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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Auckland Provincial District]

Mr. James Mcmullen Dargaville

Mr. James Mcmullen Dargaville, after whom the township of Dargaville is named, was a representative of Auckland City West in the House of Representatives from 1881 to 1887. Mr. Dargaville came of an old Huguenot family, which left France and settled in Ireland about the time of the revocation of the “Edict of Nantes.” He was born on the 7th July, 1837, in Cork, where his father was a physician of note. He received a liberal education at Fermoy College, studying with Mr. O'Callaghan, who was subsequently elected to the House of Commons, and Mr. Roche, cousin of Lord Fermoy, who visited New Zealand some years ago. At a very early age Mr. Dargaville was seized with a spirit of adventure, and emigrated with his brothers to Australia; after some experience in Victoria, he entered the service of the Union Bank of Australia in Sydney. He rose rapidly, in five years becoming branch manager, and two years later being sent over to New Zealand as branch inspector. He came first to the West Coast of the Middle Island, where he so increased the bank's business that in March, 1868, he was promoted to the important post of manager of the Auckland branch. In July following he resigned and started business as a wholesale merchant in Auckland under the title of Must and Co. Mr. Dargaville, however, subsequently gave up this business, and entered the timber and kauri gum trades in the Northern Walroa district, where he acquired the land upon which he founded the present town of Dargaville, which now has a population of about 400 people and is owned by his widow and children. At one time Mr. Dargaville carried on a very extensive timber business, there being over 400 men in his employ. It was through his energy and enterprise that this district, which was comparatively unknown to the people of Auckland, was opened up, and an industry, which has since employed many thousands of hands, given a great impetus. Mr. Dargaville took an active interest in political matters. He was for some time a member of the Auckland Provincial Council, and contested the superintendency election with Mr. John Williamson, ex-superintendent, and Mr. H. Lusk, being defeated through the latter splitting the votes. In 1881 he became a member of the General Assembly for Auckland City West, and in 1884 was re-elected by the same constituency as a supporter of the Stout-Vogel Government. In 1887 he was defeated for Marsden, in 1890 for the Bay of Islands, and in 1893 for Eden. Immediately prior to his death he announced his candidature for Auckland City, and, had he lived, would have contested that seat in the general election of 1896. Mr. Dargaville was at one time a member of the Auckland Harbour Board, as the representative of Parnell, being chairman of the local body. When on the provincial council he advocated and carried, by a majority of one, a scheme for supplying the city of Auckland with water from Waitakerei, by gravitation. However, during his temporary absence in the north of Auckland, a counter proposal was carried in favour of the existing pumping system. Mr. Dargaville took the leading part in the projection of the Kaihu railway, which was originally started by a private company, but subsequently fell into the hands of the Government. page 110 He also took an active part in Volunteering; he was captain of the Auckland City Engineers, and of the Dargaville Volunteers, and a few years before his death was president of the Dargaville Rifle Club. At one time he was United States Consul at Auckland, was Grand Master of the Orange Lodge of New Zealand, and a prominent Mason, being the founder of Lodge St. George, 1801, E.C. Mr. Dargaville died at sea, while returning from a visit to the Old Country on the s.s. “Mariposa,” on the 27th October, 1896.