Robert McNab

Last updated

Robert McNab in 1908 Robert McNab (1908).jpg
Robert McNab in 1908

Robert McNab (1 October 1864 – 3 February 1917) was a New Zealand lawyer, farmer, historian, and politician of the Liberal Party. He was Minister of Justice for the 18 months before his death.


Early life

McNab was born in 1864 at Dunragget farm near Invercargill. His parents were Janet and Alexander McNab, a runholder. [1] His father represented the Murihiku electorate on the Otago Provincial Council (1858–1861), [2] and the Cambelltown electorate on the Southland Provincial Council (1861–1865), and was for short periods on the Southland Executive Council and the council's Speaker. [3]

Robert McNab received his education from Invercargill District High School and the University of Otago, from where he graduated with a BA in 1893, an MA in mathematics and mathematical physics in 1885, and LLB in 1891. He was admitted to the bar in 1889 and had a law practice in Invercargill from 1890 to 1896, which was followed by running the family farm on the upper Mataura River. [1]

Political career

New Zealand Parliament
1893 1896 12th Mataura Liberal
1898 1899 13th Mataura Liberal
1899 1902 14th Mataura Liberal
1902 1905 15th Mataura Liberal
1905 1908 16th Mataura Liberal
1914 1917 19th Hawkes Bay Liberal

He represented the Mataura electorate from 1893 to 1896 when he was defeated by George Richardson. In 1898 Richardson was adjudged bankrupt. McNab won the subsequent by-election, and held the seat again to 1908 when he was again defeated, by George James Anderson. In 1914 he won the Hawkes Bay seat, which he held until he died in 1917. [4]

He was a Cabinet Minister, and was Minister of Lands, and Minister of Agriculture, from 1906 to 1908 in the Ward Ministry. [5] He was Minister of Justice, Minister of Marine, and Minister of Stamp Duties from 1915 to his death in 1917 in the Reform Government when Reform was in a temporary wartime coalition with the Liberals. [6]

Historical work

McNab began researching New Zealand history in the late 1890s, and published numerous articles and books including the Historical Records of New Zealand at the request of the government. In 1913 McNab donated his collection of 4,200 books on history and geography to the Dunedin Public Library, with the condition the collection be added to continually. [1] As of 2008, the McNab New Zealand Collection contains around 83,000 items.


McNab, who never married, died in Wellington on 3 February 1917. He was buried in Invercargill. [1]


  1. 1 2 3 4 Traue, J. E. "McNab, Robert". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography . Ministry for Culture and Heritage . Retrieved 25 December 2013.
  2. Scholefield 1950, p. 222.
  3. Scholefield 1950, pp. 225ff.
  4. Wilson 1985, p. 217.
  5. Wilson 1985, p. 74.
  6. Wilson 1985, p. 76.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Josiah Hanan</span> New Zealand politician

Josiah Alfred Hanan, known to his colleagues as Joe Hanan, was a New Zealand politician, cabinet minister, and legislative councillor. He also served as Mayor of Invercargill, and as Chancellor of the University of New Zealand.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">William Wood (New Zealand politician)</span> 19th-century New Zealand politician

William Wood was a 19th-century New Zealand politician.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thomas Dick (politician)</span> New Zealand politician

Thomas Dick was a 19th-century New Zealand politician. Originally a merchant, he worked in London and then represented his firm on Saint Helena for seven years. From there, he was sent to Dunedin as the company's representative; he emigrated with an extended family. He soon became involved in politics and was Superintendent of Otago Province from 1865 until 1867. Over a period of 24 years, he represented various Dunedin electorates in Parliament and was Colonial Secretary (1880–1884), Minister of Justice from 1881 to 1882, and Minister of Education from 1881 to 1884. A deeply religious man, he was involved in many church affairs. He was one of the founders of Hanover Street Baptist Church; the building is now classified as Category I by Heritage New Zealand.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Waitaki (New Zealand electorate)</span> Electoral district in Otago and Canturbury, New Zealand

Waitaki is an electorate for the New Zealand House of Representatives that crosses the boundary of North Otago and South Canterbury towns on the East Coast of the South Island. The electorate was first established for the 1871 election that determined the 5th New Zealand Parliament. It has been abolished and re-established several times and in its early years was a two-member electorate for two parliamentary terms. The current electorate has existed since the 2008 election and is held by Jacqui Dean of the National Party.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Parkin Taylor</span> New Zealand politician

John Parkin Taylor was a 19th-century New Zealand runholder, and a politician in Otago and Southland. In his early life, Taylor lived in various countries and studied languages in Germany. He worked as a merchant and was married when he returned to England. Taylor's family emigrated to New Zealand in 1849 and he was a sheep farmer in various parts of the South Island before finally settling on a run near Riverton in Southland, where he had his homestead 'Waldeck' built. He entered the House of Representatives for the Dunedin Country electorate through a by-election in 1858 but fell out with many of his constituents over a broken election promise, as he helped the Southland Province to break away from the Otago Province. He eventually became Southland's second Superintendent and served from 1865 to 1869, and also represented an electorate on the Southland Provincial Council for a few months. In 1865, he was appointed to the New Zealand Legislative Council and with one break in membership due to non-attendance, he remained a member until his death. He served for one year as mayor of Riverton (1872–73) but did not stand again due to poor health. Taylor had a painful illness and died in 1875.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">David McDougall</span> New Zealand politician

David (Davie) McDougall was a United Party and an Independent Member of Parliament for Mataura, in the South Island of New Zealand.

Wallace was a New Zealand parliamentary electorate. It was established in 1858, the first election held in 1859, and existed until 1996. For a time, it was represented by two members. In total, there were 18 Members of Parliament from the Wallace electorate.

Wakatipu was a parliamentary electorate in the Otago region of New Zealand, from 1871 to 1928.

Bruce was a rural parliamentary electorate in the Otago region of New Zealand, from 1861 to 1922. For part of the 1860s with the influx to Otago of gold-miners it was a multi-member constituency with two members.

Mataura was a parliamentary electorate in the Southland Region of New Zealand, from 1866 to 1946.

Dunedin Country was a parliamentary electorate in the rural area surrounding the city of Dunedin in Otago, New Zealand, from 1853 to 1860. It was a two-member electorate and was represented by a total of five members of parliament.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Edward Cargill</span> New Zealand businessman and politician

Edward Bowes Cargill was a 19th-century businessman and Member of Parliament in Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand. He was the Mayor of Dunedin from 1897 to 1898.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">William Reynolds (New Zealand politician)</span> New Zealand politician

William Hunter Reynolds was a 19th-century businessman and Member of Parliament in Dunedin, Otago region, New Zealand. He was a cabinet minister. He is the only person who held membership on the Otago Provincial Council over the entire course of its existence (1853–1876), was Speaker of the council for three years, and was a member of the council's executive eight times.

Roslyn was a parliamentary electorate in the city of Dunedin in the Otago region of New Zealand from 1866 to 1890.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">George Richardson (New Zealand politician)</span> New Zealand politician

George Frederick Richardson, sometimes published as George Francis Richardson, was a 19th-century Member of Parliament in Southland, New Zealand and a cabinet minister.

The third New Zealand Parliament was a term of the Parliament of New Zealand. Elections for this term were held between 12 December 1860 and 28 March 1861 in 43 electorates to elect 53 MPs. Two electorates were added to this during this term, Gold Fields District and a new Dunedin electorate created by splitting the existing City of Dunedin into Dunedin and Suburbs North and Dunedin and Suburbs South, increasing the number of MPs to 57. During the term of this Parliament, six Ministries were in power.

James Mackintosh was a 19th-century Liberal Party Member of Parliament in Southland, New Zealand.

John Lillie Gillies was a 19th-century Member of Parliament from the Otago region of New Zealand. He was from Rothesay, Bute on the Isle of Bute, Scotland.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1858 Dunedin Country by-election</span> New Zealand by-election

The Dunedin Country by-election 1858 was a by-election held in the multi-member Dunedin Country electorate during the 2nd New Zealand Parliament, on 16 June 1858. The by-election was caused by the resignation of incumbent MP John Cargill and was won by John Taylor.

Thomas MacGibbon was a member of the New Zealand Legislative Council from 14 July 1914 – 13 July 1921, when his term ended. He was appointed by the Reform Government.


Political offices
Preceded by Minister of Justice
Succeeded by
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Mataura
Succeeded by
George Richardson
Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Hawkes Bay
Succeeded by