1843 - Chapman, H. The New Zealand Portfolio - [Front Matter]

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  1843 - Chapman, H. The New Zealand Portfolio - [Front Matter]
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The original object of the New Zealand Portfolio was to direct the attention of the Government, the New Zealand Company, and others, to measures which might be carried into execution in this country to the advantage alike of the colonists and of the parties to whom the several papers in the series are especially addressed. Although I have been all along most anxious to secure for the colonists several very important benefits, I have taken care to propose nothing which does not promise to confer some equal benefit on the other party contemplated. Upon this point I need not expatiate, as the papers themselves contain sufficient evidence that I have never lost sight of so important a feature. I have, in short, asked no favours, but have either urged reasonable claims or have made suggestions as beneficial to one party as the other.

A reference to the contents of this volume will show that I have strictly adhered to the class of measures capable of being carried into effect in this country; although I have more than once been tempted to depart from my original design and address the colonists--my fellow colonists, I may almost call them--on measures which they might adopt with incalculable advantage to themselves

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and without exterior aid. But as other engagements compelled me to confine the present publication to six monthly issues, I came to the conclusion that there was quite enough to be said under the original design, and the other objects 1 to which I have alluded might be left to a future and better opportunity, and perchance to an abler hand.

No body of colonists ever had larger claims upon the sympathies of their fellow countrymen at home than the first settlers under the Company, -- none a better title to the fostering aid of the government. It was a bold adventure theirs, to trust themselves, with no better protection than the proud consciousness of their own good intentions, among a set of untamed savages, inhabiting apart of New Zealand scarcely known to Europeans, and where their favourable reception by the denizens of the soil, was at that time extremely problematical. This circumstance alone was calculated to create an intense interest in their favour in all well regulated minds, which has been not a little augmented by the air of romance which characterized their enterprize, and which modern times have seldom furnished. But their claim upon the fostering

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care of the government rests on more substantial grounds. For several months after their arrival they were left without the semblance of government; yet order was preserved among them in the most admirable manner, purely by their own good conduct under the trying circumstances in the midst of which they were placed. Ungenerous indeed must that mind be which can find no sympathy for such men; and yet their simple but wise and effectual measures for mutual protection 2 have been treated as little short of treason. But their claims upon the consideration of the governments have happily been acknowledged both by Lord John Russell and by Lord Stanley, and it is to be hoped that those generous acknowledgments will not be entirely unproductive of fruits.

It was in the fullest confidence that the right honorable the Secretary for the Colonies is imbued with a sincere desire to promote the welfare of the settlers, that I took the liberty of respectfully addressing the first paper to him; and I may mention here that the view I have therein taken has been fully borne out by subsequent communi-

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cations from the Colony. The circuit system had worked so ill, that up to June last no supreme court had been held at Wellington. The two thousand people in the Northern part of the Island have the means of obtaining justice; the eight thousand people in Cook's Straits are denied such means. The county courts have jurisdiction to the extent of £20. only; the court of quarter sessions has jurisdiction similar to those of this country; beyond their respective functions, justice is denied the settlers, in defiance of the great Charter, which Blackstone fancied Englishmen carried with them, as it were a household god, wheresoever they might go. The Chief Justice I know will do all in his power to provide for the due administration of justice, but he cannot overcome physical impossibilities; and I repeat my conviction that there must be a separate jurisdiction for Wellington and Nelson respectively. Nay, if there be but one supreme court, it ought surely to be where population is the greatest.

Since my letter to Mr. John Abel Smith was written, production has been greatly extended in the Port Nicholson district, and the arguments which I have there used to show that the colonists have abundant security to offer might be re-stated with greater force. The Wellington mills are now grinding corn grown upon the Hutt, an exportation of potatoes to New South Wales had commenced in March last, and I find advertised in

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the Gazettes of May, New Zealand flax in a condition for shipment.

It should be observed that exportation to England is not at all necessary to show that the colonists are actively producing. They have a large trade with Sydney, and it may be that the importation of British goods into Wellington and Nelson will for a while be paid for with the wool drafts of New South Wales, purchased with the productions of New Zealand, and disposed of in the Sydney market. This indeed has been the case to a considerable extent. All, or nearly all the whale oil produced in the bays and coves of New Zealand has gone to Sydney, and has no doubt indirectly paid for part of the goods shipped from this country and for supplies derived from Sydney, so that it would only mislead were we to judge of the purchasing power of New Zealand by the trade carried on between the colony and the mother country. Native production and native demand have both been under-estimated. As to the colonists, it is quite clear, from the advices just received, 3 that they are pursuing the right and prudent course. In a newly established colony men are too apt to hang about the town as if they were afraid to tempt the productive powers of the soil; but Wel-

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lington and Nelson are fortunate in possessing some active spirits who will speedily test the capabilities of the country, and set an example to the less energetic, which I feel sure will not be neglected.

As to my proposal for an association of New Zealand land owners, as recommended in the third paper of this volume, I have great pleasure in stating that it is likely to be carried into immediate execution. A meeting has been determined on, to take place at the George and Vulture Tavern, in George Yard, Lombard Street, on Thursday, the 5th January, at one o'clock; and I have no doubt that the object will be then attained.

I have now completed the task I set myself-- yet, task I ought scarcely to call it, for by the liberality of my publishers (to whom, by the way, the colonists are much indebted for zeal displayed in their behalf on many occasions) I am relieved from all trouble, except my appropriate function of authorship; and if I should have succeeded in paving the way for the attainment of any of the objects I have advocated, I shall deem myself amply rewarded.

Farrar's Buildings, Temple,
31st December, 1842.

1   I may mention "Mutual Insurance Associations," "Savings' Banks," and other useful local institutions as worthy of being discussed in a separate publication. My zealous friend, Mr. Holroyd, would have furnished me with a very valuable paper on Building Societies, had I thought fit to depart from my plan. The number of objects which may be brought within the operation of what may be called the mutual principle is very great.
2   See a very clear detail of the proceedings of the colonists in the honorable Mr. Petre's excellent little book, p. 28 to 34. "No other object (than self protection, says Mr. Petre,) had ever been intended, and the provisional government was kept up in a very proper. spirit, and in a most effectual manner. so long as it lasted, it served the purpose for which it was designed, and maintained good order throughout the settlement in a manner entirely satisfactory to the people."
3   Messrs. Capper and Gole, of the Australian and New Zealand Rooms, have favored me with the loan of some New Zealand Gazettes to the end of June, received from Launceston: no others of so late a date have been received.

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