OLD PARLIAMENT HOUSE. If progress has a drawback it is that it frequently entails the sacrifice of historic j associations and the destruction of ancient landmarks. The, approaching demolition of the old buildings in Parliament and Eden Streets, at present occupied by the Auckland University College, has been rendered necessary by the growth of the city and -the city's traffic, and the consequent need of an eastern outlet to relieve the congestion. And with the disappearance from their accustomed place of these well-known structures will vanish, likewise, not only the tangible monument they represent to higher education and the early political history of New Zealand, but many interesting memories of both. Doubtless some of the latter will be revived to-day when, by civic invitation, representative citizens will assemble in the University College precincts to take part in what may pernaps be the last official gathering in the historic pile. Early History of the Buildings.
Dong before the Auckland University College Council came into possession of these buildings-they housed the New 2ealand Parliament whilst Auckland was the seat of Government. The first block at the corner of Parliament and Eden Streets, was erected iii lboo, under the supervision of air. Beauer Wood, then Government architect and surveyor-general, afterwards member for Jfarnefi, and at various times colonial Treasurer and Minister for Customs. This original block was I two-storeyed. The House of .Representatives sat on the upper floor, in (the double room which has tor some years past been utilised by the university tor general and mathematical lectures. The Legislative Council sat in the front portion of the building downstairs, now the university j libary and the present registrar's office and tho adjoining chairman's room comprised, in those early days, the Bellamy's of Parliament. Tho bio,ck lower down Eden Street, now used as the chemistry department of the college, was not erected until 1860-1861. On completion it was, for about five or six years, used as a District Courthouse after the demolition of the old gaol and courthouse at the corner of Queen and Victoria Streets. It was not until 1865 that the foundation-stone of the present Supreme Court was laid. A great , deal of tho best eloquence ij T in New Zealand was heard in the old chamber of the House of Representatives. The British Act giving New Zealand a representative Constitution, was Passed in 1852. This provided that there should be a General Government conducted by a General Assembly, composed of a Governor, appointed by the Crown, a Legislative Council of 10 members— creased by Royal instructions in 1857 to 20— were appointed for life, - and a House of Representatives, consisting of from .24 to 40 members, elected for five years by the people. The first elections under the new Constitution took place in 1853. Sir George' Grey had ruled New Zealand for the previous eight; years, and about this time ho obtained the permission of the Secretary of State to return to Eng. land, and be departed on December 31 of the year named. j
First Parliament Sits to Auckland. Thereafter, until the arrival on September 6, 1850, of Governor Gore Browne, Colonel Wynyard, of the .68fch Regiment senior military officer in the colony, and newly-elected Superintendent of the Auckland Province, assumed the administration. He it was who, on January 18, 1854 summoned the Genera] Assembly to i meet for the first time at Parliament' . House Auckland; on May 24 of that year,! the late Queen Victoria's birthday. It is 1 of interest to recall that the Otago mem-; bers of the House of "Representatives who attended that first sitting in the chamber : now used for university lectures r came 1 North by the cutter Victoria, taking a fortnight on the voyage. Mr. (afterwards Su-V Charles ■ Clifford, of Wellington, was made Speaker of the Rouse of Representatives. „ Colonel Wynyard opened this first ' New Zealand, Parliament with an . address, in which he urged the necessity of forming a, strong general Government. Mr.' J. E. FitzGerald moved and Mr. David Monro seconded th© Address-in-Reply. 1 Thirty members attended the opening session of 1854 in the Parliament Street building. Among them were several experienced, energetic, and able men. Conspicuous was Edward Gibbon Wakefield, who. after the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, moved the formation of a Parliamentary Government, or a Ministry responsible for the conduct of public affairs to the General Assembly. After a three days' debate, during which 24 'members spoke, this resolution was carried with one dissentient .voice. With Mr. FitsGerald as first Premier, the House carried on a stormy career until August 17, 1854, when Parliament was prorogued, the second session opening on August 31, with Mr. Fcrsaith, of Auckland, leading tho new iumistiy. The last session of Parliament held in Auckland • was in 1864, this seat of Government beinc moved to Wei-: lington in February, 1865.. The Transfer to the University. Subsequent to their use as Parliamentary Buildings, the ■ ancient Auckland structures therein the early political history of the colony was made were, for some years, used by various Government Departments. •" The building in Eden Street, formerly the District Courthouse, was the first to be placed at the disposal of the University College Council by the Government. "This was in 1883. The large room, in this building was formed into a lecture hall, and additions were afterwards made for the formation of laboratories. In 1885 tfie Governor was empowered by special ' legislation to transfer to the College Council the main buildings 1 then occupied 1 by the Survey and Crown Lands Departments. The transfer was ' carried ' into effect in 1890, when, by an expenditure of about £1200 of the college funds the premises were" adapted to university purposes. Additions made by the College Council to the original Parliament House block comprise the geology museum and lecture-room on tho ground floor, and the English and classical lecture rooms and girls' common room on the top floor. The entire block on the area of one acre eleven perches between Parliament Street and Beach Road has been in the possession of the University College ever since, though, while the additions referred to were being mad mathematical and other' classes were held in the old Admiralty House. The latter has already disappeared, having been on the direct lino of Jermyn Street penetrated by the new eastern outlet.
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UNIVERSITY BUILDINGS, New Zealand Herald, Volume LIV, Issue 16697, 15 November 1917
UNIVERSITY BUILDINGS New Zealand Herald, Volume LIV, Issue 16697, 15 November 1917
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