1842 - Terry, Charles. New Zealand: its Advantages and Prospects as a British Colony - Part V. On the Future Prospects of the Colony - Chapter IV

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  1842 - Terry, Charles. New Zealand: its Advantages and Prospects as a British Colony - Part V. On the Future Prospects of the Colony - Chapter IV
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In the infancy of a Colony, it is most incumbent on the Parent State to devise such measures and to mark out a line of policy for the administration of its local Government, from due consideration of the peculiar circumstances attached to it, as may, as much as possible, be unalterable. Vacillation and indecision in the administration of Colonial affairs are far more injurious to the settlers individually, and to the prosperity of the Colony, than positive dogged adherence to questionable policy.

In the former case, as there can be no reliance on the time the local Government may have power to act, on any regulation, enactment, &c, persons will not embark property in any enterprise, and those who may be compelled or induced to settle, are shackled in all their proceedings, and in continual fear from alteration of circumstances, of loss of property, and annihilation of their hopes and prospects.

In the latter case, if the measures are question-

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able as to their effects, or in some degree obviously injurious to the settlers and the Colony, they have the merit of being avowed and consistent, and therefore can, in some degree, be counteracted or avoided, and any change from, them, instead of inflicting injury on any individual, only confers benefit on the whole community.

These remarks are suggested from two circumstances in New Zealand, even in these its early days as a British Colony,---regarding the measures for the settlement of Land Claims,--- and also as to the sales of Crown lands.

By the instructions of the Marquis of Normanby, Sir George Gipps and the Legislative Council of New South Wales, in June, 1840, passed an Act for the appointment of three Commissioners for the settlement of land claims in New Zealand, when that Colony was a dependency on New South Wales, which was acted upon immediately; and subsequently, as detailed in a previous chapter, on New Zealand being separated, another Act with the same powers was passed by the Governor and Legislative Council of that Colony, on which powers the Commissioners have been constantly acting.

But since that period, Her Majesty's Home Government have determined to disallow that Act, and Lord John Russell, in a despatch, 16th April 1841, thus instructs Captain Hobson.

"I have laid before the Queen, the Act of the Governor of New South Wales, passed with the advice and consent of the Legislative Council of

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that Colony, in the fourth year of Her Majesty's reign, intituled, "An Act to empower the Governor of New South Wales to appoint Commissioners, with certain powers to examine and report on claims to grants of land in New Zealand."

"Her Majesty has been graciously pleased to approve the general provisions of that Act, as well as the more particular details which it comprises. But circumstances, to which it was impossible that the Legislature of New South Wales should have adverted, will probably render the execution of it difficult, if not impossible. The separation of New Zealand from New South Wales will render obsolete and impracticable those enactments which require the interposition of the Governor of the older Colony. The arrangements which I have made with the New Zealand Company, will forbid the application of the Act, in its present form, to the case of the lands to be granted to them.

"To these considerations is to be added the remark, that I propose to commit these inquiries to the single Commissioner appointed by Her Majesty for that purpose, and not to three joint Commissioners as the Act has provided.

"For these reasons it appears necessary that a new law on the subject should be proposed to the local Legislature of New Zealand, to meet the various exigencies I have pointed out, and any others which your experience may have brought to light. Subject to such variations, the Act of New South Wales may be followed as a safe and proper guide.

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"Her Majesty has therefore been pleased to disallow the Act passed by the Governor of New South Wales with the advice of the Legislative Council of that Colony. But as difficulties may possibly arise in obtaining from the Legislature of New Zealand, the necessary enactment in substitution for it, or as the immediate disallowance of the New South Wales Act may be productive of other inconveniences, which, at this distance, it is impossible to anticipate, the Queen has been further pleased to authorize me to signify to you Her Majesty's pleasure, that you do postpone the notification of Her Majesty's disallowance of the Act in question, if you should be of opinion that the disallowance of it would, on the whole, be injurious to the public service. In that case you will report to me the grounds of that opinion, and until you are in receipt of further instructions, the New South Wales Act will continue in force in New Zealand, so far as it may be capable of execution, although of course subject to any amendments which may in the interval have been made by yourself, with the advice of the Legislative Council of New Zealand."

By these instructions, if Captain Hobson should be of opinion that the Ordinance now in force, is the best measure for the Colony---he will postpone the notification of the disallowance until he reports his reasons and receives further instructions,---and thus all land claims, will be kept in abeyance for another two years.

With respect to Crown lands,---it was the instruc-

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tion of the Secretary of State of the Colonies to Sir George Gipps in 1840:---

"In particular, with regard to the sale of land, it may be found impossible to realize the price of 12s. an acre; while that price is not demanded, either in Sydney, or in Western Australia, or in Van Diemen's Land; Captain Hobson may therefore reduce the price to 5s. per acre until the higher price is the usual upset price in the Australian settlements."

In the Colony of New Zealand, in consequence of this declaration, it was thought that such would be the principle and upset price of the first Government Sale of Country Lands.

However, in the early part of 1841, Her Majesty's Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners gave notice, that they were prepared to contract for the sale of Crown Lands, in the Port Phillip District of New South Wales, New Zealand, and Western Australia, at a uniform fixed price of £1. per acre, and likewise that as, in the Sydney District of New South Wales, land is sold by auction, at an upset price of 12s. per acre, the Commissioners would receive deposits, from persons desirous of purchasing land there, and give in return, orders, entitling the holders to credit for a corresponding sum, in the acquirement of land in the Colony.

This was a most material alteration in the previous regulations, while it certainly intimated, and so it was anticipated, that in accordance, the fixed

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or maximum upset price for Crown Lands in New Zealand, although that Colony is not specifically named by the Commissioners, with reference to public auction, would be, if sold in that manner, twelve shillings per acre.

But Country Land was not to be obtained from the Government in the Colony of New Zealand itself, at an uniform fixed price, of one pound per acre, even without the presumed advantages, held out by the Commissioners, which a purchaser, at that price, had in England of a free passage, for adult emigrants he might nominate, at the rate of one labourer for every £20. of purchase money;---and when the Country Land was sold by auction in September 1841, the Colonial Treasurer,---the official person having absolute controul over all Government Sales,---fixed, no doubt according to his instructions, the minimum upset price at two and three pound per acre.

The inconsistency, impolicy, as well as injustice to persons who had been induced to proceed to the Colony, on the faith of the previous regulations, of such proceedings, and of their prejudicial effects on the future prospects of the Colony, must be too obvious to require comment.

In considering and legislating on the system for the future administration of the Local Government in New Zealand, two objects are of primary importance;---to insure, if possible, a revenue that will meet such indispensable and unavoidable expenditure, as the Crown may be compelled to incur, in

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the due administration of justice and protection for British subjects, as well as Aborigines;---and to provide funds for the supply of Emigration to the Colony.

The facts and observations, in the preceding chapters, will, it is presumed, evidently shew, that the means, usually resorted to, and available, in other Colonies, for the two purposes above mentioned, do not exist, at present, in New Zealand.

It cannot be doubted, but that the "Expenditure" will for many years exceed the "Fixed Ordinary Revenue," to a very considerable amount, and will never approach, or equal it, unless the population is increased by emigration, to augment in proportionate rates, the consumption of articles, and commodities, subject to Customs and Excise Duties;--- on the other hand, there is equal uncertainty and improbability, from the circumstances previously mentioned, that any sales of Crown Land, except in Towns, will be effected to raise funds for the purposes of Emigration, much more to give any surplus funds to be applied to the "Extraordinary and Incidental Revenue" to make up any deficiency to balance the "General Expenditure"

If the resources from "Fixed or Ordinary Revenue," are small, in comparison to the General Expenditure, and no funds arise from the sales of Land; it is obvious the Colony must either be a direct annual charge on the Mother Country, exclusive of any grant from the same source for Emigration;---or a Revenue must be raised for such

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purposes, by some other plan, than by sales of Crown Lands;---unless the Colony is altogether abandoned by the British Government.

Considering, therefore, the peculiar circumstances connected with the Colony of New Zealand, more especially the position of Government in relation to Land, it is suggested that the progress, prosperity and revenue of the Colony, would be more speedily and successfully promoted, by a very different system, as regards Crown Lands.

Let the Government sell only such Lands as may be required for Towns and Villages;---give grants of Land, for Farms, &c. of moderate extent, to actual settlers; and then tax all lands in New Zealand.

The Land Tax, should be on a scale, increasing with time on uncultivated land, and after a certain period, if then not under cultivation, arable or pasture, to be forfeited, and revert to the Crown. Such a system would prevent land jobbing, and would be encouragement and inducement to the class of Emigrants, that are most required in New Zealand, and who make the best settlers.

The Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners for South Australia, &c. and New Zealand, will not dispose of less than 320 acres, and the price is one pound per acre.

It is true that the Commissioners state, "Every purchaser will be entitled to name a number of persons of the labouring class, subject to the approval of the Commissioners, for a free passage to the Colony, in which he has purchased land, in proportion

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to the amount." But the class of persons alluded to, cannot afford such an outlay for land only: and to enclose and bring into cultivation 320 acres of land in New Zealand, would incur an expense of many thousand pounds, for, as previously explained, there are no natural pastures; therefore, every acre purchased will require conversion, as well as enclosure, or remain waste and useless. Moreover, fifty acres of arable land in New Zealand is quite sufficient for a farmer of moderate capital, as well as to maintain him and family. Further, persons with any property proposing to emigrate to New Zealand, as soon as the subject of land claims is well understood, will neither purchase of the New Zealand Company at £l, 10s. per acre, nor of the Colonial Land Commissioners in England, at £1. per acre, nor compete in the Colony, at the auction sales of Crown lands: for they will be able to obtain land in any portion,---large or small,----according to their means and wishes, at trifling cost, from the land claimants who will have abundance of land in the market, to compete with the Government, ---in sales to emigrants, for many years to come.

Far better that grants of land were made gratuitously, and let the settler pay his own expenses to the Colony. This boon of conveyance of the purchaser, or with a proviso that a certain proportion of the purchase money, is to be appropriated to the importation into the settlement of free labour, in consequence of a high price per acre having been given for the land,---is not, when investigated and understood, of the importance and advantage

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generally ascribed. It may be true that the contract is fulfilled by the labouring emigrants being conveyed to the settlement or colony; but, there is no legal power to confine their labour to that particular spot, or to prevent them from leaving as soon as they please. Labour, like water, is sure to find its level, and wages in all places will be regulated, in price, by the supply and demand: and if in the adjacent Colonies, or in any other parts of the same Colony, wages are higher, this advantage remains no longer exclusive, and the purchaser of the land, at a higher price, finds he has been charged, and paid, for what cannot be secured to him. In fact, it is supplying labour to some at the expense of others, and the former having been at no preliminary expense or charge for the importation of it, can afford to give much higher wages for local purposes. That the Colony, to flourish, or in fact to progress at all, must be supplied with emigrants of the labouring-classes, is an incontestable truth; but, it is conceived that such a measure, especially as regards the Colony of New Zealand, can be accomplished, with far more beneficial results by land taxes than by land sales.

Not the least advantage of such a system, would be, that it would render the land acquired by claims,---for which neither the Government, towards its expenditure, nor the Colony itself, in the supply of emigration,---as by the New Zealand Company,--- have as yet received any return,---subject to contribute to the general benefit of the Colony.

Let the land tax be moderate, on the principle

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that all low duties are most productive to the state, and individually not burthensome to the community. Presume the tax on uncultivated land, to be one shilling per acre, commencing twelve months after date of the grant, and increasing three pence per acre, every succeeding year, for nine years; and after ten years, from the date of grant, all land not cultivated should revert to the Crown. The tax on the last year, provided the land was not yet cultivated, would be three shillings per acre, and the total sum paid up to that period would be eighteen shillings per acre.

This would in fact be allowing the settler to pay the purchase money by instalments, with the great advantage of stimulating him to exertion and industry, in order to obtain the land at a very moderate price. The grants of land need not be limited, as the tax would prevent persons taking possession of more land than their means and prospects would justly lead them to expect they would be enabled to bring into cultivation before the date of forfeiture, yet, at the same time, it would allow sufficient latitude to enterprising and thrifty persons to apply their early profits, as their cultivation increased, to prevent forfeiture of any of their grant.

To large capitalists, tempted by the soil and climate, to resort to New Zealand, to engage extensively in agricultural pursuits, this plan would be very beneficial, and it would likewise enable them to carry out in a salutary manner the true intent of Government as to Colonization.

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For example, an individual desirous of 200 acres in New Zealand. Instead of paying, as directed by the Colonial Land Commissioners, the sum of £200. into the Bank of England, before he can obtain his title to the land, or be allowed free passage for any of the labouring class in proportion: he could apply that amount to obtain labour, to bring his grant as rapidly as possible into cultivation. It would be far better that he should himself select his labourers and servants in England, and bind them for a definite period, under certain terms, and apply that amount to the outfit and conveyance of himself and them to the Colony. This would secure to him the labour. It may be said that there would be difficulty in enforcing the fulfilment of the contract on the part of the labourer or servant on arrival in the Colony.---But such would not be the case.

Emigrants sent to the Colonies, at the expense of the Government or of any Public Company are free agents, and are transmitted to new settlements for the benefit of the whole community of settlers; but contracts between master and servant can be entered into and are mutually binding in the Colony as in England. In fact, the breach of contract by mechanics, and others, has become so flagrant and frequent in the Colony, and which has generally been committed in consequence of some informality in the agreement, that the magistrates now have the power of inflicting severe punishment on the refractory servant, and a heavy fine on any person employing another, under agreement. These penalties

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might be made more stringent and effective by some Colonial enactment of the Governor and Council; publicly promulgated throughout the Colony by Proclamation. With eight or ten good farming labourers, much would soon be accomplished towards enclosing and cultivating the 200 acres. The produce, as cultivation proceeded, would very soon reimburse the expenses and tax, and enable the proprietor to expend more capital in labour, and thus, there would be throughout the Colony, for a long period, a great demand for labour, for which the settlers could well afford to pay a good price, under such a system of obtaining the land, at a very moderate rate. This labouring population would consume largely all articles of Customs, more particularly spirits and tobacco, and thus augment the fixed or ordinary revenue.

The grants should all bear the same date in each year, to render the returns of duties, due to Government, correctly and easily ascertained. This might be done by dating all grants issued during the first six months of a year, from the January preceding, and those during the latter six months, from the following January. The tax, as the first year of grant is exempt, should come into operation, and be paid on all acres uncultivated, at the commencement of the second and each succeeding year. The construction of the term uncultivated land, to be understood, as applying to all land, in its natural state, at the time of the grant. But as soon as enclosed with fencing, and ditches for draining, and the en-

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closed ground broken up---then to be considered as exempt from the tax on uncultivated---but subject to that on cultivated land---although not in a state of actual production. The tax on all cultivated land might be six pence per acre per annum, which would be very trifling and more easily borne the longer the land was in cultivation. This cultivated tax might be allowed to be redeemed, as soon as the ten years from the date of grant was expired. The redemption might be on the same principle, as that adopted in England, making due allowance for the difference of the rate of interest or value of money in England and in the Colony.

But there should not be allowed any redemption of the "Uncultivated Tax," as it would counteract and render ultimately nugatory the very intent and purposes for which it was enacted,---the speedy population and cultivation of the Colony on sound principles, and the prevention of all land speculation and jobbing.

The lands of the New Zealand Company should be exempt from all such taxes, either uncultivated or cultivated, and likewise all territorial possessions of the Aborigines.

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The following STATEMENT will illustrate the operations of this Tax on a Grant of 200 Acres, brought gradually into cultivation.

The above table shows no land cultivated until the second year, and then only ten acres, which renders the number of acres at the commencement of the third year subject to the tax 190. In the third year fifteen more only are added to the cultivated; in the fourth, fifth, and sixth years, twenty-five

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acres each; in the seventh, forty acres; in the eighth and ninth year, thirty acres each; and in the last and tenth all are only subject to the Cultivated Tax.

If it was known that Government would make gratuitous Grants of Land on such a system, of from ten to fifty acres, according to circumstances and testimonials, there would be many persons, possessed of some little means, who would emigrate to New Zealand, at their own expense, with a view to possess some little land, and to provide for their children hereafter. Exclusive of those accustomed to farming, there are many individuals with certain, yet limited, annual incomes, such as retired and half-pay officers, but not possessing tangible capital to any great amount. To such class of persons, with families, New Zealand is particularly adapted, and a few acres around a dwelling, devoted to pasture for the dairy, and rearing of poultry, &c, would abundantly supply all the necessaries of life. A farm of twenty acres, supposing the whole was not cultivated, until the sixth year from the date of Grant, would only pay altogether seven pounds and ten shillings of uncultivated tax, or purchase money, ---and the cultivated tax would be only ten shillings per annum. Such a system of taxation---or rather payment for land---would be very productive to the revenue---both for the purposes of Emigration of Labourers at the expense of Government, if required, and likewise to make good any deficiency of Fixed or Ordinary Revenue to the Expenditure.

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The land by claims---as soon as settled, would be subject to the tax---and the proprietors would immediately exert themselves to cultivate, to sell, or to let it, in order to stop the progressive increase of the tax, as well as to prevent ultimate forfeiture. In the speech of Sir George Gipps, on the second reading of the Bill, before the Legislative Council, on New South Wales,---"for appointing Commissioners to enquire into claims to Grants of Land in New Zealand,"---he stated that the Marquis of Normanby had suggested that the same object, proposed by the Bill, might be effected by a tax on Land, and that, if the Bill was rejected, the latter would be immediately proposed,---and Sir George added,---"and I do not know, that I may not even propose to combine the two; for it does not follow that, because we give certain powers to Commissioners to enquire into titles to land in New Zealand, we may not hereafter impose a tax upon lands there, if such a tax be found necessary."

All these circumstances will render it absolutely necessary for the Government to incur, in the first formation of the Colony, an expenditure quite disproportionate to the population, and no doubt far beyond the revenue, and it is very evident that both the revenue, as well as the future progress and prosperity of New Zealand depend on the energetic, liberal, and judicious measures of the Home Government, in the infancy of the Colony.

The revenue will never reach the expenditure

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unless the resources of the Colony are fully developed, and brought into fruitful production,--and the latter will never be accomplished, but by enlightened views and wise policy, suitable and applicable to the peculiar circumstances existing at the time the Colony first became an acknowledged dependency on the British Crown.

The subjects requiring the serious consideration of the Government, as being the basis of the future prosperity of New Zealand, are:

1. The immediate and simultaneous adjudication of all claims to land, by right of alleged purchase from the Aborigines, previous to the proclamation of her Majesty.

2. A judicious system of tax---or sale---as regards Crown Lands, bearing in mind the previous subject.

3. Emigration from England, to a large extent, of the labouring classes, secured by the second measure.

Lastly,---and which is of greater importance than all the preceding,--- a well digested plan, to be carried into effect by competent persons, of protecting, teaching, and civilizing the Aborigines,---so that, as regards their territorial possessions, such portions of their land as they choose to reserve to themselves, shall be held sacred,---and as British subjects they shall possess and enjoy the same rights and immunities as Europeans,---which will be the most certain means of rendering them useful members of society,---and sincere converts to the Christian Faith.

By these principles and measures, carried into

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execution by a Local Government, of energy, talent, and experience, New Zealand will gradually progress, in cereal production,---and in the develope-ment of those natural resources, applicable to arts and manufactures,---and become in due time a prosperous Colony;---if otherwise,---it will, so soon as the present Eldorado halo is dispelled by common sense and truth, rapidly retrograde into its former insignificance and obscurity.

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