Lee Martin (politician)

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The Honourable
Lee Martin
William Lee Martin.jpg
15th Minister of Agriculture
In office
6 December 1935 – 21 January 1941
Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage
Pater Fraser
Preceded by Charles MacMillan
Succeeded by James Gillespie Barclay
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Raglan
In office
29 September 1927 – 1931
Preceded by Richard Bollard
Succeeded by Stewart Reid
In office
27 November 1935 – 1943
Preceded by Stewart Reid
Succeeded by Robert Coulter
Personal details
Born (1870-02-07)7 February 1870
Oamaru, New Zealand
Died 21 December 1950(1950-12-21) (aged 80)
Political party Labour Party
Children Iris Martin (daughter)
Occupation Painter

William Lee Martin (7 February 1870 – 21 December 1950), known as Lee Martin, was a New Zealand politician of the Labour Party.


Early life[edit]

Martin was born in Oamaru in 1870. He received his education at Waimate District High School and at Christchurch Normal School. After school, he was an officer for The Salvation Army for six years.[1] Afterwards, he was a painter and joined the Labour movement in Wanganui in 1902,[2] was Secretary of the Wanganui Painters’ Union (1909–1912) and, for 4 years, a member of the Wanganui Technical School Board.[2] He became a dairy farmer at Matangi in the Waikato and had two years as president of the Waikato Farmers’ Union.[2] He was in the Salvation Army and Methodist Church and served for many years on school committees, road boards, factory suppliers' committees[2] and as a member of the Central Waikato Electric Power Board from its formation in 1920.[3]

Political career[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1927–1928 22nd Raglan Labour
1928–1931 23rd Raglan Labour
1935–1938 25th Raglan Labour
1938–1943 26th Raglan Labour

He was unsuccessful when he stood for Hamilton in 1925,[1] but in a 1927 by-election won Raglan, which was a big upset for the Reform Party.[4] He held Raglan until 1931.[5] He then lost it to Stewart Reid of Reform,[6] but won the electorate back in the 1935 general election.[5]

He was Minister of Agriculture from 1935 to 1941 in the First Labour Government, first under Savage and then under Fraser.[7] In September 1939 when Cabinet was passing nearly 30 war regulations as laid down in the War Book, Lee Martin denied knowledge of one of his regulations. Fraser became tetchy until Nash leaned over and silently pointed to the minister's signature on the paper.[8]

He was appointed to the Legislative Council on 31 January 1946, and served there until his death on 21 December 1950, only days before the Legislative Council was abolished (on 31 December).[9] He was buried at Hamilton East Cemetery.[10]


In 1894 Lee Martin married Miss Warnes, of Greymouth, at the Salvation Army Citadel, Dunedin, she also being a Salvation Army officer. They lived in Wellington and Whanganui before farming at Matangi from about 1912. They had 3 sons and 3 daughters,[11] one of whom was nurse Iris Martin.[12]


  1. ^ a b ""Distinct Vote of No Confidence"". Auckland Star. LVIII (231). 30 September 1927. p. 5. Retrieved 23 April 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Biographies In Brief". The Press. 6 December 1935. p. 14. Retrieved 2 January 2016. 
  3. ^ "The Prime Minister". The Press. 17 October 1938. p. 13. Retrieved 2 January 2016. 
  4. ^ "Labour Wins". Auckland Star. LVIII (231). 30 September 1927. p. 5. Retrieved 23 April 2016. 
  5. ^ a b Wilson 1985, p. 218.
  6. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 229.
  7. ^ Wilson 1985, pp. 82–83.
  8. ^ Hensley, Gerald (2009). Beyond the Battlefield: New Zealand and its Allies 1939-45. North Shore Auckland: Viking/Penguin. p. 21. ISBN 978-06-700-7404-4. 
  9. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 159.
  10. ^ "Cemetery search". Hamilton City Council. Retrieved 23 April 2016. 
  11. ^ "GOLDEN WEDDING (Evening Post, 1944-06-12)". paperspast.natlib.govt.nz National Library of New Zealand. Retrieved 2017-05-05. 
  12. ^ Burgess, Marie E. "Jessie Iris Martin". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 8 November 2016. 


New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Richard Bollard
Member of Parliament for Raglan
Succeeded by
Stewart Reid
Preceded by
Stewart Reid
Succeeded by
Robert Coulter