1881 New Zealand general election

The 1881 New Zealand general election 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 general election

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

All 95 seats in the House of Representatives
  First party Second party
  Sir John Hall, ca 1880.jpg George Grey, c. 1875.jpg
Leader John Hall George Grey
Party Conservative Independents Greyite Independents
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

Premier before election

John Hall

Subsequent Premier

John Hall

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 redistributionEdit

The previous electoral redistribution was undertaken in 1875 for the 1875–1876 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 electionEdit

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
William Montgomery Akaroa Greyite Fourth
Edward George Wright Ashburton Greyite Second
William Fisher Pearson Ashley Greyite First
George Grey Auckland East Greyite Fourth
Thomas Peacock Auckland North Independent First
Joseph Dargaville Auckland West Independent First
William Rolleston Avon Conservative Fifth
James Parker Joyce Awarua Greyite Second
Richard Hobbs Bay of Islands Conservative Second
James Rutherford Bruce Independent First
John Munro Buller Independent Liberal First
William Barron Caversham Greyite Second
Hugh McIlraith Cheviot Conservative First
Henry Thomson Christchurch North Conservative First
John Holmes Christchurch South Greyite First
James William Thomson Clutha Conservative Fourth
David McMillan Coleridge Conservative First
Alfred Cadman Coromandel Greyite First
Thomas Bracken Dunedin Central Greyite First
Matthew Green Dunedin East Independent First
Henry Fish Dunedin South Independent First
Thomas Dick Dunedin West Conservative Fourth
Vincent Pyke Dunstan Greyite Fourth
Allan McDonald East Coast Greyite Second
Joseph Tole Eden Greyite Third
Harry Atkinson Egmont Conservative Sixth
James Wilson Foxton Conservative First
Benjamin Harris Franklin North Greyite Second
Ebenezer Hamlin Franklin South Greyite Third
William Postlethwaite Geraldine Conservative First
James Sutter Gladstone Independent First
Joseph Petrie Greymouth Conservative First
Fred Sutton Hawkes Bay Conservative Third
Henry Wynn-Williams Heathcote Conservative First
Gerard George Fitzgerald Hokitika Conservative First
Henry Driver Hokonui Conservative Fifth
Thomas Mason Hutt Conservative Second
Thomas S. Weston Inangahua Conservative Second
Henry Feldwick Invercargill Greyite Second
Isaac Wilson Kaiapoi Conservative First
Richard Seddon Kumara Greyite Second
Arthur O'Callaghan Lincoln Conservative First
Harry Allwright Lyttelton Conservative Second
Walter Woods Johnston Manawatu Conservative Fourth
Maurice O'Rorke Manukau Independent Sixth
Edwin Mitchelson Marsden Conservative First
Francis Wallace Mackenzie Mataura Greyite First
John McKenzie Moeraki Greyite First
Richmond Hursthouse Motueka Conservative Third
Cecil de Lautour Mount Ida Greyite Third
John Buchanan Napier Greyite First
Henry Levestam Nelson Greyite Second
Thomas Kelly New Plymouth Conservative Fifth
William Swanson Newton Conservative Fourth
Samuel Shrimski Oamaru Greyite Third
Frederick Moss Parnell Greyite Third
James Seaton Peninsula Greyite Second
Edward Connoly Picton Conservative First
James Macandrew Port Chalmers Greyite Eighth
John Stevens Rangitikei Independent Liberal First
Seymour Thorne George Rodney Greyite Third
John Bathgate Roslyn Greyite Second
John Hall Selwyn Conservative Fifth
John Evans Brown St Albans Greyite Third
Walter Pilliet Stanmore Conservative First
William White Sydenham Greyite First
James Fulton Taieri Conservative Second
Robert Trimble Taranaki Conservative Second
George Morris Tauranga Conservative Second
Charles John Johnston Te Aro Conservative First
John Sheehan Thames Independent Fourth
William Levin Thorndon Conservative Second
Richard Turnbull Timaru Greyite Third
James Clark Brown Tuapeka Greyite Fifth
John Blair Whyte Waikato Conservative Second
James Green Waikouaiti Conservative Second
William Steward Waimate Conservative Second
Joseph Shephard Waimea Greyite Third
Frederick Alexander Whitaker Waipa Conservative Second
William Cowper Smith Waipawa Independent Liberal First
George Beetham Wairarapa North Conservative Third
Walter Clarke Buchanan Wairarapa South Conservative First
Henry Dodson Wairau Greyite First
Thomas Young Duncan Waitaki Greyite First
William John Hurst Waitemata Conservative Second
John Bryce Waitotara Conservative Fifth
Cathcart Wason Wakanui Conservative Second
Thomas Fergus Wakatipu Conservative First
Theophilus Daniel Wallace Greyite First
William Hogg Watt Wanganui Conservative Second
William Hutchison Wellington South Greyite Second
Henare Tomoana X-01Eastern Maori Conservative Third
Hone Tawhai X-02Northern Maori Greyite Second
Hori Kerei Taiaroa X-03Southern Maori Greyite Fourth
Wiremu 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. Archived from the original on 14 November 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2010.
  5. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 286.
  6. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 173.
  7. ^ "New Elections". Thames Star. Vol. XII, no. 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.