Parliament's first sitting in Auckland

24 May 1854

Parliament buildings in Auckland
Parliament buildings in Auckland (far left), 1859 (Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki)

It started with a bang – 21 in fact, fired from the guns at Auckland’s Fort Britomart. Once the smoke cleared, New Zealand’s first Parliament was in business.

It was noon on Wednesday 24 May 1854, and Auckland was to be the colony’s capital city (and home to Parliament) for the next 10 years. Though the day was auspicious – it was Queen Victoria’s birthday – the weather was wet and miserable and the parliamentary building was not yet completed. Still, there was excitement in the air as New Zealand took an important step in its history.

The colony’s first elected parliamentarians, all 37 of them, were sworn in, making their oaths of allegiance to the Crown in the person of the acting governor, Colonel R.H. Wynyard. A formal reception in the afternoon was followed by a ball that evening. Three days later came the state opening of the General Assembly with all the pomp and ceremony that could be mustered – a treat for the locals who turned out to watch.