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The constitution of New Zealand: despatch from Sir George Grey to the Right Hon. Earl Grey online

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made in the twenty-sixth and twenty-seventh
paragraphs of that Report regarding the powers to
be given both to the Governor and Legislative
Council to amend bills which may be sent up to
them should be conferred upon the Governor-in-
Chief and the Legislative Council of New Zealand,
it the form of constitution I propose is introduced
into this colony.

48. I have thus traced the general outline of the
form of representative institutions which experience
and reflection have led me to deem best suited to
the circumstances of New Zealand. There yet,
however, remains for me the duty of suggesting the
form of Executive Government by which these
institutions should be worked, and without a
distinct exposition of which the proposed plan



CONSTITUTION ACT. 2 7

could only be very imperfectly understood. In
explaining my views on this subject it will be
necessary for me to follow an order the reverse of
that which I have adopted in explaining the con-
stitution I propose for New Zealand ; that is»
whilst I traced the institutions themselves up from
the lowest order of municipality to the General
Legislature, it will be necessary for me, in order to
make myself clearly understood, to trace the
Executive Government from the Governor-in-Chief
downwards.

General Executive Governvient.

4!). I propose that the General Executive Govern-
ment should consist of a Governor-in-Chief nomi-
nated by the Crown, a Civil Secretary, and either
two or three principal officers, for the present
nominated by the Crown, and holding permanent
appointments. I am unable, until the system has
been tested, to state the precise number of officers
that may be necessary to conduct the business of
the central Government, nor do I think it requisite
to attempt to state how the personal staff of the
Governor-in-Chief should be composed, or what
establishment of clerks may be necessary for the
principal officers. The number of such persons
need at present only be very limited, and I presume
that the cost of the central Government would for
the present be paid from the civil list.

•")0. The duties of the Governor-in-Chief would
consist in corresponding with, and receiving all
necessary instructions for his guidance in the
government of these islands from her Majesty,,
through one of her Majesty's principal Secretaries
of State. He would also correspond through the
Civil or Chief Secretarv with the officers adminis-
tering the Government of the several Provinces,
and within the limits fixed by the laws existing at
the time, would prescribe to what extent it should
be the duty of such officers to await his instructions
before carrying into effect the powers by law vested
in them.

'A. It would be immaterial in what province he
might temporarily reside, as under the Provincial
Council's Ordinance, his duties would in no w^ay



2 8 THE NEW ZEALAND

interfere with those of the officer administering the
government of the province.

52. I think also that the Governor-in-Chief should
be the sole Commander-in-Chief in the New Zea-
land Islands, and should alone have the power of
issuing to the officer in command of the forces
within these islands and their dependencies orders
for the march and distribution of troops, the forma-
tion and march of detachments and escorts, and
generally for such military service as the safety and
welfare of the colony may require.

53. I think, farther, that the Governor-in-Chief
should alone be entrusted with the power of issuing
orders regarding the temporary occupation of Crown
lands for depasturing purposes ; that he should
have the appointment of all officers having the con-
trol or administration of the Crown lands, except
such officers as might be appointed for these pur-
poses by wardens or municipalities in accordance
with the powers by law vested in them ; and I
think also that the distribution of the Crown land
revenue in the manner prescribed by law, either for
emigration purposes or for the purpose of public
works to be executed under the authority of the Pro-
vincial Legislatures, should be made under the
direction of the Governor-in-Chief.

54. In like manner 1 think that the expenditure
of the civil list, and of such sums as may be
reserved for purposes connected with the welfare of
the native population should be made under the
direction of the Governor-in-Chief, subject to such
instructions as he may receive from time to time
from the Secretary of State. He should also be
allowed to exercise the power he at present pos-
sesses of appointing Resident Magistrates and
Native Assessors for the purpose of carrying out
English laws in any district which from its large
native population might, in his opinion, require
the presence of such officers.

55. The Governor-in-Chief should also in my
opinion alone have the power of making to Euro-
peans grants for lands which may be claimed in
virtue of alleged contracts between themselves and
persons of the native race, the nature of the claim
to which would differ from one which rested on a



CONSTITUTION ACT. 29

purchase made from the Crown of part of its de-
mesne lands. 1 think, farther, that the Governor-
in-Chief should have the power of making, at his
discretion, grants of land to persons of the native
race, and of assuring to themselves and their heirs
the uninterrupted possession of certain properties ;
and that he should also alone have the power of
making grants of the demesne lands of the Crown
for public purposes.

oO. Lastly, on this head, I think the Governor-
in-Chief should, for the present, have all the powers
regarding the confirmation or disallowance of Pro-
vincial Ordinances which are conferred upon him
by the enclosed Ordinance ; and should, in con-
junction with the General Assembly of the islands,
have the power of making and ordaining all such
Laws and Ordinances as may be required for the
peace, order, and good government of the New
Zealand islands, which laws should be transmitted
with the least possible delay for her Majesty's
allowance or disallowance.

.')7. I also propose that the Governor-in-Chief
should have the power of dividing the colony into
judicial districts for the purposes of the administra-
tion of justice, of altering the limits of such dis-
tricts, and of prescribing the places at which Cir-
cuit Courts should be held ; and farther, that he
should exercise all such powers as have been or
may be conferred upon him by Ordinances made
by the General Legislature of New Zealand.

.")S. The Governor-in-Chief, conjointly with the
General Legislature, would have the power of fixing
by law the number and salaries of the officers em-
ployed in the collection of those portions of the
revenue which were collected under laws enacted
by their authority ; and would in like manner fix
the number and salaries of the officers who were to
be employed in the survey and administration of
the Crown Lands.

50. Under the existing laws of New Zealand, the
Governor-in-Chief already possesses the whole of
the powers which I have recommended should still
be exercised by him. In many points, such as the
appropriation of the land revenue, and of the sums
reserved for native purposes, the issuing of orders



30 THE NEW ZEALAND

for regulating the depasturing of sheep and cattle
on waste lands of the Crown, the rate of remunera-
tion to be given to the officers of the General Go-
vernment, kc, &:c., the limits within which he
should exercise the powers intrusted to him, would
have by degrees to be adjusted by laws enacted by
the Governor-in-Chief and General Assembly of
these islands. But I do not apprehend that any
serious difficulty will be experienced in adjusting
these details.

GO. I think also that in reserving these powers to
the Governor-in-Chief, Great Britain would retain
the means of promoting in every desirable way the
interests and welfare of all her Majesty's subjects
in these islands, to whatever race they belong. I
do not think that, in justice to the native race who
yielded the sovereignty of these islands to her
^Majesty, any of these powers ought for the present
to be abandoned by the Crown. Nor do I think
that the very great majority of her Majesty's sub-
jects inhabiting New Zealand would desire for the
present to see Great Britain relinquish these powers.
But I think a wise foresight requires that the
Crown, in retaining all necessary powers, should
retain none that are not essentially necessary.
From this proceeding would probably spring a
great and lasting contentment amongst her
Majesty's subjects in these islands, who, having a
very large measure of freedom bestowed upon
them, and being deprived of no privilege which
was necessary for the free exercise of a system of
local self government, would probably for a long
series of years, cheerfully see vested in the hands of
the Crown the powers which it alone could exercise
for the good of all, and the possession of which by
the Crown in no way interfered with the freedom or
happiness of any class or community of its subjects.
Having made these introductory remarks, I shall
now proceed to the consideration of the form of
Jixecutive Government which should, I think, be
given to each of the Provinces into which it is pro-
posed New Zealand should be divided.

Provincial Executive Governments.
CI. The terms of the New Zealand charter of 1846



CONSTITUTION ACT. 3 I

compelled me, in the Provincial Councils Ordi-
nance, to apply the term " Lieutenant-Governor "
to the officer administering the government of each
province. Had a discretion been left to myself, I
should have designated such an officer by the term
" Superintendent ;" and I would still recommend
the adoption of this designation for the officer ad-
ministering the government of a province.

02. I should now remark, that according to the
original constitution of New Zealand, the Crown
nominated one Governor, and the officers composing
one general government for the whole of these
islands. I propose still that it should exercise the
same powers in the nomination of a Governor-in-.
Chief, and that for the present it should continue to
nominate the Officers of the General Government.
But here, in addition to the observations I have
already made upon the evils that may result from
the Crown retaining unnecessary powers, I should
observe that if the Crownnominates in these islands
the Lieutenant-Governor or Superintendent of each
Province, and all the officers composing the Execu-
tive Government of the respective Provinces, to-
gether with their establishments, and makes, as
would in that case be necessary, their salaries a
charge upon the civil list, it will create, throughout
the entire New Zealand islands a multitude of
officers who, in the event of their offices being
abolished, when a freer system of institutions was
introduced, would have a claim for compensation,
and thus such serious difficulties would be inter-
posed in the way of the introduction of any freer
form of institutions into the islands of New Zealand,
that 1 almost doubt if it would be possible subse-
quently to introduce them without subjecting the
country to a crisis which must materially affect its
prosperity.

Go. I would, therefore, earnestly recommend her
^Majesty's government, subject to the restrictions
which I will<hereafter mention, to allow the electors
of every Province to elect the Superintendent or
officer adihinistering the Government of , that
Province, to hold office tor the same period of time
as the members of the Provincial Councils are
elected to serve, and then to leave it to the Super-



o



2 THE NEW ZEALAND



intendent and the Provincial Council of each
Province to regulate, by laws subject to the
approval or disallowance of the Governor-in-Chief,
the extent of the Executive Government which is
to be constituted for such Province ; the rate of
remuneration which is to be paid to the officers
composing the Executive Government, and the
nature of the tenure upon which themselves and
the subordinate officers in their respective estab-
lishments are to hold office. In fact, in these
respects I should wish to see each Province treated
as a large municipality which had the power of
electing its own mayor and corporate officers.

0-i. The restrictions to which I think this rule
should be subjected apply only to the period of its
introduction into the several Provinces. At Auck-
land, Wellington, and Nelson, which would be the
capitals of three separate Provinces, Governments
have been already constituted. In two of these
Provinces a large native population already exists,
and no new experiment in them should therefore be
rashly hazarded, or immaturely introduced. Great
Britain also maintains in them a considerable mili-
tary force for the protection ot their inhabitants,
and thus should for the present exercise a great
influence in them. I would therefore recommend
that the rule regarding the election by the inhabi-
tants of the officer administering the Government,
and of making laws for the nomination of the
officers composing their own Executive Govern-
ments, should only take effect in the three Provinces
I have named, from the period at which the six
years of service of the two Lieutenant-Governors
and of the Superintendent who have been appointed
to administer their Governments respectively shall
have terminated. This rule would present the
farther advantage of a just dealing with the claims
of the Lieutenant-Governors and the Superinten-
dent.

05. I think also that a farther restriction should
be imposed in reference to this rule, and that is,
that no officer who has received a permanent
appointment from the Crown in any of the Provinces
in New Zealand should be removed from his office
by any Provincial Council until his claim shall have



CONSTITFTION ACT. 33

been considered, and until, if it is found a valid one,
a law shall have been passed by the Provincial
Council, and shall have received the assent of the
Governor-in-Chief, securing to such officer such
compensation for the loss of his situation as the
nature of his office, the amount of salary received,
and his length of service may be considered as fairly
entitling him to.

GO. With regard to the nature of the powers
which should be conferred upon the Superintendent
or other officer administering the Government of a
Province, it is only necessary for me to state that I
propose that he should be invested with all the
legislative powers which are conferred upon him by
the enclosed Provincial Councils Ordinance, and
that, in addition thereto, he should exercise the
powers usually intrusted to Colonial Governors of
remitting fines, fees, and penalties, (the power of
pardoning in criminal offence should still, I think,
vest solely in the Governor-in-Chief in order that
the whole question of the administration of justice
should be left with the central authority,) and of
making Crown grants of land to persons who may
have legally purchased the same as part of the
demesne lands of the Crown. He should also be
empowered, with the advice of his Executive Coun-
cil, and in conformity with the regulations required
by law, to proclaim Crown lands as open for
purchase, and to fix the upset price of such
lands, not being less than the minimum price fixed
by law.

07. But although I should wish to see these
powers conferred upon the officer administering the
government of a province, I think that the
Governor-in-Chief, as the officer nominated by the
Crown, should still possess the right of exercising
these powers throughout the whole extent of the
islands of New Zealand ; and perhaps, at present
some convenience would result from empowering
him, by a legal instrument, to delegate these powers
to such person as might be duly elected Super-
intendent of a province, for the time during which
he might be elected to serve, and no longer.

08. From what I have above stated, it will be
seen that I am of opinion that the power of electing



34 THE. NEW ZEALAND

the officer to administer their government, and of
making laws for regulating the appointment of
their own executive officers, should be immediately
conferred upon the provinces of Canterbury and
Otago ; and in fact that they should, in like manner,
be conferred upon the provinces of Wellington and
Nelson almost as soon as Her Majesty's assent
could be received to the enclosed Ordinance, and
upon the Province of New Ulster at a rather later
period ; and, as, after this rule was introduced into
any province, no advantage could result to the
Crown from an officer elected by the people nomi-
nating one-third of the members of the Council,
(although for the purposes of the introduction of
this measure into those provinces having a large
native population, I believe this provision to be a
most necessary one,) I would farther propose that
the Governor-in-Chief and the existing General
Legislative Council should be authorised to pass,
before the new constitution was proclaimed, if they
thought proper to do so, a law enacting that the
Provincial Council should consist wholly of elected
members from and after the time at which the in-
habitants of any province should be authorised by
the law to elect their own Superintendent.

09. I have but one observation to make upon
this subject. In my previous despatches I have
generally supposed that the Provincial Councils
would eventually merge into a kind of municipal
councils. But the rapid growth of these settlements
in wealth and prosperity, and the turn events are
taking, now lead me to think that they will always
remain distinct and separate provinces, and that
provision should be made for enabling their present
form of government, consisting of one chamber, to
be changed by the General Legislature into a form
of government composed of a Legislative Council
and House of Representatives, whenever the
number of inhabitants in any province, and its
wants, might render such a change in its form of
government practicable and desirable.

Civil List.

70. The civil list at present appropriated for the
services of New Zealand is twelve thousand pounds



CONSTITUTION ACT. 35

(£12,000) ; six thousand (£6,000) from the northern
province, and six thousand from what would be the
four southern provinces ; and as the revenues of
each of these two great divisions of New Zealand
are at present nearly equal, or about thirty thou-
sand pounds (£30,000) each, such a division is, I
think, at present fair, and the total amount is
amply sufficient to defray the salaries of the officers
composing the General Government, and of the
judges of the Supreme Court, to which purposes
alone I think it should be devoted. Indeed I think
at present that the sum of ten thousand pounds
(£10,000i as stated in the margin,* might suffice
for these purposes : and if, in a few years, it should
be found insufficient for them, then from the great
liberality which has always been evinced by the
General Legislature of these islands in providing
funds for carrying on the Government, I feel quite
satisfied that they would readily make good any
deficiency. It will be observed that in proposing
to throw this charge upon the civil list, it is assumed
that the Parliamentary grant will be altogether
relieved from the charges it at present defrays on
account of the Governor-in-Chief and the General
Government establishment.

Funds lo be reserved for Native purposes.

7J. But I should point out to your Lordship that
under the form ot governmsnt I now propose, the
country is to be divided into electoral districts,
which will only include those portions of it which
are occupied by a large European population ; the
great mass of the native population, who contribute
largely and increasingly to the revenue, which is
at present almost entirely raised from duties of
customs, would be thus wholly unrepresented. I
beg, therefore, most earnestly to recommend that
from the revenues of the northern province there
should be reserved a further yearly sum of four
thousand pounds i'£4',000j ; from the revenues of the
Wellington piovince a sum of two thousand

■ Governoi-in Chief and Establishment of General Govein-

ment £7,000

Judges 3,000

£10,000



36 THE NEW ZEALAND

pounds (£2000) ; and from the revenues of the three
southern provinces a sum of one thousand
pounds (£1,000), making in the whole an annual
amount of seven thousand pounds (^7,000), which
the Governor-in-Chief should be authorized to
apply, together with any surplus that may accrue
from the civil list, to any of the following
purposes : —

The construction and maintenance of hospitals, to
which Maories are admitted on equal terms with
other subjects of Her Majesty :

The establishment and maintenance of schools, to
which Maori children are admitted on the same
terms as other scholars :

For the payment of Resident Magistrates, and of
Native Magistrates, and for the maintenance of
a Native Police :

For making presents to native chiefs in acknow-
ledgment of services rendered by them :

And, generally, to such other purposes as may tend
to promote the prosperity and happiness of the
native race, and their advancement in Christianity
and civilization.

72. I perhaps ought to explain that the resident
magistrates I allude to are judicial officers, ap-
pointed under a local law, termed the " Resident
Magistrates Ordinance," and who are entrusted
with considerable and peculiar powers for the
adjustment of criminal and civil cases in which
Europeans, or Europeans and Maories, or Maories
alone, are concerned. The law to which I am
adverting was devised and framed with great care
to meet the peculiar circumstances of a European
race mingling with a population just emerging
from barbarism. It is highly esteemed by the
natives, who now resort freely to the courts of the
Resident Magistrates ; and it any circumstance
should occur which closed these courts, I fear that
great discontent and renewed disturbances would
take place amongst the native population.

7'S. I have recommended that for the present the
Governor-in-Chief should be authorized to apply, at
his discretion, the sums reserved for native purposes;
but J think that a provision should be made that he



CONSTITUTION ACT. 37

should only exercise this power for a limited time,
and that after that date such sums should be
appropriated under the authority of Ordinances to
be passed by the Governor-in-Chief and General
Assembly, who I think would freely and cheerfully
contribute such amounts as were required for the
wants of the native population ; whilst, as I have
continued — as I have reported in several dispatches
— to make considerable endowments for Hospitals
and Native Schools, the incomes yielded from
which are rapidly increasing, the necessity of pro-
viding for the support of such establishments from
the general revenue will constantly diminish.

74. In further explanation of the necessity which
exists for providing ample funds for native pur-
poses, I beg to refer your Lordship to paragraphs
from No. 11 to '32 inclusive, of my despatch No.
!):j, of the !)th July, 1n40, which is published at
page lUO of the Parliamentary Papers relative
to the Affairs of New Zealand, which were pre-
sented to Parliament in 1850 ; and I would farther
request, that that portion of the despatch I
allude to might, together with this despatch,
be laid before any persons required to report
on the plan now transmitted for your Lordships
approval. Because I believe that the present
peace and prosperity of the colony, and the con-
tinued rapid advancement of the natives in civi-
lisation, are in a great degree to be attributed to a
rigid and consistent adherence to the line of policy
laid down in that despatch. It will also be found,
that the powers I propose should be reserved to the
Governor-in-Chief are such, as, if he has the
requisite funds for native purposes placed at his
disposal, will still enable him virtually to govern
that portion of the native population who live
beyond the limits of European settlements ; whilst
all requisite local Ordinances have Deen passed by
the General Legislature for the purpose of investing
him with the requisite legal powers for carrying
out the contemplated system. In naming the sum
that 'will be required for native purposes, I have
supposed that, as under Lord John Russell's
original instructions, the Governor-in-Chief would
still, if a necessity for his so doing should arise, be



38 THE NEW ZEALAND


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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 3 of 4)