Nelson Province

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Nelson Province
Provinces of New Zealand
The Nelson Province as constituted in 1853
The Nelson Province as constituted in 1853
Flag of Nelson Province
Coat of arms of Nelson Province
Coat of arms
Motto(s): Palmam qui meruit ferat
Country  New Zealand
Provinces of New Zealand Nelson Province
Founded 1853
Abolished 1876
Named for Horatio Nelson
Nelson Provincial Council Nelson
Demonym(s) Nelsonian
Time zone NZST (UTC+12)
 • Summer (DST) NZDT (UTC+13)
For the current top-level subdivision of Nelson in New Zealand, see Nelson, New Zealand

The Nelson Province constituted in 1853 under the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 and covered the entire upper South Island, including all of the present-day Buller, Kaikoura, Marlborough, Nelson, Tasman as well as the Grey District north of the Grey River and the Hurunui District north of the Hurunui River. It was abolished, along with all other provinces, in 1876.


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.[1] 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.[2]


B&w photo of Nelson Provincial Council buildings
Nelson Provincial Council buildings

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.[3]

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.[4] 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.[5]

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.

By 1876 the province was abolished under the Counties Bill of 1876 with the following boroughs and counties constituted. In 1866, there was a proposal for the Grey District to be annexed by the Nelson Province.[6]

Borough / County Established Disestablished Area[7] Headquarters Notes
Amuri County 1876 1989 11,000 km2 Culverden Merged into Hurunui District
Blenheim 1869 [8] 1989 17.68 km2 (6.83 sq mi) (1986) Blenheim Merged into Marlborough 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 Amalgamated with Takaka County to form Golden Bay County.[9]
Grey County 1876 1989 4091 km2 Greymouth Merged into Grey District
Inangahua County 1876 1989 2440.8 km2 Reefton Merged into Buller District
Kaikoura County 1876 1989 2347.5 km2 Kaikoura Became Kaikoura District
Marlborough County 1876 1989 10478 km2 Blenheim Merged into Marlborough District
Motueka 1900 [10] 1989 47.9 km2 Motueka Merged into Tasman District
Murchison County 1876[11] 1989 Murchison Merged into Tasman District
Picton 1876 [12] 1989 4.24 km2 Picton Merged into Marlborough District
Richmond 1891 [12] 1989 10.52 km2 Richmond Merged into Tasman District
Sounds County 1876 Amalgamated with Marlborough County prior to 1913.[13]
Takaka County 1956 Takaka Amalgamated with Collingwood County to form Golden Bay County.[9]
Waimea County 1876 1989 7547 km2 Richmond Merged into Tasman District
Westport 1873 [12] 1989 3.44 km2 Westport Merged into Buller District

Anniversary day[edit]

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


Model of the Nelson Provincial Council buildings
Model of the Nelson Provincial Government building on display in the Nelson Provincial Museum

The Nelson Province had four Superintendents:[14]

No. from to Superintendent
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

Elected members[edit]

Name From To Electorate
Acton Adams 1873 1876 Nelson
John Barnicoat 1853 1861
William Cautley
Oswald Curtis 1857 1867
Nathaniel Edwards 1868 1869 Nelson
Nathaniel Edwards 1875 1876 Nelson
George Horne 1868 1869 Grey
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
David Luckie 1869 1873
James Mackay 1857 1861 Nelson
Charles Parker 1853 1857 Motueka and Massacre Bay
Albert Pitt 1867 1876 Nelson
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
Andrew Rutherford 1869 1871 Amuri
Alfred Saunders 1855 1865 Waimea East
John Sharp Waimea East
John Sharp Amuri
Edward Stafford 1 August 1853 September 1856
William Travers
Thomas Henry Wigley


Subordinate boards[edit]

Adjacent provinces[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Superintendents Of Marlborough". The Cyclopedia of New Zealand : Nelson, Marlborough & Westland Provincial Districts. Christchurch: Cyclopedia Company Limited. 1906. Retrieved 21 May 2010. 
  2. ^ "The separation of Nelson and Marlborough". The Prow. Retrieved 18 September 2010. 
  3. ^ The Jubilee History of Nelson by L. Broad.
  4. ^ Broad, Lowther (1892). The Jubilee History of Nelson: From 1842 to 1892. Nelson: Bond, Finney, and Co. pp. 121–22. Retrieved 18 September 2010. 
  5. ^ Explanatory panel next to a model of the Government buildings in the Nelson Colonial Museum.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Unless otherwise noted, area is per 1986 boundaries
  8. ^ "BLENHEIM". Retrieved 17 January 2015. 
  9. ^ a b [1] Archived 16 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ "MOTUEKA". Retrieved 17 January 2015. 
  11. ^ "Local government boundaries – Nelson region – Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand". Retrieved 17 January 2015. 
  12. ^ a b c Fraser, B (editor), The New Zealand Book of Events. Reed Methuen, Auckland, 1986. Note that dates given in this book appear to be the date of the first municipal corporation (city, borough or town district)
  13. ^ No Council ever formed
  14. ^ "Provinces 1848–77". Retrieved 16 September 2010. 
  15. ^ "Papers Past — Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle — 29 March 1856 — EDUCATION ACT. [March 26, 1856.]". Retrieved 17 January 2015. 
  16. ^ "Papers Past — Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle — 26 April 1856 — NELSON IMPROVEMENT ACT". Retrieved 17 January 2015. 
  17. ^ "Papers Past — Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle — 23 July 1859 — NELSON INSTITUTE ACT". Retrieved 17 January 2015. 
  18. ^ "Nelson Waterworks Act 1863". Retrieved 17 January 2015. 
  19. ^ "Nelson Waterworks Act Amendment Act 1875 (N)". Retrieved 17 January 2015. 
  20. ^ "Education in Nelson 1842–2002". Retrieved 17 January 2015. 
  21. ^ "Nelson Board of Works". Retrieved 27 February 2015. 

External links[edit]