Gordon Coates

Gordon Coates

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Gordon Coates

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Joseph Gordon Coates, MC and bar (1878–1943) served as the 21st Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1925 to 1928.

Early life

Born on the Hukatere Peninsula in Kaipara Harbour where his family ran a farm, Coates took on significant responsibility at a relatively early age because his father suffered from bipolar disorder. He received a basic education at a local school, and his well-educated mother also tutored him. He became an accomplished horseman, although an accident left him with a bad leg for the rest of his life. The large Māori population of the area meant that Coates grew up proficient in the Māori language, gossip suggests that before his marriage, Coates had two children by a Māori woman. He allegedly became engaged to Eva Ingall, a teacher, but her father forbade marriage on the grounds that the illness of Coates' father might prove hereditary. Eventually, in 1914, he married Marjorie Grace Coles, by whom he had five daughters.

Early political career

Coates first became involved in politics through the Otamatea County Council, to which he won election in 1905. Later, from 1913 to 1916, he served as the Council's chairman. He had previously distinguished himself as commander of the Otamatea Mounted Rifle Volunteers, and had a good local reputation. In the 1911 elections, Coates won the Kaipara seat, having stood as an independent candidate aligned with the Liberal Party. In Parliament he generally voted with the Liberals, and formed part of the group...
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