John Luke (New Zealand politician)

Sir John Pearce Luke CMG (16 July 1858 – 7 December 1931) was a New Zealand politician. Luke was Mayor of Wellington from 1913 to 1921 and Member of Parliament for Wellington Suburbs 1908–1911 and Wellington North 1918–1928. His brother Charles Manley Luke had previously also been Mayor of Wellington in 1895. Sir John Pearce was nicknamed Peanut because he was short.

Sir John Luke
John Luke.jpg
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Wellington North
In office
12 February 1918 – 14 November 1928
Preceded byAlexander Herdman
Succeeded byCharles Chapman
20th Mayor of Wellington
In office
30 April 1913 – 9 May 1921
DeputyGeorge Frost
Preceded byDavid McLaren
Succeeded byRobert Wright
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Wellington Suburbs
In office
2 December 1908 – 7 December 1911
Personal details
Born16 July 1858
Penzance, Cornwall, England
Died7 December 1931(1931-12-07) (aged 73)
Wellington, New Zealand
Political partyLiberal (1908–1914)
Reform (1914–1928)
Jacobina McGregor
(m. 1880)
RelationsCharles Luke (brother)

Early lifeEdit

Born at St Just, near Penzance, Cornwall, England, to Samuel and Ann Luke, John Luke came to New Zealand with his parents in July 1874 after the Cornish tin industry failed. He completed two years of an apprenticeship as an engineer before leaving for Feilding, New Zealand from where, the family were informed, they would be able to take up engineering work 50 kilometres away on the coast at Foxton while they developed the Fielding property. However, "When the Luke's landed at Wellington they discovered that Foxton was merely a paper township; it was a name on the map and the only industry there was the extraction of pipis from the beach by Maoris."[1] Luke completed his engineering apprenticeship with The Lion Foundry, and worked on various projects before joining his father's newly established Te Aro Engineering Works in 1879.[1] After initially struggling the business was successful and constructed several steamships. In June 1886 his oldest brother William died "after a short and painful illness in his 34th year"[2] followed by his next oldest brother, Samuel, at 32 years of age, in December.[3]

City council and mayorEdit

Luke was first elected to the city council in 1898[4] and served between that year and 1911.[citation needed] He was responsible for the expansion of the Wellington tramway system.[citation needed] For many years he was president of the New Zealand Engineers and Iron Masters Association, and was actively associated with the Wellington Industrial Association, the Wellington District Hospital Board, the Wellington Technical Education Board, and the Navy League. The Returned Soldiers Association conferred upon them the honour of life membership of the organisation.[citation needed] Luke contested the 1905 Wellington City mayoral election and of the six candidates, he came fourth, with Thomas William Hislop elected.[5]

Member of ParliamentEdit

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1908–1911 17th Wellington Suburbs Liberal
1918–1919 19th Wellington North Reform
1919–1922 20th Wellington North Reform
1922–1925 21st Wellington North Reform
1925–1928 22nd Wellington North Reform

His parliamentary career began in 1908 with his election as member for Wellington Suburbs for the Liberal Party, but he lost his seat at the 1911 general election to Reform candidate William Henry Dillon Bell.[6] From 1911 until 1918 he was not a member of Parliament, and was defeated for Wellington South, standing now as a Reform candidate, by Labour's Alfred Hindmarsh in 1914.[7] He was re-elected to Parliament in the 1918 by-election as a member of the Reform Party and again 1919, in the Wellington North electorate.[6] After the 1922 election he was put forward as a candidate for Speaker of the House of Representatives after the previous speaker Sir Frederic Lang lost his parliamentary seat. As the Reform government had lost their overall majority, Luke declined nomination for speaker to allow an independent MP, Charles Statham, to become speaker thereby helping the government's voting strength.[8] He held this electorate continuously until the 1928 general election, when he was defeated by the Labour candidate Charles Chapman, by a margin of 47 votes.[6]

Luke was married in 1880 to Jacobina McGregor. He appointed a Knight Bachelor in the 1921 King's Birthday Honours,[9] having previously been made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George in the 1917 King's Birthday Honours.[10] He was leader of the New Zealand delegation which visited South Africa in 1924 in connection with the Empire Parliamentary Association. He died suddenly on 7 December 1931, and was survived by his wife, four sons, and one daughter.[11] His funeral service was held at St. Paul's Cathedral in Wellington,[12] followed by a private cremation,[11] with his ashes buried at Karori Cemetery.[13][14]


  • Lukes Lane in the Wellington CBD is named after the family business, Lukes' Foundry, which was sited there; years later, Sir John Pearce's sons set up Luke Bros foundry near Chaffers Street. Lukes' Foundry built New Zealand's first steel ship, and several lighthouses.
  • Sir John Pearce and his wife, Lady Jacobina Luke, donated the decorative iron gates at the entrance to Central Park, in Brooklyn, Wellington.
  • Lady Luke was President of the Victoria League Wellington Branch from 1920 to 1922[15]


  1. ^ a b "Types of Citizen - In and About Wellington - Mr. J. P. Luke, Mayor". The Evening Post. Vol. LXXXV, no. 122. 24 May 1913. p. 9.
  2. ^ "The Management of the Government Insurance Association". The Evening Post. Vol. XXXII, no. 30. 22 June 1886. p. 2.
  3. ^ "Death". The Evening Post. Vol. XXXII, no. 187. 23 December 1886. p. 2.
  4. ^ "Mr Luke Successful". Ashburton Guardian. 1 March 1918. p. 3. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  5. ^ "Wellington City Council". The Free Lance. Vol. V, no. 43. 29 April 1905. p. 16. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
  6. ^ a b c Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. p. 213. OCLC 154283103.
  7. ^ Hislop, J. (1915). The General Election, 1914. National Library. pp. 1–33. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  8. ^ Parliamentary Debates. Vol. 199. Wellington. 1923. pp. 6–8.
  9. ^ "No. 13745". The Edinburgh Gazette. 23 September 1921. p. 1568.
  10. ^ "No. 30111". The London Gazette (6th supplement). 4 June 1917. p. 5457.
  11. ^ a b "Sir John P. Luke". The Evening Post. Vol. CXII, no. 138. 8 December 1931. p. 9. Retrieved 17 February 2016.
  12. ^ "The Late Sir John Luke". The Press. Vol. LXVII, no. 20416. 10 December 1931. p. 11. Retrieved 17 February 2016.
  13. ^ "Details". Wellington City Council. Retrieved 17 February 2016.
  14. ^ "Details". Wellington City Council. Retrieved 17 February 2016.
  15. ^ Stokes, Brian (1979) A History of Victoria League for Commonwealth Friendship in New Zealand

Further readingEdit

  • Perry, Stuart (1969), No Mean City, Wellington, [N.Z.]: Wellington City Council

External linksEdit

New Zealand Parliament
In abeyance
Title last held by
Thomas Wilford
Member of Parliament for Wellington Suburbs
In abeyance
Title next held by
Robert Wright
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Wellington North
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Mayor of Wellington
Succeeded by