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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]

Department Of Labour

Department Of Labour.

This department is a development, of recent times and was created in the belief that it would, to a great extent, dispose of the unemployed difficulty, and be the means of bringing together the capitalist and labouring classes. It cannot be said to have proved a pronounced success, and although it is the means of distributing a considerable amount of information regarding the current rate of wages page 145 and such matters, the difficulty of either keeping up wages to a fixed standard, or of finding work for the workless is proved to be out of the power of a department or a Government. The central office of this department is the Bureau of Industries, in the Government Buildings, Wellington; and there is also a bureau in each of the other three chief cities, under the charge of Inspectors of Factories. In the country districts the police act as agents, and furnish reports to head-quarters. Under its guidance are the State Farms of the colony, which are hoped to become self-supporting in time. The staff consists of a Chief Inspector, seven Inspectors (of whom two are females), and three other officers. Their duties include the inspection of all places which come under the definition of factories; and the administration of the Labour Laws is in their hands. It is to be regretted that considerable friction has resulted from the well-meant attempts of these laws to lighten the lot of the workers; and it is open to question whether the benefit conferred has compensated for all the trouble and expense. The cost to the colony of the department is £6260 per annum.

The Hon. W. P. Reeves, Minister of Labour, is described on pages 43–5.

Mr. Edward Tregear, J.P., F.R.G.S., F.R. Hist. S., F.I. Inst., F.P.S., M.A.I., Secretary of the Labour Department and Chief Inspector of Factories, is one of the most widely known men in the Civil Service. The discharge of his duties now takes him to all parts of the Colony; but even before assuming his present functions he was well known over most of the North Island. Mr. Tregear is the representative of one of the most ancient and distinguished families of Cornwall. He was educated in London, where he was also trained as a civil engineer. For some years he practised his profession in that city; but, dissatisfied with the uneventful life of the Old Country, he determined to emigrate to the colonies in order to find more scope for his restless spirit. Arriving in Auckland in 1863, he soon turned his attention to surveying, and was first employed in Mahurangi, a district north of Auckland. He remained there several years, became goldfields and mining surveyor at the Thames and Coromandel, and then took military service at Tauranga. Here he experienced all the vicissitudes of the war, and was under fire in many engagements with the Maoris. At the conclusion of this campaign he accepted an offer to survey land near the King Country. As the relations between the Maoris and the Europeans were at that time strained, the work was attended with great danger, and any Englishman venturing among the natives carried his life in his hand. But the knowledge gained in the previous campaign proved invaluable to him, and enabled him to understand how to deal with them. It was here that Mr. Tregear extended considerably his acquaintance with the Maori language, in which he is now so proficient. For many months together he did not see any Englishman outside of his own party, and he took the opportunity of familiarising himself with the manners and customs of the Maoris. Hostilities between the races were now imminent, and Mr. Tregear, on account of his knowledge of the district and its inhabitants, was
Mr. Edward Tregear

Photo by Wrigglesworth and Binns.

placed at the head of the Waikato Native Contingent. The bold front shown intimidated the rebels, and the work consisted chiefly in maintaining order and in making roads along the frontier from Alexandra to Orakau. He held the rank of Sub-inspector Armed Constabulary for about eighteen months, when he retired for a short time from the public service, and established, on his own account, a sawmill between Raglan and Rangiriri for the supply of railway sleepers. About 1875 he abandoned this to accept the position of Government surveyor in Taranaki. A year or two later he received an appointment in Patea, where he remained three or four years. Here he acted as engineer for several road boards and two towns, and was carrying on a flourishing business, when the Te Whiti outbreak brought confusion into the district. In 1880 he received the appointment of surveyor to the Royal Commission on Native Reserves, and from that time until 1891 he was employed in various Government works. When the Department of Labour was established in the last-mentioned year, Mr. Tregear was chosen for the position of Secretary, and was given charge of the Department. His duties in this office are to find work for the unemployed, and to remedy the congested state of the labour market in the cities by finding employment in the country, as well as to carry out the labour laws (such as truck, workmen's wages, conciliation and arbitration, etc.), generally. This department is now so prominently before the public that is not necessary to give further particulars here. From the foregoing narrative it might be inferred that Mr. Tregear's life was too busy to allow him to engage in any literary work. Such, however, is not the case. In 1881 he published the now famous dictionary of the Maori language, which is regarded by scholars as the best work on the subject. He is the author of a book entitled “Fairy Tales of New Zealand and the South Seas,” a work of great merit, and a valuable addition to the literature of the Colony. He is also the author of “Southern Parables,” “The page 146 Aryan Maori,” a “Paumotuan Dictionary,” and “Hedged with Divinities,” besides many papers in the transaction of various learned societies. Mr. Tregear's studies have been recognised far beyond New Zealand, and he has received many dignities from societies in England. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, of the Royal Historical Society, of the Imperial Institute, of the Anthropological Institute, and of the London Philological Society, member of the council of the Public Service Association, secretary and treasurer with Mr. Percy Smith of the Polynesian Society, and part editor of the Polynesian Journal. He is editor of the Journal of the Department of Labour, part editor of the Journal of the Public Service Association, and a Governor of the New Zealand Institute. He is also a contributor to the pages of the Westminster Review and Longman's Magazine. Since his residence in Wellington, Mr. Tregear has identified himself with the various literary, scientific, and other societies. He is a member of the council and ex-president of the Wellington Philosophical Society, member of the Union Debating Club, and of the Citizen's Institute. In connection with the last-mentioned society he has recently delivered several lectures. He was one of the promoters of the newly-formed Scenery Preservation Society, of which he is chairman of committees, and takes a warm interest in its work. In 1880 Mr. Tregear married the third daughter of Mr. Hamar Arden, of Taranaki, and his family consists of one daughter.

Mr. James Mackay, Chief Clerk of the Labour Department, has had a large and varied experience of colonial life. Born in 1857 at Dunse, Berwick, Scotland, he received his education in the ancient and beautiful city at Edinburgh. As a lad Mr. Mackay went to sea, and made several voyages between the “Old Land” and New Zealand, serving part of his apprenticeship in P. Henderson and Co.'s Albion line of sailing ships. In 1875 he left the ship “Timaru” in Port Chalmers, and striking up country, eventually found his way to Invercargill, where he worked for some time, also being employed at the Mataura Paper Mill, cutting the first water race. In 1876 he went Home from the Bluff in the ship “Waimea,” and came back in the same ship to Wellington. He proceeded up country and was engaged in all sorts of work, among others that of waggon-driving over the Rimutaka before the line was opened to the Wairarapa. In 1884 he took a trip Home in the ship “Lady Jocelyn,” when she took the first cargo of frozen meat from the North Island of New Zealand to England. Returning at the latter end of the same year he entered the service of the Wellington Harbour Board, in which he remained for some years. On the formation of the Labour Department in 1891 Mr. Mackay was appointed to assist Mr. Tregear in organizing the work. During the illness of his chief he had charge of the department, and succeeded in assisting in its rapid development. The State farm at Levin is largely under Mr. Mackay's control. His large and varied experience of colonial life has peculiarly fitted him for the position he now occupies. As a member of the Masonic fraternity, he belongs to the New Zealand Pacific Lodge, N.Z.C., holding at present the office of Junior Warden. Mr. Mackay is a prominent member of the Druids' Order, and holds the office of District Grand President, in the District Grand Lodge, which has just been formed, Mr. Mackay being one of the principal movers in the movement which led to the separation from Victoria, thereby gaining control over the local funds and also having the management of their own affairs. He is also a member of Court Robin Hood, A.O.F. He takes a great interest in anything pertaining to Friendly Societies. In 1885 Mr. Mackay was married in Greytown to Miss Georgina Davidson, who came to Tasmania from Edinburgh with Bishop Sandford. His family consists of three daughters and one son.

Other Officers.

Record Clerk—V. L. Willeston. Cadet— F. W. T. Rowley.

Mr. J. Mackay, Inspector of Factories. See above.

Mr. James Shanaghan, Inspector of Factories for the North and Middle Islands of the Colony of New Zealand, is a son of the late J. P. Shanaghan, who came to the Colony in the early forties as Drum Major in the 58th Regiment, and served in Hone Heke's war at the Bay of Islands, and afterwards throughout the Waikato campaign. Born in the Northern City in 1847, Mr. James Shanaghan went with his parents to Australia when but five years old, and there he was educated, returning to New Zealand in 1864 to settle in the Waikato. On the Thames being declared a goldfield, he was on the field within four days of its opening, and took part in the labour of the pioneer prospectors. In 1868 Mr. Shanaghan joined the A. C. force, under Major Von Tempsky, and was beside that gallant officer when he fell in battle, being the last to see him alive. During the engagement the subject of this notice was shot in both hands, and received a slight scalp wound, which together rendered him unfit for further service. Returning to the Thames in 1869, he entered the Provincial Government Service in the Survey Department, where he remained till 1874. In this year Mr. Shanaghan accepted an appointment under the Public Works Department at the Thames, and was soon entrusted with the management of the water-race, of which he had charge for over six years. In February, 1883, he was appointed Inspector of Works by the Auckland City Council, which position he retained for about nine years, when he took up his duties as Inspector of Factories. Mr. Shanaghsn was married in 1876 to Miss Twamley, daughter of Mr. George Twamley, of Onehunga, and has six daughters and two sons.

page 147
Other Inspectors.

Christchurch, J. Lomas; Auckland, H. Ferguson; Dunedin, H. Maxwell; and 137 local Inspectors.

Miss Margaret Scott, Officer in Charge of the Women's Branch of the Labour Department, is a daughter of Mr. Henry Scott, settler, of Pahiatua, and was born in January, 1869, in the North of Ireland. Arriving in Lyttelton per ship “Halcione,” in 1881, her education was gained chiefly in the Colony. On leaving school, Miss Scott went to learn the work of a tailoress in Christchurch, and for some years followed this calling. For many years she has been connected with various trade organisations, and soon became a prominent member. Miss Scott assisted in developing the Christchurch Tailoresses' Union, and for a number of years she filled the Miss Margaret Scott important office of secretary of the society. She was largely instrumental in organizing several societies in connection with women's work, and ultimately as representative of the Tailoresses' Union, became vice-president of the Canterbury Trades Council. Miss Scott was appointed to the position she now holds on the 1st of April, 1895. The Labour Department has already done a great deal to improve the lot of the workers in New Zealand, and there can be no doubt that the appointment of a lady to give special attention to the needs of the women workers is a move in the right direction.