The Nelson Province as constituted in 1853
Palmam qui meruit ferat
|Provinces of New Zealand||Nelson Province|
|Named for||Horatio Nelson|
|Nelson Provincial Council||Nelson|
|Time zone||UTC+12 (NZST)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC+13 (NZDT)|
Nelson Province was constituted in 1853 under the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852, and originally covered the entire upper South Island, including all of present-day Buller, Kaikoura, Marlborough, and Tasman districts, along with Nelson City, Grey District north of the Grey River, and the Hurunui District north of the Hurunui River. It was reduced in size by the creation of Marlborough Province in November 1859, then abolished in 1876, along with all the provinces of New Zealand.
Nelson Province initially covered the entire upper South Island. The Marlborough Province split away from the Nelson Province on 1 November 1859 because the majority of the income of the Provincial Council came from land sales in the Marlborough region, but the funds were mostly used in the Nelson region. Land sales in Nelson and Marlborough netted the Nelson Provincial Council £33,000 and £160,000, respectively. Of that, £200 were expended benefiting the Marlborough region. There was considerable conflict between Superintendent John Perry Robinson's policies of supporting smaller land holders, and the objectives of the large pastoral run-holders in the Wairau Valley. The New Provinces Act 1858 allowed for parts of a province to break away if the area was large enough, and enough voters supported such a move. The petition was signed by almost all settlers in the Wairau; only six withholding their support for a split. The new Marlborough Province was gazetted on 4 October 1859.
For perspective, the Marlborough Province took with it the areas of Nelson Province that would later form five administrative areas when the provinces were dissolved in 1876: Blenheim Borough, covering 17.7 km2 (6.8 sq mi); Picton Borough, covering 4.2 km2 (1.6 sq mi); Kaikoura County, covering 2,348 km2 (907 sq mi); and Marlborough County, covering 10,478 km2 (4,046 sq mi), which includes the former Sounds County, the area immediately surrounding the borough of Picton, which amalgamated with Marlborough County prior to 1913 due to insufficient population to ever form its own county council.
The Nelson Provincial Council was established with fifteen members, and the Province was divided into seven Electoral Districts for the election of the Superintendent and members of the Provincial Council. These districts were: Town of Nelson, five members; Suburban Districts, one member; Waimea East District, two members; Waimea West District, one member; Waimea South District, two members; Motueka and Massacre Bay District, two members; Wairau District, two members.
The election of Nelson's first superintendent was contested by three candidates; Edward Stafford, Francis Jollie and John Waring Saxton. The election took place on 1 August 1853 and resulted in Edward Stafford being Nelson's first superintendent. The final results for the election were: Stafford (251), Saxton (206) and Jollie (130). Edward Stafford will be remembered for his free, secular and compulsory education system became the model for New Zealand, with this 'Nelson system' introduced to all state primary schools in 1877.
Nelson was the designated seat of government and Superintendent John Perry Robinson laid the foundation stone for the Provincial Government buildings in Nelson on 26 August 1859. The building was in Albion Square in Bridge Street. It was designed by visiting architect Maxwell Bury and he modeled it on Aston Hall near Birmingham. Whereas Aston Hall was built from stone, the Government buildings were from timber. The buildings were run down and had stood empty for some years when they were demolished in 1969, amidst much controversy. The Nelson District Court building now stands on the site.
During the First Taranaki War in 1860 nearly 1,200 Taranaki settlers including women and children were relocated to Nelson. The Nelson Provincial Council funded the building of cottages known as the "Taranaki Buildings" for the housing of these refugees. Upon the cessation of hostilities the war refugees were offered free passage back to Taranaki, the majority took advantage of this offer but some elected to remain in Nelson.
During the period 1853 to 1873, the area that would become Grey County was administered as part of both Nelson Province and Canterbury Province (the Canterbury portion was transferred to a newly created Westland Province in 1873). The boundary between the provinces had been set as a straight line from the head of the Hurunui River to Lake Brunner at a time when the area was virtually uninhabited, but the West Coast Gold Rush then straddled that boundary, with a population boom also straddling the boundary. In 1866, there had been a proposal for the portions in Canterbury Province, including the urban area of Greymouth and the rural area south, to be annexed and solely administered by Nelson Province.
Nelson Province was abolished under the Abolition of Provinces Act 1876, with its former area then being administered by a number of newly constituted boroughs and counties, effective January 1, 1877.
|Borough / County||Established||Disestablished||Area||Headquarters||Notes|
|Amuri County||1876||1989||11,000 km2||Culverden||Merged into Hurunui District|
|Buller County||1876||1989||15,000 km2||Westport||Merged into Buller District|
|Cheviot County||1876||1989||847.28 km2||Cheviot||Merged into Hurunui District|
|Collingwood County||1876||1956||In 1903, the Government of New Zealand voted to reduce the original Collingwood County to its western Aorere area, with the eastern area being constituted as Takaka County, effective April 1904. The two counties were re-amalgamated in 1956 to form Golden Bay County, which merged into Tasman District in 1989.|
|Grey County||1876||1989||4,091 km2||Greymouth||Merged, along with Greymouth Borough, to form Grey District|
|Inangahua County||1876||1989||2,440.8 km2||Reefton||Merged into Buller District|
|Motueka Borough||1900 ||1989||47.9 km2||Motueka||Merged into Tasman District|
|Murchison County||1876||1989||Murchison||Merged into Tasman District|
|Richmond Borough||1891 ||1989||10.52 km2||Richmond||Merged into Tasman District|
|Takaka County||1904||1956||Takaka||Created from eastern portion of original area of Collingwood County in 1904. Re-amalgamated with Collingwood County to form Golden Bay County, which merged into Tasman District in 1989.|
|Waimea County||1876||1989||7,547 km2||Richmond||Merged into Tasman District|
|Westport Borough||1873 ||1989||3.44 km2||Westport||Merged into Buller District|
New Zealand law provides for a provincial anniversary day.
|Provincial district||includes||Actual day||Observance day|
|Nelson||Nelson, Tasman, Buller and parts of North Canterbury||1 February||Monday nearest to the actual day|
|1||1 August 1853||Sep 1856||Edward Stafford|
|2||12 December 1856||28 January 1865||John Perry Robinson|
|3||Mar 1865||4 February 1867||Alfred Saunders|
|4||Apr 1867||1 January 1877||Oswald Curtis|
|Joseph Ivess||21 January 1873||31 October 1876||Inangahua|
|Carl Friederich Christian Kelling||1862||1869||Moutere|
|Carl Friederich Christian Kelling||1869||1873||Waimea West|
|Fedor Kelling||1857||1876||Waimea East|
|Charles Parker||1853||1857||Motueka and Massacre Bay|
|Richard Reeves||28 April 1876||31 October 1876||Grey|
|James Crowe Richmond|
|John Perry Robinson||1853||1865||Motueka and Massacre Bay|
|William Robinson||5 October 1857||2 April 1859||Amuri|
|Alfred Saunders||1855||1865||Waimea East|
|John Sharp||Waimea East|
|Edward Stafford||1 August 1853||September 1856|
|Samuel Stephens||19 June 1854||26 June 1855||Town of Nelson|
|William Travers||1853||1854||Town of Nelson|
|Thomas Henry Wigley|
Note that dates given in this book appear to be the date of the first municipal corporation (city, borough or town district)