1923 Tauranga by-election

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Tauranga by-election, 1923

← 1922 general 28 March 1923 1925 general →
Turnout 7,630
  Charles MacMillan.jpg Joseph Ward (15784132417).jpg
Candidate Charles MacMillan Sir Joseph Ward
Party Reform Liberal
Popular vote 4,360 3,235

Member before election

William Herries

Elected Member

Charles MacMillan

The Tauranga by-election of 1923 was a by-election during the 21st New Zealand Parliament in the Tauranga electorate. The seat became vacant due to the death of the sitting Member, William Herries.[1] The election was held on 28 March 1923 and won by Charles MacMillan, who defeated the former prime minister Joseph Ward.[2]


Two candidates contested the seat. The first was Charles MacMillan, a former Mayor of Tauranga (1915–1917. MacMillan represented the Reform Party and was put forward by the party to succeed Herries.[3] The other candidate was Sir Joseph Ward, a former Liberal party Prime Minister.[4]

The Labour Party took a keen interest in the by-election. Leader Harry Holland was fearful that Ward's return to Parliament might result in a revival of the Liberals, delaying Labour's rise as the main left-wing party. As a result, he sought to stand a candidate to split the anti-Reform vote. He was overruled however, by the party executive citing the lack of any established branches within the electorate and the possibility of a poor showing by the candidate damaging party morale and credibility.[5]


MacMillan won the by-election;[6] Ward's defeat was humiliating to him.[4]

1923 Tauranga by-election[7]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Reform Charles MacMillan 4,360 57.41
Liberal Sir Joseph Ward 3,235 42.59
Informal votes 35 0.46
Majority 1,125 14.81
Turnout 7,630 85.53
Registered electors 8,921
Reform hold Swing

MacMillan remained as Tauranga's representative until his defeat at the 1935 election.[6] Ward was thought to be a spent force,[4] but he was returned to Parliament again in the 1925 election,[8] and then went on to become Prime Minister again in 1928.[9] He retired in 1930, and died soon after.[4]


  1. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 113.
  2. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 124.
  3. ^ "Reform Candidate Starts". The Evening Post. CV (54). 5 March 1923. p. 8. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d Bassett, Michael. "Ward, Joseph George". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 26 November 2011.
  5. ^ O'Farrell 1964, p. 128.
  6. ^ a b Wilson 1985, p. 217.
  7. ^ Hislop 1923, p. 10.
  8. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 146.
  9. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 30.


  • Hislop, J. (1923). The General Election, 1922. Government Printer. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  • O'Farrell, P.J. (1964). Harry Holland: Militant Socialist. Canberra, Australia: Australian National University Press.
  • Scholefield, Guy (1950) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1949 (3rd ed.). Wellington: Govt. Printer.
  • 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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