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By Michael Bassett

This is often the biography of recent Zealand best Minister, Gordon Coates (1878-1943). It deals a reassessment of the achievements and screw ups of a political occupation which spanned the extremes of well known adulation and contempt.

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He liked their company; he sought their opinions and was always solicitous of their comfort. All his life women found his manners and his talk agreeable, although some thought he was a little shy. His frequent lapses into the colloquial 'OK, I see the gang's all here', he would sometimes declare when entering a room - and his teasing seemed to heighten the pleasure of his company. Today we would simply say that he had great sex appeal. The feminine network that was to play such an important part in his life and which guarded his political interests was now largely in place.

Just before departing for Wellington Coates called a meeting of his supporters in Dargaville. After long discussion a consensus emerged that the MP had fulfilled his pre-election promise, and that he should be released from any further obligation to support the Liberals. 5o On his arrival in Wellington Fisher soon had Coates on the tennis court and off to dinner. Massey's forces also showed much solicitude for the other rural independents as the House began another lengthy Address in Reply debate.

It was too late. 30 tonight with our friend McKenzie (sic) at the head [of] what I believe to be on the whole a good ministry. My impression is that you would be well advised accept. Kindly wire. JG Ward. 49 It was a rather extraordinary offer and a sign of Mackenzie's desperation. As he made offers to people with no significant Liberal track record, he debased the concept of party loyalty, irking former colleagues and hopefuls within his own ranks. In fact the new Prime Minister was cutting himself adrift from Ward's February manoeuvres, and trying to obliterate memories of the pro-labour utterances in the Governor's speech.

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