Kelburn,King Dick & the Kelly Gang

Chapter 3  Victoria University

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Towards the end of 1897 the people of Wellington were very surprised when Premier Richard Seddon suddenly introduced legislation to establish a university in the city.  He claimed it was in honour of the diamond jubilee of the reign of Queen Victoria.  The reality was considerably more complex. 


The author argues that in fact Seddon had probably agreed to the establishment of the university as an inducement to Sir Robert Stout to resign his parliamentary seat.  This allowed Stout to be hailed as the ‘founder’ of the university.  Additionally, it seems that the establishment of the university and its location in the new suburb of Kelburn was part of a broader arrangement to assist Seddon’s friends who were developing the suburb and constructing the cablecar. 

John Blair was Mayor of Wellington, the first chairman of the Victoria University Council, and ‘came up’ with the idea that the university should be sited in the barely established suburb of Kelburn.  Unknown to people at the time, his finance company was underwriting the Kelburn development.

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