NZ Elective Structures Since Colonisation

"A nation that forgets its past can function no better than an individual with amnesia."

- David McCullough

Image of Governor Grey.
Governor Grey.
Photo from Pataka Museum Collection, at Porirua Library ref P.1.27

1840 - The New Zealand Company, which founded Wellington at Port Nicholson, sold the original colonists a "Constitution", complete with an annually elected council. This alternative local government preceded by some nine months the formal proclamation of British sovereignty over New Zealand. Its council had uppity ideas and in June 1840 Hobson despatched an armed force to disband this "illegal and treasonable" body. Hobson's instinct was to wait until the inflow of numbers and wealth sufficiently reduced the glaring disparity between the ideal and the feasible. In late 1841 he was overridden by his superiors in London.

1842 - There was introduced and passed through the Legislative Council the Municipal Corporations Ordinance, the founding document of New Zealand local government. Any district reaching a population of 2000 (Wellington was the only one) was to be proclaimed a borough. A council elected would have the power to rate and the obligation to provide roading, wells, sewers and gaols and to prevent fires and nuisances. An election of a council in Wellington took place in October 1842. It became the first duly constituted local body in the colony.

1845 - The Public Roads and Works Ordinance came into being which allowed a petition from a majority of electors to bring into being commissioners empowered through the levying of a rate to construct roads, bridges, waterworks and markets. The arrangement was intended to complement a future network of boroughs rather than substitute for them.

1849 - The Town Roads and Streets Ordinance and the Country Roads Ordinance were passed which allowed elected town boards to impose rates for the upkeep of streets and quays.

1852 - The House of Commons set in train six provincial councils. The provincial legislatures were to be substitutes for municipalities with the right to make all laws for the peace, order and good government of their districts.

1854 - Wellington Province was gifted a roads ordinance but Wellington town itself subsisted until 1862 on an ad hoc arrangement whereby small committees of civic-spirited citizens solicited donations for improvements.

Local Government in the Porirua basin had its origins when the Porirua Road Board was gazetted on 1 June 1854. On Saturday, the 20th September 1856 the first meeting of electors under the District Highway Act for the Porirua Road District was held at Halfway House at 1.00pm. The wardens elected on that day are shown in Members of Boards and Councils.

1864 - The Takapu Road District was defined on 7th November 1864 and an election of wardens was held at the house of Joseph Roots, Porirua Road and thereafter elections of wardens were conducted annually, Members of Boards and Councils.

1872 - Wellington Highway District Board (Hutt County) was in control of the district and those elected, Members of Boards and Councils, remained in control until the Makara and Porirua Ridings were to become part of the Karori-Makara Highway Board.

1876 - The elections for the Kaori-Makara Highway Board were conducted the results of which are shown Members of Boards and Councils. This year was also of major importance with the abolition of the provinces and constitution of County Local Government under the Counties Act 1876. At that time the whole district, which we currently know as Wellington Region, (with the exception of Wellington Town and Petone Borough) were located in the County of Hutt and that was the case until 1907 when by the Makara County Act, the Porirua and Makara Ridings of the Hutt County were separated from that County to become Makara County, the first election being held on 28th January 1908. There were no major constitutional changes in Makara County until 1951 when the Tawa District was taken out of County control and constituted as a Town Board, holding its first election on 26th May 1951. Tawa was granted Borough status in October 1952.

1962 - The County of Makara was abolished on 31st August 1962 and the Borough of Porirua constituted the next day.

1965 - On 2nd October 1965 city status was conferred on the former Borough at a public function, by His Excellency the Governor-General, Sir Bernard Ferguson becoming the twenty-first city of New Zealand. The transition from borough to city has never been achieved by any other area in the country and highlighted what rapid strides of development had taken place.

The election results of the Makara County, Porirua Borough and Porirua City are listed in Members of Boards and Councils.

Superimposed over the Local Governance structure were elected bodies granted powers under the Underground Water Act who were granted dispensations from any By-laws and the authority to make bylaws for water supply. The first of these was the Wellington City Council Water Supply Committee, which was set up in September 1870. The City and Suburban water Supply Board first met in February 1928. This board was raised when local authorities in Lower Hutt/Hutt County were seeking additional supplies and the high incidence of goitre aroused their concern about the effect of the low iodine content of their artesian supplies. Hutt County and Makara County were without any public supply except for a small local catchment serving the asylum property in Porirua.

In February 1946, the Board resolved to extend the suburban area, as defined in the Wellington City and Suburban water Supply Act, 1927, by including the whole of the Johnsonville Town District, while Makara County joined the Board under the provisions of the Wellington City and Suburban Water Supply Amendment Act, 1947. Legislative authority was obtained to give the newly constituted Tawa Flat Town District full membership on the Board.

The Board of Control established under the Act consisted of:

  • His Worship the Mayor, Wellington (R. L. Macalister, Esq.), Chairman.
  • Councillors J. Arthurs, B. L. Dallard, E. M. Gilmer, S. Hardy and J. Roberts, representing Wellington City Council.
  • Councillor R. T. Peacock, representing Hutt County Council.
  • Councillor E. E. McCurdy, representing Upper Hutt Borough Council.
  • Councillor V. O. Small, representing Eastbourne Borough Council.
  • Councillor E. Windley, representing Makara County Council.
  • Commissioner, P. J. Clark, representing the Tawa Flat Town Board.
  • Commissioner J. M. Laird, representing Johnsonvile Town Board.
  • Clerk: B. O. Peterson, Town Hall, Wellington.

In the mid 1940s the development of the upper reaches of the Hutt River to supply water to consumers was agreed to by all local authority with the work being vested in the Hutt River Board which had been established in 1899. Water to Plimmerton and Paremata was being delivered by pipeline by 1957.

1959 - An authority was set up to safeguard the artesian supplies. The Hutt Valley Underground Water Authority (HVUWA) was established to " ... control the tapping, use and pollution of underground water". Members of this authority were appointed by Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt and Wellington City Councils, Eastbourne and Petone Borough Councils and Hutt County Council.

1967 - Water and Soil Conservation Act was passed which required the water resources of the country to be administered by a number of Regional Water Authorities. This power in the Wellington Region was originally vested in HVUWA.

1973 - The Wellington Regional Water Board was formed.

1980 - The Wellington Regional Council was formed.

Sources of Information

Refer to: Timeline Governance Bodies (7KB pdf)


Continue to Members of Boards and Councils or return to Civic History.