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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
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.


RIGG, John, C.M.G.


Labour leader and politician.

A new biography of Rigg, John appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.

John Rigg was born in St. Kilda, Victoria, in 1858 and came to New Zealand at the age of five. He was apprenticed at the Government Printing Office where he worked as a compositor for many years. An active unionist, he held leading offices in the Wellington Typographical Society and helped to found the Wellington Trades and Labour Council. In 1892 Rigg was one of four trade unionists appointed by Ballance to the Legislative Council. He supported the Liberal administration and became Chairman of Committees in 1903 and acting Speaker of the Council the following year. In 1905 Rigg was elected president of the Independent Political Labour League but he resigned this office a year later as he still hoped to preserve the traditional Liberal-Labour alliance. In 1909 he contested the Wellington mayoralty as a Labour candidate and edited, for a short time, the new Wellington Labour journal, the Weekly Herald.

Rigg's impartial chairmanship contributed greatly to the success of the Labour Unity Congress of 1913. He supported the waterfront strike that year and was the only member of the Legislative Council to oppose the Government's Labour Disputes Investigation Bill. When his term in the Legislative Council expired in 1914, Massey did not re-appoint him. Rigg became a teacher of French and elocution and a well-known judge of oratory and debating contests. Several books which he wrote on chairmanship, conduct of meetings, and public speaking have gone through many editions and remain in print to the present day. He died in Christchurch in 1943.

by Herbert Otto Roth, B.A., DIP.N.Z.L.S., Deputy Librarian, University of Auckland.

  • N.Z.P.D., Vol. 264 (Obit).


Herbert Otto Roth, B.A., DIP.N.Z.L.S., Deputy Librarian, University of Auckland.