The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]
Trade And Customs Department
Trade And Customs Department.
The Customs duties being the chief source of revenue of the Colony, and the Tariff being of a complicated character and abounding in anomalies, the department is one in which the officers have to be ever on the alert to check smuggling and the evasion of duties by false entries. New Zealand has great advantages in its extensive seaboard and numerous harbours, but this advantage adds greatly to the expense of the Customs Department; for while New South Wales and Victoria can collect all their dues at the ports of Sydney and Melbourne, New Zealand has to maintain staffs at no less than sixteen ports of entry, and there are also thirteen officers-in-charge or coast-waiters at less important ports. The New Zealand Tariff is, moreover, of so complicated a nature that there is considerable conflict at times between the importers on the one side and the Customs officials on the other as to the interpretation of it; and with a view of protecting the revenue and having some definite ruling power in this respect, Mr. G. V. Shannon is employed as Customs expert to interpret the meaning of the Act, and decide upon the duties leviable on disputed items. It cannot be claimed that the present system is popular, for while the consumers are taxed to the utmost, the Protectionists are by no means satisfied with the benefits they claim they have a right to expect. But so far as the administration of the Customs is concerned there is no fault to be found. The officers perform their duties loyally as the law directs, and the performance of them often leads to arduous searches for suspected private stills in secluded districts, which only too frequently are rewarded with failure. In the same department the trade of the Colony is fostered by endeavours to promote new industries and reciprocity with other colonies. Any endeavours in this direction have not as yet been rewarded with any success worthy of notice, but hopes are entertained of a profitable exchange of products with other colonies, and foreign markets which will be of advantage to the Colony.
Mr. Thomas Larchin, Chief Clerk in the Customs Department, was born in 1838, in Surrey, England. He was educated at King's College, London, and learned the business of a brewer with his father's firm in “the world's metropolis.” Coming to New Zealand in 1864, per ship “Charlotte Jane,” to Bluff Harbour, he became a teacher under Government and had charge of the Waimea West School, and subsequently, of Westport, one of the largest schools in Nelson province. Mr. T. R. Fleming, M.A., LL.B., now Inspector of Schools, was one of Mr. Larchin's pupils at Westport, and it was then that he gained his first scholarship; the school proved its efficiency by gaining the provincial reading prize. Retiring in 1878, Mr. Larchin joined the Customs at Westport as writer, and in the following year was transferred to the head office in Wellington. Mr. Larchin was appointed in 1880 to take charge of the beer duty work as an expert, for which his early training well qualified him. He was appointed chief clerk by Sir Julius Vogel in 1887. Mr. Larchin is a member of the Masonic fraternity, E.C. Joining Mr. Egmont Lodge in 1869, he afterwards transferred to the Phoenix Lodge, Westport, of which he was W.M. He is now a member of the Wellington Lodge, 1521, of which he is a “P.M.,” and has held the position of Past District Grand Senior Warden. In his earlier years Mr. Larchin was fond of cricket, rowing, and boxing, and still takes great interest in these pastimes. Mr. Larchin was married in 1870 to Marie Louise Pheney, neé Donnini, and has two children, one daughter and one son. The son is a second officer in the service of the New Zealand Shipping Company.
Clerks, Customs— H. J. Marsh, G. Craig.
Audit—H. W. Brewer, H. Crowther (writer). Cadet—G. Sinclair.