New Zealand general election, 1881

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1881 general election
New Zealand
← 1879 8 (Māori) & 9 (general) December 1881 1884 →

All 95 seats in the House of Representatives
Turnout 66.5%
  First party Second party
  Sir John Hall, ca 1880.jpg George Grey, c. 1875.jpg
Leader John Hall George Grey
Party Independent Independent
Leader since 1878 1877
Leader's seat Selwyn Auckland East
Seats won 45 39
Seat change Steady 0 Decrease 2
Popular vote N/A N/A
Percentage N/A N/A
Swing N/A N/A

Prime Minister before election

John Hall

Subsequent Prime Minister

John Hall

The New Zealand general election of 1881 was held on 8 and 9 December in the Māori and European electorates, respectively, to elect 95 MPs to the 8th session of the New Zealand Parliament.

1881 was the first time a general election was held under universal male suffrage; all MPs were elected in single-member electorates; and the country quota was introduced, allowing rural electorates to have 25% fewer voters than urban electorates. Beginning with the 1881 election, all elections in European electorates were to be held on the same day, a measure not introduced for Māori electorates until 1951.[1]

1881 electoral redistribution

The previous electoral redistribution was undertaken in 1875 for the 1875–76 election. In the six years since, New Zealand's European population had increased by 65%. In the 1881 electoral redistribution, the House of Representatives increased the number of European representatives to 91 (up from 84 since the 1875–76 election). The number of Māori electorates was held at four. The House further decided that electorates should not have more than one representative, which led to 35 new electorates being formed: Ashburton, Auckland North, Awarua, Christchurch North, Christchurch South, Coromandel, Dunedin Central, Dunedin East, Dunedin South, Dunedin West, Foxton, Franklin North, Franklin South, Hawke's Bay, Hokonui, Inangahua, Kumara, Lincoln, Manukau, Moeraki, Peninsula, St Albans, Stanmore, Sydenham, Taranaki, Tauranga, Te Aro, Thorndon, Waimate, Waipawa, Wairarapa North, Wairarapa South, Waitotara, Wakanui, and Wellington South. In addition, two electorates that had previously been abolished were recreated: Bay of Islands and Oamaru.[2]

These changes necessitated a major disruption to existing boundaries. Only six electorates remained unchanged: Waikato, Waipa, Bruce, Lyttelton, Nelson, and Picton.[2]

The electoral distribution was the first that formally acknowledged the existence of a country quota, where country electorates contained 25% fewer voters than town electorates.[3]

The election

The 1881 election was held on Thursday, 8 December, in the Māori electorates and on Friday, 9 December, in the European electorates to elect a total of 95 MPs to the 8th Parliament. A total number of 120,972 (66.5%) voters turned out to vote.[4] In 11 seats there was only one candidate.[5] 36 and 55 seats were in the North Island and South Island, respectively, plus the 4 Māori electorates.[6]

The incumbent government led by John Hall retained office having support from 45 members with 39 "Greyites" (supporters of George Grey) and 11 Independents not affiliated with either faction.[7]


The following table shows the successful candidate for each electorate.[8]

Member Electorate Affiliation MP's term
Montgomery, WilliamWilliam Montgomery Akaroa Greyite Fourth
Wright, Edward GeorgeEdward George Wright Ashburton Greyite Second
Pearson, William FisherWilliam Fisher Pearson Ashley Greyite First
Grey, GeorgeGeorge Grey Auckland East Greyite Fourth
Peacock, ThomasThomas Peacock Auckland North Independent First
Dargaville, JosephJoseph Dargaville Auckland West Independent First
Rolleston, WilliamWilliam Rolleston Avon Conservative Fifth
Joyce, James ParkerJames Parker Joyce Awarua Greyite Second
Hobbs, RichardRichard Hobbs Bay of Islands Conservative Second
Rutherford, JamesJames Rutherford Bruce Independent First
Munro, JohnJohn Munro Buller Independent Liberal First
Barron, WilliamWilliam Barron Caversham Greyite Second
McIlraith, HughHugh McIlraith Cheviot Conservative First
Thomson, HenryHenry Thomson Christchurch North Conservative First
Holmes, JohnJohn Holmes Christchurch South Greyite First
Thomson, James WilliamJames William Thomson Clutha Conservative Fourth
McMillan, DavidDavid McMillan Coleridge Conservative First
Cadman, AlfredAlfred Cadman Coromandel Greyite First
Bracken, ThomasThomas Bracken Dunedin Central Greyite First
Green, MatthewMatthew Green Dunedin East Independent First
Fish, HenryHenry Fish Dunedin South Independent First
Dick, ThomasThomas Dick Dunedin West Conservative Fourth
Pyke, VincentVincent Pyke Dunstan Greyite Fourth
McDonald, AllanAllan McDonald East Coast Greyite Second
Tole, JosephJoseph Tole Eden Greyite Third
Atkinson, HarryHarry Atkinson Egmont Conservative Sixth
Wilson, JamesJames Wilson Foxton Conservative First
Harris, BenjaminBenjamin Harris Franklin North Greyite Second
Hamlin, EbenezerEbenezer Hamlin Franklin South Greyite Third
Postlethwaite, WilliamWilliam Postlethwaite Geraldine Conservative First
Sutter, JamesJames Sutter Gladstone Independent First
Petrie, JosephJoseph Petrie Greymouth Conservative First
Sutton, FredFred Sutton Hawkes Bay Conservative Third
Wynn-Williams, HenryHenry Wynn-Williams Heathcote Conservative First
Fitzgerald, Gerard GeorgeGerard George Fitzgerald Hokitika Conservative First
Driver, HenryHenry Driver Hokonui Conservative Fifth
Mason, ThomasThomas Mason Hutt Conservative Second
Weston, Thomas S.Thomas S. Weston Inangahua Conservative Second
Feldwick, HenryHenry Feldwick Invercargill Greyite Second
Wilson, IsaacIsaac Wilson Kaiapoi Conservative First
Seddon, RichardRichard Seddon Kumara Greyite Second
O'Callaghan, ArthurArthur O'Callaghan Lincoln Conservative First
Allwright, HarryHarry Allwright Lyttelton Conservative Second
Johnston, Walter WoodsWalter Woods Johnston Manawatu Conservative Fourth
O'Rorke, MauriceMaurice O'Rorke Manukau Independent Sixth
Mitchelson, EdwinEdwin Mitchelson Marsden Conservative First
Mackenzie, Francis WallaceFrancis Wallace Mackenzie Mataura Greyite First
McKenzie, JohnJohn McKenzie Moeraki Greyite First
Hursthouse, RichmondRichmond Hursthouse Motueka Conservative Third
de Lautour, CecilCecil de Lautour Mount Ida Greyite Third
Buchanan, JohnJohn Buchanan Napier Greyite First
Levestam, HenryHenry Levestam Nelson Greyite Second
Kelly, ThomasThomas Kelly New Plymouth Conservative Fifth
Swanson, WilliamWilliam Swanson Newton Conservative Fourth
Shrimski, SamuelSamuel Shrimski Oamaru Greyite Third
Moss, FrederickFrederick Moss Parnell Greyite Third
Seaton, JamesJames Seaton Peninsula Greyite Second
Connoly, EdwardEdward Connoly Picton Conservative First
Macandrew, JamesJames Macandrew Port Chalmers Greyite Eighth
Stevens, JohnJohn Stevens Rangitikei Independent Liberal First
Thorne George, SeymourSeymour Thorne George Rodney Greyite Third
Bathgate, JohnJohn Bathgate Roslyn Greyite Second
Hall, JohnJohn Hall Selwyn Conservative Fifth
Brown, John EvansJohn Evans Brown St Albans Greyite Third
Pilliet, WalterWalter Pilliet Stanmore Conservative First
White, WilliamWilliam White Sydenham Greyite First
Fulton, JamesJames Fulton Taieri Conservative Second
Trimble, RobertRobert Trimble Taranaki Conservative Second
Morris, GeorgeGeorge Morris Tauranga Conservative Second
Johnston, Charles JohnCharles John Johnston Te Aro Conservative First
Sheehan, JohnJohn Sheehan Thames Independent Fourth
Levin, WilliamWilliam Levin Thorndon Conservative Second
Turnbull, RichardRichard Turnbull Timaru Greyite Third
Brown, James ClarkJames Clark Brown Tuapeka Greyite Fifth
Whyte, John BlairJohn Blair Whyte Waikato Conservative Second
Green, JamesJames Green Waikouaiti Conservative Second
Steward, WilliamWilliam Steward Waimate Conservative Second
Shephard, JosephJoseph Shephard Waimea Greyite Third
Whitaker, Frederick AlexanderFrederick Alexander Whitaker Waipa Conservative Second
Smith, William CowperWilliam Cowper Smith Waipawa Independent Liberal First
Beetham, GeorgeGeorge Beetham Wairarapa North Conservative Third
Buchanan, Walter ClarkeWalter Clarke Buchanan Wairarapa South Conservative First
Dodson, HenryHenry Dodson Wairau Greyite First
Duncan, Thomas YoungThomas Young Duncan Waitaki Greyite First
Hurst, William JohnWilliam John Hurst Waitemata Conservative Second
Bryce, JohnJohn Bryce Waitotara Conservative Fifth
Wason, CathcartCathcart Wason Wakanui Conservative Second
Fergus, ThomasThomas Fergus Wakatipu Conservative First
Daniel, TheophilusTheophilus Daniel Wallace Greyite First
Watt, William HoggWilliam Hogg Watt Wanganui Conservative Second
Hutchison, WilliamWilliam Hutchison Wellington South Greyite Second
Tomoana, HenareHenare Tomoana X-01Eastern Maori Conservative Third
Tawhai, HoneHone Tawhai X-02Northern Maori Greyite Second
Taiaroa, Hori KereiHori Kerei Taiaroa X-03Southern Maori Greyite Fourth
Wheoro, Wiremu TeWiremu Te Wheoro X-04Western Maori Greyite Second


  1. ^ "The Origins of the Māori Seats". New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved 2 April 2012. 
  2. ^ a b McRobie 1989, pp. 43–48.
  3. ^ McRobie 1989, p. 47.
  4. ^ "General elections 1853-2005 - dates & turnout". Elections New Zealand. Retrieved 12 September 2010. 
  5. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 286.
  6. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 173.
  7. ^ "New Elections". Thames Star. XII (4042). 12 December 1881. p. 2. Retrieved 11 September 2016. 
  8. ^ Cooper 1882, pp. 1–3.


  • Cooper, G. S. (1882). Votes Recorded for Each Candidate. Government Printer. Retrieved 24 October 2015. 
  • McRobie, Alan (1989). Electoral Atlas of New Zealand. Wellington: GP Books. ISBN 0-477-01384-8. 
  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First published in 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103. 
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