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Life in Early Poverty Bay

Top Rung of Political Ladder

page 179

Top Rung of Political Ladder.

In the political arena, Sir James had a wonderful record. Whilst member for the Waiapu seat he became, in 1892, the representative for the Native race on the Executive. The Ballance Government was then in power. Four years later, when Mr. Seddon was political “king” he was placed in charge of the Stamps Department. In 1900 he was promoted to be Native Minister. This was the first occasion on which a member other than a European had been made a Minister of the Crown. Sir James retired from Ministerial office in 1912 when the Ward Government resigned and did not accept a portfolio in the short-lived Mackenzie Government that followed. Whilst a member of the Ward Government he was chosen on two occasions to take up the position of Acting-Prime Minister during the lengthy absence of his leader from the Dominion in London and carried out the important duties in a very dignified and careful manner.