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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Wynyard, Lieut.-General Robert Henry

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Wynyard, Lieut.-General Robert Henry, C.B., sometime acting Governor of New Zealand, commanded the 58th Regiment in New Zealand from 1845 to 1847, and on the death of Major-General George Dean Pitt was appointed (April 1851) Lieutenant-Governor of New Ulster, one of the two provinces into which the colony was temporarily divided. His duties ceased on the assumption by Sir George Grey of the office of Governor in March 1853, and he retired after receiving the thanks of Sir George Grey and the Colonial Office. In the latter year General Wynyard was elected first Superintendent of the province of Auckland, and as senior military officer in the colony administered the government during the interval between the departure of Sir George Grey and the arrival of Colonel Gore Browne— Jan. 1854 to Sept. 1855. This was one of the most crucial periods in the political life of New Zealand, as the new Constitution Act had been received in Feb. 1853, and the first General Assembly had been convened to meet at Auckland in May 1854. The imperial officials still formed the Government, and the first act of the Upper House was to pass an address to the acting Governor requesting that responsible government should be inaugurated without delay. General Wynyard thereupon consulted the Executive Council, composed of the old officials, who advised him that he might appoint two or three members of the General Assembly to the Council to co-operate with themselves in the government of the colony. The Attorney-General at the same time expressed the opinion that the acting Governor under the Constitution Act and the royal instructions was not enabled to establish "Ministerial responsibility in the conduct of legislative and executive proceedings by the Governor." General Wynyard thereupon nominated Mr. J. E. Fitzgerald, the late Sir Frederick Weld, and the late Mr. H. Sewell, all members of the Lower House, to the Executive Council; a little later he also nominated Mr. (now Sir) F. D. Bell to represent the Legislative Council. All the newly appointed Councillors undertook without salary to represent the Government in Parliament, to perform such departmental work as might become a concomitant of their legislative duties, and to hold office only so long as they retained the confidence of the Legislature. Both Houses appeared satisfied for the time with this concession, but friction soon arose between the old and new members of the executive, the latter recommending to General Wynyard that the former should resign, and the Government "be reconstituted on the ordinary responsible basis." General Wynyard declined to make so important a change until he could obtain the views of the Crown and prorogued Parliament till August, when the newly-appointed executive Councillors resigned. General Wynyard then made a more decisive advance towards responsible government by appointing to the Executive Council Messrs. Forsaith, E. Wakefield, W. Travers, and J. Macandrew, who, as the condition of their appointment, were to continue to possess his (the acting Governor's) confidence as well as that of Parliament. Two days later the new Councillors had to withdraw on an address being carried by the extreme responsible government party condemning a mixed executive as utterly bad. The acting Governor therefore ruled to the end of his term with the old officials. After leaving New Zealand General Wynyard was acting Governor at the Cape during the absence of Sir George Grey from 1859 to 1860. He became Colonel of the 98th Regiment, and died at Bath on Jan. 6th, 1864.