Who's Who - Sir Joseph George Ward

Sir Joseph George Ward Sir Joseph George Ward (1856-1930) served twice as New Zealand's Prime Minister, from 1906-12 and 1928-30, and was Deputy Prime Minister during the First World War.

Born in Melbourne, Victoria in 1856 Ward's family migrated to New Zealand in 1859.  Following schooling Ward worked with the post and telegraph service as a messenger.  He subsequently joined the railway service while aged 20.

In 1878 Ward's political career began with his election to Campbelltown borough council, where he remained until 1897 during which time he spent six years as Mayor.  From 1881-1887 Ward additionally served as a member of the Bluff harbour board and was twice its chairman.

1890 saw Ward strive to make his mark on the national political scene with his election to the seat at Awarua, which he went on to hold until 1919.  Within a year of taking up his seat in Parliament Ward was appointed Postmaster-General; subsequent appointments included a spell as Colonial Treasurer and Minister of Customs.

In 1897 Ward's personal circumstances suffered a severe reverse when his private company failed.  Financially embarrassed he resigned his seat in Parliament.  Yet within the space of a month he was re-elected and back in the government.

In January 1900 Ward was given responsibility for the railway system; the following year he oversaw the introduction of the penny post throughout New Zealand for which he was knighted.

With the death of Prime Minister Seddon Ward was elected Prime Minister (replacing interim premier Hall-Jones).  He also held the posts of Minister of Finance, Postmaster-General and Minister of Defence, a heavy workload.

While Prime Minister Ward oversaw New Zealand's change of status from Colony to Dominion.  He also brought in the 1909 Defence Act which provided for compulsory military training and notably strengthened New Zealand's military forces, forming the Territorial Army.  In this he received firm support from the opposition Conservative leader William Massey.

The 1912 election resulted in an effectively hung parliament.  Ward was supplanted as Prime Minister by (briefly) Thomas McKenzie and later the same year by Massey.  Although Massey remained in office until his death in 1925 Ward nevertheless stayed on as Liberal leader.

During the First World War Massey continued to lead the government; Ward's Liberals however entered the government to support the war effort with Ward serving simultaneously as Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Postmaster-General.  Ward worked so well with Massey that they were termed 'the Siamese twins'.

In December 1928 Ward again became Prime Minister, finally resigning on 15 May 1930 on grounds of ill health.  He died within two months, on 8 July 1930.

A "box barrage" was an artillery bombardment centred upon a small area.

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