Auckland beginnings

New Zealand's first Parliament started with a bang in Auckland — a 21-gun salute on 24 May 1854.

> Related content

New Zealand’s first Parliament started with a bang in Auckland — a 21-gun salute on 24 May 1854. As the smoke cleared, the first members of Parliament were sworn in. There was excitement in the air as New Zealand took this important step in its history.

First New Zealand Parliament

Parliament Buildings (far left) above Mechanics Bay, Auckland. Enlarge image

Parliament Buildings (far left) above Mechanics Bay, Auckland.

Source: Andrew Robertson, 1859. Auckland Art Gallery

The State Opening of New Zealand’s first Parliament (called the General Assembly) occurred on 27 May 1854 in a cramped building on the edge of Auckland. The building lacked even the most basic facilities and was nicknamed the ‘Shedifice’.

Many members of Parliament had sailed to Auckland from other parts of the country. For those from the far south, the journey had taken up to 2 months. There was already talk of moving Parliament to a more central location, much to the dismay of the Aucklanders.

The Government’s right to govern

An executive Government drawn from Parliament was to take over from the Governor in leading the country. However, the Governor would not hand over power without specific authority from Britain. It took 2 years and a disgraceful argument in Parliament before this matter was settled.

In 1856, Parliament was finally able to form a proper Government (with the support of a majority in the House of Representatives). New Zealand began its journey towards full control over its affairs.

Parliament moves to Wellington

Parliament moved to Wellington in 1865 after 10 years of argument between the provinces about where it should go. With no resolution in sight, Parliament had appointed Australian commissioners to make this important decision for them.

The old Auckland buildings were incorporated into Auckland University in the 1890s and torn down in 1919 — the end of New Zealand’s first Parliament House.