Colonial and Provincial Government Employees in New Zealand
- As at December 1st 1871 -

Up until 1874 New Zealand was governed Centrally and Provincially by two different but not dissimilar governing bodies. Central Government, based in Wellington (in Auckland until 1864), governed the country, struck laws applicable to and for the good of all its citizens and colonists and liaised with the Home Country to which it was still firmly bound. Provincial Governments, on the other hand, were charged with the administration of their own local citizens, concerns and conditions.

The Customs Department, for instance, was administered Centrally and was not a concern of the Provinces. Similarly, the Departments of Post Office and Telegraph (yet to be amalgamated) were both responsible to Wellington, but their officers were stationed in depots throughout the country to provide a service where it was needed. On the other hand, although developed in response to a regulation from Central Government, the establishment and effective operation of Quarantine facilities became the responsibility of Provincial Governments. Harbour and shipping regulations, dog laws, lunatic asylums, health concerns, city pounds and livestock control all fell under the control of of the Province.

Each Province, while broadly similar in make up to its neighbour, was made distinct by its situation, geography, local resources and riches, and even by the nationality of it citizens. Otago, for instance, had the office of "Chinese Interpreter" required, no doubt, by the number of Chinese searching for gold. Westland Province lists a large number of "Constables" on its payroll. Here the huge influx of gold seekers from around the world must have required the peace keeping skills of these gentlemen from time to time.

Central Government was based on the model of the British Westminister system and has remained virtually unchanged. Whips and the Sergeant at Arms, the ornate Mace representing the office of the Queen and the Speaker all echo the hallowed halls of the British Houses of Parliament. Even the design of the debating chamber is built on tradition with the distance between the leader of the Government and the leader of the Opposition measured at "two sword lengths". One can imagine the outcome of a fiery political debate had the distance been any shorter.

Interesting, too, is the language, formality and structure of New Zealands governing bodies; then and now. This is seen from the early days in the language used in the New Ulster and New Munster Gazettes, the various Provincial Gazettes and the New Zealand Gazettes. Very pompous, excessively descriptive and quasi-legal in nature it is a further legacy whose origins we owe to Britain. A language which is the very essence of red tape and control. Of course the requirement of such a bureaucracy is that it maintain a large number of administrative staff, more so when without the benefits of fast travel and electronic communication (the telegraph had yet to be established nation-wide) the "coal face" is every settlement, small town and city throughout the country.

It is with pleasure that we list the almost 4,000 staff employed by both the
Central and Provincial Governments of New Zealand in 1871.


A to B C to D E to G H to J K to L M to N O to Q R to S T to Z

PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT (listed Georgaphically)

Auckland Province Hawkes Bay Province Taranaki Province
Wellington Province Nelson Province Marlborough Province
Westland Province Canterbury Province Otago Province
(Incorportating Southland)

THE CIVIL LIST - GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES 1881  (listed by Department)

Audit & Treasury Customs & Marine Education, Defence & Colonial
Land & Survey Post & Telegraph Property Tax & Justice
Public Works & Railway Stamps & Insurance

Copyright Denise & Peter 2000, 2001