Sound: New Zealand's first Parliament

Hear a re-enactment of a day in New Zealand's first Parliament.


This is a re-enactment of a somewhat farcical confrontation in the first session of Parliament in 1854 when the governor attempted to prorogue Parliament as the issue of responsible government became vexed. James Fitzgerald and Henry Sewell's majority of the House wanted to discuss the governor's message in order to condemn it but were prevented by the standing orders. They tried to suspend the standing orders to do so, whereupon Edward Gibbon Wakefield's minority faction walked out, preventing a quorum. When some Members of Parliament re-entered the chamber they were physically prevented from leaving again, and a motion suspending the standing orders was passed. At this time James Mackay, a Wakefield supporter, entered the House wearing his hat and flourishing a Gazette notice to demonstrate that Parliament had officially been prorogued. A scuffle broke out, with Sewell manhandling Mackay as the latter brandished his umbrella.

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