1890 New Zealand general election

1890 general election

← 1887 27 November (Māori) & 5 December (general) 1890 1893 →

All 74 seats in the New Zealand House of Representatives
38 seats were needed for a majority
Turnout 80.4%
  First party Second party
  John Ballance 1880.jpg Sir Harry Albert Atkinson, ca 1885.jpg
Leader John Ballance Harry Atkinson
Party Liberal Conservative
Leader since 6 July 1889 25 September 1883
Leader's seat Wanganui Egmont
Seats won 40 25
Popular vote 76,548 39,338
Percentage 56.1% 28.9%

1890 New Zealand general election - Results.svg
Results of the election.

Premier before election

Harry Atkinson

Elected Premier

John Ballance

The New Zealand general election of 1890 was one of New Zealand's most significant.[1] It marked the beginning of party politics in New Zealand with the formation of the Liberal Government, which was to enact major welfare, labour and electoral reforms, including giving the vote to women.

It was also the first election in which there was no legal plural voting. Multi-member electorates were re-introduced in the four main centres and the 'country quota' (which gave more weight to rural votes) was increased to 28%.

Following the election and the resignation of the previous government headed by Harry Atkinson, John Ballance formed the first Liberal Party ministry, taking office on 24 January 1891. At this stage no formal party organisation existed, but the formation of the Liberal ministry signalled the end of the system by which governments were made up of a loose and unstable coalition of independent MPs and the beginning of the 'party system'.

Electoral redistribution

In December 1887, the House of Representatives voted to reduce its membership from general electorates from 91 to 70. The 1890 electoral redistribution used the same 1886 census data used for the 1887 electoral redistribution. In addition, three-member electorates were introduced in the four main centres.[2] This resulted in a major restructuring of electorates, with 12 new electorates created. Of those, four electorates were created for the first time: Te Aroha, Halswell, Dunedin Suburbs, and Palmerston. The remaining eight electorates had previously existed and were re-created through the 1890 electoral redistribution: City of Auckland, City of Christchurch, City of Dunedin, City of Wellington, Ellesmere, Franklin, Geraldine, and Westland.

74 MPs were elected to the 11th session of the New Zealand Parliament.[3] The Māori electorates voted on 27 November and the European (now known as General) electorates on 5 December. There were 183,171 voters registered in the sixty-two European electorates, which returned a total of 70 members.[4] This figure includes 13,668 voters in the six electorates where there was an unopposed return. 136,337 valid votes were cast in European electorates, including additional votes cast in the four three-member electorates.


Party totals

Note that as the election was held before the establishment of formal political parties, the figures should only be regarded as an approximate indication of the division of political opinion.

1890 NZ parliament.svg
Election results
Party Candidates Total votes Percentage Seats won
Liberal 69 76,548 56.1% 40
Conservative 54 39,338 28.9% 25
Independent 56 20,451 15.0% 9
Total 179 136,337 74

Votes summary

Popular vote
Parliament seats

Mackie and Rose suggest there was a 74.4% turnout, based on valid votes cast as a percentage of the registered electors. The official turnout figure is 80.4%, calculated on a different basis (see the Elections New Zealand official results web-site link below for further details of the changing methods used to calculate the official turnout).

The Māori vote, for the remaining four seats, was held on 27 November. Maori electorates did not have electoral rolls so their voting figures and percentages are not included above.

Electorate results

The following table shows the results of the 1890 general election. Six European members were returned unopposed.


 Liberal    Conservative    Liberal–Labour    Independent Liberal    Independent  

Electorate results for the 1890 New Zealand general election [5] [6]
Electorate Incumbent Winner Majority Runner up
General electorates
Akaroa Alexander McGregor John Joyce 107 Alexander McGregor
Ashburton William Campbell Walker Edward George Wright 16 Rev. James Wright Sawle[7]
Ashley John Verrall Richard Meredith 38 James Dupré Lance
City of Auckland New electorate William Lee Rees 260 Adam Porter
Thomas Thompson 442 William Joseph Napier
John Shera 1,013 James Wallis
Avon Edwin Blake 186 George Stead
Awarua Joseph Ward Uncontested
Bay of Islands Richard Hobbs Robert Houston 11 James Trounsen
Bruce Crawford Anderson James William Thomson 494 James Smith[8]
Buller Eugene O'Conor Uncontested
City of Christchurch New electorate William Pember Reeves 802 John Tippett Smith
Westby Perceval 945 Edward Wingfield Humphreys
Richard Molesworth Taylor 2,494 Eden George
Clutha Thomas Mackenzie Uncontested
Dunedin Suburbs New electorate William Dawson 420 Archibald Hilson Ross
City of Dunedin New electorate David Pinkerton 348 James Allen[9]
Henry Fish 995 Richard Henry Leary[9]
William Hutchison 998 Alfred Lee Smith[9]
East Coast Alexander Creighton Arthur William Kelly 14 Alexander Creighton Arthur
Eden Edwin Mitchelson 91 Joseph Greenwood[10]
Egmont Harry Atkinson 305 Felix McGuire
Ellesmere New electorate John Hall 105 John McLachlan
Franklin Ebenezer Hamlin 102 Benjamin Harris
Geraldine New electorate Arthur Rhodes 323 Searby Buxton
Grey Arthur Guinness 19 William Hugh Jones[11]
Halswell New electorate William Rolleston 200 Francis Samuel Parker
Hawke's Bay William Russell 659 Charles William Reardon[12]
Heathcote Frederic Jones William Tanner 212 Heaton Rhodes
Hutt New electorate Alfred Newman 178 George Thomas London[13]
Inangahua Richard Reeves 1 John Drake[14]
Invercargill Henry Feldwick James Kelly 116 James Walker Bain
Kaiapoi Edward Richardson Richard Moore 387 William Hoban[15]
Manukau Sir Maurice O'Rorke Frank Buckland 80 Sir Maurice O'Rorke
Marsden Robert Thompson 176 Albert Elliot[16]
Masterton George Beetham Alexander Hogg 18 George Beetham
Mataura George Richardson 123 John Gideon Fraser[17]
Mount Ida Scobie Mackenzie 105 Vincent Pyke
Napier John Davies Ormond George Henry Swan 133 Michael Gannon[18]
Nelson Joseph Harkness 15 John Kerr
New Plymouth Oliver Samuel Edward Smith 23 John Elliot
Newton David Goldie Uncontested
Oamaru Thomas William Hislop Thomas Duncan 470 Thomas William Hislop
Palmerston James Wilson 61 Frederick Pirani
Parnell Frank Lawry[nb 1] 209 J M Lennox[19]
Peninsula William Larnach William Earnshaw 128 William Larnach
Port Chalmers James Mills 227 John A. Millar
Rangitikei Robert Bruce Douglas Macarthur 32 F Arkwright
Selwyn John Hall Alfred Saunders 51 Thomas Anson
Taieri Walter Carncross 124 William Snow
Te Aroha New electorate William Allen 175 William Fraser
Thames William Fraser Alfred Cadman 104 Edmund Taylor
Timaru William Hall-Jones 52 Edward George Kerr[20]
Tuapeka James Clark Brown Hugh Valentine 63 James Clark Brown
Waikato John Bryce Uncontested
Waimate William Steward 296 Alpheus Hayes
Waimea-Sounds Arthur Seymour Charles H. Mills 210 Richmond Hursthouse
Waipawa Thomas Tanner William Cowper Smith 349 George Hunter
Wairarapa Walter Clarke Buchanan 275 Henry Bunny
Wairau Henry Dodson Lindsay Buick 77 Arthur Seymour
Waitaki Thomas Young Duncan John McKenzie 352 John Buckland
Waitemata Richard Monk Jackson Palmer 91 Richard Monk
Waitotara George Hutchison 22 Robert Bruce
Wakatipu Thomas Fergus Uncontested
Wallace Samuel Hodgkinson James Mackintosh 178 Samuel Hodgkinson
Wanganui John Ballance 27 Gilbert Carson
Wellington, City of New electorate George Fisher 183 Francis Bell
John Duthie 561 Edwin George Jellicoe
Kennedy Macdonald 727 Francis Fraser
Westland New electorate Richard Seddon 338 Joseph Grimmond
Maori electorates[21][22][23][24][25][nb 2]
Eastern Maori James Carroll 185 Wi Pere
Northern Maori Sydney Taiwhanga[nb 3] 267 Tinoti Pupipupi
Southern Maori Tame Parata [nb 4] Honi Maaka Hape
Western Maori Hoani Taipua [nb 5] Kipa Te Whatanui

Table footnotes:

  1. ^ Lawry stood in support of the Atkinson Ministry but changed allegiance to the Liberals in 1891
  2. ^ The affiliation of many of the Maori candidates is unknown or uncertain
  3. ^ Sydney Taiwhanga won the election and, despite having died on election day, was declared elected. Taiwhanga also stood in Eastern Maori and came third
  4. ^ Final results were not reported in contemporary media
  5. ^ Final results were not reported in contemporary media

See also

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