About the Canterbury Ordinances 1853 - 1875

The Provincial system of government

Canterbury was one of six provinces (later to become nine) created under the New Zealand Constitution Act of 1852. Each province was governed by a Superintendent and Provincial Council. The Provinces were responsible for many governmental functions including public works, surveys, land legislation, immigration, education and hospitals. Small-scale local works were delegated to boroughs and road boards which formed a 'third tier' within the provincial and national structure. Provincial legislation could be repealed by the General Assembly, which also had the power to create new provinces or change the boundaries of existing ones. The Provincial governments disappeared under the Abolition of the Provinces Act of 1875.

The activities of the Provincial Governments are recorded in 3 major sources:

  • Executive notices (usually published in a gazette)
  • Votes and proceedings (or journals of the legislature)
  • Provincial laws (or 'ordinances')

We have presented here the legislation enacted by the Canterbury Provincial Council between its inception in 1853 and its demise in 1875.


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