Open main menu

The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Reeves, Hon. William Pember

Reeves, Hon. William Pember, M.H.R., Labour Minister, New Zealand, is the eldest son of the late Hon. William Reeves (q.v.), and was born in 1857 in Canterbury, N.Z. Mr. Reeves began school life at Christ College Grammar School at ten years of age by winning the Canterbury Provincial Government scholarship of £40 a year. He won it a second time, thus holding it seven years in all. In 1873 he gained the Somes scholarship (£40 for three years), and in 1874 he took two university scholarships, being first in classics and first in English. After this brilliant opening he was sent home to graduate at Oxford and read for the Bar, but ill-health, caused by the strain of his educational course, forced him back to the colony without the achievement of either object. After an interval of country life he was admitted to the New Zealand Bar. But beyond reporting for the Canterbury Law Society, he did not devote much attention to his profession. He preferred journalism, to which profession he soon devoted himself entirely, first as contributor and leader-writer to the Lyttelton Times. Then he became editor of the Canterbury Times, and in 1889 he succeeded to the editorial chair of the Lyttelton Times. In 1887 Mr. Reeves was elected to the House of Representatives for St. Albans, beating Mr. Garrick by a substantial majority, and he was returned for Christchurch at the general election in 1890, being in Jan. 1891 appointed to a seat in the Ballance Government as Minister of Justice and Education. Mr. Reeves married in Feb. 1885 Miss Magdalen Stuart Robison. On the Government deciding to constitute a department of labour, Mr. Reeves was appointed the first Minister. He has written a short history of Communism and Socialism.