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Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.

Election Echoes. — Sir James Carroll's Unique Record

Election Echoes.
Sir James Carroll's Unique Record

Sparseness of European population was responsible for the tardy appearance of Parliamentary electorates bearing names which indentified them with Poverty Bay and the East Coast. In 1868 the natives of both districts were incorporated in the far-flung Eastern Maori electorate, which extended over nearly a third of the North Island. The East Coast European constituency, which stretched from Tauranga to Wairoa, did not appear on the Parliamentary map until 1871.

Eastern Maori Seat:

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When Takamoana (an avowed Repudiationist) defeated Hotene Porourangi (a staunch Ngati-Porou loyalist), dismay was created in the Waiapu district. An inquiry revealed that the deputy returning officer for Waiapu had, prior to polling day, canvassed among the electors in his area, securing signatures to many voting papers and informing the voters that it would not be necessary for them to appear at a polling booth on election day. All these votes had been declared invalid. The House of Representatives, by resolution, declared Takamoana elected.

Wiremu Pere (born in March, 1837) was a son of Thomas Halbert and his fourth wife (Riria Mauaranui). His father proposed that he should be sent to Auckland for his schooling, but, when his mother found that the teacher was a negro, she declined to agree, adding that “she would sooner chop him up into little bits.” W1 Pere and three of his children were taken from Manutuke to Makaretu by Te Kooti after the Poverty Bay massacre, but, six days later, he fled to his uncle, Wiremu Kingi, at Torere (Bay of Plenty). He was held in ill-favour by many of the Europeans because he favoured the repurchase of all properties in the hands of the pakehas at the prices which had been given for them. Captain Read (Poverty Bay Herald, 9/3/1874) accused him even of going away voluntarily with Te Kooti after the massacre, and of deserting him only when he had suffered a defeat.

When Wi Pere entered Parliament in 1884 he attracted considerable attention. One commentator said: “What a change in one man's life! The little, wild, root-eating savage has been transformed into a grand, courteously-mannered member of the General Assembly. “He caused several “scenes” in Parliament, the most glaring being when, as a member of the Upper House in 1909, he complained that far too much native land had fallen into the hands of the Europeans, and declared that, if he had his way, “all the pakehas would be driven into the sea!” On the other hand, there were some occasions upon which his views caused much merriment, as, for example when, in 1899, he advocated the raising of a loan of £20,000,000. Another member interjected: “But how will we be able to pay back such an enormous sum?” Wi Pere evoked roars of laughter when he replied: “That will give our grandchildren something to do!”

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Wi Pere died on 9 December, 1915, and was buried in a vault at Waerenga-a-Hika on 3 January, 1916. In his eulogy, Sir A. T. Ngata said: “No man ever did more for his people … The mistakes he made were the mistakes a big man would make, and owed their origin to the fact that he had, to a great extent, to place reliance upon others … His pride in being a Maori led him sometimes to make impolitic remarks that were tinged with contempt for the pakeha. But never was there a greater fighter for his race than Wi Pere.” A fine monument, erected by the native people as a tribute to Wi Pere, stands alongside Read's Quay, Gisborne.

Sir Apirana Turupa Ngata, D.Lit., LL.B. (born at Te Araroa on 31 July, 1874) was a son of Paratene Ngata. His mother was a half-caste, and her maiden name was Katarina Ngake (Knox). He was educated at Wai-o-matatini native school, Te Aute College and Canterbury University College. In 1893 he gained his B.A. degree; in 1894 he was the first Maori to graduate M.A. (with honours in political science); and, in 1896, he was awarded the LL.B. degree. He was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in 1897. Two years later he became travelling secretary to the Te Aute Students' Association (Young Maori Party). From 1902 till 1904 he was organising-inspector to the Maori Councils. He sat on the Royal Commission appointed under the Native Lands Act, 1904 (1905), Commission of Investigation into the Te Aute and Wanganui Trusts (1906), and, with Sir Robert Stout, on the Native Land Tenure Commission (1907–8). He represented the Eastern Maori district in the House of Representatives from 1905 till 1943, was a member of the Executive Council representing the Maori race from 1909 till 1912, and was Minister for Native Affairs from 1928 till 1934. He was knighted in 1927. His work in connection with the development of native lands and the establishment of native settlers upon them, together with the keen interest he has taken in Maori arts and crafts and the construction of ornate, but durable, native meeting-houses, will constitute a worthy monument to him. In 1948 the University of New Zealand conferred upon him the honorary degree of D.Lit.

East Coast Seat.

The East Coast seat was held by:

  • William Kelly, a supporter of the Fox Government (February, 1871, till December, 1875). Polling: Kelly, 138; Mackay, 64; Skeet, 52.

  • George Edward Read (January, 1876, till August, 1876).

This was the most sensational electoral contest ever held in the East Coast districts. Result: Read, 215; G. B. Morris, 206; W. Kelly, 185; Maihi, 9. On polling day mysterious pieces of cardboard were distributed in Gisborne, and the hotel bars were crowded by recipients desirous of testing their genuineness as legal tender. These p.n.'s ranged in value from 2/6 to 10/-. Morris petitioned to have Read unseated on the ground that the result had been influenced by unlawful acts of treating and by other acts of bribery and corruption. A Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry found that some of Read's election agents had overstepped the mark, but that it had not been proved that any breach of the law had been committed with his approval. By resolution the House of Representatives decided that Read should forfeit the seat to Morris. This was the last occasion upon which an inquiry into an election was entrusted to a Parliamentary Committee. The election, it was reported, cost Read £2,000 and Morris £700. Several cases alleging breaches of the electoral laws were brought against alleged agents of the principal candidates.

Alan McDonald settled in Poverty Bay in 1871. In association with Percival Barker, senior, he held interests in the Whataupoko and Kaiti runs. He then took over Turihaua and Puatai. In 1885 he was elected mayor of Gisborne. He was an outstanding athlete. Financial worries led to a breakdown in 1887, and he paid a visit to the United Kingdom. Upon his return in 1892 he went on to Otago, and then to Australia. A report from Melbourne (Poverty Bay Herald, 5/9/1893) stated that he left his luggage at an hotel there and, as he did not return, the police held an inquiry, but without avail.

Samuel Locke (born in Norfolk in 1836) became Provincial Surveyor for Hawke's Bay in 1862, and, shortly afterwards, Lands Purchase Officer for Hawke's Bay and Poverty Bay. Upon his recommendation the sale of firearms to the natives of Poverty Bay and the East Coast was made illegal in 1864. He and his father-in-law (Joseph Rhodes, of Napier) leased Paremata (Tolaga Bay) in 1868. He was magistrate for the East Coast districts in 1869. During 1870–1 he acted for the Crown in connection with the purchase of the Seventy Mile Bush (400,000 acres). In 1874 he was associated with W. F. Hargreaves in Waikohu run, and, in 1878, he acquired portion of Makauri. He took a keen interest in the promotion of education among both races. His death occurred in Auckland in April, 1890.

Andrew Graham (born at East Kilbride, Lanarkshire, in 1843) arrived at Napier in 1864. He was on active service in Hawke's Bay and Poverty Bay. In 1873 he opened a branch of the Napier firm of Kinross and Graham at Gisborne. The firm lost heavily when the City of Glasgow Bank failed. He was the first chairman of Gisborne Harbour Board. On account of his stand in favour of tenders being called at Home for the harbour works, advocates of the day labour system burnt effigies of himself and two other prominent residents who shared his views. He also served as chairman of the Hospital Board and of Cook County Council. He died in April, 1926.

Alexander Creighton Arthur (born in England) took up the Tokomaru Bay run in 1874, “The Willows” (Matawhero) in 1878, and the Whatatutu run in 1880. With his brother Frank he went to Western Australia and invested profitably in the Juliet gold mine. He then spent some years as a sharebroker in Johannesburg, and returned to England in 1896.

Waiapu Seat.

There was only one holder of this seat. The electorate extended from the northern portion of the East Coast to northern Hawke's Bay, and it included the town of Gisborne.

  • James Carroll (1893–1908). In 1893 the women of New Zealand voted for the first time. Mr. Carroll's opponent was also a Liberal. Result: J. Carroll, 2,201; C. A. de Lautour, 1,704. 1896J. Carroll (Lib.). 2,142; C. A. Fitzroy, a former member for Selwyn (Con.), 1,772. 1899J. Carroll (Lib.), 3,153; C. A. Fitzroy (Con.), 1,824; J. C. Dunlop (I.), 100. 1902J. Carroll (Lib.), 3,232; F. W. Isitt (Prohibition), 1,562. 1905J. Carroll (Lib.), 3,647; W. L. Clayton (Con.), 1,849; G. E. Darton (Lib.-Lab.), 874; H. H. Wall (Con.), 312.

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Gisborne Seat

There had been, up till 1949, only three holders of the seat:

Sir James Carroll (“Timi Kara”) was born at Wairoa (H.B.) on 20 August, 1857. The spot is marked by a sturdy cabbage tree, protected by a fence. His father (Joseph Carroll) was born in Sydney in 1814, settled at Wairoa in 1842, and died there in 1899, and his mother (Tapuke) belonged to Ngati-Kahungunu, and was noted for her fine features and accomplishments. Sir James believed that his father had come of the same family stock as Charles Carroll, one of the signatories to the American Charter of Independence and that, in the fifteenth century, King O'Carroll, the famous Irish ruler, was the head of the line.

Until he was seven years old, Sir James lived at the home of Ngarangi Mataeo (his mother's uncle), first at Matiti pa and then at Hikawai. His schooling—first, at Wairoa, and, later, at Napier—covered only about three years. He served as a cadet in the Native Land Department at Napier for some years, and then spent about 12 months at head office in Wellington. In 1879 he became a Native interpreter in the House of Representatives. On 4 July, 1881, he married Heni Materoa, a daughter of Mikaera Turangi and Riparata (nee Kahutia). His bride was a granddaughter of the chiefs Paratene Turangi and Kahutia.

In 1887 Sir James defeated Wi Pere (who had the support of adherents of Te Kooti) for the Eastern Maori seat. Prior to the General Election in 1890, Te Kooti told Wi Pere that he was willing to stand against Sir James, but nothing came of the proposal. When he entered Parliament, Sir James was a supporter of the Atkinson Conservative Government. In 1888 he proposed that the Maoris should be granted full equality with the Europeans, “so that the same laws as to property and as to rights and privileges of citizenship shall apply to all alike.” On account of hostility by other Native members, he withdrew his motion.

Sir James was an opponent of Sir John Hall's Female Suffrage Bill in 1891, but he supported the principle in 1893, when it was backed by the Seddon Liberal Government. In the interim he had (1892) changed his political coat by accepting the position of Native representative on the Executive Council in the Ballance Liberal Government. By winning the Waiapu seat in 1893 he became the only ex-holder of a Maori seat to secure election to a European seat.

On 21 December, 1899, Sir James was promoted to full Cabinet rank, with the portfolio of Native Affairs. His refusal to yield to an incessant clamour for the widespread opening up of native lands for settlement led his opponents to call his policy the “Taihoa” (“Wait a bit”) policy, page 357 and they gave him the sobriquet “Taihoa Timi.” He supervised the compilation of the Native Land Laws (Consolidation) Act, 1909, and piloted it through Parliament. Twice he had the distinction of holding office as Acting Prime Minister—in 1909, when Sir Joseph Ward was in London attending an Imperial Conference, and in 1911, when Sir Joseph was in London for the coronation of King George V. He was honoured with a knighthood in 1911.

Sir James was a member of the Parliamentary party which visited Britain and France during the first Great War. In France he received a very warm welcome from the Maori Battalion. He was chosen as one of the speakers at the banquet in the Guildhall, London, which was attended by Mr. Asquith (Prime Minister of Britain) and 1,500 scions of the noblest British families. At Mr. John Redmond's special invitation he paid a visit to Dublin. The Massey Government awarded him a seat in the Legislative Council in 1921, two years after he had lost the Gisborne seat in a triangular contest. He died at Auckland on 26 October, 1926. Lady Carroll received the O.B.E. award in 1918. Her death occurred on 1 November, 1930.

The Carroll memorial at Makaraka was unveiled by Sir Joseph Ward on 3 March, 1929. In his eulogy, Sir Joseph referred to the thorough grasp which Sir James had of European, as well as of Maori, psychology, and to the great amount of success which had attended his efforts to build a bridge of friendship and of co-operation between the two races. He concluded: “Sir James was an able statesman, a polished gentleman, and a loyal friend.” Upon the monument is an inscription which, translated into English, reads: “It is Kahungunu who has come a second time, born again to the world, to link together his two peoples, Maori and pakeha, that they may live together amicably. O ye people! Hasten slowly! We are one!”

The Takitimu carved house at Wairoa (H.B.) was opened as a memorial to Sir James on 15 June, 1938. In his honour the Taihoa Hall there was so named. His portrait in oils hangs in the National Art Gallery in Wellington.


In a lecture at Hastings in November, 1937, Sir A. T. Ngata referred to Kahungunu's imperturbability, and, in that respect, likened Sir James Carroll to him. He recalled that, on one occasion, Kahungunu lay on his bed whilst a besieging party of Whakatohea was storming Maunga-akahia pa on Mahia. After the fighting had proceeded for about a week, and when the last trench had fallen into the enemy's hands, he bestirred himself and inquired what was the matter. He quietly had a daughter handed over the wall to the enemy, and peace was at once restored. Then he turned over on his bed and went to sleep again!

Telling a story against himself at a political meeting at Gisborne in July, 1895, Sir James Carroll remarked that it had been said concerning him that he possessed all the gifts that the gods could bestow except that of application. Shortly after the latest appeal to the people a good friend had called him aside and told him that he wished to speak to him on a very serious matter. “You must know,” his friend said, “that the Hon. J. Ballance killed himself by overwork; that Sir Harry Atkinson did the same; and that many other statesmen have shared a like fate. Now, do keep such experience in mind, and, whatever you do, take care not to over-exert yourself.” Sir James added, amid much laughter, that he had given a promise that he would not knowingly overdo things, and he trusted that, if any friend found that he was risking his life in such a manner, he would at once draw his attention to the pledge that he had given!

William Douglas Lysnar (born at Auckland in 1867) was the second son of W. Dean Lysnar. He was descended from one George Lysnar (of Flemish, or Dutch, origin, a “learned man,” who went over to England from Hanover with the court of King George I in 1714). For a number of years he practised as a solicitor in Gisborne, and then took up sheepfarming, and started a dairy factory. He led the movement which resulted in the formation of the East Coast Rabbit Board, and was the chief promoter of the Waipaoa freezing works. Towards the page 358 close of his career he appeared as leading counsel in two of Poverty Bay's most notable lawsuits.

Doggedness in upholding any cause which he espoused was Mr. Lysnar's most outstanding characteristic. He conducted a Dominion-wide campaign in favour of the adoption of improved facilities for handling, and better methods of marketing, New Zealand produce at Home, and in opposition to overseas concerns gaining interests in freezing works in the Dominion. He also stumped the country in opposition to a movement aimed at the prohibition of the sale of liquor. It was largely due to his persistency that the New Zealand Meat Producers' Board was set up in 1921.

Besides serving the district as its representative in Parliament for 12 years, Mr. Lysnar was Mayor of Gisborne, and a member of a number of local bodies. He died on 12 October, 1942. Gisborne was indebted to him for the Lysnar Reserve (22 acres) at Okitu. Frances Brewer Lysnar (a sister) was the only lady Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in New Zealand.

David William Coleman (born in London in 1881) was an infant when his parents migrated to Queensland. He settled in Gisborne in 1905, worked at his trade as a builder until 1913, and then conducted a general business until 1932. He was for 22 years president of the Gisborne L.R.C., and a member of the executive of the New Zealand Labour Party from its inception in 1916 until 1947. In addition to serving as Mayor of Gisborne for, in all, 11 years, he was a member of Cook Hospital Board (20 years), chairman of Gisborne Fire Board (8 years) and a member of the Power Board for a term. In 1947 he was appointed Under-Secretary to the Minister of Works. He announced in 1949 that he intended to retire from political life at the close of that year.

Bay of Plenty Seat.

The holders of the Bay of Plenty seat have been:

William Donald Stuart MacDonald (born at Meningwort, Victoria, in 1862) came to Poverty Bay in 1882. He was one of the district's best horsemen. After engaging in shepherding for some years he became overseer of Ngatapa station. He then managed Papatu and, later, A. C. Arthur's properties at Matawhero and Whatatutu. From 1890 till 1902 he was manager for W. Busby at Tokomaru Bay. He then took up Lorne station on his own account. He served on Waiapu County Council, Tokomaru Harbour Board and Waiapu Hospital Board, and was the first chairman of Waikohu County Council. Upon entering Parliament for the page 359 Bay of Plenty in 1908 he became known as “Fighting Mac.” The Ward Ministry appointed him its Junior Whip. In the short-lived Mackenzie Ministry in 1912 he held the portfolios of Public Works and Native Affairs. Three years later he became Minister for Agriculture and Minister for Mines in the National (War-time) Ministry. He died on 31 August, 1920.

Kenneth Stuart Williams (born at the Bay of Islands in 1870) was a son of J. W. Williams and a grandson of Archdeacon Henry Williams. In 1894 he took up sheepfarming at Matahiia (E.C.). He served on Waiapu County Council, Tokomaru Bay Harbour Board, and Waiapu Hospital Board, was one of the promoters of the Tokomaru Bay freezing works, and assisted to establish the Waiapu soldiers' settlement. He was a warm supporter of the turf, cricket, rugby and other sports. On three occasions he was elected unopposed for the Bay of Plenty seat. In the Coates Cabinet he was Minister for Public Works. His death occurred at a gathering of his supporters at Opotiki on 25 November, 1935.

Lieutenant Axel Gordon Hultquist was one of the youngest members to be elected to the New Zealand Parliament. He had been president and secretary of the Auckland Trades and Labour Council. He was an early volunteer for service in the Second World War and took part in the campaigns in Greece and Crete. He died in Egypt from influenza on 1 November, 1941.

Legislative Council.

Seats in the Legislative Council have been held by the following Poverty Bay and East Coast residents:

Captain William Henry Tucker (born at Auckland in 1844) started as a cadet on Woodlands (H.B.) and, in 1865, G. S. Cooper appointed him manager of Pouawa run. He saw active service during the Te Kooti revolt. For some years he was secretary to Captain Read. He then took over the management of Riparata Kahutia's properties, and acquired considerable property on his own account. In 1901 he leased the Campbell Islands as a sheep run. He was twice Mayor of Gisborne, and also served as chairman of Cook County Council, Gisborne Harbour Board, and Cook Hospital Board. His death occurred on 19 February, 1919.

William Morgan (born in Kildare in 1851) landed at Dunedin in 1874, went into business as a saddler at Roxburgh, and, in the early 1880's, moved to Gisborne. For some years he was chairman of the Central School Committee and a member of the Hawke's Bay Education Board. He then became chairman of, and, later, secretary of, the High School Board. He died on 18 February, 1918.


The most exciting local option (licensing of hotels) poll ever held in the East Coast districts took place in 1905, when Gisborne formed part of the Waiapu electorate. Result: Continuance, 2,714 votes; Reduction of Licences, 2,637; No-Licence, 4,000. The number of valid votes cast was 6,713. If 28 additional votes had been recorded for No-Licence that issue would have gained the required three-fifths majority.