Henry Fish

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Fish, circa 1881.

Henry Smith Fish (15 July 1838 – 23 September 1897) was a 19th-century New Zealand politician. For a time, he was a member of the Liberal Party. He was Mayor of Dunedin for a total of six years. Smith is remembered as one of the staunch opponents of Women's suffrage.

Early life[edit]

Fish was born in Pimlico, London, in 1838. His parents were Mary Ann Passmore and Henry Smith Fish, a painter. He received his education at Cave House School and from 1849 at Melbourne, where the family settled. He accompanied his father to the gold diggings in The Ovens, Nova Scotia. Afterwards, he worked in his father's painting and glazier business in Melbourne, and from around 1863, in Dunedin, to where the family relocated.[1] They traded as H. S. Fish and Son and were based in Princes Street South.[2]

On 31 January 1867, he married Jane Carr at Dunedin's St Paul's Church.[1]

Political career[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1881–1884 8th Dunedin South Independent
1887–1890 10th Dunedin South Independent
1890–1893 11th City of Dunedin Liberal
1896–1897 11th City of Dunedin Independent

Fish was first elected onto Dunedin City Council in 1867.[1] He was the Mayor of Dunedin from 1870 to 1873 and again from 1893 to 1895.[3] In total, he served on Dunedin City Council for over 20 years.[1]

Fish represented the Dunedin electorate on the Otago Provincial Council in 1870, and from 1873 until the abolition of provincial government in 1876.[4] He was briefly a member of the Executive Council in May/June 1875.[5]

He represented the Dunedin South electorate from 1881 to 1884 when he was defeated, then from 1887 to 1890. He then held one of the three seats for the City of Dunedin multi-member electorate from 1890[6] to 1893 when he was defeated, and from 1896 to 1897, when he died. He was replaced by Alexander Sligo.[7]

Fish represented liquor interests in Parliament, and was an opponent of Women's suffrage in 1890–1893 on their behalf. He paid his anti-suffragist campaigners a bounty for signatures collected, but lost credibility when some signatures were found to be fraudulent.[8]


Smith died of throat cancer in Dunedin on 23 September 1897.[1][9]


  1. ^ a b c d e Sinclair, F. R. J. "Fish, Henry Smith". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
  2. ^ "Page 4 Advertisements Column 5". North Otago Times. II (41). 1 December 1864. p. 4. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
  3. ^ "Mayors of Dunedin". Otago Witness (2298). 17 March 1898. p. 62. Retrieved 6 October 2010.
  4. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 220.
  5. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 217.
  6. ^ "The General Election, 1890". National Library. 1891. p. 2. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  7. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 196.
  8. ^ Women’s Suffrage, Archives New Zealand Info Sheet 4, March 2011
  9. ^ "Dunedin: Deaths". Oamaru Mail. 27 September 1897. p. 1. Retrieved 29 July 2015.


  • Scholefield, Guy (1950) [First published in 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1949 (3rd ed.). Wellington: Govt. Printer.
  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First published in 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103.
Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas Birch
Mayor of Dunedin
Succeeded by
Andrew Mercer
Preceded by
Charles Haynes
Succeeded by
Nathaniel Young Armstrong Wales