Usually a town was constituted a city when it reached a certain population threshold – 20,000 before 1989, and 50,000 thereafter. But the British monarch could also proclaim a town a city by letters patent if it was the seat of a bishop. Christchurch became a city this way in 1856, and Nelson followed in 1858. No other New Zealand town has had city status conferred by this method. Download the PDF to read a transcription of the letters patent for Nelson.
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Transcription courtesy of The Prow