Robert Macfarlane (New Zealand politician)

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Sir Robert Macfarlane

Robert Mafeking Macfarlane.jpg
Robert Macfarlane in ca 1951
14th Speaker of the House of Representatives
In office
21 January 1958 28 October 1960
Prime Minister Walter Nash
Preceded by Matthew Oram
Succeeded by Ronald Algie
37th Mayor of Christchurch
In office
18 November 1950 17 May 1958
Preceded by Ernest Andrews
Succeeded by George Manning
In office
11 May 1938 17 May 1941
Preceded by John Beanland
Succeeded by Ernest Andrews
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Christchurch Central
In office
27 November 1946 29 November 1969
Preceded bynew electorate
Succeeded by Bruce Barclay
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Christchurch South
In office
3 June 1939 27 November 1946
Preceded by Ted Howard
Succeeded byelectorate abolished
Personal details
Robert Mafeking Haynes

(1900-05-17)17 May 1900
Christchurch, New Zealand
Died2 December 1981(1981-12-02) (aged 81)
Christchurch, New Zealand
Political party Labour
Louisa Jacobs
(m. 1932)

Sir Robert Mafeking Macfarlane KCMG (né Haynes, 17 May 1900 – 2 December 1981) was a New Zealand politician of the Labour Party. He was a Member of Parliament, served as Speaker of the House of Representatives and was a Mayor of Christchurch.


Early life

Macfarlane was born in Christchurch on 17 May 1900, the son of Emma Rose King Haynes. [1] Born during the Second Boer War, his mother gave him the middle name Mafeking from a town in South Africa that was under siege at the time of his birth. [2] In 1904, he took the surname Macfarlane after his mother married Hugh Macfarlane, a labourer. [1]

He married Louisa Jacobs in 1932 with whom he had two daughters. [1]

Local body politics

Macfarlane was on the Christchurch City Council (1927–1929, 1936–1941, 1947–1959, and 1961–1981), [3] and was Mayor of Christchurch twice, from 1938 to 1941 and from 1950 to 1958. [4] He was at various times a member of the Lyttelton Harbour Board. [1]

Member of Parliament

New Zealand Parliament
1939 1943 26th Christchurch South Labour
1943 1946 27th Christchurch South Labour
1946 1949 28th Christchurch Central Labour
1949 1951 29th Christchurch Central Labour
1951 1954 30th Christchurch Central Labour
1954 1957 31st Christchurch Central Labour
1957 1960 32nd Christchurch Central Labour
1960 1963 33rd Christchurch Central Labour
1963 1966 34th Christchurch Central Labour
1966 1969 35th Christchurch Central Labour

Macfarlane entered Parliament in 1939 following a by-election, replacing Ted Howard (although Howard's daughter Mabel Howard had hoped to replace him following his death). He was the Member of Parliament for Christchurch South from 1939 to 1946, then for Christchurch Central from 1946 to 1969, when he retired.

From May 1947 until September 1947 he was the Labour Party's junior whip. He was subsequently Labour's senior whip from September 1947 until June 1951. [5]

Speaker of the House of Representatives

He was the 14th Speaker of the House of Representatives during the Second Labour Government (1957–60). [6] As the government held a working majority of one careful management was needed in the house to avoid the government losing a division. Macfarlane at times struggled with his hearing, which was known to be poor, which was further impeded when wearing the formal wig inside the chamber. Many MPs, particularly Keith Holyoake the Leader of the Opposition, would take advantage of this and would challenge, ignore and defy his rulings. [2] Regardless a vote was never lost and later Labour leader Bill Rowling credited Macfarlane's use of 'common sense rather than the rule book' with enabling the government to survive its full term in office. [1]

Macfarlane was given the job of speaker after failing to be elected to cabinet. He had wanted to be Minister of Internal Affairs. [2]

Under Arnold Nordmeyer, and more particularly, Norman Kirk Labour wanted to modernise itself and Macfarlane was among several MPs who became increasingly pressured to retire. In defiance of this he was re-nominated again by local members for the 1966 general election, his nomination was queried by head office. [7] He was allowed to stand again on the stipulation that he would not stand at the 1969 general election. [8]


In the 1954 Queen's Birthday Honours, Macfarlane was appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George, [9] and in the 1974 New Year Honours he was elevated to Knight Commander of the same order. [10] In the 1985 New Year Honours, his wife, Louisa, Lady Macfarlane, was appointed a Companion of the Queen's Service Order for community service. [11]

Military service

In World War II he served in the Middle East in the ASC of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force for 2½ years.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Clark, Kath. "Macfarlane, Robert Mafeking". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography . Ministry for Culture and Heritage . Retrieved 1 August 2013.
  2. 1 2 3 Tizard, R. J. (20 December 1993). "When MPs held on by self-discipline". The New Zealand Herald . p. 8.
  3. "Councillors of the City of Christchurch". Christchurch: Christchurch City Council. Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
  4. "Chairmen and mayors". Christchurch: Christchurch City Council . Retrieved 10 February 2010.
  5. Wilson 1985, pp. 281.
  6. New Zealand. Parliament. House of Representatives (1982). Parliamentary Debates. Volume 443. p. 136.|volume= has extra text (help)
  7. "To Plead Case of Labour M.P.". The Evening Post . 3 May 1966. p. 12.
  8. "Mr. Macfarlane Nominated to Stand Again". The Evening Post . 7 May 1966. p. 22.
  9. "No. 40190". The London Gazette (3rd supplement). 10 June 1954. p. 3299.
  10. "No. 46163". The London Gazette (2nd supplement). 1 January 1974. p. 35.
  11. "No. 49970". The London Gazette (2nd supplement). 31 December 1984. p. 2.

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New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Ted Howard
Member of Parliament for Christchurch South
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Christchurch Central
Succeeded by
Bruce Barclay
Political offices
Preceded by
John Beanland
Mayor of Christchurch

Succeeded by
Ernest Andrews
Preceded by
Ernest Andrews
Succeeded by
George Manning
Preceded by
Matthew Oram
Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Ronald Algie
Preceded by
Harold Smith
Deputy-Mayor of Christchurch
Succeeded by
Peter Skellerup
Party political offices
Preceded by
Arthur Shapton Richards
Senior Whip of the Labour Party
Succeeded by
Phil Connolly