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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 4 (July 1, 1936)

A Sketch of His Career

A Sketch of His Career.

Henry Edmund Holland was sixtyfive when he died. He was an Australian by birth; he came from Giniderra, a far-out settlement near Canberra, N.S.W., where the capital of the Commonwealth now stands. He knew farm life from his earliest years; and when he was fourteen he began his life's labour by entering the employ of the “Queanbeyan Times,” where he served five years. This early apprenticeship to newspaper and printing work largely shaped his career. He went to Sydney and soon was in the thick of labour politics and sociological studies. He became a member of the Central Executive of the Labour, Electoral League.

In 1901 he was prominent in the fight on behalf of the tailoresses of Sydney, numbering about 2,000 women and girls. No one was more keen or vigorous or eloquent, not to say fiery, on behalf of labour causes, and he was imprisoned several times for his writings and speeches. It was in Australia that he and Mr. Robert Semple first met in a common cause.

He came to New Zealand in 1912, seeking a better climate, and he at once found a task to his hand in unifying the efforts of the Labour forces. For some years he was editor of the “Maoriland Worker,” and he plunged with zest into every effort for the betterment of the workers’ conditions. After two unsuccessful attempts to enter Parliament, in Wellington, in 1914 and 1918, he was elected for the Grey seat, and when in 1919 that electorate was abolished, he stood for Buller; he was returned, and he held the seat until the day of his death.

When Mr. Hindmarsh, leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party, died in 1919, Mr. Holland was appointed to take his place. In 1925, Labour became the Opposition, as the second strongest faction in the House. There was an interlude of three years when Mr. Coates and his party became officially the Opposition, but on the formation of the Coalition towards the end of 1931, Holland again entered upon the duties of leader of the Opposition, and there he was for the too-brief remainder of his life.