John Hall (New Zealand politician)

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John Hall
12th Premier of New Zealand
In office
8 October 1879 – 21 April 1882
GovernorSir Hercules Robinson
Sir Arthur Hamilton-Gordon
Preceded bySir George Grey (1879)
Succeeded byFrederick Whitaker (1882)
4th Colonial Secretary of New Zealand
In office
20 May 1856 – 2 June 1856
GovernorSir Thomas Gore Browne
1st Chairman of the Christchurch Town Council
In office
Succeeded byJohn Ollivier
26th Mayor of Christchurch
In office
Preceded byCharles Gray
Succeeded byGeorge Payling
Personal details
Born(1824-12-18)18 December 1824
Kingston upon Hull, England
Died25 June 1907(1907-06-25) (aged 82)
Christchurch, New Zealand
Resting placeSt John cemetery, Hororata
Political partyIndependent, leaning conservative
Rose Dryden
(m. 1861; died 1900)
RelativesGeorge Williamson Hall (brother)
Mary Grigg (granddaughter)
Thomas Hall (nephew)[1]

Sir John Hall KCMG (c. 18 December 1824 – 25 June 1907) was a New Zealand politician who served as the 12th premier of New Zealand from 1879 to 1882. He was born in Kingston upon Hull, England, the third son of George Hall, a captain in the navy. At the age of ten he was sent to school in Switzerland and his education continued in Paris and Hamburg. After returning to England and being employed by the Post Office, at the age of 27 he decided to emigrate. He was also Mayor of Christchurch.

Migration to New Zealand[edit]

After reading a book on sheep farming, Hall emigrated to New Zealand, on the Samarang, arriving in Lyttelton on 31 July 1852. His brothers George and Thomas followed him to New Zealand soon after. He developed one of the first large scale sheep farming runs in Canterbury.[2]

Political offices[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1855–1860 2nd Christchurch Country Independent
1866–1870 4th Heathcote Independent
1871–1872 5th Heathcote Independent
1879–1881 7th Selwyn Independent
1881–1883 8th Selwyn Independent
1887–1890 10th Selwyn Independent
1890–1893 11th Ellesmere Independent

In 1853, he was elected to the Canterbury Provincial Council.[3] He would later rise through the ranks of magistrate, was the first town council Chairman in Christchurch (the forerunner to the position of mayor, 1862 and 1863), and Postmaster-General. In Parliament he represented the electorates of Christchurch Country 1855–60 (resigned in early 1860[4]), Heathcote 1866–70 & 1871–72 (resigned), Selwyn 1879–83 (resigned) & 1887–90, and Ellesmere 1890–93 (retired).

In the 1865–66 election, he contested the Heathcote electorate against G. Buckley, and they received 338 and 239 votes, respectively.[5]

Hall was a member of the Legislative Council from 1876 to 1879 before resigning, wishing to re-enter the lower house. Thinking his previous seat of Heathcote unsuitable for his candidacy he accepted the offer of the retiring Cecil Fitzroy to stand in his vacated seat of Selwyn and was elected for it unopposed at the 1879 general election. At the same election the opposition leader, William Fox, was defeated leading Fox to invite Hall to succeed him on 6 September.[6] Hall accepted the leadership and at the first opposition caucus following the election he was confirmed as leader, being elected unanimously.[7]

Premier of New Zealand[edit]

On 8 October 1879, he was appointed the Premier of New Zealand, where his ministry carried out reforms of the male suffrage (extending voting rights) and dealt with a conflict between settlers and Māori at Parihaka, although poor health caused him to resign the position less than three years later. In the 1882 Birthday Honours, he was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George.


Although Chinese immigrants were invited to New Zealand by the Dunedin Chamber of Commerce, prejudice against them quickly led to calls for restrictions on immigration. Following the example of anti-Chinese poll taxes enacted by California in 1852 and by Australian states in the 1850s, 1860s and 1870s, John Hall's government passed the Chinese Immigration Act 1881. This imposed a £10 tax per Chinese person entering New Zealand, and permitted only one Chinese immigrant for every 10 tons of cargo. Richard Seddon's government increased the tax to £100 per head in 1896, and tightened the other restriction to only one Chinese immigrant for every 200 tons of cargo.

Women's suffrage[edit]

Hall took an active interest in women's rights. He moved the Parliamentary Bill that gave women in New Zealand the vote (1893), (the first country in the world to do so), he became the honorary Mayor of Christchurch, for the New Zealand International Exhibition from 1 November 1906 to 15 April 1907.

Despite the distances involved, Hall made several visits back to England and maintained his contacts there, especially with the Leathersellers' Company,[8] of which he was a Liveryman for 55 years.

Hall had married Rose Dryden in England, daughter of William Dryden of Kingston upon Hull, after returning there in 1860.[9] They went back to New Zealand in 1863. They had five children and one of their granddaughters, Mary Grigg, later became an MP for the National Party.

Hall died in Christchurch on 25 June 1907, shortly after the International Exhibition had finished. He is buried in the St. John cemetery in Hororata.[10]

Hall's grave


  1. ^ O'Brien, Brian. "Thomas Hall". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  2. ^ Gardner, W. J. "Hall, John". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 16 July 2010.
  3. ^ "The Lyttelton Times". Vol. III, no. 141. 17 September 1853. p. 6. Retrieved 31 October 2020.
  4. ^ "Rumoured Postponement of the General Assembly". Wellington Independent. Vol. XV, no. 1413. 16 March 1860. p. 3. Retrieved 28 March 2010.
  5. ^ "The Elections". Otago Witness. No. 747. 24 March 1866. p. 11. Retrieved 27 April 2010.
  6. ^ Garner 1993, p. 154.
  7. ^ "Parliamentary Items". The Press. Vol. XXXII, no. 4417. 26 September 1879. p. 2.
  8. ^ Sir John Hall: Leatherseller and Prime Minister, by George Nicholson, The Leathersellers' Review 2006–07, pp 12–13
  9. ^ McLintock, A. H., ed. (23 April 2009) [originally published in 1966]. "Hall, Hon. Sir John, K.C.M.G.". An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand. Ministry for Culture and Heritage / Te Manatū Taonga. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
  10. ^ White, Amber Blanco (1912). "Hall, John (1824-1907)" . In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography (2nd supplement). London: Smith, Elder & Co.


Further reading[edit]

  • Dalziel, Raewyn (1987), "The 'Continuous Ministry' revisited", New Zealand Journal of History, 21 (1): 46–61
Government offices
Preceded by Colonial Secretary of New Zealand
Succeeded by
Preceded by Premier of New Zealand
Succeeded by
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Christchurch Country
Served alongside:
Dingley Askham Brittin, John Ollivier, Isaac Cookson
Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Heathcote
Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Selwyn

Succeeded by
Preceded by Succeeded by
In abeyance
Title last held by
James FitzGerald
Member of Parliament for Ellesmere
Succeeded by
Political offices
First Chairman of the Christchurch Town Council
Succeeded by
Preceded by Postmaster-General

Succeeded by
Preceded by Succeeded by
New title Electric Telegraph Commissioner
Succeeded by
Edward Stafford
Preceded by
James Temple Fisher
Commissioner of Telegraphs
Succeeded by
Walter Johnston
Preceded by Mayor of Christchurch
Succeeded by