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Lower Hutt Past and Present (1941)



The axiom of power united to philosophy is in every way true, but neither a state nor a man can ever be happy unless leading a life of prudence in subjection always to justice.—Plato.

The New Zealand Company.

Under the charter of the New Zealand Company, the first public body to function consisted mainly of residents of Britannia. These were:—
Colonel Wakefield (President), Hon. W. H. Petre, F. A. Molesworth, W. Mein Smith (Surveyor-General), E. Betts-Hopper, George Hunter, H. St. Hill, Major Durie. Geo. Sam. Evans, Dudley Sinclair, Captain Edward Daniell, R. D. Hanson, George Duppa, H. Moreing, Thos. Partridge.
The Committee held its first meeting in Captain Smith's house on the sand hummocks half-a-mile east of Petone pa on the 2nd March, 1840. This body functioned only for a very short time and was formed primarily for the purpose of establishing law and order and maintaining it by means of an armed force recruited from the settlers.

The Hobson Administration.

On the 4th June, 1840, the Colonial Secretary at Auckland, Lieut. Shortland, who had heard that the settlers were setting up an independent "republic," landed a force of soldiers and police at Thorndon, hauled down the New Zealand flag, and hoisted the Union Jack. He read the proclamation of the Sovereignty of Queen Victoria, and replaced the authority of the Committee with that of the Colonial Government.
The laws of New South Wales then became the laws of New Zealand, and this condition lasted until the 3rd May, 1841, when New Zealand separated from New South Wales and became a Crown Colony. This status existed until 1853, when the New Zealand Constitution Act came into force. The Provincial system of Government, introduced in that year, functioned until it was abolished in 1875.

Local Government in Lower Hutt.

Many of the earlier Acts passed made specific reference to this district. It would seem, however, that up till about 1845 the New Zealand Company was reponsible for the construction and maintenance of roads, bridges, etc., and assistance in cash and kind was solicited from the settlers for the carrying on of all public works.
After the Provincial Council was set up it assumed direct control. In 1850, however, the New Zealand Company had surrendered its charter, and during the following year 150 settlers in the Hutt asked Sir George Grey for a charter of municipal corporation, without success.
The settlers declined to accept the responsibility of finding money for the upkeep of the main road from Wellington, and in 1855 a special Act provided
for rates to be levied in the district, and a toll gate was erected at the Hutt Bridge. The gate was removed in 1878. In 1863 another toll gate was erected at Kaiwarra, and the Act of that year defined the charges to be made.
Subsequently numerous small bridge, highway and road boards were set up, each having its own specific purpose and operating under the Provincial Superintendent.

The Highways Board.

In 1872 a re-shuffle gave the newly-established Wellington District Highways Board power over the roads in the Valley. This board held its first meeting in the Schoolhouse at Lower Hutt on the 14th September, 1872, with Mr. T. Mason in the chair.
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Toll House And Bridge, 1872.

—Courtesy G. A. H. Hall.
This building later became the Hutt Town Board Office, and was the first Borough Council Office.
In 1874 a local Board of Commissioners, elected by the ratepayers, was empowered to look after the subsidiary, but not the main, highways and bridges. These Commissioners controlled an area of about 1,200 acres.
The Provincial system of Government ceased on the passing of the Abolition of Provinces Act, 1875, and in 1876 the County system of local Government was introduced. This, in 1877, gave the Hutt County Council wide powers, and subsequently it attained the control of the approximate area previously covered by the Highways Board.
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The Hutt Band, 1863.

—Courtesy Mrs. M. Johnson
Chas. Hollard, Jno. Copeland. J. Valentine, H. Beetham, Wm. Corbett, Hy. Moore. Wm. Copeland, "Nat. Valentine, (Bandmaster), D. Buick, W. Buick, Thos. Trott. J. Rumble, Wm. Hunt J. Collett (Drum Major).
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Lower Hutt Civic Band, February 3, 1939.

In March, 1939, Mr. L. W. Richards was appointed Musical Director. Mr. W. E. Currie is the secretary.

The Town Board.

The local Board of Commissioners, set up in 1874, was raised to the status of a Town Board in 1881, and its main sources of revenue appear to have been rates at 1/2d. in the £1 of capital value, three publicans' licenses at £40 each, one wholesale license £20, a subsidy from the Government of 5/- in the £1, and dog licences at 5/- each.
The Hutt Town Board's personnel included R. Cleland, who was Chairman for many years, W. A. Fitzherbert, who was Chairman at the last meeting of the Board and became the first Mayor, F. Cooper, J. Cudby, E. Hayes, J. R. Ransom, and J. Hall, clerk.
Complete records of the activities of the Hutt Town Board are not available, but extracts from some of the minutes will indicate the matters dealt with.
In June, 1889, a letter was read from the residents of Alicetown urging that a footpath should be formed along the east side of the road. This was agreed to, provided the cost did not exceed £15.
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Mr. Joseph Hall,

Secretary to the Town Board from its inception in 1881 until the Borough was established in 1891.
The Hutt County Council asked for the co-operation of the Board in seeking amendment of the licensing laws.
Sir William Fitzherbert advised that if twenty-five six-inch pipes were placed in the open drain on the western side of Parliament Street he would form the street, and the Council agreed.
In December, 1889, Commissioner Cudby reported that several owners had been served with notice to remove the furze growing on the roads.
In January, 1890, the foreman was authorised to hire a horse and cart for a few days and obtain the necessary tools to repair the roads.
In February, 1890, Mr. Carlson was granted permission to cut a drain across the footpath, but was advised that he must obtain permission from the County to continue the drain across the road.

The Beginning of the Borough.

In March, 1890, Commissioner Fitzherbert said he thought the time had come for the Hutt District to be formed into a Borough. These views were supported by the other Commissioners, and on the 9th May, 1890, thirty persons attended a meeting in the Oddfellows' Hall, with Mr. G. H. Scales, who, with others, convened the meeting, in the chair. Mr. Scales pointed out that the toll gate that had been forcibly removed had been in existence for 34 years, and had contributed in that period no less than £85,000 of revenue, halt of which had been paid by the residents of the Hutt Valley. He estimated that by taking No. 3 and No. 5 Wards of the Wellington District Road Board the probable income from various sources would be £1327/10/-, and the expenditure £1125, leaving a balance of £202/10/-. A rate of 1/2d. in the £1 would keep the whole of the bye-roads in repair, and an extra rate of 1/4d. in the £1 would be more than sufficient to maintain the Hutt Bridge and the main road.
He moved "That, in the opinion of this meeting, the time has now arrived when it is desirable to form the Hutt Town Board and certain adjoining wards of the Wellington District Highway Board into a Borough."
The motion was seconded by Mr. Kilmister and carried.
Mr. C. W. Brown, Chairman of the Hutt County Council, strongly objected to the formation of a borough.
On the 7th July, 1890, a petition signed by 174 residents, praying for the proclamation of the Lower Hutt Borough, was forwarded to the Colonial Secretary.
At the penultimate meeting of the Town Board on the 12th January, 1891, Mr. R. Cleland tendered his resignation as chairman. It was accepted, and a letter was sent to him acknowledging the excellent service which he had rendered.
At the ordinary monthly meeting (and the last) of the Hutt Town Board, the following were present: Commissioners W. A. Fitzherbert (chairman), F. Cooper, J. Cudby, E. Hayes and the clerk, Mr. J. Hall. The minutes of the last meeting were read and passed to be confirmed by the Borough Council at its first meeting.
A statement of funds of the Lower Hutt Town Board on February 2nd, 1891, indicated that receipts, including the subsidy from the Government to the Town Board of £78/3/4, totalled £525/16/5. The assets, including cash in the bank £21/16/10, totalled £202/14/10. Other than the charitable aid assessment, which was expected to be £78/3/4, the liabilities were negligible. Accounts to the amount of £9/12/2 were passed for payment, to be subsequently confirmed by the newly-formed Borough Council—and thus passed the Hutt Town Board.

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