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fertile banks of the rivers from their sources to
their junction with the sea, or occupy in small com-
munities the coast line which intervenes between
the several European settlements. Each European
settlement has also now attracted to its vicinity, or
contains mixed up with its white inhabitants, a
considerable Maori population. In these cases both
races already form one harmonious community
connected together by commercial and agricultural
. pursuits ; they profess the same faith ; resort to the
same courts of justice; join in the same public
sports ; stand mutually and indifferently to each
other in the relation of landlord and tenant, and
are insensibly forming one people. Each day also,
as the European settlements spread along the coast,
or towards the interior, a large number of Maories
are weaned from barbarism, and are adopted into a
civilized community. The danger of any general
outbreak on their part, therefore, daily deci eases ;
and there seems no reason why populations which
so readily assimilate may not be gradually and by
prudent measures brought under one form of con-
stitutional government, which might equally foster
and promote the really common interests of both
races, if those of the ruder race be first taught to
resort for the settlement of their disputes to courts
of judicature expressly adapted to their present
state, and be by degrees trained to the exercise of
simple municipal duties.

22. The Middle Island may be said to be traversed
by a mountain range, which, commencing at its
north-east extremity, where it almost abuts on the
coast, runs in nearly an east and west line across
the country to the west coast, along which coast it
continues uninterruptedly, but increasing in eleva-
tion till it reaches the south west corner of the
island. To the westward this range falls abruptly
into the sea, leaving, generally, but a narrow strip
of fertile land between its base and the sea coast ;


whilst, although it falls in the same abrupt manner
on its eastern side, fertile plains of immense extent
intervene on that side between the base of the
mountain range and the sea.

23. Two considerable settlements are already
established on these plains on the east coast, and a
third very considerable settlement (Nelson) is estab-
lished on the plains in the northern part of the
island, which intervene between the mountain
range and the sea. The mountain range in the
Middle Island is also throughout a great portion of
its extent covered with perpetual snow, and gives
rise to numerous rivers of considerable width, sub-
ject to sudden floods, and generally of very rapid

24. In the Middle, as in the Northern Island, no
overland communication, except for foot passengers,
as yet exists between the different settlements. For
in that island, where mountain ranges do not inter-
pose an almost insurmountable barrier between the
settlements, the wide, rapid, and dangerous rivers
offer at present a no less serious difficulty in the
way of any continuous intercourse between the
various towns. The inconsiderable native population
in the Middle Island may be said to be principally
located in the vicinity of the several European

25. In the two islands there exist six principal
towns, five of which are situated on good harbours,
and each of these form emporiums for considerable
colonies in their neighbourhood.

20. These five colonies were settled at different
times, each upon a totally distinct plan of coloniza-
tion, and by persons who proceeded direct to their
respective colony, either from Great Britain or from
the neighbouring Australian colonies, and who
rarely passed through any other New Zealand
settlement previously to reaching the colony which
they now inhabit; and who, except in a few in-
stances, rarely travel from their own colony to any
neigfhbouring settlement.

27. Each of these chief towns carries on an inde-
pendent trade with Great Britain and with the
neighbouring Australian colonies, and hardly any
interchange of commerce takes place between them,


since they at present all produce nearly the same
commodities, and require the same kind of supplies,
which they naturally seek at the cheapest mart ;
whilst the cost of transport from a port in the Aus-
tralian colonies, but in a trifling- degree, if at all,
exceeds the corresponding charges from a port in
New Zealand. There is indeed already a con-
siderable and increasing coasting trade in New
Zealand, which in some parts is chiefly carried on
in vessels owned and manned by Maories ; but it
consists rather of a trade between various small
native and European settlements, and that one of
the principal European towns from which they
derive their supplies, and with which they are im-
mediately connected, than of any trade between the
principal colonies themselves.

2.S. [ think it must be clear that between colonies
so constituted, little of what may be termed com-
munity of interest can be said to exist. There is no
general capital or mart to which all merchants and
persons having extensive business at all times
resort. There is no one central town for all the
islands in which the courts of law hold their sit-
tings. Individuals who inhabit one colony, rarely
have property or agents in another. Personal
acquaintance or intercourse between the inhabitants
of the various settlements can be scarcely said to

'2*J. Any attempt therefore to form a General
Legislature for such a group of colonies, which
should at present annually, or even frequently
assemble, and which should be so composed as
fairly to represent the various interests of all parts
of this country, must, I think, fail ; because there
are as yet no persons in these islands who have the
means or leisure, to enable them to abandon their
own affairs each year, for the purpose of resorting
to another colony, there to discharge their sena-
torial duties. If even a payment was made to such
persons to remunerate them for their expenses
whilst travelling and absent from home, they still
could not afford to neglect their own affairs during
to long an interval of time.

30. I think, therefore, it may be assumed, that a
General Legislature which should be required fre-


quently to assemble, should form no part of any
plan of institutions to be conferred upon such a
group of colonies ; although I shall show presently
that for some purposes a General Legislature is
even now necessary, and will hereafter be still more
necessary, if these islands are to form, as is greatly
to be desired, one large and prosperous country.

31. The same causes which appear to me to
render it impossible at present to assemble fre-
quently a General Legislature, which should at all
fairly represent the interests of all the settlements,
seem also, in as far as I can judge, to be fatal to the
adoption in these islands of the municipal system
alone, without some other peculiar institutions
being adopted in aid of that system, which would
be adapted to the unusual state of circumstances
which prevail in this country.

.32. Because such municipalities can only exist
concurrently with a Legislature which frequently
meets. For there is nothing connected with the
ofdces of mayor or alderman of the corporation of a
small colonial town, which would induce the ablest
and leading men of the country to strive to obtain
such offices. Under a system of extended munici-
palities with enlarged powers, such corporations
would, however, compose in fact not only the legis-
lative body, but also the executive government of
large districts of country. It would therefore cer-
tainly be a great oversight, and an unwise policy,
thus by indirect means to exclude from the higher
legislative and executive offices, the fittest and
ablest men that the country affords. The frequent
sittings of a municipal body would also, in
a country where every man is engaged in
some active operation, prevent all those who
did not live in the town or in its immediate
neighbourhood, from becoming members of such
municipal bodies ; hence a large portion of the
population and of the country would, under such a
system, be virtually unrepresented, and their re-
quirements unknown. The careless manner in
which municipal bodies enact their laws render
them also little qualified for the offices of higher
legislation for extensive districts of country ; and
the frequency and permanency of their sittings


would in a great degree remove them from that
watchful control of public opinion, which is always
eagerly concentrated on the proceedings of a legis-
lative body which has only one annual sitting,
-extended over no very great length of time. More-
over, corporate bodies, exercising the usual and
rather extended municipal powers, are alreadv
required for several towns in New Zealand. I think,
therefore, that the municipal system should be
here carefully preserved, and that it should be so
preserved in its integrity for municipal purposes,
and that its vitality and very form of being
should not be destroyed, by producing it in a
shape which, possessing no distinctive character,
no clearly ascertained line of duties, would com-
mand little or no respect, would have no precedents
to guide it, would, I am sure, in practice prove en-
tirely unsatisfactory and almost useless, and would
thus, after a short existence, during v/hich great
discontent would be generated in the country, and
its prosperity and progress be much retarded, leave
to Great Britain the task of again framing a con-
stitution for this country, which task would then be
found a far more difficult one than it would be at

3S. Having thus discussed these preliminary
questions, I now proceed to report upon the form
of Constitution which I think would meet all the
difficulties presented by theanomalous circumstances
of this country ; and in doing this I shall endeavour
to trace them upwards from the municipal institu-
tions of the lowest kind which exist here, to the
General Legislature ; because I believe that the
whole working of the proposed form of future
institutions will depend upon a proper balance of
different interests being preserved ; indeed, the
main feature of the plan now submitted for your
Lordship's consideration is, that it is an attempt to
adjust the English constitution, and its balance of
powers, to the peculiar circumstances of this

Municipal Institutions.

34. These I propose should be of three kinds,


two of which are already in existence, and appear

likely to confer great benefit on these islands.

First — The division of the country into hundreds,
represented by their wardens, the mode of elec-
tion, powers, and duties of which officers, as
also the nature and extent of the funds placed
at their disposal, are set forth in the Ordinance
named in the margin,* and in the Royal Instruc-
tions dated 12th of August, 18a0. This system,
of small municipalities has already been for a
long time in full and beneficial operation, and
the system has received the Royal sanction. It
may be said to be one which precedes the system
of large municipal boroughs, first occupying vAth
simple institutions a country thinly inhabited by
Europeans and Maories engaged in agricultural
pursuits, and which are of such a nature that they
form a fitting introduction to a higher class of
municipal institutions.

Secondly — The division of the thinly inhabited por-
tions of the country, at present almost exclusively
occupied under lease from the Crown by persons
employed in rearing and tending sheep and cattle,
into large districts to be called " pastoral dis-
tricts," represented by pastoral wardens, the
mode of election, powers, and duties of which
officers are detailed in the Ordinance noted in the
margin. t No municipality of this kind has yet
been created, the law which enables me do so
having only recently passed, nor has it yet
received the Royal sanction. But the declaration
of my proposing to create municipalities of this
kind has been received with general satisfaction,
and great benefits are expected to flow from the
adoption of this system.

Thirdly — The constitution of municipalities, of the
nature of thofe existing in Great Britain, but
with more extended powers. These would
generally embrace several hundreds of the first
class, which would, however, still preserve their
own privileges as hundreds, and elect their own
wardens ; although for a higher and more ex-

* Ciown Lands Ordinance, Ses>. X, No. I.

f Crown Lands Aniciuliuenl and Extension Ordinance, Sess. XL*
No. 10.


tended class of municipal duties they would be
adopted, as wards, into the larger corporation.
The necessary powers for creating these bodies
are already conferred upon the Governor-in-Chief
by the Charter and Fifth chapter of the Instruc-
tions of IS^'G. Pull details relating to the con-
stitution, duties to be confided to, and powers of
these bodies, are set forth in the Auckland
Charter, creating such a municipality, and my
despatch to the Lieutenant - Governor which
accompanied it, which I transmitted to your
Lordship in my despatch named in the margin.
Several municijDalities of this nature, in addition
to the borough of Auckland, will require to be
almost immediately constituted.
•S."-. From the preceding statement of the nature
of the municipal institutions which I consider
necessary for New Zealand, your Lordship will,
I think, see that I rely greatly upon municipal
institutions as a very important element in the
constitution of this country ; and it will be found
by a reference to my despatches of the numbers
and dates mentioned in the margin, that from one
third ot the gross proceeds realised from the sale
of land in their respective districts being placed
under the control of these municipal bodies, I
anticipated that a more popular and better adminis-
tration of the waste lands of the Crown would
result than prevails in any other colony.

oG. Finally, I would make two remarks upon
this subject.

Firstly. — I believe the system of municipal institu-
tions which I have detailed is very popular, and
will gradually become more so, and that the
inhabitants of New Zealand generally would very
unwillingly see them swept away to give place to
any other system that has as yet been proposed.
Secondly. — That all the necessary powers lor the
creation and regulation of such municipalities
rest upon legislative enactments and instructions
already in existence ; and that, consequently,
nothing has either to be done, nor does anything
require to be swept away, in order to secure to
New Zealand the advantage of such corporate


In any constitution, therefore, which may be given
to these islands, all that is necessary is to preserve,
exactly in its present form, the fifth chapter of the-
Royal Instructions of l'^4G, "on Municipal Cor-

Provincial Coiiiicih.

o7. Next ascending to the legislative body, which
it is proposed should immediately succeed munici-

oS. I think that power should be given to the
Governor-in-Chief to divide the New Zealand
islands, when he thought it expedient to do so,
into the five provinces named in the margin,* and
that power should also be given to the Governor-in-
Chief, with the advice and consent of the General
Legislature of these islands, to alter the boundaries
of such provinces, and to create others if necessary.

oil. One of the provinces I have named would
probably immediately contain three boroughs or
municipalities ; and they might all, from their
nature, contain either several municipalities or
none. If the returns of the native population are
at all correct, the proposed province of New Ulster
would now contain,

Europeans. .10,000 ) , ..a aaa i

Natives 70,000 ) "^^''^^ ^^'^^^ '^^^"•

that of Wellington,

Europeans. . 8,000 \ 48,000 souls, exclusive of the-

Natives 40,000 j" military.

The other provinces would at present contain com-
paratively small populations. But a rapid increase
in the European population of the whole of New
Zealand is taking place.

40. To each province that might be created, I
propose that a Legislative Council should be given,
to be called the Provincial Legislative Council.
I propose that for the present those Councils should
be constituted in the manner provided in the en-
closed Ordinance, and that they should possess all
the powers which that law confers upon them,
although I think that certain alterations in their
constitution and powers should shortly be made in
the mode which I will presently explain.

■•' Auckland or New Ulster, AVellington, Nel^on, Canterbury, Otago.


41. I, perhaps, ought here to add that, in con-
formity with the terms of the Charter and Royal
Instructions, it is only provided in the Provincial
Councils Ordinance, now transmitted to your Lord-
ship, that those Councils shall not legislate upon
the several subjects named in the Charter and In-
structions, and in a subsequent despatch addressed
to me by your Lordship. If this question was left
entirely to my discretion I should, with a view of
securing uniformity in the administration of justice
throughcut the entire islands, prohibit the Provin-
cial Councils, in addition to the other subjects
named in the enclosed Ordinance, from making any
laws For the establishment of any courts of judica-
ture, criminal or civil, or for the alteration of
the constitution of, or course of practice in, any
such courts.

And further, in order that the same punishment
might attach to indictable offences throughout the
whole of New Zealand, instead of enacting, as di-
rected by your Lordship, and as has been done in the
thirteenth section of the twenty-ninth clause, that it
shall not be competent for the Provincial Council to
make any law For inflicting the punishment of death
or transportation for any crime or offence, I should
wish to see it enacted that such Councils should
not make any law For altering or affecting the

criminal law of the colony, so far as relates to any

felony, treason, or misdemeanour prosecuted by

indictment or information.

42. If such a Legislative Council as I suggest is
given to each province, and the members of it
receive the payment proposed for their attendance,
then annual sessions might be held at the capital of
the province without inconvenience, and each of
these Councils would possess the most ample, in
fact all requisite powers of legislation for the regula-
tion of all questions that could arise within a
province ; and as the whole of the local revenues
(except that portion which is required for general
purposes, including the civil list,) is placed at the
disposal of such Legislative bodies, there can be no
doubt that the revenues of the country would be
fairly and equitably applied throughout its whole


43. Legislative Councils of this nature appear to
me to present great advantages in a country cir-
cumstanced as New Zealand is. I will name a few
of these advantages :

Firstly. — They secure, in the only manner which T
believe to be practicable in New Zealand, real
local self-government throughout every part of
these islands.
Secondly. — If any questions of an exciting kind
should arise between the European and native
populations, the majority of the provinces, from
the small number of natives in them, would have
no great personal interest in such questions.
Their inhabitants and legislatures could therefore
form a dispassionate and unprejudiced opinion
on such questions. Hence the general Govern-
ment in pursuing such a line of policy towards
the natives as justice and humanity might
demand, could be certain that it would not be
compelled to yield to momentary passions, pre-
judice, or self-interest ; because there would be a
large number of persons, and several regularly
constituted legislative bodies, on whom it could
rely for support. On the other hand, if the
General Government, weakly yielding to public
clamour and prejudice, was about to give effect
to the momentary merely local popular will of
any province by committing some act of injustice
towards the natives, regularly constituted legisla-
tive bodies would be in existence to give
expression to their opinion, and thus check its
Thirdly. -The constitution of such legislative bodies,
which possessed such extensive powers of local
legislation, would, for at least several years to
come, render the frequent assembling of the
General Legislature entirely unnecessary.
Fourthly.— The powers of legislation of such Coun-
cils being merely of a local nature, and being
restricted in reference to general matters, a great
difficulty is avoided; inasmuch as Ordinances
passed by them need not be referred home for the
Royal assent, but might, as is provided in the
enclosed Ordinance, be either allowed or dis-
allowed by the Governor-in-Chief. The question


therefore which relates to the transmission of all
colonial laws for the allowance or disallowance
of the Crown would be much narrowed; indeed
it could only arise in reference to laws passed by
the General Legislature; and as that body would
so seldom meet, and the subjects reserved for its
leofislation are so few, the probability is that it
might never be thought of in as far as relates to
New Zealand.
Fifthly. — Such Provincial Legislative Councils
would greatly increase the efficiency of the
municipalities, by forming the proper bond of
union between the several boroughs of any one
province, which would then all be fitted as it
were into one body politic, the action of the
several parts and of the whole of which would be
in entire harmony.

44. In my despatch, No. I'lo, of 24th October,
1850, transmitting the draft of the Provincial
Councils Bill, and in the other despatches named
in the margin,* I reported so fully upon the reasons
which induced me to adopt the rate of franchise for
electors named in the enclosed Ordinance, the
principles of no express qualifications being re-
quired for members of the Council, and of paying
the estimated amount of their probable expenses,
as also upon the reasons which led me to recommend
that these Councils should only be elected for two
years, that I do not think it necessary to trouble
your lordship with a further explanation on these
subjects. I therefore now pass on to the form of
'General Legislature which I would recommend for
these islands.

General Legislature.

4.5. A consideration of the enclosed Ordinance'
and of the subjects of general interest on which it
prohibits the Provincial Councils from legislating,
reserving these for the General Legislature, will, I
think, so clearly point out the necessity which
exists for the creation of a General Legislature, that
I do not think it necessary to advance any argu-
ments in favour of the creation of such a body ; but

* No. 106, 29th Nov., 1S48— No. 4, 2nd Feb.~No. 23, 15th March-
No. 27, 22nd March, and No. 161, .30ih Nov., 1849.


assuming it to be admitted that a General Legis-
lature should be constituted for New Zealand, I
shall proceed to point out how I think that body
should be composed.

4(3. I think it should consist of —
A Governor-in-Chief, appointed in the usual

manner by the Crown ; of —
A Legislative Council, elected in the manner
recently suggested to me by your Lordship, that
is, by the Provincial Councils, such a number of
votes being allowed to each member of these
Councils as to enable a minority to be at least in
some degree represented : and, thirdly, of —
A Representative Assembly, to be elected by voters,
with exactly the same qualification as is required
to be possessed by those who vote for the return
of members of the Provincial Councils.
I think, as it is proposed that the General Legis-
lature should be so rarely assembled, it would be
requisite that the members, both of the Legislative
Council and of the House of Representatives,
should be elected for a period of five years,

47. I have only within the last few days had an
opportunity of perusing for the first time the Report
of the Committee of the Board of Trade and Plan-
tations on the proposed establishment of a Repre-
sentative Legislature for the Cape of Good Hope,
which your Lordship so kindly sent out to me ; and
I beg to state, that I think the recommendations

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Online LibraryGreat Britain. Colonial OfficeThe constitution of New Zealand: despatch from Sir George Grey to the Right Hon. Earl Grey → online text (page 2 of 4)