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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]

Mr. Andrew Agnew Stuart Menteath

Mr. Andrew Agnew Stuart Menteath, Member of the House of Representatives from 1884 to 1890, was born in 1853 in Edinburgh, and was educated on the Continent—principally in France, Spain, and Italy—by private tutors. On his return to Edinburgh, he began to study the law for the Scotch bar, but he was advised to discontinue and leave the Old World for a climate more suitable to his then delicate health. Following that advice, he came to Lyttelton per ship “Himalaya,” en route for Wellington. The traffic between the two ports was limited in those days, and this fact was brought home to Mr. Menteath most forcibly, for he had to wait ten days to get a steamer for Wellington. It seems incredible that the communication between Lyttelton and the capital has been multiplied by twenty in about as many years. It was one boat a fortnight then; now frequently there are two and sometimes three boats per day, and very few days without any. Mr. Menteath's letters and credentials were such that he had no difficulty in securing suitable employment on arrival. The National Bank was at that time on the point of opening a branch at Blenheim, and Mr. Menteath was appointed to that office. He subsequently had the management of several branches on the West Coast. In 1880, his health being now greatly improved, he resigned, his position in the Bank, and went Home to resume his law studies. On the 18th of April, 1883, he was called to the Bar of the Middle Temple, and soon after he returned to the Colony, and established himself at Greymouth and Reefton as a barrister and solicitor. Mr. Menteath began his political career in 1884, when he was elected to the House of Representatives for Inangahua by a small majority over Mr. Richard Reeves. Almost immediately after this, additional public duties were cast upon him by his election to the Inangahua County Council. In 1886 he had to resign this position in consequence of his removal to Wellington; and in the following year, when page 267 the general election was held, he became a candidate for the Te Aro seat in the House, and succeeded in beating Mr. F. H. Fiaser by some 150 voles. On the expiry of his term in 1890 he did not seek re-election, nor has he since made any attempt to woo the electors of any constituency. Mr. Menteath is a good speaker, and his influence upon the legislation of the day was very marked. He was a consistent denouncer of the Public Works Policy, with its accompanying extravagance and corruption. While representing the goldfields constituency he was successful in carrying a Bill through amending the Mining Workers Act in a much-needed direction. Mr. Menteath is a pronounced individualist, and has more than once lectured on those lines to the Citizens' Institute, of which he is a prominent and popular member. He is a Mason, and a member of the Ancient Order of Druids, and was for a considerable time a steward of the Island Bay Racing Club. In 1885 Mr. Menteath was married to Miss Mary Vanee-Agnew, daughter of Mr. Robert Vance-Agnew, of Barnbarroch, Wigtownshire, Scotland; and his family numbers three. In March, 1894, Mr. Menteath visited England and Scotland, returning in October of the same year, accompanied by Mrs. Menteath and the children, who had had a longer holiday by about a year.