New Zealand general election, 1881

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1881 general election
New Zealand
← 1879 8 (Māori) & 9 (general) December 1881 1884 →

All 95 seats in the House of Representatives
Turnout 66.5%
  First party Second party
  Sir John Hall, ca 1880.jpg George Grey, c. 1875.jpg
Leader John Hall George Grey
Party Independent Independent
Leader since 1878 1877
Leader's seat Selwyn Auckland East
Seats won 45 39
Seat change Steady 0 Decrease 2
Popular vote N/A N/A
Percentage N/A N/A
Swing N/A N/A

Prime Minister before election

John Hall

Subsequent Prime Minister

John Hall

The New Zealand general election of 1881 was held on 8 and 9 December in the Māori and European electorates, respectively, to elect 95 MPs to the 8th session of the New Zealand Parliament.

1881 was the first time a general election was held under universal male suffrage; all MPs were elected in single-member electorates; and the country quota was introduced, allowing rural electorates to have 25% fewer voters than urban electorates. Beginning with the 1881 election, all elections in European electorates were to be held on the same day, a measure not introduced for Māori electorates until 1951.[1]

1881 electoral redistribution[edit]

The previous electoral redistribution was undertaken in 1875 for the 1875–76 election. In the six years since, New Zealand's European population had increased by 65%. In the 1881 electoral redistribution, the House of Representatives increased the number of European representatives to 91 (up from 84 since the 1875–76 election). The number of Māori electorates was held at four. The House further decided that electorates should not have more than one representative, which led to 35 new electorates being formed: Ashburton, Auckland North, Awarua, Christchurch North, Christchurch South, Coromandel, Dunedin Central, Dunedin East, Dunedin South, Dunedin West, Foxton, Franklin North, Franklin South, Hawke's Bay, Hokonui, Inangahua, Kumara, Lincoln, Manukau, Moeraki, Peninsula, St Albans, Stanmore, Sydenham, Taranaki, Tauranga, Te Aro, Thorndon, Waimate, Waipawa, Wairarapa North, Wairarapa South, Waitotara, Wakanui, and Wellington South. In addition, two electorates that had previously been abolished were recreated: Bay of Islands and Oamaru.[2]

These changes necessitated a major disruption to existing boundaries. Only six electorates remained unchanged: Waikato, Waipa, Bruce, Lyttelton, Nelson, and Picton.[2]

The electoral distribution was the first that formally acknowledged the existence of a country quota, where country electorates contained 25% fewer voters than town electorates.[3]

The election[edit]

The 1881 election was held on Thursday, 8 December, in the Māori electorates and on Friday, 9 December, in the European electorates to elect a total of 95 MPs to the 8th Parliament. A total number of 120,972 (66.5%) voters turned out to vote.[4] In 11 seats there was only one candidate.[5] 36 and 55 seats were in the North Island and South Island, respectively, plus the 4 Māori electorates.[6]

The incumbent government led by John Hall retained office having support from 45 members with 39 "Greyites" (supporters of George Grey) and 11 Independents not affiliated with either faction.[7]


The following table shows the successful candidate for each electorate.[8]

Member Electorate MP's term
Montgomery, WilliamWilliam Montgomery Akaroa Fourth
Wright, Edward GeorgeEdward George Wright Ashburton Second
Pearson, William FisherWilliam Fisher Pearson Ashley First
Grey, GeorgeGeorge Grey Auckland East Fourth
Peacock, ThomasThomas Peacock Auckland North First
Dargaville, JosephJoseph Dargaville Auckland West First
Rolleston, WilliamWilliam Rolleston Avon Fifth
Joyce, James ParkerJames Parker Joyce Awarua Second
Hobbs, RichardRichard Hobbs Bay of Islands Second
Rutherford, JamesJames Rutherford Bruce First
Munro, JohnJohn Munro Buller First
Barron, WilliamWilliam Barron Caversham Second
McIlraith, HughHugh McIlraith Cheviot First
Thomson, HenryHenry Thomson Christchurch North First
Holmes, JohnJohn Holmes Christchurch South First
Thomson, James WilliamJames William Thomson Clutha Fourth
McMillan, DavidDavid McMillan Coleridge First
Cadman, AlfredAlfred Cadman Coromandel First
Bracken, ThomasThomas Bracken Dunedin Central First
Green, MatthewMatthew Green Dunedin East First
Fish, HenryHenry Fish Dunedin South First
Dick, ThomasThomas Dick Dunedin West Fourth
Pyke, VincentVincent Pyke Dunstan Fourth
McDonald, AllanAllan McDonald East Coast Second
Tole, JosephJoseph Tole Eden Third
Atkinson, HarryHarry Atkinson Egmont Sixth
Wilson, JamesJames Wilson Foxton First
Harris, BenjaminBenjamin Harris Franklin North Second
Hamlin, EbenezerEbenezer Hamlin Franklin South Third
Postlethwaite, WilliamWilliam Postlethwaite Geraldine First
Sutter, JamesJames Sutter Gladstone First
Petrie, JosephJoseph Petrie Greymouth First
Sutton, FredFred Sutton Hawkes Bay Third
Wynn-Williams, HenryHenry Wynn-Williams Heathcote First
Fitzgerald, Gerard GeorgeGerard George Fitzgerald Hokitika First
Driver, HenryHenry Driver Hokonui Fifth
Mason, ThomasThomas Mason Hutt Second
Weston, Thomas S.Thomas S. Weston Inangahua Second
Feldwick, HenryHenry Feldwick Invercargill Second
Wilson, IsaacIsaac Wilson Kaiapoi First
Seddon, RichardRichard Seddon Kumara Second
O'Callaghan, ArthurArthur O'Callaghan Lincoln First
Allwright, HarryHarry Allwright Lyttelton Second
Johnston, Walter WoodsWalter Woods Johnston Manawatu Fourth
O'Rorke, MauriceMaurice O'Rorke Manukau Sixth
Mitchelson, EdwinEdwin Mitchelson Marsden First
Mackenzie, Francis WallaceFrancis Wallace Mackenzie Mataura First
McKenzie, JohnJohn McKenzie Moeraki First
Hursthouse, RichmondRichmond Hursthouse Motueka Third
de Lautour, CecilCecil de Lautour Mount Ida Third
Buchanan, JohnJohn Buchanan Napier First
Levestam, HenryHenry Levestam Nelson Second
Kelly, ThomasThomas Kelly New Plymouth Fifth
Swanson, WilliamWilliam Swanson Newton Fourth
Shrimski, SamuelSamuel Shrimski Oamaru Third
Moss, FrederickFrederick Moss Parnell Third
Seaton, JamesJames Seaton Peninsula Second
Connoly, EdwardEdward Connoly Picton First
Macandrew, JamesJames Macandrew Port Chalmers Eighth
Stevens, JohnJohn Stevens Rangitikei First
Thorne George, SeymourSeymour Thorne George Rodney Third
Bathgate, JohnJohn Bathgate Roslyn Second
Hall, JohnJohn Hall Selwyn Fifth
Brown, John EvansJohn Evans Brown St Albans Third
Pilliet, WalterWalter Pilliet Stanmore First
White, WilliamWilliam White Sydenham First
Fulton, JamesJames Fulton Taieri Second
Trimble, RobertRobert Trimble Taranaki Second
Morris, GeorgeGeorge Morris Tauranga Second
Johnston, Charles JohnCharles John Johnston Te Aro First
Sheehan, JohnJohn Sheehan Thames Fourth
Levin, WilliamWilliam Levin Thorndon Second
Turnbull, RichardRichard Turnbull Timaru Third
Brown, James ClarkJames Clark Brown Tuapeka Fifth
Whyte, John BlairJohn Blair Whyte Waikato Second
Green, JamesJames Green Waikouaiti Second
Steward, WilliamWilliam Steward Waimate Second
Shephard, JosephJoseph Shephard Waimea Third
Whitaker, Frederick AlexanderFrederick Alexander Whitaker Waipa Second
Smith, William CowperWilliam Cowper Smith Waipawa First
Beetham, GeorgeGeorge Beetham Wairarapa North Third
Buchanan, Walter ClarkeWalter Clarke Buchanan Wairarapa South First
Dodson, HenryHenry Dodson Wairau First
Duncan, Thomas YoungThomas Young Duncan Waitaki First
Hurst, William JohnWilliam John Hurst Waitemata Second
Bryce, JohnJohn Bryce Waitotara Fifth
Wason, CathcartCathcart Wason Wakanui Second
Fergus, ThomasThomas Fergus Wakatipu First
Daniel, TheophilusTheophilus Daniel Wallace First
Watt, William HoggWilliam Hogg Watt Wanganui Second
Hutchison, WilliamWilliam Hutchison Wellington South Second
Tomoana, HenareHenare Tomoana X-01Eastern Maori Third
Tawhai, HoneHone Tawhai X-02Northern Maori Second
Taiaroa, Hori KereiHori Kerei Taiaroa X-03Southern Maori Fourth
Wheoro, Wiremu TeWiremu Te Wheoro X-04Western Maori Second


  1. ^ "The Origins of the Māori Seats". New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved 2 April 2012. 
  2. ^ a b McRobie 1989, pp. 43–48.
  3. ^ McRobie 1989, p. 47.
  4. ^ "General elections 1853-2005 - dates & turnout". Elections New Zealand. Retrieved 12 September 2010. 
  5. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 286.
  6. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 173.
  7. ^ "New Elections". Thames Star. XII (4042). 12 December 1881. p. 2. Retrieved 11 September 2016. 
  8. ^ Cooper 1882, pp. 1–3.


  • Cooper, G. S. (1882). Votes Recorded for Each Candidate. Government Printer. Retrieved 24 October 2015. 
  • McRobie, Alan (1989). Electoral Atlas of New Zealand. Wellington: GP Books. ISBN 0-477-01384-8. 
  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First published in 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103.