Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Grave of Sir Frederick Whitaker

Three more photos from St Stephen's Cemetery in April 2006, this time of what remains of the gravesite, gracefully crumbling, of Sir Frederick Whitaker (1812-1891). From the Cyclopedia of New Zealand:

When Auckland was chosen for the Capital in 1841, Mr. Whitaker removed to that city and remained a resident there until his death. In the following year he was appointed County Judge, a position which he held for two years, when that branch of the judicature was abolished.

In 1845 he was appointed senior member of the Legislative Council, and sat in the last council of Governor Fitzroy, and in the first of Governor Grey. When the insurrection of the natives in the North broke out he served in the New Zealand Militia, holding a major's commission, and was on military duty in Auckland when the Maoris threatened to annihilate the European settlers.

On the passing of the New Zealand Constitution Act in 1852, he again came prominently before the public. He was elected a member of the Provincial Council, and sat in several sessions. Throughout the superintendency of General Wynyard he was Provincial Law Adviser, and a member of the Provincial Executive. In 1853 he received a seat in the Legislative Council, and in the following year attended the first session of the General Assembly. He became Attorney-General in 1855, and in the same year was appointed speaker of the Legislative Council. The latter position, however, he soon resigned to accept the Attorney-Generalship in the Bell-Sewell Ministry. This ministry lasted less than a fortnight, and the succeeding one, with Mr. Fox as Premier, was likewise ejected in the same space of time.

In consequence of these rapid changes, Mr. Whitaker soon became Attorney-General again—this time in the Stafford Ministry—which position he continued to hold until his colleagues were defeated, in 1861, on the question of Native affairs. He then resigned his seat in the Legislative Council, and commenced practice in Auckland in partnership with Mr. Thomas Russell. On the formation of the Fox Ministry, in 1863, he accepted the portfolios of Premier and Attorney-General, with a seat in the Legislative Council. At the end of the following year this ministry resigned, owing to a disagreement with the Governor, Sir George Grey, relative to the conduct of the Waikato War, and the treatment of the land of the hostile Maoris. Mr. Whitaker now retired from the Legislative Council.

In the following year he was elected Superintendent of Auckland, and returned to the House of Representatives as member for Parnell. In 1867 he retired from the Superintendency, and also from the General Assembly. For several years he engaged actively in the mining, timber, and pastoral industries, but returned to the political arena in 1876. On the resignation of Sir Julius Vogel he accepted the portfolio of Attorney-General in the Atkinson Ministry, and held this position (with the exception of a few months when he was Postmaster-General and Commissioner of Telegraphs) until his government resigned in the following year. Soon afterwards he accepted the Attorney-Generalship in the Hall Ministry, with a seat in the Legislative Council, and when Sir John Hall was compelled to resign on account of ill-health, Mr. Whitaker rose to the head of the Government, in which position he continued until 1883. In the following year he received from Her Majesty the distinction of knighthood as a token of his services to the Colony.

When Major Atkinson returned to power in 1887, Sir Frederick again accepted his old portfolio of Attorney-General, and continued in this office until the resignation of his government in January, 1891. This closed his political career, and on the 4th of December, 1891, he died at his residence in Auckland.

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