J. Valentine Smith

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Portrait of John Valentine Smith

John Valentine Smith (1824 – 10 February 1895) was a New Zealand landowner, militia leader, and politician.


Parliament of New Zealand
Years Term Electorate Party
1855–1858 2nd Wairarapa and Hawkes Bay Independent

Smith was born in 1824 at Malta, where his father was with the Admiralty. Smith received his education at public schools in England.[1]

He was involved in Charles Enderby's scheme in the late 1840s of turning the Auckland Islands into a Crown colony for Britain. Enderby held the Queen's commission as Lieutenant-governor, and Smith as Enderby's secretary thus filled the role of colonial secretary.[2] They sailed for the Auckland Islands from Hobart in November 1849 on the Samuel Enderby.[3] The scheme was unsuccessful and abandoned after just over two years.[2]

Smith was a significant figure in the Wairarapa region, owning the prominent Lansdowne, Annedale, and Mataikona runs.[1] He was elected on 26 November 1855 to represent the Wairarapa and Hawkes Bay electorate in the 2nd New Zealand Parliament, but resigned on 10 March 1858 before the end of his term. He did not serve in any subsequent Parliaments.[4]

Smith was also the leader of the local militia, holding the rank of Major. In the 1860s, he gained attention for his push to construct a stockade at Masterton to defend against possible Māori attack. Many people, including Isaac Featherston, the Superintendent of Wellington Province, believed that the construction of stockade would make conflict more likely, but after much work, Smith was able to convince the government to fund the project. The construction, however, was plagued with difficulties, and the final result was unsatisfactory. The stockade never saw action, and has been termed "Major Smith's Folly."[5]

In circa 1883, Smith relocated to Patea, where he died on 10 February 1895.[1]

His son, Harold Smith, was a member of the 19th Parliament.[6]


  1. ^ a b c Scholefield 1940, p. 312.
  2. ^ a b "The Otago Daily Times". Otago Daily Times (10285). 16 February. p. 4. Retrieved 17 February 2014.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. ^ "The Auckland Islands". Daily Southern Cross. V (257). 14 December 1849. p. 4. Retrieved 18 February 2014. 
  4. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 139.
  5. ^ "The Masterton Stockade - Major Smith's Folly". Masterton District Library & Wairarapa Archive. Retrieved 31 July 2010. 
  6. ^ Scholefield 1940, p. 310.