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Sir George Maurice O’Rorke (2 May 1830 – 25 August 1916) was a New Zealand politician, representing (as George O’Rorke) the Auckland seat of Onehunga, and later Manukau, and was Speaker of the House of Representatives. He was a committed provincialist and was the eighth Superintendent of the Auckland Province. Upon receiving his knighthood in 1880, he became known as Sir Maurice.

Sir Maurice O'Rorke
portrait of man in his 60s with sideburns
George Maurice O’Rorke
5th Speaker of the House of Representatives
In office
Prime MinisterJohn Hall
In office
Prime MinisterRichard Seddon
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Onehunga (previously Town of Onehunga)
In office
1861 – 1881
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Manukau
In office
1881 – 1890
In office
1893 – 1902
8th Superintendent of Auckland Province
In office
February 1875 – March 1875
Personal details
Born2 May 1830
Moylough, County Galway, Ireland
Died25 August 1916(1916-08-25) (aged 86)
Auckland, New Zealand
Political partyLiberal
Spouse(s)Cecilia Mary Shepherd
RelationsAlexander Shepherd (father-in-law)

Early lifeEdit

O’Rorke was born in Moylough, County Galway, Ireland, the third son of the Rev John O’Rorke (an Anglican minister and large landowner) and his third wife Elizabeth (née Dennis). He went to Trinity College, Dublin, getting a B.A. with high honours in classics in 1852. Immediately after finishing his university education, he sailed for Melbourne, Australia. Whilst this was the time of the Victorian gold rush, this was not his motivation. Rather, he had had an uncle, Henry Dennis, who had settled as a squatter in the Darling Downs in the early 1840s, but who had perished in the sinking of the Sovereign near Moreton Bay in 1847. After working in Victoria, Australia on a farm, he came to Auckland in 1854, farming in Papakura and Onehunga, Auckland.[1]


New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1861–1866 3rd Town of Onehunga Independent
1866–1871 4th Town of Onehunga Independent
1871–1875 5th Onehunga Independent
1875–1879 6th Onehunga Independent
1879–1881 7th Onehunga Independent
1881–1884 8th Manukau Independent
1884–1887 9th Manukau Independent
1887–1890 10th Manukau Independent
1893–1896 12th Manukau Liberal
1896–1899 13th Manukau Liberal
1899–1902 14th Manukau Liberal

He represented Onehunga, which became Manukau, from 1861 to 1902, except for 1891–1893 when he was out of Parliament. He was Minister of Immigration and Crown Lands 1873–1874 in the Waterhouse, Fox and Vogel ministries, but was sacked by Vogel, dissatisfied with his performance. He supported the Provincial system in New Zealand, and spoke out against its abolition by Vogel.[2] He served as Chairman of Committees from 1871 to 1872.[3]

O'Rorke served on the Auckland Provincial Council as councillor from November 1865 to October 1876.[4] From December 1865, he served as the Council's 3rd (and last) Speaker.[5] He was elected Superintendent in 1875 for a period of five weeks.[2][6]

He was a notable Speaker of the House, serving from 11 July 1879 to 5 November 1902, except for 1891–1893.[7] He supported education, and was in favour of Imperial Federation.

He was knighted in 1880, when he became Sir Maurice, although he had previously used George as his Christian name.[2] In 1904 he was appointed to the Legislative Council, where he served until his death.[8]

The student residential hall, O'Rorke Hall at the University of Auckland, is named after him.


A polo player, he was the Captain of the Auckland Polo Club.[9]

Personal lifeEdit

In 1858 he married Cecilia Mary Shepherd, daughter of Alexander Shepherd, the second Colonial Treasurer. They had one son, Edward (Eddie) Dennis O’Rorke. Cecilia died on 19 September 1910. Sir Maurice died in Auckland in 1916, survived by his son.[2]


  1. ^ Cyclopedia Company Limited (1897). "The Hon. Sir George Maurice O'Rorke". The Cyclopedia of New Zealand : Wellington Provincial District. Wellington. Retrieved 29 May 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d Rogers, Frank. "O'Rorke, George Maurice - Biography". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
  3. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 251.
  4. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 185.
  5. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 180.
  6. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 179.
  7. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 250.
  8. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 160.
  9. ^ Chadwick 1906, p. 243.


  • Chadwick, Joseph (1906). Men of Mark in the World of Sport in New Zealand. Brett Prtg. & Publishing Company.
  • Scholefield, Guy (1950) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1949 (3rd ed.). Wellington: Govt. Printer.
  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103.
Political offices
Preceded by
Hugh Carleton
Chairman of Committees of the House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Arthur Seymour
Preceded by
Arthur Seymour
Preceded by
John Bathgate
Minister of Justice
Succeeded by
Charles Bowen
Preceded by
William Fitzherbert
Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives
Succeeded by
William Steward
Preceded by
William Steward
Succeeded by
Arthur Guinness
Preceded by
John Williamson
Superintendent of Auckland Province
Succeeded by
George Grey
New Zealand Parliament
New constituency Member of Parliament for Onehunga
Named Town of Onehunga until 1871

Constituency abolished, recreated in 1938
Title next held by
Arthur Osborne
New constituency Member of Parliament for Manukau
Succeeded by
Frank Buckland
Preceded by
Frank Buckland
Succeeded by
Matthew Kirkbride