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Heaton Rhodes

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Sir Heaton Rhodes
portrait photo of a man in his mid 50s
Heaton Rhodes in 1915
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Ellesmere
In office
6 December 1899 – 14 October 1925
Personal details
Born27 February 1861
Purau, Banks Peninsula
Died30 July 1956(1956-07-30) (aged 95)
Taitapu, Banks Peninsula
RelationsRobert Heaton Rhodes (father)

Sir Robert Heaton Rhodes KCVO KBE GCStJ VD (27 February 1861 – 30 July 1956), usually known as Sir Heaton Rhodes, was a New Zealand politician and lawyer.



Rhodes was born in Purau on Banks Peninsula, the son of sheep farmer and politician Robert Heaton Rhodes. He went to England to attend Hereford Cathedral School[1] and then studied at Brasenose College, Oxford, from which he graduated in 1884. He was called to the bar by the Inner Temple in 1887.[2]

He then returned to New Zealand, joined the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade, and served in the Second Boer War in 1902 with the 8th New Zealand Contingent. He later went on to command the 1st Mounted Rifles in the New Zealand Territorial Force. After retirement he was Honorary Colonel of the 1st Mounted Rifles.

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1899–1902 14th Ellesmere Independent
1902–1905 15th Ellesmere Independent
1905–1908 16th Ellesmere Independent
1908–1909 17th Ellesmere Independent
1909–1911 Changed allegiance to: Reform
1911–1914 18th Ellesmere Reform
1914–1919 19th Ellesmere Reform
1919–1922 20th Ellesmere Reform
1922–1925 21st Ellesmere Reform

Rhodes represented the Ellesmere electorate in the House of Representatives from 1899 to 1925, during which time he joined the Reform Party. He retired in 1925 and was appointed to the Legislative Council, in which he served until 1941, with a short break between 1932 and 1934.

He served as Postmaster-General and Minister for Public Health, Hospitals and Tourist Resorts in the Cabinet from 1912 to 1915, when he was appointed Special Commissioner to Egypt and Galilee to report on the conditions of New Zealand troops serving there. In 1916 he moved to Europe as Commissioner of the New Zealand Red Cross.

In 1920 he returned to New Zealand and was appointed Minister of Defence. In 1922 he was also appointed as Commissioner of State Forests and held both posts until 1926. From 1926 to 1928 he was Deputy Leader of the Legislative Council and minister without portfolio. In 1927 he was Minister in attendance upon the Duke and Duchess of York on their visit to New Zealand. He was vice-president of the Victoria League for Commonwealth Friendship in Canterbury in the 1930s.

Night shot of Otahuna in 2007

He bred pedigree cattle at Otahuna, Tai Tapu, where he also grew daffodils.



Rhodes was an advanced philatelist. He had a large collection of New Zealand Chalon head postage stamps. He was President of the Royal Philatelic Society of New Zealand and signed the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists in 1949.[3]

Honours and awards


For his role as the commissioner of the New Zealand Red Cross, Rhodes was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in the 1920 New Year Honours.[4] For his role of dealing with the Duke and Duchess of York he was appointed Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO) in July 1927.[5] He was awarded the King George V Silver Jubilee Medal in 1935.[6]


  1. ^ Tomlinson, Howard (2018). Hereford Cathedral School : a history over 800 years. Herefordshire. p. 601. ISBN 978-1-910839-23-2. OCLC 1030612754.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  2. ^ Rice, Geoffrey W. "Rhodes, Robert Heaton". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  3. ^ Background notes on The Roll of Distinguished Philatelists September 2011, Roll of Distinguished Philatelists Trust, London, 2011. Archived here.
  4. ^ "No. 31712". The London Gazette (4th supplement). 1 January 2020. p. 6.
  5. ^ "No. 33292". The London Gazette. 8 July 1927. pp. 4403–4404.
  6. ^ "Official jubilee medals". The Evening Post. Vol. CXIX, no. 105. 6 May 1935. p. 4. Retrieved 4 June 2014.



Further reading

  • Commemoration service in connection with the unveiling of a memorial tablet by Colonel, the Hon. Sir R. Heaton Rhodes ... in the Tai Tapu Methodist Church on Sunday, 14th April, 1940 at 3 p.m., Christchurch, [N.Z.]: Bascands, 1940
  • Rice, Geoffrey W. (2001), The annotated biography of the Hon. Sir R. Heaton Rhodes (1861-1956): K.B.E., K.C.V.O., M.L.C., T.D., M.A., Chevalier, Legion d'Honneur (France), Knight Commander & Bailiff Grand Cross for the Venerable Order of St. John, Christchurch, N.Z.: Hawthorne Press, ISBN 0-473-07937-2
  • Rice, Geoffrey W. (2001), Heaton Rhodes of Otahuna: the illustrated biography, Christchurch, [N.Z.]: Canterbury University Press, ISBN 1-877257-03-6
  • Rice, Geoffrey W. (2008), Heaton Rhodes of Otahuna: the illustrated biography (2nd ed.), Christchurch, [N.Z.]: Canterbury University Press, ISBN 978-1-877257-65-0
  • Taylor, Clyde R. H. (1929), The Gothic beauties and history of the Canterbury provincial buildings, Christchurch, N.Z.: Simpson & Williams [A Preface by Rhodes appears in this and subsequent [2nd, 1941 (published by Canterbury Provincial Buildings Board); and 3rd, 1950 (same publisher as 2nd)] editions of this volume.]
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Ellesmere
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Minister of Public Health
Succeeded by
George Warren Russell
Preceded by Postmaster-General
and Minister of Telegraphs

Succeeded by