You are now entering the Jewish Currents archive.

March 12: Premier of New Zealand

March 12, 2015

hero_tw-068_1Julius Vogel, the eighth premier of New Zealand, died at 64 on this date in 1899. Vogel served in the office from 1873 to 1875 and again in 1876. Vogel’s political career was highlighted by land acquisition from the indigenous Māori people (whom he sought to see assimilated into white culture), by efforts to gain women’s suffrage (New Zealand was the first country to give women the vote, in 1893), and his drive to build infrastructure, include roads, railways, and communication systems, though this plunged the country into debt and recession. Vogel is also thought to be the first New Zealander (he spent a total of eighteen years in the country) to write a science-fiction novel: Anno Domini 2000; or, Woman’s Destiny, an 1889 utopian book in which women hold many positions of authority in New Zealand. Two other New Zealand premiers have been of Jewish descent: Francis Bell, an Anglican who served briefly in May 1925, and John Key, the current prime minister, who took office in 2008.

“Vogel, whose love of society, food and wine ruined his health, served as agent-general in London from 1876 until 1880, when he had to resign for spending too much time on his private interests. There was always a whiff of scandal about him, not always attributable to anti-Semitic slurs.” —New Zealand History