1859 - Fuller, F. Five Years' Residence in New Zealand - CHAPTER XII. POLITICAL MATTERS

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  1859 - Fuller, F. Five Years' Residence in New Zealand - CHAPTER XII. POLITICAL MATTERS
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Self-Government was not obtained in New Zealand without a struggle -- The presence of a large warlike Native Population was supposed to furnish grounds for deferring the boon--The Natives were conciliated by the arts of Peace, viz., giving good wages for their labour, and also trading with them--The relative numbers of the two Races by the Census of 1857--The Financial Debate in the General Assembly--The result is that a Loan of half-a-million of money is obtained on security of the Land Fund, with the guarantee of the Imperial Government, to be paid off in thirty years--A Steam Service contracted for--Opinions in the Colony on the position of Elected Superintendent--A Source whence future Political Parties may arise --The scarcity of Labour in the Canterbury Province explained with the provisions made to meet it--A Bet made that the exports of the Province in 1861, her twelfth year, will amount to £500,000--This is compared with the Exports of South Australia and the Victorian Colony--Agricultural capabilities of the Canterbury Province, and her Census of 1857--Probable future Legislation in favour of the Pastoral Interest--The Canterbury and Otago Schemes for obtaining the emigration of Labourers compared-- A topic of Complaint with the Colonists of the Northern Island against those formerly administering their Government.

VARIOUS publications on New Zealand have probably informed the general reader that a constitution has been lately granted the Colony by the Imperial Legislature, which is supposed to be formed very much on the model of that of the United States of America, with certain very important powers for introducing changes with the consent of the Imperial authority.

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The details of the constitution, and the laws already passed, maybe gathered in various local publications. Provincial almanacs register the acts of their Councils and those of the General Assembly, while the newspapers furnish the debates and general feeling in the Colony; therefore, allusions only to the most important measures passed, and the principles on which contention has been going on, with reference to those now proceeding, and others likely to be brought forward, may prove of interest to the reader. The party formerly in power did not resign without a struggle, and the principle of responsible advisers in administering the government, similar to that of Great Britain, was not carried without reference to Imperial authority; but the feeling of the Colony was strong in its favour, and no light amount of irritation was felt that the political privileges of the Colonists had been so long withheld.

The circumstance of there being but a very small white population, while there was a large native or aboriginal one, contributed to this. For there had been a war between the native and the white population, but this was brought to a conclusion by judiciously employing them in constructing roads in the Colony, for which they were paid at 2s. 6d. per day. This high rate of wages was afterwards increased, and the natives were so well satisfied, that they became frequently employed, and ultimately traded largely with the white man. Thus the natives became gradually sensible of the advantages accruing to them from the presence of the white man. They were well pleased at the high wages he paid them, and were glad to exchange their wheat, potatoes and timber, for tobacco, tea, sugar, and European manufactures. These comforts have been greatly increased

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to the natives; for the finding of gold in Australia, having raised wages there highly, has also raised the rate in New Zealand, and natives now commonly earn 5s. per diem and upwards. Many of their young men and boys, when living near Europeans, soon learned the value of accounts, and also to read and write their own language. So, many now possess cattle, and breeding mares, others can saw, or bring firewood for sale on their own bullock-drays, while the women hire themselves out to assist in washing, and other household labour, at 3s. a day; and it may be said that the younger portion of the tribes in his vicinity have adopted the religion of the white man.

Also, whatever fears may have been excited by the disproportion in the number of the white to that of the native population, are now done away by the steady flow of emigration that has been yearly going on since the Maori war. The general estimate of the native population, in 1857, amounted to 90,000; while the census of that year exceeded 37,000 for the white population, which may possibly increase 50 per cent, per annum for the next few years. But as the Maories get good wages, and what to them are high prices, considering their simple requirements, for the produce they may raise, troubles of a political nature with them are less likely to occur each year. However, after the war, anticipations of troubles with the Maories have been usually adduced, as affording sufficient reasons for withholding from the colonists the desired boon of self-government; but this, after some contention, the General Assembly of New Zealand received, in their second year's meeting, from the home authorities, and proceeded to plan their general financial policy.

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The business of the General Assembly during the first year was rather of a preliminary nature; but the contention was sharp, as the party who had been administering the Government were not disposed at once to yield up their places, though they had been accustomed to hear themselves blamed, and to have exception taken to their policy, by the great masses of the white population in the colony.

It was urged in the course of debate, that there was comparatively little land in the Northern island, of good quality, and at the same time free of the native claims, to be offered for sale.

It was argued that, in considering the public finances of those provinces, more money came in from the Customs than from sales of land; therefore, it was contended, that land might beneficially be almost given away, as long as people resided upon and cultivated it, because the annual revenue population brings to the Government, in the shape of customs on manufactures imported, would be yearly increasing, and becoming a more permanent source of revenue than could be derived from the sale of waste lands. On the other hand, it was argued that there was a large quantity of waste land for sale in the Middle island, which, if properly husbanded, would realize a very large amount of money in their provinces; while, from the scantier population, their Customs' revenue was there very small. Debates on these points arose, for the purpose of determining from which fund, viz., whether from the Customs, or from the fund occasioned by the sale of waste lands, the expenses of the general government should be drawn. Then, when the debt of the New Zealand Company was considered, it was found that there was no probability of meeting

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that charge, with any funds likely to accrue in the Northern island; but there was a prospect of paying it off by the sale of waste lands in the Middle Island. It was well known that the feelings of each province were opposed to allowing authorities from other provinces to superintend the administration of their waste lands; therefore a proposition of the following nature was adopted, and has been carried into effect, viz., to divide the debt due to the New Zealand Company equally between the three provinces of the Middle Island, and to borrow money in London to pay it off, pledging the land fund of those provinces as security for the loan. Then, as the Northern Island required money to complete purchases of land from the natives; money was also to be borrowed in London to meet the native claim, and the land-fund of those three provinces was to be the security for the repayment of that loan. The provinces of the northern island were then in receipt of sufficient revenue from their Customs to carry on their respective governments, while the provinces of the Middle Island depended mainly on the sale of their waste lands. Thus the land funds of all the provinces are pledged; but as the Imperial Government have lent their guarantee (which reduces the rate of interest to 4 per cent.), the yearly charge is very moderate, and the loan will be paid off in the course of thirty years--so this important matter may be considered as concluded. The starting of an efficient colonial mail steam service is also concluded, which is not only greatly desired by the mercantile community, but is also required to remedy the present inconvenient delay of communication between the seat of government and the provincial authorities.

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The principal topic under discussion now in the colony is the position of elected superintendents, which has been found to occasion some inconvenience in practice; for the authority of the General Assembly overrides that of the provincial councils, therefore an elected superintendent can plead, when he has occasion to differ from the ministry appointed by the General Assembly, that he is responsible to the people who elected him; and, as all the provincial councils have adopted the rules of the British House of Commons, the introduction of bills into those councils is left with the superintendent. Should, therefore, a violent party feeling in a province compel him to a prolonged resistance to the authority of the General Assembly, the wheels of government in that province may be nearly stopped!

It is argued, therefore, on one side, that the superintendent ought to be nominated by the general government, because the interests of each province are sufficiently protected by its own elected councils, and the superintendent can only act in conjunction with them. It is said that, as the constitution gives a nearly universal suffrage to New Zealand, an elected superintendent must be almost entirely the representative of the labouring classes, and that the rights of property may be liable to be interfered with in seasons of popular excitement. It is argued, further, that although the presidents of the different States of the American Confederation are appointed by election; nevertheless those States were independent of one another; organised and advanced in the mode of conducting their governments at the period of their federation; but that the case of New Zealand differs, in that the provinces are not yet sufficiently forward in their political organisation to

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allow of elected superintendents being placed over them. It is said, also, that the position of elected superintendents was urged in the British House of Commons by only one old colonial reformer, with whom it happened to be a hobby--viz., the late Sir W. Molesworth, Bart. On the other hand, it is argued that, whatever be the theoretical defects of the anomaly, it is well known in British history that the labouring population do not surrender what they deem a right once granted to them, and, therefore, the endeavour to do away with the office of elected superintendent would cause more contention than the anticipated advantages promised. It is argued that the difficulties which have hitherto arisen might be obviated by a clearer definition between the powers of the provincial authority and those of the general government, so that each may understand more distinctly than they do at present their respective powers, and that this would prevent the subordinate authority from endeavouring to encroach upon the higher authority; and further, that this has occurred hitherto merely from the circumstance of the provincial councils, having first been called together, and put into action, when the constitution plainly contemplated the General Assembly being first assembled to appoint the work for the subordinate legislatures. It is said, however, that in two only of the provinces, viz., Wellington and Canterbury, is much feeling shown in favour of the office of elected superintendent: while in the four other provinces it is desired to do away with the position. And this is supposed to arise from the state of the electoral roll, because the confidence of the proprietary classes cannot be given to a man at the head of the province who has been nominated entirely by the labouring

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classes, from among their own ranks, and who cannot, therefore, be supposed to possess sufficient information on the different wants and policies of the colony, to judge fairly between conflicting interests, or to head becomingly the hospitalities of the province, and to convey information concerning it to strangers visiting the country. This is considered not to accord with the principle of representation, as practised in Great Britain, which is supposed to be so regulated as to represent fairly the different interests of the country, and is not based upon the supposition of representing numbers only. It is defined that somewhat of compromise, or rather of forbearance and concession, is the spirit of the British constitution; if either party were to employ to the utmost the powers allowed by law, there would be a stop to the government of the country.

There have been some troubles in consequence of the provincial councils having passed bills granting permission to private persons to erect mills, bridges, &c, which bills had been afterwards disallowed by the general government, solely on the ground that the subject was not in the jurisdiction of the provincial council, and that the sanction of the general government should have been obtained before the bills were presented by the superintendent to their respective councils; and as this caused a year's delay in rectifying the mistake, the public were not pleased at so much time being lost before the desired conveniences were obtained. But there is no doubt that the bias given to mere numbers by the state of the electoral roll causes the chief hostility to the circumstance of the superintendent being an elected officer; and many future differences between political parties may be expected to

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turn on this point. Other divisions may be expected to arise from the following source: At the first starting of a new colony, if we suppose the population to be divided into the two classes of employers and the employed, we must suppose that those who employ labour, make their calculations in the hope of obtaining some returns for their money laid out by the sale of their produce, before they part with their money in the first instance; but as this is viewed in countries newly occupied as being attended with some uncertainty, it is usual for certain rights to be held out by those who have the business of making the laws, and regulating the usages of the young community, as a further inducement to the employers to proceed in their occupation. Now, these rights may be of different descriptions to suit different occupations; but, whatever they may be, they will enter into the calculations of the employers, as being rights to which they consider themselves legally entitled. But it may happen that, some years hence, these rights may be objected to by the mass of the population on different grounds, and the demand be made to do away with them. If, therefore, this is done with the consent of the holders, it would be fair enough; but if any are deprived of these rights without compensation, and against their will, they must deem themselves to be injured individuals. But in the conduct of public affairs under representative institutions, when men are bidding against one another for the popular favour, to obtain possession of office, some will be found who are more regardful of the popular clamour to withdraw these rights, than to respect the abstract title of those who hold them; so these rights may be interfered with, in a manner seriously to affect the

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pecuniary prospects of some of their possessors. Such will surely, therefore, consider those who had deprived them as being unfit persons to conduct public affairs, in consequence of showing this disregard for the rights of private property. Injuries of this nature may therefore be expected at some future time, to lead to the formation of distinct political parties, independent of the personal animosities they may engender.

The scarcity of labour that has existed in the Canterbury Province may be explained by relating, that the ships sent out by the Canterbury Association, viz., about twenty in number, might convey nearly equal numbers of cabin, intermediate, and steerage passengers, the hold of each vessel being pretty well filled with their luggage. Now both cabin and intermediate passengers would be desirous of employing labourers, therefore the supply brought in these ships did not equal the demand, even though some of the cabin passengers, who were young men coming out to learn, would be glad to take work, even when in receipt of small incomes from England; and when it is also considered how soon the labourer rises out of the condition of a farm-servant, it may be better understood how limited was the supply of labour, compared with the demand for it. Labourers came in from other colonies, but so did employers at the same time. After the Association stopped, two small vessels, freighted with labourers, were received from Melbourne. Then an agent, sent to England, succeeded in the course of about two years, in sending out five or six vessels filled with emigrants, but the supply of money running short, only three more could be sent out during the next two years. The revenues of the colony being now large enough to sup-

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port the expense, it is expected an agent for the future will be employed permanently in sending out emigrant vessels periodically.

The rapid rise in material wealth that the Australian and New Zealand colonies have made, has been matter of great surprise to those only acquainted with the circumstances of the countries of Europe. Among the first-comers to the Canterbury Plains, was one from the colony of Victoria in Australia, who, in three years after Canterbury was started, having formed some estimate of the capabilities of the Province, ventured the opinion that its exports in the year 1861 (that is, about twelve years after it was started) would attain the amount of £500,000; and this opinion, being backed by a small bet of £5, was circulated through the colony.

It was formed on estimating the natural rate of increase of sheep then in the Colony, or known to be on their way to it, leaving a moderate surplus for the export of dairy and agricultural produce, and was at the time deemed to be almost incredible; but experience has shown it to be highly probable, from the rapid rate at which the exports are increasing. This estimate was formed without calculating on any mineral produce, but, as it is highly probable that a gold-field will be at work before the year indicated, a great addition to the exports of the Province is expected from that source. Now, this anticipated export is only analogous to the rise of the Australian colonies, as appears on reference to a small publication of statistics, by Poster, recently Colonial Secretary of the Province of Victoria; for it therein appears that the exports of the Victorian colony, composed almost entirely of animal products, viz., wool and tallow, exceeded £600,000 in the twelfth year after

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it was started. But this colony had a larger extent of pasture for their flocks to range over than the entire Middle Island of New Zealand presents; and it enjoyed, moreover, easy access to New South Wales and Tasmania, which were then well stocked with sheep; so young men with previous colonial experience could start their Runs with a large flock, which gives a great advantage in commencing the occupation. From the same publication it is gathered, that the exports of South Australia amounted to about £400,000 in the twelfth year after it was started, and this was divided between mineral produce, valued at about £230,000, wool and tallow about £70,000, and agricultural produce, consisting almost entirely of flour, at £100,000. The price of flour at that period being about £10 per ton, this export would probably amount to 10,000 tons. The above-mentioned estimate of the probable exports of the Canterbury province, in her twelfth year, appears therefore to be only analogous to the early rise of the two colonies, as being intermediate between the two.

In viewing the capabilities of the Canterbury Plains, the agriculturist would observe, that from each of the two centres at present established, viz., Christchurch and Kaiapoi, 10,000 tons of flour might be easily exported, if all the country within a day's draying of those centres were fully occupied as arable farms, and engaged in raising wheat, as their chief product, for sale, while the abundance of running streams offers an ample water-power for grinding it. But the estimate of the capabilities of the province should not be limited to that amount, because the public surveyors estimate 300,000 acres, within ten miles of the sea coast, as land well suited for agricultural purposes.

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It may be observed that the published returns of 1857 give the exports of the South Australian flour, (some of which was sent to England,) as amounting to 30,000 tons, which it is thought will increase yearly, and supply most of the demand in Australia. And it should be noted that the exports of New Zealand to Australia are expected to consist principally of barley, oats, and dairy produce, rather than of flour, which the Australians can raise to any extent, provided they have the labour, as their climate is well adapted for wheat. But from the want of labour to till the soil, it is hardly expected that the exports of 1861, from the Canterbury province, in agricultural and dairy produce, (for the latter will be largely raised on the agricultural farms,) will attain the value of £100,000 in that year, which would furnish an equivalent, in comparing the progress of this colony with that of South Australia in agricultural productions alone. Nevertheless, it is supposed, from other sources, that the amount of £500,000, which was estimated in the third year as being the probable value of the exports from the province in its twelfth year, will be attained, for the export of 1857 was generally estimated at £100,000, of which the wool alone was worth about £80,000, 1 (as could be judged of by estimating from returns of the census,) and the remaining £20,000 was made up in agricultural and dairy produce.

Thirty thousand bushels of wheat were exported to the province of Wellington, which was purchased gene-

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rally at from 4s. to 5s. per bushel. The census returns of the province of Canterbury gave, for the year 1857 330,000 sheep, 13,000 head of cattle, and a population of more than 6,000 souls, while the revenue of the colony exceeded £40,000, which was nearly equally divided between the customs and the land fund.

Speculations upon the probable price of land in future may take this form.

The pastoral being the principal interest to the colony, and the occupation constituting its chief source of wealth, it is obviously the public policy to suit itself to these requirements.

The province contains thirteen millions of acres, a great portion of which is high and mountainous country, but six millions of acres may be safely assumed as capable of being let at a maximum rent of £100 for 20,000 acres of land, when fully stocked: this would bring to the public treasury a yearly increase to the funds arising from the sale of waste lands (which are solely bought for agricultural purposes) amounting to £30,000 per annum. But it must be expected that, in eight or ten years, the Runs first started will be overcrowded, and some means must be adopted for increasing the feed on the run, to support the increase of the stock; for, when not required by the butcher, the wether is worth keeping for the sake of his wool; and, as long as there is sufficient feed, it is more profitable to keep him than to boil the carcase down for tallow; but it would never answer for the squatter to spend money in improving the quality of feed upon land, the freehold of which was not secured to him. Schemes of the following nature may hereafter be thought of:-- If 10s. an acre can be obtained for large tracts of gravelly,

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poor soil, not adapted for agriculture, and far in the interior, it ought to be considered a good price, and it would be worth the squatter's while to pay that price for the whole extent of his Run, provided it extended over a sufficient term of years to enable him to meet it from the proceeds of his occupation; thus he might well afford to pay £500 a year, when holding 10,000 sheep on a run of 20,000 acres, besides being able to afford to spend money yearly in improving the quality of the feed upon the Run. A scheme might, therefore, be proposed to him, rendering it compulsory on his part to pay £500 a year, extending over a period of twenty years, at the end of which time the freehold of 20,000 acres would be made over to him; this would assess the land at a valuation of ten shillings the acre, and would secure to the public that it should be all sold, and not merely dotted over in detached portions, securing the best part of it, and leaving the remainder valueless. Such properties might be estimated to return from £5000 to £10,000 a year when completed, but requiring twenty years to complete them. If objections were urged to this by the other part of the population, that the price of good land was thereby reduced, it might be met by excepting all good agricultural land, well-timbered land, or that containing minerals, which could be surveyed and sold at the same price as the rest of the land in the colony. Neither side of course at present are ready to consider such a project; but it has occurred to a few individuals in the colony, as being likely to be brought before the public mind at a future day. It has been thought that such an arrangement might be beneficially extended over a tract of two millions of acres of waste land, situated

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nearest to the places of shipment; and if it were adopted, £50,000 a year would accrue to the public treasury for twenty years in succession, without affecting the rent of the remaining four millions of acres, which might still be bringing in £20,000 per annum, until other terms were made with them.

The consideration of such plans as the above set before one newly-arrived in the colony, may tend to satisfy him that each province has its own particular line of policy to pursue, of which the residents are the best judges, though party contentions may at times appear to run high, and that the opinions of neighbouring colonists, acquainted only with their own localities, are not sufficient guides in determining the merits of different policies advanced.

The presence of natives in the Northern islands requires in some points a different policy to be pursued to that which holds in the Middle island. The settlers in the North can carry on a trade with the natives by exchanging English manufactures for agricultural produce, which they again export, and in consequence of the high price of labour, this sometimes answers better than to grow largely themselves for export; while the policy of the Southern provinces, in consequence of there being few natives, more particularly requires obtaining European workmen. But here different ideas appear to regulate the governments of Canterbury and Otago: the former hope, by a systematic aid to emigrants, to obtain the classes they desire; while the latter appear to expect that a population will, of their own accord, find their way to the province, if pleased with the prospects held out to them of advancement.

One great source of complaint between the colonists

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in the Northern island, and those formerly administering their government, arose from the presence of native claims to the great bulk and best portions of the waste lands. It was contended that these ought to have been purchased before the increase of population from Europe should induce the natives to place so high a value upon them, that purchasing from them afterwards, would become difficult, and the occasion of a large expenditure, which would be greatly required by the provincial government, for prosecuting their public works. 2 The presence of these extensive native claims were always a very irritating topic in the Northern island, and doubtless occasioned the chief source of that great disagreement which existed between the colonists and their former government.

But the rude abundance throughout New Zealand, among the lower classes, constitutes a valid safeguard against serious disturbances; nevertheless some hope to rise to power by pursuing the trade of agitation. The demagogue is not absent. Even when common labouring men are earning 8s. and 10s. per diem, may some be heard to tell them that they are injured and wronged, and ought to contend with their oppressors!

It is objected by some to make the sale of waste lands the principal source for obtaining funds for introducing labour and carrying out public works, on the ground

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that these expenses are thus thrown upon the yeoman class who can ill afford it. It is replied, on the other hand, by those who have practically encountered the difficulties of conducting the government of young communities, that it is very difficult in their early days to obtain sufficient money for carrying them on without some simple and inexpensive mode of collection is adopted, and that no simpler one than the sale of waste lands exists. For the custom of employers is to pay for work done, and not to be done, while workmen desire to avoid the sense of incurring any heavy debt to a private employer; so both these parties desire that the cost of the labourer's passage should come from a public fund, and that necessarily when the cost is high. Also that the introduction of labour and continuance of public works yearly improves the value of land, and it is therefore just that the owners of it, whether large or small proprietors, should bear the expense. Again, that it is not the custom of traders to lay out their money on what does not promise them immediate returns, so their, contributions can be only obtained for local improvements, as experience shows they require all their money to maintain their credit out of the colony. A sufficient price placed upon the waste lands, therefore, to deter the speculator, appears to be a practical means of keeping them open for the small holders to obtain advantageous sections at the upset price, until all the lands adjoining the centres of population have been occupied; after which period it may be open for consideration, whether it is necessary to sell the back country to capitalists in the colony or companies formed in the mother country at a lower rate, when there are other funds to help to keep up the required supply of labour, and to continue

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the public works. Thus, in different stages of their growth colonies have a different policy to pursue; for the yeoman class may not be induced to come out to them by the mere cry of cheap land, when they experience that, by its distance from a town, or want of means of communication, the districts open for them to choose in become practically dear land for them to occupy.


1   Recent information gives £109,000 as the declared value of the exports in 1857, increased on account of a rise in the price of wool; and the revenue for the first half of the year 1858, as reaching £48,000, occasioned by increased land sales.
2   If the reader here remembers that the wages of the native tribes when first brought into contact with Europeans seldom exceeds three or four pence per diem, (which is nearly the rate during the winter months in parts of Ireland and Germany), he may better comprehend the great advantages that have accrued to the Maories of New Zealand by the continued presence of the white man, and the increased value with which they now regard their claims to the waste lands.

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