William Hughes Field

William Hughes Field

William Hughes Field between 1900 and 1909
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Otaki
In office
6 January 1900  20 November 1911
Preceded by Henry Augustus Field
Succeeded by John Robertson
In office
10 December 1914  1 November 1935
Preceded by John Robertson
Succeeded by Leonard Lowry
Personal details
Born (1861-07-17)17 July 1861
Wanganui, New Zealand
Died 13 December 1944(1944-12-13) (aged 83)
Wellington, New Zealand
Political party Liberal Party
Other political
Reform Party
Relations Henry Augustus Field (brother)
Tom Field (unknown relationship)
William Mathew Hodgkins (father-in-law)
Frances Hodgkins (sister-in-law)
William Noel Pharazyn (son-in-law)

William Hughes Field (17 July 1861 – 13 December 1944) was a Member of Parliament in New Zealand; first for the Liberal Party, then Independent, and then for the Reform Party. He made a significant contribution to the development of tramping in the Tararua Range.

Private life

Parliament of New Zealand
Years Term Electorate Party
19001902 14th Otaki Liberal
19021905 15th Otaki Liberal
19051908 16th Otaki Liberal
19081909 17th Otaki Independent
19091911 Changed allegiance to: Reform
19141919 19th Otaki Reform
19191922 20th Otaki Reform
19221925 21st Otaki Reform
19251928 22nd Otaki Reform
19281931 23rd Otaki Reform
19311935 24th Otaki Reform

Field was born in Wanganui in 1861, the fourth son[1] of Henry Claylands Field (1825–1912)[2] and his wife Margaret Symes Purlow.[3] Field was a lawyer practising in Wellington first elected to parliament in the by-election after the death of the sitting member, his elder brother, Henry Augustus Field (1852–1899).[4] Tom Field (1914–1919), MHR (Member of the House of Representatives) for Nelson, was a relative.

Field was a significant figure in the tramping history of the Tararua Range of which he helped to promote the development of its most popular tramping route, known as the Southern Crossing. Within the Tararuas, both Field Peak and Field Hut, the oldest remaining purpose-built tramping hut in New Zealand, are named after him.[5] He was a founding member of the Tararua Tramping Club, one of the first of many tramping clubs in New Zealand.[6]

Centennial Highway 1940

He was closely associated with improvement to the railway services to his electorate, one train was known as "Field's Express", and the construction of the Tawa Flat tunnel. He also led the campaign for the electrification of the Johnsonville service extended to Paekakariki in 1940[4] and, 70 years later, to his electorate at Waikanae in February 2011. With Charles Gray of Pukerua Bay he was largely responsible for the Centennial Highway on the narrow coastline south of Paekakariki.[7]

On 26 April 1893, Field married Isabel Hodgkins, also known as Cissy,[8] at St. Paul's Cathedral, Dunedin.[1] They were to have two daughters and three sons. His wife was the daughter of the Dunedin painter and artist William Mathew Hodgkins. The celebrated painter Frances Hodgkins thus became his sister-in-law.[4]

Their daughter Lydia married William Noel Pharazyn, who had obtained the rank of captain during the war, at St Paul's in Wellington in 1919. This was regarded as a 'society wedding', as the Pharazyns were a well-established family. Her husband's uncle and grandfather, Robert Pharazyn and Charles Johnson Pharazyn, had both been members of the Legislative Council.[9][10]

Member of Parliament

Field won the Otaki electorate in the Horowhenua District in 1900, but lost it to John Robertson of the Labour Party (who had been nominated by the flax-workers union) by 21 votes on the second ballot in 1911. He then won it back in 1914, and held it until he retired in 1935.[11]

He replaced his brother, Henry Augustus Field, when he died in 1899.[12][13] William Field stood as a Liberal in 1900[11] and was regarded as a 'country liberal'[14] or 'freehold liberal'[15] and therefore it is not surprising that he moved politically to support the Reform Party over time.

In 1935, he was awarded the King George V Silver Jubilee Medal[16] and in 1937, he was awarded the King George VI Coronation Medal.[17]


Field died in Wellington on 13 December 1944. He was survived by his wife and their five children.[4]


  1. 1 2 "Births, Marriages, and Deaths". Otago Daily Times (9739). 16 May 1893. p. 6. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
  2. Scholefield 1940, pp. 248f.
  3. married 1st quarter 1851, Beaminster, Dorset FreeBMD accessed 20 Feb 2016
  4. 1 2 3 4 "Obituary, William Hughes Field". The Evening Post. CXXXVIII (142). 13 December 1944. p. 6. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
  5. "Historic Field Hut". Department of Conservation. 2012. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
  6. MacLean 1994, pp. ?.
  7. Obituary, Charles Gray. Evening Post, Volume CXXXVI, Issue 34, 9 August 1943, Page 3
  8. "Alice's Letter to her Readers". Otago Witness (2045). 4 May 1893. p. 45. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
  9. "Social Gossip". Free Lance. XIX (1013). 26 November 1919. p. 11. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
  10. Franks, Peter. "Pharazyn, William Noel - Biography". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 1 October 2012.
  11. 1 2 Wilson 1985, p. 196.
  12. Wilson 1985, p. 195.
  13. Hamer 1988, p. 339.
  14. Hamer 1988, p. 260.
  15. Hamer 1988, p. 334.
  16. "Official jubilee medals". The Evening Post. CXIX (105). 6 May 1935. p. 4. Retrieved 2 July 2013.
  17. Taylor 1998, p. 449.


Wikimedia Commons has media related to William Hughes Field.
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Henry Augustus Field
Member of Parliament for Otaki
Succeeded by
John Robertson
Preceded by
John Robertson
Succeeded by
Leonard Lowry
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