- Ashburton (New Zealand electorate)
The first electorate of Ashburton was created for the 1881 elections. The town of Ashburton itself was on the very edge of the electorate, which stretched northwest up the Ashburton River. It included Methven,
Mount Somers, and Lake Heron. However, the boundaries of Ashburton electorate were highly variable, with the town of Ashburton being the only constant. In the 1887 elections, the most of the electorate's southern half was taken away to join the new Rangitata seat, but in the 1890 elections, most of this territory was regained, with a similar amount of territory in the north, around Methven, being taken instead. Methven was incorporated into the Ellesmere seat. Ashburton also gained territory on the coast at this point. In the 1893 elections, the situation reverted to its previous state, with the south being lost and Methven regained, but this itself was reversed in the 1896 elections. The electorate then remained relatively stable until the 1911 elections, when completely new boundaries were established — the electorate was now centred on Geraldine, with Ashburton itself in a spur at the northeastern extremity. The 1919 elections saw a complete revokation of this, with the electorate going back to focus on its original southern territories, and gaining Lake Coleridge. It lost Lake Coleridge again in the 1922 elections. In the 1928 elections, the seat was abolished, with its northern half merging with Ellesmere to form Mid-Canterbury and its southern half being absorbed into Temuka.
A second electorate named Ashburton was created for the 1946 elections, taking territory from both Mid-Canterbury and Temuka. In the 1957 elections, it gained Geraldine from Waimate, but lost Methven to Selwyn. In the 1963 elections, it gained a large amount of inland territory, including Lake Tekapo and
Twizel. In 1969 elections, the electorate was abolished — most of its territory was merged with Waitaki to form South Canterbury, while Ashburton itself was incorporated into Selwyn.
A third electorate named Ashburton was created for the 1978 elections. It was formed from the southern portion of Rakaia (the successor to Selwyn) and the northern portion of South Canterbury, and included Methven, Geraldine, and Fairlie. In the 1984 elections, Fairlie was absorbed into Timaru, and in the 1987 elections, the electorate absorbed the town of
Rakaia. In the 1990 elections, the seat was abolished again, with the seat of Rakaia being established to replace it.
Although the electorate has always included the town of Ashburton, and often a number of smaller towns, the bulk of its territory has always been rural. As such, the electorate has tended to be rather conservative in its political outlook. The Liberal Party held the seat for a time during its period of dominance, but the seat later became the stronghold of
William Nosworthy, a senior figure in the conservative Reform Party. By the time of the second Ashburton electorate, rural New Zealand was largely united behind the National Party, which held Ashburton for the whole of its second and third incarnations. Its last MP was Jenny Shipley, who went on to become Prime Minister.
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