Public opinion in Canterbury on the abolition of the provinces, 1873-6 (1936)
AuthorsMuirhead, P. A.show all
“The degree to which public opinion will actually approximate rational and critical social judgment upon vital issues will depend upon such general conditions in the social population as homogeneity, social equality, education and literacy, objective research for facts and expert guidance, freedom of expression, possibly of publicity, and freedom in inter-communication.” The aim of this work is to describe the attitude of the Canterbury public towards the question or the abolition of the provinces. For purposes of clarity and continuity I have dealt with the subject in three parts - the position up till 1874, the abolition proposals and their reception in Canterbury, and the final stages of provincialism with some notice of its political successor, the county system. The Introduction is somewhat lengthy and detailed, but this is necessary for the understanding of the situation in 1873. The authorities I have used in preparing this study are listed in the bibliography on Page 126. Although a number of chapters centre on the sessions of the Canterbury, Provincial Council and the General Assembly, at all times I have discussed only legislation which affected the attitude ultimately adopted by the people of the Province towards the provincial system. For the reaction of the public towards the measures carried through in the Provincial Council and in the General Assembly public meetings, and the addressee of representatives to their constituents, I have relied mainly on the newspapers “The Lyttelton Times”, and “The Press.” The Provincial council did not publish a report of its debates, but only minutes or its proceedings. The attitude or the municipalities, the outlying districts, the runholders and the newspapers has been discussed in some detail. From the inauguration of the provincial system there were in Canterbury, and in New Zealand as a whole, two parties, provincialist and centralist; and the events and conditions, economic, social and political, of the years 1873-6 were really the culminating factors in the struggle between these two parties, and the ultimate success of the centralists.