William Fraser (New Zealand politician, born 1840)

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Sir William Fraser KCVO (1840 – 16 July 1923) was an Independent Conservative then Reform Party member of parliament in New Zealand.


Fraser was born in India, the son of Captain Hugh Fraser of the 5th Madras Light Cavalry. He received his education at Elizabeth College in Guernsey, Victoria College in Jersey, and the Lycée de St Brieuc in Brittany, France. He came to New Zealand in September 1858 for farming. Together with Alfred Cheetham Strode, he took up Earnscleugh Station on the Earnscleugh River. In 1874, he married Ellen Isabel Strode, the daughter of his business partner, in 1874.[1]

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1893–1896 12th Wakatipu Independent
1896–1899 13th Wakatipu Independent
1899–1902 14th Wakatipu Independent
1902–1905 15th Wakatipu Independent
1905–1908 16th Wakatipu Independent
1908–1909 17th Wakatipu Independent
1909–1911 Changed allegiance to: Reform
1911–1914 18th Wakatipu Reform
1914–1919 19th Wakatipu Reform

Fraser was a member of the Otago Provincial Council (1867–1870). He was a member of the inaugural Vincent County from 1877 until 1893, the last ten years as chairman.[1] He won the Wakatipu electorate in the 1893 general election, and retired in 1919.[2] He served on the Legislative Council from 1919 to 1923 when he died.[3]

Under Prime Minister William Massey, he was Minister of Public Works (10 July 1912 – 3 April 1920), Minister of Mines (10 July 1912 – 12 August 1915; 4 September 1919 – 27 July 1920), Minister of Industries and Commerce (10 July 1912 – 26 July 1912) and a Member of the Executive Council (without portfolio; 27 July 1920 – 16 July 1923).[4]

Fraser was widely criticised as Minister of Public Works for using railway branch lines as "electoral bait" particularly in the South Island and for not adopting new techniques.[5]

He was appointed a Knight Bachelor on 6 February 1918[6] and, on the occasion of the royal visit by Edward, Prince of Wales to Australia and New Zealand, a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in 1920.[7][8]

Fraser died on 16 July 1923 at Wellington after a short illness of only three weeks.[9] His wife had died many years before him. William Massey, the Prime Minister, commented on his death: "there came to an end one of the most useful careers of this country."[10] His funeral service was held at Old St. Paul's in Wellington, and he was buried at Karori Cemetery.[11]


  1. ^ a b Scholefield 1940, p. 282.
  2. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 107.
  3. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 77.
  4. ^ Scholefield 1950, pp. 43–45.
  5. ^ Noonan, Rosslyn J. (1975). By Design: A brief history of the Public Works Department Ministry of Works 1870-1970. Wellington: Ministry of Works (Crown Copyright). p. 100.
  6. ^ "No. 30607". The London Gazette. 2 April 1918. p. 4027.
  7. ^ "Farewell dinner on H.M.S. Renown: honours bestowed". The Sun (Christchurch). 22 May 1920. p. 9. Retrieved 6 September 2015.
  8. ^ "No. 32086". The London Gazette. 15 October 1920. p. 9986.
  9. ^ "Deaths". The Evening Post. CVI (13). 16 July 1923. p. 1. Retrieved 17 December 2015.
  10. ^ "Death of Sir W. Fraser". The Press. LIX (17817). 17 July 1923. p. 7. Retrieved 17 December 2015.
  11. ^ "Veteran Legislator". The New Zealand Herald. LX (18453). 17 July 1923. p. 10. Retrieved 17 December 2015.


New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Thomas Fergus
Member of Parliament for Wakatipu
Succeeded by
James Horn
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