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The Settlement of Nelson began in 1842 with the arrival of settlers under the direction of the New Zealand Company.
The Nelson Provincial Government was established in 1853 (following the passing of the British Constitution Act of 1852, which set up a two chamber General Assembly for New Zealand and divided the country into six provinces centered on the five NZ Company settlements and Auckland).
A Board of Works was constituted under "The Town of Nelson Improvement Act" to administer the towns affairs and undertake the necessary public works.
In September 1858, by Letters Patent Queen Victoria constituted the Town of Nelson a Bishop's See and a City.
The Letters Patent open:
Victoria , by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland , Queen, Defender of the Faith: To all to whom these Presents shall come, Greetings".
It sets out the conditions of the creation of a See in a number of clauses and continues:
And we do further by these Letters Patent ordain and constitute the Town of Nelson in the Province of Nelson to be a Bishop's See and the seat of the said Bishop and do ordain that the said Town of Nelson shall be a City."
It closes with:
In witness whereof we have caused these Our Letters to be made Patent.
Witness ourself at Westminster the Twenty-seventh day of September in the Twenty-second year of Our Reign."
However the City Council did not actually come into being until March 1874, when advantage was taken of the recently enacted Municipal Corporations Act to change the Board of Works into the first Nelson City Council.
The City of Nelson is one of the few cities in New Zealand which has adopted its own Civic flag.
The flag incorporates in its design a number of references to the history and heraldry of the City.
In June 1973 the City Council established a charitable trust called "The City of Nelson Civic Trust". This trust held its first meeting on Tuesday 12 June 1973 .
Since its inaugural meeting the Trust has undertaken a number of projects for the benefit of the City, one of these projects being the design and commissioning of a flag for the City of Nelson .
The flag was unveiled to the City Council at a meeting in March 1987.
The design of the flag is based on the City Arms, having a Mitre, with its fringed lappets flowing on either side, on a blue background which extends over the top third of the flag — indicating that Nelson is the seat of a Bishop; below this a series of blue and white wavy lines represents Nelson's relationship with the sea, on which is superimposed a black cross (the cross from the Arms of Lord Nelson).
The flag is sold in two sizes:
These flags can be purchased from the Secretary of the City of Nelson Civic Trust c/o the City Council, +64 3 546 0225 or email Andrew Rose.
The Coat of Arms were obtained in 1958 from the Royal College of Heralds to mark the Centenary of Nelson as a City.
The Heraldic description of the Arms is as follows:
"Barry wavy Argent and Azure a Cross Flory Sable on a Chief also Azure a Mitre proper And for the Crest on a Wreath of the Colours Issuant from a Mural Crown proper a Lion rampant Gules holding between the fore paws a Sun in splendour or. The supporters On the dexter side a Huia Bird and on the sinister side a Kotuku (White Heron) both proper."
The motto "Palmam qui meruit ferat" was Lord Nelson's motto and means "Let him, who has earned it, bear the palm". It is also the motto of the Royal Naval College .
The motto refers to the ancient tradition of giving the victor a palm leaf to signify his victory.
What they mean to Nelson The following are some of the more interesting features of the Arms described in non-heraldic terms.
The sun between the paws of the lion refers, of course, to the City's sunshine record.
The Lion itself indicates the historical relationship of Nelson to Britain .
The battlement and helmet mean that Nelson is a City and the Mitre indicates that it is a Cathedral City .
The wavy blue and white bands on the shield indicate that Nelson is alongside the sea and the black cross is taken from the Arms of Lord Nelson.
The Huia was the royal bird of the Maori and the white heron is another distinctive New Zealand bird.