Frederick Pirani, M.H.R. Palmerston North, 1893-1902 : a study of his political career : a thesis presented in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in History at Massey University
This thesis is concerned with the political career of F. Pirani, who represented the Palmerston North electorate from 1894 to 1902. Pirani entered the House a liberal, but within a few years was in strong disagreement with the Liberal government on several issues, so in 1896 he stood as an independent liberal. From 1898 Pirani believed a change of government would be to New Zealand's advantage, and in 1902 he was an opposition candidate. Despite this transformation in political colours only on the land question was there a major change in Pirani's views in the years he was in the House. This at first sight is contradictory, and this thesis, by a detailed study of Pirani's political career and beliefs, is intended to clarify this situation. It is also hoped that the thesis would be a first step in the analysis of local Manawatu politics in the latter part of the nineteenth-century. Other regions, for example Canterbury, Taranaki and the Waikato, have been studied in depth, but the Manawatu's timing and pattern of development was, it is suggested, unique, and this alone suggests that a study of its local politics would prove fruitful to those considering the wider picture. The value, and the limitation, of a thesis are considerably determined by the methodology and the sources used. Sources are to an extent independent of methodology, but methodology frequently determines both the way and the extent to which different sources are used. The politics of the Canterbury region for the period 1870-1890 has been studied in detail in a number of theses. In all cases the theses were concerned with local politics usually with only a single election and hence a heavy reliance was placed upon local newspapers, and a booth-by-booth analysis of election results. This led Bohan,
in particular, to the conclusion that party played no role in the politics of the period. Millar
believed that the polling-booth method did not allow issues their due, and Evans pointed out that "there is no getting away from the fact that on some issues a two-party division existed, and in parliament with much more certainty than in the electorates."
I believe the comments of Millar and Evans to be very important, and I have therefore attempted to explain in detail Pirani's career at both the national and local level, and also the influence that each had on the other.
Because of this I believe the result is a better building block towards a more complete understanding of the politics of the period than would otherwise be the case.