Events In History


History of the Governor-General

  • History of the Governor-General

    New Zealand has had a governor or (from 1917) a governor-general since 1840. The work of these men and women has reflected the constitutional and political history of New Zealand in many ways.

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  • Page 2 – Modern duties

    The governor-general's duties are divided into three functions: ceremonial, community and constitutional.

  • Page 3 – Crown colony era

    New Zealand became a British colony in 1840, legitimised by the Treaty of Waitangi and Lieutenant-Governor William Hobson's 21 May declaration of sovereignty.

  • Page 4 – Responsible government

    From the 1840s settlers demanded a say in government. Governor George Grey suspended an overly elaborate constitution in 1846, but the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 gave

  • Page 5 – Splendid ornamentals

    With the appointment of Lord Onslow in 1889, a new type of governor took up residence in Government House.

Governors and Governors-General

  • Governors and Governors-General

    New Zealand has had 16 resident governors and 22 governors-general. Two early governors were called governor-in-chief.

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  • Page 2 – Selection process

    In the days of the Empire, the British government appointed New Zealand's governors and governors-general. New Zealand had no say.

  • Page 3 – Career paths

    As the job evolved over time, so did the type of person needed to govern successfully. Between 1840 and 1853, when governors ruled personally, they were junior navy or army

  • Page 4 – Genes, gender and age

    From 1840 until 1972, New Zealand's governors and governors-general were British.

Parliament Buildings

  • Parliament Buildings

    Parliament buildings have been modified, destroyed by fire, half-built and restored; the parliamentary places and spaces have formed an important part of New Zealand's history.

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  • Page 2 - First Parliament buildingsAuckland was a bustling place in 1854 when Parliament met there for the first time. The buildings were located in paddocks on what was then the edge of town, Constitution Hill,

The House of Representatives

  • The House of Representatives

    New Zealand's Parliament dates back to 1854, just 14 years after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi and the beginning of the European settlement of the country. For most of its history as a nation state, New Zealand has had some form of elected government.

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  • Page 3 - ParliamentToday there are two parts to Parliament – the House of Representatives (or the Lower House) and the Governor-General, but between 1854 and 1951 there was a third part, the

Notes for My Successor


  • Browne, Thomas Robert Gore

    Biography of Colonial Governor and Soldier, Thomas Gore Browne

  • FitzRoy, Robert

    Robert FitzRoy, who first visited New Zealand as commander of the Beagle in 1835, was Governor from 1843, succeeding the late William Hobson. He served until 1845, when he was recalled to Britain and replaced by George Grey.

  • Grey, George

    Sir George Grey was our only politician for whom the premiership was an anticlimax. He governed autocratically from 1845 to 1853 (greatly shaping our constitutional arrangements) and returned as governor in 1861.

  • Hobson, William

    After a lengthy Royal Navy career in which he saw action in the Napoleonic Wars and was twice captured by pirates in the Caribbean, William Hobson (1792-1842) became New Zealand's first Governor.