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EARLY TRADE OF NEW ZEALAND -- WHALING AND WHALERS--CAUSES OF THE FAILURE OF COLONIZATION ON AN EXTENSIVE SCALE--NUMBER OF WHITE POPULATION.
THE trade and intercourse of New Zealand with the civilized world may be said, previous to the year 1836, to have been carried on through a few schooners and small craft, belonging to Sydney and Van Dieman's Land; and a very large number of whalers of every nation, that resorted thither either for refreshment, or for the purpose of establishing on shore temporary erections for "trying" out oil from the blubber they had previously procured.
The small craft resorted to the shores of the islands, trading and collecting flax, pork, and potatoes, to carry to their own ports, and also to convey stores to whaling establishments round the coasts, belonging to New South Wales or Hobart Town merchants; bringing back in return the oil that had been procured. A number of store-keepers and a merchant or two, on a small scale, had established themselves in various ports, particularly in the neighbourhood of the Bay of Islands and the river Thames, for the purpose of trading with the natives. Many ships also put in for refreshment, after
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a long stay at sea, on the south-west coast of America, or the shores of Japan, requiring many necessaries in pursuit of their avocation: cordage, canvas, instruments, slop-clothing, tobacco, and many other things, which they might have run out of, in consequence of remaining in the South Seas and Pacific Ocean, longer than they had originally projected.
The Bay of Islands, situated in the north island, offered a spacious and safe harbour, of easy access, to all vessels; whence they could as easily depart, after having furnished themselves with what they required.
Lying also in the track of whalers, as they followed in those seas the migratory movements of the monsters of the deep, vessels of every nation employed in the fisheries resorted to the Bay of Islands and other ports of New Zealand; not only on account of the excellence and superiority of the harbours over most others in those seas, but also in consequence of their convenience, the cheapness of provisions, the possibility of procuring such stores as they wanted, and the non-existence of harbour dues, customs regulations, or any other annoying control.
The refreshments furnished to ships were repaid generally by tobacco, spirits, powder, ball, muskets, blankets, and trinkets. The native was contented, happy at procuring these accessions to his original wealth; the whaler was satisfied with his cheap supplies from them--pork, potatoes, and other vegetables; and the white store-keeper was also contented with his barter, having furnished his goods to the ships, and taken in return oil, which he afterwards shipped to Sydney.
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NOW DESERTED BY WHALERS.
Composed of English, French, and Americans, but chiefly the latter, the whalers are, taken as a body, a bold reckless set of men, impatient of control when once out of the precincts of their ship, and from under the jurisdiction of their commanders. Each naturally averse to the government of any other country than his own, and always looking forward when they set their foot on shore in the Pacific Islands, to the gratification of their passions, it is readily to be supposed, that a port where British authority was established, would be no favourite with them.
The masters of whalers, also, too frequently participate in the feelings of their men, and when the irksomeness of customs regulations and port formalities, together with dues and duties were taken into account, and joined with the previously stated causes, it is no wonder that the Bay of Islands, on the establishment of British authority, became deserted as a place of call for South-Seamen.
Port regulations, customs forms, duties &c, had been imposed, when Captain Hobson proclaimed British sovereignty, or, soon afterwards. Gradually the ports became deserted, till, at length, on often repeated remonstances, the Bay of Islands was again declared a free port, but yet not altogether without its official annoyances. The amendment, the recantation, came too late, the mischief had been done; and where formerly thirty or forty whalers, bearing the Stars and Stripes of the Western World, the Tri-colour of France, and the Union Jack of England, were to be seen, now a solitary one or two may be found, and that at distant intervals of time. Although the whaling trade is annually vastly increasing, yet the
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formerly unnoticed islands, further north in the Pacific, obtain all the benefit of it, because they are free.
It is in the waters of those seas, that the grand nursery and source of employment for American seamen exist. The French also, particularly the merchants of Havre, have made, of late years, vast exertions to promote their South Sea trade in whaling; and, at the present time, although such a startling fact will scarce be credited, they possess considerably more ships employed in this trade than the English.
But the Yankees far, very far, surpass the other two nations together, in the extent of their whaling operations, more vessels being fitted out of New Bedford and New Haven in the States, than out of the two great ports of London and Havre united. The total number of ships employed in this trade by the United States, exceeds twelve hundred sail, which is more than six times that which England and the colonies employ in the same manner.
A peculiarity exists in this trade, exhibiting the different mode in which it is carried on. Whilst English vessels, particularly those from home, will not lower a boat in pursuit of a black whale, both French and Americans take black and sperm whales, as they happen to come across them.
The reason assigned for the English ships only taking sperm whales, is, that black ones would not pay a ship fitted out for a three or four years' voyage, at an expense of from twenty to thirty pounds per ton, on the registered tonnage of the ship, not including the value of the vessel herself. The proportionate value of sperm oil compared with the other, is generally as four or five to one.
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CREWS OF WHALING SHIPS.
The colonial vessels employed in the South Seas are not so particular, many of them catch what they can; but they seldom remain at sea longer than twelve months from their own port.
The Australian colonies, that is, Sydney, Hobart Town, Launceston, Adelaide, and one or two minor ports in Van Dieman's Land, may altogether fit out fifty sail of ships for the whale trade; besides these, they send out to various parts of their own coasts, and those of New Zealand, land parties of ten to twenty men, or even thirty, with two to four boats, and the necessary apparatus. These establish themselves at convenient places, where whales are known to resort, generally open bays; and pursue their avocation, sometimes with great success, whilst the season that the fish remain on the coast lasts; the produce and men are then conveyed back to their port, by vessels which call for them, and the value of the oil divided amongst them and the fitter out of the expedition, according to shares previously agreed on. Many sperm whales visit the coasts of New Zealand; they are easily distinguishable from black fish by their spout as they rise to breathe.
The mixture of people to be found amongst the South-Seamen is extraordinary; not one of the islands of the Pacific and South Seas, but furnish many useful hands for the fisheries. New Hollanders, low as they are in the scale of humanity, are yet to be found amongst the crews of those ships; Chilians, Peruvians, Patagonians, every cross of the Spaniard, Portuguese, and South American Indians, as well as some Malays, and samples of every European race, Dane, Swede, Dutchman, Frenchman, Italian, all are here mixed up. Negroes who
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have been emancipated or purchased their freedom, compose, in some instances, a considerable portion of the crew of Yankee whalers, and numerous convicts who have in various ways escaped from the colonies, swell the number of this varied and oddly assorted throng.
The state of some of the Pacific Islands, owing to the number of runaways of every nation that escape from whalers when they visit any island, is scarcely to be conceived. Not unfrequently, indeed, unruly individuals of a crew are landed with or without their own consent, as the case may be, on some one of the thousand scattered islands that dot those seas.
The tale of one is that of all. After desertion, connections are formed with native females, and for years, sometimes for life, they remain in a half-savage state with their paramours, adopted generally into the native tribes. Not unfrequently they get tired of this life, from various causes, and when a ship calls, that they think will suit them, they engage themselves on board, remain five or six months, to desert again at the end of that time at some other island.
Large sums in wages, earned on board, are often left behind without a thought; though sometimes the owners suffer by the deserter having overdrawn what was due to him in slops and tobacco.
The writer, from an intimate knowledge of the South Sea trade, does not conceive, that classing vessels of all nations together, one half the crews that leave the ports from which they have originally sailed, return in the same ships, if they ever return at all. Desertion amongst those islands, where, by the aid of a sunny clime, the means of subsistence is so easily procured,
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THE WHALING TRADE.
and sensual appetites so readily gratified, owing to the disposition and simple ideas of a half savage race, is not always confined to the hands of a ship, it often extends to the officers.
Whalers are not like other ships; they carry a much larger number of hands, of which only such a proportion as is necessary to work the ship and do its other duties need be able seamen. The greater portion of a whaler's crew are merely required to pull in the boats and assist in cutting off the blubber, and "trying" out the oil. This is work that any human being can perform, if he be possessed of animal strength; the composition of whalers' crews is thus easily accounted for from this cause alone, leaving aside the difficulty of replacing good seamen when they abscond.
The whaling trade, aided by the small trade in native flax, was originally what gave prosperity to New Zealand, to a limited extent, previous to the Crown taking possession, and such is the reason that so much is here said of it. Moreover, if attention were drawn to the advantageous position of New Zealand as a place whence capitalists might fit out whalers, and endeavour to recover some portion of that valuable trade, which seems annually more and more to be passing into the hands of the Americans, those islands might become of some service to Great Britain, and not remain an incubus upon it as at present, at an annual expense of thirty-five thousand pounds, exclusive of the troops it is necessary to retain there.
Attracted by official representations, private enterprise, as well as the collective resources of the New Zealand
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Company--at that period without a charter--were first put forth in 1839, for the regular colonization of the islands of New Zealand. As the New Zealand Company became a prominent body in the promotion of extensive colonization, it may be as well here to state, that although that body was formed in the early part of 1839, and dispatched an agent, Colonel Wakefield, and others to purchase lands from the natives, yet it was not till the close of 1840, after news had arrived of the treaty of Waitanga, and the pretended cession of the islands by the Aborigines to the Crown, that negociations were entered into with Lord John Russell, then at the head of the Colonial Department.
These negociations ended by the Company obtaining a charter, by which their capital was fixed at three hundred thousand pounds, and a free grant of land conferred on them, on the undertaking that emigrants should be conveyed out under conditions, and in a certain proportion to the land granted, which land was understood to have been previously obtained by purchase from the Aborigines by Colonel Wakefield.
Thus had the New Zealand Company, in compliance with the wish of the Colonial Office, surrendered, nominally, any right they had to lands merely purchased from the natives, accepting, as a better title, the grant of the Crown with its appended conditions.
This was done to prevent collision between a body, such as the Company, and the Colonial Office, on the question of pre-emption of the soil, secured to the Crown by the treaty of Waitanga.
From the first, the Colonial Office and Sir George Gipps, the Governor of New South Wales, under whose
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THE COURT OF CLAIMS.
jurisdiction Captain Hobson was first placed, had resolved not to acknowledge the right of the natives, even previous to the treaty, to dispose of their lands to private individuals.
The years of labour, privation, danger, expatriation, and enterprise the settlers had undergone were nothing, they were not to be thought of: their acting as the pioneers of civilization was no recommendation, their purchases from the natives or the gifts of land obtained by them with Aboriginal women they had taken as wives, were not to be allowed, except in so far as they could prove they had paid a reasonable sum for the land.
What that reasonable sum might be, was left to a commission, called the Court of Claims, to decide; and after the expensive and prolonged legal formalities of this body, the original settler, who had dwelt for years in many instances on, and cultivated a portion of, this land, which he had come to look upon himself as much entitled to as the noblest family in England to their domains, was adjudged a small portion, not in accordance to the value of the land at the time he had acquired it, but what it was supposed to be worth at the period the Court of Claims investigated the matter.
The real cause, the true promoter of this system, was Sir George Gipps. Land had become most valuable in New South Wales; a real mania to acquire it existed there, fed by his policy. He had remitted vast sums to the Home Government to promote emigration; he had become the favourite of the Colonial Office; and seeing public attention turned to New Zealand, to ingratiate himself further with the Colonial Office, he hoped to reap the same
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golden harvest from New Zealand, as he had done from that colony, more immediately under his jurisdiction, with little adequate consideration as to the future consequences.
But there were competitors in the race for the golden showers expected to be realized from the land of those islands. The Crown had come too late into the field, it was forestalled; private enterprize, resident merchants, traders, settlers, and Sydney capitalists, denominated "land sharks" by Sir George Gipps in "his Council," had as a matter of speculation, purchased, some for small considerations, others for greater value, large tracts of land, many miles in extent, from the Aborigines. These would be competitors with the Crown in the land market, so Sir George recommends and directs to be carried into effect, a resumption of such lands so disposed of, and the granting of a mere fragment under the Court of Claims, as previously described.
As well might the Government at home seek to interfere in private speculations, as to annul at one fell swoop the gifts and sales of a people, who had been for years acknowledged and treated as independent.
The pretence under which this was done, was, that the New Zealanders had been imposed upon, and cheated by "land sharks;" that in some instances miles in extent of land had been obtained for a few hundred pounds' worth of fire-arms, powder, blankets, spirits, &c. The bona fide settler who had bought his land to live upon, to bring up his family on, was confounded with the speculator and "land shark."
But what was the value of the land? Whether the
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VALUE OF LAND.
"land sharks," as they were called, had bought it too cheap, or not, time has best told: the Government have now at their disposal millions of acres of it, and what is its value? Really, for the most part, nothing! And the best of it, the choice portions, are too generally, indeed, not worth the sum given for it by the original buyers to the natives. Of course, in this, the writer does not include town, or suburban allotments immediately surrounding the towns.
To the natives, even, of what value is it? Indeed, but little. One hundred and twenty thousand Aborigines inhabiting an extent of territory exceeding in size the entire of Great Britain and Ireland. Even these natives cultivated the soil but scantily: their wants were very limited, their industry not great, and the choice spots they cultivated, they seldom or never disposed of. Where, then, could be the value of the land to the Aborigines? How could they be cheated; of what use really was the soil to any one, without population; and what would not the importation of labour cost; and when procured at an immense outlay, where--how--in what manner, would it repay the expense?
These facts Sir George never thought of: he had, by a system of his own, raised land in Australia to such a price, that it has since nearly ruined nine-tenths of the population. Hundreds of thousands of pounds had been thereby obtained by land sales, which he sent to England to relieve it of its superabundant population: it pleased the Colonial Office, and that was sufficient.
Had then the land of New Zealand become intrinsically
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worth more to the purchaser, than the tens of thousands of acres that had been granted twenty and thirty years before, in the best situations in New South Wales, to the McArthurs Lawsons, Berrys, and scores of others, the great landlords of New South Wales? No! nor a tithe as much; because the Government had provided not only the land to these gentlemen, but it also gave them labour without payment. The convicts of the colony were assigned to them by hundreds, as they arrived from England, the assignee being merely bound to subsist and clothe them after a very poor manner, whilst the New Zealand "land shark," if he wanted to cultivate his land, would have to import free labour at an immense expense, and pay for its use equally high.
One of the principal causes of the failure of colonization, in New Zealand, is clearly traceable to the undue interference of the Government with private enterprise; a system vigorously disclaimed as impolitic at home, yet practised so very largely in our distant colonies..
But to follow up the course of events in New Zealand. No sooner had Captain Hobson concluded the treaty of Waitanga, obtained pre-emption of the soil, and received directions from his superior, Sir George Gipps, to resume the right to the lands already disposed of, then he took the following step, as one way of carrying out those instructions.
The Bay of Islands being the principal place of trade, thither had Captain Hobson gone, on arrival in New Zealand. The principal settlement at that period within the district of the Bay was Korarorika; the
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THE CLENDON JOB.
name of the town, founded and inhabited for years by those traders that supplied the whalers resorting to the Bay.
The site did not entirely meet with the approbation of the Lieutenant-Governor. A gentleman, named Clendon, resided at that period at Korarorika, and acted as American Consul, being a citizen of that Republic, which had at one time advanced claims to the New Zealand Islands.
Mr. Clendon, possessed on the shores of the Bay of Islands, a block of between three and four hundred acres of land, which he had purchased from the natives some time previous for an amount of goods, not exceeding in value at the outside fifty pounds. On this very spot Captain Hobson pitched as the site of his chief town, and concluded his purchase of it, from Mr. Clendon, for the enormous sum of fifteen thousand pounds sterling, one thousand of which was paid down in cash. Thus the Lieutenant-Governor's first act towards establishing a capital, was at complete variance with the system of Resumption and preemption long previously decided to be acted on. But this was not the worst part of this act; it fixed a seeming value on land, which raised the ideas of not only those present, but the residents in other colonies, and even at home. It placed the official stamp of authority on an enormously high rate of value, as regarded all lands, but particularly those in the Bay of Islands. It raised, it excited the cupidity of the natives:-- the Government, through the Governor, had actually bought a block of three or four hundred acres of land, which had originally cost scarcely fifty pounds, for the enormous sum of fifteen thousand pounds. But what
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kind of land was it? Stony, rocky, uneven ground, with no depth of water in front, and which it would have taken four times fifteen thousand pounds to have rendered fit to build a town upon.
Yet this land, at the time, was projected to be divided into lots by the executive, and disposed of to the public at a considerably increased rate in price.
As soon as Sir George Gipps was informed of the purchase, it was disallowed by him; but by a dispatch from home, the Colonial Office had rendered New Zealand independent of Sir George Gipps, and erected it into a separate colony under Captain Hobson.
The Governor was embarrassed, Mr. Clendon demanded payment of the balance due to him, fourteen thousand pounds, which he had not received in consequence of Sir George's disallowance of the purchase.
Money was scarce with Captain Hobson, although he had received some large advances, seventy thousand pounds, from the New South Wales treasury. So payment in money not being convenient, Mr. Clendon was remunerated by a grant of thirty acres for every one given up by him, in a locality to be chosen by himself; and a rent up to the date of the grant, from the day of Captain Hobson's purchase, was paid at the rate of fifteen hundred per annum, for past occupation.
In this manner nearly twelve thousand acres of the best land that could be chosen in one block were given away for a thirtieth part of that quantity, not of soil, but of stones, tumbled in confusion over one another.
The result was, that after a short trial, Mr. Clendon's block, that cost so much, had to be abandoned as totally
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SIR GEORGE GIPPS.
unsuited for the erection of a capital, and another site was chosen. What induced Captain Hobson to perform such an act is inexplicable; the site had not even the recommendation of being near the elder settlement of Korarorika. Mr. Clendon, although not a British subject, was afterwards advanced to a seat in the Council of the Colony by the Governor, with whom the entire nomination of such rested.
The injury that this act entailed on hundreds of families, is inconceivable, and the suffering of the whole colony, from the same cause, was very great.
The simple fact of such a price being paid for land by the Government, led persons, at a distance, particularly at home, to consider that land which they never saw, but which was sold at one pound an acre in the same country, must be immoderately cheap in comparison.
The fact was blazoned abroad, and made the most of by all those interested in the prosperity of New Zealand. Its appendages were not brought to light; Sir George Gipps' disallowance of it was not placed side by side with it; --the mere fact of the price was all that was made use of.
Hundreds with their families, in the colonies and England, abandoned comfortable homes, and invested, in some cases, after paying their passages, their all in New Zealand land, which was then selling in London by the Company.
Sir George Gipps, in the opinion of many, is not entitled to much credit for his disallowance of the Clendon job. It was not that he thought the price so much out
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of the way. Land in Australia had brought more, but it was the stamp of confirmation of rights acquired from the natives by simple purchase of them, that particularly offended and displeased, leading him to refuse his sanction to the acts of his then subordinate.
Thousands are now condemned to drag out a weary hopeless life on the shores of New Zealand, with their prospects, and those of their families effectually blighted; and with not even the means to quit the scene of their disasters, which they would willingly do, leaving their land which they paid so dearly for behind them. Tears, it may be truly said of blood, have been shed to atone for the folly of a rule placed over that unhappy land by the Crown; and life itself has but too often passed away in the struggle against blighted hopes, ruined prospects, misery and want. Suicide also has aided not a few to escape from those miseries drawn on their shoulders by the errors and follies of others.
Captain Hobson is gone! he did not long survive the Clendon affair in its final settlement, an attack of paralysis opened the tomb, and it closed upon him with its remorseless grasp.
Happy is it that he lived not to see the misery and ruin which he so much helped to cause, for indeed his were errors of judgment, not of the heart. Bad, selfish, jobbing, dishonest advisers he had around him, and without sufficient strength of mind, or capacity to fill the office to which he had been appointed, he became the tool, the victim of those advisers.
Who is to blame? Undoubtedly the system pursued
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SETTLEMENT AT COOK'S STRAITS.
for too long a time, of appointing military and naval officers to the government of colonies, which their previous education and habits totally incapacitate them to fill with credit to themselves and satisfaction to those they rule. The general purchases of land, made by original settlers and Sydney capitalists, were in that part of New Zealand nearest to Sydney, and in which the Bay of Islands is situated. This was the most northerly part.
The scene chosen by the New Zealand Company was different. Colonel Wakefield pitched upon Cook's Straits, as the most central spot and best calculated for settlement.
These Straits are of no great width, but divide the northern island from the middle one. The mouths of the Straits lie nearly east and west, and in consequence of the prevailing winds being from these directions, they rush through the narrow channel, formed by the Straits, with vast velocity, being thrown to that spot as a focus, by the high lands of north and middle island, on either side, which prevents them passing over the land, and dispersing more equally. Constant gales of wind may be said to prevail, nearly the whole year round, on the shores of these Straits from this cause.
The principal settlements of the company are established on the northern side, and of course they partake largely of the disadvantages resulting from this cause. Colonel Wakefield had not been long arrived, when some ships with emigrants of the Company followed him, and still larger numbers poured in after the Charter was obtained from Lord John Russell. One
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of its conditions being, that land should only be granted the Company in the proportion of four acres for every pound sterling expended by them in promoting and forwarding emigration. At the same time it was required, that if those lands had not been already purchased from the natives, such purchase should be effected, and this duty was principally to devolve upon the Government, who were to put the Company in possession, but not at the expense of the Crown.
Immediately after the Company's settlements had been established in the neighbourhood of Cook's Straits, jealousy arose between them and the more northern settlements. Disagreements followed with the officers of the Government, and misunderstandings with the Governor, who did not look with a favourable eye upon the Company, they being somewhat independent of him. The settlers to whom the Company had sold the land in London, and who had come out in ships chartered for the conveyance of such passengers, in the expectation of at once getting possession of the land, and commencing operations on it, were thrown idle about the newly formed towns, compelled to live upon those resources they had intended for the cultivation of the soil.
With some, these means were limited, for, in general, the extreme desire to obtain as large a portion as possible of land--originally thought so cheap--had been too strong an inducement, and had led them to invest their all in such purchases, hoping to realize great profit by a re-sale of a portion on arrival in the colony. What then was their disappointment when neither possession of land for cultivation could be obtained, nor remunerative work, by which
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their families could be supported. Some departed after a time to Valparaiso and Lima, others to Sydney and Van Dieman's Land or Port Phillip; whilst the greater number, tied down by having their all invested in land purchased from the Company at home, and in daily expectation of either getting possession of the same, or obtaining a return of their money, lived on from day to day, until all were reduced to poverty, if not actual want.
After Captain Hobson's death, Lieutenant Shortland, at that time Colonial Secretary, became acting Governor; to him succeeded Captain Fitzroy; and now Captain Grey, a sensible, energetic, pains-taking gentleman, sways the destinies of this colony.
From time to time the Company obtained from one or other of these Governors, by driblets, patches of land which were immediately divided amongst the first claimants who possessed land orders which they had paid for at home. Many of these orders yet remain unsatisfied; in some instances their holders will probably never even seek the land they have paid for.
The sites of the Company's towns--the three principal, as before mentioned, being Nelson, Wellington, and New Plymouth--having been early secured by Colonel Wakefield, and settled, the lands in them and the surrounding suburban allotments, were put up and sold by auction. This took place previously to the calamities of the colony, and whilst the mania caused by the high value of land through Captain Hobson's purchase still existed. Consequently, a high price was paid by those who were so fortunate as thus to obtain a home of their own, or land enough to raise vegetables and a little
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grain upon. Such has been the depreciation, the transition from a land mania to a "land horror," that not one tenth the price paid at those sales could now be obtained.
In the year 1843, the author, then on a visit for a short time at Sydney, strolled down to the extreme point of the rocky promontory, on which that city is built.
It was noon--the sun was shining brightly, its rays glittering over the magnificent estuary of Port Jackson, and its hundred coves and bays. Taking a seat beneath Dawes' Battery, at some elevation above the water, on one of the many rocks scattered about the prospect around--with their bluff heads covered with verdure, stretching out into the main arm of the bay--the scattered white cottages, with green verandahs, peeping out of surrounding woods at the bottom of deep inlets, and in the distance the ranges of the Blue Mountains, for a time attracted and absorbed all attention. But when the scenery had afforded its gratification, and more notice was taken of the busy scene passing on the water, as numerous boats rowed to and fro, and vessels under easy canvass traversed the bay, his attention was drawn to two ships, which, dropping down with the tide, were making their way to the ocean. From the numerous cabbages, pumpkins, melons, and pressed bales of hay that hung around their sterns and encumbered their sides, it was evident they were bound on a distant voyage, in all probability for England. Fatherland, with its visions of early hope and happiness, rose vividly in the mind's-eye; when, after a time, a small wherry detached itself from the side of one of the ships where it had been towing, and pulled for the
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shore close beneath, where one individual landed, and the boat, with another person who managed it, proceeded up the harbour. Ascending a few steps, the man who had landed threw himself on a rock, and turned his gaze on the ship he had just left. A wish to know where these ships were bound to, induced the author to join the man who had just quitted the ship. Both vessels were about to sail for England; and, after some conversation of home and the colonies with the stranger, evidently a gentleman by birth and education, but much reduced in appearance, he communicated to the author the following sad narrative, which will serve to explain the situation of many other settlers in New Zealand.
More than three years before, the golden prospects of New Zealand, and the richness and value of its lands, had been blazoned abroad through England, and the attention of himself, amongst hundreds of others, had been drawn to the place. A marriage with a beautiful girl previously to that period, against the consent of his parents, had entailed upon him their anger and estrangement, and for pecuniary resources he was thrown completely upon a small freehold left by a deceased relative, which produced some £300 per annum.
Divided from the protectors and friends of his early youth, with a beautiful and affectionate wife, and an increasing family, he had long felt the irksomeness of a continued residence in England, without profession or employment, and attracted by the visions New Zealand held forth, he resolved to emigrate thither with his family, chiefly in order to promote their future welfare.
The freehold was disposed of; a considerable portion of
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its produce passed into the hands of the New Zealand Company in London for the purchase of lands, and the remainder was required for the outfit and passage.
All arrived safe. At first, visions of the future were bright: all was excitement, land was worth anything, and every hope was held forth to him of early getting possession of the many acres he had purchased. A sale of town allotments in Nelson took place; he attended it and became the purchaser of one, on which carpenters were hired to erect a portable house brought from home, made of wood, and put together with screws. This being accomplished, the remainder of the allotment was fenced in and cultivated as a garden. Comfortably settled, he then sat down calmly awaiting the completion of surveys preparatory to taking possession of the land he had purchased of the Company.
Bread, meat, every kind of food, was dear, beef being two shillings per pound, and mutton nearly the same price, all having to be imported from Australia. Week after week, month after month passed away. Disputes and differences between the Government and Company had arisen and grown apace. No land could he obtain. Gradually his funds were lessened, till the means that were reserved to purchase oxen, cows, and horses, and to cultivate the land, were exhausted. Drays, harness, and the many other things that had been brought out, had then actually to be bartered for the means of support for his family; till at length money had to be borrowed on the very house they resided in, at forty per cent, interest, to provide food. In short, after possessing all the comforts of life, they had been reduced to live only on pork, potatoes, and Indian corn, purchased from the natives.
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NOT ADVANTAGEOUS AS A COLONY.
Even this resource failed just as he had received a notice from the officials of the New Zealand Company, that some portion of the land bought in London could now, after a lapse of three years, be given up to him. It came too late, he had neither funds, nor energy to cultivate it; "hope deferred maketh the heart sick!" he was only enabled to borrow a small sum of money on it, a portion of which he employed in paying his passage to Sydney, leaving the rest to support his family. He was now endeavouring to obtain a situation as steward, or in some other capacity, on board a ship bound to England, hoping by a relation of his sufferings, to soften the hearts of his parents, and induce them to furnish him with the means of removing his family from the grave of so many bright visions. As yet he had been unsuccessful, but he did not despair of attaining his object; what afflicted him most, was the situation of his young family and tender wife, left with scarce the means of procuring the poorest food during his long absence, amongst hundreds equally as badly off in that distant land.
Circumstances at the period enabled the author to procure for the unfortunate emigrant such a place as he was in search of, and to afford him a little pecuniary assistance.
Intrinsically, New Zealand is not fitted at present for the establishment of an extensive colony, from the limited quantity of good, open, accessible land it possesses, as well as from its distance from any markets for its produce. But if it had possessed in superabundance good land, and been in the immediate vicinity of markets that would take all its produce, yet the disputes between the Company and the Government, together with the bad feeling
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unfortunately existing between the Aborigines and the colonists, joined to the many other facts already set forth, were more than sufficient to reduce it to the predicament it is now in.
At the close of 1846, it was calculated that there were about twenty-six or twenty-seven thousand whites scattered over the surface of New Zealand. Of these, most, if not all, reside on the sea-coast, or in its neighbourhood. The greater numbers dwell in the towns Nelson, Wellington, New Plymouth, Auckland, Korarorika, Russell (Captain Hobson's bantling) and others of lesser note. None of these towns, however, contain a larger population than a couple of thousands, who dwell, it may be said, entirely in wooden houses, erected with slabs or sawn timber, the latter being, in many instances, neat and comfortable. A few houses, framed and imported from home, are also scattered about.