John Robertson (New Zealand politician, born 1875)

John Robertson (1875 – 5 August 1952) was a New Zealand politician of the Labour Party.

John Robertson
John Robertson, 1935.jpg
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Otaki
In office
20 November 1911 – 10 December 1914
Preceded byWilliam Hughes Field
Succeeded byWilliam Hughes Field
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Masterton
In office
27 November 1935 – 25 September 1943
Preceded byGeorge Sykes
Succeeded byGarnet Mackley
Personal details
Died5 August 1952
New Zealand
Political partyLabour Party


Early lifeEdit

Robertson was born in Scotland, and was a watchmaker by trade. Interested in politics early, he joined the Social Democratic Federation. He was then in 1893 a foundation member of the Independent Labour Party in Britain. In 1895 he became Secretary of the party, the youngest man to hold the job.[1] He emigrated to New Zealand in 1902.[2] He settled in Dunedin and continued his trade as a watchmaker until moving to Palmerston North in 1910.[1]

In 1920 he entered the film trade as the manager of the Crystal Palace Theatre in Christchurch. Upon the formation of the New Zealand Motion Picture Exhibitors' Association in 1927 he became its national secretary. He was in addition a member of both the Government Film Advisory Committee and the New Zealand Film Industry Board.[1]

Political careerEdit

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1911–1913 18th Otaki Labour
1913–1914 Changed allegiance to: Social Democrat
1935–1938 25th Masterton Labour
1938–1943 26th Masterton Labour

He represented the Otaki electorate from 1911, when he was elected on the second ballot with Reform Party support, having been nominated by the flax-workers union. He stood Labour Party.[3] though was also endorsed by the New Zealand Socialist Party.[4]

Robertson was the only sitting Labour MP who supported the formation of the Social Democratic Party in 1913 and joined the party.[5] He ran for re-election in Otaki in 1914, but he was defeated by William Hughes Field of the Reform Party.[5] During the 1914 election, Robertson was the Social Democrat's representative in distributing servicemen's votes as he was their most senior MP at the time.[6]

Robertson was the candidate for the Labour Party in the Riccarton electorate in the 1919 election, but came last of the three candidates.[7][8] In 1933 he stood unsuccessfully for a seat on the Wellington City Council on the Labour Party ticket.[9]

Later he represented the Masterton electorate for the Labour Party from 1935 to 1943, when he was again defeated.[5] After he lost his seat in parliament he stood for Mayor of Masterton as Labour's candidate, but was defeated by William Kemp.[10]

He was then appointed to the Legislative Council on 31 January 1946 and served until its abolition on 31 December 1950.[11] He was then an active member of the Miramar branch of the Labour Party.[12]


He died in Wellington aged 76 on 5 August 1952. He was survived by his wife, son and daughter.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d "Obituary - The Hon. J. Robertson". The Dominion. 6 August 1952. p. 8.
  2. ^ Gustafson 1980, p. 159.
  3. ^ See talk page
  4. ^ Gustafson 1980, p. 165.
  5. ^ a b c Wilson 1985, p. 231.
  6. ^ Gustafson 1980, p. 87.
  7. ^ "The General Election". The Press. Vol. LV, no. 16666. 29 October 1919. p. 10. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  8. ^ Hislop, J. (1921). The General Election, 1919. National Library. p. 3. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
  9. ^ "Mr. Butler Elected". The Evening Post. Vol. CXV, no. 14. 9 May 1933. p. 8. Retrieved 1 August 2016.
  10. ^ "Other Centres - Summary of Results". Wanganui Chronicle. Vol. 88, no. 126. 29 May 1944. p. 3.
  11. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 163.
  12. ^ The Standard 13 August 1952


  • Gustafson, Barry (1980). Labour's path to political independence: the origins and establishment of the NZ Labour Party 1900–1919. Auckland, New Zealand: Auckland University Press. ISBN 0-19-647986-X.
  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103.
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Otaki
Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Masterton
Succeeded by