Longest serving New Zealand Prime Minister

Richard John Seddon Born,

1845, Eccleston Hill, St Helens, Lancashire,

England Died, 1906, on ship from Sydney to Wellington, aged 61

Liberal Party Prime Minister 1 May 1893-10 June 1906.

New Zealandís longest serving Prime Minister, Richard Seddon was born at Eccleston Hill, St Helens, Lancashire in 1845. He received a good education at his father's school, Eccleston Hill Grammar. Seddon later apprenticed as an engineer, and on completing his apprenticeship, began a career as a mining engineer and retailer.

He arrived in Melbourne Australia in 1863. At the end of 1866 Seddon left Melbourne in the Alhambra for New Zealand and finally landed in Hokitika. Once in New Zealand, he made his way to the goldfields at Waimea. There he used his engineering skills, making a good deal of money. In 1869 he married and settled down in Kumara.

Seddon held a number of positions in public office before entering Parliament. They include: Westland Provincial Councillor for Arahura 1874-76; Member of the Arahura County Council 1877 and Chairman until 1891; and first Mayor of Kumara 1878. In his Parliamentary Career, Seddon became Member for Hokitika in1879, a position he was to hold until 1891 when he became Member for Kumara. After nine years as Member for Kumara, Seddon was next elected as Member for Westland, from 1890 to1906.

Seddon rose to the positions of Minister for Public Works, Mines and Defence in 1891 in the Ballance ministry. When Ballance was incapacitated in 1892 from taking his place in the House Seddon immediately took charge. Following Ballance's death, Stout was the favoured leader of the liberals, but as he was out of Parliament for nearly six years, Seddon was securely installed as Premier.

He took office on 1 May 1893. Seddon became Treasurer from 1897 to 1906, and Postmaster-General from 1897 to 1899. In his first session, Seddon extended the franchise to women and passed the local option act to enable electorates to declare upon liquor-licensing policy every three years. He died suddenly in office on board the Oswetry Grange on his return from a trip to Sydney, on 10 June 1906.

©Copyright photographs St Helens Chat 2002