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History series - Capital





The Northland town of Russel was our country's first sea port… and our first capital from 1840 to 1841 – just one year…until Governor Hobson moved his seat of power to Auckland.

Following New Zealand’s first general election,  held in 1853, the inaugural Parliament met in Auckland on the 24th May 1854.  The rather plain, unfinished building on Constitution Hill was close to the present-day University of Auckland.

The Parliament’s location was debated for some years. For South Island members, the long sea voyage to Auckland was demanding. Some politicians got to Auckland in 12 days by steamer, but the less fortunate took two months by sailing ship!

The issue became an urgent matter as the populations of Canterbury and Otago grew rapidly in the 1860s. Meanwhile, an independent commission chosen by the governors of the Australian colonies was charged with selecting a more central site for New Zealand’s permanent capital.

After visiting Wellington, Whanganui, Picton, Port Underwood, Havelock and Nelson, they opted for Wellington.

On 26 July 1865 Parliament met in its new home, the former Wellington Provincial Council chamber in Thorndon.

Though housed in a series of different buildings over time, Parliament has been in the same general location ever since.

Wellington -  the seat of government - New Zealand’s Capital city since 1865