Alfred Kidd

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Alfred Kidd (1851–1917) was a New Zealand politician of the Liberal Party. He was the 18th Mayor of Auckland.

Early life[edit]

Born at Hounslow, Middlesex, England, Alfred Kidd had arrived in New Zealand in 1865 on the ship Ballarat, at fourteen years old, and worked in Mangere on farms for three years. On the opening of the Thames Goldfields, he moved there and “has seen it develop from a canvas town—there being only one wooden house then (Sheehan's)—to its present proportions.” He was one of the first arrivals and he begun to prospect immediately. For seven years he worked in most of the principal mines and before leaving he was an amalgamator at the Kuranui Battery. He left to take the position of steward and providore for the steamers of the Waikato Steam Navigation Company. He did this for three years and got married to Christine Whisker. With the opening of the railways taking the passenger traffic from the river, Mr Kidd came to Auckland and entered into the hotel keeping business. On his arrival he took over the licence of the old Provincial Hotel in Prince’s Street and the Anchor Hotel. He held the license for the Commercial Hotel, (the oldest licensed house, it is claimed, in New Zealand—dating from 1841), now de Bretts, on the corner of High Street and Shortland Streets from 1882 until 1903.

Political career[edit]

Parliament of New Zealand
Years Term Electorate Party
1902–1905 15th City of Auckland Liberal
1905–1908 16th Auckland Central Liberal

Mr Alfred Kidd started his political career by being a Parnell Borough Councillor. On the Auckland City Council, he was chairman of the Streets Committee, a member of the Library Committee and chairman of the Finance Committee. He was acting mayor during the term of David Goldie, as Mr Goldie was often ill. Then Sir John Logan Campbell made it a condition of his accepting the mayoralty that Alfred Kidd be acting mayor again. There are several press reports of the time saying it was scandalous that Kidd was not made mayor during the visit of the Duke and Duchess of York as he had effectively done all the work under the previous mayoralty of Goldie, one of the reports pointing out that a factor in the decision was that he would not be able to entertain the Duke at the Northern Club as he was not a member. Kidd was elected Mayor in his own right for three years in 1902. He worked tirelessly to create the new electric tramways, new sewerage and roads. He followed very popular movements, promoting workers rights and opening up Maori land, and was then pressured to go into parliament, suggesting that he was the only man who could control, Richard Seddon the Prime Minister. At the time of purchasing the land at 74 & 76 Gillies Avenue, Alfred Kidd was one of the oldest sitting members of the Auckland City Council, having been elected in 1885. He had resigned in 1888, when his projects for developing 159 acres at Ellerslie in the southern part of Remuera, fell victim to a property crash and he filed for bankruptcy. However he paid his creditors in full and the bankruptcy was annulled then, after a brief period, he was re-elected, and held his seat until he became M.P. for Auckland in 1905. From 1902 to 1905, he was one of the three Members of Parliament representing the multi-member City of Auckland electorate.[1] For the 1905 general election these multi-member electorates were split up, and he won the Auckland Central electorate, for which he became the sole Member of Parliament.[1] He held the seat until 1908, and was Chief Whip - Seddon and Ward Governments. He ensured that the new Auckland Post Office was built, now the site of Britomart station and introduced several bills, including an important gambling bill that restricted gambling to racecourses

In the 1908 general election, he was challenged by Albert Glover and came a distant second to him.[2] Both were from the Liberal Party, which was not unusual at that time.[1]

Other interests[edit]

He was president of the Licensed Victuallers Association for many years. As a Druid, Mr Kidd was district president for thirteen years, and one of the founders of the Friendly Societies Conference. He was initiated into Freemasonry in the Sir Walter Scott Lodge, Thames in 1876. On leaving Thames, he joined the “Ara,” Auckland, and passed through all the chairs of that lodge; he was later on elected master of Lodge Waiuku. Mr Kidd also passed the chair in the Royal Arch Chapter and 18 degree. For two years he was president of the Board of General Purposes for the Grand Lodge of New Zealand, and was then elected grand senior warden. Mr Kidd was the possessor of several good horses, notably “St. Hippo,” whom he sold to the Nathan family. He was President and steward of the Auckland Racing Club. In addition he was Chairman Auckland Harbour Board, (in which role he laid the foundation stone of Admiralty House), Charitable Aid Board, Trustee Auckland Savings Bank, Board of Governors Auckland Grammar School & Auckland College, Board of Governors Veterans Home, Chairman Auckland Draining Board. He was a member of the Costley Trust Board and had held a seat on most local boards.

Financial background[edit]

His money appeared to come from mining companies with successful land and stock market speculation, as he was a director of a great many companies. At one stage he was a director of twenty-two mining companies. In 1896, it was reported that although he had lost all his money in the property slump of 1888, had made over £30,000 out of a recent mining boom in Thames. It was reported that he was going to use some of this money to rebuild the Commercial Hotel. He also had financial interests in farming around Waiuku, then known as the Aka Swamp. He owned 2000 acres of land, said “to be second to none in the North Island”. In the late 1880s he was in partnership in a booksellers and stationers called Kidd & Wildman based in the Victoria Arcade which competed with the main book dealers of the time, Champtaloup & Cooper, Upton, Waytes, Varty and Chapman . It was also a lending library and publisher and printed ‘Our Dealings with Maori Lands or Comments on European Dealings For the Purchase and Lease of Native Lands and the Legislation Thereon’ by L Mackay and ‘The financial depression: its cause and remedy’ by R D L Duffus among others.

Mr Kidd collected early NZ literature, described in a newspaper letter to the editor of 1886 as “the best private collection of books on New Zealand that is probably to be found in the city” and “the finest private collection of New Zealand literature (touching this colony, that is) extant” in an article in the New Zealand Graphic. Estimated to be over 500 books on Polynesian and New Zealand history in 1887, he left a collection of 304 books, the earliest being dated 1773, to the Auckland University College in an inlaid wood bookcase upon his death. These books were mostly travel experiences but included political and botanical books with books in Maori.

Private life[edit]

He and his first wife, née Christine Whisker born in Auckland in 1874 to Private Whisker, had three sons, Alf (b1875), Charles (b1882) and Frank (b1885) and one daughter Flora (b1879). . He and his wife were hugely popular figures and he was petitioned several times to sit for mayor before he accepted the post. Mr Kidd was well known for blushing, his immaculate dress sense and his interesting clever conversation. His eldest son, Alfred John Kidd, was born at Ngaruawahia, in 1875 and died at Waiuku in 1941. He was educated at St. John's College, and the Auckland Grammar School, and afterwards studied at the Agricultural College at Lincoln, Canterbury. On leaving the Grammar School he went to Te Akau station, where, in four years, he acquired a practical knowledge of stock and farming. After studying at the Agricultural College at Lincoln, Christchurch, he entered the firm of Messrs Hunter and Nolan, and obtained a further experience of stock. Mr Kidd then went to Waiuku, where he had purchased the estate of ‘Brookfield.’ and superintended the large interests of his father at the neighbouring property, ‘Arrowville’ of 2,000 acres. In 1901 this land in the Aka Aka swamp annually fattened about 500 cattle for the Auckland markets as well as running a dairy herd for which Mr Kidd built a creamery near the swamp property. Before the First World War the farms were shipping sheep for sale to Sydney and getting record prices. Mr Alfred Kidd Jr married Miss Elizabeth Ann Parker, of Waiuku, and had a family of two children. His sister Flora married a son of Judge Gillies, Mr William F Gillies.

Mrs Christina Kidd died in 1904 and in April 1907 Mr Alfred Kidd married Miss Ethel Anne Bridgeman, (b1876), who was Matron of the Cambridge Sanatorium, at St Andrew’s Church Epsom. They took a month in Australia as a honeymoon.

Mrs Ethel Kidd was a highly active person in Auckland society. She was three times President Trained Nurses' Association, President Auckland Trained Nurses Association & Civic League, Dominion President Registered Nurses, Dominion President NZ Free Kindergarten Union for five years, Founder of Auckland Hospital Auxiliary and then President for 9 years and a member of Auckland Hospital Board for 10 years. She represented the NZ Council of Women at the Women's International Peace Conference in Copenhagen in 1924 and represented NZ at the Women's International Peace Conference at Budapest in 1937. She was made a JP in 1933, received the MBE in 1938 and was the holder of Coronation & Jubilee medals.

In 1910 Mr and Mrs Kidd travelled to England by way of ten days in Sydney, Cairo and the Pyramids, landing from the SS Otway in Naples, then travelled to Rome, Venice, Monte Carlo, Nice and Paris. They arrived in England in time to attend the Derby in May 1911. During this journey, Mr Kidd told a reporter “ I have travelled largely over the continent and I still hold that there are within our own dominion better sights and scenes than any I have seen on my travels”. In September they travelled through the Home Counties, then went to Belgium and Germany. They had intended to leave for New Zealand from Naples in October but changed their minds, possibly as they had let the house in Auckland for a longer period. They went on to travel in Ireland and England and passed November in Scotland. Over the Christmas period, the Kidds travelled in Yorkshire and Lancashire. In March 1912 the Kidds travelled to Switzerland, the Riviera, Paris, Berlin and northern Italy, then returned to England in order that Mr Kidd could attend the first levee at St James’s Palace and Mrs Kidd could be presented at the first court of the season. Mr Kidd was presented to HM the King on Monday 2 March by Sir William Hall-Jones, the NZ High Commissioner. On 8 March Mrs Kidd was presented to the HM the King and Queen by Mrs Lewis Harcourt, the wife of the Secretary of State for the Colonies. Mrs Kidd’s gown was “of ivory satin with an overdress of d’Alencon lace arranged in paniers. The train was an old French design of gold and white chiffon brocade hemmed with graduated cloth of gold falling from both shoulders in a cascade, allowing the lace gown to appear through. Mrs Kidd’s bouquet was an early Victorian posy composed of mauve orchids, white lilac, pink rosebuds and blue forget me nots. It was tied with streamers of mauve and pink ribbons”. They left England in the Mauretania travelling to New York, and then travelled to Chicago and Winnipeg. They visited the Rockies, then met the Zealandia in Vancouver on 15 April and reached New Zealand on 7 May 1912.

The house at 28 Domain Road (now 74 & 76 Gillies Avenue) was advertised to let, furnished, in the Auckland Star of 17 February 1911 and described as a “Alfred Kidd’s, Esq., beautiful property in Domain Road Epsom” with “a house of nine rooms with all modern conveniences, stables, tennis lawn, good garden and about 2 acres of land”.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. p. 210. OCLC 154283103. 
  2. ^ "The General Election, 1908". National Library. June 1906. p. 3. Retrieved 14 April 2012. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Logan Campbell
Mayor of Auckland City
1901–1903
Succeeded by
Edwin Mitchelson
New Zealand Parliament
Vacant
Constituency abolished in 1890
Title last held by
George Grey
Member of Parliament for Auckland Central
1905–1908
Succeeded by
Albert Glover