Ernest Lee

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Lee in 1919. Ernest Lee.jpg
Lee in 1919.

Ernest Page Lee (27 August 1862 [1] – 19 February 1932) was a New Zealand lawyer and politician of the Reform Party.


Early life

Born in 1862 in Teignmouth, England, he received his education at Cheltenham and London. Aged 18, he started learning the legal trade in a firm of solicitors in the West of England. He was submitted to the Supreme Court of Judicature in 1885. A year later, he emigrated to New Zealand. [2] He settled in Oamaru, and was at first a clerk in a legal firm owned by Thomas William Hislop and Arthur Gethin Creagh. [3] He founded the firm of Lee, Grave and Grave. [2] In 1895 married Miss de Lambert. His sister, Leah Lee, was married to the French poet Jules Laforgue.

Political career

New Zealand Parliament
1911 1914 18th Oamaru Reform
1914 1919 19th Oamaru Reform
1919 1922 20th Oamaru Reform
1925 1928 22nd Oamaru Reform

Lee was elected onto the Oamaru Borough council. [3] In the 1911 election, he defeated the incumbent in the Oamaru electorate, Thomas Young Duncan. [2] He represented the electorate until 1922, [4] when he was defeated in the 1922 election. The 1922 Oamaru election result was invalidated due to irregularities, but Lee lost the subsequent 1923 by-election again to John MacPherson of the Liberal Party. [5] He won the electorate from MacPherson in 1925, [4] but again lost it to MacPherson in 1928. [5]

He was the Minister of Justice (3 April 1920 – 13 January 1923), Minister of External Affairs (17 May 1920 – 13 January 1923) and Minister of Industries and Commerce (22 June 1920 – 13 January 1923) in the Reform Government. [6]

Outside politics

Lee founded the North Otago Jockey Club. He was an accomplished mountaineer and ascended many of the high peaks of the Southern Alps. [2] He was on Lake Wakatipu when he had a seizure. He died three weeks later on 19 February 1932 at Queenstown, and was survived by his wife. [2]


  1. "Ernest Page Lee".
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "Death of Mr. E. P. Lee". The New Zealand Herald . Vol. LXIX, no. 21111. 19 February 1932. p. 10. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
  3. 1 2 Scholefield 1940, p. 491.
  4. 1 2 Scholefield 1950, p. 119.
  5. 1 2 Scholefield 1950, p. 124.
  6. Scholefield 1950, p. 45.

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Political offices
Preceded by Minister of Justice
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Police
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Oamaru
Succeeded by
Preceded by
John Andrew MacPherson
Succeeded by
John Andrew MacPherson