Defin­ing mo­ments

Australian Geographic - - Contents - ELLEN RYKERS

FROM OUR shared ANZAC his­tory to cheeky ban­ter traded across the ditch, Aus­tralia and New Zealand have long had a sib­ling re­la­tion­ship. For a few months in 1840–41, our con­nec­tion was even closer: New Zealand was an ex­ten­sion of the New South Wales colony.

Be­fore this for­mal re­la­tion­ship, how­ever, the two Bri­tish out­posts had en­ter­tained a decades-long as­so­ci­a­tion that be­gan in 1788 with a sweep­ing procla­ma­tion from gov­er­nor Arthur Phillip, defin­ing the bound­aries of the NSW colony.

This ex­tended from Cape York, in Queens­land, to South Cape, in Tasmania, en­com­pass­ing all land west to 135 de­grees lon­gi­tude (just east of Alice Springs) and “in­clud­ing all the is­lands ad­ja­cent in the Pa­cific Ocean”.

For Phillip, NSW’s first gov­er­nor, and his suc­ces­sors, this vague def­i­ni­tion in­cor­po­rated NZ. As a re­sult, it be­came a de facto chunk of NSW territory. Gover­nors en­cour­aged eco­nomic and cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties across the Tas­man. This in­cluded sup­port­ing a Church Mis­sion­ary So­ci­ety pres­ence and ap­point­ing NZ’s first Jus­tice of the Peace, Thomas Ken­dall, in 1814. How­ever, in 1817, a Bri­tish statute de­clared that NZ was not a Bri­tish colony.

Cir­cum­stances shifted in the 1830s, with NSW res­i­dents go­ing un­pun­ished for ne­far­i­ous in­ci­dents in NZ, high­light­ing the le­gal dif­fi­cul­ties of con­trol­ling the ac­tiv­i­ties of Bri­tish sub­jects there. A grow­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian move­ment also be­came con­cerned about the fate of the M-aori peo­ple af­ter land-grabs and a huge in­flux of Bri­tish set­tlers.The time had come for the Crown to take con­trol.

On 15 June 1839, of­fi­cial word came from Lon­don mod­i­fy­ing the bound­aries of NSW. The south­ern colony would now in­clude “any territory which is or may be ac­quired in sovereignty by Her Majesty… within that group of Is­lands in the Pa­cific Ocean, com­monly called New This Zealand”. set the stage for newly ap­pointed con­sul William Hob­son to ob­tain sovereignty with M-aori con­sent. But be­fore Hob­son had even ar­rived in NZ or spo­ken to any M-aori chiefs, he was also ap­pointed the coun­try’s lieu­tenant-gov­er­nor. On his way there, Hob­son vis­ited NSW gov­er­nor Sir Ge­orge Gipps, who swore him in to his new role and pro­claimed that the ju­ris­dic­tion of the NSW gov­er­nor now of­fi­cially ex­tended to NZ. On 6 Fe­bru­ary 1840, more than M-40 ori chiefs signed the Treaty of Wai­tangi.This laid the foun­da­tion for Hob­son’s later of­fi­cial procla­ma­tion of Bri­tish sovereignty over NZ on 21 May 1840. Less than a month later, on 16 June 1840, the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil of NSW passed an Act ex­tend­ing NSW laws to NZ as well as es­tab­lish­ing courts and cus­toms du­ties.

How­ever, this was only ever in­tended to be a tem­po­rary ar­range­ment.The Char­ter for Erect­ing the Colony of New Zealand was is­sued on 16 Novem­ber 1840, and stip­u­lated that NZ would cease to be part of NSW on 1 July 1841.

In this way, the brief cou­pling of NZ and NSW ended, tweak­ing the course of the in­cip­i­ent Aus­tralian na­tion.

Later in the 1890s, NZ was in­vited to join the nascent Fed­er­a­tion of Aus­tralia. It de­clined, partly out of con­cern for the wel­fare of the M-aori.

Nonethe­less, the Aus­tralian con­sti­tu­tion still con­tains a clause al­low­ing NZ to merge with Aus­tralia – just in case it de­cides it would like to be­come the sev­enth state of the lucky coun­try.

Prime min­is­ter Joseph Ward de­clares NZ’s do­min­ion sta­tus on the steps of Par­lia­ment on 26 Septem­ber 1907.

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