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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 9 (January 1, 1934)

In Weld's Ministry

In Weld's Ministry.

James Edward Fitzgerald's force and ability in Parliamentary debate presently won for him Cabinet rank. There was another high-minded pioneer of colonisation with whom he became associated in Parliament, Mr. Frederick Weld (afterwards Sir Frederick), partner of the Cliffords in early sheepfarming enterprise in Marlborough. He and Weld found themselves in general agreement on questions of Maori policy, and when, at the end of 1864, Weld became Premier, Fitzgerald consented to join him as Native Minister. This association lasted for nearly a year, and it was during the Weld-Fitzgerald regime that the self-reliant policy in Colonial defence matters was established. The Colony was no longer to rely on British regiments to fight its battles; New Zealand was to train and arm its own men. It was in 1865 also that the Government, on Fitzgerald's initiative, carried the Native Rights Act, which gave the Maori his rightful status as a citizen of the Colony.

Two more years of Parliamentary life, and then Fitzgerald left the arena of political strife page 29 for the more serene field of the Civil Service. For very nearly thirty years he was Comptroller and Auditor-General, a post to which he devoted himself with the powers of concentration and the sense of duty which had characterised all his varied undertakings.

When he died in 1896 he was an all but forgotten figure of pioneer Parliamentary life, but his speeches and writings remained, to be quoted now and again by those of his contemporaries such as Sir Robert Stout, who knew and appreciated the white fire of great enthusiasms which animated his utterances.