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1850s

Provincial police forces were established. By 1858 Pākehā were the majority and Māori were being pushed from their tūrangawaewae.

 

1853 Provincial Police Forces

 

The 1852 New Zealand Constitution Act established six provinces, each with the power to raise a police force. The original provinces were Auckland, New Plymouth (later Taranaki) and Wellington in the North Island, and Nelson, Canterbury and Otago in the South Island. In succeeding years four more were added – Hawkes Bay (1858), Marlborough (1859), Westland County Council (1868-73, becoming Westland in 1873), and Southland (formed in 1863, and reincorporated with Otago in 1870). These Provincial Forces continued until Auckland merged theirs with the New Zealand Armed Constabulary Force in 1870, and the rest when the Provincial system was abolished in 1875. Two forces were to become pre-eminent in these two decades. In Otago, Commissioner St John Branigan (a former officer from Victoria) led a most efficient goldfields police force based in Dunedin. While in Canterbury a fellow Victorian police officer Commissioner Robert Clarke Shearman formed another formidable body, which had to cope with the gold rushes to West Canterbury (the West Coast). Both were to go on to figure prominently on the national stage.

Sherwood Young

St John Branigan, Otago Provincial Police Commissioner, 1861. New Zealand Police Museum Collection (2015/239/1)
St John Branigan, Otago Provincial Police Commissioner, 1861. New Zealand Police Museum Collection (2015/239/1)

Inspector Albert G Barsham, Canterbury Provincial Police, 1864. New Zealand Police Museum Collection (2015/245/1)
Inspector Albert G Barsham, Canterbury Provincial Police, 1864. New Zealand Police Museum Collection (2015/245/1)

 

1858 New Zealand is Pākehā

 

From 1840 when the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, tangata whenua began to lose their tūrangawaewae, or homelands, as the scale and pace of colonisation increased rapidly. In 1840 the ratio of Pākehā to Māori was about one to 40. By 1858 the groups had reached parity and Pākehā dominance was then ensured by sizeable inflows of migrants until the mid-1870s. Māori started talking about kotahitanga (unification) and pupuri whenua (withholding land from sale). From this, the King Movement was born. Potatau was elected in 1856 and installed at Ngaruawahia in 1858 where he took the name Potatau Te Wherowhero.

After 1874 Māori were less than one-tenth of the national population, and this remained the case for many decades.

The rapid growth of the Pākehā population required land. By 1860, 65% of land had passed out of Māori ownership. After the wars of the 1860s iwi that opposed the Crown in rebellion had vast tracts of land confiscated by the government. Two processes were used; confiscation and the Native Land Court. Māori land continued to be alienated through legislative mechanisms (such as for public works), especially before 1906, but even as recently as the 1960s.

By 1896 the Māori population had dropped dangerously low to around 42,000. In comparison the Pākehā population had grown to over 700,000.

Andy Glanville