Hutt by-election, 1929
|Hutt electorate boundaries used for the by-election|
The Hutt by-election was a by-election in the New Zealand electorate of Hutt, an urban seat at the bottom of the North Island. The by-election was held on 18 December 1929, and was precipitated by the resignation of sitting United MP Thomas Wilford on who had been appointed the High Commissioner to the United Kingdom by Prime Minister Joseph Ward. The by-election was contested by Walter Nash of the Labour Party, James Kerr from the United Party and Harold Johnston of the Reform Party. The lead up to the by-election was marred by harsh words between candidates.
Candidates and selection process
After standing in Hutt for Labour in both 1925 and 1928, Walter Nash's selection as the Labour candidate for the by-election came as no surprise. Nash came a respectable second to Wilford and was seen as well capable of winning the seat. He was the current General Secretary of the Labour Party and was thus well known. Local newspaper the Hutt News printed several articles through the campaigning attempting to discredit Nash as a Soviet-style socialist. Peter Fraser served as the campaign organiser, and Mark Fagan was Nash's election secretary.
James Kerr, a resident of Petone, was be the official United Party candidate in the election. He was the son of James Kerr, a former member of the Legislative Council. At the time Kerr was the proprietor of the Hutt and Petone Chronicle newspaper, a position he had held since 1912. He previously resided in Greymouth serving as the proprietor of the Grey River Argus. In 1908 he stood for the Grey seat against Speaker of the House, Arthur Guinness, being defeated by a small majority. Outgoing MP Thomas Wilford and his wife campaigned intensely on Kerr's behalf. Kerr was a member of the Petone Fire Board, an associate of the Petone Borough Council, President of the Petone Chamber of Commerce, and a member of the Hutt Valley High School Board of Governors. He was one of the foundation members of the United Party, and at the time a member of the executive and had been chairman of Wilford's election committee.
Harold Featherston Johnston was chosen as the Reform Party candidate for the contest. Johnston was a respected lawyer and the fourth son of Charles John Johnston, former MP for Te Aro and Speaker of the Legislative Council. Earlier that year the position of Chief Justice was offered to Johnston upon the death of Charles Skerrett, but he declined the offer, with Michael Myers becoming the next Chief Justice instead. Johnston was well known as an able speaker and he was regularly able to draw large crowds to his meetings.
Mr. H Bennett announced his candidacy as an Independent. He proposed to stand in the interests of the country itself, rather than of any particular political party. Bennett was concerned that New Zealand could be 'handed over' to Socialism by a minority vote given the increasing competition for right wing votes by United and Reform. With candidate from both parties standing Bennett was not ignorant of the fact that he too was helping to split the anti-Labour vote, but claimed his hopes were that both would withdraw their candidates in favour of himself. However, his plea fell on deaf ears with United wanting to retain their seat and Reform seeking to supersede United in seats. As a result, Bennett withdrew and hoped either Kerr or Johnston would prevail.
Dozens of meetings were held and speeches made by the three candidates. Many high-profile figures spoke on behalf of the candidates as well, Harry Holland, James McCombs & Michael Joseph Savage for Nash, Thomas Wilford & Harry Atmore for Kerr and both Gordon Coates & William Downie Stewart, Jr. for Johnston.
|Wed, 20 November||Labour Hall, Petone||Oddfellows' Hall, Petone|
|Thu, 21 November||Eandwick School||Lyceum Hall, Lower Hutt|
|Fri, 22 November|
|Sat, 23 November|
|Sun, 24 November|
|Mon, 25 November||Oddfellows' Hall, Lower Hutt||Dellabarca's Hall, Eastbourne|
|Tue, 26 November||Eastbourne Borough Chambers||Petone Committee Rooms|
|Wed, 27 November|
|Thu, 28 November||95 Hutt Road, Petone|
|Fri, 29 November|
|Sat, 30 November|
|Sun, 1 December|
|Mon, 2 December||King George Theatre, Lower Hutt|
|Tue, 3 December|
|Wed, 4 December||King George Theatre, Lower Hutt|
|Thu, 5 December||Labour Hall, Petone|
|Fri, 6 December|
|Sat, 7 December|
|Sun, 8 December|
|Mon, 9 December||Day's Bay Pavilion||Alicetown Church Hall|
|Tue, 10 December||Moera Community Hall||Empire Theatre, Petone||Waiwhetu Methodist Hall|
|Wed, 11 December||Moera Community Hall|
|Thu, 12 December||Eastern Hutt School||Oddfellows' Hall, Petone||King George Theatre, Lower Hutt|
|Fri, 13 December||Labour Hall, Petone||Knox Church Hall||Wesley Hall, Petone|
|Sat, 14 December||King George Theatre, Lower Hutt|
|Sun, 15 December|
|Mon, 16 December||Korokoro School|
|Tue, 17 December||Eastbourne, Picture Hall|
The following table gives the election results:
- Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First published in 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. p. 245. OCLC 154283103.
- Scholefield, Guy (1932). Who's Who in New Zealand and the Western Pacific, 1932 (3rd ed.). Wellington: The Rangatira Press. p. 15.
- Sinclair 1976, p. 78-9.
- Sinclair 1976, p. 78.
- "Choice of Candidates". Evening Post. 15 November 1929. p. 13. Retrieved 14 May 2016.
- "The General Election, 1908". National Library. 1909. pp. 1–34. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
- "Mr. Kerr's Meetings". Evening Post. 25 November 1929. p. 10. Retrieved 14 May 2016.
- "Four Candidates Announced". Hutt News. 21 November 1929. p. 2. Retrieved 14 May 2016.
- Spiller, Peter. "Myers, Michael". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 27 March 2014.
- "Party or Country?". Evening Post. 19 November 1929. p. 10. Retrieved 14 May 2016.
- "Mr. Bennett Retires". Evening Post. 25 November 1929. p. 10. Retrieved 14 May 2016.
- "Candidates' Meetings". Evening Post. 19 November 1929. p. 10. Retrieved 14 May 2016.
- "Mr. Nash's Campaign". Evening Post. 25 November 1929. p. 10. Retrieved 14 May 2016.
- "The Hutt Seat". The Evening Post. CXII (108). 3 November 1931. p. 8. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
- Sinclair, Keith (1976). Walter Nash. Auckland: Auckland University Press.
- Mackenzie, Craig (1975). Walter Nash, Pioneer and Prophet. Wellington: Dunmore Press.