Newspaper Article 2017 – Bay hated Wellington cash grab


Michael Fowler

Hawke’s Bay Anniversary Day is celebrated on the Friday before Labour Weekend, and celebrates the creation of the province of Hawke’s Bay after its separation from Wellington.

The actual date that Hawke’s Bay was named and proclaimed a province was November 1, 1858, by the Government, then situated in Auckland.

The sea area surrounding Hawke’s Bay is called Hawke Bay, and was named by Captain Cook in 1769. The inland area is Hawke’s Bay.

The provinces of New Zealand were created by Governor George Grey in 1853, and what is now Hawke’s Bay was included with Wellington.

Settlers in the Bay at that time were largely disinterested in politics.

Elections for the province took place prior to 1856 in Castle Point in Wairarapa, but no Hawke’s Bay settlers attended.

When two Bay representatives were allowed on the provincial council in 1856, an election took place for the first time in Napier that year.

During 1856 there was unrest among Bay settlers in regards to Wellington raising loans to finance public works and immigration.

Hawke’s Bay at that time had a large amount of unsold government land, which was given as security for the loans.

This would have been agreeable to Bay settlers, except that most of the public works was to be carried out in Wellington.

In the financial year ended December 31, 1856, the Wellington Provincial Government had spent £200 on a jail lock-up and £42 towards construction of Shakespeare Rd in Hawke’s Bay.

The money spent on Wellington public works that year was £21,105.

One of the elected members from Hawke’s Bay, T P Russell, held a public meeting in December 1856 to get support for a resolution to take to Wellington. The goal was to have the money raised in the Bay spent there, and its land only be used as security for loans if they related to the Bay.

At that meeting the Ahuriri Settlers Association was formed, and began to push for separation from Wellington.

The ancestor paper to Hawke’s Bay Today, the Hawke’s Bay Herald, was formed to push the separation issue.

The separation movement gained momentum when it was shown the Bay contributed £50,966 to provincial funds from customs revenue for the year ended December 31, 1857.

However Hawke’s Bay had only £5250 spent on public works that year, while Wellington had £74,169.

In 1858, the Stafford Government passed the new Provinces Act, which meant the Bay could petition the Government to form the province of Hawke’s Bay, having more than 1000 persons, and meeting the other criteria.

News that Hawke’s Bay had been created a province arrived by mail on the Arcadian from Auckland on November 12.

Hawke’s Bay was separated into six electoral areas with 10 representatives, being Napier (3), Napier County (2), Clive (1), Mohaka (1), Te Aute (1) and Waipukurau (2).

The first elections took place in February 1859. Provinces were abolished in 1876 when a nationwide system of counties was used as its replacement.

We still, however, commemorate the founding of our province, as do other provincial areas in New Zealand. While the centenary of the creation of Hawke’s Bay as a province was widely celebrated in 1958, it passed by hardly noticed in 2008 during its 150th.

“The goal was to have the money raised in the Bay spent there and its land only be used as security for loans”

Copies of Michael Fowler’s Hawke’s Bay Opera House: The first 100 years 1915 to 2015 are available for sale at the Hastings i-Site for $29.99.

Michael Fowler ([email protected]) is an EIT accounting lecturer, and in his spare time a recorder of Hawke’s Bay’s history.

Photo caption – LOOKING BACK: Napier in 1864, where two years earlier the first elections were held for representation in the Hawke’s Bay.   PHOTO/ COLLECTION OF HAWKE’S BAY MUSEUMS TRUST, RUAWHARO TA-U-RANGI, 296

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21 October 2017

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Hawke's Bay Today


Published with permission of Hawke's Bay Today and Michael Fowler


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