in office for little short of nine years, the exact time being eight years, ten months, and twenty-one days. The Hon. Sir Harry Albert Atkinson, K.C.M.G., was the gentleman who became Premier five times, but the total period of office as such was but five years, three months, and twenty-six days. In point of time Sir William For came next, having held the reins as head of the Government of the Colony for four years, four months, and twenty-one days in all, during the continuance of the four Ministries in which he held this high office. The Hon. Sir Robert Stout, K.C.M.G., the Hon. Sir Julius Vogel, K.C.M.G., and the late Hon. Sir Frederick Whitaker were each Premier of the Colony twice, the total periods of office being respectively about three years and two months, two years and ten months, and two years and a-half. Of those who became Prime Minister on one occasion only, the Hon. Sir John Hall, K.C.M.G., held office for over two and a-half years, the late Hon. John Ballance for over two and a quarter years, and the Right Hon. Sir George Grey, K.C.B., P.C., for nearly two years. The other five gentlemen retained the Premiership for shorter periods.
Mr. Henry Sewell, Premier from the 7th May, 1856, to the 20th May, 1856, was conspicuous in colonial politics for many years. During his parliamentary career he belonged to several Ministries, and was associated with Stafford, Weld, Richmond, Whitaker, and Tancred. He came to New Zealand with the Canterbury settlers in 1853, and for some time managed the business of the Association in the Colony. When the Provincial Government of Canterbury absorbed the functions of the Association, Mr. Sewell, who wound up the affairs of the Association, was instrumental in securing the large educational endowments for which Canterbury is now so well known. In 1854, when the first representative Parliament assembled in Auckland, Mr. Sewell represented Christchurch, and held office as Solicitor-General, under the Premiership of Mr. J. E. FitzGerald, in the first Ministry formed in New Zealand. Some time after this he became Premier himself, but soon resigned rather than yield his demand for responsible government, which demand the Governor would not allow. In addition to his political works, Mr. Sewell was well known for his legal acquirements and his literary tastes. He died in England in 1879.
Sir William Fox, K.C.M.G., who was Premier of New Zealand four times, was born in England in 1812, and educated at Wadham College, Oxford, where he graduated M.A. in his twenty-seventh year. He was admitted at the Inner Temple in 1842, but did not long practice his profession, for in the same year he sailed for Wellington, New Zealand. In 1843 he received from the New Zealand Company the appointment of Resident Agent at Nelson, and continued to discharge the duties of this office until 1848, when he became Attorney-General of the Southern Province. On the death of Colonel Wakefield he rose to the position of Principal Agent of the Company, and controlled all its affairs in the southern districts of the Colony. In this capacity he soon showed such political wisdom and administrative power that on the passing of the new Constitution Act in 1853 he was elected a member of the first Parliament convened in the Colony. In 1856 he became Premier, but his Ministry lasted only a few days, and was succeeded by that of Mr. Stafford. Serious trouble with the Maoris in Taranaki was imminent in 1861, and the Stafford Government was defeated on the native question: Mr. Fox then formed a Ministry, which lasted until the middle of the following year. In 1863 he became Colonial Secretary in the Whitaker-Fox Ministry, but in the following year his Government resigned, owing to a disagreement with the Governor, Sir George Grey, relative to the management of the Waikato war, and the confiscation of the lands of the rebel natives. In 1869 he was again at the head of the Government. The following year, which marks the initiation of the Public Works policy, he included Sir Julius Vogel in his Ministry. In 1872 his Government resigned. Sir William was Premier of the Colony for the fourth and last time from the 3rd of March to the 8th of April, 1873. Being now well advanced in years, he allowed the active work of Parliament to fall into the hands of younger men. In 1880 he was appointed to the West Coast Commission to enquire into the native land titles, and to settle questions relative to the confiscation of Maori lands. His recommendations on this vexed question were regarded by Europeans and Maoris alike as eminently satisfactory, page 58 and he will long be remembered for the services he thus rendered to the Colony. To the younger generation Sir William Fox was better known as a social reformer than as a politician, and in later years he took a warm interest in the Temperance movement. He died at his home in Auckland in 1893.
Photo by Wrigglesworth and Binns.
Sir William Fox, K.C.M.G.
Mr. Alfred Domett, C.M.G., Premier from the 6th of August, 1862, to the 30th of October, 1863, came to New Zealand in 1842. He soon rose to eminence in State affairs, for, when the new Constitution was framed in 1848, he was appointed Colonial Secretary for the Province of New Munster (as the South Island was then called). In 1851 he became Civil Secretary for the whole of New Zealand. Subsequently he resigned these offices, and took up the duties of Commissioner of Crown Lands and Resident Magistrate for Hawkes Bay. A few years later he was elected for Nelson in the House of Representatives. In 1862, when the affairs of the Colony were in a critical condition, he rose to the position of Premier, which he held for about two years. On the resignation of his Government he accepted the position of Secretary for Crown Lands. In 1865 he was appointed Registrar-General of Lands, and a few years afterwards he also undertook the administration of confiscated lands. In 1871 he retired from the service of the State and returned Home, dying in page 59 London on the 2nd of November, 1887. Notwithstanding his long political career, Mr. Domett is better known as a litterateur than as a politician. After returning to England he published many poems and other works. His “Ranolf and Amohia, a South Sea Day Dream,” was favourably criticised by such high authorities as Tennyson, Browning, and Longellow.
Sir Frederick Aloysius Weld, G.C.M.G., Premier from the 24th of November, 1864, to the 16th of October, 1865, came to the Colony in 1844, and occupied a seat in the first New Zealand Parliament, which assembled in Auckland in 1854. He became a member of the Executive Council in the same year, and Minister for Native Affairs in 1860. Four years later he rose to the position of Premier, and inaugurated a policy of self-reliance. Having determined to put the military forces on a better footing, he sent Home for troops, and his decision was viewed with favour by the Imperial Parliament. In 1869, he was appointed Governor of Western Australia. From this office he was promoted in 1874 to the Governorship of Tasmania, and in 1880 to that of the Straits Settlements. The latter position he held until 1887, when he retired from the colonial service on a pension. He died in England on the 20th of July, 1891.
The Hon. George Marsden Waterhouse, who was Premier from the 11th of October, 1872, to the 3rd of March, 1873, came to the Colony in 1869. Soon after his arrival he was elected a member of the Legislative Council, and occupied a seat in that Chamber up to the time of his resignation on the 20th of June, 1890. Before coming to New Zealand Mr. Waterhouse had held office in South Australia. He was one of the members of the first elective Assembly in that colony. Subsequently he rose to the position of Chief Secretary, and afterwards to that of Premier. He has recently resided in Devonshire, England.
The Hon. Daniel Pollen, M.D., M.L.C., who was one of the earliest settlers in Auckland has been a prominent member of the Legislative Council for over forty years. On the creation of the Provincial Councils under the Constitution Act of 1852, Dr. Pollen became a member of the Auckland Provincial Council, and continued to hold a seat for very many years. He was first called to the Legislative Council on the 20th of July, 1861. At this time all appointments to the Upper Chamber were subject to confirmation by Her Majesty. The appointment of the honourable gentleman was duly made under the Queen's sign manual, and was announced in the London Gazette of April, 1862. In December, 1867, Dr. Pollen resigned his seat, and was re-called in January, 1868. In 1871 he was disqualified, but in May, 1873, he was appointed for the third time. The honourable gentleman has been a minister of the Crown in no less than five Ministries. He first joined the Stafford Government in June, 1868, and held office as a member of the Executive Council for over a year. In 1873 he joined the Vogel Ministry as a member of the Executive Council, and shortly afterwards took the portfolio of Colonial Secretary. Two years later the Pollen Administration came into office, and Dr. Pollen became Premier and Colonial Treasurer, the dual position being filled by him till February, 1876. In the Vogel Government which succeeded Dr. Pollen continued to hold the Colonial Secretaryship until the 1st of September in that year, when the Atkinson Ministry came into power. He was then invited to take the same portfolio in the new Administration, and continued Colonial Secretary in that and in the reconstituted Ministry till the resignation of that Government in 1877. He had thus held the same portfolio during five consecutive administrations—a circumstance in itself unique in the annals of Government in New Zealand. In the re-constituted Atkinson Ministry, Dr. Pollen took the duties of Native Minister, which he performed from December, 1876, to October, 1877. The honourable gentleman has proved himself a skilful administrator in difficult times. A clever writer and speaker, possessed of sound common sense, he was ever a safe political adviser. He still takes his place in the councils of the nation, and renders a cheerful service in the Upper House of the General Assembly of the Colony. By profession he is a physician and surgeon, but it is many years since he retired from practice.
The Right Hon. Sir George Grey, K.C.B., P.C., whose career is referred to at length under the heading “Former Governors,” was Premier of the Colony from the 15th of October, 1877 till the 8th of October, 1879. On the defeat of the Atkinson Government Sir George was entrusted with the duty of forming a Cabinet in which he was successful. During his Premiership the right honourable gentleman held for longer or shorter periods the portfolios of Colonial Secretary, Commissioner of Customs, Commissioner of Stamps and Colonial Treasurer. His Government was defeated, and resigned on the 8th of October, 1879, and was succeeded by the Hall Administration.
The Hon. Sir John Hall, K.C.M.G., Colonial Secretary in the Fox Ministry of 1856, member of the Stafford Government from 1866 to 1869, of the Waterhouse Ministry from 1872 to 1873, and of the Atkinson Administration, 1876, and Premier of the Colony from 1879 to 1882, was born in Hull, Yorkshire, in 1824. He landed at Lyttelton in 1852 from the “Samarang,” the last of the Canterbury Association's ships. Four years later he was appointed Resident Magistrate at Lyttelton and Commissioner of Police, and soon afterwards Resident Magistrate at Christchurch. Mr. Hall was a member of the Provincial Council of Canterbury during nearly the whole period of its existence, and was for a considerable time a member of the Provincial Government. He has always taken an active part in local governing bodies, and has represented several Canterbury constituencies in the House of Representatives. When Mr. Fox became Premier in 1856 he included, as already stated Mr. Hall in his Ministry as Colonial Secretary. In 1862 he was nominated to the Legislative Council, but resigned four years later to contest the seat in the House of Representatives for Heathcote. In the new Parliament Mr. Stafford returned to power, and Mr. Hall accepted the portfolios of Postmaster-General and Commissioner of Telegraphs. During the absence of Mr. Fitzherbert in 1868 he acted as Colonial Treasurer, and in 1872 accepted a seat in the Legislative Council in order to represent the Fox-Vogel Government there. This year saw rapid changes of Government. The Fox-Vogel Government was defeated by the Stafford Government, which in turn was defeated by the Waterhouse Government. Mr. Hall joined the last-mentioned Ministry, but resigned in the following year owing to ill-health. In 1876 he again resigned his seat in the Council, and was elected for Selwyn in the House of Representatives. Having defeated Sir George Grey in 1879, he became Premier, and continued in this office until page 64 1882, when he retired from the Ministry on account of failing health. In the latter year he received the distinction of knighthood. For many years Sir John Hall laboured hard for the enfranchisement of woman, and did more than any other man in Parliament to give effect to this reform. He represented New Zealand with Captain Russell at the first conference on Australian Federation held in Melbourne. Altogether he was in the New Zealand Parliament for nearly forty years, and retired from political life in 1893. Sir John was married in 1861 to Miss Dryden, daughter of Mr. William Dryden, of Hull. His family consisted of two daughters—one of whom survives, and is married to Mr. J. Cracroft Wilson, grandson of Sir Cracroft Wilson—and three sons, two of whom, the eldest, Wilfred, and the youngest, Godfrey, are farming in Canterbury. The second son, John Dryden, is an English barrister presently in practice in Christchurch.
The Hon. Sir Robert Stout, K.C.M.G., M.H.R. has been a member of three ministries. He first took office in the government formed by Sir George Grey, K.C.B., taking the portfolio of Attorney-General on the 13th of March, 1878. About four months later he became Minister of Lands and Immigration. These three offices he held till the 25th of June, 1879 when he resigned. Sir Robert did not accept office again till the defeat of the third Atkinson Administration on the 16th of August, 1884. Assisted by Sir Julius Vogel, K.C.M.G., the honourable gentleman then formed the first Stout-Vogel Ministry in which he was Premier and Attorney-General during the twelve days of its life. The succeeding Ministry formed by the Hon. Sir. H. A. Atkinson only lasted six days when the second Stout-Vogel Government came into power. Sir Robert became Premier and Attorney-General and held these offices from the 3rd of September, 1884, till the 8th of October, 1887. Early in January, 1885, he also accepted the portfolio of Education which he held during the rest of the life of his Cabinet. His career is referred to at length under the heading “Members for Wellington City.”