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Sound: parliamentary Members and staff

Audio file

Hear Francis Fisher discuss Members and staff.

Francis Fisher, who was a Member of Parliament (MP) between 1905 and 1914, conjures up a picture of the armed constabulary with their splendid uniforms and the old-time MPs, many of whom served in the New Zealand wars and had a military bearing.


I have a few words to say as an observer of the people who inhabited that famous old building when I was a boy. From the '70s on a considerable number of Members of the House were men who had served in the Maori Wars. There were others who had served in the Indian mutiny and some who had served in both. In the year 1870 there sat in the House a Member for Parnell, Auckland, named Charles Heaphy. He was the only Victoria Cross winner ever to sit in our Parliament and he was, I think, the only man to win a Victoria Cross in New Zealand. It would seem from his record that he found Parliament unattractive, perhaps even frightening, for he never returned after his first term.

Of the period of which I speak, the Sergeant-at-Arms in the House was Colonel Paul De Quincy. He was not only an Indian mutiny veteran but had been a representative in our House for the pensioner settlements at Auckland. That was away back in '66. Colonel De Quincy was a son of that very famous man of letters, Thomas De Quincy, who wrote the Confessions of an English opium eater and other quite outstanding works. Running through the parliamentary atmosphere of those days was a strong military taint. No doubt the veteran members of Parliament, so many of them of officer rank, liked still to see around them smart uniformed soldiers.

So when I was a boy I saw the environs of Parliament inside and out as a somewhat privileged youngster. I was friends with many of the armed constabulary whose special duty it was to guard and preserve the sacred precincts of the House of Assembly. The constabulary were a very fine body of men. They wore blue uniforms with red and yellow piping, white belts, white helmets topped with a brass spike and brass chinstraps. On parade they were a very fine sight indeed.


Radio New Zealand Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright. To request a copy of the recording, contact Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. Mr F.M.B. Fisher reminiscences, 1959. Reference no: TX37

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Sound: parliamentary Members and staff, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated