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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 2 (May 1, 1935)


“We are few, but the right sort,” Nelson wrote of his hearties of the “Agamemnon” in the Mediterranean in 1794. The Taranaki settlers could have said that of themselves in 1860 when the Maori war began. Harry Atkinson was a leader among those stout-hearted farmers from the South of England who founded the New Plymouth settlement and turned soldiers when occasion called. He was a captain in the first Volunteer Rifle Corps in the British Empire to meet an enemy in the field. He engaged in provincial and national politics with the same vigour and success that he had displayed on the Taranaki battle-ground. He was three times Premier of New Zealand; he was knighted during his last premiership, and he was Speaker of the Legislative Council when he died in Wellington in 1892. In his soldiering career he was a perfect frontiersman, as skilled in bush fighting as any Maori warrior. In political life he was a strong but not brilliant figure, a plain-living and plain-spoken man who won place and power by his honesty of purpose, his perseverance and his great capacity for work.

Sir Harry Atkinson, K.C.M.G.

Sir Harry Atkinson, K.C.M.G.