Southland Province

Last updated
Map showing the boundaries of the Southland Province Southland in New Zealand (1861).svg
Map showing the boundaries of the Southland Province

The Southland Province was a province of New Zealand from March 1861, when it split from Otago Province, until 1870, when it rejoined Otago.



Following the passage of the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 by the British Parliament, New Zealand was divided into six new provinces in 1853, the southern part of the South Island was part of the Otago Province. Settlers in Murihiku, the southernmost part of the South Island purchased from Māori in 1853 by Walter Mantell, petitioned the government for separation from Otago. [1] Petitioning started in 1857. The central government's General Assembly passed the New Provinces Act in 1858, [2] and the Province of Southland was proclaimed in 1861. [3] It was named Southland despite the wishes of many settlers and Māori, who preferred Murihiku. [4]

The province started to accumulate debt, whereas Otago prospered due to the Central Otago Gold Rush. By the late 1860s, most settlers wanted to become part of the Otago Province again, and this was achieved in 1870. [3]


The province was much smaller than the present-day Southland region. The area was bounded by the Mataura River (east), the Waiau River (west), and a line from Eyre Peak to Lake Manapouri (north). Stewart Island was purchased by the Crown in 1863 and added to the area. [3] The capital and largest settlement of Southland Province was Invercargill.


The Southland Province began a number of railway projects. The branch line to Bluff (which was known as Campbelltown until 1917) opened on 5 February 1867. It was built to international standard gauge of 1,435 mm (4 feet 8.5 inches), wider than the national gauge of 1,067 mm (3 feet 6 inches) gauge. When the central government passed legislation setting a single standard for track gauges, the line was converted to the new gauge in a single day, 18 December 1875. The railway later became part of the New Zealand Railways Department.

Anniversary Day

Founded: 1 April 1861

New Zealand law provides an anniversary day for each province.


The Southland Province had three Superintendents: [5]

13 August 1861Nov 1864 James Alexander Robertson Menzies
213 March 1865Nov 1869 John Parkin Taylor
310 November 1869Sep 1870 William Wood



  1. Foster, Bernard John. "Murihiku". Te Ara. Retrieved 23 October 2010.
  2. Brett 2016, p. 114.
  3. 1 2 3 McLintock, A. H. "Otago Province or Provincial District". Te Ara. Retrieved 23 October 2010.
  4. Grant, David (2 March 2009). "Southland region - Overview". Te Ara. Retrieved 23 October 2010.
  5. "Provinces 1848-77". Retrieved 16 September 2010.

Related Research Articles

South Island Southernmost of the two main islands in New Zealand

The South Island, also officially named Te Waipounamu, is the larger of the two major islands of New Zealand in surface area, the other being the smaller but more populous North Island. It is bordered to the north by Cook Strait, to the west by the Tasman Sea, and to the south and east by the Pacific Ocean. The South Island covers 150,437 square kilometres (58,084 sq mi), making it the world's 12th-largest island. It has a temperate climate.

Otago Region of New Zealand

Otago is a region of New Zealand located in the southern half of the South Island administered by the Otago Regional Council. It has an area of approximately 32,000 square kilometres (12,000 sq mi), making it the country's second largest local government region. Its population was 245,300 in June 2020.

Gore, New Zealand Town and district in Southland, New Zealand

Gore is a town and district in the Southland region of the South Island of New Zealand.

Invercargill City in South Island, New Zealand

Invercargill is the southernmost and westernmost city in New Zealand, and one of the southernmost cities in the world. It is the commercial centre of the Southland region. The city lies in the heart of the wide expanse of the Southland Plains on the Oreti or New River some 18 km north of Bluff, which is the southernmost town in the South Island. It sits amid rich farmland that is bordered by large areas of conservation land and marine reserves, including Fiordland National Park covering the south-west corner of the South Island and the Catlins coastal region.

Provinces of New Zealand

The provinces of the Colony of New Zealand existed as a form of sub-national government. Initially established in 1846 when New Zealand was a Crown colony without responsible government, two provinces were established. Each province had its own legislative council and Governor. With the passing of the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 the provinces were recreated around the six 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 New Zealand 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.

Riverton, New Zealand Place in South Island, New Zealand

Riverton is a small town 30 kilometres west of Invercargill and located on the south-eastern shorelines of the Jacobs River Estuary. This is formed by the Aparima and Pourakino rivers, leading through a narrow outflow channel into Foveaux Strait. Accessible via State Highway 99 on the Southern Scenic Route, the main part of the town is on flat land and the northern end of Oreti Beach. South Riverton is built on the hills between the eastern shore of the estuary and Taramea Bay.

Mataura Place in Southland, New Zealand

Mataura is a town in the Southland region of the South Island of New Zealand. Mataura has a meat processing plant, and until 2000 it was the site of a large pulp and paper mill.

Winton, New Zealand Minor urban area in South Island, New Zealand

Winton is a rural town in Southland, New Zealand. It is located close to the east bank of the Oreti River, 30 kilometres north of Invercargill and 50 kilometres south of Lumsden. The town is named after Thomas Winton, a local stockman who lived and farmed in the area in the 1850s. Winton has a population of 2,211 as of the 2013 Census. The district thrived with the development of sheep and fat-lamb farms in the early 1900s. Later, dairy farming became the staple economy, although the town has also seen sawmills, and flax and linen-flax industries.

Port Chalmers Branch

The Port Chalmers Branch was the first railway line built in Otago, New Zealand, and linked the region's major city of Dunedin with the port in Port Chalmers. The line is still operational today.

The Bluff Branch, officially the Bluff Line since 2011, is a railway line in Southland, New Zealand that links Invercargill with the port of Bluff. One of the first railways in New Zealand, it opened in 1867 and is still operating. Presently, it essentially functions as an elongated industrial siding.

Auckland Province Provinces of New Zealand in North Island

The Auckland Province was a province of New Zealand from 1853 until the abolition of provincial government in 1876.

Otago Province

The Otago Province was a province of New Zealand until the abolition of provincial government in 1876. The capital of the province was Dunedin. Southland Province split from Otago in 1861, but became part of the province again in 1870.

History of the Dunedin urban area

The villages and then city that lay at the head of Otago Harbor never existed in isolation, but have always been a staging ground between inland Otago and the wider world. While Dunedin's current official city limits extend north to Waikouaiti, inland to Middlemarch and south to the Taieri River mouth, this articles focus is the history of the Dunedin urban area, only mentioning Mosgiel, the Otago Peninsula, Port Chalmers and inland Otago for context.

History of the Otago Region

New Zealand's Otago region is one of the more isolated outliers of the inhabited earth. Its high latitude, elevation and distance from larger foreign and domestic population centers has defined Otago at each stage of its history.

Murihiku is a Māori name describing a region of the South Island in New Zealand. Traditionally it was used to describe the portion of the South Island below the Waitaki River, but now is mostly used to describe the province of Southland. The name means "the tail end ".

Scottish New Zealanders are New Zealanders of Scottish ancestry or who originate from Scotland.

Stewart Island New Zealands third largest island

Stewart Island / Rakiura, commonly known as Stewart Island, is New Zealand's third-largest island, located 30 kilometres south of the South Island, across the Foveaux Strait. It is a roughly triangular island with a total land area of 1,746 square kilometres (674 sq mi). Its 164 kilometres (102 mi) coastline is deeply creased by Paterson Inlet (east), Port Pegasus (south), and Mason Bay (west). The island is generally hilly and densely forested. Flightless birds, including penguins, thrive because there are few introduced predators.

South Island nationalism

South Island nationalism refers to a nationalist movement in the South Island of New Zealand. This political viewpoint is not widely held – in the 1999 election the NZ South Island Party received 2,622 votes, 0.14% of the total. Another South Island Party attempted to gain the 500 financial members necessary to contest the 2008 election, but chose not to register.

Local government in New Zealand

New Zealand has a unitary system of government in which the authority of the central government defines sub-national entities. Local government in New Zealand has only the powers conferred upon it by the New Zealand Parliament.

Southland, New Zealand Region of New Zealand

Southland is New Zealand's southernmost region. It consists mainly of the southwestern portion of the South Island and Stewart Island/Rakiura. It includes Southland District, Gore District and the city of Invercargill. The region covers over 3.1 million hectares and spans over 3,400 km of coast.