Merged merchant and political families
Grandson of successful local merchant and runholder, Charles Johnson Pharazyn, Noel Pharazyn was born in Wellington, New Zealand in 1894 the son of Charles Pharazyn a prosperous Wairarapa runholder and landowner who lived at Longwood near Featherston and his second wife Englishwoman Maud Eleanor Kempthorne. His father died in London following an unsuccessful operation when Noel was eight.
His mother remarried a widower and prominent Wellington businessman, Gerald Fitzgerald, son of prominent politician James FitzGerald. Fitzgerald's sister Amy was the widow of Willie Levin and the new merged Fitzgerald family moved to the former Levin house, Pendennis, in Tinakori Road. There were seven indoor servants. Both Noel's grandfather Pharazyn and his uncle Robert Pharazyn had been members of the Legislative Council New Zealand's unelected Upper House of parliament.
Pharazyn was a pupil at Dulwich College London after attending Nelson College in 1908 and 1909. He then gained admission to the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich and joined the Royal Field Artillery in August 1914 as a junior officer. Wounded at the battle of the Somme in 1916 he was promoted to acting Major in 1917 and awarded the Military Cross in November 1918. He remained with the army after the armistice.
Noel Pharazyn married Lydia Field on 26 November 1919 at St Paul's in Wellington. This was reported by Free Lance as a 'society wedding'. Being from a well-established family himself, his wife came from a family of members of parliament; her uncle Henry Augustus Field had represented the Otaki electorate from 1896 until his death three years later, and her father succeeded him and represented the electorate until 1935 with a three-year break. Another of her relatives, Thomas Field, represented the Nelson electorate for some years.
The army reduced its establishment in 1923 so he took his gratuity and entered business in Australia but by the end of the 1920s had decided he had more important things he must do.
Though his wealth, military background, political, pastoral and business connections and manner might have suggested otherwise Pharazyn became a committed left-wing intellectual in the early 1930s.
After the onset of the great depression he went to London in 1930, wrote and studied economics then next year spent a month in the Soviet Union getting back to New Zealand in mid 1932 where he became a member of the Friends of the Soviet Union (New Zealand section) and a member of its national committee.
His main interest, journalism, led him to write for Tomorrow an independent left-wing weekly. He and his wife became members of the committee of the Workers' Defence Organisation. He disagreed with their economic policies but welcomed the new Labour government of 1935 though he attacked their compulsory unionism.
During 1936 he resigned from the Friends of the Soviet Union in protest at Stalin's show trials.
Asked by Fintan Patrick Walsh to become secretary of the new Wellington Clerical Workers' Union he obtained election as secretary of the New Zealand Federated Clerical and Office Staff Employees' Association and became the union's main spokesperson.
Defence of the realm
In March 1940 he was called up for military service and appointed New Zealand's military attaché in Washington DC with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. After the war he resumed his union involvement but took less prominent roles. He provided much support for F P Walsh and following Walsh's defeat as clerical union president in 1960 Pharazyn ended his union and political involvement.
His wife died of cancer in 1971 and Noel Pharazyn died in 1980 in his 87th year. There were no surviving children.
- "Obituary, Mr Gerald Fitzgerald". The Evening Post. CXXIV (1). 1 July 1937. p. 11. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
- Franks, Peter. "Pharazyn, William Noel". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 1 October 2012.
- Evening Post Volume XCVIII, Issue 128, 27 November 1919, Page 9]
- "Social Gossip". Free Lance. XIX (1013). 26 November 1919. p. 11. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
- Wilson, James Oakley (1985) . New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. pp. 195f. OCLC 154283103.