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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Taranaki, Hawke's Bay & Wellington Provincial Districts]


In a democracy like New Zealand the functions of the State are, naturally, numerous and varied; yet, although the trend of legislation may be termed progressive, or even socialistic, the institutions controlled by the Government are conducted mainly on the lines prevailing in England. Ministers in charge of the various departments devote most of their time to their direction; the responsible officers are men of ability, education and courtesy; and the administration in reasonably efficient, and, without doubt, above corruption.

The State is the largest owner of land in the colony; it possesses all—or practically all—the railways; owns and controls the post, telegraph, and telephone services; constructs and maintains the public works; supports and directs the hospitals and mental asylums; manages a life and fire insurance business; acts as a public trustee; educates nearly all the children; and is, naturally, the largest employer of labour.

On the 31st of March, 1906, the Government railways open for traffic had a mileage of 2,406 miles. For the year 1905–1906 they produced a revenue of £2,349,704, and entailed an expenditure of £1,621,239, which left a surplus of £728,465, which was equal to 3.24 per cent interest on the capital cost. The Public Trust Office, which is a universal guardian, undertakes the administration of intestate estates, estates under will, and trusts of all kinds. Its invested capital funds amounted, on the 31st of March, 1905, to £1,813,709. The Lands for Settlement policy, under which large private estates have been acquired by the Government, and divided into moderately small farms and grazing runs, has been rendered more successful by the Government Advances to Settlers Act, which was passed in 1894. This statute, which was designed to assist the small farmer with capital at a low rate of interest, has proved very beneficial in its working. The Old Age Pensions scheme has resulted in the relief of many who have found that “the race is not always to the swift”; and to them, under certain conditions, pensions, to a maximum of ten shillings per week, are granted by the country. The various branches of the Government institutions in Napier are referred to in this section.