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THE FIRST PROVINCIAL COUNCIL.

Fifty years ago to-morrow the Provincial Council of Canterbury was established. The province was then three years old, but with a comical* assumption of the airs and graces of ojder countries, it determined to have a Parliament of its own. Accordingly advantage was taken of the 1 New Zealand Constitution Act, which the Imperial Parliament had passed in the previous year, to give effect to the wishes of the settlers. Under this Act the provinces of Auckland, New Plymouth, Wellington, Nelson, Canterbury and Otago were set up, the limits to be' proolaimed by the Governor for each of the said provinces. The Act runs: 'There shall be a Superintendent and Provincial Council, and the Provincial Council shall consist of such number of members not less than nine as the the Governor shall by proclamation direct and appoint." By Section 7a vote was given to every man of the age of twenty-one years and upwards having ai freehold estate in possession, situate within the district for which the '■ vote is to be taken, of the clear value of fifty pounds above all charges and encumbrances, or ha,ying a leasehold estate jn possession of the clear annual value of £10 held upon lease,." which at the time of registration shall have not less than three years to run," or being a " ten pound householder " within- a town or a five pound householder" outside a town. A man had. to be a voter in the province to be qualified as a candidate for the Council. The powers Of Provincial Councils weTe definitely restricted, They had no direct communication with the Governor for the time being, the Superintendents, of course, standing, to them in the relation of Governors. In stating the powers and duties of the General Assembly of New Zealand, then Imperial Act expressly forbade interference with the Imperial Statutes under which the Canterbury Association disposed of its lands, and Section 76 empowered the Canterbury Association at any time after a Provincial Council should have been* constituted,, to transfer to that Council " all such functions, powers and authorities" vested in it by the Canterbury Association Act and its amendments. Inat'was how the Provincial Council of Canterbury came into being. Having established thejr right to-manage their affairs,the settleass,next proceeded to elect a Council. The. election created a great deal of interest, and was responsible for not a few amusing incidents: The following candidates were elected:—Messrs I. T. Cookson, J. W. Hamilton and 0. E. Dampier, members for Lyttelton; Messrs Thomas Cass, S. Bealey and It. Packer, members for Christchurch ; Captain Simeon, Messrs H. J. Tancred, John Hall and C. C. Bowen, members for Christchurch Country Districts; Mr R. H. Rhodes and Rev W. Aylmer, members for Akaroa. Mr J. E, Fitzgerald had, meanwhile, been elected Superintendent of the province, and the election of Speaker resulted in favour of Captain Simeon, the senior member of the Christchurch Country Districts. The first meeting-place of the Council was heid in a building which had hitherto been used as the printing office of the " Guardian " newspaper. It was situated «t the corner of Chester Street and Park Terrace^ on the seotion now occupied by the Lower Department of Christ's College. The Council Ohamlber was not an inrposdrngi edifioe. _ It was some 24ft long and about 18ft wide, and a small lean-to capable of holding eight or ten people fulfilled the functions of a strangera' gallery. The interior was tastefully decorated, and a certain dignity was lent to its appearance by a raised chair for Mr Speaker and crimson coverings to the members' seats. But the building was rather too airy to please some of the frequenters, : a particular, the representatives of the Press appear to have been most unhappy, judging from the complaints' of the "Lyttelton Times " that " the contrast between the comfort with which honourable members had! taken care to surround themselves and /the scant accommodation provided for the Press was very marked," and the sam© journal's pathetic request that the Council should have .reporters' seats railed off and protected' from the south-west winds which blew through the unweather-boarded planks in their rear. The " Guardian " office was subsequently exchanged for the Town Hall. Afterwards the Council removed to a building on the site of tli© Clarendon Hotel^ and finally to thajfc block of buildings still known as the Provincial Council Chambers. There it continued to sit until the abolition of the provinces.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/TS19030926.2.32.1

Bibliographic details

THE FIRST PROVINCIAL COUNCIL., Star, Issue 7820, 26 September 1903

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739

THE FIRST PROVINCIAL COUNCIL. Star, Issue 7820, 26 September 1903

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