1912 New Zealand Liberal Party leadership election

The New Zealand Liberal Party leadership election 1912 was held on 22 March to choose the next leader of the New Zealand Liberal Party. The election was won by Thomas Mackenzie, who succeeded Joseph Ward.

1912 New Zealand Liberal Party leadership election

← 1906 22 March 1912 1913 →
  Thomas Mackenzie.jpg George Laurenson, 1913.jpg
Candidate Thomas Mackenzie George Laurenson
Leader's seat Egmont Lyttelton
Popular vote 22 9
Percentage 70.9% 29.1%

Leader before election

Joseph Ward

Leader after election

Thomas Mackenzie


In February 1912 the Liberal Government led by Joseph Ward was saved from defeat in a confidence only by the casting vote of the speaker. Ward made good on an earlier promise and resigned the premiership.[1]


Thomas MackenzieEdit

Mackenzie was seen by many as a strong contender for the leadership by many observers of the jockeying for position following Ward's resignation.[2] However, many also saw Mackenzie as too new a recruit to the party to lead it.[3]

George LaurensonEdit

Laurenson had been an MP since 1899 and represented the urban and more left-leaning Liberals. He was the member from Lyttelton. His candidacy took many by surprise, as talk of him as leader had been dismissed as mere gossip by the press.[3]


Many expected John Millar to seek the leadship, thinking him assured the votes of members from urban electorates. However, realising that he did not have backing from the labour sympathisers in caucus (who supported Laurenson) he declined to run. Many others thought he lacked the charisma needed to reverse the party's fortunes.[2] The only other name mentioned in the press as a possible successor to Ward was that of Josiah Hanan, MP for Invercargill.[3]


After a 10-hour caucus meeting on 22 March, presided over by Ward, Mackenzie won a simple ballot by the caucus 22 votes to 9.[3]

Name Votes Percentage
Thomas Mackenzie 22 70.9%
George Laurenson 9 29.1%


After the vote, Laurenson became deputy and the two quickly put together a new cabinet.[3] Mackenzie was to serve as Prime Minister from 28 March to 10 July 1912 when he resigned, after his party was defeated when it met the reassembled Parliament, giving way to the first Government of William Massey ending the Liberal's 22 year government.[1]


  1. ^ a b Foster 1966.
  2. ^ a b Brooking, Tom. "Mackenzie, Thomas Noble 1853–1930". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e Bassett 1993, p. 209.