Ellesmere (New Zealand electorate)

Ellesmere was a parliamentary electorate in the Canterbury region of New Zealand. It existed for two periods between 1861 and 1928 and was represented by six Members of Parliament.

Population centresEdit

Ellesmere was a rural electorate. It was created in the 1860 Electoral Redistribution and was used in its initial form for the 1861 election.[1] It was located on Banks Peninsula and included Sumner, Ferrymead, settlements around Lyttelton Harbour excluding Lyttelton itself (which had its own electorate). On the peninsula, its boundary with Akaroa was east of Port Levy. In the south-west, it bordered Lake Ellesmere / Te Waihora but surprisingly, the lake that gave the electorate its name was not included in the electorate, but belonged to Cheviot.[2]

The electorate was abolished between 1866 and 1890. In December 1887, the House of Representatives voted to reduce its membership from general electorates from 91 to 70. The 1890 electoral redistribution used the same 1886 census data used for the 1887 electoral redistribution. In addition, three-member electorates were introduced in the four main centres. This resulted in a major restructuring of electorates, and Ellesmere was one of eight electorates to be re-created for the 1890 election.[3] It covered an entirely different area than before, and it was placed between the Ashburton and Selwyn electorates, thus pushing them apart. In the east, it covered most of Lake Ellesmere, but excluded Kaitorete Spit. In the west, it stopped short of the Ashburton River and did not include Ashburton itself. It went as far inland as the headwaters of the Rakaia River. Southbridge, Rakaia, Leeston, and Methven fell into the electorate.[4]

The 1892 Electoral Redistribution, which took effect with the 1893 election, changed the shape of the Ellesmere electorate dramatically. It replaced the Akaroa electorate and thus covered all of Banks Peninsula including the town of Akaroa, plus the settlements of Governors Bay and Rapaki. A small area of land around Lake Ellesmere also belonged to the electorate, and this now included Kaitorete Spit. Southbridge and Leeston remained in the electorate (just), but all the hinterland (including Rakaia and Methven) was lost to the Selwyn and Ashburton electorates.[5]

The 1896 Electoral Redistribution, which took effect that year, established the electorate's area for the next six years. Boundary changes were slight, with the southern settlements along Lyttelton Harbour going to the Lyttelton electorate.[6] The 1902 Electoral Redistribution, which took effect that year, established the electorate's area until 1908. Boundary changes were again minimal, with the electorate regaining the southern settlements along Lyttelton Harbour.[7]

The 1907 Electoral Redistribution, which took effect in 1908 election, changed the boundaries more significantly. The Lyttelton electorate took some area of the peninsula, and Port Levy went to that electorate. The neighbouring Courtenay electorate was abolished and replaced with Riccarton, with Ellesmere's boundary shifting north-west to the South Island Main Trunk Railway, and the town of Lincoln was gained.[8]

Through the 1911 Electoral Redistribution, which took effect with the 1911 election, the Lyttelton electorate expanded further onto Banks Peninsula and took its northern half. This lost settlements like Pigeon Bay and Okains Bay.[9]

The 1918 Electoral Redistribution, which took effect in 1919 election, saw a complete adjustment of the electorate's boundaries. Three quarters of Banks Peninsula, including the town of Akaroa, were now covered by the Lyttelton electorate. The Ellesmere electorate went across the Main South railway and extended all the way to the boundary between Canterbury and the West Coast, with Arthur's Pass and Harper's Pass located on that boundary. This brought many small communities on the Canterbury Plains into the electorate, including Springfield, plus settlement in the Southern Alps like Arthur's Pass and Cass.[10]

The 1922 Electoral Redistribution, which took effect that year, established the electorate's area for its final six years. Near the coast, the boundary shifted south and Rakaia was gained again. In the Canterbury hinterland, the boundaries were redrawn completely and the electorate moved south significantly, losing area to Hurunui in the north and gaining significantly from the Ashburton electorate. In its final shape, the inland part of the electorate was centred on the Rakaia River. Lake Coleridge was for the first time within the electorate, and Methven was gained again.[10] The 1927 Electoral Redistribution, which took effect with the 1928 election, saw the Ellesmere electorate abolished and replaced with the Mid-Canterbury electorate.[11]


Ellesmere was first established for the 1861 election.[12] At the next election in 1866, it was replaced with the Mount Herbert electorate. It was re-established for the 1890 election and existed until 1928.[12]

Thomas Rowley[13] was elected unopposed on 25 January 1861.[14] He resigned on 25 April 1862.[15] James FitzGerald won the resulting by-election until the electorate was abolished in 1866; FitzGerald successfully stood in Christchurch instead.[16][17]

John Hall, who had previously represented the Selwyn electorate, won the 1890 election against John McLachlan.[18] These were to be Hall's final three years in Parliament before he retired, during which he achieved his "last political triumph" of successful parliamentary leadership of the women's suffrage campaign.[19]

William Rolleston and William Montgomery contested the 1893 election. It was won by Montgomery for the Liberal Party,[20] whose father, William Montgomery Sr., had previously represented the Akaroa electorate,[21] and constituted Rolleston's second parliamentary defeat since he had first been elected in 1868.[22] In 1896, Montgomery was challenged by Frederick Arthur Anson, a sheep farmer from Peraki standing for the opposition.[23]

Montgomery was defeated in the 1899 election by the exceptionally wealthy former lawyer and now farmer Heaton Rhodes, who was living in his 40-room mansion Otahuna on Banks Peninsula. Rhodes, a conservative politician who joined the Reform Party, was to hold the electorate until 1925, when he retired on medical advice, only to be promptly appointed to the Legislative Council.[24][25]

Members of ParliamentEdit

The electorate was represented by six Members of Parliament.[12]


  Independent     Conservative     Liberal     Reform  

Election Winner
1861 election Thomas Rowley
1862 by-election James FitzGerald
(Electorate abolished 1866–1890, see Mount Herbert)
1890 election John Hall
1893 election William Montgomery
1896 election
1899 election Heaton Rhodes
1902 election
1905 election
1905 election
1911 election
1914 election
1919 election
1922 election
1925 election David Jones
(Electorate abolished 1928, see Mid-Canterbury)

Election resultsEdit

1925 electionEdit

1925 general election: Ellesmere[26]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Reform David Jones 4,014 54.29
Liberal Jeremiah Connolly 3,380 45.71
Majority 634 8.57
Informal votes 143 1.90
Registered electors 8,121
Turnout 7,537 92.81

1919 electionEdit

1919 general election: Ellesmere[27][28]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Reform Heaton Rhodes 3,582 55.84
Liberal George Barclay 2,833 44.16
Majority 749 11.68
Informal votes 74 1.14
Turnout 6,489 75.66
Registered electors 8,577

1899 electionEdit

1899 general election: Ellesmere[29]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Heaton Rhodes 1,760 51.52
Liberal William Montgomery 1,656 48.48
Majority 104 3.04
Turnout 3,416 82.89
Registered electors 4,121

1893 electionEdit

1893 general election: Ellesmere[30][31]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal William Montgomery 1,576 55.12
Independent William Rolleston 1,283 44.88
Majority 293 10.25 +2.80
Turnout 2,859 84.69 +25.66
Registered electors 3,376

1890 electionEdit

1890 general election: Ellesmere[32]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative John Hall 757 53.73
Liberal John McLachlan 652 46.27
Majority 105 7.45
Turnout 1,409 59.03
Registered electors 2,387


  1. ^ McRobie 1989, pp. 33, 35.
  2. ^ McRobie 1989, p. 35.
  3. ^ McRobie 1989, pp. 54ff.
  4. ^ McRobie 1989, pp. 55, 57.
  5. ^ McRobie 1989, pp. 59, 61.
  6. ^ McRobie 1989, pp. 63, 65.
  7. ^ McRobie 1989, pp. 67, 69.
  8. ^ McRobie 1989, pp. 71, 73.
  9. ^ McRobie 1989, pp. 75, 77.
  10. ^ a b McRobie 1989, pp. 79, 81.
  11. ^ McRobie 1989, pp. 87, 89.
  12. ^ a b c Wilson 1985, p. 263.
  13. ^ Johnson, R. D.; Lochhead, I.; Shapcott, P.M.; Shaw-Brown, D. (May 1986). The Architectural Heritage of Christchurch (PDF) (Report). Christchurch City Council: Town Planning Division. p. 5.
  14. ^ "Canterbury". Vol. XVI, no. 1495. Wellington Independent. 8 February 1861. p. 5. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  15. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 136.
  16. ^ Scholefield 1925, p. 92.
  17. ^ "Canterbury". Vol. 5, no. 292. Hawke's Bay Herald. 17 June 1862. p. 3. Retrieved 17 January 2011.
  18. ^ "The General Election, 1890". National Library. 1891. p. 2. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  19. ^ Gardner, W. J. "Hall, John". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  20. ^ "The General Election, 1893". National Library. 1894. p. 2. Retrieved 25 February 2012.
  21. ^ Gardner, W. J. "Montgomery, William". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 9 April 2010.
  22. ^ Gardner, W. J. "Rolleston, William". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 31 July 2011.
  23. ^ "Electoral District of Ellesmere". The Press. Vol. LIII, no. 9585. 27 November 1896. p. 8. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  24. ^ Rice, Geoffrey W. "Rhodes, Robert Heaton". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  25. ^ Wilson 1985, pp. 162, 230.
  26. ^ "Election Notices". Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser. Vol. XLIX, no. 5121. 17 November 1925. p. 3. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
  27. ^ Hislop, J. (1921). The General Election, 1919. National Library. p. 4. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
  28. ^ "Notice of Nominations Received". The Press. Vol. LV, no. 16702. 10 December 1919. p. 12. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  29. ^ "The General Election, 1899". Wellington: Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives. 19 June 1900. p. 2. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  30. ^ "The General Election, 1893". National Library. 1894. p. 2. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
  31. ^ "The General Election". Otago Daily Times. 28 November 1893. p. 6. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
  32. ^ Cooper, G. S. (1891). The General Election, 1890. National Library. p. 2. Retrieved 6 June 2015.


  • McRobie, Alan (1989). Electoral Atlas of New Zealand. Wellington: GP Books. ISBN 0-477-01384-8.
  • Scholefield, Guy (1925) [First published in 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record (2nd ed.). Wellington: Govt. Printer.
  • Scholefield, Guy (1950) [First published in 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.