1896 New Zealand general election

1896 general election

← 1893 4 (general) & 19 December (Māori) 1896 1899 →

All 74 seats in the New Zealand House of Representatives
38 seats were needed for a majority
Turnout 76.1%
  First party Second party
  Richard Seddon, 1906.jpg William Russell Russell.jpg
Leader Richard Seddon William Russell
Party Liberal Conservative
Leader since 28 April 1893 26 June 1894
Leader's seat Westland Hawke's Bay
Last election 51 seats, 57.8% 13 seats, 24.5%
Seats won 39 26
Seat change Decrease 12 Increase 13
Popular vote 184,650 114,574
Percentage 54.8% 34.0%
Swing Decrease 3.0% Increase 9.5%

1896 New Zealand general election - Results.svg
Results of the election.

Prime Minister before election

Richard Seddon

Prime Minister-designate

Richard Seddon

The New Zealand general election of 1896 was held on Wednesday, 4 December in the general electorates, and on Thursday, 19 December in the Māori electorates to elect a total of 74 MPs to the 13th session of the New Zealand Parliament. A total number of 337,024 (76.1%) voters turned out to vote.[1]

1896 was the year the limit of £200 was placed on each candidate's campaign spending.


The Liberal government campaigned on a platform that the election was between the people and the "selfish few". The economy stagnated, raising unemployment, which caused support for the Liberals to fall in the cities and they lost many seats, though not enough to be removed from office by the Conservatives. In rural areas, the swing in support was not as large due to the public works and land settlement programmes helping to support the regions.[2] In June 1896 Seddon had replaced Joseph Ward as Finance Minister whilst the latter had resigned after being declared temporarily bankrupt. As such Seddon himself took on the workload of the treasury making him more susceptible to opposition attacks over the economy. He proved to be a cautious financier, budgeting for surpluses while maintaining the spirit of self reliance his predecessor John Ballance had advocated.


Party totals

The following table gives party strengths and vote distribution according to Wilson (1985), who records Maori representatives as Independents prior to the 1905 election.[3]

1896 NZ parliament.svg
Election results
Party Candidates Total votes Percentage Seats won Change
Liberal 81 184,650 54.78% 39 -12
Conservative 70 114,574 33.99% 26 +13
Independent 60 37,800 11.23% 9 -1

Votes summary

Popular Vote
Parliament seats

The table below shows the results of the 1896 general election:


 Liberal    Conservative    Independent Liberal    Liberal–Labour    Independent  

Electorate results for the 1896 New Zealand general election [4] [5] [6] [7]
Electorate Incumbent Winner Majority Runner up
General electorates
Ashburton John McLachlan Edward George Wright 242[8] John McLachlan
Ashley Richard Meredith 372[9] Henry Fear Reece[10]
Auckland, City of Thomas Thompson 2,516[11] Arthur Rosser
Charles Button James Job Holland 1,622[11]
William Crowther 1,328[11]
Avon William Tanner 457[12] George McIntyre[12]
Awarua Joseph Ward 783[13] Cuthbert Cowan[14]
Bay of Islands Robert Houston 627[11] John Press[15]
Bay of Plenty William Kelly William Herries 132[11] William Kelly
Bruce James Allen 1,059[13] William Auld
Buller Roderick McKenzie Patrick O'Regan 292[16] James Colvin[17]
Caversham Arthur Morrison 1,178[13] Thomas Sidey
Christchurch, City of Charles Lewis 6,570[18] William Whitehouse Collins
George Smith 5,940[18]
William Whitehouse Collins Tommy Taylor 5,445[18]
Clutha Thomas Mackenzie James Thomson 903[13] John Edie
Dunedin, City of William Hutchison Scobie Mackenzie 2,132[13] David Pinkerton
David Pinkerton John A. Millar 547[13]
William Earnshaw Henry Fish 378[13]
Eden Edwin Mitchelson John Bollard 214[11] Jackson Palmer
Egmont Felix McGuire Walter Symes 270[19] William Monkhouse
Ellesmere William Montgomery Jr. 564[20] Frederick Arthur Anson[10]
Franklin Benjamin Harris William Massey 474[11] Benjamin Harris
Geraldine New electorate Frederick Flatman 211[21] Arthur Rhodes
Grey Arthur Guinness 1,777[22] Robert Francis Bell[22]
Hawera New electorate Felix McGuire 36[23] Benjamin Robbins
Hawke's Bay William Russell 833[24] Alfred Fraser[25]
Invercargill James Whyte Kelly[26] 578[27] John Sinclair
Kaiapoi David Buddo Richard Moore 259[9] David Buddo
Lyttelton New electorate John Joyce 446[28] William Jacques
Manawatu New electorate John Stevens 71[29] Robert Bruce[30]
Manukau Maurice O'Rorke 215[11] Frank Buckland
Masterton Alexander Hogg 263[29] Donald John Cameron[31]
Marsden Robert Thompson[32][nb 1] 402[11] Alfred H Mason[33]
Mataura Robert McNab George Richardson 201[27] Robert McNab
Motueka New electorate Roderick McKenzie 126[34] Richmond Hursthouse
Napier Samuel Carnell Douglas Maclean 747[24] Samuel Carnell
Nelson John Graham 343[35] Jesse Piper
Oamaru Thomas Duncan 771[36] James Dickson Sievwright
Ohinemuri New electorate Alfred Cadman 2,037[11] Edwin Edwards
Otaki James Wilson Henry Augustus Field 408[29] Alfred Newman
Pahiatua New electorate John O'Meara 30[29] Robert Manisty[37]
Palmerston Frederick Pirani[nb 2] 50[29] David Buick[38]
Parnell Frank Lawry 470[11] Samuel Vaile[39]
Patea George Hutchison 605[29] Arthur Remington
Rangitikei John Stevens Frank Lethbridge 271[29] Walter A L Bailey[40][41]
Riccarton George Warren Russell William Rolleston 391[12] George Warren Russell[nb 3]
Selwyn Alfred Saunders Cathcart Wason 182[43] Alfred Saunders
Taieri Walter Carncross 554[13] John Graham[44]
Taranaki New electorate Henry Brown 97[19] Edward Smith
Thames James McGowan 323[45] Edmund Taylor
Timaru William Hall-Jones 640[46] Francis Henry Smith
Tuapeka William Larnach 21[13] Charles Rawlins
Waiapu James Carroll 368[24] Cecil Fitzroy[47]
Waihemo John McKenzie 554[13] John Duncan
Waikato Alfred Cadman Frederic Lang 1,012[11] Edward Walker
Waipawa Charles Hall George Hunter 211[24] Charles Hall
Waikouaiti James Green Edmund Allen 761[13] John J Ramsay
Wairarapa Walter Clarke Buchanan 333[29] J. T. Marryat Hornsby
Wairau Lindsay Buick Charles H. Mills 58[48] Lindsay Buick[nb 4]
Waitaki William Steward 999[51] Duncan Sutherland
Waitemata William Massey Richard Monk 171[11] Heathcote Jackman[52][53][54]
Wakatipu William Fraser 335[27] James George
Wallace James Mackintosh Michael Gilfedder 116[13] Rev. Thomas Neave[55]
Wanganui Archibald Willis Gilbert Carson 84[29] Archibald Willis
Wellington, City of Robert Stout Robert Stout[nb 5] 475[56] Arthur Atkinson
Francis Bell John Hutcheson 580[56]
John Duthie George Fisher 28[56]
Wellington Suburbs Alfred Newman Thomas Wilford 252[29] Thomas William Hislop
Westland Richard Seddon 1,883[57] Joseph Grimmond
Māori electorates
Eastern Maori Wi Pere 1,744[58] Tamati Tautuhi
Northern Maori Hone Heke 1,316[59] Eparaima Te Mutu Kapa
Southern Maori Tame Parata 113[60] Thomas Ellison[nb 6]
Western Maori Ropata Te Ao Henare Kaihau 731[61] Ropata Te Ao

Table footnotes:

  1. ^ Robert Thompson was regarded as Liberal in the previous Parliament
  2. ^ Frederick Pirani was regarded as Liberal in the previous Parliament
  3. ^ George Warren Russell distanced himself from the Liberal Party and, together with Frederick Pirani, unsuccessfully tried to form the Radical Party[42]
  4. ^ Lindsay Buick distanced himself from the Liberal Party and became an Independent Liberal-Labour candidate[49][50]
  5. ^ Robert Stout was regarded as Liberal in the previous Parliament
  6. ^ The affiliation of Thomas Ellison, who is listed in most contemporary sources under his Māori name Tame Rangiwahia Erihana, is not known

The election of Thomas Wilford for the electorate of Suburbs of Wellington was declared void by an election petition on the grounds of corrupt and illegal practices. Charles Wilson was elected MP for that electorate following a by-election on 23 April 1897.

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