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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Auckland Provincial District]


Auckland City is an amalgamated electorate, sending three representatives to Parliament; and this representation is supplemented by two suburban members for Parnell and Eden. The rolls for 1896 contained the names of 20,204 electors, about two-thirds of whom voted at the General Election, the women voting more strongly than the men. Parnell enjoyed the distinction of being one of the only three electorates having a clear majority of women on the roll; the other electorates so situated were Dunedin City and the Avon. The proportion was about the same in Parnell as in Dunedin—fifteen women to fourteen men—but the Avon district was only as twenty-one to twenty, and more men voted than women. Though the excess of women among those who actually voted was higher in Dunedin than in Parnell, the women of Parnell polled a clear majority of seventy votes above those cast by the men of the constituency. There were 2655 men on the roll as against 2866 women, and the voters numbered respectively 1838 and 1908. In the Eden district the total on the rolls was 5203, there being 335 more men than women. Rather more than two-thirds voted, but the women were only 155 behind the men.

As representation in the House, however, is based on the population, the boundaries of the electoral districts are changed from time to time and also the number of electorates in each of the islands. For these purposes, two permanent Commissions exist. These Commissions sit together to determine what proportion of the seventy members shall be elected by each island; but that question settled, the Commissions for each island act independently. Every hundred persons living in country districts count, for representation purposes, as equal to 128 living in towns having a population of 2000 and upwards. The Commissioners are bound down, in this matter of population, within very narrow limits of discretion. Of the four amalgamated electorates the City of Dunedin has the smallest population, 35,496; but the figures for Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland are particularly close, being respectively 36,020, 36,032, and 36,039. Of the single electorates the least populous (Otaki) contains 8650 persons, and the most populous (Caversham) contains 11,511, the average being about 10,000. This close numerical division of the colony is rapidly equalising the representation of the two islands. Whereas so recently as 1893 the South Island had thirty-nine members to thirty-one for the North, the Commissioners in 1896 changed the numbers to thirty-six and thirty-four respectively; and there is good reason for expecting that the North will soon be in the majority. Though this method is probably far from the best way of securing a fair representation of this variously-conditioned colony, there is no doubt that justice to all was the object aimed at by the Amendment Act of 1896.

Members of the House of Representatives are paid monthly at the rate of £240 per annum; but the sum of £2 is deducted for every sitting day exceeding five on which a member is absent, unless such absence is due to sickness or other unavoidable cause. Travelling expenses to and from the seat of Government are allowed.

Qualification for membership mainly consists in being a registered male elector, but not a civil servant of the colony, or a contractor with the Government to a greater extent than £50 in any one year.