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fulfilment of

the requirements for the degree

of Master

of Arts in History at Massey University

Thomas Warden Hastings Brooking



i .


Althoue;h two theses 0x2..L1inod John McKenzie's activities as Minist~r of LQnds in a f~irly detail ed way, they have virtually ignored his actions as Minister of Agriculture. This one-sided conccntrcJ.tion has r.ieo..nt th::i.t wo know very

l i t t le about McKenzie's achievenents c..s Minister of Agriculture, oven though they wor2 of equal importance i n tho short tcrr:1 and have provon to be acre important in the long term. Agricultur::i.l lcci slation passed by J ohn McKenzie was ::i.s creative as his land laws and nndc


of many c0ro statutes. This prolifcr.::ction of lnws rcl,:,_ting t o agriculturo.l matters wo.s lureoly explained by th~ fact thc..t major probl ems were

covered by scvarntc statutes, wherc2s McKenzie fond ~cts and W.P. Reeves' labour wore concontrnted in one or two massive .'..1.Cts, rrhich wore cxtro.ordinSlrily coc,prohensi vo. Nevertheless, the agricultural laws passed by John McKenzie were on a siailar scale to his l.'..1.nd acts c..nd to the labour legi slation of Reeves, in t erms of lccislo.tivc output, logis -lc. ti vc ener;:_;y c.ncl :i.J0,':1c-rs cr-.,::i.t1)d for tho governr.:cnt. Furtho r-aore, the ~dministration of tho Departaont of Acriculturc affected nearly us 2any poopl o as did the running of the

Dcpnrtnont of Lands and Survey. Today, auch of tho agricultural legislation introduced .:,.nd po.ssod by John McKenzie still has a direct offe~t on our lives , both in tho city and on the farr:1. Town milk supply continues t o bo exnr:1ined by employees of the Department of Acriculture; cowsheds arc still regularly inspected by governnent offi ; sheep nrc dipped.within certain time limits, ns t hey were in tho 1890's; and

slaughterini; he>.s been carried out in licensed abb.::i.toirs

under the supervision of government inspectors ever since 1900. On the other hand, Idase in perpatuity is now obsol ete and only of interest in school text books and l earned journals. Obviously, then, a study of John McKenzie's actions as Minister


of Agriculture is l ong overdue. The urgent need for such an

investigation anc1. the stringe:".lt word l i;:li ts pl.:1.ccd upon the exercise 1 has i::cn.n.t t hD. t the tho sis is alnost exclu3i vcly concerned wi th John McKunzic ns Minister of Agriculture. It

only looks at his work ~s Mi~istcr of Lands in a general wny

in nn attc::ipt to cxplc:in the fcr:~rnlati on cf his agricultural policies nnd th~ develop~cnt of his ~istinctivc rainistorinl style:.

Tho thesis concentrates on tho period 1891-1900, when John McKon~io lcc:i.,1 ninistcrio.l office, but rusc.::trch was

bc:::,-un fron ar,'."JUl'lcl 1878 ':;hem th0 first Slwcp Act to be r::i.sscd by tho centro.l govcrnncnt was introduced. This work Ou earlier davclop•ants ias Jrovan to be vcluablc, for it has clearly sho·im t hnt Jo:m McKenzie w:ts not an innovator but r:1ther ~ consolidator . The thesis ~lso moves into so~c tentative spoculo.ti::m ,:~ftr;r 1900, in .:,.r. ,ttonpt to ,'"'.sscss th.:.- political i

plico.tions of John Mc~1nzie's ng~iculturo.1 policies.

It :mst bo r,·:-.dc c::;_e,r th::1t the ncLtU.r( of this

r•-.,soarch cxu1~:~iGo h.~_.s li€:c'1 ccnr::icL "'.'ably si1.::i.pec1. by thr_) .sources ucod, or ~ere correctly ½y the l~ck of sou~co• ~vail.::i.blo.

InvestiGction w~n oricin~lly carried out into the activities of the ~gricu~tur~l inspactor~t~, ~ut it was coon discovered that 3 virtual nrchiv~l v.::i.cuu

existed for the 1890's, us

there: no knov,n file:; 0f tho e2.rly yer::-..'..~s e,f the De:nrt:.:,,nt of Agriculture in existence. A few files do survive for tho

1880's1 r::-..nd tiose have boen incorporated to indic~to tic lines of development before the department was set up in 1892.

To nake ~utters worse, tho Annual Rcpor~ of tho Department of Agricul turc wore nl1:10st totally,

up of t ochnical detail.

Th0ro w.::i.s no clearly dofinei bureaucratic philosophy expressed in them as there was in Tregcar's Department of Labour

reports nnd virtunlly no c.ccount of adninistrative structures

and functions. Sc research was literally forced to move more in tho direction cf the activities and personality of the first



Minister of ;lgriG"i.1ltur0, John lkKcnzir: hj_oscl f.

Hdro furth~r r roblc~E uore 0ncountor od. No personnl coll0ction of pup~rs or Llanuscripts rol atod to John McKenzie survivo. An opua l t:ttcr tc th;: Oto.go .Do.i::...y Tir::es requesting information, drcu ::i. r 1ply vhi ~~ revo~led t hQt McKenzie's house nt He::i.thfiolc., includinr; '1i s ~ibrnr:r, ·,7.:1.s burnt down i n 1967 nn:i :i.lnost totc1.lly do-:;truycc'.. Furthorf,'lore:, Joh1'" r'.icKonzio did not sc~1:1 to v1rit c. .1.:my .Letter s t1.::1.t ha.vo b.::on pr eserved.

ThJro is cot o~c pioco of corresponacnco to er fro

hin in the B3ll~nco coll, ction of 0ver 700 letters , only two letters concornin0 tecr.n:i.c.:1J. C::.ot::i.il2 •)f McKc:1zio' :~ nortg,:cge arc found in tho 8Gssivc Rober t Stout collection of letters ~n~ there ura a neacr~ tqu l ,tters written to Janas Wilson of Bull s, in 1892, regardin~ J. visit tho~e ~r~ the ~1cstion sf the fl::i.x

j0nus , in the Fisher F,uily Pnpcrs.



i s net ro'.'.lly

surprisinr, th·,rafcr,), t j ,t rc3carch0rs lnr~ely isnorod t his e:::t:coL'1.ely i::rcrt.:-.nt ~,cliticn.l fir-::-o.r0 h:;.v,:) conc-.:mtrc.1.tod ore his ,c:tions [\S 1,inist · r of l_,rncls r.7.J;hcr t:1, n 7.s John l1cKe:n~ic

~he rn1n.

N cvcrt '.1 .. JcGs , inf or1:1ettiei:1 ca ·1. be oztrc..p,-:il:-.ted fro!n ochc,,.- 1Jlnccs. 1''.10 P::,,_rli:.:·.!:le:nt:1ry Dcbat(:;s '1:1vc r evu::i.lcd who:~c prcssur,..,s for cri:1n0; ' ) c:cY,r:. fru:: ~::1d whc,t V.'.l.rious int,'Jrest

f;r ::::u1 s thous ht :-,oou


McT:en.zic 's policies , nhi:i.e providinc c: consi1ernblo asount of ad

inistr~t~vo det:iil through ::i.nswers given to questions Qsk0d in t ~o 3ouso. They ~lso contain

uch inforc.:1.tion on McKon~ie's official atti tudes ::'..nd to a l esser extent his porson'l.l views o.nd;:;,3 i n t ho@, over tho yours. Other official pcl.blico.tions like Bills Thrown Out nnd New Zealand Statutes detnils of legislative and adminis -trative precedent and practice. Year books hnve provided some infor mation on administrative struct~ros and functions,

as have the Appendices to the Journals of tho House of Representatives and the Annual Rcpo~ts of tho Dep2rtment of Agriculture. Tho Appendices and Reports hnvo .:tlso brouGht to


l ight o. l i t t le infor

2tion o~ tho inploscnt~tion of laws.

t!Lcttcrs fron tho ~-t.J·.1 of i-;arkt1 wr i t ten t o Willic,D Pe:~bor Ro(;vos, hol d in tho Alox~Ldor 1urn~~l l Li~r~ry, succostcd that John

~cKonzio's rol ~~ionship to S0d~cn, WGrJ ~n~ Ro~vas w::i.s ~ore

int-.;rviun wit!. J·ohn McKonzia's niece, j\!rs. H.M.n. Do.·.ric, nnrl 'J. v:urkin:.:; thr0ur:1 ·.f hi.~ r;i ll , hcl :Jod to fi ll out bi"blio -gro.phic::'.l dotui l. N8w~pa~or oditor ~nd c~rtoons g:J.vo c..n

inc~ic::i.~j_o,1 ··f tho ·,, ·ty i n ·-;1hich John McKenzi e, t'.10 r.nn, th-::: pcl i ticio.:1 :,nd tho :' rt'. to1', vns v·i.0wod ·by tho pub lie.

1'r: .. ::s:)et-;_Jcr8 c..lRo ;_,ro,·i:J.0rl soL!O ovidc-nco Oi1 the recept i on of his ~cricultur::i.l ::.·-olicio.:;, but t iuc, w'>.s not for tho

c::L.,r::,th t of pr•:)pcrly v:crkinc ov..__r n:,wsi1~1~,0r responses t o t :1,.:: inr,J.c,;ento.tion of r-~cJ~on~i o' s .:i..r.;ricul turo.l lcci sli-1.tion; ::i.

t· n, cv1.:n ,!'.:'r -.:: difficult 1:Jy tho 1~1ck cf survivinr; Sfflll t own

~ r s l"c.r th'"




s nnJ t


c:.:,cer::cl c1i sint -.:;::.~c st of city 1~0.sod

p3pers i n such usscnti~l ly rural Jnttcrs which lnckcd o..11y c--.. ) r ...


ni,r;s v:-.lue:.

jig-s.21:r puzzle v1i th i t.:: i:1c..11y rJiss-i_n~j ): .... :ccs ~

Fin:i.l ly, i t ::iUst ";:)o r'o.)c clc~.r th:-\t :::s t i s very

ouch o. pi oneer ~i~c~ cf rcucarch, :i.s ~ol l ~s b0i nc et

~ini-thcsis, ~i~~ aev~ro tiLo ':1.nd NOr 1 l ini ts, it ~oscs

or e

questions th.::,.n i t :>.rJ.Sn1.,rs. Tho only cluin ~:::do i s th:::t i t i s o. pi ,mcor ex::1.nin,.,_t i on, with t ho :n:.J.ny ino.doq1 , ':1.Ci cs 'Jf sue h 'now' r cso::i.rch, of tho cth:.;r si de of John i1cKonzio tho politicio.n, l ogislo.tor/.:"tdni ni :=,tro.tor : t1

·1c'.l.t i s 2.s Mi nister cf .\c~riculturo :>::'CLt hor th:rn as I'ti.nistc-r of Lands. !~ny c'.l.ttm-:ipt to tho l arrsr political and ndminist ro.tivc implications of his

acti ons ns Ninistor of Aericulturo nust only be tPcc'.l.ted as sugcostion, not as wel l t ast ed fo.ct . But surel y tbo job of t he hi st orical roeeo.r chor is t o open up new o.venucs of

r cse~rch, to ask questions Qnd present problems for others t o

sol ve, thor uby incro~sinc our knovl edcc of tho past , rather t han neatl y senl i nc up :i. topi c and stamping i t cl osed.




I would like to t h1.nk tbe st, ffs t'f tho following

institutions for their , ssist::i.nc2:

tho General ~ssorbly Libr~ry, Wallington; tho Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington; N~tional

ArchivcJs , ':follint, · 'ten· ' M,sscy Univursity Library,

Palmerston North; and the Aucklnnd Museum

Institu~o Library, Auckland; ,ncl especially

Miss Judit t Hornabrook of N~tional Archives.

My gr, ~ituda is ~lso axtondoJ t o ~11 those pooplo who offered their prof ossion~l 3Qvico, particularly

Professor D.~. Hucar ~nd Miss Moriarty of Victoria Univorsity;

Mr. B3sil Poff , Mr . Grah1.rn Butterworth ,nd Dr. B1.rrie · M3cDon~ld of rv:assey Ur..ivor si-ty; and Professor Angus Ross of Ot~co

University. I wc,uli:l :_"".lso lik ) to ths::i.n.k ::i.11 thosu people who r epli8d tc, my let tor roqt:esting infc· rrl'J. tion on J c·hn McK;;nzi o which vns publish8d in th..; Ct-:c:;c D-ilyTL:183 ::i.r..'.i cspociaily

Mrs - H.M.M. D,viet McK~nzie'c niece, for ccns0nting to ::i.n

interview. My th,nks go tc Mrs. Phil J0nkins for typing the

dr, fts , nd for offering 0nc0ur1.0er.:.nt ,nc tc, Mrs. Tot I-~:i.yw1.r d for ty~ing t ho fin~l copy. I nm indGbtad t0 Mr. P.J. Gib½~ns of Waik3tc Univer sity fer his criticisms nnd knowledge of

f,,otnctinc t0chnique:s and t o l·lr. Chris Rcwe ,nd Miss Patrici.::, C1.dig1.n for su6gesti0nE 1.nd proof-re3Qing. I ewe a groat deal

t o LlY supervisor , Professor




Oliver of ~nssey University,

for the car e with which he ·batkdd dtaft ver si ons, for naking

himself so r ea~ily avni l~ble for di scussi 0n and for the gre~t

interest thnt ho displ3yed throughout the entire period of rasenrch.


Abbreviati ons AJHR 'Letters from Mon cf Mark ' ODT PD Yo::tr :Sook Appendices to the Journal s of tho House of Representatives Letters frora Mon cf Mark in New Zealand to the Hon. W.P. Roovos, British Library of Political and Scono

ical SciGnco, London School of Economics.

Ot~~o Daily TimoG

Now Zealand Parlin

ontary Deb~tos


C O i[ T E l'i T S















Sir John McKenzie

-The Ma.n and the Myth.




John McKenzie's Ministari~l Style



Tho Minister of Acriculturc in Political Perspective









vi V 1


I Photo of Sir John McKenzie 2

II Cartoon of the defence of Ward 10

III Cartoon of the Liberal "angelic host" 11

IV Cartoon of a domesti c qua~rel between Richard Seddon

and John McKenzie 12

V Cartoon of McKenzie's ministerial school 13

VI Diagram of Legislation Consolidated by McKenzie's Laws 27

VII Diagram of Administrative Developments which preceded

the establishment of the Department of Agriculture 28

VIII Photo of butter grading


IX Photo of the Staff of the Central Office 1909


X Graph of the growth in numbers of Departmental employees



Diagram of the changing structure of the Department of



XII Diagram of the changing functions of the Department of




Photo of J .D. Ritchie 49


Diagram of the concensus of agricultural producers 52


Cartoon of John McKenzie crushing the smal l butcher



Photo of T.Y. Duncan



Photo of



McNab 70



This thesis is essentially concerned with the 1e xnnin-ation of an exceptional minister in action; a man who wanted

t o keep power to hi·:,solf and who, bcc:rnso of his nationwide

identity, achieved through his nctivitios as Minist er of Lands ,

woul d have found i t im~oscible t o h~vc 0v0n nttenpt ed to hide

behind u complex of dopart

ontal oachinery. Tho paternal istic,

qu9si - feudal ministvri al style of John McKenzi e stood in


contrast to the 3ccept~d pattorn of pol itical l ife in the 1890's

whi ch saw a massive tr~nsfcr of ?Ower t o burco.ucratic processes.

In view of this prelmrv::i.ucro.tic oinistori::cl style i t was not

surprising that John McKenzi e considerably sho.ped adninistr

a-tivc and legislative dovolo~uonts rcl~ted to acriculture up t i l l his retirement in 1900. Y0t even he w~s only abl e t o sl ow down the transfer of re~l power ~nd ccntr0l of organis::t -t ional 1etai l to th~ bur oaucr~cy; thnt is fro

thd man t o tho instituticn itself. After hi s rctirc~ent the considerable

powers and responsibi l it i es th~t h~ h~C crc~tc~ for thG

Minister hicself were t~kan over by tho bur~~ucr~tic machine

i n the for

of t h0 Dap~rt~~nt of Agriculture. This develcp

-raent w~s accompnnic~ by 0xtraocly r~ri d ad~inistr ~tivo growth and a considerable rise i n the i~~ort3nc~ and pcwLr of the

U.ndcr-sccr0t :1ry. .\p:::.rt fron D.nyt hinc: el se tho huge volw:1e of

paper work t hat McKenzi e ½r0ught upon th~ Minister meant that

the continuation of such 3 hichly pcrson'.lliscd style would be

impossibl e.

The argument is developed in three chapters, e

first rief




of John McKenzie

wi thin the fra~awork of the 'man' and the 'myth'. It attempts t o show that John McKenzie's person3l characteristics inter

-acted with forces outside his control in l~adinc hin t o adopt

a distinctive

inisterial style. Some new evidence on the


Sir John McKenzie.

Minister of Lands and Agriculture

1891 - 1899.

Alexander Turnbull Library.


been introduced i n nn attempt t o show that his pol i t ical

iraportance was great er than hns formerly been supposed. It

appears that he was a kind of rural advocat e nnd an excepti o

n-al ly l oyal party man who strongly supported Seddon and that

hi s name stood as a syabcl of integrity, at n ti oa when the Liberals were badly i n need of such~symbol ic counter t o oppo

-siti on accusati ons of corruption. Tho chapt er concludes by

suggesti ng that John McKenzie t ook the r esponsibi l it ies of t he

portfol io of agriculture as seriously as those of lands,

because ho r eal ised that l and set t lc

ent w,s not enough in

itsel f. Nati~nal prosperity coul d only cone frorn kecpin~ up

wi th wcrld deoands and co•peti t ion through tho stricter

rogulation and stan~ardis~t~_on of production and narkating

practices and an incraasinc usa of scientifi c farming

ethcds. The s0cond cha~t0r •akes up the bulk of tho thesi s

as it is c0ncerned with an examinati on of John McKenzi e's

ninistcrinl style as such. Particular o~Jhasis is plnc0d on

the cxtrenely porson,liscd nature of this ~inist crial styl e,

and the way in which he ccnsol idatc1 earl ier laws, central ised

t ho Oi:")Cr'.l.ti ons of adDJ/\(Str,tion and i ncrco.s1.-d tho comrr ohens

-ivcness and cccrcivcnoss of ragul 3tions. Tho charter on1s by comparing ndainist r..._tivo crowth under John McKanzia's tutsl o.go

t o that im~8di 3toly fol lowing his rctiremant. A definite

pattern soons to amorg-c: nn.• cly th,t extr emely dep::i.rt

-montal growth o.nd ch::tnges of function carnC: i rinodi o.t oly etftor

J ohn McKenzie's rct ir onent. This sugir,ests th-3.t John Douglas

Ritchie mny ho.vo pl ayed tho rol 0


n kind of unsung Trcgear

within tho ngriculturnl sector, and that tho pr ocesses set in moti on by John McKenzie could not be contai ned by a minister

l acking his quasi--charisnatic pol i t ic,:i.l appeal and l i ty t o

handle massea of administrative deto.i l . As long as J ohn

McKenzie was in command he attenpt cd to shape part of the

nat ion's destiny in his own image and did not al low a Tregoo.r or a Hogben t o r emake New Zealand's agricultural structures


tive/administr'ltiv,-:; orientati on in ::tn ·,ttoo.~)t t o sot the Ministor



Agriculture 's 2ctions in pol itic"J.1 porspoctivc.

This third chapter sugscsts th2t John McKenzie was workins

within n kind of conccnsus of ~gricultural ~ro~ucers. The

existence of such 1 ccnccnsu"J.l crou~in~

o~nt th~t ~griculturul

r12gulati cns v,cr ::: trontcd '"'.S conccnsus rnthor th:-cn cris<ts issues,

while idoologi co.l difforcncos within this context were al

ost totally a~scnt. As a result cress-voting in the lious0 on agriculturo.l bills was relativel y co~

on an~ divisi ons t~ndcd to centre Cl.round the Munouo~ras of loc'.7.1 und

ore col ony-wide

comucrcio.l intarost grout's, r :1th0r thnn ::i.rcun"l politic:? .. l

parties. John McKenzi a then w~s not only nblc to pnss so D'"'.ny a.gricultur'.7.l l ':'.v1s nithout c111.tine, ::;r c'."'..t nuubors of rur"J.l

voters because of hi s quasi-ch2risn2tic qualities ~n1 his di stinctive mi~ist~rial style, but b0c3us~ ho w2s ~bla to

and to act upon th0ir



In conclutio~ two ~a.jcr suggcsticrs ar 0 cndo. The

first i s thut John McKenzie's ninistorial ~ci ·cns in the fial d

of 3Cricultur2l policy f ·,rnulation Gnd laGiDl~tiva and adnin

-istrativa tlcvclo;n0nt wura in actuality no~rly ~s i c~ort~nt :-cs

as his activiti~s carriof out un1ar the r ortfolia cf 13nds.

Scconily, the susgusti cn i s , ffcrcd for future rcsu3rchcr s to

refute, confirm or uoro prob~bly qualify, thnt John McKenzie

was a kind of rural vote mnsnat within tho Liberal pa.rty and

that tho acricultural policies of his successors, T.Y. Duncan and


McNab - nan who la.eked his symbolic rural f~r


ass0ciation, intense personal involvement in tha portfolio of

agriculture and appa.r ently high-mi~dcd concern for iaproved production practices - possibJ~ came to ta.kc the votes of


rural dwellers away froa the Liberal party. In other words,



simply r elated t o the l oasohold/froohol d and rends and bridges

issues, but also concarne~ other govcrnriont prncticas which

directly affected the day t:i day l i fe of the farmer. Rabbi t

dostru~tion ~nd COTT shad inspecti on, as wel l ~s the personality

~nd uvpr oach af th(l Minister hicsolf, woru other factors which raust be tak0n into considor·tt ion if wa aro to understand tho

increasing organis~ti on and rel evance of the opposition of

agricultur~l producers t o tho Liberal govornrnont that cccurred

between 1900 and 1912.

John McKenzie's years as Ministor of Agriculture saw

important and cra~tivo loci sl ative 2n1 adninistrative devel cp


cntG, which wore on a sirnil~r scnl 2 t o his more w0l l known

l and l aws or tho l abour acts of W.P. Reeves.




tis ninis

-t orial style w~s di stinctly rrc-1Juroaucr~tic at a t i8e when

assivo buroaucr~tic gr owth sccos t o have boon cnnsidorod as a

general soluti on fGr the n~tion's poli t ical , administrative,




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