Ballance Statue

New Zealand Parliament Grounds, 1 Molesworth Street And 1 Museum Street, Pipitea, Wellington

  • Ballance Statue, Parliament Grounds, Wellington.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Natalie Marshall. Date: 23/08/2015.
  • Ballance Statue, Parliament Grounds, Wellington.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Rachel Connolly. Date: 10/01/2009.
  • Ballance Statue, Parliament Grounds, Wellington.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Rachel Connolly. Date: 10/01/2009.
  • Ballance Statue, Parliament Grounds, Wellington. Crowd celebrating Dominion Day outside Parliament Buildings, Wellington. Zachariah, Joseph, 1867-1965. Ref: 1/2-153019-F. Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.
    Copyright: Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Date: 26/09/1907.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 211 Date Entered 28th November 1981

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Section 1 SO 38114 (CT 10240), Wellington Land District and the structure known as the Ballance Statue thereon. (Refer to the extent map tabled at the Heritage List/ Rārangi Kōrero Committee meeting on 12 November 2015).

City/District Council

Wellington City

Region

Wellington Region

Legal description

Section 1 SO 38114 (CT 10240), Wellington Land District

Summaryopen/close

The Ballance Statue in Parliament Grounds, Wellington, was unveiled on 7 April 1897 as a tribute to John Ballance (1839-1893), who served as New Zealand Premier from 1891 until he died in office in 1893. Commemorating an important figure in New Zealand’s political history, the monument is of historical, aesthetic and social significance. The statue is situated in front of the Parliamentary Library and is a significant element within Parliament Grounds, which is a historical and cultural landscape of outstanding importance. The Ballance Statue is one of two statues of former leaders in Parliament Grounds and one of only four official statues of prime ministers in Wellington.

John Ballance was born in 1839 in Country Antrim, Ireland. He left Ireland for Birmingham, England, in 1857, where he worked and studied until he immigrated to New Zealand with his wife in 1866. Settling in Whanganui, he started a career in journalism, but it was in politics that Ballance was to make his mark. Introduced to political life at a young age by his parents, he entered Parliament in 1875. He held numerous portfolios in the Grey ministry and became colonial treasurer in 1878. After the 1884 general election, he joined the Stout-Vogel ministry as minister of lands and immigration, native affairs and defence. Ballance formed the first Liberal government and the Liberal Federation, the country’s first attempt at a nationwide party organisation. During his premiership, he introduced land and income taxes, and supported the granting of votes to women.

Ballance died of cancer in April 1893 and was ‘widely mourned’. The Ballance Memorial Committee was established a month later, raising money by subscription for a monument to commemorate Ballance. Mr R. R. MacGregor of Wellington agreed to provide the designs and specifications for the statue and Mr W. J. Helyer constructed the pedestal out of West Coast granite and Melbourne bluestone on a concrete foundation. The statue was modelled in clay by Mr J. Davie of Melbourne at Helyer’s works and the marble statue was the work of an Italian sculptor. When first erected, the statue was positioned midway between the main entrance to Parliament Grounds and the front steps of the General Assembly Library. It was moved in about 1912 to its present location, near the Hill Street boundary of Parliament Grounds.

On 1 July 1995, the statue was decapitated during a protest. Christchurch sculptor Mark Whyte made a replacement head from Italian marble, using a plaster cast that had been made in anticipation of such an event after a very similar statue of Ballance in Whanganui was beheaded in December 1994 during a protest in Moutoa Gardens. The protestors believed Ballance had encouraged the alienation of Maori land. Wellington’s restored Ballance Statue was returned to Parliament Grounds in February 1997.

Since its unveiling, the statue has been an important part of Parliament Grounds, a place of public gatherings of celebration and protest for generations. It received criticism at the time of its unveiling for bearing little resemblance to Ballance but the statue was the first representation of a former political leader in Wellington.

Linksopen/close

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Relocation
1912 -
Statue moved to its current location

Damaged
1995 -
Head of statue removed during a protest

Reconstruction
-
Restoration of statue, including new head

Original Construction
1897 -

Completion Date

12th October 2015

Report Written By

Natalie Marshall

Information Sources

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

URL: http://TeAra.govt.nz/en/biographies/2b5/ballance-john

Evening Post

Evening Post

‘The Ballance Memorial: Unveiling of the Statue in Parliamentary Grounds’, Evening Post, 7 April 1897, p. 5

Evening Post

Evening Post

Evening Post, 23 July 1896, p. 5

Evening Post

Evening Post

Evening Post, 8 April 1897, p. 4

Otago Daily Times

Otago Daily Times

‘The Ballance Statue’, Otago Daily Times, 6 April 1897, p. 2

Timaru Herald

Timaru Herald

‘The Ballance Statue’, Timaru Herald, 1 May 1897, p. 4

Thames Star

Thames Star

‘The Ballance Memorial’, Thames Star, 24 October 1894, p. 4

Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand

McLean, Gavin, ‘Premiers and prime ministers – Support services and statues’, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, URL: http://TeAra.govt.nz/en/interactive/33212/statues-of-leaders, updated 18-Dec-14

Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Schrader, Ben, ‘Public Protest – Sit-ins and Occupations’, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, URL: http://TeAra.govt.nz/en/photograph/35094/ballance-beheaded, updated 16-Nov-12

The Dominion

The Dominion

The Dominion, 3 July 1995, p. 1

The Dominion

The Dominion

The Dominion, 10 December 1996, p. 2

King, 2003

King, Michael, The Penguin History of New Zealand, Penguin Books (NZ) Ltd, Auckland, 2003

Other Information

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Central Region Office of Heritage New Zealand