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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

General Executive Government

General Executive Government.

49. I propose that the General Executive Government should consist of a Governor-in Chief nominated by the Crown, a Civil Secretary, and either two or three principal officers, for the present nominated by the Crown, and holding permanent appointments. I am unable, until the system has been tested, to state the precise number of officers that may be necessary to conduct the business of the central Government, nor do I think it requisite to attempt to state how the personal staff of the Governor-in-Chief should be composed, or what establishment of clerks may be necessary for the principal officers. The number of such persons need at present only be very limited, and I presume that the cost of the central Government would for the present be paid from the civil list.

50. The duties of the Governor-in-Chief would consist in corresponding with, and receiving all necessary instructions for his guidance in the government of these islands from her Majesty, through one of her Majesty's principal Secretaries of State. He would also page 53 correspond through the Civil or Chief Secretary with the officers administering the Government of the several Provinces, and within the limits fixed by the laws existing at the time, would prescribe to what extent it should be the duty of such officers to await his instructions before carrying into effect the powers by law vested in them.

51. It would be immaterial in what province he might temporarily reside, as under the Provincial Councils Ordinance, his duties would in no way interfere with those of the officer administering the government of the province.

52. I think also that the Governor-in-Chief should be the sole Commander-in-Chief in the New Zealand Islands, and should alone have the power of issuing to the officer in command of the forces within these islands and their dependencies orders for the march and distribution of troops, the formation and march of detachments and escorts, and generally for such military service as the safety and welfare of the colony may require.

53 I think, farther, that the Governor-in-Chief should alone be entrusted with the power of issuing orders regarding the temporary occupation of Crown lands for depasturing purposes; that he should have the appointment of all officers having the control or administration of the Crown lands, except such officers as might be appointed for these purposes by wardens or municipalities in accordance with the powers by law vested in them; and I think also that the distribution of the Crown land revenue in the manner prescribed by law, either for emigration purposes or for the purpose of public works to be executed under the authority of the Provincial Legislatures, should be made under the direction of the Governor-in-Chief.

54. In like manner I think that the expenditure of the civil list, and of such sums as may be reserved for purposes connected with the welfare of the native population should be made under the direction of the Governor-in-Chief, subject to such instructions as he may receive from time to time from the Secretary of State. He should also be allowed to exercise the power he at presnt possesses of appointing Resident Magistrates and Native Assessors for the purpose of carrying out English laws in any district which from its large native population might, in his opinion, require the presence of such officers.

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55. The Governor-in-Chief should also in my opinion alone have the power of making to Europeans grants for lands which may be claimed in virtue of alleged contracts between themselves and persons of the native race, the nature of the claim to which would differ from one which rested on a purchase made from the Crown of part of its demesne lands. I think, farther, that the Governor-in-Chief should have the power of making, at his discretion, grants of lands to persons of the native race, and of assuring to themselves and their heirs the uninterrupted possession of certain properties; and that he should also alone have the power of making grants of the demesne lands of the Crown for public purposes.

56. Lastly, on this head, I think the Governor-in-Chief should, for the present, have all the powers regarding the confirmation or disallowance of Provincial Ordinances which are conferred upon him by the enclosed Ordinance; and should, in conjunction with the General Assembly of the islands, have the power of making and ordaining all such Laws and Ordinances as may be required for the peace, order, and good government of the New Zealand islands, which laws should be transmitted with the least possible delay for her Majesty's allowance or disallowance.

57. I also propose that the Governor-in-Chief should have the power of dividing the colony into judicial districts for the purposes of the administration of justice, of altering the limits of such districts, and of prescribing the places at which Circuit Courts should be held; and, farther, that he should exercise all such powers as have been or may be conferred upon him by Ordinances made by the General Legislature of New Zealand

58. The Governor-in-Chief, conjointly with the General Legislature, would have the power of fixing by law the number and salaries of the officers employed in the collection of those portions of the revenue which were collected under laws enacted by their authority; and would in like manner fix the number and salaries of the officers who were to be employed in the survey and administration of the Crown Lands.

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59. Under the existing laws of New Zealand, the Governor-in-Chief already possesses the whole of the powers which I have recommended should still be exercised by him. In many points, such as the appropriation of the land revenue, and of the sums reserved for native purposes, the issuing of orders for regulating the depasturing of sheep and cattle on waste lands of the Crown, the rate of remuneration to be given to the officers of the General Government, &c., &c. the limits within which he should exercise the powers intrusted to him, would have by degrees to be adjusted by laws enacted by the Governor-in-Chief and General Assembly of these islands. But I do not apprehend that any serious difficulty will be experienced in adjusting these details.

60. I think also that in reserving these powers to the Governor-in-Chief, Great Britain would retain the means of promoting in every desirable way the interests and welfare of all her Majesty's subjects in these islands, to whatever race they belong. I do not think that, in justice to the native race who yielded the sovereignty of these islands to her Majesty, any of these powers ought for the present to be abandoned by the Crown. Nor do I think that the very great majority of her Majesty's subjects inhabiting New Zealand would desire for the present to see Great Britain relinquish these powers. But I think a wise foresight requires that the Crown, in retaining all necessary powers, should retain none that are not essentially necessary. From this proceeding would probably spring a great and lasting contentment amongst her Majesty's subjects in these islands, who, having a very large measure of freedom bestowed upon them, and being deprived of no privilege which was necessary for the free exercise of a system of local self government, would probably for a long series of years, cheerfully see vested in the hands of the Crown the powers which it alone could exercise for the good of all, and the possession of which by the Crown in no way interfered with the freedom or happiness of any class or community of its subjects. Having made these introductory remarks, I shall now proceed to the consideration of the form of Executive Govern page 56 ment which should, I think, be given to each of the Provinces into which it is proposed New Zealand should be divided.