From the 1860s the government’s revenue came mainly from customs duties (taxes on imports). The government needed customs-duties revenue in order to function, but economic thinking at the time favoured free trade, which required abolition of duties like tariffs. New Zealand politicians argued that the taxes were revenue tariffs and not protectionist policies. They also argued that in a young colony tariffs were important to protect ‘infant industries’ while they were still developing.
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Source: Paul Goldsmith, We won, you lost, eat that! Auckland: David Ling, 2008, pp. 16, 46, 71, 102