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Julius Vogel
8th Premier of New Zealand

Julius Vogel

Julius Vogel
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro 8th Premier of New Zealand
A.K.A. Sir Julius Vogel
Was Politician Journalist Diplomat Writer
From New Zealand
Field Journalism Literature Politics
Gender male
Birth 24 February 1835, London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
Death 12 March 1899, Surrey, South East England, England, United Kingdom (aged 64 years)
The details (from wikipedia)


Sir Julius Vogel KCMG (24 February 1835 – 12 March 1899) was the eighth Premier of New Zealand. His administration is best remembered for the issuing of bonds to fund railway construction and other public works. He was the first Jewish prime minister of New Zealand. Historian Warwick R. Armstrong assesses Vogel's strengths and weaknesses:

Vogel's politics were like his nature, imaginative – and occasionally brilliant – but reckless and speculative. He was an excellent policymaker but he needed a strong leader to restrain him....Yet Vogel had vision. He saw New Zealand as a potential 'Britain of the South Seas', strong both in agriculture and in industry, and inhabited by a large and flourishing population.

Early life

Born in London, Vogel received his early education at University College School in Hampstead, London. He later studied chemistry and metallurgy at the Royal School of Mines (later part of Imperial College London). He emigrated to Victoria, Australia in 1852, being editor of several newspapers on the goldfields, including the Inglewood Advertiser and the Maryborough and Dunolly Advertiser. After an unsuccessful attempt to enter the Victorian Parliament in the Avoca district in August 1861 (he lost to James Macpherson Grant and Benjamin George Davies), he moved to Otago in October 1861, where he became a journalist for the Otago Witness. In November 1861, he founded the Otago Daily Times and became its first editor. On 19 March 1867, Vogel got married in Dunedin to his neighbour Mary Clayton, the daughter of architect William Henry Clayton. They had three sons and one daughter.

Political career

Vogel first became involved in politics in 1862, winning election to the provincial council of Otago. Four years later became the head of the provincial government, a post which he held until 1869.

Member of Parliament

Parliament of New Zealand
Years Term Electorate Party
1863–1866 3rd Dunedin and Suburbs North Independent
1866–1870 4th Goldfields Independent
1871–1875 5th Auckland East Independent
1876 6th Wanganui Independent
1884–1887 9th Christchurch North Independent
1887–1889 10th Christchurch North Independent

In 1863 he was elected a member of the New Zealand House of Representatives in the Dunedin and Suburbs North electorate. In the 1866 election, he was defeated by William Murison in the Waikouaiti electorate on Wednesday, 28 February. It is unclear why Vogel stood in Waikouaiti as two days earlier, he had been returned unopposed at the nomination for the Goldfields electorate. On retiring from the provincial government in 1869, he joined the William Fox ministry as colonial treasurer, afterward becoming successively postmaster-general, commissioner of customs, and telegraph commissioner. The Fox ministry having been forced to resign, Vogel carried a vote of no confidence in their successors, and in October 1872, returned to power as leader in the Lower House, colonial treasurer and postmaster-general. He represented several electorates throughout the colony: Dunedin and Suburbs North 1863–1866, Goldfields in Otago 1866–1870, Auckland East 1871–1875, Wanganui 1876 (resigned) and Christchurch North 1884–1889 (resigned).

Vogel successfully contested the 1884 election in Christchurch North against John Crewes.

Premier of New Zealand

Vogel was premier from 1873 to 1875 and again in 1876. From 1876 to 1881, he was agent-general for New Zealand in London, and, in 1884, he was again a member of the government of the colony. During his political career, Vogel worked generally successfully for reconciliation with the Māori people. In 1887, he introduced the first women's suffrage Bill to Parliament, but suffrage was not granted until 1893. He was knighted in 1875. He finally gave up colonial office in 1887, from which date he lived in England.

Vogel is best remembered for his "Great Public Works" scheme of the 1870s. Before 1870, New Zealand was a country largely dominated by provincial interests and pork-barrel politics. After Vogel, as colonial treasurer, proposed borrowing the massive sum of 10 million pounds, New Zealand developed significant infrastructure of roads, railways and communication, all administered by central government. This ultimately led to the end of provincial government in 1876.

Vogel is also noteworthy as one of the few practising Jewish prime ministers outside Israel. Since Vogel, two other New Zealanders of Jewish descent have held the premiership: Francis Bell, an Anglican who briefly became prime minister in May 1925; and John Key, New Zealand's prime minister between 2008 and 2016 who was not religious despite attending synagogue as a child on occasion. Benjamin Disraeli, of Jewish descent but Anglican, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom contemporaneously to Vogel's premiership.

Life after politics

Vogel has a reputation as the first New Zealander to write a science-fiction novel: Anno Domini 2000, or, Woman's Destiny, published in 1889. It anticipated a utopian world where women held many positions of authority. New Zealand went on to become the first country to give women the vote, and, from 1997-2008, continuously had a female Prime Minister, while for a short period (2005–2006) women simultaneously held all five highest government positions (Monarch, Governor-General, Prime Minister, Speaker of the House and Chief Justice).

In honour of this book, the Sir Julius Vogel Awards for New Zealand speculative fiction take their name from him.

On his death at East Molesey in 1899, Vogel was interred in Willesden Jewish Cemetery in London.


Several things bear his name today:

  • The Sir Julius Vogel Awards for science fiction writing.
  • Suburbs named Vogeltown in Wellington and New Plymouth.
  • Vogel House, the former official residence of New Zealand Prime Ministers for most of the 20th century.
  • Vogel Building in Wellington built for the Ministry of Works, now housing much of the Ministry of Justice. This building has been renamed the Justice Centre as of July 2013.
  • Various streets throughout the country named Vogel Street, such as the one in his former constituency of Dunedin.
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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