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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 9, Issue 5 (August 1, 1934)


The Hon. John Ballar.ce (1839–1893) was one of several great Irishmen who took leading parts in the political drama of New Zealand. He came to the Colony in the mid-Sixties; he became a vigorous newspaper writer; he served in the Colonial military forces in the Maori War, as a cavalryman; he gave his country many years of service in Parliament, and he died in the midst of his labours as Premier, when he was only fifty-four. He was the most progressive statesman of his day in Liberal legislation, following on Sir George Grey's impassioned advocacy of the people's rights, and on his death his policy was continued and extended by his colleague and comrade, Richard Seddon. Ballance was a victim of overwork and neglect of self in the country's interest; so, too, Seddon, thirteen years later, died because he preferred strenuous public toil to the rest he needed.

John Ballance

John Ballance

No better colonists ever set foot on New Zealand shores than the men from the North of Ireland. Two typical pioneers from that part of the British Isles were John Ballance and William F. Massey. They differed greatly in temperament, training and political creed and outlook: they were alike in their honesty of purpose, their tireless industry, their efforts to leave their country the better for their presence in it. Ballance was the adventurous progressive type; he saw far ahead of his time; he was a champion of the common right of all to a share in the source of all wealth—land; he advocated the rights of labour, the rights of women to the franchise, the bettering of social conditions for the mass of workers and their families. He led the Opposition against a strongly entrenched Conservative administration; when success came at last, fortythree years ago, he gathered into his Cabinet a band of men who after his untimely death carried on his crusade that turned the world's eyes on New-Zealand as the most advanced of all lands in State experiments for the public betterment.