Sound: social life in Parliament

Hear Francis Fisher, Member of Parliament (MP) between 1905 and 1914, discuss social life in Parliament.

Parliament provided one of the first tennis courts in the country, in the early 1870s. It was a popular pastime that Francis Fisher witnessed as a boy. He went on to represent New Zealand at tennis.


At the back of the building was situated the parliamentary asphalt tennis courts. Here the bearded members of the House played the first tennis I ever saw. They played the game with red rubber balls which had no covers. They used racquets with pear-shaped heads strung with heavy gut with low tension. They all served underhand and volleying the ball was regarded as a foul and the rally had to be replayed. I had the good fortune to become the regular ballboy and at the end of one session, a Member named Dargaville, who was giving up the game, presented me with his racquet and a couple of the red rubber balls.

This gift was indeed my real introduction to the game of lawn tennis, which was destined to become my life hobby. Curiously enough one of the tennis players of those days was James Allen, Member for Bruce. The subtle hand of fate decreed that 20 years later he and I were both to become Members of Mr Massey's first Cabinet.

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