Story: Empire and Commonwealth

Fighting words

Fighting words

Starting mildly and ending with insults, this newspaper article shows the vehemence responsible government could arouse in mid-19th century New Zealand. The item appeared in the Lyttelton Times and the Otago Witness in 1855, after years of agitation for self-government. The fury it directs at Edward Gibbon Wakefield and Colonel Wynyard, and the dismissal of Messrs Swainson and Co., was prompted by a botched attempt to introduce a limited form of self-government in 1854. William Swainson, New Zealand’s attorney-general, wanted the approval of the British Colonial Office before any form of responsible government was introduced. Although Robert Wynyard, who was both the colony’s administrator (acting governor) and the elected superintendent of Auckland province, shared this feeling, he appointed a six-person ‘mixed ministry’. Three of its members were elected, while the other three were officials. Within a few months the mixed ministry failed, and Wakefield (the originator of the New Zealand Company, now an elected politician) attempted to use the resulting confusion to his own advantage.

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National Library of New Zealand, Papers Past
Reference: Otago Witness, 14 April, 1855, p.3

Permission of the National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

W. David McIntyre, 'Empire and Commonwealth - Government within the empire', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 12 December 2023)

Story by W. David McIntyre, published 20 Jun 2012