The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Taranaki, Hawke's Bay & Wellington Provincial Districts]
The success of the separation movement, it may be noted, was largely due to the energetic advocacy of Napier's paper, the “Hawke's Bay Herald,” which was founded in 1857 by Mr. James Wood, who—as editor and proprietor of the paper—was for many years identified with the progress and public life of the district. When the ballot on the separation question was taken, it was found that only six votes were recorded against it; and thus the small population of Hawke's Bay district—about one-tenth of that of Wellington—appropriated to itself about one-third of all the lands in the province.
In terms of the Constitution Act, the Provincial Councils were elected under a system by which every man had a vote in every electoral district in which he held property. The Superintendent was also supposed to be elected by the general suffrage. But by the new Act, it was decreed that the Superintendent for each newly created province should be chosen by the Council itself.
The Hawke's Bay Provincial Council consisted of ten members, and it happened that these were page 285 equally divided between the two candidates for the Superintendency—Captain Newman and Captain Carter. The deadlock was obviated by the retirement of both candidates; and Mr. Thomas Henry Fitzgerald was then chosen Superintendent. His original purpose was to hold office only long enough to give the Council time to decide whether the Superintendent should occupy a seat in the Council. Mr. Ormond was chosen Speaker of the first Provincial Council, and Mr. Tiffen was the first Chairman of Committees.
The chief duty of the Provincial Council was naturally to supply means of communication for the settlers. Happily the large limestone deposits throughout the district proved splendid roadmaking material, the only drawback being the dazzling whiteness of the metalled surface. But in spite of the exertions of the Council the district remained for some years almost isolated, and therefore unprogressive. The Crown lands were divided into two classes—agricultural and pastoral; and for these the freehold price was ten shillings and five shillings per acre. and this was all the land could be justly said to be worth, for so far as agriculture was concerned, there was no market for the produce, and the cost of transit to the sea was almost prohibitive. For the rough country to the north toward Wairoa, and the heavy bush land to the south beyond Takapau, five shillings an acre was too high a price to allow any chance of profit to the occupier. The natural consequence was that many of the pioneers of settlement in Hawke's Bay district succumbed to the heavy financial burdens entailed by the disadvantages of their position. Their lands were speedily mortgaged, and their holdings, heavily encumbered, soon, in too many instances, passed into other hands.
The Waikare-Moana Military Expedition.
Standing—Major Richardson, Capt. Handley, Ensign Davis, Major (later Judge) Gudgeon, Lieut-Col. Herrick, Lieut. Spiller, Lieut. Milner (18th Royal Irish). Sitting—Lieut. Witty, Lieut. Ferguson, Capt. Northeroft (now a Stipendiary Magistrate), Major (later Judge) Scannell, Capt. Bower (Adjutant), Capt. Corfield, Major Withers (Paymaster).
But though the back country developed but slowly, the district soon became famous through its coastal trade. Napier harbour is the chief, indeed the only good, port between Wellington and Auckland; and in the early days the inner harbour had not silted up so extensively as it did after dredging operations began there. Vessels drawing as much as fourteen feet could then easily enter and berth in the inner basin. Napier thus became the centre of a valuable shipping trade; and it was not till the construction of the Manawatu railway diverted Wellington exports in another direction, that Hawke's Bay began to suffer from the growing ascendency of the older province.page 286
Before railway communication was opened between Wellington and the West Coast, the exports of produce from Napier had actually begun to exceed the exports from Port Nicholson.