1849 - Hursthouse, C. An Account of the Settlement of New Plymouth - CHAPTER VIII: Requirements of the Settlement..

E N Z B       
       Home   |  Browse  |  Search  |  Variant Spellings  |  Links  |  EPUB Downloads
Feedback  |  Conditions of Use      
  1849 - Hursthouse, C. An Account of the Settlement of New Plymouth - CHAPTER VIII: Requirements of the Settlement..
Previous section | Next section      

CHAPTER VIII: Requirements of the Settlement...

[Image of page 141]



Requirements of the Settlement--Emigration.

THE chief requisites for the rapid advancement of this Settlement are: --

I. Improvements in the roadstead, as described in Chapter VI.
II. Establishment of a newspaper.
III. A share of Government expenditure, a body of pensioners, &c.
IV. A loan fund.
V. Renewal of emigration.

II. It would be quite superfluous to dilate on the advantages which a "journal" would confer, but it may be observed, that nothing has tended to retard the progress of the Settlement more than the absence of a newspaper. Auckland has three; Wellington, two; Nelson, one: and although these prints deserve credit for the trifling interest they have manifested in a sister Settlement, they have, perhaps unconsciously, been the means of disseminating many prejudicial misstatements respecting it.

[Image of page 142]

In a pecuniary point of view, a small weekly journal would answer well. It would be warmly supported by the settlers, both as subscribers and contributors; and if one page were devoted to plain practical articles in the "Maori tongue," it would probably be the means of great usefulness among the natives. The paper should be combined with a small printing and stationery establishment; and the concern, in the hands of an active practical man, would be as advantageous to the proprietor as to the public.

III. The justice of a more equitable division of public expenditure has been pointed out at page 74.

There is no part of New Zealand where the plan of military colonization by pensioners could be more effectively carried out than in this district. The Settlement offers every facility for their location. Mixed with an industrious agricultural population, the pensioner, by force of example, would probably be made industrious too. He would here be removed from those temptations to dissipation which naturally exist in the vicinity of the capital. 1 A considerable private expenditure, a partial supply of labour, a rapid increase of population, would form part of the many advantages derivable from a body of pensioners; and although they are required here only as settlers, they would be useful in training a militia.

[Image of page 143]


Considering the importance of the Taranaki district--its midway position between the northern and southern capitals--its large native population, --it would be advisable to make New Plymouth the regular station of a small military force--say two companies. The "Land Question" being amicably settled, the natives, as a body, quiet, orderly, and industrious, it may perhaps be imagined that soldiers are required here chiefly to secure a greater expenditure; this, however, is not the desired object. High as we may estimate the character of the New Zealanders, we must remember that, only just emerging from barbarism, they still follow some of their old usages, opposed alike to English laws and customs. Let us suppose, what would certainly be a very extreme case, that an European, in a fit of passion or intoxication, strikes and kills an unoffending native. The homicide is arrested, but it is possible that the friends of the deceased, in the passion of the moment, would attempt to force the gaol, and seize the prisoner; and the civil authorities, in trying to prevent such a violation of the law, could only swear in special constables, who, if they did their best, might just do enough to provoke a general quarrel. Now, among the natives there are several who, in knowledge and civilization, have advanced far beyond their fellows; and if, in such a conjuncture, this more enlightened party were supported by even a small military force, they would not only join in effectually resisting the contemplated

[Image of page 144]

violation of the law by the riotous and ill-disposed but, as being able to assume a stronger tone, would probably succeed in convincing them that the Queen's custom, or "English law," was far preferable to their own.

The introduction of soldiers into a quiet agricultural Settlement like this might be attended with some unpleasant results; but, all circumstances considered, a small military force would be a desirable acquisition--not as aggressive, nor for the purpose of overawing the natives on any question connected with "Land," but simply as an "efficient police" for the maintenance of the "common law," and the moral assistance of the more enlightened natives in promoting the civilization of those who are still semi-barbarians.

IV. This Settlement would now be greatly benefited by the introduction of a system of small loans to the class of working farmers; or occasionally to poor but honest and enterprising men, anxious to try some of the natural productions of the district. Cases frequently occur, when the small cultivator suffers much from the want of a little ready money at the commencement. For instance, he may be compelled to make shift with wretched out-buildings, and cannot purchase the necessary stock and implements to farm in the most economical style. If a body of the Company's shareholders, the absentee proprietors, or any parties interested in the prosperity of the Settlement, would devote even two or

[Image of page 145]


three thousand pounds to be loaned in small sums at 51. or even 10l. per cent. --holding the farm as security; they would be protected from loss, and would afford great assistance to a most industrious class, who will do much to develop the agricultural capabilities of the district.

Considerable good would also be effected, if a little pecuniary aid were afforded to a society which it has been proposed to establish under the name of the "Taranaki Association." It will be a kind of agricultural society combined with a Mechanic's Institute, and would embrace among its members all the magistrates, and most of the farmers, tradesmen, and respectable mechanics, of the place. It is proposed to establish a library and reading-room, to hold annual agricultural and horticultural shows, and monthly meetings for the discussion of any given subject of importance; so that the association would not only aid in the improvement of farming, but materially promote the general interests of the Settlement.

V. The local measures and improvements here suggested, perhaps involve the consideration of a subject which, of all others, is the most important-- the "Renewal of Emigration,"--when this question naturally presents itself, Is Taranaki a district where secure possession of land can be ensured? Happily the time has at last arrived when this question can be answered in the affirmative. It has been explained that, under Governor Grey's arrange-

[Image of page 146]

ments, a legitimate purchase has already been effected from the natives for 30,000 acres, --not swamp, or sheep runs, or bare hill sides, but 30,000 acres of rich soil, well wooded and watered, and capable of producing luxuriant crops.

Estimating from data furnished by the present Settlement, this block alone would require for its fair cultivation and development a community of about --

50 capitalists, or large farmers;
200 smaller farmers;
2000 agricultural labourers;
800 of the common mechanical trades;
300 engaged in trade and commerce;
50 professionals.

3400 male adults.

If, with a present population of scarcely 1200, the "speculative should wish to consider the practicability of acquiring a larger tract than would require even for its fair development a gross population of more than 12,000, Chapter IV. shows that in all human probability the Government authorities will succeed, quietly and gradually, in making fresh purchases. But should this not be the case, the most sceptical may rest assured that, by the time the land already secured is properly "filled up," no difficulty will be found in further expansion.

As emigration should be commenced at once, and

[Image of page 147]


gradually extended, the first vessel should be despatched in the autumn of 1849. At the time I write, the greater part of the land which the Company have for sale is bush land; and the most effectual plan for laying out a small block of this, merely as a beginning, would be the following: --

I. From some given point, a main road seventy feet broad, and three miles long, should be formed half a mile in the bush, and carried about parallel with its edge, deviating a little, if necessary, to avoid any broken ground. The timber on the whole breadth of seventy feet, should be cut down and burnt, but thirty feet would be sufficient to form as the actual road. With seventy feet cleared, a thirty feet road could be so turned as to avoid any large stumps; by which means the expense of the work would be materially lessened.

II. Through this main road, three narrower cross-roads should be formed, extending half a mile each way, deviating, if necessary, from a straight line.

III. The sections should then be laid out, not exactly in fifty acres, and of the absurd parallelogram form of the first great survey, but sized and shaped with reference to the nature of the country, natural boundaries, &c, as in Mr. W. Carrington's late excellent survey of a portion of the Omata purchase.

A block as here defined, containing nearly 2,000

[Image of page 148]

acres, level, well-watered, and of the richest soil might be selected within three miles of the present village. The expense of the roads has been estimated at about 20s. per chain; whilst the complete survey would be undertaken for 1s. 1d. per acre.

The classes most wanted at the present time are farmers and capitalists (with from 200l. to 2,000l.), agricultural labourers and machine makers, sawyers, carpenters, wheelwrights, and blacksmiths, with those of the other common trades. In colonies, married men succeed best, and steadiness and industry are more conducive to prosperity than the mere knowledge of any particular occupation. In farming, he who possessed these qualifications, but who had never seen a plough, would succeed better than another who, without them, might be practically conversant with all the details of agriculture. 2

It is an excellent plan for two or three families of neighbours to emigrate and settle together. Mutual assistance is thus obtained throughout the voyage, and in all subsequent operations, whilst pleasant society is ensured at first landing. This is of great importance; for when all is strange around, the "old familiar faces" are doubly dear. As re-

[Image of page 149]


gards most colonies, the emigrant of capital would act prudently, if, before leaving England, he invested 25l. per cent, of his money in the funds, as a kind of reserve, to be employed to the best advantage when he had gained full experience. Here this precaution is scarcely needed, for Taranaki boasting neither mines nor railroads, a new corner is not liable to be misled by any scheming projector. If, however, a young man with from 500l. to 800l. is coming out, who has never before been entirely his own master, I should strongly advise him to leave 100l. or 200l. behind. Having less money on his arrival, he would be more economical in his habits, more circumspect in all his undertakings. In the course of a year or two he would discover that certain articles, much wanted in the Settlement, would pay a large profit to the importer; or he might himself require certain machinery, agricultural implements, &c, any of which, with money at command in England, he could readily obtain by writing to his agent.

This is particularly the poor man's country. Of the labouring population of the Settlement, there are not twenty men who work for hire six days in the week; almost every man is a "freeholder," possessing a house, some stock, and a few acres of land. As a proof of the high prosperity attained by this class, the statement at page 67 may be worth the attention of those who are desirous of im-

[Image of page 150]

proving the wretched condition of some of the labouring classes in England.

The emigrant may here be cautioned not to judge of this, or any new country, merely from first impressions. Few Englishmen ever land in a young colony, whose first real feelings are not those of disappointment. Even where much of the country has been reclaimed, and arts and civilization have produced cities and their refinements, as in the Canadas and Australia, the English eye seeks in vain, either in town or country, for that air of finish, comfort, and substantiality, found only in England. In a young Settlement like this, where the land, however fertile, is still chiefly in a state of nature; its rich and luxuriant vegetation is at first suggestive of difficulties in reducing it to those neat corn-fields and trim-fenced meadows, which the emigrant may have laboured and rejoiced in at home. This is, perhaps, a natural feeling--here, happily, it is but a transient one.

Let the emigrant remember, that on landing he will find a village not a town; for here, unlike the other settlements, labour has been expended chiefly in the country; and that the land immediately around the village is perhaps the worst and most broken part of the district. Let him bear in mind, that the population is under 1,200, and that the crops and cultivations he may see, principally in the "FitzRoy" block, are on partially exhausted soil. Suppose it about harvest time, and let him then stroll among

[Inserted illustration]

A Cottage Belonging to J.J. Wicksteed, Esq. J.P.

[Image of page 151]


the farms; see the district around Omata and the Mongaraki; mark the beauty of the country; reflect on what a handful of people have accomplished under almost overwhelming difficulties; and he will gratefully acknowledge, that his lot has fallen in "pleasant places."

Other countries may boast some particular excellence in a higher degree; but for a land in which are found combined a prolific soil of the easiest cultivation, beautiful scenery, and a climate at once delightful and invigorating, this part of New Zealand is probably unequalled. Let no one unacquainted with the district call this exaggeration. I have seen several parts of the world, but none so admirably adapted as this to the support of a large and prosperous agricultural population; and though I may be charged with enthusiasm, I would soberly venture to predict that the "Taranaki district," numbering its happy thousands, will eventually be known and celebrated as the finest part of perhaps the noblest islands in the world.

It is frequently charged on works descriptive of new countries that the "promised land" is painted in colours far too glowing. The charge, however, should rather be, that they seldom sufficiently impress the emigrant with the stern fact, that, in order "to reap the fruits," industry is as requisite in a new as in an old country. In this respect the chief difference between them is, that in the old labour frequently goes unrewarded, in the new

[Image of page 152]

never; but labour is necessary in both. Numerous cases have occurred in which the extravagant ideas formed of a colony, by a person of sanguine temperament on the perusal of some seductive book, have caused his utter failure. He reads of a delightful climate, and the richest soil, of fruits, flowers, and brilliant skies, of noble rivers teeming with fish, and the forest alive with game; but not of the axe, the saw, the plough, the first roughness of "bush life," and the numerous petty discomforts to which for a time all must submit. Bitterly disappointed, he soon becomes the idle grumbler, damping the energy of others; then, perhaps, the confirmed drunkard; and, finally, quite ruined, returns home to damn the scene of his folly, and to picture the colony as the abode of misery and desolation. But let every man come prepared to work, and he will surely reap the reward of his labour.

Fully convinced, however, that New Zealand as a field for colonization is superior in natural advantages to any other country which I have seen, I should yet be sorry to induce a single fellow-countryman to emigrate, if there were the slightest chance of his having to suffer those troubles and anxieties which a hostile Government inflicted on the early dwellers in the Company's Settlements. Now, however, thanks to a sounder policy, that monster grievance of New Zealand, the "land question," may be considered practically settled. A

[Image of page 153]


military and naval force fully adequate for protection, and causing a considerable expenditure beneficial to the settlers, has been concentrated in the country. The Local Government, warned by dearly-bought experience, will never be hurried into hostilities against, the natives, nor probably again undertake them without grave reason, and such a force as shall insure victory; whilst the natives, aware of their own prowess, and justly proud of their partial successes, have nevertheless learned enough to know, that a force could be brought which would render resistance to English law utterly hopeless. Besides, as they are rapidly advancing in civilization, they are beginning to discover that peace is more "profitable" than war, and hence they will not be readily induced to incur the liability of extermination. There may perhaps, occasionally, be petty local interruptions of the general tranquillity; but the universal tendency and order of things is peace and its prosperous consequences, an opinion I may be allowed to fortify by quoting the following recent words of the Governor-in-Chief, Sir George Grey: --"At the present moment there is probably no portion of the world in which life and property are more secure than in New Zealand; nor is there any country which holds out greater promise of prosperity and happiness to intending emigrants."

It must, I think, be evident that nature has been lavish in her gifts to this beautiful district. The

[Image of page 154]

salubrity of the climate is proved by a ratio of births and deaths, to which it would be difficult to find a parallel. Here, no Canadian winter locks up the land in ice; no Australian hot winds scorch and blight; and here, unlike South Africa, there are no noxious reptiles or animals of prey. The soil is highly productive, easily worked, and capable of supplying all the necessaries--many of the luxuries of life. The district is rich in a variety of valuable flax and timber; and is pre-eminent, even in New Zealand, for an abundance of the purest water. The shipping facilities of the Settlement are equal to those enjoyed, naturally, by places of considerable commerce. Its situation with respect to Australian and home markets gives it many advantages; whilst, as part of New Zealand, its relative position to countries rich in tropical productions, is an important addition to these great natural capabilities.

What is now required is an influx of capital and labour. Always assuming that the emigrant be duly qualified by energy and industry, the Taranaki district is one where, with moderate means, a man whose life in England has been a constant weary struggle to maintain his station, but who sees with bitterness that his children must descend in the social scale, may soon create a fine estate, and live ten years longer to enjoy it; where the tenant farmer, whose sons may become labourers on the land he tilled, may escape high rent, tax, and tithe, and soon rise to be the independent proprietor; where the steady

[Image of page 155]


mechanic may escape the crushing competition existing in old countries, and find constant employment, with good wages and cheap living; where the half-starved labourer may revel in rude plenty, build his house on his own land, and soon raise himself to comfort and prosperity.

[Page 156 is blank]

1   About 600 of these men with their families have been concentrated around Auckland.
2   It is a common remark in Canada, that the most successful agriculturists are frequently those who were ignorant of the art before they emigrated; as such men (unlike the English farmer), having nothing to unlearn, at once readily adopt that ruder but more profitable method of cultivation practised in new countries.

Previous section | Next section