Jump to content

1st New Zealand Parliament

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1st Parliament of New Zealand
2nd Parliament
Legislative bodyNew Zealand Parliament
Term24 May 1854 – 15 September 1855
Election1853 New Zealand general election
GovernmentFitzgerald Executive (1854)
Forsaith Executive (from 1854)
House of Representatives
Speaker of the HouseSir Charles Clifford
Leader of the Executive DelegationThomas Forsaith from 1854
James FitzGerald in 1854
Legislative Council
Speaker of the CouncilFrederick Whitaker
William Swainson until 8 August 1855
MonarchHM Victoria
GovernorHE Rt Hon. Colonel Thomas Browne from 6 September 1855

The 1st New Zealand Parliament was a term of the Parliament of New Zealand. It opened on 24 May 1854, following New Zealand's first general election (held the previous year). It was dissolved on 15 September 1855 in preparation for that year's election. 37 Members of the House of Representatives (MHRs) represented 24 electorates.

Parliamentary sessions[edit]

The Parliament sat for three sessions:[1]

Session from to
First 24 May 1854 17 Aug 1854
Second 31 Aug 1854 16 Sep 1854
Third 8 Aug 1855 15 Sep 1855

New Zealand had not yet obtained responsible government (that is, the power to manage its own affairs), and so the 1st Parliament did not hold any significant power.

The 1st Parliament was held before the creation of either political parties or the office of Premier. There were, however, appointments made to the Executive Council (the formal institution upon which Cabinet is based).[2] From 14 June 1854 to 2 August 1854, there was a four-person cabinet, New Zealand's first ministry, led by James FitzGerald, with Henry Sewell, Frederick Weld, and Thomas Bartley (a fifth member, Dillon Bell, also joined for a short time). Then, from 31 August 1854 to 2 September 1854, there was another four-person cabinet led by Thomas Forsaith, with James Macandrew, William Travers, and Jerningham Wakefield. Some historians consider FitzGerald and Forsaith to be New Zealand's first Prime Ministers, but neither held any formal leadership role and since "responsible government" had not yet been obtained, they had little real power. Henry Sewell, appointed shortly after the 2nd New Zealand Parliament opened, is more often considered to have been the first Prime Minister.[3]

Sewell overwhelming Mackay, with Fitzherbert (hand covering mouth) looking on

On 17 August 1854 when the newly convened House of Representatives met, Administrator of the Government (acting Governor) Robert Wynyard was proposing to prorogue the General Assembly as he had not received authority from London. Sewell wanted to continue the debate and the suspension of standing orders was moved. The minority "Wakefieldites" (followers of Edward Gibbon Wakefield) opposed the move and tried to leave so that there would not be two-thirds of members present. This led to a violent turn when Sewell was reported to have pounced on the member for Nelson James Mackay and seized him by the throat. Suspension was moved an hour later when some members of the absent majority returned. Mackay was later found guilty of gross and premeditated contempt. There were moves to find the member from Dunedin James Macandrew guilty of contempt for entering the house with his hat on, but this was withdrawn.[4]

The 1st Parliament consisted of thirty-seven representatives representing twenty-four electorates.[3] Two regions of the colony (the inland regions of the lower North Island and the northwest corner of the South Island) were not part of any electorate, and so were not represented.

Electoral boundaries for the 1st Parliament[edit]

Initial composition of the 1st Parliament[edit]

Member Electorate Province Election date
William Moorhouse Akaroa Canterbury 24 August[5]
Thomas Bartley AucklandCity of Auckland Auckland 11 August[6]
Loughlin O'Brien AucklandCity of Auckland Auckland 11 August[7]
James O'Neill AucklandCity of Auckland Auckland 11 August[8]
Frederick Merriman Suburbs of Auckland Auckland 10 August[9]
William Porter Suburbs of Auckland Auckland 10 August[10]
Hugh Carleton Bay of Islands Auckland 14 July[11]
James Stuart-Wortley Christchurch Country Canterbury 27 August[12]
Jerningham Wakefield Christchurch Country Canterbury 27 August[13]
Henry Sewell ChristchurchTown of Christchurch Canterbury 20 August[14]
John Cargill Dunedin Country Otago 1 October[11]
William Cutten Dunedin Country Otago 1 October[15]
James Macandrew DunedinTown of Dunedin Otago 27 September[16]
Thomas King Grey and Bell New Plymouth 27 August[17]
Alfred Ludlam Hutt Wellington 18 August[18]
Edward Gibbon Wakefield Hutt Wellington 19 August[13]
James FitzGerald LytteltonTown of Lyttelton Canterbury 17 August[19]
Alfred Picard Motueka and Massacre Bay Nelson 18 August[20]
James Mackay NelsonTown of Nelson Nelson 25 July[21]
William Travers NelsonTown of Nelson Nelson 25 July[22]
Francis Gledhill New PlymouthTown of New Plymouth New Plymouth 26 August[23]
Thomas Forsaith Northern Division Auckland 23 August[24]
Walter Lee Northern Division Auckland 23 August[18]
William Crompton Omata New Plymouth 26 August[15]
John Bacot Pensioner Settlements Auckland 13 August[25]
Joseph Greenwood Pensioner Settlements Auckland 13 August[26]
Charles Taylor Southern Division Auckland 23 August[27]
John Gray Southern Division Auckland 23 August[26]
William Cautley Waimea Nelson 16 August[28]
David Monro Waimea Nelson 16 August[5]
Samuel Revans Wairarapa and Hawkes Bay Wellington 12 August[29]
Frederick Weld Wairau Nelson 2 August[30]
Isaac Featherston Wanganui and Rangitikei Wellington 12 August[31]
Charles Clifford WellingtonCity of Wellington Wellington 15 August[28]
Robert Hart WellingtonCity of Wellington Wellington 15 August[32]
James Kelham WellingtonCity of Wellington Wellington 15 August[17]
William Rhodes Wellington Country Wellington 18 August[33]

Changes during term[edit]

There were few changes during the term of the 1st Parliament, with only three by-elections being held. There were six resignations and one death during 1855, and those seats remained vacant for the remainder of the term.

By-election Electorate Date Incumbent Reason Winner
1854 Town of Nelson 19 June William Travers[22] Resignation Samuel Stephens[34]
1854 Waimea 21 June William Cautley[28] Resignation William Travers[22]
1854 City of Auckland 4 August Thomas Bartley[6] Resignation William Brown[35]
Christchurch Country

Stuart-Wortley resigned on 18 July 1855. His seat remained vacant.

City of Auckland

Bartley resigned on 11 July 1854. He was replaced by William Brown, who was elected on 4 August 1854.

City of Wellington

Kelham resigned on 3 August 1855. His seat remained vacant.

Dunedin Country

Cutten resigned on 23 July 1855. His seat remained vacant.


Ludlam resigned on 9 July 1855. His seat remained vacant.

Town of Nelson & Waimea

Cautley, MP for Waimea, and Travers, MP for Town of Nelson, both resigned on 26 May 1854. Travers subsequently contested the Waimea seat that Cautley had vacated, being elected on 21 June. Travers' own Nelson seat was won by Samuel Stephens on 19 June. Stephens died on 26 June 1855. His seat remained vacant.


Weld resigned on 13 June 1855. His seat remained vacant.

Wanganui and Rangitikei

Featherston resigned on 9 August 1855. His seat remained vacant.


  1. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 68.
  2. ^ King 2003, p. 205.
  3. ^ a b King 2003, p. ?.
  4. ^ Wilson & Rankin 1998, p. ?.
  5. ^ a b Scholefield 1950, p. 127.
  6. ^ a b Scholefield 1950, p. 95.
  7. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 129.
  8. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 130.
  9. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 126.
  10. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 133.
  11. ^ a b Scholefield 1950, p. 99.
  12. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 141.
  13. ^ a b Scholefield 1950, p. 145.
  14. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 138.
  15. ^ a b Scholefield 1950, p. 102.
  16. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 121.
  17. ^ a b Scholefield 1950, p. 118.
  18. ^ a b Scholefield 1950, p. 120.
  19. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 106.
  20. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 132.
  21. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 123.
  22. ^ a b c Scholefield 1950, p. 144.
  23. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 108.
  24. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 107.
  25. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 94.
  26. ^ a b Scholefield 1950, p. 109.
  27. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 143.
  28. ^ a b c Scholefield 1950, p. 100.
  29. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 134.
  30. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 147.
  31. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 105.
  32. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 112.
  33. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 135.
  34. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 140.
  35. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 97.


  • King, Michael (2003). The Penguin History of New Zealand (20 ed.). Auckland: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-301867-1.
  • Scholefield, Guy (1950) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1949 (3rd ed.). Wellington: Govt. Printer.
  • Wilson, David; Rankin, Carol (1998). Tales of Two Contempts. Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. ISBN 0-477-01812-2.