A leading light of the Liberal Party which dominated parliament in the 1890s, William Pember Reeves was responsible for a series of labour acts which gave New Zealand the most extensive system of labour regulations in the world.
Reeves was born at Lyttelton in 1857, three weeks after his parents arrived in New Zealand. His family’s affluence ensured that the scholarly Reeves received a good education at Christ’s College, where he excelled in Classics, modern languages, English literature and history.
Henry George (Harry) Ell was raised on the family farm at Halswell near Christchurch. From 1881 to 1884 he served at Parihaka as a volunteer in the Armed Constabulary. He also worked in the printing trade, then as a salesman and surveyor.