The Office of the Colonial Storekeeper was the government apparatus responsible for the provision of logistic services to the early Colonial Government of New Zealand. Established in 1840, the appointment of Colonial Storekeeper was discontinued in 1844 only to be reestablished in the early 1860’s until falling into disuse in 1871. Having Military and civilian responsibilities the Colonial Storekeeper and can be considered as the foundation of New Zealand’s Military Stores services. Providing an overview and background this article provides a brief history of the Colonial Storekeepers of New Zealand.
The establishment of New Zealand as a British Colony in 1840 saw the adoption of the British system of colonial government which was already in use across the 40 colonies of the British Empire. The system consisted of a Governor and a range of administrative departments; such as Survey, Surgeon, Customs, Police/Militia, Stores etc. As New Zealand was initially annexed as part of the Colony of New South Wales the laws and institutions of New South Wales were duplicated in New Zealand utilising individuals seconded from New South Wales institutions until November 1840 when New Zealand became a separate colony.
The Office of the Colonial Storekeeper has its origins with the Colonial administration of New South Wales, which from 1836 had two distinct supply organisations;
- The Ordnance Board which was responsible for British Government (Imperial) Stores, and
- The Colonial Storekeeper, which was responsible for “Colonial stores”.
Although having separate roles, the two organisations overlapped as they shared the same magazines and storehouses and between 1836 and 1844 the position of Ordnance Storekeeper and Colonial Storekeeper was held by the same individual.
The Colonial Storekeepers office was included in the First wave of administrators to arrive with Governor William Hobson in January 1840. Mr Charles Hook Gordon Logie of the Sydney based Colonial Storekeepers was appointed on the 15th of January 1840 to hold the appointment of Colonial Storekeeper in Hobsons administration.
Charles Logie(1810-1866) was a 29-year-old English immigrant then working for the Colonial Storekeeper in Sydney. Establishing the Office of the Colonial Storekeeper at Old Russell with stocks dispatched from Sydney on HMS Herald, Logie would hold the position of Colonial Storekeeper until October 1840. The Colonial Storekeeper was only responsible for the provision of stores and supplies to Colonial entities and not for the Imperial troops stationed in New Zealand. Imperial forces such as the 8oth Regiment who arrived in early in 1840, had their immediate logistic requirements met by a Staff Sergeant from the Ordnance Board. Following echelons of Imperial troops would have the logistic needs met by the Commissariat Transport Corps and the Ordnance Board (Military Store Department from 1855).
In October 1840 it was time for Logie to move on and approval was given on the 30th of October 1840 by the Colonial Secretary of New South Wales for Henry Tucker to replace Logie as Colonial Storekeeper, with Tucker taking up the appointment in November. Tucker was a Royal Navy Officer and purser aboard HMS Buffalo who had been stranded in New Zealand as a result of that ship coming to grief and sinking in the Coromandel on the 28th of July 1840. During Tucker’s tenure, the capital was transferred from Russell to Auckland from March 1840, and in July 1841 New Zealand was granted the status as a full colony separating it from New South Wales.The role of the colonial storekeeper in early colonial New Zealand was a critical position attempting as much as possible to meet the store’s needs of the expanding colonial administration. Stocks were either provided from the Colonial Storekeepers office in Sydney, purchased on the local market or obtained from the Board of Ordnance representatives in New Zealand. The Colonial Storekeeper was responsible for providing the local militia with arms and accoutrements but had no responsibility for Imperial troops. Imperial troops in New Zealand were the responsibility of the Board of Ordnance. Stores and services provided to the Colonial Storekeeper from Board of Ordnance stocks were on a “repayment” basis, an arrangement that would remain in place until the withdrawal of Imperial troops in 1870.
In late 1843 the Colonial Secretary of New Zealand under pressure to reduce expenditure from the Colonial Office in London deemed the positions of Colonial Surgeon, Harbourmaster and Colonial Storekeeper as unnecessary and had them cancelled. By February 1844 the duties of the Colonial Storekeeper had been divided between the Colonial Secretary and the Superintendent of Public Works
From 1844 there is little evidence of the existence of a Colonial Storekeeper for New Zealand. The passing of The Militia Act of 1845 established the Militia that was administered by the Colonial Secretary and equipped directly by stocks provided by the Imperial Military Store Department or purchased from the Colonial Storekeepers in Sydney, New South Wales.
The outbreak of hostilities in the Taranaki in the early 1860’s saw the calling out of the Militia across the country and the large-scale use of Imperial troops. The conflict in the Taranaki led to the passing of the Colonial Defence Act of 1862 on the 15th of September 1862 and the formation of the Colonial Defence Force (the first Regular Force in New Zealand) with detachments throughout the country.
Under the Quartermaster General Office of the Colonial Defence Force, the Superintendent of Militia Stores was responsible for supplying the Colonial Forces from 1863 to 1865. During 1865 the responsibilities of the Superintendent of Militia Stores was transferred to the new Colonial Storekeeper, Captian John Mitchell. The exact date that the Office of Colonial Storekeeper had been reinstated is unclear, but correspondence originating from the Colonial Storekeeper shows that the position was existing from March 1862.
Capitan John Mitchell had been a long-serving member of the 58th (Rutlandshire) Regiment of Foot which had arrived in New Zealand in 1854. A Corporal in the Bay of Islands in 1846, Mitchell, then a Sergeant took his discharge on the 31st of August 1853. Entering government service in October 1856, Mitchell joined the Auckland Rifle Volunteers and had advanced to the rank of Captain in 1864 when he was placed on the unattached list of officers. Mitchell was suspended as Colonial Storekeeper in May 1869 due to a dispute about some absences. Resigning on the 5th of July 1869 Mitchell was replaced by Major William St Clair Tisdall, who assumed the position as acting Colonial Storekeeper. Tisdall would only remain as acting Colonial Storekeeper for a short time as Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Gorton, Acting Quartermaster-General was appointed as the Inspector of Defence Stores and Colonial Storekeeper in 1869. With the passing of the Public Stores Act 1871, all Colonial Government stores were brought under his audit and inspection. The Public Stores Act 1871 defined the responsibilities of Storekeepers and Sub-Storekeepers, and the term “Colonial Storekeeper” fell into disuse.
Although existing for only just over ten years between 1840 and 1971 the Office of the Colonial Storekeeper is important for a number of reasons. The first iteration under Logie and Tucker established the first Civil/Military stores organisation in New Zealand, and given that Logie was under the employ of the Government of New South Wales it can be said with some certainty that Henry Tucker was the first New Zealand Colonial Storekeeper. The second iteration under Mitchell and then Gorton is just as notably important because the Colonial Storekeeper was the head of the first full-time Defence Stores organisation in New Zealand. The Defence Stores organisation of 1865 would remain a constant fixture of the New Zealand Defence Forces for the next 51 years before becoming the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps in 1917.
Copyright © Robert McKie 2018
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 Joseph S. Bolton, A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (Wellington: RNZAOC, 1992), 43.
 Due to the Ordnance Boards poor performance during the Crimean War, the British Army administration system was reformed in 1855, and the Military Store Department was formed as a result. Brigadier A.H Fernyhough C.B.E. M.C., A Short History of the Raoc (London: RAOC, 1965).
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 “Nominal Roll of the Civil Establishment of New Zealand on the 1st July 1868,” AJHR D-13 (1868).
 “Militia and Volunteer Appointments,” Daily Southern Cross, Volume 2075, Issue XX, 14 March 1864.
 John Mitchell, Captain Mitchell, Auckland Resigning His Appointment as Colonial Storekeeper, Item Id R24175549 Record No R24175549 (Wellington: New Zealand Archives, 1869 ).
 Suspension of Captain Mitchell Colonial Storekeeper for Absence from Duty. Major Tisdall Is Placed in Temporary Charge of Stores, Item Id R24175550 Record No Cd1869/2824 (Wellington: New Zealand Archives, 1869).
 “Arrival of Colonel Gorton in Wellington,” Wanganui Herald, Volume III, Issue 589, 23 April 1869.
 “The Public Stores Act 1871,” ed. General Assembly of New Zealand (Wellington1871).