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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Wood, Hon. Reader Gilson

< The Dictionary of Australasian Biography

Wood, Hon. Reader Gilson, was born in 1821, and educated at the Merchant Taylors' School, London. He was brought up as an architect, and shortly after his articles had expired left England for New Zealand, arriving in Auckland in 1844. The northern insurrection breaking out in the following year, Mr. Wood was made lieutenant of Volunteer Artillery, and was present at the attempted storming of Heke's Pah at Ohaeawai on July 1st, 1845. He was mentioned in Colonel Despard's despatch describing that disastrous affair. After the war Mr. Wood returned to Auckland, where he practised his profession of architect and surveyor. About 1848 he was employed by the Government as Inspector of Roads, afterwards he was appointed Deputy Surveyor-General, which office he retained till 1856, and in the following year he was brought forward to represent Auckland City East in the General Assembly, but was defeated. In 1861 he was returned for Parnell, and in July of that year took office as Colonial Treasurer and Commissioner of Customs in the Fox Ministry. On August 6th, 1862, this Ministry went out of office, but, with the exception of a brief interregnum of a fortnight, Mr. Wood held the office of Treasurer under the Domett and Whitaker-Fox Ministries till Nov. 24th, 1864. The financial statement put before the House by Mr. Wood in the Whitaker-Fox Government contained the outlines of a scheme of military settlement and the issue of a three million loan, with a view of finally disposing of the native difficulty. Mr. Wood toward the close of 1864 went to England as Colonial Treasurer to negotiate for an instalment of one million out of the three to be borrowed, and he accomplished his object. In 1865 he resigned his seat for Parnell, but in 1870 was again elected. He opposed the great borrowing scheme of Mr. (now Sir Julius) Vogel with great vigour and eloquence. In 1878 he again resigned his seat for Parnell, and took a trip to England on private affairs. On his return to Auckland in 1879 he was elected for Waitemata. In 1871 he carried a resolution for the abolition of Civil Service pensions.