Before the annexation
of New Zealand, British citizens were arriving in large numbers, settling
in a country which by all accounts was a no man’s land. There
was no law and order, and as time went by Great Britain recognized
that there was a need to control its people who were settling in this
country. A form of formal sovereignty was necessary to overview the
British populated areas of New Zealand.
The use of Imperial Troops to achieve this however, was never considered
an option. Instead, the preparation of a Treaty with Māori was
planned, by which it could be stated that New Zealand had become
a member of the British Empire of her own accord. The British promised
equal rights for both Māori and British, promising also to honour
Māori ownership of land, including Māori fishing rights.
Captain William Hobson was sent to
negotiate the Treaty. He had the authority to become Lieutenant
Governor, but this title did not legally grant him the right to
constitute a government.
In order to overcome this, the colony of New South Wales extended
its jurisdiction to encompass areas in New Zealand which had been
ceded to the Queen. This meant that when Hobson proclaimed British
sovereignty over the totality of New Zealand in 1840, government
was introduced at the same time.
From 1840 New South Wales laws applied to New Zealand, and new
laws passed by the New South Wales Legislative Council took effect
in New Zealand as well. By means of this governmental system, the
British were able to commence procedures for separating New Zealand
from New South Wales.
After the drawing up of a charter, Hobson became Governor in 1841,
being directly answerable to the British Minister in charge of the
Laws and the administration of laws were now able to be introduced,
backed by the authority of the British Empire. New Zealand became
part of the British Empire, and the Queen was able to delegate powers
to a Governor.
New Zealand began to evolve towards
independence around the time of the Second World War. In 1947 New
Zealand adopted the Statute of Westminster, and a short time later,
in 1950, abolished the Upper House of Parliament which had been
created by the Imperial Act of 1852. The members of this House had
until then always been appointed by the Crown, on nomination by
Up until the 1970s, the Governor-General of New Zealand had always
been a high standing British citizen, whose task was to represent
the King or Queen. Once the Governor-General’s term was over
he returned to Great Britain. This changed in the 1980s, when the
Governor-General became a New Zealander. In 1986 a New Zealand Act
replaced the Imperial New Zealand Constitution Act.
In the 1980s Britain turned more towards
Europe, and the links which bonded New Zealand and Britain, such
as a common sterling currency, shared nationality, privileges of
trade and investment etc., lessened. The British identity which
had always associated with New Zealand began to fade.