Wairau (New Zealand electorate)

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Wairau was a parliamentary electorate in the Marlborough Region of New Zealand, from 1853 to 1938.

Population centres[edit]

The New Zealand Constitution Act 1852, passed by the British government, allowed New Zealand to establish a representative government. The initial 24 New Zealand electorates were defined by Governor George Grey in March 1853. Wairau was one of the initial single-member electorates.[1]

The initial area covered the Marlborough Sounds in the north to the Hurunui River in the south. Settlements within that area were Picton, Blenheim, and Kaikoura.[2]

The Constitution Act also allowed the House of Representatives to establish new electorates, and this was first done in 1858, when four new electorates were formed by splitting existing electorates. The Cheviot electorate was formed by taking area from the Wairau and Christchurch Country electorates.[3]

The Wairau electorate's boundaries were constantly adjusted over the years, but the electorate always covered a large, rural area around the Awatere River, with a long coastal boundary outh of Cape Campbell, at times as far south as Kaikoura. Blenheim was always included in the electorate, but Picton not always.[4] The 1918 electoral redistribution, which applied from the 1919 election, changed the shape of the electorate significantly, with it moving away from the Pacific Ocean coast to make way for the Hurunui electorate moving north. Wairau gained large areas of land south of Richmond. It also covered the Marlborough Sounds, and Blenheim was the southernmost point along the coast.[5] The 1922 electoral redistribution reversed this and Wairau moved back to its traditional area.[6] Wairau was abolished through the 1937 electoral redistribution, which came into effect with the 1938 election, and replaced by the Marlborough electorate, which had more or less the same shape as Wairau had had since the 1927 electoral redistribution.[7]


Wairau was one of the original electorates for the first general election in 1853.

The 1896 election was contested by the incumbent Lindsay Buick and Charles H. Mills, who received 2014 and 2072 votes, respectively. Mills thus succeeded Buick in Wairau.[8]

Members of Parliament[edit]


 Independent    Liberal    Reform    United    Labour  

Election Winner
1853 election Frederick Weld
1855 election William Wells
1858 by-election Frederick Weld
1861 election William Henry Eyes
1866 election
1871 election
1872 by-election Arthur Seymour
1875 by-election Joseph Ward[9]
1876 election Arthur Seymour
1879 election
1881 election Henry Dodson[10]
1884 election
1887 election
1890 election Lindsay Buick
1893 election
1896 election Charles H. Mills
1899 election
1902 election
1905 election
1908 election John Duncan
1911 election Richard McCallum
1914 election
1919 election
1922 election William Girling
1925 election
1928 election Edward Healy
1931 election
1935 election Edwin Meachen
(Electorate abolished in 1938, see Marlborough)

Election results[edit]

1899 election[edit]

General election, 1899: Wairau[11][12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Charles H. Mills 2,786 66.35
Opposition Walter Clifford 1,413 33.65
Majority 1,373 32.70
Turnout 4,199 76.65
Registered electors 5,478


  1. ^ McRobie 1989, pp. 29f.
  2. ^ McRobie 1989, p. 31.
  3. ^ McRobie 1989, pp. 29–31.
  4. ^ McRobie 1989, pp. 35–77.
  5. ^ McRobie 1989, pp. 77–81.
  6. ^ McRobie 1989, pp. 83–85.
  7. ^ McRobie 1989, pp. 87–93.
  8. ^ "The Elections". Hawera & Normanby Star. XXXIII (3416). 7 December 1896. p. 2. Retrieved 24 July 2011. 
  9. ^ Cyclopedia Company Limited (1906). "Former Members Of The House Of Representatives". The Cyclopedia of New Zealand : Nelson, Marlborough & Westland Provincial Districts. Christchurch. Retrieved 4 July 2010. 
  10. ^ Cyclopedia Company Limited (1906). "Former Members Of The House Of Representatives". The Cyclopedia of New Zealand : Nelson, Marlborough & Westland Provincial Districts. Christchurch. Retrieved 4 July 2010. 
  11. ^ "The General Election, 1899". Wellington: Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives. 19 June 1900. p. 1. Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  12. ^ "Wairau Electorate". The Marlborough Express. XXXIV (281). 30 November 1899. p. 3. Retrieved 10 March 2014. 


  • McRobie, Alan (1989). Electoral Atlas of New Zealand. Wellington: GP Books. ISBN 0-477-01384-8. 
  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First published in 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103.