Henry Ell

Henry Ell

Henry George (Harry) Ell (24 September? 1862 - 27 June 1934) was a New Zealand politician. He is also famous for his conservation work around Christchurch's Port Hills, his advocacy for the Summit Road, and his construction of the Sign of the Takahe.

Early Years

Ell was born in Christchurch, New Zealand, and grew up on his father's farm in Halswell. As a teenager he worked at the Canterbury Museum, then as a farm hand. Between 1881 and 1884 he was a member of the Armed Constabulary in Taranaki, where he participated in the destruction of Parihaka. This experience turned him into a stern critic of the race-relations policies of the time.

Ell was a Christchurch City councillor in 1903 and then again between 1917 and 1919. He was a member of the Knights of Labour and the Canterbury Liberal Association.

Member of Parliament

Ell stood as a prohibitionist for the seat of City of Christchurch in 1896. He was unsuccessful, but was elected as an Independent Liberal in 1899, and held the seat, and the subsequent seat of Christchurch South as an Independent, until 1919. Ell was associated with the New Liberal Party in 1905.

As a Member of the House of Representatives, Ell spoke against the relaxation of liquor laws, the jailing of alcoholics and against gambling. He also successfully pushed for reform of New Zealand's mental health laws. He served briefly as Postmaster General in the Cabinet of Thomas Mackenzie.

The Summit Road

It is Ell's strong interest in recreation and conservation for which he is most remembered. From 1900 onwards, Ell pushed for the creation of a network of scenic reserves along Christchurch's Port Hills, linked by the Summit Road and with a network of rest-houses to allow travellers and walkers to refresh themselves. Three of these rest-houses were completed during Ell's lifetime: the Sign of the Bellbird, Sign of the Kiwi, and Sign of the Packhorse. The last, and grandest, the Sign of the Takahe, was not completed until long after his death, in 1949.


*Ell's political philosophy was simple: "Our aim in life is to effect such social and economic reforms as will improve the lot of our fellow men and women" [From a letter to George Fowlds dated 20 February 1900.]

*As a parliamentarian, Ell was proud of his independent status. During his 1899 election campaign he maintained the view that: "a member might pledge himself to his constituents but never to a party" [citation |newspaper = Christchurch Press |date = 2 November 1899 |year = 1899: p.3.]


Further reading

Works by Henry Ell

:*citation |first = Henry George |last = Ell |title = Mr. H. G. Ell’s views on some of the political questions of the day |place = Christchurch, [N.Z.] |publisher = H. G. Ell ; Willis & Aiken |year = 1902 :*citation |first = Henry George |last = Ell |title = The will of the people through the initiative and referendum: the great need for legislative reform and how it can be met |place = Christchurch, [N.Z.] |publisher = Willis & Aiken |year = 1902:*citation |first = Henry George |last = Ell |title = A state bank for New Zealand with sole right of note issue |place = Christchurch, [N.Z.] |publisher = Willis & Aiken |year = 1905:*citation |first = Henry George |last = Ell |title = A state bank for New Zealand with sole right of note issue |edition = 2nd |place = Christchurch, [N.Z.] |publisher = Willis & Aiken |year = 1906:*citation |first = Henry George |last = Ell |title = Direct legislation in New Zealand |journal = The Arena |place = Boston, [MA.] |year = 1903 |pages = 268-272:*citation |first = Henry George |last = Ell |title = Old Porirua taniwhas and whales |newspaper = Evening Post (Wellington, [N.Z.] ) |date = 27 April 1912 |year = 1912 n.p. :*citation |first = Henry George |last = Ell |title = The Summit Road (the Port Hills-Akaroa Summit Road): progress report |place = Christchurch, [N.Z.] |publisher = H. G. Ell |year = 1923:*citation |first = Henry George |last = Ell |title = Port Hills-Akaroa Summit Road Trust |place = Christchurch, [N.Z.] |publisher = H. G. Ell |year = 1924:*citation |first = Henry George |last = Ell |title = [Letters and newspaper items critical of the New Zealand Labour Party and Russia] |place = Christchurch, [N.Z.] |publisher = Lyttelton Times |year = 1925:*citation |first = Henry George |last = Ell |title = The Port Hills - Akaroa Summit Road: and history of the Summit Road Trust, how and why it was formed |place = Christchurch, [N.Z.] |publisher = New Zealand Newspapers, Printers |year = 1929:*citation |first = Henry George et al. |last = Ell |title = Port Hills-Akaroa Summit Road: some early history and guide |place = Christchurch, [N.Z.] |publisher = Port Hills-Akaroa Summit Road Public Trust |year = 1934

Works about Henry Ell

:*citation |first = Rob |last = Brown |title = 'A heart for the hills' |journal = New Zealand Geographic |issue = 60 |year = 2002 |pages = 76-95:*citation |first = P. R. |last = Dingwall |title = 'Harry Ell's vision in nature conservation' |journal = Landscape |volume = 10 |year = 1981 |pages = 23-27:*citation |first = Geraldine |last = Johns |title = 'Ell of a job' |journal = Heritage New Zealand |issue = 100 |year = 2006 |pages = 8-12:* citation |first = Eric |last = Pawson |title = 'Ell, Henry George 1862-1934'. Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, updated 22 June 2007 |url = http://www.dnzb.govt.nz/dnzb/default.asp?Find_Quick.asp?PersonEssay=3E4 |accessdate = 2008-05-10:*citation |first = M. M. |last = Roche |title = Securing representative areas of New Zealand's environment: some historical and design perspectives' |journal = New Zealand Geographer |volume = 37
issue = 2 |year = 1981 |pages = 73-77
:*citation |first = G. F. |last = Whitcher |title = The New Liberal Party 1905 [M.A.(Hons.) - University of Canterbury] |year = 1966:*citation |first = James Oakley |last = Wilson |title = New Zealand Parliamentary Record 1840-1984|edition = 4th |place = Wellington, [N.Z.] |publisher = Government Printer |year = 1985:*citation |first = G. Antony (ed.) |last = Wood |title = Ministers and Members in the New Zealand Parliament |place = Dunedin, [N.Z.] |publisher = Otago University Press |year = 1996 |isbn = 1-877-13300-0

External links

* [http://www.dnzb.govt.nz/dnzb/default.asp?Find_Quick.asp?PersonEssay=3E4 Ell's DNZB Biography]
* [http://www.ccc.govt.nz/Parks/NaturalAreas/port_hills.asp The Port Hills] , Christchurch City Council
* [http://www.doc.govt.nz/templates/page.aspx?id=34199 Sign of the Packhorse] , Department of Conservation

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