William Hughes Field

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William Hughes Field
William Hughes Field.jpg
William Hughes Field between 1900 and 1909
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Otaki
In office
6 January 1900 – 20 November 1911
Preceded byHenry Augustus Field
Succeeded byJohn Robertson
In office
10 December 1914 – 1 November 1935
Preceded byJohn Robertson
Succeeded byLeonard Lowry
Personal details
Born(1861-07-17)17 July 1861
Wanganui, New Zealand
Died13 December 1944(1944-12-13) (aged 83)
Wellington, New Zealand
Political partyLiberal Party
Other political
Reform Party
RelationsHenry Augustus Field (brother)
Tom Field (unknown relationship)
William Mathew Hodgkins (father-in-law)
Frances Hodgkins (sister-in-law)
William Noel Pharazyn (son-in-law)

William Hughes Field (17 July 1861 – 13 December 1944) was a Member of Parliament in New Zealand; first for the Liberal Party, then Independent, and then for the Reform Party. He made a significant contribution to the development of tramping in the Tararua Range.

Private life[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1900–1902 14th Otaki Liberal
1902–1905 15th Otaki Liberal
1905–1908 16th Otaki Liberal
1908–1909 17th Otaki Independent
1909–1911 Changed allegiance to: Reform
1914–1919 19th Otaki Reform
1919–1922 20th Otaki Reform
1922–1925 21st Otaki Reform
1925–1928 22nd Otaki Reform
1928–1931 23rd Otaki Reform
1931–1935 24th Otaki Reform

Field was born in Wanganui in 1861, the fourth son[1] of Henry Claylands Field (1825–1912)[2] and his wife Margaret Symes Purlow.[3] Field was a lawyer practising in Wellington first elected to parliament in the by-election after the death of the sitting member, his elder brother, Henry Augustus Field (1852–1899).[4] Tom Field (1914–1919), MHR (Member of the House of Representatives) for Nelson, was a relative.

Field was a significant figure in the tramping history of the Tararua Range of which he helped to promote the development of its most popular tramping route, known as the Southern Crossing. Within the Tararuas, both Field Peak and Field Hut, the oldest remaining purpose-built tramping hut in New Zealand, are named after him.[5] He was a founding member of the Tararua Tramping Club, one of the first of many tramping clubs in New Zealand.[6]

Centennial Highway opened 1940

He was closely associated with improvement to the railway services to his electorate, one train was known as "Field's Express", and the construction of the Tawa Flat tunnel. He also led the campaign for the electrification of the Johnsonville service extended to Paekakariki in 1940[4] and, 70 years later, to his electorate at Waikanae in February 2011. With Charles Gray of Pukerua Bay he was largely responsible for the Centennial Highway on the narrow coastline south of Paekakariki.[7]

Field married Isabel Hodgkins[8] at St. Paul's Cathedral, Dunedin on 26 April 1893.[1] Also known as Cissy she was a daughter of Dunedin watercolourist William Mathew Hodgkins and sister of the celebrated painter Frances Hodgkins.[4] They were to have two daughters and three sons. Eldest daughter Lydia married Noel Pharazyn.[9]

Member of Parliament[edit]

Field won the Otaki electorate in the Horowhenua District in 1900, but lost it to John Robertson of the Labour Party (who had been nominated by the flax-workers union) by 21 votes on the second ballot in 1911. He then won it back in 1914, and held it until he retired in 1935.[10]

He replaced his brother, Henry Augustus Field, when he died in 1899.[11][12] William Field stood as a Liberal in 1900[10] and was regarded as a 'country liberal'[13] or 'freehold liberal'[14] and therefore it is not surprising that he moved politically to support the Reform Party over time.

In 1935, he was awarded the King George V Silver Jubilee Medal[15] and in 1937, he was awarded the King George VI Coronation Medal.[16]


Field died in Wellington on 13 December 1944. He was survived by his wife and their five children.[4]


  1. ^ a b "Births, Marriages, and Deaths". Otago Daily Times (9739). 16 May 1893. p. 6. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
  2. ^ Scholefield 1940, pp. 248f.
  3. ^ married 1st quarter 1851, Beaminster, Dorset FreeBMD accessed 20 Feb 2016
  4. ^ a b c d "Obituary, William Hughes Field". The Evening Post. CXXXVIII (142). 13 December 1944. p. 6. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
  5. ^ "Historic Field Hut". Department of Conservation. 2012. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
  6. ^ MacLean 1994, pp. ?.
  7. ^ Obituary, Charles Gray. Evening Post, Volume CXXXVI, Issue 34, 9 August 1943, Page 3
  8. ^ "Alice's Letter to her Readers". Otago Witness (2045). 4 May 1893. p. 45. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
  9. ^ Franks, Peter. "Pharazyn, William Noel - Biography". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 1 October 2012.
  10. ^ a b Wilson 1985, p. 196.
  11. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 195.
  12. ^ Hamer 1988, p. 339.
  13. ^ Hamer 1988, p. 260.
  14. ^ Hamer 1988, p. 334.
  15. ^ "Official jubilee medals". The Evening Post. CXIX (105). 6 May 1935. p. 4. Retrieved 2 July 2013.
  16. ^ Taylor 1998, p. 449.


New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Henry Augustus Field
Member of Parliament for Otaki
Succeeded by
John Robertson
Preceded by
John Robertson
Succeeded by
Leonard Lowry