1852 - Martin, A. Journal of an Emigrant from Dorsetshire to New Zealand. [Typescript] - A Glimpse of Auckland and the Surrounding Country, p 40-54

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  1852 - Martin, A. Journal of an Emigrant from Dorsetshire to New Zealand. [Typescript] - A Glimpse of Auckland and the Surrounding Country, p 40-54
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A Glimpse of Auckland and the Surrounding Country.

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and the

(From the Sydney Morning Herald)

"Christmas, 1851. - In the course of another month, Auckland will have entered upon the twelfth year of her existence. When the incontrollable cupidity of a knot of colonizing experimentalists induced the people of England to attempt the foundation of settlements in New Zealand; when an extorted assent was reluctantly obtained from Parliament to legalize the operations of the Broad Street Directory; at the eleventh hour, as it were, it seemed to strike the ministry of the day, that they, as well as the 'wideawakes', (as the Maories termed the Wakefields), ought to have a finger in the projected colonial pie. A rival race of colonization forthwith ensued; the Company sending forth their swarms under the guidance of Colonel Wakefield; the Crown confiding their arrangements to the fidelity of Captain Hobson.

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The Company planted their pioneers upon the northern shores of Cook's Strait. The Crown, after a brief interregnum at the Bay of Islands, transferred the seat of Empire to the banks of the Waitemata: the pair of English rivals barely anticipating a French occupation by merely a few weeks' precedence.

"I have no design to treat of the objections first raised, and the facilities subsequently afforded by missionary influence for the colonization of New Zealand. The treaty of Waitangi, the manner in which Earl Grey attempted to set that sacred treaty aside, as "A device to amuse savages" - and the delusion which the Crown's right of pre-emption has proved to the natives - who in covenanting for the acknowledged right to possession, vainly imagined he had secured the coequal right to dispose of the soil - are subject matter for the historian; and that I thus casually allude to them, is in order that I may not, in the course of my sketch, be afterwards encumbered with vexatious explanations.

"Having shewn upon what a mere chance contingency the colonization of New Zealand fell to the lot of England or of France (the French ship arrived in the Bay of Islands after Captain Hobson had maintained the prior right of discovery and occupation of the northern; and dallied there whilst he sped to and made the like claim over the Middle and Southern islands) turn we to the spot where the seat of a mighty future empire has been firmly fixed.

"In point of commercial and agricultural position nothing can possibly surpass that upon which Auckland stands. It has been the fashion of the Company's colonists to stigmatize it as "Hobson's choice". Both 'Hobson' and his 'choice' may pardon the

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innocuous sneer; for never was choice more aptly or more ably made. The centre of a mighty circle of great navigable waters, the embouchere of a country destined ere long to be the producer of immense pastoral and agrestial wealth; with the harbour of Manukau, its creeks, and estuaries, within seven miles of its western coast; with the Waitemata, the Tamaki, the Thames, the Mahurangi, the Matakana, the Wade, and a countless tracery of navigable creeks and rivers disembogueing themselves into the gulf of Hauraki: for economical, practical, and abundant communication between the yeoman and the shipman, nothing in the world can possibly surpass the facilities which Auckland enjoys.

"It was the misfortune of Captain Hobson that the bulk of his personal staff was not selected from the intelligence of England, but sifted from out such culls from New South wales as Sir George Gipps was but too happy to be rid of. Of this precious lot was the Surveyor General, more eager to don an epaulette than to design a city. And better would it have been for Auckland, had he been privileged to wear three such coveted appendages, even were one of them disposed en queue, than that he should have been permitted to destroy her leading thoroughfares by laying them out in oblique, instead of at right, angles. To such incompetent hands, however, was the ground plan of Auckland confided, and instead of profiting by the extraordinary natural and easily convertible accommodation which those deep indentations, Mechanics', Commercial and Freeman's Bay, so strikingly presented, this genius planned a submarine city, the lots sold in Commercial Bay to be hereafter rendered terra firma, by the monstrous filling in of that admirable natural

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haven; a haven, which by the projection of a sea wall at either horn, and the construction of a front wall, with double floodgates to the deep water, would have enclosed a dock as spacious and as easily available as the best docks of London or Liverpool.

"It is around Commercial Bay that the founders of Auckland first sat down, and from its shores the spread of city occupancy has continued to extend. Commercial Bay is one of the rifts or gullies which diverge from the various spurs of Mt. Eden. Of these gullies Mechanics' Bay may be considered a second, and Freeman's Bay a third; and it is around their slopes, and on the summit of their respective ridges,, that the town has been built. And, as the Government have never expended a shilling in levelling, metalling, or draining any of the streets save three, viz. Shortland Street, which leads from Commercial to Official Bay; Princes Street which leads from the church to the barracks; and Queen Street which leads from Commercial Bay to the Cemetry --the winter aspect of the Auckland quagmires may be easily imagined. People in the meanwhile, must only grin and bear it, comforting each other with the hope of 'the good time coming', their abundance of all the means and materials for road making, the vast extent of water frontage, the immediate contiguity of boundless tracts of the most fertile and varied soil, some day to be opened up, and an unlimited and magnificent scope for the extension of a mighty commercial city.

"The first glance of the grounds around Auckland was formerly far from inviting. I say was because a large portion of the recent waste has already become a perfect picture of cultivation, and every year is adding to the rich and glowing beauty of the land-

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scape. The soil is white, and seemingly infertile, being a friable clay; but the ease with which it is pulverised and the I generous return it affords for the care bestowed in reclaiming it, have amply rewarded the husbandman's toil. Indeed, taken as a whole, there is no place where vegetation is more luxuriant than in Auckland and its environs. While the artificial grasses of Tasmania become weak, bare and impoverished after being a few years laid down, those of New Ulster only grow more close, rich, and succulent - one cow, or six sheep, being the average estimate of stock which an acre will sustain throughout the year.

"From Auckland to Onehunga, from Onehunga to Otahuhu, from Otahuhu to Howick, from Howick to the Tamaki, from the Tamaki to Panmure and from Panmure to Auckland, the country is in an extraordinary and rapid state of reclamation. Luxuriant meadows, productive gardens, picturesque shrubberies, fruitful orchards, I magnificent corn-fields, abundant potato crofts, and warm farm steadings are being hewn, with unintermitting diligence and a heavy expenditure, from out the plains of scoria, and the wilderness of tea-tree and fern scrubs.

"When I first beheld Auckland in January, 1846, and gazed upon its nest of wooden boxes, by a stretch of courtesy denominated houses; when my eye roamed disconsolately over seas of tea-tree and fern-clad plains and mountains, as dun, as dismal, and apparently as unproductive as the wildest muirlands of Scotland; and when I beheld these seemingly barren heaths intruding into the very heart of the town, I hugged myself in the joyful knowledge that I was but a sojourner, not a settler. It will be easily imagined, that I quitted Auckland, after a week's visit,

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with no very exalted impression of its beauties. And, when circumstances brought me back to it a couple of years afterwards, the progress of improvement was still but small. Within the last three years, however, in despite of a multiplicity of obstacles and oppressions, the country has cast its slough. Muirland has given place to meadow land; unenclosed wastes to rich and securely-hedged pastures; and where formerly the eye fell sad upon a dense and profitless heath, it now revels delightedly amidst brilliant sweeps of luxuriant emerald clover. Let the traveller who desires to enjoy a panorama of nature's choicest painting, ascend Mount Eden and One Tree Hill. From thence he will behold town and villages spread in map-like distinctness before him; the Western Ocean and the swelling Eastern Gulf; the handsome villa and the homely cot; the golden wheat close, and the close mown meadow; speckled with its contented herds of sleek and fruitful kine; the tall rigged ship, and the long and fleet canoe; all the internal indices of successful industry, combined with all the charms of natural beauty, and cemented by all the auxiliaries of native and foreign commercial enterprise.

"The picture thus presented is, no doubt, essentially different from that which has just issued in London, from the studio of Mr. Fox. But before the caricature of Mr. Fox be accepted, it may be well to enquire what the integrity of Mr. Fox, for the task he has undertaken.

"Mr. Fox has throughout his New Zealand experience been the almost exclusive servant of the New Zealand Company; a body whose

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experiences as well as whose efforts have invariably been directed to damage and defame the province of New Ulster. Upon the death of Colonel Wakefield Mr. Fox became the Company's principal agent, and in the course of his duties he visited Auckland, residing during his three weeks' stay with his friend and sympathiser, the Honourable Constantine Augustus Dillon, whose only mode of repaying the people of Auckland (for the indignation they experienced at having a self-professed republican and socialist from the South quartered upon their revenue in the unintelligible capacity of Civil Secretary) was by continued and scurrilous abuse of the province and the people. This gentleman, I think, I may venture to classify amongst the genus horse-marine, seeing that he had endeavoured to serve her Majesty both ashore and afloat, in the saddle and on the quarter-deck. Unlike Eugene Aram, he proved 'equal to neither fortune'. Interest, however, is better than wit; for having migrated to Nelson, where he affected the popular and abused the Governor, he was pacified with a place, by orders from home, and no suitable place, that is of sufficient salary, being vacant, the office of Civil Secretary was, considerately, created; accordingly, that he might earn his salary, to Auckland he came, where the astounded citizens listened in surprise to the extreme violence of his radical rhapsodies, their intensity begetting a suspicion that the gentleman was merely acting a part, that in secret he was the Governor's spy, and that his own professed radicalism was but a trap to lure others into unguarded expression of their particular opinions. The episode is long, but it is necessary, because it is through the congenial colouring worked up by those conjoint paper-stainers,

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Messrs. Dillon and Fox, that the landscape painting of the latter has acquired a such a vivid and truthful finish in the space of three short weeks. Mr. Dillon tried to impress his own prejudices upon another Southern proprietor, but that gentleman entertained another, and a very very different opinion of New Ulster.

"The question is natural; the solution is simple. The natives of Australia could offer no resistance to the usurpation of their lands, which were at once and largely accessible as well to the bona fide colonist as to the squatter. The crown of England could not usurp the native lands of New Zealand; neither can its pre-emptive right now enable it to purchase them from the native to retail to the British subject. Under cover of this double dilemma, it has hitherto arrested colonial progress. This cannot last much longer; and the country once opened up to pastoral and agricultural pursuits - grass readily and luxuriantly taking the place of the tea-tree and the fern - New Zealand must speedily overtake if not outstrip her neighbours, because one acre in New Zealand will fatten more stock on an average than five acres would be equal to feed in Australia, and that, too, without any of the contingent risks from drought on the one hand, or ruinous floods on the other.

"Injurious as these land restrictions have been not only to colonists and the natives, but to the best interests of the Crown, the insane interdict which forbids the occupation of native lands, with their own consent, and at their own urgent request, for the purposes of depasturing stock, are infinitely more so. In 1848 and 1849, when the importation of cattle from Sydney and Newcastle was in full operation, there was a great desire entertained by

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many extensive Australian stockholders to obtain a footing in New Ulster, upon something like the same conditions to those which had proven so beneficial to New South Wales. Intelligent bushmen frequently came down in the cattle ships; and many of them explored the vast unbroken (and, by sheep and cattle, untrodden) interior with delight. They saw at a glance what a fine and fertile field for pastoral and agricultural industry it presented, and an immense influx of men and beasts would have ensued, had not the natives been prohibited (by the Crown's pre-emptive right of purchase) from selling, leasing, or granting even further permission to occupy) and the bar to occupancy was made perfect, as I have already shown, by the Crown's utter inability to compel the natives to sell or let, and by the grasping cupidity which retained the Crown's limited acres at 20s. and upwards, in order that the uniform price - that bane of Australian progress - might be preserved. So far was this fallacious policy carried, that even the meat contractors - whose stock, pent in narrow compass, were perishing in numbers - appealed to the Government in vain for permission to make arrangements for runs with native land owners; and although every cattle-keeper was losing his beasts by starvation, the Surveyor-General, in his place in the Legislative Council, had the modesty to contradict the statements of those most deeply interested and best acquainted with the facts, asserting upon his own comprehensive knowledge, that there was no deficiency of pasture.

"But the land laws of New Zealand are as unequal as they are injurious; for at the very moment the colonists of New Ulster were bowing in obedience to their ruinous imposition,

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the colonists of New Munster were setting them coolly at defiance; whilst the superb Waikato and Waipa were sealed in the north, the valleys of Wairarapa and Wairau were quietly filling with stock in the south; the squatting which was imperiously forbid in the one, being quietly, if not impotently, winked at in the other. I need but direct attention to the cattle trade now so busily carried on between Victoria and Canterbury, to demonstrate the gross and grinding injustice to which New Ulster has been subjected, and to show the anomalies of despotism to which, under the colour of law, the different settlements of this much-wronged colony are subjected.

Some two years since, a few enterprising young men arrived from England. Their destination was Canterbury. During the stay of the ship in Auckland, they made a trip to the Waikato; and, like all who have visited that magnificent district, became enraptured with its fertility and its beauty. They proceeded to Canterbury notwithstanding, but very shortly returned; and applied, in compliance with the law, to Government to purchase land for them in their chosen district; which land was to be afterwards sold to them at the uniform price. Government undertook to do this, but the Crown's pre-emption price not exceeding 3d. per acre, the natives proved obstinate, and would not permit the poor Crown to turn an honest penny; the Crown's small expected profit would have been but 19s. 9d. per acre on the transaction. Failing, therefore, to acquire the freehold by law, these young men resolved to risk an occupancy on native lease. In this they have effectually succeeded; the natives entertaining the most ardent desire for the spread of European settlements and civilization.

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And as man is an imitative creature; as the Attorney-General of New Zealand has declared in the Legislative Assembly of New Zealand that the native born New Zealander is fully entitled to all the rights and privileges, and immunities of any and every other British subject; the law which closes native land against lease or purchase by British subjects is beginning to be considered illegal, and as such defied and despised. At all events, settlers are settled, and likely to settle without permission of the Crown in the Waikato district; and should the Crown adventure an ejectment, it will require a pretty considerable corps d'armee to enforce it.

"There is nothing more forcibly calculated to exhibit the state of barren unproductiveness to which the province of New Ulster is compelled than the information afforded by the Surveyor-General to the Rev. Walter Lawry, who has made public in the London Watchman, of the 31st July last, the meagre and miserable details thus supplied (save the mark!) as an inducement to emigration! - The Surveyor-General says there is very little land unsold within eight miles of the town of Auckland but beyond that distance there is a district containing about 15,000 acres!!! Besides this, the Papakura and the Karaka districts, from eight to twenty-five miles from Auckland are mentioned, but not even a hint of their area is vouchsafed, more than that farms there are sold in blocks of from 70 to 160 and 320 acres each, and at 20s. per acre.

Well may strangers imagine the province of New Ulster to be one which affords no scope for colonization, when such intelligence as this is all that the Surveyor-General's department can afford.

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No doubt the information is accurate as far as it goes. The surveyor speaks of the lands acquired by the Grown ere the natives had become familiar with the price obtained at Crown Land sales. Since then, they will no longer sell to the Crown, and thus the native mind is forced to brood over the injustice which they feel and which the disgusted and defected European colonist is not slow to aggravate; and thus, instead of tens of thousands, millions of acres of the finest and most fertile territory are left in primal waste, that the caprice and prejudice of a regardless Colonial Office may prevail. How long this ruinous state of inaction shall endure remains to be seen; but unless the Government shall wisely consent to act as land brokers between the races, there is a speedy prospect of the natives taking the matter entirely into their own hands.

"I think I have stated quite sufficient to account for the slow advance of Auckland contrasted with the extraordinary vitality which it has exhibited under so many vicissitudes, and under so many cruel and depressing influences. If we consider its interests always sacrificed to those of the insatiate and hostile New Zealand Company; if we look to the wreck and ruin entailed by the war; if we weigh the drains upon its population and resources arising from the successive gold manias of California and Australia, without any counteracting effort on the part of the Government to aid the colonists by relaxing the grinding land restrictions; if we reflect upon the enormous revenue (£31,000 per annum for New Ulster) that is raised and profligately squandered upon an unnecessary and incapable band of needy placemen; if we remember that for not one useful public work a sixpence is left to be

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spent; if we listen to the weekly debate of a Municipal Council called into existence with neither endowment nor money grant to carry on its inane functions, well may one feel astonished at the soundness and solvency of Auckland! If a solution of the riddle be asked for, the universal reference is to an increasing native civilisation. But if it be desired to thoroughly sift this native question, the subject escapes one's grasp for lack of statistical data. We know that the natives are extensive land and stock holders; we know that they are large producers of grain and provisions, and large consumers of British manufactures we know that they are constantly contracting for the building of vessels, and that they as punctually pay for them; we know that they have cash to their credit at the bank; but although we know and see all this, it is impossible to reduce it to a clear commercial statement. Inexperienced embryo English colonizers rejoice in Canterbury and the Middle Island, because of the paucity of natives. We, in the hard-tried and experienced north, glory in the number and intelligence of our native population, because we well know that without them we never could have borne up against the many difficulties to which we have been subjected. It is worth while for reflecting men to bear one fact steadily in mind, when they hear the south and middle settlements vaunted as every way superior to those of the north; that fact is, that the northern natives are far more numerous and a vastly superior people, both morally and physically, to those of the south. Intelligent natives do not locate themselves on the worst of their country's lands.

"It is six years since Sir George Grey assumed the Government of New Zealand. The rumour runs that he is about to be relieved.

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If so, he leaves Auckland without one stick or stone to record his services. For upwards of ten years Auckland was even without a boat wharf at which a passenger could land dry-shod. Under Government auspices a sham wharf has been for some time carrying on from the foot of Queen Street. It is a slender wooden box, loosely piled, with a wretched inside facing of drystone, and an internal filling of mud and dirt. The artificers employed on this notable public work think it may last for three years; and to amuse men's minds the public money is thus squandered!

"But, to return from the Queen Street abortion, as it has been appropriately termed, let a glance be cast at Official Bay, where, under the zealous exertion of Colonel Wynyard, aided by a subscription of the inhabitants, a substantial, elegant, and durable pier has just been completed; it. is 480 feet long, and 10 feet wide; and a public tank for the watering of shipping is now in process of construction, pipes from which are to be conducted to the end of Wynyard Pier.

*A steamer is just ready for launching, and remembering, as I do, the first that were constructed in Sydney and in Hobart Town, I can safely pronounce the Auckland original very far their superior. She is about fifty tons burthen, built of Kauri pine, by Mr. Stone, and is to be fitted with engines and boilers (nearly ready) by Mr. Bourne, of Auckland. She will be afloat and at work by the new year; and although the first, she will scarcely be the last to pick up her crumbs from the vast number of farm steadings that dot the innumerable waters around us.

"The Matakana coal experiment for the present is abandoned, but the proprietor is still confident in the existence of the

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mineral. The Waikato coal field is dormant, but there the mineral abounds. Flax experimenters have been many, but not successful; the decorticating the leaf has as yet to be accomplished: that effected, a large and generous export will lift us up again. The Kawau copper mines have ceased to be worked; this, however, it is hoped will prove but a temporary stoppage, and that under an abler and more practical management, a very different degree of success will be obtained.

"On dit that the Maukin is about to be withdrawn from the Sydney and Auckland trade, and fitted out for the whale fishery. Success attend her, and a score besides.

"A jockey club has been for the last two years established, and a yacht club has just been launched.

"It will be apparent from all this that though dull we are not daunted; and should a new Governor arise, and pursue the policy best adapted to secure the peace and prosperity of Hew Zealand - that is, open up the country - situated as we are, a sort of half-way house between Sydney and San Francisco, we shall speedily acquire such a population, and exhibit such a vast available field for profitable colonization, that mankind will then be lost in astonishment that such a land could be so long and ruinously controlled."

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