Reader Wood

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Reader Gilson Wood (1821 – 20 August 1895) was a 19th-century New Zealand politician.


New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1861–1865 3rd Parnell Independent
1870 4th Parnell Independent
1871–1875 5th Parnell Independent
1875–1878 6th Parnell Independent
1879–1881 7th Waitemata Independent

Wood, the son of Thomas and Sarah Wood, was baptised at the Church of St Mary de Castro, Leicester, Leciestershire, England, on 5 January 1821.[1] He was educated at the Merchant Taylors' School, London.[2] He was brought up as an architect, and shortly after his articles had expired left England for New Zealand, arriving in Auckland in 1844.[2] The northern insurrection breaking out in the following year, Wood was made lieutenant of Volunteer Artillery, and was present at the attempted storming of Heke's at Ohaeawai on 1 July 1845. He was mentioned in Colonel Despard's despatch describing that disastrous affair.[2] After the war Wood returned to Auckland, where he practised his profession of architect and surveyor. About 1848 he was employed by the Government as Inspector of Roads, afterwards he was appointed Deputy Surveyor-General, which office he retained until 1856.[2] He was tasked with the design of the General Assembly House, which was built in 1854 in Auckland as New Zealand's first meeting house for parliament.[3]

Wood was the Member of Parliament for Parnell from 1861 to 1865 (resigned), then 1870 to 1878 (resigned); then for Waitemata from 1879 to 1881, when he retired.[4]

He was a cabinet minister, including the positions of Minister of Finance (then called Colonial Treasurer) twice, and Minister of Defence (then called Minister of Colonial Defence). He was part of the Auckland wing of the Liberal Party, sometimes called the "Auckland Rats".

He stood in the 1887 election in the Waitemata electorate and was defeated by Richard Monk.[5][6]

On 20 May 1850, he married Mary Jane Holland at St Paul's Church, Auckland's oldest Anglican church.[7] He died at his home in Parnell, Auckland, on 20 August 1895, leaving his widow and one son, and was buried at St Stephen's Cemetery, Parnell.[8] He was survived by one son.[7]


  1. ^ "England, select births and christenings, 1538–1975". Operations. 2014. Retrieved 13 May 2015. (Subscription required (help)). 
  2. ^ a b c d Mennell, Philip (1892). "Wikisource link to Wood, Hon. Reader Gilson". The Dictionary of Australasian Biography. London: Hutchinson & Co. Wikisource 
  3. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 314.
  4. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 247.
  5. ^ "Waitemata". Auckland Star. XVIII (218). 17 September 1887. p. 8. Retrieved 17 April 2012. 
  6. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 220.
  7. ^ a b Foster, Bernard John (23 April 2009) [First published in 1966]. "Wood, Reader Gillson". In McLintock, A. H. An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand. Ministry for Culture and Heritage / Te Manatū Taonga. Retrieved 26 July 2015. 
  8. ^ "Death of Mr Reader Wood". Auckland Star. 21 August 1895. p. 2. Retrieved 13 May 2015. 


  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103. 
New Zealand Parliament
New constituency Member of Parliament for Parnell
Succeeded by
Robert Creighton
Preceded by
Charles Heaphy
Succeeded by
Frederick Moss
Preceded by
John Macfarlane
Member of Parliament for Waitemata
Succeeded by
William Hurst