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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Nelson, Marlborough & Westland Provincial Districts]

General Government Institutions

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General Government Institutions.

The Post and Telegraph Office and the Police Department are represented in all the more important centres of population on the West Coast, and there are customhouses at Hokitika, Greymouth, and Westport. At Hokitika the Lands and Survey Department is represented, with a resident Commissioner of Crown Lands and a Land Board, of which the Commissioner is chairman. There is also an office in connection with the Department of Agriculture, with a Resident Inspector of Stock for Westland. The railway department is represented at each of the larger towns by a resident stationmaster, and the usual flag stations serve the smaller settlements. Greymouth is the headquarters of the Public Works Department; the State Coal Mine Department, of the Inspector of Police for the West Coast, and the district Railway Traffic Manager, and the District Engineer. An Inspector of Factories in Greymouth represents the Labour Department for the Coast, and the Government Life Insurance and Public Trust offices are each represented by a district officer. At Westport there is a branch of the Lands and Survey Department, in charge of a district surveyor, and the Mines Department is represented by an inspector.

Government Buildings , Hokitika. These buildings adjoin the Post Office, and include the Supreme Court, Stipendiary Magistrate and Warden's Court, the office of the Commissioner of Crown Lands and offices for the Chief Surveyor, Education Board, and County Council. The site extends from Sewell Street to Fitzherbert Street.

The Post and Telegraph Office , Holkitika, stands at the junction of Sewell Street and Gibson's Quay, and was built in the year 1872. The postal district extends from Teremakau to Jackson's Bay, and includes forty-two sub-offices. There are eighty-four private letter boxes, a telephone exchange with 109 subscribers, and twenty-three bureaus connected with the office. About forty-seven mails are received or despatched on an average every day. Within the town of Hokitika there are two daily deliveries of letters. The staff includes the Chief Postmaster and eighteen clerks, operators, and messengers.

Mr. Douglas St. George was appointed Chief Postmaster at Hokitika, in May, 1903. He was born in New Plymouth, and has been connected with the Postal Department since May, 1870. Mr. St. George was stationed at Waimate, Canterbury, for twenty years and for six years at the Bluff, before he received his present appointment.

Custom House.

The Custom House , Hokitika, is situated on Gibson's Quay, and was erected in 1897, at a cost of about £400. The building replaced an old wooden structure, which had done duty since the inception of the Customs Department in Hokitika in 1866. The business transacted by the department keeps it in touch with country extending from the Teremakau river in the north to Cascade Point in the south. Gold and timber are the chief articles of export.

Custom House, Hokitika, in 1898.

Custom House, Hokitika, in 1898.

Mr. William Rose , Collector of Customs at Hokitika, was born at Richmond, Nelson, in 1867. He was educated in his native place, and at Wanganui High School, and entered the Customs Department in Wellington in 1884. After serving in various parts of the colony, he was appointed Collector at Hokitika in the year 1901.

Mr. Edward Chilman , sometime Collector of Customs at Hokitika, was one of the oldest officers in the service, he having joined the Customs Department at New Plymouth in the year 1862. He was a son of the late Mr Richard Chilman, Collector of Customs at New Plymouth for some years, and was born in New Plymouth in 1847, and educated at Bridge Street School, Nelson, and at Beardsworth School, Taranaki. At the age of fifteen, he entered the Customs Department, under his father, and remained at New Plymouth for five years, and was subsequently at Dunedin for a similar term. In 1872 he was promoted to be officer-in-charge at the Customhouse at the Bluff, and two years later he became landing waiter and tide surveyor at Lyttelton. In 1890, he went to Wellington as landing waiter, and in April, 1892, he was promoted page 496 to be collector at Hokitika. In Masonic movements Mr. Chilman took
The late Mr. E. Chilman.

The late Mr. E. Chilman.

a leading part. He was a Past Master of Lodge Pacific, Hokitika, No. 1229, and an officer of the Royal Arch Chapter. He was also District Grand Secretary of the West land Lodge. Mr. Chilman died in Hokitika about the year 1900.

Land And Survey Department.

The Land and Survey Department for the Westland Land District has its offices in Fitzherbert Street, Hokitika. The building is of wood and iron, and contains fifteen rooms, including two strong rooms. Mr. G. J. Roberts is Commissioner and Chief Surveyor; Mr. T. M. Grant, Chief Draughtsman; and Mr. A. D. A. Macfarlane, Receiver of Land Revenue. The general office and field staff includes four draughtsmen, two accountants, a land clerk, five cadets, nine surveyors, and a messenger. The Land and Survey Department also takes charge of the Westland roads on behalf of the Roads Department, Wellington.

Mr. George John Roberts was appointed Commissioner of Crown Lands and Chief Surveyor for the Westland Land District in 1902. He is further referred to us chairman of the Westland Land Board.

Mr. Alexander Meharry , Crown Lands Ranger, resides in Hokitika. He was for many years a resident at Kokatahi, where he holds a farm of 271 acres. Mr. Meharry was born in the year 1854, at Belfast, Ireland, where he was educated, and brought up on a farm. In 1871, he went to Australia, and landed in Melbourne. Shortly after, Mr. Meharry came to New Zealand, and went to Hokitika, where for about seven years he engaged in mining in various parts of the district. He subsequently spent some time as a contractor in the Ashburton district. About 1883 Mr. Meharry returned to the West Coast, and started farming in the Kokatahi district, where he was for some time treasurer, and for five years chairman of directors, of the Kokatahi Dairy Factory. In March, 1904, Mr. Meharry was appointed Crown Lands Ranger. He is married, and has three sons and three daughters.

Mr. James Webster is Government Valuator for the countries of Westland and Grey, and for the five boroughs included within their boundaries. He was born in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, in 1838, and became a colonist in 1860, when he landed in Port Chalmers, by the ship “Storm Cloud.” After serving in the Waikato Militia, Mr. Webster settled on the West Coast in 1866. He was appointed Government Valuator in 1897.

Stock Department.

The Department of Agriculture on the West Coast has its headquarters at Hokitika. The district includes the counties of Westland, Grey, Buller, and Inangahua, the area of which is about four million acres. The offices stand in Sewell Street, and adjacent to the other Government offices. A resident inspector and clerk are stationed at Hokitika.

Mr. Charles Clendon Empson was born at Nelson on the 26th of January, 1855, and is the second son of the late Mr. Charles Empson, merchant, who arrived at Nelson by the ship “London,” in 1842, and later was a member of the firm of Eyes and Empson, of Meadowbank station, Marlborough. Mr. Empson was educated at the Bishop's school, Nelson, and at Marlborough, under a tutor. He was brought up to station life, and also had some experience in Australia. Mr. Empson returned to New Zealand, and joined the Agricultural Department in the year 1891. The following year he was appointed Inspector of Stock, and stationed at Kurow, and subsequently had charge of the Tuapeka and South Canterbury districts, with headquarters at Lawrence and Timaru respectively. He was transferred to the Westland district in December, 1900. As a Freemason, Mr. Empson is a member of Lodge Kilwinning, New Zealand Constitution, Hokitika. He married the only daugher of the late Mr. George Young, solicitor, of Stokesley, Yorkshire, England, and has one son and two daughters.

Police Department.

The Hokitika Police Station was the first to be established on the West Coast. The building is of wood, and iron, and stands on part of a camp reserve at the corner of Sewell Street and Weld Street. There are also three cottages, occupied respectively by the sergeant and three constables, fronting Sewell Street. The district includes Hokitika, Stafford, Kanieri, Ross and Okarito, and extends as far as the Otira Gorge.

Sergeant William Folley has been in charge of the Hokitika Police District since January, 1903. He joined the Armed Constabulary force almost immediately after his arrival in New Zealand in 1879. Sergeant Folley served in many parts of the colony before he was appointed to Hokitika.

The Hokitika Gaol is about a mile distant from the centre of the town, and is situated on an elevated terrace at Seaview. The prison contains thirty cells, ten of which are in the female division. The average number of prisoners undergoing imprisonment at one time is about twelve. The female department is under the charge of a competent matron, Mrs M. Ryan, who has occupied the position since 1883. Mr. J. R. Poynton has been gaoler since the year 1900.

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Public Works Department.

Mr. William Henry Green , Overseer in the Public Works Department was appointed to the charge of the Hokitika-Ross railway construction work in November, 1904. He was born in the year 1878, at Mosgiel, Otago, and was educated in Wellington and on the West Coast. Mr. Green was brought up to work as a carpenter in connection with bridge building and railway connection. After acting as working overseer for three years, he was appointed an overseer under the Public Works Department in 1903. For eighteen months, Mr. Green was in charge of the Motupiko Tadmor railway, before being transferred to Hokitika. He married a daughter of Mr. P. Gibson, of Greymouth, in the year 1895, and has four sons and one daughter.

Mr. James Nightingale , Overseer in the Public Works Department, and formerly overseer of the Blackwell construction works, is an old colonist. He was born at Chertsey, Surrey, England, in the year 1837, and educated at Ripley school. Mr. Nightingale was brought up on his father's farm, and afterwards learned engineering. In 1862, he arrived in Melbourne, Australia, and after a short stay, came to New Zealand, and landed in Lyttelton. The Lyttelton tunnel works were then in progress, and Mr. Nightingale was appointed time-keeper; but on the rush breaking out at Wakamarina he proceeded to the West Coast, where he was fairly successful. He subsequently went back to Canterbury, conducted an hotel in Christchurch for a short time, and then returned to the diggings on the West Coast. Mr. Nightingale finally entered the public works department, where he has remained for nearly forty years. He is a widower, and has five children. One of his sons is part proprietor of the “Hokitika Guardian,” another is manager of the Greymouth business of McKay and Sons, drapers, while another, who has recently graduated B.A., is a teacher in the Wellington district.

Railway Department.

The Hokitika Railway Station , which is the terminus of the West Coast railway, connects with the Otira and Reefton lines. It is conveniently situated in the centre of the town, on a reserve of about five acres. The station contains the station manager's offices, waiting-rooms, a ticket lobby and a booking-office. The platform is about 200 feet in length, and the goods shed has a floor space of about 4000 square feet. There has, latterly, been a large increase in the volume of traffic, especially in coal and mining machinery. The staff at the station includes a stationmaster, a clerk, a storeman, and a porter. From four to eight trains arrive or depart daily.

Mr. Leonard Nicholson was appointed stationmaster at Hokitika in the year 1899. He was born in Hobart, Tasmania. Shortly after his arrival in Dunedin, he entered the New Zealand railway service, and had served in various parts of the colony prior to his present appointment.

Mr. George Falla , formerly Stationmaster at Hokitika, was born in Sydney, Australia, but was educated in Nelson, New Zealand, and joined the railway department in the year 1879 at Westport. He took an active part in the Hokitika Horticultural and Poultry Societies, of which he was vice-president. He is not now (1906) a resident of Hokitika.

Mr. Edward Iveagh Lord , Junior, the Junior Assistant Engineer of the Hokitika Ross railway, is a son of Mr. E. I. Lord, C.E., Town Clerk and Borough Engineer, of Greymouth. He was educated at the Grey High School, and afterwards served for six years under his father, and gained a knowledge of civil engineering and survey work. Mr. Lord worked under building contractors in order to acquire a knowledge of building, and in April, 1905, was appointed to his present position. He has won a reputation for himself, first, as an amateur, and, later, as a professional runner, in various sports and matches.

Hokitika Railway Station.

Hokitika Railway Station.