George Fisher (New Zealand politician)

George Fisher (1843 – 14 March 1905) was a four-time Mayor of Wellington, New Zealand from 1882 to 1885, and in 1896. He represented various Wellington electorates in Parliament for a total of 18 years. He was nicknamed ‘Tarcoola George’.

George Fisher, ca 1890s


Fisher was born in Dublin, Ireland on 25 December 1843, the son of James Fisher, the Government printer in Dublin, and apprenticed as a compositor in London before moving with his family to Melbourne in 1857, where his father became a co-proprietor of The Age newspaper. George arrived in New Zealand in 1863 and worked first as a printer then as a journalist on Hansard (at Parliament). He married Laura Emma Tompkins in Christchurch in 1866 and they had four sons and two daughters.

His son Francis Fisher (1877–1960) was also a Member of Parliament for Wellington between 1905 and 1915, and was Minister of Trade and Customs under Prime Minister William Massey. As a top New Zealand's tennis player, both at home and abroad, FMB Fisher reached the final of the Australian Open in 1906 - one of only four New Zealanders to play in the final of a 'Grand Slam' event. FMB Fisher's eldest daughter, Esther Fisher (1900–1991) became an international pianist.

A brother of George's, David Patrick Fisher (1850–1912), also a printer by trade and resident in Wellington 1872–1906, was a leading New Zealand union founder and organiser.

Political careerEdit

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1884–1887 9th Wellington South Independent
1887–1890 10th Wellington East Independent
1890–1893 11th City of Wellington Liberal
1896–1899 13th City of Wellington Liberal
1899–1902 14th City of Wellington Liberal
1902–1905 15th City of Wellington Liberal

Fisher was a Wellington City Councillor from 1877 to 1881. He was elected Mayor of Wellington four times, from 1882 to 1885, and in 1896.[1]

He represented the Wellington South electorate from the 1884 general election until the end of the parliamentary term in 1887, and then represented the Wellington East electorate from the 1887 general election until the end of the parliamentary term in 1890.[2]

The Wellington East electorate was abolished and replaced with the City of Wellington electorate, and Fisher got elected in this three-member electorate in the 1890 general election.[2] He became a member of the Liberal Party. He was soundly defeated at the 1893 general election coming eight.[3]

He again stood for the City of Wellington in the 1896 general election and was returned. He was also successful in the two subsequent general elections in 1899 and 1902. He died in 1905 while in office, triggering a by-election that was won by his son.[2]

He was Minister of Education and Commissioner of Trade and Customs from October 1887 to April 1889 in Prime Minister Harry Atkinson's Scarecrow Ministry.[2]

Brilliant but alcoholic, he "distinguished himself by being committed to an inebriates' home while still an M.P."[4]

Further readingEdit

Works of George FisherEdit

  • Fisher, George (1893), Mr. George Fisher and the Atkinson Ministry: debate in the House of Representatives / speech delivered by G. Fisher., Wellington, [N.Z.]: Government Printer
  • Fisher, George (1897), Address in reply: speech delivered by Mr. G. Fisher in the House of Representatives, on the 29h September, 1897, Wellington, [N.Z.]: Government Printer
  • Fisher, George (1897), Wellington City Empowering Bill: speech delivered by Mr. Fisher, M.H.R. in the House of Representatives, 4th November, 1897, Wellington, [N.Z.]: Government Printer
  • Fisher, George (1900), The Libel Bill: a defence of the rights of the people ; together with a synopsis of Mr. G. Fisher's new Libel Bill: two speeches delivered by Mr. Fisher, on 26th July and 2nd August, 1900, in the House of Representatives, Wellington, [N.Z.]: Government Printer

Works about George FisherEdit

  • Maxim, Paul (2007), Printers, politicians and piston rings: a biography of the Fisher family: including James, George, David Patrick, FMB, David Percival and Esther Fisher, Wellington, [N.Z.]: P. Maxim, ISBN 978-0-473-12165-5 email:
  • Norgrove, W. (c. 1889), The stand-or-fall platform of the great political mountebank : written by his distinguished admirer for his next performance at the Opera House, due notice of which will be given: to conclude with a ludicrous exposure of the Moss episode: an entire change of programme! with a magnificent transformation scene during which the candidate will re-appear on the political stage as a liberal reformer of the most advanced and chaste type, Wellington, [N.Z.]: Haggett & Percy, Printers
  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985), New Zealand Parliamentary Record 1840–1984 (4th ed.), Wellington: Government Printer


  1. ^ Perry, Stuart (1969), No Mean City, Wellington, [N.Z.]: Wellington City Council
  2. ^ a b c d Scholefield, Guy (1950) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1949 (3rd ed.). Wellington: Govt. Printer. pp. 39, 106.
  3. ^ "Page 6 Advertisements Column 2". The Evening Post. Vol. LII, no. 161. 28 November 1896. p. 6. Retrieved 28 August 2011.
  4. ^ Bollinger, Conrad Grog’s Own Country: The Story of Liquor Licensing in New Zealand (2nd revised edition Minerva Auckland, 1967, page 77; 1st edition Price Milburn Wellington, 1959)
New Zealand Parliament
New constituency Member of Parliament for Wellington East
In abeyance
Title next held by
John Aitken (politician)
In abeyance
Title last held by
William Hutchison, William Levin
Member of Parliament for Wellington
served alongside: Kennedy Macdonald, William McLean, John Duthie
served alongside: Robert Stout, John Duthie, John Hutcheson, Arthur Atkinson, John Aitken
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Francis Bell, Robert Stout, John Duthie
Succeeded by
Francis Fisher, John Duthie, John Aitken
Political offices
Preceded by Mayor of Wellington
Succeeded by
Preceded by Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Education
Succeeded by