Wednesday, 24 May 1854 – Auckland.
The wind blew, rain fell and mud squelched with each heavy footstep.
250 guests arrived instead of 400. But excitement buzzed in the air. New Zealand was about to make history with the First sitting of the House of Representatives – its Parliament.
Some politicians took two months to get to Auckland by sail!
Even the journey from ship to shore wasn’t easy. Small boats took the parliamentarians close to the beach. They then had to wade through mud and stones to reach dry land. They also carried their bags for half a mile along the beach until they were met by carriages to take them to their accommodation.
The 37 parliamentarians, were then sworn in, giving their oaths of allegiance to the Crown in the person of the acting governor. This was followed by a formal reception in the afternoon and a celebration ball that evening. Then it was down to work.
Today NZ members of parliament can travel the length and breadth of NZ in a matter of hours…. They can be in the parliamentary debating chamber in the morning and in their home electorates meeting with people in their communities hundreds of kilometres away all within hours.
How things have changed …and what a long way we have come!