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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]


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The Civil Service of the Colony is a credit to all who have in any way contributed to its advancement. In their search for the information given under this head, the compilers of the Cyclopedia have been afforded exceptional opportunities of judging of the Service as a whole, and of the principal officers individually, and they unhesitatingly give it as their opinion that New Zealand has every right to be proud of her civil servants. In most cases the men on whom the greatest responsibilities rest have had long and varied experience. It has been the aim of the compilers to give as far as possible the official history of these officers so that the taxpayers may know something of the men to whom so much of the Colony's business is entrusted. Quite a number of them have been recognised by the various scientific bodies of Europe, and not a few have contributed important additions to the world's stock of knowledge. There is a common impression abroad among the inexperienced that the civil servants of the Colony are an overpaid, underworked body of men. A more stupid blunder could hardly be made. It is true that in the majority of cases they have comfortable, even cosy quarters, and some of the underlings may be said to have easy times. But in the matter of comfortable and healthy accommodation the Government is but setting an example, the following of which by private employers must sooner or later be enforced. Drones there are in every hive, and it is unreasonable to suppose that the Civil Service is entirely without officers who are mean enough to draw unearned salaries. This must, however, be a very small number, and out of all proportion to those who have more work and responsibility than is good for them. In the matter of salaries it is within the mark to say that most of the highly-paid officials are men who had they devoted their talents to private pursuits would have been remunerated at double or treble the rates.

In 1871 an Act of Parliament was passed abolishing the pension system. In the opinion of many advanced thinkers this was distinctly a retrograde step, and one which should be retraced with the least possible delay. In their opinion the pension is simply a portion of a man's salary retained by his employers and invested for his future benefit so that when the time may arrive for him to retire it shall be beyond his power to say “If my place be filled by a younger man an old servant will be left penniless.” The principle certainly seems sound. If a salary and pension be together too great a return for services rendered, the salary rather than the pension should be reduced.

From the following pages there may be omitted pictures or sketches of officers whose importance entitles them to prominence in a work like this. It must be distinctly understood that the proprietors are in no way blamable for any such omissions. They may occur from the impossibility to obtain photographs and particulars from absence, illness, or other cause, but in no case from an unwillingness on the part of the compilers to give the fullest information.

Within the last few years several new departments of State have been added to the list, and there is every indication of a steady increase indefinitely prolonged. The astonishing success of the Postal, Telegraphic, Railway, Insurance and Trust Departments, and the certain success of the recently-added “Advances” department, must awaken the public to an admission of the fact that the limit of State management is not likely to be reached hurriedly. The people are already asking why sea and ocean carrying of passengers and goods might not as advantageously be undertaken by the State as the carriage of letters and small parcels or as the carriage of passengers and goods overland. If Government life insurance be a success, why not fire and marine? If Government advance be well and helpful to farmers, why not to manufacturers so that less of their produce be taken for interest and more left for labour? If country lands be good page 116
The Government Departmental Buildings—from the architect's plans.

The Government Departmental Buildings—from the architect's plans.

and sufficient security for the Government money why should not town lands and properties be equally good? These are the questions the working man is beginning to ask. He is beginning to realise that high interest is his bane and that only through State intervention can the power of “cash” be lessened and that of brain and muscle be exalted. With a Government in power pledged to help them in every honest way and backed up by three-fourths of the House, the hard workers of New Zealand have every chance of weakening the power of the private money investor. It may be confidently anticipated, therefore, that the Civil Service of New Zealand, large as it now is, will go on for ever increasing in bulk and improving in efficiency. General Government officers having charge in the various cities of the Colony will be described in the section devoted to their particular locality, under the heading “Officers of the General Government.”