Colony of New Zealand

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Colony of New Zealand

Flag of New Zealand.svg
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
Flag 1902–1907 (top)
1841–1902 (bottom)
Motto: " Dieu et mon droit "
"God and my right"
Anthem: "God Save the Queen/King"
StatusColony of the United Kingdom
Capital Old Russell (1841)
Common languagesEnglish, Māori
Government Crown colony (1841–1852)
Self-governing colony (1852–1907)
Edward VII
William Hobson (first)
William Plunket (last)
Henry Sewell (first)
Joseph Ward (last)
LegislatureGeneral Assembly1
 Upper chamber
Legislative Council
 Lower chamber
House of Representatives
Historical era Victorian era
 Separation from Colony of New South Wales
1 July 1841
30 June 1852
 Dominion status
26 September 1907
CurrencyNew Zealand pound
ISO 3166 code NZ
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Colony of New South Wales
Flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand.svg United Tribes of New Zealand
Dominion of New Zealand Flag of New Zealand.svg
1. The General Assembly first sat in 1854, under the provisions of the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852.

The Colony of New Zealand was a British colony that existed in New Zealand from 1841 to 1907, created as a Crown colony. The power of the British Government was vested in a governor, but the colony was granted self-government in 1852. The 1852 Constitution was inaugurated after the first parliament was elected in 1853, and the first government of New Zealand was formed in 1856. The Colony of New Zealand had three capitals: Old Russell (1841), Auckland (1841–1865), and Wellington (after 1865). In 1907, the colony became the Dominion of New Zealand with a more explicit recognition of self-government within the British Empire.

New Zealand Country in Oceania

New Zealand is a sovereign island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The country geographically comprises two main landmasses—the North Island, and the South Island —and around 600 smaller islands. New Zealand is situated some 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and roughly 1,000 kilometres (600 mi) south of the Pacific island areas of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. Because of its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans. During its long period of isolation, New Zealand developed a distinct biodiversity of animal, fungal, and plant life. The country's varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks, such as the Southern Alps, owe much to the tectonic uplift of land and volcanic eruptions. New Zealand's capital city is Wellington, while its most populous city is Auckland.

Crown colony, dependent territory or royal colony were dependent territories under the administration of United Kingdom overseas territories that were controlled by the British Government. As such they are examples of dependencies that are under colonial rule. Crown colonies were renamed "British Dependent Territories" in 1981, and since 2002, Crown colonies have been known officially as British Overseas Territories.

In the British Empire, a self-governing colony was a colony with an elected government in which elected rulers were able to make most decisions without referring to the colonial power with nominal control of the colony. Most self-governing colonies had responsible government.



William Hobson, the first Governor of New Zealand and co-author of the Treaty of Waitangi WilliamHobsonGovNZ.jpg
William Hobson, the first Governor of New Zealand and co-author of the Treaty of Waitangi

Following the proclamation of sovereignty over New Zealand from Sydney in January 1840, Captain William Hobson came to New Zealand and issued the same proclamation on 1 February 1840. [1] The Treaty of Waitangi was subsequently signed on 6 February 1840, William Hobson declaring British sovereignty over the islands of New Zealand on 21 May 1840 in two separate formal declarations. In the first declaration, Hobson declared British sovereignty over the North Island. The basis for the claim over the North Island was the Treaty of Waitangi between the Māori and the British Crown. In the English version of the treaty, Māori ceded sovereignty in return for the rights, privileges and protection of being a British subject. However, the Māori translation of the treaty referred to kawanatanga which is generally translated as governance rather than sovereignty and this point remains a subject of much controversy and political debate. [2] In the second declaration, Hobson declared British sovereignty over the South Island and Stewart Island on the basis of "first discovery" by Captain James Cook in 1769.

Treaty of Waitangi Treaty between representatives of the British Crown and various Māori chiefs

The Treaty of Waitangi is a treaty first signed on 6 February 1840 by representatives of the British Crown and Māori chiefs (rangatira) from the North Island of New Zealand. It is a document of central importance to the history and political constitution of the state of New Zealand, and has been highly significant in framing the political relations between New Zealand's government and the Māori population.

Waitangi Day National day of New Zealand

Waitangi Day is the national day of New Zealand, and commemorates the signing, on 6 February 1840, of the Treaty of Waitangi. Ceremonies take place at Waitangi, Northland to commemorate the signing of the treaty, which is regarded as New Zealand's founding document. The day is observed annually and is designated a public holiday, unless 6 February falls on a Saturday or Sunday, when the Monday that immediately follows becomes the public holiday.

William Hobson First Governor of New Zealand and co-author of the Treaty of Waitangi

Captain William Hobson was a British Royal Navy officer who served as the first Governor of New Zealand. He was a co-author of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Initially, New Zealand was part of the Colony of New South Wales, and Lieutenant-Governor Hobson was answerable to his superior, the Governor of New South Wales. [3] By letters patent, the British government issued the Charter for Erecting the Colony of New Zealand on 16 November 1840. [3] The Charter stated that the Colony of New Zealand would be established as a Crown colony separate from New South Wales on 1 July 1841. [3]

Colony of New South Wales British colony which later became a state of Australia

The Colony of New South Wales was a colony of the British Empire from 1788 to 1900, when it became a State of the Commonwealth of Australia. At its greatest extent, the colony of New South Wales included the present-day Australian states of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, and South Australia, the Northern Territory as well as New Zealand. The first "responsible" self-government of New South Wales was formed on 6 June 1856 with Sir Stuart Alexander Donaldson appointed by Governor Sir William Denison as its first Colonial Secretary.

Governor of New South Wales vice-regal representative of the Australian monarch in New South Wales

The Governor of New South Wales is the viceregal representative of the Australian monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, in the state of New South Wales. In an analogous way to the Governor-General of Australia at the national level, the Governors of the Australian states perform constitutional and ceremonial functions at the state level. The governor is appointed by the queen on the advice of the premier of New South Wales, for an unfixed period of time—known as serving At Her Majesty's pleasure—though five years is the norm. The current governor is retired General David Hurley, who succeeded Dame Marie Bashir on 2 October 2014.

Letters patent type of legal instrument in the form of a published written order

Letters patent are a type of legal instrument in the form of a published written order issued by a monarch, president, or other head of state, generally granting an office, right, monopoly, title, or status to a person or corporation. Letters patent can be used for the creation of corporations or government offices, or for the granting of city status or a coat of arms. Letters patent are issued for the appointment of representatives of the Crown, such as governors and governors-general of Commonwealth realms, as well as appointing a Royal Commission. In the United Kingdom they are also issued for the creation of peers of the realm. A particular form of letters patent has evolved into the modern patent granting exclusive rights in an invention. In this case it is essential that the written grant should be in the form of a public document so other inventors can consult it to avoid infringement and also to understand how to "practice" the invention, i.e., put it into practical use. In the Holy Roman Empire, Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary, imperial patent was also the highest form of generally binding legal regulations, e. g. Patent of Toleration, Serfdom Patent etc.

Crown colony

The provinces of New Zealand, as they were originally established, in 1841, with the creation of the colony Provinces of new zealand 1841.PNG
The provinces of New Zealand, as they were originally established, in 1841, with the creation of the colony

With the establishment of the Crown colony, Hobson became Governor of New Zealand. The first organs of the New Zealand Government were also established to assist the Governor: an Executive Council and a legislative council. [4]

Executive Council of New Zealand

The Executive Council of New Zealand is the full group of "responsible advisers" to the Governor-General of New Zealand on state and constitutional affairs. All Government ministers must be appointed as executive councillors before they are appointed as ministers; therefore all Cabinet ministers are also executive councillors. The governor-general signs a warrant of appointment for each member of the Executive Council, and separate warrants for each ministerial portfolio.

The Executive Council consisted of the attorney-general, colonial secretary, and colonial treasurer. The Legislative Council consisted of the governor, Executive Council, and three justices of the peace appointed by the governor. [4] The Legislative Council had the power to issue Ordinances, statutory instruments. [5]

The colony was divided into three provinces: New Ulster Province (the North Island), New Munster Province (the South Island), and New Leinster Province (Stewart Island).

Provinces of New Zealand administrative areas of New Zealand between 1841-1876

The provinces of the Colony of New Zealand existed as a form of sub-national government. Established in 1841, each province had its own legislature and was built around the six original planned settlements or "colonies". By 1873 the number of provinces had increased to nine, but they had become less isolated from each other and demands for centralised government arose. In 1875 the national parliament decided to abolish the provincial governments, and they came to an end in 1876. They were superseded by counties, which were later replaced by territorial authorities.

New Ulster Province

New Ulster was a province of the Colony of New Zealand that existed between 1841 and 1853. It was named after the Irish province of Ulster.

New Munster Province

New Munster was an early original European name for the South Island of New Zealand, given by the Governor of New Zealand, Captain William Hobson, in honour of Munster, the Irish province in which he was born.

Self-governing colony

1899 map of the Colony of New Zealand and its counties (1899) MAP OF NEW ZEALAND - comp. by Irvine.jpg
1899 map of the Colony of New Zealand and its counties

As new European settlements were founded in the colony, demands for self-government became louder. The New Zealand Company settlement of Port Nicholson (Wellington) had its own elected council, which was forcibly dissolved by Lieutenant-Governor William Hobson in 1840. [6] Later, Wellington became the centre of agitation by settlers for representative government led by Samuel Revans, who founded the Wellington Settlers' Constitutional Association in 1848. [7]

The first New Zealand Constitution Act was passed in 1846, though Governor George Grey was opposed to provisions that would divide the country into European and Māori districts. As a result, almost all of the Act was suspended for six years pending a new Act of 1852, with the only operative part of the 1846 Act being the creation of New Zealand's first provinces. In the meantime, Grey drafted his own Act which established both provincial and central representative assemblies, and allowed for Māori districts [8] and an elected governor. The latter proposal was rejected by the Parliament of the United Kingdom when it adopted Grey's constitution.

1851 population estimates

The six provinces formed in 1853 were Auckland, New Plymouth, Wellington, Nelson, Canterbury, and Otago, though in 1858 New Plymouth was renamed Taranaki.

District / SettlementMalesFemalesTotalPercent
     Auckland 5,2824,1489,43035.3%
     Windsor (near Auckland)
     Bay of Islands
     Smaller settlements
New Plymouth 8456871,5325.7%
Wellington 3,6132,7966,40924.0%
New Ulster 9,7407,63117,37165.0%
Nelson 2,3171,9704,28716.1%
     Akaroa 1,9651,3083,27312.3%
     Rest of province
Otago 1,0137631,7766.6%
New Munster 2,9782,0719,33635.0%
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Colony of New Zealand 15,03511,672 26,707 100.0%
Source: Dominion Committee [9] Blue Books [10] [11]

1852 Constitution Act

The second New Zealand Constitution Act was passed in 1852 and became the central constitutional document of the colony. It created the General Assembly, which consisted of the Legislative Council and an elected House of Representatives. [12] The first general election for the House of Representatives was held on between 14 July and 1 October 1853. The 1st New Zealand Parliament was opened on 24 May 1854. [13] The Administrator of Government, Robert Wynyard, was quickly confronted by the demands of the new parliament that responsible government be granted to the colony immediately; on 2 June the House of Representatives passed a resolution, sponsored by Edward Gibbon Wakefield, to that effect. Wynyard refused, stating that the Colonial Office made no mention of responsible government in its dispatches. The Executive Council advised Wynyard against implementing responsible government, and in the meantime he sent a dispatch to London requesting clarification. Wynyard then offered to add some elected members of parliament to the Executive Council, and appointed James FitzGerald, Henry Sewell and Frederick Weld to the council. The compromise worked for a few weeks but on 1 August parliament demanded complete power to appoint ministers. Wynyard refused, and all three MPs resigned from the council. In response, Wynyard prorogued parliament for two weeks. On 31 August, he appointed Thomas Forsaith, Jerningham Wakefield and James Macandrew to the Executive Council, but when parliament met again, it moved a motion of no confidence in the members.

Parliament met on 8 August 1855, by which time Wynyard had received instructions from the Colonial Office to introduce responsible government. The new governor, Sir Thomas Gore Browne, arrived on 6 September 1855 and relieved Wynyard of his duties. [14] On 28 January 1858, Wynyard was appointed to the Legislative Council. [15]

Governor Thomas Gore Browne subsequently announced that self-government would begin with the 2nd New Zealand Parliament, elected in 1855. [16] Henry Sewell was asked by the governor to form a government, now known as the Sewell Ministry. He became colonial secretary—effectively the first Premier of New Zealand—on 7 May. [17] Sewell's government was short-lived, however. The leader of the provincialist (pro-provinces) faction, William Fox, defeated Sewell's government on 20 May 1856. [18] Fox himself, however, did not retain office for long, being defeated by Edward Stafford, a moderate.

Elevation to Dominion

In 1907, Edward VII declared New Zealand to be a Dominion. Edward VII.-Grossbritannien.jpg
In 1907, Edward VII declared New Zealand to be a Dominion.

The Colony of New Zealand continued until 26 September 1907, when, as a result of a decision by the 1907 Imperial Conference and by request of the New Zealand government, King Edward VII declared New Zealand to be a Dominion. On the same day, the King issued another Royal Proclamation granting the Colony of Newfoundland the status of Dominion of Newfoundland. The 1907 change from Colony to Dominion was largely symbolic, and New Zealand did not become independent until the General Assembly of New Zealand enacted the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1947, which applied the Statute of Westminster 1931 to the Dominion of New Zealand (although the United Kingdom retained the right to legislate for New Zealand at its request); certain colonial enactments survived for sometime after—the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 was finally replaced by the Constitution Act 1986.

Royal Proclamation

A Royal Proclamation granting New Zealand Dominion status was issued on 26 September 1907.

It read – "Edward R. & I. Whereas We have on the Petition of the Members of the Legislative Council and House of Representatives of Our Colony of New Zealand determined that the title of Dominion of New Zealand shall be substituted for that of the Colony of New Zealand as the designation of the said Colony, We have therefore by and with the advice of Our Privy Council thought fit to issue this Our Royal Proclamation and We do ordain, declare and command that on and after the twenty-sixth day of September, one thousand nine hundred and seven, the said Colony of New Zealand and the territory belonging thereto shall be called and known by the title of the Dominion of New Zealand. And We hereby give Our Commands to all Public Departments accordingly. Given at Our Court at Buckingham Palace, this ninth day of September, in the year of Our Lord one thousand nine hundred and seven, and in the seventh year of Our Reign. God save the King." [19]


The first flag used by the Colony of New Zealand was the British Union Flag. This began to change with the Colonial Navy Defence Act 1865, which required all ships owned by colonial governments to fly the defaced Royal Navy blue ensign with a colonial badge. New Zealand did not have a colonial badge, or indeed a coat of arms of its own at this stage, and so the letters "NZ" were added to the blue ensign. [20] The Colony New Zealand used the same royal coat of arms as the United Kingdom.

In 1869, Albert Hastings Markham, a first lieutenant on the Royal Navy vessel HMS Blanche, submitted a national ensign design to Sir George Bowen, the Governor of New Zealand. [21] It was initially used only on government ships, but was adopted as the de facto national flag in a surge of patriotism arising from the Second Boer War in 1902. To end confusion between the various designs of the flag, the Liberal Government passed the Ensign and Code Signals Bill, which was approved by King Edward VII on 24 March 1902, [22] declaring the flag as New Zealand's national flag.

See also

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James Coates was a prominent pioneer settler of Auckland New Zealand. He was also a senior official within the administration of the newly-established colony of New Zealand, following the proclamation of sovereignty by William Hobson and the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840.


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  13. Gavin McLean (2006), The Governors, Otago University Press, p. 50
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  15. Scholefield, Guy (1950) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1949 (3rd ed.). Wellington: Govt. Printer. p. 88.
  16. McIntyre, W. David. "Sewell, Henry". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography . Ministry for Culture and Heritage . Retrieved 12 February 2012.
  17. McIntyre, W. David. "FitzGerald, James Edward". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography . Ministry for Culture and Heritage . Retrieved 15 September 2012.
  18. Scholefield 1950, p. 31.
  19. See Proclamation of the Dominion of New Zealand (London, 9 September 1907), archived on WikiSource
  20. Volker Preuß. "Flagge Neuseeland" (in German). Retrieved 7 September 2003.
  21. "Rear-Admiral Sir Albert Hastings Markham, Norfolk Museums and Archeology Service". Archived from the original on 2 June 2008. Retrieved 18 November 2008.
  22. "New Zealand Signalling Ensign" (in Italian). Retrieved 20 August 2004.