George Laurenson

George Laurenson
George Laurenson, 1913.jpg
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Lyttelton
In office
1899 – 1913
Preceded by John Joyce
Succeeded by James McCombs
Personal details
Born 1857
Edinburgh, Scotland
Died 19 November 1913
Lyttelton, New Zealand
Political party Liberal (1899–1913)
Other political
New Liberal (1905)
Labour Party

George Laurenson (1857 – 19 November 1913) was a New Zealand Member of Parliament for Lyttelton in the South Island.

Early life

The Lyttelton Times parliamentary correspondent described Laurenson as: "a Scotchman by birth, a Shetlander by education, a New Zealander by adoption, a storekeeper by trade, and a yachtsman by preference."[1]

George Laurenson was a successful businessman in Christchurch. He was born in Edinburgh, Scotland and was educated in the Shetland Islands. Laurenson served on numerous local boards and committees: he was chairman of the Lyttelton Harbour Board and the Canterbury Chamber of Commerce. Laurenson was a member of the Navy League Canterbury.[2]

Member of Parliament

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1899–1902 14th Lyttelton Liberal
1902–1905 15th Lyttelton Liberal
1905–1908 16th Lyttelton New Liberal
1908–1911 17th Lyttelton Liberal
1911–1913 18th Lyttelton Liberal

Laurenson represented the Lyttelton electorate in the New Zealand House of Representatives for fourteen years from 1899 to his death in 1913.[3] From 1909 until 1910 he was senior whip of the Liberal Party.[4]

New Liberal Party

Laurenson was the nominal leader or chairman of the New Liberal Party in 1905 though Tommy Taylor was the dominant figure.[5] Like Taylor, Laurenson favoured federation with Australia.[6] Laurenson was one of the few who stood as a New Liberal in the 1905 election and retained his seat.[7] Most, including Taylor were defeated.

Cabinet Minister

On 22 March 1912 he stood in a leadership election against Thomas Mackenzie to decide the successor to Sir Joseph Ward as leader of the Liberal Party, but lost (9 votes to 22). He was subsequently the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labour, Customs and Marine in Mackenzie's cabinet.[8] In July the Liberal government was defeated, after the defection of some Liberal members like John A. Millar to Reform.[9]

Local politics

In April 1913, Laurenson stood for mayor of Lyttelton, contesting the election with John Richard Webb, a Lyttelton borough councillor. Webb won; he received 608 votes to Laurenson's 490.[10]

Later life

Laurenson was a lifetime Labour movement sympathizer, but never formally joined the Labour Party though he agreed with the Labour Party's stand during the 1913 general strike, and was often known to have appeared at meetings with the leaders of the Federation of Labour (the 'Red Feds').[11] Laurenson died on 19 November 1913 aged just 60. Laurenson's seat was won by a Labour candidate, James McCombs.[12]

A son of George Laurenson, George Lyttelton Laurenson CBE (1893–1968), was Commissioner of Transport.[13]

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