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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.


POLLEN, Daniel (1813–96)



Daniel Pollen was born at Kingsend, Dublin, on 2 June 1813, the son of Hugh Pollen, a builder, and Elizabeth, née O'Neill. Little is known of his early life, but it is supposed that it was passed partly in Ireland and partly in the United States of America, where Pollen's father was in Washington engaged in building the Capitol.

Pollen studied medicine and graduated as M.D. He went to New South Wales in the late 1830s, and crossed to North Auckland late in 1839, or in January 1840. He signed the white residents' address of welcome to Captain Hobson on 1 February 1840, and witnessed proceedings at the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. On 17 February he was elected to the provisional committee of the New Zealand Banking Co. Pollen then spent nearly two years in Sydney and the Pacific Islands, but in September 1841 he bought a 7-acre farm at the Auckland land sale and, with his business partner J. F. Hoggard, a town section in Auckland. At this time he was living in Parnell practising medicine, and the purchase of land seems to signalise his decision to remain permanently in New Zealand.

In 1844 Pollen was appointed a coroner, holding the post for the next four years. He married, on 18 May 1846, Jane Henderson, daughter of Lieut. Essex, RN, of Demarara; and, in 1847, becoming medical officer to a Scots copper-mining company, moved with her to Kawau Island. Pollen spent several years on Kawau, during which time he began to contribute articles to the New Zealander supporting the agitation for responsible government. He was also to the fore in supporting temperance, scientific, and library movements there.

When the new constitution of 1852 came into effect, Pollen was appointed chief clerk in the Auckland Superintendent's office, and on 14 March 1854 was appointed to the Executive. He held office under Wynyard, Williamson, and Whitaker. Pollen had failed to gain a seat in either the Provincial Council or Parliament in 1853, but late in 1856 was elected to the Provincial Council for Auckland Suburbs, whom he represented from December 1856 to February 1857, and November 1857 to September 1861. In 1858 he was appointed Commissioner of Crown Lands for Auckland. At this time Pollen began to champion the Maori cause in the New Zealander, and remained their supporter thenceforward.

In 1861 he was called to the Legislative Council, representing the Fox Ministry. During 1862 he was Deputy Superintendent of Auckland, in March he resigned as Commissioner of Crown Lands, and in August ceased to represent the Fox Ministry in the Legislative Council. Until 1863 he was a member of the Domains Board, and in 1866 was again Deputy Superintendent in Auckland. In that same year he became the Receiver of Land Revenue.

In the following year Pollen resigned from the Legislative Council to become agent for the General Government at Auckland. He returned to the Legislative Council in June 1868 to represent the Stafford Ministry; in 1869 was candidate for the Superintendency of Auckland (withdrawing after a hostile meeting at Thames), and in 1870, leaving the Legislative Council, he resumed his post as agent in Auckland.

Pollen had approved J. C. Firth's tentative truce offer to Te Kooti, and was censured by the Fox Government. He resigned as the Auckland agent, then withdrew his resignation at the request of the Government. For the remainder of 1870 Pollen held, in addition, the posts of Receiver of Land Revenue, Commissioner of Confiscated Lands, Commissioner under the Native Land Act 1870, and Immigration Officer.

The Vogel Government recalled him to the Legislative Council in 1873, and almost at once he joined the Executive as Colonial Secretary. He continued in this office until 1875, when for a few months he formed his own ministry. This collapsed in February 1876, and from then until October 1877 Pollen was a member of the “continuous ministry”, administering the Colonial Secretary's department under Vogel and Atkinson. For a short time in 1877 Pollen was Native Minister, and from then until his death on 18 May 1896 he remained a member of the Legislative Council and enjoyed a Government pension.

Pollen was a cultured, genial, and large-minded man. As a politician he was capable of swift, perceptive decisions; his debating style was both outspoken and cogent, and as an administrator he showed himself vigorous and trustworthy. He was a Tory who worked for the enfranchisement of women; a champion of the Maori while at the same time chairman of the East Coast Native Land Settlement Company; and a politician who combined medical and business activities with the many claims of public life. In later years in the Council his conservatism deepened. He found himself out of sympathy with the times and he opposed bitterly anything that seemed to smack of “radicalism”. His speeches, too, changed in temper, and good humour and even flippancy gave way to a biting sarcasm. It was because of this attitude from a powerful minority, which included Pollen, that the Legislative Council in the eighties gradually acquired an undeserved reputation for being a reactionary stronghold.

Pollen's eldest son, Hugh (1851–1912), also spent his life in the public service and rose to become Under-Secretary of the Colonial Secretary's Department.

by K.C.

  • History of New Zealand, Rusden, G. W. (3 vols., 1895)
  • New Zealand Times, 19 May 1896 (Obit).