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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 79



At the commencement of the settlement in Hawke's Bay this district was an attached to the Wellington province. Very early, however, a desire for separation manifested itself. The earliest meeting held to promote this object appears to have taken place on December 31st, 1856 Mr purvish Russell taking the chair (Herald August, 11th, 1874). In the third issue of the "Hawke's Bay Herald" (October 10th, 1857) a leading article called attention to the cry for local self-government which was making itself felt at that time, not only in Ahuriri, but also in Wanganu within the Wellington province and in page 61 the district of Wairau in the Nelson province. The following week this journal stated the case for separation The district of Ahuriri, it said, [contributes largely to the provincial revenue; it has only a nominal voice in the expenditure of that revenue; and prior to the late arrival of Mr Roy, not £100 in allhad been expended upon the roads of the district or in public improvements of any description." Towards the end of the year the Superintendent of the province, Dr. Featherston, arrived in Napier and addressed a meeting at the Royal Hotel. He was asked the question. "What advantages are the settlers of Hawke's Bay likely to derive from a permanent upon with Wellington, involving as it does being made responsible for loans for which it does not appear likely they will receive any benefit and the spending in Wellington of the greater part of the revenue raised here; also the difficulty of legislation on local affairs by persons residing 210 miles away and principally unconnected with thd district, and the danger of sudden changes from time to time, seriously affecting the Ahuriri district against the consent of its inbabitants, owing to the great preponderance of members in the Provincial Council for the town of Wellington and its suburbs?" Dr. Featherston declined to enter upon the subject of separation,

A little later another meeting of settlers assembled at the Royal Hotel to meet Mr J. V. Smith, the member for Wairarapa and Hawke's Bay in the General Assembly Dr. Hitchings asked Mr Smith if he would support a petition for separation, and Mr Smith consented to present such a memorial and to support its prayer. He said that he was in favour of an extension of local government, and trusted that Ahuriri would not only obtain separation for itself, but be instrumental in sweeping page 62 away the existing hexarchy, and establishing thirty countres of districts in the place of the six provinces.

The settlers lost no time in preparing a petition to the General Assembly, which was drawn up by Captain Curling, R.M. A public meeting was held Captain Carter took the chair, and Mr J. B. Rhodes acted as secretary. The adoption of the petition was moved by Mr Fitzgerald and seconded by Mr Rhodes. Almost the only dissentient was Mr Colenso, whoapparently was not allowed to finish his speech. The motion was carried, and, says our report, "This finished the business of a meeting the most important that has yet assembled in this district."

The next step was the passing of the New Provinces Bill on July 28th, 1858, which authorised the Governor on the petition of three fifths of the registered electors in a district to constitute it a new province In consequence of the provisions of the bill, a public meeting was held in the Golden Fleece Hotel (on the site of the present Bank of New Zealand) on Monday, September 20th, 1858, at which Mr H. S. Tiffen took the chair, Mr Rhodes proposed the resolution in favour of separation, which was seconded by Captain Newman. The motion was carried, and 28 signatures obtained the same day to the petition, that number being subsequently increased to 200.

The petition was forwarded to Auckland, and on November 1st, 1858, the Governor by Order in Council establised a new province to be known as Hawke's Bay, and constituted the town of Napier its capital Such was the state of communications in those days that the news did not reach Napier till Friday, November 12th. It appeared in the "Herald" the following day.