Story: City history and people

Nelson – the second city

Usually a town was constituted a city when it reached a certain population threshold – 20,000 before 1989 and 50,000 after 1989. But the British monarch could also proclaim a town a city by letters patent if it was the seat of a bishop. Christchurch became a city this way in 1856 and Nelson followed in 1858. No other New Zealand town has had city status conferred by this method since then. Download the PDF to read a transcription of the letters patent for Nelson.

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The Anglican Diocese of Nelson

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Transcription courtesy of The Prow

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How to cite this page:

David Thorns and Ben Schrader, 'City history and people - Towns to cities', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/zoomify/23507/nelson-the-second-city (accessed 2 October 2020)

Story by David Thorns and Ben Schrader, published 11 Mar 2010