The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 69
First Attempt at Government. — The Kororareka Settlers' Association
First Attempt at Government.
The Kororareka Settlers' Association.
The first attempt to form a sort of Government in New Zealand, to replace the anarchy which had been prevailing, in which every man did as seemed good in his own eyes, was on Tuesday, the 23rd May, 1838, by the formation of the Kororareka Association, formed of householders of the township of Kororareka (Bay of Islands) and its vicinity. The preamble of the scheme which was formed says:—
"This Association has been formed in consequence of the absence of any magisterial authority in the Bay of Islands to frame laws for the better regulation of matters connected with the welfare of the inhabitants, both European and native. The limits of this Association are thus defined:—From Malony or Brind's Bay in a straight line across the land to Oneroa, or the long sandy beach, and all the land that is bounded by the coast from the beach to the Bay." The first resolution provided that in the event of any act of aggression being committed on the persons or property of the members of the society, by the natives of New Zealand or others, the individuals of he Association, should consider themselves bound to assemble together (armed, if necessary, on being called upon to do so) at the dwelling of the person attacked; any member refusing to respond was to be fined £5, but if the person attacked proved to be in fault, he was to be fined £1. The following resolution provided for fines for enticing sailors to leave their ships, for refusing to assist in recapture of runaway sailors, for punishment of robberies, etc. The 8th resolution states that if any inhabitant of Kororareka, or its vicinity, refuses to conform to the foregoing resolution, he not being a member of the society, the members shall unite to oblige him to abide by the law, a fine of £10 was to be inflicted on members who refused to co-operate. By the 9th resolution householders and landholders were obliged to enter into an agreement with their tenants to abide by the laws, under a penalty of £20, and members refusing help to landlords to enforce the laws were to be fined £10. In disputes between landlords and tenants the decision of an arbitration committee of five members was final The 11th resolution required that the Association should meet monthly in the house of one of the members, and the chairman, deputy-chairman, and two other persons then chosen, were the four officers for the ensuing month, to take cognisance of any matter coming under the foregoing resolutions. No officer was to receive any emolument for his services, so that the first Government started very fairly. For the better enforcement of the resolutions, the 13th provided that every member of the Association should provide himself with a good musket and bayonet, a brace of pistols, a cutlass, and at least thirty rounds of ball cartridge, the arms and ammunition to be inspected by an officer appointed for that purpose. The consolidated revenue of the Association was made up of a payment by member of 10s at the general meeting, and 2s a month afterwards. Happy taxpayers to get off so easily! One of the "leading lights" in the formation of the Association was the late Mr. Benjamin Turner, of Newmarket, Auckland. A list of donations is appended to the document, showing that there were men of public spirit in those days in connection with the Association. The "roll of honour" is as follows:—
Alexander Gray, 10s; Thos. Spicer, 10s; Robert Edney, 10s; John Johnson, 10s-John Roberton, 10s; George Russell, £1 1s; John Evans, 10s; James Jones, 10s; Hugh McLiver, 10s; George Hemmings, 10s; David Salmon, 10s; Thos. Fairclough, 10s; Joseph Meyrick, 10s; Samuel Stephenson. 10s; Thos. Grenville, 10s; Win. Jones, 10s; Thomas Graham, 10s; Win. Alexander, 10s; Captain Starbeck, Merrimac, £2; Captain Apsey, Haricott, £1; Mr. Lake, first mate Haricott £1; Chevalier Dillon, a book; contributed by the members on a former occasion, £1 2s: Captain Riley, of barque Hope, £1. The printed document of the Constitution is dated June 11, 1838, and the imprint shows that it was printed at the office of the Sydney. Morning Herald, Sydney.