1866 - Clark, A. A Sketch of the Colony of New Zealand - The Provinces and Chief Cities, p 31-37

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  1866 - Clark, A. A Sketch of the Colony of New Zealand - The Provinces and Chief Cities, p 31-37
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The North, Middle, and South Islands, of which New Zealand is composed, are divided into nine provinces. These are, Auckland, Wellington, New Plymouth, and Hawkes Bay, connected with the North Island, and Nelson, Marlborough, Canterbury, Otago, and Southland, with the Middle and South Islands; the latter island itself forming part of the Southland provinces.

In 1853, the Imperial Parliament granted to the colony a Constitution, by which the legislative powers became vested in a General Assembly, consisting of the Governor and two Houses--the Legislative Council and House of Representatives, the members of the former being appointed by the Governor, and the member's of the latter chosen by the different provinces in proportion to their population.

This Constitution permits each province to elect its own Superintendent and Council, by whom all minor local affairs are conducted and laws passed, subject to the revision of the Governor and his Council. The Superintendent and Council are elected every four years. The Executive power resides in the Superintendent, acting with the advice and consent of a Council selected from the the members of the Provincial Council.


This province, almost half the size of England, is situated on the northern portion of the North Island, and though not now the Metropolitan province, is by far the most important and valuable of any in the colony, having in a greater degree more natural advantages than the other provinces.

It contains a large European and native population, which, together with its extensive forests, romantic mountains, rich gold, copper, and coal mines, freestone quarries, large tracts of level and undulating land, and its superior harbours and navigable rivers intersecting it, render it as

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the province that will yet take a most prominent part in the history of this enterprising colony.

The province is better adapted for the arts of cultivation than for rearing of sheep, having less of those wide extended plains with which several of the southern provinces are famous. Still it produces not an insignificant quantity of wool for export, and there is every reason to believe that in a short time, by the aid of artificial grasses, the soil will be so cultivated as to enable it to compete with its sister provinces as a wool exporting country.

Its chief town, of same name, is situated upon the undulating ground forming the bays and headlands of the southern shore of the Waitemata, and for about twenty-four years was the seat of Government. For the reasons previously mentioned, it recently lost this privilege, but it, nevertheless, stands second to none in point of importance or wealth or commerce in the colony. We quote the following description of the town from the New Zealand Almanac of this year (1866):--

"Auckland is most advantageously situated. With its suburban town of Onehunga, it is like a saddle between the two coasts. A Panama or South American vessel making its number in the Thames Gulf, ere casting anchor in Auckland, may be telegraphed to the pilot taking out a Nelson or Melbourne steamer at the Meraakan Heads, or by the Waikato telegraph to Cambridge, Newcastle, and Alexandra, in the interior. The large rivers, Thames, Wairoa, Kaipara, and Waikato, all flow down towards Auckland, and each will naturally bear its produce towards that centre. The climate of Auckland is unquestionably a moist one, and this causes the weather in winter and early spring to be unpleasant in comparison to the winter climates of Sydney and Nelson. But such amount of moisture is most beneficial to vegetation, and the luxuriance of the growth of the introduced grasses is mainly resulting from the condition of climate. The springs in this part of New Zealand very rarely fail, and streams are scarcely ever known to dry up, even in the warmest summer."

There are some nice broad streets in the city, adorned on either side with numerous and beautiful buildings, consisting of offices, warehouses, stores, and shops, of every variety, size, and style; some built of stone, but the majority of brick, and several of timber.

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The principal buildings are,--the Government House, Supreme Court-House, Custom and Post Office, Provincial Council Buildings, Military Barracks, and the various Banks and Churches--all of which are substantial and pretty erections. The barracks accommodate more than 1000 men, part of which are built of the Mount Eden lava or scoria. They occupy more than 20 acres in the centre of the town, and are surrounded by a high wall, loop-holed, and with flanking angles, and has the commendation of being built by, and the first handiwork of, the Maories.

The Government Domain, the Botanical Gardens, and the little suburban bays, sparkling with the neat villas of the merchants and public officers, offer many beautiful walks, while one tree hill and the high grounds behind the town present a pleasing variety of scenery scarcely to be surpassed.

Like all other colonial towns, Auckland is not a cheap place to live in. House rent and servants' wages are double to what they are in the Home Country, clothing and various provisions, such as butter and eggs, are also dear. Groceries and butcher's meat and fish and vegetables are cheap. Those who cultivate a garden are well supplied with vegetables, peaches, strawberries, melons, figs, and apples. While plums, gooseberries, and cherries are by no means uncommon, although less abundant than the former.

With respect to the amusements of the town, they are, of course, though limited, quite sufficient. Once a week during summer, for two hours, a military band plays in the domain; numerous picnics, sailing and railway excursions; lectures and concerts occasionally, and theatres nightly; horse racing, regattas, and shooting. Besides these, there are various cricket, bowling, archery, and croquet clubs, as well as reading rooms and circulating libraries, debating clubs, an Athenaeum, and a Young Men's Christian Association, the latter of which we would advise every emigrant, on arrival, or as early as possible thereafter, to join.

The town is well lit up with gas. The railway between Auckland, Onehunga, and the Waikato will shortly be in operation; and electric telegraphs run through the province.

Auckland is the head-quarters of the Missionary bodies,

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of troops, and of native trade and intercourse. The signs of progress and civilization, the constant arrivals and departure of shipping, the daily comings and goings with their goods and returns, together with the commercial activity of the people, present an air of animation, variety, and bustle, seldom witnessed in the early days of young colonial towns.


This province is situated on the north side of Cook's Strait, and was the first settlement of the late New-Zealand Company. The first detachment of the Company's emigrants, under the charge of their agent, Col. Wakefield, arrived here in the year 1840. This agent had instructions to buy from the natives large tracts of land, especially places that would appear most suitable as trading ports, or for a capital for the entire colony, in case the colony should be made a British dependence. Among all his selections, Wakefield choose Wellington, on account, likely, of its central position.

Sheep farming is carried on in this district to a large extent, and its wool exports are now assuming large proportions. Breeding of horses is also receiving great attention, while the fertility of the soil and the annual increasing value of grain and wool proves the steady advance of the province in wealth.

Although Wellington is more subject to strong winds than the other provinces, this cannot be considered so fatal to its progress as earthquakes, to which it is also subject. Since its foundation it has been visited by earthquakes frequently, all of which have been more or less destructive to life and property. Hence the cause of the houses being nearly all built of timber. These shocks have not materially injured the prosperity of the place, but there is no doubt that a feeling of insecurity is, to some extent, ever present on the minds of the inhabitants.

On the shores of the harbour of Port-Nicholson--the metropolis of the province and colony--the city of Wellington is situated. We have already stated the cause of the Seat of Government's removal to this place from Auckland. The city can boast of a very spacious harbour and a lovely landscape, besides being the premier town and the port of call for the steamers of the Panama,

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New-Zealand, and Australia Royal Mail Compy. (limited), a new postal route which commenced in June, 1866. Steamers for New-Zealand by this line leave Southampton in England on the 2nd of every month, and return from this place homeward on the 8th of every month.


Also known by its native name, Taranaki, is a small province on the west side of the northern island, the aboriginal natives of which are the most braggart and embruted of all the tribes in New-Zealand.

The war now raging in the north island, commenced by the Taranaki natives, has had a very depressing influence upon the commerce as well as the community of both this and the Auckland province, but it is hoped that the rebellion will soon cease, and that both settlements will again resume their wonted activity. This province is generally styled "the garden of New-Zealand," the soil being very fertile, and more suitable for agricultural than pastoral pursuits. Small farmers are numerous here.

Coal, iron, and flax are abundant in the district. Its chief town is New-Plymouth, at which, and in fact in the whole province, there is no natural harbour. The landing of passengers and goods at this town is effected by a body of men with boats, authorised by the New-Plymouth Town Board, who go out to the vessels as they arrive.


Was erected into a separate province on the 1st November, 1851, having originally formed part of Wellington, and termed Ahuriri. It lies between the provinces of Auckland and Wellington, on the east coast. The chief town and port is Napier, which is situated in a sheltered bay, and safe anchorage for ships of moderate size. The place is getting into repute. Its plains are so peculiarly adapted for sheep farming that it has attracted large numbers of this class to settle there. There are several banks here and numerous stores.


This province was founded after Wellington by the late New-Zealand Company. Its situation is on the southern shores of Cook's Strait, and about 130 miles distant from Wellington, which lies opposite.

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Its capital of the same name stands on the head of the inlet called Blind Bay, and is well sheltered from the high winds that are so abundant here.

There are extensive sheep runs in this province, and wool forms an important production, the greater part of which is shipped from Port Underwood, in the neighbouring province. Horses bred here and exported are valuable.

The province is rich in minerals. The Dun Mountain Company work extensively the copper and chrome ore. Limestone and slate are found in the same locality, and gold and coal in the Buller field, on the west coast. Mechanics of all kinds, farm servants, and boatmen, can always find an opening for their callings, and, if they are steady, they can soon gain a competency.


Once connected with Nelson, and which stands on the south-eastern extremity of Cook's Strait, is now an independent province. Its capital town, Picton, is situated at the head of Queen Charlotte's Sound. The district is eminently suitable for pasturage, whence a very large quantity of wool is exported to the English market.


This province was founded by the Canterbury Association, and lies between the provinces of Nelson and Otago, and comprises about one-third of the Middle Island.

Christchurch is its chief town, and is inland. Lyttleton, nine miles distant therefrom, is the principal port. This province is the best wool-exporting district in New Zealand. Extensive grass plains constitute the peculiarity of the place. There is scarcely any timber in the province, the want of which for firewood, occasions considerable inconvenience.

There is a railway between the Port and Capital. This affords great facility to shippers for importing and exporting goods. An electric telegraph is also in operation between these towns. There is a considerable quantity of agricultural land throughout the province. Hence, farm labourers and ploughmen, as well as shepherds, may readily obtain situations, and at good wages.

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The province of Otago, known as the Scotch Settlement, was founded by the New Zealand Company in connection with the Association of the Members of the Free Church of Scotland in 1847, and since then has become a populous and important province.

For many years the province maintained a quiet onward progress, and the settlers plodded perseveringly and patiently in the arts of cultivation, until the year 1861, when the scene changed. Gold was then discovered, and as it became known to exist in large quantities, attention was attracted. The reports of the first comers occasioned many "rushes" from neighbouring provinces, and from Australia, which, since that eventful epoch, Otago has had to sustain.

Dunedin, the capital, situated about nine miles from Port-Chalmers, was then but an insignificant town. Since 1861, however, the growth of this famous town in population and in commerce has been extraordinary.

Gold seeking, however, is not the only occupation of this province. Silver and lead have been found there also, whilst agricultural pursuits continue still to engross the attention of a large class of the community.


This province, formerly united to Otago, is situated at the south end of the Middle Island. Invercargill, its chief town, stands on the New River; Bluff Harbour being the seaport, where a township, Campbell Town, has been planted.

There are some excellent plains in this province, on which there are large flocks of sheep feeding. There are also a number of farms.

Stewart's Island, lying to the southward of this province and of Foveaux Straits, is added to Southland. On this island there are good fishing grounds, and much attention has lately been paid to the curing of fish there.

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