Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 4, September 1965
Twenty years of service to a constituency is no mean record in N.Z. politics and Mr. Hugh Poland, member of Parliament for the Ohinemuri electorate from 1905 until 1925, put forward strenuous efforts to make it a better place to live in.
Born in Tuakau in 1867 and educated at the public school there, he gained a scholarship entitling him to three years tuition at the Auckland Grammar School. While there he topped the passes for New Zealand in the Senior Civil Service examination, and entered the Teaching Profession, but retired after two years. Subsequently, he was engaged in Flax-milling at Helensville and was a storekeeper at Rotorua and then at Paeroa, where he was agent for an Auckland newspaper for many years.
Mr. Poland became a member of the Ohinemuri County Council in 1898.(Elected Chairman for one term and continued as a member of the Council until 1908). In these positions at the beginning of the century, he was faced with a heavy responsibility and a big task in roading the county. He initiated several works of importance. and his council experience and knowledge of farming and settlement problems stood him in good stead in Parliament. Here he was instrumental in assisting the back-blocks settler whenever an opportunity occurred, and much of the expansion of the Piako and Hauraki Plains areas in the early days of their development can be attributed to his energy and championship.
In 1905 when he defeated the Hon. E.G.B. Moss for the Ohinemuri seat (now part of Hauraki) and during a period of twenty years, as representative, Mr. Poland was an outstanding figure. He was a member of the Liberal Party for most of the term, standing as an Independent when he was defeated by Mr. A.M. Samuel in 1925.
Mr. Poland became a prominent member of the House, and his ability as a debater won him a great measure of respect. In his fight for the miners he was soon at his best. The dreaded phthisis took its toll of the underground worker, but thanks to the humane legislation sponsored by Mr. Poland and the parliamentarians of his calibre, a stricken miner had some security for his future, his own earnings providing the nucleus of a fund from which he drew a pension when his disability precluded his working again. Likewise, it was largely due to Mr. Poland's efforts that substantial compensation for accidents was brought about. When the Grand Junction mine was closed at Waihi, it was through his representations to Cabinet, that the first section of the Waihi-Tauranga railway line was put in hand and employment found for most of the men who had lost their work.
In Paeroa, too, he took an interest in the welfare of the Borough, and was closely associated with the turf as Secretary of the Jockey Club for thirty-six years The Hauraki Agricultural and Pastoral Assoc. owes much to the work put in by Mr. Poland during his presidency. In recognition of services he was made a life honorary member. As footballer in his young days he was recognised as one of the best forwards in Auckland. He represented that province for six years and was also greatly interested in local football and donor of the Frank Poland Memorial Cup for Thames Valley sub-union trophies to both the Thames Valley and Paeroa unions.
When Mr. Poland was defeated in 1925 he was made the recipient of many presentations from his constituents; an address signed by the Mayors of Waihi and Paeroa and the Chairman of the Ohinemuri and Piako counties and two members of the Hauraki Plains county; a gold watch and chain suitably inscribed, and a wallet containing over £200, which was a lot of money in those days.
Mr. Poland is survived by many descendants, including six sons and four daughters: Jim, Roy, Ivan, Mervyn, Gordon and Mesdames Eileen Treanor, Kathleen Benny, Doreen Shaw and Lorna Old. One son, Frank, was killed in the Great War and Cecil died a few years ago. His old home in Paeroa still stands in Poland Street which was named for him.