Story: Political parties

Liberal Party: first cabinet, 1891 (1st of 2)

Liberal Party: first cabinet, 1891

This group portrait shows the first Liberal cabinet in 1891. Pictured are (standing, from left) Richard Seddon (premier 1893–1906), A. J. Cadman, John McKenzie, J. G. Ward (premier 1906–12), William Pember Reeves, and (sitting, from left) Patrick Buckley and John Ballance (premier 1891–93). The Liberals, New Zealand’s first formally organised political party, remained in power for more than 20 years. The party's existence forced other groupings in Parliament to solidify into parties to gain the same organisational and campaigning advantages the Liberals enjoyed.

When the Liberals came to power in 1891, the party was a loose group of local committees which chose their own candidates and developed policies. Despite the setting up of a Dunedin-based National Liberal Association in 1891, local groups retained power in their area. In 1899 premier Richard Seddon organised the Liberal Labour Federation of New Zealand, into which existing Liberal groups were absorbed. Although he set up the Lib-Lab Federation, Seddon preferred to maintain his personal power and was known as 'King Dick' in part because of this. He intervened in candidate selection in electorates across the country, and allowed the party little influence over policy.

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Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: 1/2-052824-F

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Jennifer Curtin and Raymond Miller, 'Political parties - The party system develops, 1891 to 1935', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/photograph/34293/liberal-party-first-cabinet-1891 (accessed 26 June 2019)

Story by Jennifer Curtin and Raymond Miller, published 20 Jun 2012, reviewed & revised 21 Jul 2015