James Parr (politician)

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Parr in 1911 James Parr.jpg
Parr in 1911

Sir Christopher James Parr GCMG (18 May 1869 – 2 May 1941) was a New Zealand lawyer and politician of the Reform Party. He was Mayor of Auckland, a Member of Parliament representing the Eden electorate, a Minister in the Reform Government, High Commissioner in London and a Member of the New Zealand Legislative Council.


Early life

Parr was born in Pukerimu near Cambridge in 1869. [1]

Political career

New Zealand Parliament
1914 1919 19th Eden Reform
1919 1922 20th Eden Reform
1922 1925 21st Eden Reform
1925 1926 22nd Eden Reform

Parr was Mayor of Auckland from 1911 to 1915, succeeded by Sir James Gunson.

He represented the electorate of Eden from 1914 to 1926. [2] He was Minister of Education (3 April 1920 – 24 April 1926) in three successive ministries of the Reform Government. [3] He was Minister of Public Health (3 April 1920 – 27 June 1923) under William Massey. [4] He was Minister of Justice (27 June 1923 – 18 January 1926) under Massey, Francis Bell and Gordon Coates. [3] He was Postmaster General and Minister of Telegraphs (30 May 1925 – 24 April 1926) under Coates. [5]

On 11 March 1926, he opened the Mount Albert Grammar School hall. [6]

He resigned from Parliament on 26 March 1926 to take up his appointment as High Commissioner in London. [1] [2] The resulting by-election was won by Rex Mason of the Labour Party, [7] because the Reform Party vote was split. As High Commissioner, Parr defended how New Zealand governed Western Samoa, which was C mandate under the League of Nations. [8] New Zealand repressed freedoms of the press, freedoms of association, and free speech in Samoa, as well as banished those who criticized New Zealand's rule. [8] Parr dismissed grievances that Samoans expressed about New Zealand's rule, describing them as a "simple and loveable race... ready to listen to any tale, and hence... most susceptible to the wiles of the agitator." [8] He argued against democracy for Samoans. [8] Parr falsely claimed that there was no "real Samoan desire for self-government." [8]

Parr was High Commissioner to the United Kingdom for just over three years (1 August 1926 – 31 December 1929). [9] On his return to New Zealand, he was appointed a member of the Legislative Council on 9 October 1931. [10] His wife died on 4 November 1933 and in mid November, he had been appointed High Commissioner again. [1] He resigned from the Legislative council effective 31 December 1933 [10] and commenced his second term as High Commissioner the following day; a post that he held until 31 August 1936. [9] He retired in Berkhamsted, England and remarried there. [1]

Awards and death

Parr was appointed Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1914, promoted to Knight Commander in 1924 and further promoted to Knight Grand Cross in the 1935 King's Birthday Honours. [2] [11] He died on 2 May 1941 in Berkhamsted. [1]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Bush, Graham W. A. "Parr, Christopher James 1869–1941". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography . Ministry for Culture and Heritage . Retrieved 4 April 2011.
  2. 1 2 3 Scholefield 1950, p. 131.
  3. 1 2 Scholefield 1950, pp. 45–46.
  4. Scholefield 1950, p. 45.
  5. Scholefield 1950, p. 46.
  6. "The Hall" (PDF). Mount Albert Grammar School. June 2018. Retrieved 9 August 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. Scholefield 1950, p. 125.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 Pedersen, Susan (2015). The Guardians: The League of Nations and the Crisis of Empire. Oxford University Press. pp. 169–192. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199570485.001.0001/acprof-9780199570485. ISBN   978-0-19-957048-5.
  9. 1 2 Scholefield 1950, p. 175.
  10. 1 2 Scholefield 1950, p. 82.
  11. "No. 34166". The London Gazette (Supplement). 3 June 1935. p. 3597.

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New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Eden
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Mayor of Auckland City
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Education
Succeeded by
Minister of Public Health
Succeeded by
Minister of Justice
Succeeded by
Minister of Police
Preceded by Postmaster-General
and Minister of Telegraphs

Succeeded by
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by High Commissioner of New Zealand to the United Kingdom
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Thomas Wilford
Succeeded by