Along with the Chief Justice, the office was one of the first four created by Governor William Hobson when he arrived in New Zealand in January 1840. The Colonial Secretary's Office handled the creation of New Zealand's public service, and became the modern Department of Internal Affairs in 1907. The Colonial Secretary became known as the Minister of Internal Affairs from then on.
The Colonial Secretary was considered the deputy of the Governor, until the granting of responsible government. For example, Willoughby Shortland acted as administrator of government following the death of William Hobson in 1841. Henry Sewell, who is considered by some as the first Premier of New Zealand, held the position for his short tenure as head of the government in 1856.
|Name||Governor / Premier served||Took Office||Left Office||Party|
|Willoughby Shortland||William Hobson||29 January 1840||31 December 1843||None|
|Andrew Sinclair||Robert FitzRoy|
|6 January 1844||7 May 1856||None|
|Henry Sewell||7 May 1856||20 May 1856||None|
|William Fox||Premier Frederick Whitaker||30 October 1863||24 November 1864||None|
|William Gisborne||28 June 1869||10 September 1872||None|
|Daniel Pollen||8 April 1873||1877||None|