The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]
The Marine Department is under the control of the Commissioner of Trades and Customs, and its functions are wide and important. The many lighthouses which mark the headlands and dangers of the sea board of the Colony; the collection of the light dues to assist in their up-keep; the erection of beacons and the supervision of harbours; the erection and maintenance of wharves and jetties where no harbour boards exist, and the control of the ports where such bodies are established, are among the more important of the responsibilities of the Department. But there are many other matters which come under its jurisdiction. The sea fisheries is a constantly growing industry, and it is the Department's duty to see that this is properly conserved and that immature fish are not taken and sold. Oyster culture and the preservation of natural beds is a matter which deserves and is receiving due attention. On the southern coast and the adjacent islands the seal fishery, although of little value, is, so far as possible, supervised; coastal surveys are reported on as changes occur; records are kept and tabulated of wrecks and casualties on the coast; the steamships trading to and in the Colony are inspected and reported on regularly, and where considered necessary recommendations are made with a view to safety and convenience for the public. For the benefit of mariners applicants for certificates as masters or mates are also held under regulations similar to those issued by the Imperial Board of Trade. This privilege is largely taken advantage of, no less than seventy-two having passed in 1894. Another important and praiseworthy function of the Department is the relief of distressed sailors and the maintenance of depôts for wrecked mariners on the Auckland, Campbell, Snares, and other outlying islands, to provide necessaries in case of wreck. It is only too often that these islands prove death traps for homeward bound ships, and without some such provision fearful hardships and probable starvation would be the result. The Government steamer “Hinemoa” makes periodical visits to replenish or inspect these depôts, and report on wreckage from time to time. This is but a brief description of what the Marine Department controls, and as an indication of the tonnage so small a population is able to keep employed, the following figures show the importance of the shipping interests: in foreign trade, twenty-two steamers; Home trade, sixty-two; river and extended trade, 128; total 212 steamers engaged in the trade of the Colony. No other country in the world can claim such a fleet in proportion to its population, and it is conceded by travellers that our steam service is not to be surpassed except in the very high-class lines between Great Britain and the United States. New Zealand has a great maritime future before it, and has up to the present taken the lead over all other colonies in this respect, and will undoubtedly keep it.
The insular character of the Colony with its enormous length of sea-board and numerous capes and headlands, renders it necessary for safe navigation that the coast should be well lighted, and considering the age and resources of the Colony this has been remarkably well done, particularly as regards the approach to Wellington Harbour. A vessel coming from the westward first picks up the light on Farewell Spit at the entrance to Cook Strait, that is hardly lost sight of before the new and powerful light on Stephens' Island is sighted, then “The page 164 Brothers,” and afterwards Pencarrow Head, and a leading light on Somes' Island, making the road clear for the mariner right through, except in foggy weather. The approach through Foveaux Straits to Port Chalmers, and to Auckland via the North Cape is also thoroughly lighted. Altogether there are twenty-seven lighthouses on the coast which cost the Colony £167,651, and the annual cost of maintenance for wages, oil and stores is £12,456. Another lighthouse is about to be erected on Cape Palliser, the chief headland between Napier and Wellington, and one on Cape Kidnappers, near Napier. The Government steamer “Hinemoa” acts as tender to the lighthouses, and the attendants at the more lonely stations, such as “The Brothers,” are allowed holidays to relieve the awful monotony of their lives. With a view of further security to vessels in foggy weather, the Department has the question of establishing fog signals on some of the stations.
Mr. George Allport, Chief Clerk of the Marine Department, was born in Nelson, where he was educated at the Bishop's School. At the beginning of 1875 Mr. Allport entered the Marine Department of the Civil Service as a cadet, rising shortly afterwards to the position of clerk. About the middle of 1888 he became chief clerk in the office. He is a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of New Zealand. Mr. Allport is a member of the Masonic fraternity, being attached to the Wellington Lodge, E.C., of which he has occupied the chair as “Worshipful Master.” He was for many years a prominent member of the Union Debating Society. Mr. Allport was married in 1881 to Miss James, sister of Mr. W. P. James, Clerk of the Magistrate's Court, Wellington, and has one daughter.
Mr. Julian James Daniel Grix, Clerk of the Marine Department, was born at Gibraltar in 1849, and is the son of Sergeant-Major Grix, of the 56th Regiment of Foot. He was educated partly at the Regimental School and partly at private schools. Mr. Grix came to New Zealand per ship “Ocean Mail,” in 1873, and was for some two or three years a sergeant in the Armed Constabulary. In July, 1878, he entered the Government Service as a clerk in the Lands Department at Dunedin, some three years later was transferred to the Colonial Secretary's Office at Wellington, and before the end of 1881 was duly installed in the Marine Department. The son of a soldier, Mr. Grix had made a successful study of drill and soldierly exercises generally. For some time he held the position of quartermaster-sergeant in the D Battery of Artillery Volunteers, and is still a member of that corps. In 1883 Mr. Grix was married to Miss Johns, daughter of the late Mr. F. G. Johns, of Wellington, and their family consists of a boy and a girl.
Captain R. A. Edwin, Commander R.N., Examiner of Masters and Mates, and Weather Reporter, has served the Colony for over twenty years. Born in Campdentown, London, in 1839, he entered the navy in 1853 as a cadet. During the following eighteen years Captain Edwin rose successively in the service to the rank of lieutenant and commander. He was in active service at the Black Sea, and was present at the bombardment of Odessa and Sebastopol. At the time of the Maori trouble Captain Edwin was on board H. M. S. Elk, which was stationed in the Pacific Ocean. In 1871 he left the Navy on retired pay, joining the Government Service as examiner of masters and mates. Three years later he was appointed Weather Reporter. Captain Edwin is in daily telegraphic communication with officers of the marine department in various parts of the Colony, and issues forecasts for the benefit of the shipping. In 1871, Captain Edwin married Miss Bridgens, of Wellington.
Captain John Fairchild, J.P., master of the Government steamer “Hinemoa,” is a son of a Devonshire farmer. After some years of sea-service, he came out to the colonies, crossing over to New Zealand in 1860. In 1864 Captain Fairchild joined the Government service as master of the s.s. “Sturt,” which vessel he commanded for five years. For seven years subsequently he had charge of the s.s. “Luna,” and in 1876 assumed command of the s.s. “Hinemoa,” 540 tons gross register, 281 tons net register. During the long period in which Captain Fairchild has had command of the Government steamers, he has visited the numerous lighthouses and buoys of the New Zealand coast, affecting repairs where necessary, and carrying Government cargo.