Alfred Hindmarsh

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Alfred Hindmarsh

Alfred H. Hindmarsh.png
1st Leader of the Labour Party
In office
7 July 1916 – 13 November 1918
Succeeded byHarry Holland
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Wellington South
In office
14 December 1911 – 13 November 1918
Preceded byRobert Alexander Wright
Succeeded byBob Semple
Wellington City Councillor
In office
27 April 1905 – 8 May 1915
Personal details
Born(1860-04-18)18 April 1860
Port Elliot, Australia
Died13 November 1918(1918-11-13) (aged 58)
Political partyLabour (1916-18)
Other political
United Labour (1912-16)
Labour (1910-12)
IPLL (1904-10)
Spouse(s)Winifred Hindmarsh
RelationsJohn Hindmarsh (grandfather)

Alfred Humphrey Hindmarsh (18 April 1860 – 13 November 1918) was a New Zealand politician, lawyer and unionist. He died in the 1918 influenza epidemic.

Early life[edit]

Hindmarsh was born in Port Elliot, Australia, and was the grandson of Rear-Admiral John Hindmarsh, the first Governor of South Australia. His grandfather was recalled to England in 1838, but his father, also named John Hindmarsh, returned to South Australia and worked as a lawyer. Alfred Hindmarsh lost his mother when he was age ten and his father remarried. He was educated at St Peter's College in Adelaide.[2]

The family moved to Napier, New Zealand, in 1878. Hindmarsh trained as a lawyer in Dunedin, and was admitted to the bar in 1891, when he briefly worked in Christchurch at the Supreme Court (since renamed as High Court). He settled in Wellington living in Derwent Street, Island Bay.[3] While living there he married Winifred Taylor on 3 October 1892.[2]

Early career[edit]

Politically, Hindmarsh was left-wing (though contemporaries never described him as being a true socialist) and held a number of positions in the local labour movement. Most notably, he headed the Wellington branch of the Seamen's Union during the internal disputes of the 1890s. In this role, he argued against the traditional alignment of unions with the governing Liberal Party, instead advocating an independent labour voice in Parliament. In 1901, Hindmarsh himself stood for the Wellington City Council, but was unsuccessful, coming third to last with only 2,028 votes.[4] However, in 1905, backed by the new Independent Political Labour League (IPLL) which he had helped found, he was elected. He remained a city councillor until 1915. Between 1906 and 1907 he served as the League's president.[2]

Member of Parliament[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1911–1912 18th Wellington South Labour
1912–1914 Changed allegiance to: United Labour
1914–1916 19th Wellington South United Labour
1916–1918 Changed allegiance to: Labour

In the 1905 general election, Hindmarsh stood as an IPLL candidate for Parliament in the Newtown electorate. Of the four candidates, he came a distant last.[5] In the 1911 general election, he was elected in Wellington South as a candidate for the original Labour Party in the second ballot.[6] Hindmarsh was one of four Labour candidates elected in 1911, he was assisted in his campaign in Wellington South by two future Labour MPs, Jim Thorn and Walter Nash who were delighted at the party's success.[7]

In the following year, 1912, the party was relaunched as the United Labour Party, with Hindmarsh still a member. In 1913, the United Labour Party itself agreed to merge with the Socialist Party to form the Social Democratic Party, but Hindmarsh believed that the resulting party would be too extreme. Hindmarsh chose became one of a group of United Labour loyalists who remained outside the Social Democrats, forming a loosely organised "remnant" faction.

In 1915, when the Social Democrats and the United Labour remnant (along with a labour-aligned independent) agreed to form a united caucus, Hindmarsh was selected as the groups chairman.[8] The following year, most of this caucus agreed to establish the modern Labour Party — Hindmarsh was chosen to remain the new party's parliamentary leader during its period of establishment, a position he held until his death.[9] While occupying the position of chairman, Hindmarsh was noted to be a man of great personal attraction and was easily able to establish friendships, even when differing opinions were concerned.[10] This was of great benefit in his position as the recently formed Labour Party had many individuals with both differing personalities and clashing ideas.

One of these was conscription. Hindmarsh differed from most of his party colleagues by not opposing conscription and two of his sons fought in the war. He clarified his stance by stating "I do not object to conscription... [but] the State has a duty to the individual".[11]


Winifred Hindmarsh died in 1916.[2] Alfred Hindmarsh died in Wellington in office on 13 November 1918 in the influenza epidemic of 1918.[6] He was survived by four children.[2]


  1. ^ Gustafson 1980, pp. 124.
  2. ^ a b c d e Taylor, Kerry. "Hindmarsh, Alfred Humphrey - Biography". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
  3. ^ Monk, Arielle. "From dirt track to trendy street". Retrieved 12 December 2015.
  4. ^ "Wellington City Council". The Free Lance. I (43). 27 April 1901. p. 11. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  5. ^ "The General Election, 1905". National Library. 1906. p. 3. Retrieved 8 February 2012.
  6. ^ a b Scholefield, Guy (1950) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1949 (3rd ed.). Wellington: Govt. Printer. p. 113.
  7. ^ Sinclair 1976, p. 23.
  8. ^ "A Separate Identity". Sun. II (438). 6 July 1915. p. 11. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  9. ^ "Obituary". Ashburton Guardian. XXXIX (9451). 14 November 1918. p. 8. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  10. ^ Paul 1946, p. 70.
  11. ^ Gustafson 1980, pp. 112.


  • Gustafson, Barry (1980). Labour's path to political independence: the origins and establishment of the NZ Labour Party 1900–1919. Auckland, New Zealand: Auckland University Press. ISBN 0-19-647986-X.
  • Sinclair, Keith (1976). Walter Nash. Auckland, New Zealand: Oxford.
  • Paul, J.T. (1946). Humanism in Politics: New Zealand Labour Party in Retrospect. Wellington, NZ: New Zealand Worker Printing and Publishing.
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Robert Alexander Wright
Member of Parliament for Wellington South
Succeeded by
Bob Semple
Party political offices
New title Leader of the Labour Party
Succeeded by
Harry Holland