Julius Vogel

The Right Honourable
Sir Julius Vogel
8th Premier of New Zealand
In office
8 April 1873  6 July 1875
15 February 1876 – 1 September 1876
Monarch Victoria
Governor James Fergusson
George Phipps
Preceded by William Fox (1873)
Daniel Pollen (1876)
Succeeded by Daniel Pollen (1875)
Harry Atkinson (1876)
Constituency Dunedin Suburbs
Personal details
Born (1835-02-24)24 February 1835
London, England
Died 12 March 1899(1899-03-12) (aged 64)
Molesey, England
Political party None
Spouse(s) Mary Clayton
Children Four[1]
Religion Judaism

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 remains the only practising 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.[2]

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.[3] 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),[3][4] 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.[1]

Political career

Vogel first became involved in politics in 1862, winning election to the provincial council of Otago.[3] Four years later became the head of the provincial government, a post which he held until 1869.[3]

Member of Parliament

Parliament of New Zealand
Years Term Electorate Party
18631866 3rd Dunedin and Suburbs North Independent
18661870 4th Goldfields Independent
18711875 5th Auckland East Independent
1876 6th Wanganui Independent
18841887 9th Christchurch North Independent
18871889 10th Christchurch North Independent

In 1863 he was elected a member of the New Zealand House of Representatives, and on retiring from the provincial government in 1869 he joined the William Fox ministry as colonial treasurer,[3] 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.[5]

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 current prime minister, who took office in 2008 and who is not religious despite attending synagogue as a child on occasion.[6] Benjamin Disraeli, of Jewish descent but Anglican, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom contemporaneously to Vogel's premiership. Mikhail Fradkov, also Jewish, was Prime Minister of Russia.

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.[7]

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


Several things bear his name today:

See also


  1. 1 2 Dalziel, Raewyn. "Vogel, Julius". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 23 September 2010.
  2. Warwick Robert Armstrong, "VOGEL, Sir Julius, K.C.M.G." An Encyclopedia of New Zealand 1966 (1966)
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Mennell, Philip (1892). "Wikisource link to Vogel, Hon. Sir Julius". The Dictionary of Australasian Biography. London: Hutchinson & Co. Wikisource
  4. Kennedy, B. E. "Vogel, Sir Julius (1835–1899)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  5. Chalklen, Mollie. "John Crewes". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved December 2011. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  6. The New Zealand Herald, 26 July 2008, page B3.
  7. "Curiosities: Anno Domini 2000; or Woman's Destiny by Julius Vogel" by Lucy Sussex, Fantasy and Science Fiction, December 2008, page 162.


Further reading

External links

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Government offices
Preceded by
William Fox
Premier of New Zealand
Succeeded by
Daniel Pollen
Preceded by
Daniel Pollen
Succeeded by
Harry Atkinson
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Isaac Featherston
Agent-General of New Zealand in the United Kingdom
Succeeded by
Dillon Bell
New Zealand Parliament
New constituency Member of Parliament for Dunedin and Suburbs North
Served alongside: John Richardson
Electorate abolished
Preceded by
John Bryce
Member of Parliament for Whanganui
Served alongside: John Bryce
Succeeded by
William Fox
Preceded by
Henry Thomson
Member of Parliament for Christchurch North
Succeeded by
Edward Wingfield Humphreys
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