James Gunson

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Sir James Gunson
James Gunson.jpg
24th Mayor of Auckland City
In office
Preceded by James Parr
Succeeded by George Baildon
Personal details
Born 26 October 1877
Auckland, New Zealand
Died 12 May 1963
Spouse(s) Jessie Helen Wiseman
Children 3

Sir James Henry Gunson CMG CBE (26 October 1877 – 12 May 1963) was a New Zealand businessman and Mayor of Auckland City from 1915 to 1925. He was knighted in 1924.

W Gunson & Co[edit]

Born and educated in Auckland, in his mid-twenties he took over W Gunson & Co the seed-grain and produce business his father founded in 1881. William Gunson died in 1902. In October 1916, now mayor of Auckland, James sold his father's business to Wright Stephenson.[1]

Public life[edit]

James Gunson stood for Parliament several times without success; (Mt Roskill in 1919, Eden in 1926 and then Auckland Suburbs in 1928).


Mayor from 1915 to 1925 he undertook the building of the war memorials Auckland Museum and Cenotaph, the Wintergardens in Auckland Domain and the construction of Tamaki Drive. In later public life, he was responsible for the monument on One Tree Hill (Maungakiekie) and the treeplanting of Cornwall Park fulfilling Sir John Logan Campbell's vision. Gunson was Chairman of the Auckland Harbour Board 1911–15, and was a member of the Government Railways Board 1931–35.

Several parts of the city bear his name or were his gift. His farming property to the South of Auckland in Manukau, called Totara Park, was later given to the city of Auckland. His main town residence, in St Andrew's Road, Epsom, became the Tongan royal residence, which it remains. A further Auckland property (named Rydal Mount after the residence of the English poet William Wordsworth) was by the same architect, Draffin, that Gunson had chosen to design Auckland Museum. Gunson Street, in South Auckland, is named after him.

In 1935, he was awarded the King George V Silver Jubilee Medal.[2]


He married Jessie Helen Wiseman (later Lady Gunson OBE) in 1905. They had three children; William, Geoffrey and Margaret. His brother Edward Burton Gunson MD FRCP (1883–1950) practised as a cardiologist in Auckland 1919–37. During World War One while in the RAMC EB Gunson assisted Thomas Lewis, the noted clinical scientist, in achieving an improved understanding of the Effort Syndrome.[3] During World War Two Gunson worked for the Ministry of Supply in London publishing studies of women war workers' health.[4]


  1. ^ Business Changes Hands. Auckland Star, Volume XLVII, Issue 268, 9 November 1916, Page 8
  2. ^ "Official jubilee medals". Evening Post. 6 May 1935. p. 4. Retrieved 14 August 2013. 
  3. ^ The Soldier’s Heart and the Effort Syndrome. Thomas Lewis. London 1918.
  4. ^ EB Gunson. British Medical Journal 1942 ii 753-5. Communal feeding.
Political offices
Preceded by
James Parr
Mayor of Auckland City
Succeeded by
George Baildon