Open main menu

Domett, Alfred, C.M.G., formerly Premier of New Zealand, was the fourth son of Nathaniel Domett, and was born at Camberwell Grove, Surrey, on May 20th, 1811. He was educated at St. John's College, Cambridge, where he matriculated in 1829, but left the University without graduating. He then spent a couple of years in America and travelled extensively on the Continent, occupying his time in literary pursuits, and contributing verse to the magazines. He entered at the Middle Temple, Nov. 7th, 1835, and was called to the bar Nov. 19th, 1841. In May of the following year he went out to New Zealand, and settled in the Nelson district, becoming, in 1848, Colonial Secretary for the province of New Munster. In 1851 he was made Civil Secretary for the whole of New Zealand, but resigning the conjoint offices in 1853, he became Commissioner of Crown Lands and Resident Magistrate of Hawke's Bay. He was elected to a seat in the House of Representatives for Nelson in 1855, and was re-elected in 1860. On August 6th, 1862, Mr. Domett became Premier in succession to Mr. (afterwards Sir) William Fox. It was then the eve of the Waikato war, and the difficulties encountered in the House led to his resignation on Oct. 29th, 1863, when the Whitaker-Fox Ministry (commonly regarded as the "War Ministry") came into office. Mr. Domett was then appointed Secretary for Crown Lands, and was allotted a seat in the Legislative Council, afterwards becoming Commissioner of Old Land Claims. He was appointed Registrar-General of Land in 1865, and in 1870 Commissioner for Confiscated Lands. In 1871 he retired from his offices, and returned to England, where he lived till his death, which took place in London on Nov. 2nd, 1887. In 1880 he was created C.M.G. Mr. Domett was the author of several volumes of poetry, and enjoyed the friendship of Browning. He it is who was referred to by the latter in his poem beginning, "What's become of Waring, Since he gave us all the slip." Mr. Domett published "Venice: a poem," 1839; "Narrative of the Wairau Massacre," 1843; "Ordinances of New Zealand, Classified," 1850; "Ranolf and Amohia; a South Sea Day Dream," 1872, being an epic poem on a Maori subject; "Flotsam and Jetsam: Rhymes Old and New," 1877. Mr. Domett was for some years a contributor to, and for a portion of the time editor of, the Nelson Examiner, the best of the early New Zealand newspapers.