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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]

Christchurch City And Suburban — Members of the House of Representatives

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Christchurch City And Suburban
Members of the House of Representatives.

The City of Christchurch is a triple electorate, and the suburban districts of Avon and Riccarton send one member each to Parliament in addition to the three city members. The number of voters on the electoral roll for the last general election in December, 1899, was 20,750; against 18,336 for Auckland City, 18,874 for Wellington, and 20,084 for Dunedin. Out of 9976 males, 8026 voted; and of 10,774 females, 8294 voted. The electorate of Christchurch is remarkable for the large proportion of women on the roll—10,774, against 9976 males. Dunetlin is in much the same position—10,438 females, against 9646 males. Auckland, on the other hand, has nearly 400 more men than women on the roll, and Wellington has over 1000 more men than women. The only electorates in which the women are in a majority on the roll are Christchurch, Dunedin, Parnell, Avon, and Invercargill. In Christchurch a rather higher proportion of men voted than women: 8026 out of 9976 men, as against 8294 out of 10,774 women. In Auckland, the position was much the same; 7102 out of 9335 men, and 6517 out of 8981 women. In Wellington a much higher percentage of men voted than in either Auckland or Christchurch; 8533 out of 9946 on the roll, and a slightly higher percentage of women, 7080 out of 8928. In Dunedin about the same proportion of men voted as in Christchurch, 7786 out of 9646 on the roll; and a slightly lower percentage of women, 7775 out of 10,438 on the roll. The returns for all the great centres show that the value of the vote is keenly appreciated by women, and that female franchise is a most important factor in the political present and future of the colony. In Christchurch city, the women actually polled a clear majority of votes over the men—8294, against 8026. Parnell was the only other electorate in which the same result can be observed; in Dunedin, the votes for male and female sections of the electorate were nearly equal—7786 men, against 7775 women. The returns certainly point to the high degree of interest taken by Christchurch women in political matters, and probably also to the better organisation of the female vote. In Wellington, where there are only 1000 less women than men on the roll, the women's vote was in a minority of 1500.

The boundaries and numbers of the electoral districts in both islands vary from time to time according to population. Two permanent Commissions sit to determine what proportion of the seventy members shall be elected in each island. When this matter is settled the Commissions act independently for the two islands. Every 100 persons living in the country districts count as equal to 128 living in towns with a population of 2000 and upwards. The populations of the chief towns and country districts in the two islands are approximately equal. The figures for the four triple electorates in 1901 were: Auckland 39,232, Wellington 39,977, Christchurch 37,993, Dunedin 38,082. Of the single electorates the largest in the North Island is Ohinemuri 15,353; in the South Island the largest is Caversham 13,147. In the North Island the smallest single electorate is Wairarapa 8432, and the smallest in the South Island is Bruce 8139. The representation of the two islands is thus being rapidly equalised. In 1893 the South Island had thirty-nine members to thirty-one for the North, in 1896, the numbers were changed to thirty-six for the South Island and thirty-four for the North. At the present time the South Island (with Stewart Island) includes thirty-two districts, with thirtysix members, and the North Island contains thirty districts with thirty-four members. It is probable that by next election the representation for the two islands will be absolutely equalised.

All registered male electors are eligible for a seat in the House of Representatives, so long as they are not civil servants, and do not enter into contracts with the Government to the extent of more than £50 a year. For some years prior to 1901, members of the Lower House were paid £240 a year with travelling expenses to and from Wellington; and £2 per day was deducted for every sitting day above five on which a member was absent from the House, unless in the case of sickness or unavoidable detention. In the session of 1901 the statutory honorarium for members of the House was raised to £300, and for members of the Council to £200.

Mr. William Whitehouse Collins, J.P., who was returned as a Member of the House of Representative for Christchurch
Standish and Preece, photo.Mr. W. W. Collins.

Standish and Preece, photo.
Mr. W. W. Collins.

page 90 at the general election of 1893, was born in Harbourne, Staffordshire, England, and is the son of a well-known manufacturer. He inherits radical principles from his grandfather, John Collins, one of the Chartist prisoners. The subject of this notice, who was educated at a private school, at Midlaw Institute, and at Mason College, Birmingham, was intended for a minister of the Baptist Church, but found a preliminary sphere in commercial pursuits. He studied at South Kensington, in the Science and Art Department, and holds high awards for success in the advanced section. Mr. Collins became connected with the Secularists and for some time worked with Mr. Bradlaugh and Mrs. Besant, throwing himself heartily into the various movements, political and otherwise, initiated by them. He obtained a diploma as a lecturer from the National Secular Society, and came to Sydney in 1885 under engagement to the Freethought Association, and stayed in that city for five years, lecturing and organising. Subsequently he spent five years in Tasmania, where he was similarly engaged. During the ten years he spent in the sister Colonies, Mr. Collins travelled periodically, throughout Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania, lecturing at the various centres. In 1890 he settled in Christchurch, and established the Lyceum, which he still conducts, and has taken an active part in all advanced political movements. He returned to Sydney in 1893 to lead the Freethought movement, but was induced by his friends to return to Christchurch to contest one of the seats for the city, in which he was successful. At the election of 1896 Mr. Collins was defeated by a narrow majority; but in 1899 he was returned as senior member with 7,688 votes to his credit. He is a visiting Justice of the Lyttelton Gaol, and of the Deaf and Dumb Institution at Sumner. Mr. Collins was married in 1886 to a daughter of Mr. Ehenezer Skinner, of Sydney, many years president of the Liberal Association, and has one son.

Mr. Henry George Ell, member of the House of Representatives for the City of Christchurch, was born in Christchurch in 1862, educated at the Riccarton, Halswell, and West Christchurch Schools, and has since had a varied experience. For a short time he was junior attendant at the Christchurch Museum; was employed on survey work on a sheep station; then at wool-scouring works, and afterwards served for three years and a half in the Armed Constabulary at Parthaka. For four years he was engaged in the printing and stereotyping trade, and for five years subsequently was employed in the warehouse of Messrs Nind-Ward and Co.; and up to the time of his election he was in the service of Messrs Andrews and Co., manufacturing stationers. Since he was fifteen years of age he has shown a natural bent for polities, of which he has made a special study, and is a diligent reader. From 1884, he has been active in connection with labour and other political organisations in Christchurch. He was a member of the Knights of Labour and of the Canterbury Liberal Association, and for some time President of the Progressive Liberal Association, of which he was for three years secretary, and resigned the position in 1896 to become a candidate for the representation of Christchurch. On that occasion Mr. Ell was nominated by the Canterbury Women's Institute, supported by the Progressive Liberal Association, and though he had never before addressed a public meeting, was successful, after a hard fight, in gaining 4705 votes, and nfth place on the poll. Mr. Ell was a member of the Addington school committee for several years, also a member of the School Committees' Association, and for three years a member of the Spreydon Road Board. He is a member of the committee of the Canterbury Children's Aid Society, president of the Christchurch Tailoresses' and Pressers' Union, member of the committee of the Prohibition League, and of the Canterbury Prohibition Council, and also a member of the Council of St. Saviour's Guild. On the nomination of the teachers, Mr. Ell stood for the position of member of the Board of Governors of Canterbury College in 1897, when three candidates had to be elected, and he was fourth on the poll. In the following year he was again nominated by the school committees, and obtained second place. He was married, in 1891, to a daughter of Mr Alfred Gee, of Linwood, a very old colonist, and has three daughters and one son. At the general election of 1899 he was returned to Parliament as one of the three members for Christchurch, and received 6149 votes.

Mr. H. G. Ell.

Mr. H. G. Ell.

Mr. George John Smith, Member of the House of Representatives for Christchurch City, was born at Consett, county of Durham, in 1862, was educated at schools in his native county, and at the Wesleyan Church School in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He entered the office of the Government solicitors in the latter town and remained there until he left for this Colony. Arriving in Lyttelton at Christmas, 1879, Mr. Smith obtained an appointment in the office of the well-known firm of Garrick and Cowlishaw, in whose employ he continued for a period of eleven years, severing his connection with them in consequence of the active part he took in the prohibition movement. Mr. Smith commenced his public career in the Sydenham Borough Council, and at the general licensing committee elections of 1891, was elected a member of the celebrated prohibition licensing committee, in which he held office, until, with his coadjutors, he was removed by order of the Supreme Court, for “incurable bias.” Mr. Smith was Induced to contest the Christchurch electorate in 1893 when he was returned second on the poll. Three years later he was re-elected, his name appearing in a similar position. In 1899 he was defeated at the general election, but at the by-election of 1901 he was again returned to represent the city. He has long been interested in the Volunteers, having served for two years in the Newcastle Engineer corps, in England. On settling in Canterbury, he assisted in the formation of the Christchurch Rifles, in which he held the rank of lieutenant for three years, and in 1898 he was elected captain of the Sydenham Rifles, the H Company of the North Canterbury Battalion. He is a wellknown member of the Methodist Church, and has several times been a delegate to the New Zealand Annual Conference, and was a representative at the General Conference held in Adelaide. Mr. Smith has been an energetic and consistent member of the Prohibition movement. He was married in 1887 to the only daughter of the late Mr. R. Dawsson, member of the well-known firm of Ballantyne and Co., drapers.

Wrigglesworth and Binns, photo.Mr. G. J. Smith.

Wrigglesworth and Binns, photo.
Mr. G. J. Smith.

page 91

Mr. William Wilcox Tanner, J.P., Member of the House of Representatives for the Avon district, hails from Northamptonshire, having been born in Moulton in 1851. He was educated at one of the old Church of England penny denominational schools in his native town, was apprenticed to the bootmaker's trade, and worked at his trade in England until leaving for New Zealand. He arrived in Lyttelton in the ship “Waitara” in 1879, and continued to work at his trade till 1892. Mr. Tanner has always been ready to assist working men's movements, and has been identified with trades' unions, co-operative societies, literary and debating classes. In the labour movement of 1890 he was secretary to the bootmakers' union of Christchurch, and at the general election in that year he was invited to become a candidate for the constituency of Heathcote, and was successful. Later on, in 1893, 1896, and 1899, he was returned for the district of Avon. Mr. Tanner is one of the Labour members of the House, and was referred to in 1890 as “the first Labour candidate.” He was for several years a member of the Woolston Municipal Council. In 1877 he married a daughter of Mr. J. Browett, of London, who claims descent on her mother's side from the poet Dryden, and has one son.

Mr. George Warren Russell, J.P., and Member of the House of Representatives for Riccarton, was born in London in 1854, arrived in Tasmania when an infant with his parents, and came to New Zealand in 1865. For some years he resided in Invercargill, where he entered the office of the “Southern News” as a lad, and removing to Wellington, joined the staff of the “Evening Post,” where he served an apprenticeship as a compositor. Subsequently, Mr. Russell became a probationer for the Wesleyan Church ministry, and was stationed, successively, at Gisborne, New Plymouth, and Hokitika. Disapproving of the itinerant system, and through a change of views, Mr. Russell retired from the Church without ordination, and joined the staff of the “Wellington Chronicle” as sub-editor. Subsequently, with his brother John, he established the “Manawatu Herald” at Foxton, and afterwards bought the “Manawatu Times” at Palmerston North. Mr. Russell, subsequently, removed to Cambridge in the Waikato, where he established the “Waikato News.” Having sold his interest in this journal, he removed to Christchurch, and became senior partner in the firm of Russell and Willis, in Cathedral Square; this partnership existed till March, 1898, when, having purchased the “Spectator,” Mr. Russell retired from the firm. Several times Mr. Russell contested constituencies for a seat in Parliament before succeeding at Riccarton. His first contest was for the Foxton seat in 1881, when he was third on the poll out of six candidates, defeating Sir Walter Buller and Dr. Newman. In 1887 he unsuccessfully contested the Waikato seat against the Hon. J. G. Whyte. He was first returned for Riccarton in 1893. At the general election of 1896, Mr. Russell was defeated for Riccarton by the Hon. W. Rolleston, but he, in his turn, defeated that gentleman at the elections of 1899. As an author, Mr. Russell has published a manual of the “Duties of Life,” which is on the list of books that may be used in the Government schools of the Colony. This volume is intended to teach ethics, morality, and duty, without dogma, and is an attempt to bridge the distance between the purely secular system of education and the teachings of the Bible. Mr. Russell is a member of the Board of Governors of Canterbury College. He was married in 1879 to a daughter of Mr. G. M. Park, of Hokitika, and has a large family.

Standish and Preece, photo.Mr. G. W. Russell.

Standish and Preece, photo.
Mr. G. W. Russell.

Mr. Tame Parata, Member in the House of Representatives for the Southern Maori Electorate, was born at Ruapuke, an island south of the Bluff in 1837, and is therefore sixty-five years of age. He is a chief of the Ngaitahu, Waitaha, and Ngatimamoe tribes of the South Island of New Zealand. His genealogy runs away back to the time of the traditional migrations from Hawaiki, and he is a direct descendant of that famous navigator, Tamatea, the captain of the Takitimu canoe which arrived from Hawaiki, the ancient land of the Maori, sometime during the tenth century. After landing some of his companions (now the Ngatiporou tribe) at Poverty Bay, and some (now the Ngatikahungunu tribe) at Hawke's Bay, Tamatea and his canoe proceeded on southward, until he reached Murihiku (Southland), where he landed, and his long and remarkable voyage came to an end. The canoe Takitimu still lies there, not now, however, as her gallant skipper knew her then, but a long mountain of stone, so transformed by the hand of time. The name of the place is known to the Europeans as the Nightcaps and to the Maoris as Takitimu. Tame Parata is also a descendant or Paikea-ariki, a famous demi-god of ancient days, and an ancestor of the Maori. Paikea was an ariki, or priest-chief, in Hawaiki, and was invited by Ruatapu in the fatal canoe, in which 140 first-born chiefs of houses were decoyed from their homes. After proceeding to mid-ocean they were all destroyed by Ruatapu, except Paikea-ariki, who, by the aid of his magic spells, commanded his atua (god) Paikea, a whale, or water monster, to carry him on his back to dry land and was thus saved. Paikea's name in Hawaiki was Kahutiaterangi, and he received the name of Paikea, or whale, because he crossed the ocean on a whale. The murder of these chiefs was called Te-puruunuhia (the pulling of the plug), because it was accomplished by the deceitful Ruatapu by pulling out the plug of the canoe. So much for genealogy and the traditional lore of Tame Parata's interesting and noble race. While Tame Parata himself was a youth he moved to Waikouaiti, to reside with his uncle, Haereroa, otherwise known as Tommy Roundhead. Then he joined the pilot service at Otago Heads. After a few years in that employment he left to rejoin his uncle at Waikouaiti, where he has resided ever since, following agricultural and pastoral pursuits. He was elected to Parliament in 1885 by the South Island Maoris as their representative, and they have returned him regularly every election ever since, so that he has been a member for a period of sixteen years. Mr. Parata is a very intelligent man and speaks English as fluently as he does the Maori language, and thoroughly understands European as well as Maori politics. He has paid special attention to the question of securing lands for landless Maoris in the South Island, and by his energy he has, so far, obtained for them lands in Southland, Otago, Canterbury, Westland, Nelson, and Marlborough, amounting in all to over 150,000 acres. He is an ardent advocate for Native schools for the education and general advancement of his race. In Parliament he is very popular with both sides of the House.

Wrigglesworth and Binns, photo.Mr. Tame Parata.

Wrigglesworth and Binns, photo.
Mr. Tame Parata.