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James Colvin (1844 – 29 October 1919) was a New Zealand Member of Parliament for Buller, in the South Island.

James Colvin
James Colvin.jpg
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Buller
In office
1899 – 1919
Preceded byPatrick O'Regan
Succeeded byHarry Holland
Personal details
Donegal, Ireland
Died29 October 1919(1919-10-29) (aged 74–75)
Wellington, New Zealand
Political partyLiberal

Early lifeEdit

Colvin was born in 1844 in Donegal, Ireland, where he received his education.[1] He emigrated to Victoria, Australia in 1861 and went gold mining in Creswick and Daylesford.[2] He came to New Zealand in 1862 and joined the Otago Gold Rush in Dunstan and Wakatipu, from where he went to the gold fields in the Wakamarina Valley in Marlborough; he set up a store in the latter place.[2][3] When he was a young man, Colvin was held up by a member of the Burgess-Sullivan gang (also known as the Maungatapu Murderers) near where George Dobson had been murdered a few days previously. Unknown to his interrogator James Colvin was carrying 2,000 pounds worth of gold on his saddle, and managed to pass unmolested.[4]

Political careerEdit

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1899–1902 14th Buller Independent Liberal
1902–1905 15th Buller Liberal
1905–1908 16th Buller Liberal
1908–1911 17th Buller Liberal
1911–1914 18th Buller Liberal
1914–1919 19th Buller Liberal

He served on numerous boards and committees: the Buller County Council (1885–89), Westport Harbour Board (Chairman 1890), and was Mayor of Westport between 1898 and 1900.[2]

Colvin stood in the Buller electorate in the 1896 election but was defeated by Patrick O'Regan.[5][6] He defeated O'Regan in 1899 as a supporter of Richard Seddon,[2] and represented the Buller electorate in the House of Representatives for twenty years until his death in 1919. At the 1899 election, Colvin stood as an Independent Liberal rather than an official Liberal candidate.[7]

From 1906 until 1909 he was the Liberal Party's junior whip.[8]

Colvin served as the Chairman of Committees from 1910 to 1911.[9] In the house, he had the nickname 'uncle Colvin', given to him by Thomas Wilford in 1899 when they both entered Parliament.[1] He was Minister of Mines in 1912 in the Mackenzie cabinet.[10]

Colvin was killed at 10 pm on 29 October 1919 by a tram as he left Parliament House in 1919.[4] Parliament was still sitting, and the news reached the debating chamber within 15 minutes, which resulted in the immediate adjournment of proceedings.[1]


  1. ^ a b c "Mr J. Colvin, M.P., Killed". The Press. LV (16667). 30 October 1919. p. 6. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d Scholefield 1940, p. 171.
  3. ^ Hamer 1988, p. 363.
  4. ^ a b Matthews 1999, p. 203.
  5. ^ "Buller Electoral District". Inangahua Times. XXI (1092). 2 December 1896. p. 3. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
  6. ^ "Nelson". Auckland Star. XXVII (305). 23 December 1896. p. 6. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
  7. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 190.
  8. ^ Wilson 1985, pp. 279.
  9. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 252.
  10. ^ Wood 1996, p. 88.


  • Hamer, David (1988), The New Zealand Liberals: the years of power, 1891–1912, Auckland, [N.Z.]: Auckland University Press, ISBN 1-869-40014-3
  • Leslie, Eric A. (1980), The Colvin story (1861-1979) and the Colvin family trees (1877–1979), Westport, [N.Z.]: E. A. Leslie
  • Matthews, Ella (1999). Yesterdays in Golden Buller. Cadsonbury Publications.
  • Scholefield, Guy, ed. (1940). A Dictionary of New Zealand Biography : A–L (PDF). I. Wellington: Department of Internal Affairs. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103.
  • Wood, G. Antony (ed.) (1996), Ministers and Members in the New Zealand Parliament, Dunedin, [N.Z.]: Otago University Press, ISBN 1-877-13300-0CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas Wilford
Chairman of Committees of the House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Frederic Lang
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Patrick O'Regan
Member of Parliament for Buller
Succeeded by
Harry Holland