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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Auckland Provincial District]

Auckland City and Suburban — Members of the House of Representatives

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Auckland City and Suburban
Members of the House of Representatives.

Auckland City is an amalgamated electorate, sending three representatives to Parliament; and this representation is supplemented by two suburban members for Parnell and Eden. The rolls for 1896 contained the names of 20,204 electors, about two-thirds of whom voted at the General Election, the women voting more strongly than the men. Parnell enjoyed the distinction of being one of the only three electorates having a clear majority of women on the roll; the other electorates so situated were Dunedin City and the Avon. The proportion was about the same in Parnell as in Dunedin—fifteen women to fourteen men—but the Avon district was only as twenty-one to twenty, and more men voted than women. Though the excess of women among those who actually voted was higher in Dunedin than in Parnell, the women of Parnell polled a clear majority of seventy votes above those cast by the men of the constituency. There were 2655 men on the roll as against 2866 women, and the voters numbered respectively 1838 and 1908. In the Eden district the total on the rolls was 5203, there being 335 more men than women. Rather more than two-thirds voted, but the women were only 155 behind the men.

As representation in the House, however, is based on the population, the boundaries of the electoral districts are changed from time to time and also the number of electorates in each of the islands. For these purposes, two permanent Commissions exist. These Commissions sit together to determine what proportion of the seventy members shall be elected by each island; but that question settled, the Commissions for each island act independently. Every hundred persons living in country districts count, for representation purposes, as equal to 128 living in towns having a population of 2000 and upwards. The Commissioners are bound down, in this matter of population, within very narrow limits of discretion. Of the four amalgamated electorates the City of Dunedin has the smallest population, 35,496; but the figures for Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland are particularly close, being respectively 36,020, 36,032, and 36,039. Of the single electorates the least populous (Otaki) contains 8650 persons, and the most populous (Caversham) contains 11,511, the average being about 10,000. This close numerical division of the colony is rapidly equalising the representation of the two islands. Whereas so recently as 1893 the South Island had thirty-nine members to thirty-one for the North, the Commissioners in 1896 changed the numbers to thirty-six and thirty-four respectively; and there is good reason for expecting that the North will soon be in the majority. Though this method is probably far from the best way of securing a fair representation of this variously-conditioned colony, there is no doubt that justice to all was the object aimed at by the Amendment Act of 1896.

Members of the House of Representatives are paid monthly at the rate of £240 per annum; but the sum of £2 is deducted for every sitting day exceeding five on which a member is absent, unless such absence is due to sickness or other unavoidable cause. Travelling expenses to and from the seat of Government are allowed.

Qualification for membership mainly consists in being a registered male elector, but not a civil servant of the colony, or a contractor with the Government to a greater extent than £50 in any one year.

Mr. W. J. Napier, the Senior Member for Auckland City, is a barrister and solicitor by profession, and has appeared in many celebrated cases in the north. He is of Irish birth and arrived in Auckland thirty-five years ago, when he was only five years of age. At first he attended St. Peter's Catholic school in Hobson Street, and subsequently the Auckland Grammar school, and he became a matriculated student of St. John's college during the mastership of the late Rev. R. Kidd, LL.D. Mr. Napier early began to take an interest in public affairs, and he became a disciple of Sir George Grey, who appointed him his solicitor. Mr. Napier is a fluent and forcible platform speaker. He has for many years been prominently connected with almost every society in Auckland, and (1900) about two years ago he organised a corps of garrison artillery volunteers, of which he is captain. Mr. Napier is president of the Auckland branch of the Navy League and a Fellow of the Royal Colonial Institute. He is one of the Government members of the Auckland Harbour Board, and was elected chairman of the Board twice in succession. During his chairmanship, Mr. Napier did much to extend the wharf accommodation and otherwise improve the harbour, and caused an imposing Admiralty House to be erected. At the general election on the 6th of December, 1899, Mr. Napier was returned at the head of the poll for Auckland City, which elects three members. There were eleven candidates, and Mr. Napier polled 6070 votes; the other successful candidates polled respectively 5604 and 4734 votes. Mr. Napier has acted as law adviser to two successive kings of Samoa—namely Malietoa, the elder, and Mataafa, and has also for many years been solicitor to the Government of Tonga.

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Mr. George Fowlds was elected on the 6th of December, 1899, as one of Auckland's three representatives in Parliament. He polled 5604 votes, and was second on the poll, being 840 votes ahead of the next successful candidate. Soon after his arrival in the colony, in 1885, Mr. Fowlds began to identify himself with local affairs and with general politics, and he became known as an earnest single taxer. For a number of years he was a member of the Mount Albert Road Board, and chairman of the Point Chevalier school committee, and a vice-president of the Burns Club; and he has also been secretary, treasurer and chairman of the Congregational Union of New Zealand. Mr Fowlds is a Liberal in politics and is in favour of the referendam and an elective Executive, and he supports the colony's present system of free, secular, and compulsory education.

Mr. G. Fowlds.

Mr. G. Fowlds.

Mr. J. H. Witheford, one of the three members for Auckland City, was elected on the 27th of April, 1900, at the by-election, caused by the death of Mr. W. Crowther. There were five candidates, two of whom had previously been in Parliament, but Mr. Witheford headed the poll with 4927 votes, the next on the list having 2823. Mr. Witheford has for many years been a prominant man in Auckland, where he was for some time in business as a sharebroker. Only a year or two ago he returned from a prolonged residence in London, where he did much to promote the interest of New Zealand, and was especially successful in obtaining concessions from the Admirality for the Calliope Dock in Auckland. Prior to going to London, Mr. Witheford was a member of the Auckland Harbour Board, to which, after his return, he was again elected by the Borough Council of Birkenhead, and was elected the Board's chairman in 1900. Mr. Witheford is a strong supporter of the San Francisco main service, with Auckland for its point of arrival and departure in New Zealand and makes his support of the Liberal party in politics dependent upon what he considers “justice to Auckland.”

Mr. Frank Lawry, Member of the House of Representatives for Parnell, was born in 1844 at Bleadon, Somersetshire, England, where his father, the late Mr. Wm. Lawry, was a farmer and erstwhile Methodist minister. The subject of this notice was educated at the British School at Weston-super-Mare, and was engaged on his father's farm until 1863, when he left for this colony per ship “Ulcoates.” Turning his attention to the calling for which he had been trained, Mr. Lawry found employment for a short time in the service of the late Mr. J. Dilworth. He was then for about a year in the employ of the late Mr. Thomas Macky, and early in 1865 started a dairy farm at Epsom, which was soon discontinued in favour of a much larger venture at Surrey Hills. In 1868 Mr. Lawry started business on a large scale as a commission agent in live stock, frequently passing through his hands no fewer than a thousand head of cattle in a week. His special knowledge of agricultural and pastoral pursuits has often been placed at the service of the public. For a number of years he was a member of the North Auckland Cattle Board, was for a time vice-president of the Auckland Agricultural and Pastoral Association, and has ever been a prolific contributor to the press on these and kindred topics. For thirteen consecutive years Mr. Lawry was chairman of the Epsom Road Board, and for two years was a member of the Auckland Board of Education, to which he was elected unopposed; pressure of business, however, necessitated his retirement. In colonial politics, Mr. Lawry has been both active and successful. His first attempt to secure parliamentary honours was made in 1881, when he contested the South Franklin seat, his opponent, Majo Hamlin, being returned by a majority of some forty votes. Three years later he sought to oust Sir Maurice O'Rorke for Manukau, but here he suffered a defeat by 127 votes. In 1887 Mr. Lawry stood for the North Franklin seat in opposition to Mr. W. F. Buckland, and on this, “the third time of asking,” was returned at the head of the poll by a majority of some fifty votes, as an Independent Liberal. Maintaining his position of independence throughout the tenth Parliament, he was elected to the eleventh for the constituency of Parnell, defeating Mr. J. M. Lennox by 209 votes. On the assembling of this Parliament Mr. Lawry decided to support the Ballance Administration, and his constituents showed their approval of this action by re-electing him in 1893 by a majority of 336 over Mr. William Shepherd Allen, an ex-member of the House of Commons. In 1896 he had two opponents—Mr. Samuel Vaile, whom he defeated by 478 votes, and Mr. A. Withy, who scored third place. In 1891 Mr. Lawry was chosen senior Government Whip, and held that office till 1894, when, owing to some conflict with the Prohibition members of the party, he resigned. During the whole of Mr. Lawry's parliamentary life he has been a member of the Agricultural and Pastoral Committee, and for sessions 1891 and 1892 was chairman, never absenting himself from the meetings of this important committee. He has been a member also of the Printing and Debates Committee, of the Railways Committee, and of the committee to consider the claims of old soldiers. During his parliamentary career Mr. Lawry has succeeded in passing a large number of local bills on to the Statute Books: he has three times by large majorities passed through all the stages of the Lower House a bill to legalize marriage with a deceased husband's brother, and thrice he has endeavoured, unsuccessfully, to secure the passage of a bill to legalize “sweeps” in New Zealand. As is well known, Mr. Lawry is one of the strongest opponents of Prohibition in Parliament. As a Mason and an old member of the New Zealand Grand Lodge, Mr. Lawry is a strong supporter of autonomy for New Zealand, and was selected to move a resolution in favour of that step at one of the largest meetings ever held in connection with Freemasonry in the North Island. At present he is attached to Lodge Manukau, of which he is a past master, and has also filled the principal chairs of Lodge Papawera and Lodge Wairoa. Mr. Lawry is president of the Auckland Trotting Club, and vice-president of the Parnell Football and Cricket Clubs. In 1870 he was married to Miss S. Davies, daughter of the late Mr. Benjamin Davies, who was one of Auckland's earliest settlers, and for many years the popular proprietor of the Albert Hotel, Epsom. Mr. and Mrs. Lawry have but one child, a daughter. Mr. Lawry was re-elected for Parnell at the general election of 1899, by a majority of 848.

Mr. F. Lawry

Mr. F. Lawry

Mr. John Bollard, member of the House of Representatives for the district of Eden, was born in 1839 in County Wicklow, Ireland, where his father was a large farmer. Mr. Bollard was brought up on the farm and page 99 received his education at a Church of England school, also special training in the science and practice of agricultural and pastoral farming. He came to New Zealand in 1860. He soon after went to the Australian goldfields, but returned to Auckland after a short stay. During the Maori War he superintended a large shipment of horses from New South Wales, for the Armstrong Artillery, serving in the Waikato district, and was afterwards for some time in the Auckland Militia; he eventually settled down at Avondale near Auckland, where he has resided ever since. Mr. Bollard has taken an active part in public affairs for the last thirty years. He has been chairman of the Avondale road board for the last twenty-seven years, and chairman of the school committee for twenty-five years. He is also a justice of the peace, and acts as Coroner for the district extending from Mt. Albert to the west coast. He has been chairman of the Auckland Hospital and Charitable Aid Board, and member of the Eden licensing committee. He takes a great interest in agricultural matters and has acted as a judge at shows for many years. At the general election in 1896, Mr. Bollard defeated Mr. Jackson Palmer, and thus entered upon his career as a representative of the people in parliament. At the general election of 1899 there was almost a tie between Mr. Bollard and Mr. Malcolm Nicol, but Mr. Bollard won by a small majority.

Mr. J. Bollard.

Mr. J. Bollard.

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