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James O'Brien (New Zealand politician)

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Preceded by  Tom Seddon
Preceded by  Tom Seddon
Political party  Labour
Succeeded by  Tom Seddon
Succeeded by  Jim Kent
Party  New Zealand Labour Party
James O'Brien (New Zealand politician) httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonsthu
Spouse(s)  Kate Teresa Flaherty (m. 1909)
Died  28 September 1947, Wellington, New Zealand

Peter James O'Brien (8 June 1874 – 28 September 1947) was a New Zealand politician of the Labour Party.


Early life

O'Brien was born in 1874 at Forest Creek, near Castlemaine, Victoria, Australia. His parents of Irish descent were Terence O’Brien, a miner, and Bridget O’Leary. He was christened Peter James, but his first name was never used; many knew him as Jim or Briney. After having worked as a miner in various Australian states, O'Brien emigrated to New Zealand in 1904 and found employment as a coalminer in Reefton.

Political career

O'Brien became active in the socialist circles that developed on the West Coast. He became president of the Westland Certificated Engine-drivers' and Firemen's Union, and was the president of the Runanga Co-operative Society. Standing on a socialist ticket, he was voted onto the inaugural Runanga Borough Council in 1912. In 1913, he supported Paddy Webb's successful by-election campaign in the Grey electorate for the Social Democratic Party, and later became the president of the Runanga branch of the party.

He represented the Westland electorate in Parliament from the 1922 election, when he defeated Tom Seddon. He lost the electorate in the 1925 election to Tom Seddon, but won it back in 1928, and held it to 1947, when he died.

He was a Minister in the First Labour Government. He was Minister of Transport (9 December 1942 – 28 September 1947), Minister of Marine (9 December 1942 – 28 September 1947), Minister of Labour (27 June 1946 – 19 December 1946) and Minister of Mines (27 June 1946 – 19 December 1946). He remained an MP until his death, which caused a by-election held in December 1947 that was won by Labour's James Begg Kent.

In 1935, he was awarded the King George V Silver Jubilee Medal.

Family and death

O'Brien married Kate Teresa Flaherty on 29 June 1909 in Greymouth. He died in Wellington on 28 September 1947. His wife survived him; they had no children.


James O'Brien (New Zealand politician) Wikipedia

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