John Payne (politician)

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John Payne
John Payne.tif
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Grey Lynn
In office
Preceded by George Fowlds
Succeeded by Fred Bartram
Personal details
Born 23 November 1871
Manchester, England
Died 27 January 1942 (1942-01-28) (aged 70)
Napier, New Zealand
Political party Labour

John Payne (23 November 1871 – 27 January 1942) was a New Zealand politician.

Early years[edit]

Payne was born in Manchester, England. His father was clerk to a solicitor, and Payne himself initially took up office employment, but later migrated to New Zealand. There, he worked as a farmhand and a goldminer before turning to accountancy. He taught finance in Auckland for a time, and was also involved in the early film business in New Zealand.[1]

Member of Parliament[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1911–1914 18th Grey Lynn Labour
1914–1916 19th Grey Lynn Independent Labour
1916–1919 Changed allegiance to: Independent

In the 1911 general election, Payne stood for Parliament, contesting the seat of Grey Lynn on a left-wing platform for the original Labour Party.[2] Among his proposals were free tertiary education, legislation to increase the power of workers, an expansion of social welfare, a state bank, and the abolition of the Legislative Council. He was elected, defeating George Fowlds of the Liberal Party in a run-off.

In Parliament, Payne supported the Liberals, despite apparently having agreed to support the Reform Party in exchange for their backing in the Grey Lynn run-off. Accusations were made that he had been bribed, and although these were later withdrawn, Payne's relationship with Reform was severely damaged. In 1913, when the Social Democratic Party was established, Payne unofficially allied himself with it, but did not join. In the 1914 election, Payne was re-elected with Social Democrat support—along with two Social Democrats and three members of the United Labour Party, Payne was part of the loose left-wing grouping in Parliament.


When World War I broke out, however, tensions later arose between Payne and his fellow leftists. Payne was a supporter of New Zealand's participation in the war, including the introduction of conscription, which other leftists fiercely opposed. Payne was also criticised for his strong anti-German sentiment. When the Social Democrats and the United Labour Party formed the modern Labour Party in 1916, Payne declined to join.

Later life[edit]

Payne did not seek re-election in the New Zealand general election, 1919, partly for reasons of health. He lived in Australia until 1935, and served as private secretary to Jack Lang, the Labor Party Premier of New South Wales for a time. After his return to New Zealand, he became a supporter of Labour dissident John A. Lee, and wrote articles for Lee's publication. He died in 1942 from heart failure.


  1. ^ Gustafson, Barry. "Payne, John". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  2. ^ Paul 1946, p. 177.
  • Gustafson, Barry (1980). Labour's path to political independence: The Origins and Establishment of the New Zealand Labour Party, 1900–19. Auckland, New Zealand: Auckland University Press. ISBN 0-19-647986-X. 
  • The New Zealand Liberals: the Years of Power, 1891-1912 (1988, Auckland University Press, Auckland)
  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First published in 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103. 
  • Paul, J.T. (1946). Humanism in Politics. Wellington: NZ Working Printing & Publishing. 
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
George Fowlds
Member of Parliament for Grey Lynn
Succeeded by
Fred Bartram