In the late 1960s it became obvious that Masterton needed extra land, and the most logical direction to expand was westward. The proximity to the industrial areas near the railway line seemed to make the land on the western side of Ngaumutawa Road, leading through to Edith and Colville Streets, the obvious place for a new major subdivision. The new subdivision became known as the Holt Block to locals, but it was decided to follow the trends of thematic naming of streets, and the streets in the area were named after New Zealand Prime Ministers.
Sir Harry Atkinson was a member of the Taranaki Richmond/Atkinson family that was heavily involved in both provincial and national politics. He served three terms as Premier, from 1876-77, in 1883, and 1887-91. A brusque man he was not popular but, despite his rural background, he was known for some of his radical views. His proposed national insurance scheme foresaw the modern welfare state.
John Ballance was one of a number of liberal crusading newspapermen who succeeded in politics in the later years of the 19th century. He was in Parliament from 1875 until 1881, when he lost his seat because of his support of the Maori prophet Te Whiti. He was re-elected in 1884 and served until his death in 1892. He was Prime Minister from 1890 until his death, leading a government that included Richard Seddon, James Carroll and Joseph Ward.
As well as being remembered with Ballance Street, the farming area of Ballance, north-west of Pahiatua, is named after him.
Peter Eraser was Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1940, following the death of Michael Savage, until 1949. Fraser was a Scots born socialist who served as a Member of Parliament in New Zealand from 1918 until 1950. Imprisoned during World War One for his opposition to conscription, he was later convinced of the ‘Red Threat’ and introduced peacetime conscription to New Zealand, alienating him from many Labour supporters.
Bill Massey was a deeply conservative politician, whose power base lay in the rural constituency he knew so well. He became Prime Minister in 1912, and remained in power, either alone or in coalition, until 1925. Both Massey and his Reform Party lost favour because of their close identification with land and farming issues at a time when New Zealand was becoming urbanised.
For a man whose major period in government was spent as Minister of Finance, Walter Nash developed a strong interest in foreign policy. Nash, who served as Finance Minister during 1935-49, was later Prime Minister in the Labour Government from 1957-60. A professional politician, he served his Hutt constituency from 1929 until his death.
Few characters have so dominated a Parliament as Richard Seddon did during his time as Prime Minister. Brash and assertive, Seddon represented very well the New Zealand he served. His Liberal Government is regarded as being far-sighted and progressive, especially in social legislation. Seddon had a vision of New Zealand as a Britain of the south, and sought to extend our sphere of influence into the Pacific.
Sir Robert Stout’s first term as Prime Minister lasted only a week, but must have whetted his appetite for a longer term as 10 days after his first term ended (16 August 18 84-23 August 1884) he started his second. The second term lasted for three years. Stout is remembered less for his prime ministerial period than for the 26 years he spent as Chief Justice, and for his espousal of radical causes. Both he and his wife were prominent in the temperance movement.
New Zealand has had few more charismatic leaders than Sir Julius Vogel. Vogel was blessed with great imagination and political skill but he was an impatient man, and careless with details of his policy. His tenures as Colonial Treasurer and as Prime Minister were marked by extensive overseas borrowing to build up the country’s infrastructure.
In Wairarapa, Vogel’s policies led directly to the opening up of the Forty Mile Bush and to the influx of Scandinavian migrants.
G.M. Waterhouse was only a short term Prime Minister of New Zealand (October 1872 until March 1873) but he had a strong Wairarapa connection, at one time owning both Huangarua and Castlepoint Stations. He came to New Zealand from South Australia where he had also had a successful political career. He is the only man to have been Prime Minister of two different British colonies – New Zealand and South Australia.