George Waterhouse


George Waterhouse

George Waterhouse, who never stood for elected office here, was a premier on both sides of the Tasman, leading South Australia (1861-3) and New Zealand (1872-3).

This son of a missionary migrated to Australia, went into business and entered politics. He was never very healthy, often resigning office or changing countries because of illness.

In 1870, a year after buying a Wairarapa sheep station, Waterhouse entered the Legislative Council. He disliked politicking. He was too intelligent and scrupulous to enjoy fronting an administration dominated by Julius Vogel but agreed to do so in October 1872 to resolve a political impasse. He worked for free, but predictably soon tired of playing figurehead to Vogel. His resignation triggered a constitutional crisis with the governor and William Fox had to head a caretaker ministry until Vogel returned.

Waterhouse retreated to the peace of the Legislative Council, where he served until 1889 when ill health caused him to return to Britain.

By Gavin McLean

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