Sir James Carroll, KCMG, (20 August 1857–18 October 1926), known to Māori as Timi Kara, was a New Zealand politician of Irish and Ngati Kahungunu (Māori) descent. Beginning his career as an interpreter and land agent, Carroll was elected to the Eastern Māori seat in 1887. He was the first Māori to hold the cabinet position of Minister of Native Affairs, which he held between 1899 and 1912. He was held in high regard within the Liberal Party and was acting prime minister in 1909 and 1911.
James Carroll was born at Wairoa, one of eight children of Joseph Carroll, born in Sydney of Irish descent, and Tapuke, a Māori woman of the Ngāti Kahungunu tribe. He was educated both at whare wananga (traditional Māori college) and the Wairoa native school but left early to be a farm worker. In 1870, while no more than thirteen, he was part of the Māori force pursuing Te Kooti in the Urewera, and his bravery was mentioned in dispatches. He became a cadet for the Native Department in Hawke's Bay and later in Wellington but was back on a farm by 1875. In 1881 he married Heni Materoa and they settled in Gisborne. The couple adopted several children but had none of their own.
Carroll first stood for Parliament in 1884, unsuccessfully contesting the Eastern Māori seat against Wi Pere. By the 1887 election, John Ballance's paternalistic Native Land Administration Act of 1886, which proposed leasing Māori lands through a government commissioner, was a major issue. Carroll, an opponent of the act, won the seat.
Entering Parliament, Carroll wanted to create equality for Māori by allowing them to lease land and use the revenue to invest in their own farms. The settler preference was for freehold title, and this solution was favoured by the Atkinson Government. He was appointed in March 1892 a member of the Executive Council representing the native race, and had to support the government in compulsory acquisition.
By taking this position, he was heavily criticised by Te Kotahitanga Māori MPs, and decided to stand for the General Electorate of Waiapu. He won this seat in 1893, the first time a Māori was elected to Parliament by Pākehā voters.
Te Kotahitanga contined to promote a separate law-making assembly for Māori, and Carroll travelled to Māori communities speaking out against separatism. In 1899, he became the Native Minister on the Liberal Government, the first cabinet minister of Māori descent. He established the Māori Councils Act, which allowed local Māori committees to deal with health, sanitation and liquor control, and the Māori land councils, controlled by Māori and which could sell or lease land.
The settler view was that much of the North Island under Māori control should be developed, and Carroll as Native Minister to 1912 was under pressure to allow more land sales. Many Māori consider that he made too many concessions, but he always fought for the rights of Māori at a time when there was little support for his views.
Twice in the Liberal Government, Carroll acted as Prime Minister, and his status was confirmed by the awarding of the KCMG becoming the first Maori to be knighted. Carroll continued to represent the General Electorate seat of Gisborne until 1919, when he was defeated by William Lysnar.
He died suddenly in Auckland from kidney failure on 18 October 1926. His body was returned to Gisborne, where he was buried at Makaraka.