Francis Fisher

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Francis Fisher
Francis Marion Bates Fisher, 1935.jpg
Francis Marion Bates Fisher, 1935
Full name Francis Marion Bates Fisher
Country (sports) New Zealand
Born (1877-12-22)22 December 1877
Wellington, New Zealand
Died 24 July 1960(1960-07-24) (aged 82)
Plays Left-handed
Grand Slam Singles results
Australian Open F (1906)
French Open 2R (1927)
Wimbledon 2R (1919, 1920, 1922, 1923)
Other tournaments
WCCC 3R (1920)
Grand Slam Doubles results
Australian Open SF (1912)
Wimbledon SF (1919)[1]
Mixed doubles
Grand Slam Mixed Doubles results
Wimbledon QF (1921)[1]
Team competitions
Davis Cup 2REu (1924)

Francis "Frank" Marion Bates Fisher (22 December 1877 – 24 July 1960) was a New Zealand Member of Parliament from Wellington. He was known as Rainbow Fisher for his frequent changes of political allegiance. He was also an internationally successful tennis player.

Early life and family[edit]

Fisher was the son of George Fisher, a member of parliament and Mayor of Wellington. David Fisher was his uncle.[2] Francis Fisher was a Captain in the 10th New Zealand Contingent to the South African Second Boer War in 1902. His eldest daughter Esther Fisher (1900–1999) became an international pianist.

Member of Parliament[edit]

Parliament of New Zealand
Years Term Electorate Party
1905 15th City of Wellington Independent Liberal
1905 Changed allegiance to: New Liberal
1905–1908 16th Wellington Central New Liberal
1908–1910 17th Wellington Central Independent
1910–1911 Changed allegiance to: Reform
1911–1914 18th Wellington Central Reform
1912 cartoon about the Massey Government, with Fisher playing the trombone

Fisher represented two Wellington electorates in the New Zealand House of Representatives for nine years from a 1905 by-election to the 1914 general election. Initially from 6 April 1905 he represented the multi-member City of Wellington electorate, but from the 1905 general election, he represented Wellington Central.[3]

His initial intention in early 1905 was to stand in a Christchurch electorate at the 1905 general election. In mid February 1905, he held his first meeting with electors in Christchurch.[4] This changed, however, when his father died in mid March, and a request was put to him to stand in the City of Wellington electorate to fill the vacancy.[5] In his speeches to Wellington electors, he stressed the need for the Liberal Party, of which he was a member, to reform itself from within.[6] The by-election was contested by Fisher, Charles Hayward Izard and John Hutcheson, with Fisher being successful.[7]

After his election, he helped form the New Liberal Party. The party was formed at a meeting in the Christchurch suburb of Papanui in June 1905.[8][9] The New Liberals suffered considerable damage from the so-called "voucher incident", in which Fisher alleged that Richard Seddon's son had been received payment from a government department for work he had not done. The allegations were disproven, and the New Liberals suffered considerable public backlash. Fisher had not consulted his colleagues before making the accusation, and it also strained relations between party members. Fisher was the only New Liberal MP (out of three) re-elected in 1905. The New Liberal Party was defunct by 1908.

In the 1908 general election he stood as an Independent. By 1910, he had joined the Reform Party.[10] The 1911 general election required a second ballot if no candidate could achieve an absolute majority in the first round. The election was contested by Fisher, Robert Fletcher (Liberal Party), W. S. Young (Labour Party) and F. Freeman (Socialist Party), with Fisher having a majority of one vote over Fletcher.[11][12] In the second ballot a week later, Fisher beat Fletcher with a majority of 150 votes.[12] By the next general election in 1914, the incumbent Fisher as a government minister contested Wellington Central against Fletcher again, and he was decisively beaten by 2677 votes to 4910.[13] This spelled an end to Fisher's political career in New Zealand. After the war, in 1919, he stood as the Conservative candidate in the Widnes by-election in Cheshire, England, where he was defeated by Labour's Arthur Henderson.

He was known as Rainbow Fisher because of his frequent changes of political colour.[14] Fisher was Minister of Customs and Minister of Marine from 10 July 1912 to 7 January 1915 in the Reform Government.[3]


A top New Zealand tennis player, both at home and abroad, Fisher reached the final of the Australasian Open in 1906 but was defeated by Tony Wilding – Fisher was one of only four New Zealanders to play in the final of a 'Grand Slam' event. He won the New Zealand Men's Championship Doubles in 1901–02, 1902–03, 1909–10 and 1910–11, and the Mixed Doubles Championships in 1899–1900, 1900–01, 1901–02 and 1911–12.[15]


Fisher died on 24 July 1960 and was buried at Kauae Cemetery in Ngongotaha.[16]

Further reading[edit]

  • Whitcher, G.F. (1966), The New Liberal Party [M.A.(Hons.) – University of Canterbury] 
  • Maxim, Paul (2007), Printers, politicians and piston rings: a biography of the Fisher family, Wellington, [N.Z.]: Paul Maxim, ISBN 978-0-473-12165-5 
  • Wood, G. Anthony, ed. (1996). Ministers and Members: In the New Zealand Parliament. Dunedin: Otago University Press. 
  • Wood, G. Anthony, ed. (1996). Ministers and Members: In the New Zealand Parliament. Dunedin: Otago University Press. 


  1. ^ a b Wimbledon Results Archive
  2. ^ Johnston, Warwick Alan. "David Patrick Fisher". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 23 April 2017. 
  3. ^ a b Scholefield, Guy (1950) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1949 (3rd ed.). Wellington: Govt. Printer. pp. 44, 106. 
  4. ^ "Canterbury". Otago Witness (2658). 22 February 1905. p. 34. Retrieved 28 August 2011. 
  5. ^ "The Vacant Wellington Seat.". Wanganui Chronicle. XLIX (12458). 21 March 1905. p. 7. Retrieved 28 August 2011. 
  6. ^ "The By-election". The Evening Post. LXIX (73). 28 March 1905. p. 2. Retrieved 28 August 2011. 
  7. ^ "The By-election". The Evening Post. LXIX (82). 7 April 1905. p. 5. Retrieved 28 August 2011. 
  8. ^ "The New Liberal Party". The Star (8334). 5 June 1905. p. 3. Retrieved 29 August 2011. 
  9. ^ "Tuesday, June 6, 1905.". The Star (8335). 6 June 1905. p. 2. Retrieved 29 August 2011. 
  10. ^ "Local and General". Feilding Star. V (1269). 23 August 1910. p. 2. Retrieved 29 August 2011. 
  11. ^ "The Wellington Central Seat". Colonist. LIV (13287). 12 December 1911. p. 4. Retrieved 30 August 2011. 
  12. ^ a b "Wellington Central". The Evening Post. LXXXII (144). 15 December 1911. p. 2. Retrieved 30 August 2011. 
  13. ^ "Wellington Central". The Evening Post. LXXXVIII (141). 11 December 1914. p. 3. Retrieved 30 August 2011. 
  14. ^ Bollinger, Conrad Grog's Own Country: The Story of Liquor Licensing in New Zealand (2nd revised edition Minerva Auckland, 1967, page 77; 1st edition Price Milburn Wellington, 1959)
  15. ^ McLintock, A. H. (22 April 2009). "NEW ZEALAND CHAMPIONSHIPS". Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 28 August 2011. 
  16. ^ Rotorua District Council cemetery search

External links[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
George Fisher, John Duthie, John Aitken
Member of Parliament for Wellington
Served alongside: John Duthie, John Aitken
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Wellington Central
Succeeded by
Robert Fletcher