John Williamson (New Zealand politician)

John Williamson (25 August 1815 – 16 February 1875) was a New Zealand politician, printer and newspaper proprietor. He was a leading opponent of the 1860s wars against Māori and lost his newspaper and fortune as a result.[1]

John Williamson in 1860

Early lifeEdit

Williamson was probably born on 25 August 1815,[1] or possibly February 1815,[2] in Newry, County Down, Ireland. He served his apprenticeship as a printer. He married in either 1833 or 1834 to Sarah Barre, and they were to have five children. They emigrated to Sydney in 1840, where he worked for The Australasian Chronicle and then The Sydney Monitor. He moved to Auckland, New Zealand, in mid-1841.[3]

New ZealandEdit

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1855–1860 2nd Pensioner Settlements Independent
1861–1866 3rd City of Auckland West Independent
1866–1870 4th City of Auckland West Independent
1871 5th City of Auckland West Independent
1871–1875 5th City of Auckland West Independent

He purchased his own printing press in 1845 and started the New Zealander, which became Auckland's leading newspaper. The editorial approach of the New Zealander, was to support the ordinary settler and the Māori.[4]

He was joined by partner W.C. Wilson in 1848, until Wilson left to found The New Zealand Herald in 1863.[3] The New Zealander ceased after a fire on 7 May 1866.[5] A coroner's hearing concluded there was insufficient information to determine the cause, though evidence was given of an unknown person running away.[6] In 1867 the Evening Post wrote, "It was a combination of leading men in Auckland - notably the business men - that killed the New Zealander, causing heavy loss to its actual proprietor and those conducting it. Why? It ventured to have an opinion, and to maintain it."[7]

He was a member of the Auckland Provincial Council in the first council from 22 July 1853, representing the Pensioner Settlements electorate. He served until 15 November 1856 as a councillor.[8] He was, over three periods, the fourth Superintendent of Auckland Province (1856–1862 resigned; 1867–1869 defeated; 1873–1875 died).[3][9] On 28 December 1865, he became a member of the Auckland Executive Council as commissioner of waste lands under Frederick Whitaker as Superintendent, until he succeeded him in 1867 following his resignation.[3][10]

Williamson represented the Pensioner Settlements (consisting of the Auckland suburbs of Howick, Onehunga, Otahuhu, and Panmure) in the 2nd New Zealand Parliament from 1855 to 1860, and represented the City of Auckland West electorate in the 3rd Parliament, the 4th Parliament, and the 5th Parliament from 1861 to 1875 (in 1871 the election was declared void, but he was then re-elected).[3]

He was briefly a minister without portfolio in the second Fox Ministry in July/August 1861.[11] He died in 1875, while he was a Member of Parliament.[3] He was buried in Symonds Street Cemetery.[12]


  1. ^ a b "THE LATE MB JOHN WILLIAMSON. GLOBE". 22 February 1875. Retrieved 1 June 2022.
  2. ^ "Death of John Williamson, Esq., AUCKLAND STAR". 16 February 1875. Retrieved 1 June 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Waterson, D. B. "Williamson, John". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  4. ^ "The Daily Southern Cross". National Library of New Zealand - Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa. Retrieved 30 October 2012.
  5. ^ "THE FIRE OF MONDAY NIGHT. NEW ZEALAND HERALD". 9 May 1866. Retrieved 1 June 2022.
  7. ^ "THE NEW ZEALAND PRESS. EVENING POST". 8 February 1867. Retrieved 1 June 2022.
  8. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 186.
  9. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 179.
  10. ^ Scholefield 1950, pp. 179, 181.
  11. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 32.
  12. ^ "FUNERAL OF THE LATE SUPERINTENDENT. AUCKLAND STAR". 19 February 1875. Retrieved 1 June 2022.


  • Scholefield, Guy (1950) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1949 (3rd ed.). Wellington: Govt. Printer.
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Pensioner Settlements
Served alongside: Joseph Greenwood, John Jermyn Symonds
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Superintendent of Auckland Province
Succeeded by
Preceded by Succeeded by
Preceded by
Thomas Gillies
Succeeded by

External linksEdit