In December, 1878, a Royal Commission on University and Secondary Education was appointed by the Governor of New Zealand. This Commission met in January, 1879, and on the 9th of July following reported that two Colleges, with an income of £4000 each, ought to be established in Auckland and Wellington, and that suitable buildings, at a cost of £12,500 each, should be erected in those cities. In the following year, the Royal Commission repeated these recommendations.
"The Auckland University College Act, 1882," which became law on the 13th of September in that year, definitely established the College, and endowed it with a statutory grant of £4000 per annum. By "The Auckland University College Reserves Act, 1885," three blocks of land, containing about ten thousand acres each, and a block containing about 354 acres, which had been devoted to the purpose of promoting higher education in the Province of Auckland, are vested in the Council of University College. From one of these blocks, which contains coal, a revenue of £500 has lately begun to be received; from the others no income has hitherto been derived. The recommendation made by the Royal Commission, that College buildings should be erected, has not been carried into effect. The building in Eden Street, which was formerly the District Courthouse, was, in 1883, placed at the disposal of the College Council by the Government, for the purposes of [331/332] the College work. The largest room of this small building has been formed into a lecture-hall, and additions have been made for the formation of laboratories. A second lecture-room has been obtained in the house known as "Admiralty House," situate in Jermyn Street, the temporary use of which has been granted by the Government with the sanction of the naval authorities. In "The Special Powers and Contracts Act, 1885," the Governor is empowered, when the offices at present occupied by the Survey and Crown Lands Departments in Auckland shall be vacated, to transfer, as a site for College buildings, the parcel of land in which those offices and the lecture-room first mentioned above are situate, and which is bounded by Parliament Street and Beach Road, containing an area of 1 acre and 11 perches.
The Governing Body of the College is constituted and incorporated by the Act of 1882, and is styled "The Auckland University College Council." It consists of eleven members, two of whom are ex officio, viz. the Mayor of the city of Auckland and the Chairman of the Auckland Board of Education. The other nine form three groups, consisting of three members each, viz. three elected by the Members of the General Assembly resident in the Provincial District of Auckland, three appointed by the Governor in Council, and three elected by the graduates of the New Zealand University on the books of the College. These last three members are appointed by the Governor in Council, until the College shall number thirty graduates. One member of each group retires annually. The Minister of Education is the Visitor of the College. The Chairman of the Council is elected annually. The Council meets statedly at least once a month, five members forming a quorum. "The Professorial Board," which is constituted by the Act, possesses, "subject to the approval of the Council," the power of fixing the course of study, and prescribing the subjects of examinations or scholarships, exhibitions, and prizes; and it has, "subject to a right of appeal to [332/333] the Council," a general control over the discipline of the students, the management of the library, and the direction of the College servants. It elects a Chairman annually. Each Professor and Lecturer is entitled to receive, in addition to his salary, the fees that are paid by students for attendance at his lectures.
The Auckland University College was formally affiliated to the University of New Zealand by the Senate of the University on the 6th of March, 1883.
Mr. Justice Gillies, by letter dated the 29th of March, 1884, communicated to the College Council his intention of immediately presenting to the College the sum of £3000 (three thousand pounds), for the purpose of founding two Science Scholarships, to be called respectively the "Sinclair" and the "Gillies" Scholarship, in memory of Dr. Andrew Sinclair, uncle of the late Mrs. Gillies, and of Mrs. Gillies herself. This munificent purpose is now carried into effect.