Leaders push Coast links

By Laura Mills

It is election time and both John Key and David Cunliffe have trotted out stories to prove their West Coast connections.
During a visit to the Westfleet fish factory last week, Prime Minister John Key, who grew up in Christchurch, filled in time by telling the Coast factory workers his first girlfriend was from Cobden.
Labour leader David Cunliffe has mentioned a few times that his father was from Ngahere, and also recounts his ties to former Richard John Seddon, the Hokitika MP who became New Zealand’s longest serving prime minister.
Mr Cunliffe said he was aware growing up that he had a famous distant relative — great-great uncle Dick Seddon.
“Dad mentioned it once or twice. I don’t think it was a big thing in the family,” he told the New Zealand Herald recently.
Seddon’s sister, Phoebe Ellen Seddon married William Cawley Cunliffe in Lancashire, England, in 1863, and within a decade of marrying they were settled in Greymouth, quite possibly at the behest of the future premier who had already arrived on the West Coast, in 1866.
By 1873, Mr Cunliffe’s great-grandfather was working at the Dispatch Foundry Co, from which he retired 38 years later. One of their 10 children, William Cawley Cunliffe II married Blanche Walsh and moved to Ngahere as stationmaster, and it was there that Mr Cunliffe’s father, William Richard Cunliffe, was born in 1915.
Mr Cunliffe will be back on the West Coast this weekend for the launch of a new biography on Richard John Seddon, in Hokitika.