Parishes of Guelphia

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A parish is a territorial designation, which serves as the lowest tier of local government in Guelphia. Sitting below the counties and municipalities, Guelphian parishes serve both administrative and ecclesiastical functions.

History

Guelphia's parishes can be traced back to the first settlement undertaken by the Guelphia Company in the 1830s. In 1835, the board of the company ordered it's Surveyor-General, Colonel James Lang, to proceed to the archipelago and survey the land for close settlement. The survey was to determine what lands could be used for settlement and divide it in to cadastral units for sale or grant. Lang proceeded to survey much other Albanyshire and Centralia before he was murdered by a Ngati Mōri raiding party near to the location of the town that now bears his name.

Function and powers

Unlike many jurisdictions around the world, the Guelphian parish serves as both a civil and ecclesiastical unit, and is used for the administration of both the state and established church.

Under the provisions of the Local Government Act[1], the parishes are responsible for:

  • Allotment gardens;
  • Design and custodianship of any civic heraldry;
  • Care of historic monuments;
  • Control of litter;
  • Local planning applications;.
  • Encouragement of local tourism;
  • Maintenance of rights of way for hikers and horse riders;
  • Public conveniences;
  • Neighbourhood watch programmes;
  • Recreation grounds and parks;
  • Street and footpath maintenance;
  • Traffic management;
  • Management of village halls; and
  • Cleaning and drainage of village ponds and lakes.

Furthermore, the Vestries (Powers) Act[2] grants powers to the parish over:

  • Care and maintenance of all Anglican churches and their contents;
  • Appointment of parish clergy;
  • Management of all church tithes and income; and
  • The promotion in the parish of the whole mission of the Church.

Vestries

File:Village hall.jpg
The village or suburban hall is the seat of most parish vestries across Guelphia

Those parishes with a population exceeding 100 may apply to their municipality to form a parish corporation known as a vestry. The term originates from England, and refers to both a room in a church, and the meetings that took place in them[3]. Vestries take on two forms in Guelphia, and may use either direct democratic rule or be elected bodies like any other form of local government.

Open vestries

An open vestry is where a parish administered by an assembly consisting of all adult residents of the parish. The vestry in turn elects an executive board consisting of a chairman, deputy chairman, secretary, and treasurer; whose role it is manage the affairs of the parish between meetings of the assembly. The open vestry can be seen as form a direct democracy, and is very similar to the Swiss Landsgemeinde or the American town meeting. The term open vestry originated in England, and confusingly from the Guelphian perspective, referred to those vestries that were elected by parishioners[4] (see below).

Open vestries exist in any parish where the number of electors does not exceed 1,000, making them by far the most common form of the two. This limit makes it possible for the direct democracy element of the vestry to function without being overwhelmed by the sheer number of electors. Participation in the vestry is not compulsory, but in many parishes the turnout will often exceed 90%.

Select vestries

A select vestry is an elected body similar to that of the county and municipal councils. Elections take place every year, with adult residents electing ten of their number to administer the parish on their behalf. The vestry will then elect from their own numbers an executive board; whose role it is manage the affairs of the parish between meetings of the assembly. Select vestries are used where the population of the parish is greater than 1,000 electors. They are typically therefore only seen in larger cities and towns across the country.

See also

References and notes

  1. Local Government Act (Public Act No. 40 of 1989).
  2. Vestries (Powers) Act (Public Act No. 50 of 1984).
  3. Livingstone, E. A. (2013). The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199659623.
  4. Hey, David (2009). The Oxford Companion to Family and Local History (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199532988.