Skip to main content
Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



Organisation and Administration

When New Zealand became a British colony, Lieutenant-Governor Hobson had to devise an administrative system which would cope effectively with existing unplanned settlements, newly organised colonies, and a numerous and warlike native race. He modelled his administration on the typical Crown colony pattern, and by the end of the year the Public Service consisted of a Governor's Establishment, Colonial Secretary's Office, Attorney-General's Office, Customs Department, Survey Department, Protectorate of Aborigines, Post Office, Harbourmaster's Establishment, Colonial Surgeon, Colonial Surveyor, Storekeeper, Police and Gaols, Court, Treasury, and a Public Works Department. These agencies employed 39 men, many of whom performed the traditional work of Government, while others carried out duties that experience had shown to be essential during the initial development of newly colonised countries. Before long, however, social and economic conditions forced the Government to assume tasks that, in England, were performed by private organisations. For example, a State bank with a monopoly of the note issue existed from 1850 to 1856.

The Colonial Secretary's Office, with its wide range of duties, was the focal point of the new administrative structure, but the Governors retained all executive authority in their own hands, and often issued instructions in minute detail. The appointment of a Superintendent of the Southern Division in 1844 to administer the southern portion of the colony did not distort this pattern. Even after 1846, when most of the central agencies were abolished and the colony was divided into two provinces, the Governor continued to make all important decisions, ruling one province through its Lieutenant-Governor and the other through its Colonial Secretary. These early Governors lacked administrative experience, and most were unpopular with those settlers who wanted full self-government. Some of this unpopularity was shared by the Public Service, which was criticised by the vocal, educated settlers, although on the whole it performed its work as adequately as could be expected.


Raymond Joseph Polaschek, M.COM., B.A., D.P.A., Commissioner of Transport, Wellington.