1911 Christchurch North by-election

The 1911 Christchurch North by-election was a by-election during the 17th New Zealand Parliament held on 17 August that year in the Christchurch North electorate. It was triggered by the death of sitting member Tommy Taylor on 27 July and was won by his close friend and political ally, Leonard Isitt.

1911 Christchurch North by-election

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  Leonard Monk Isitt, 1911.jpg No image.png
Candidate Leonard Isitt John D. Hall
Party Independent Liberal Reform
Popular vote 3,815

Member before election

Tommy Taylor

Elected Member

Leonard Isitt
Independent Liberal


Taylor had come to national prominence over prohibition even before he was first elected to parliament in the 1896 election. A radical politician, he was interested in a variety of labour and liberal issues, but was a staunch opponent of Richard Seddon and always maintained his independence, going as far as refusing company ownership or joining cabinet. On a personal level, he was deeply popular with the population, and when he died aged 49 only months after having been elected Mayor of Christchurch, 50,000 people lined the streets during his funeral procession.[1]

Candidates and campaignEdit

At the time, Taylor had been one of New Zealand's most colourful politicians.[1] Naturally, when it came to discussions around his succession in the Christchurch North electorate, a focus was on people who could advance some of the causes that had been important to Taylor. The two politicians mentioned in this context were Leonard Isitt and James McCombs. The next general election was not too far away and McCombs had already committed himself to contest Christchurch East, and he thus declined. He also stated that he was too busy during the by-election campaign period, as he had committed himself to organise the Taylor memorial fund, for which he was secretary.[2]

Isitt accepted the nomination. Also a prohibitionist and a close friend of Taylor's, Isitt was at his bedside when he died.[2] Labour interests did not stand a candidate against Isitt out of respect for Taylor.[2] The conservative candidate was John Dryden Hall, the second son of a former premier, John Hall.[3]


The following table gives the election results:

1911 Christchurch North by-election[4]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Independent Liberal Leonard Isitt 3,815 55.12
Reform John Dryden Hall 3,106 44.88
Majority 709 10.24
Turnout 6,921

Commentators attributed the win of successful candidate Leonard Isitt to floods of sympathy votes.[4] Isitt held the Christchurch North electorate until he retired at the 1925 election.[5] Hall contested the Christchurch North electorate in the 1911 general election a few months after the by-election, but was beaten by Isitt in the second ballot.[6]


  1. ^ a b Grigg, A. R. "Taylor, Thomas Edward". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 28 October 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "North Christchurch". The Star. No. 10219. 31 July 1911. p. 3. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
  3. ^ "Obituary". The Press. Vol. LXXVII, no. 23377. 10 July 1941. p. 8. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
  4. ^ a b The by-election. The Timaru Herald. 18 August 1911. p. 4. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  5. ^ Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First published in 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. p. 207. OCLC 154283103.
  6. ^ Mansfield, F. W. (1912). The General Election, 1911. National Library. p. 4. Retrieved 25 April 2015.