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James Mackay (New Zealand politician)

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Political party  Independent
Role  New Zealand Politician
Name  James Mackay
Died  1875, Nelson, New Zealand
James Mackay (New Zealand politician)

James Mackay (1804 – 29 May 1875) was a New Zealand politician. He was a member of the 1st New Zealand Parliament. He is remembered for the incident with Henry Sewell in Parliament in 1854.


Early life

Mackay was born in Scotland in 1804. He came to Nelson on the Slains Castle in January 1845.

Political career

In the 1st New Zealand Parliament, the Town of Nelson was a two-member electorate. On nomination day on 25 July 1853, William Travers and Mackay were the only candidates put forward. They were thus declared elected unopposed. Mackay served until the end of the first term in 1855, but did not serve in any subsequent Parliaments.

Mackay is noted for his support of the Acting Governor, Robert Wynyard, who argued that it was not possible for Parliament to assume responsibility for governing New Zealand without royal assent. When Parliament disagreed, Wynyard officially prorogued it. Parliament responded by suspending its own standing orders. These orders required that messages from the Governor take precedence over other Parliamentary business.

With the standing orders overturned, Wynyard's message could remain officially "unopened" while Parliament continued to function. Mackay, part of the minority who supported Wynyard, attempted to bypass this tactic by presenting a copy of The New Zealand Gazette which contained the prorogation order, shouting "you are no House, you are prorogued!". He then attempted to disrupt the business of Parliament until Henry Sewell (later to become New Zealand's first Premier) and another MP attempted to manhandle him out of the debating chamber. Mackay managed to escape, and (in the words of a contemporary) "beat an honourable retreat over the rail into the stranger's gallery, waving defiance to his assailants with his trusty umbrella." Mackay was later found guilty of "gross and premeditated contempt of the House".

Mackay was a member of the Nelson Provincial Council from 1857 to 1861, representing the Town of Nelson electorate.

Outside politics

Mackay represented Lloyds in Nelson. He joined the volunteer forces and had the rank of captain. He farmed in Wakapuaka just north of Nelson until his death. He named his farm Drumduan.

Mackay's first wife was Anne Mackay. She died in 1860, and Mackay married again. He died in 1875, and both he and his first wife are buried at St Andrew's Church in Wakapuaka. The church no longer exists, and the churchyard was designated an historic site by Waimea County Council in 1975.

Their son, also James Mackay (1831–1912), was active in land purchase negotiations with Maori.


James Mackay (New Zealand politician) Wikipedia

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