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The New Zealand Constitution Act [1852]: together with correspondence between the Secretary of State for the colonies and the Governor-in-Chief of New Zealand in explanation thereof

Municipal Institutions

Municipal Institutions.

34. These I propose should be of three kinds, two of which are already in existence, and appear likely to confer great benefit on these islands.

First.—The division of the country into hundreds, represented by their wardens, the mode of election, powers, and duties of which officers, as also the nature and extent of the funds placed at their disposal, are set forth in the Ordinance named in the margin,* and in the Royal Instructions dated 12th of August, 1850. This system of small municipalities has already been for a long time in full and beneficial operation, and the system has received the Royal sanction. It may be said to be one which precedes the system of large municipal boroughs, first occupying with simple institutions a country thinly inhabited by Europeans and Maories engaged in agricultural pursuits, and which are of such a

* Crown Lands Ordinance, Sess. X, No. ].

page 46 nature that they form a fitting introduction to a higher class of municipal institutions.

Secondly.—The division of the thinly inhabited portions of the country, at present almost exclusively occupied under lease from the Crown by persons employed in rearing and tending sheep and cattle, into large districts to be called "pastoral districts," represented by pastoral wardens, the mode of election, powers, and duties of which officers are detailed in the Ordinance noted in the margin.* No municipality of this kind has yet been created, the law which enables me to do so having only recently passed, nor has it yet received the Royal sanction. But the declaration of my proposing to create municipalities of this kind has been received with general satisfaction, and great benefits are expected to flow from the adoption of this system.

Thirdly.—The constitution of municipalities, of the nature of those existing in Great Britain, but with more extended powers. These would generally embrace several hundreds of the first class, which would however, still preserve their own privileges as hundreds, and elect their own wardens; although for a higher and more extended class of municipal duties they would be adopted, as wards, into the larger corporation. The necessary powers for creating these bodies are already conferred upon the Governor-in-Chief by the Charter and Fifth chapter of the Instructions of 1846. Full details relating to the constitution, duties to be confided to, and powers of these bodies, are set forth in the Auckland Charter, creating such a municipality, and my dispatch to the Lieutenant-Governor which accompanied it, which I transmitted to your Lordship in my despatch named in the margin. Several municipalities of this nature, in addition to the borough of Auckland, will require to be almost immediately constituted.

35. From the preceding statement of the nature of the municipal institutions which I consider necessary for New Zealand, your Lordship will, I think, see that I rely greatly upon municipal institutions as a very important element in the constitution of this country; and it will be found by a reference to my

* *Crown Lands Amendment and Extension Ordinance, Sess. XI, No. 10.

page 47 dispatches of the numbers and dates mentioned in the margin, that, from one third of the gross proceeds realized from the sale of land in their respective districts being placed under the control of these municipal bodies, I anticipated that a more popular and better administration of the waste lands of the Crown would result than prevails in any other colony.

36. Finally, I would make two remarks upon this subject.

Firstly.—I believe the system of municipal institutions which I have detailed is very popular, and will gradually become more so, and that the inhabitants of New Zealand generally would very unwillingly see them swept away to give place to any other system that has as yet been proposed.

Secondly.—That all the necessary powers for the creation and regulation of such municipalities rest upon legislative enactments and instructions already in existence; and that, consequently, nothing has either to be done, nor does anything require to be swept away, in order to secure to New Zealand the advantage of such corporate bodies. In any constitution, therefore, which may be given to these islands, all that is necessary is to preserve, exactly in its present form, the fifth chapter of the Royal Instructions of 1846, "on Municipal Corporations."