1874 - Adam, J. Twenty-five Years of Emigrant Life in the South of New Zealand - XVIII. STEWART'S ISLAND.

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  1874 - Adam, J. Twenty-five Years of Emigrant Life in the South of New Zealand - XVIII. STEWART'S ISLAND.
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THE South Island, or Stewart's Island, is a portion of the province of Otago, and is about the size of Perthshire, very mountainous and densely wooded. In this island there are some of the finest harbours in the world, and it is rich in fish all round the coast and in the harbours. Shell-fish are caught in great quantities, and shipped by steamers trading from Invercargill to Dunedin. The Government lately invited Shetland and Orkney fishermen to settle there. Small grants of land were to be given, and boats and lines provided, with provisions for six months, but these kind efforts on the part of the Provincial Government to foster fishing-enterprise have not been responded to with energy, and, so far as real effort is concerned, they were not likely to do anything while the provisions lasted. After two months, none of them had cleared an acre, or planted a potato, or caught a fish, and yet the water is teeming with fish. I never heard of indolence displaying itself in a more unworthy and objectionable manner than had been done by these emigrant fishermen at Port-William.

If Stewart Island was in Europe, its coast would be as valuable as the fishing-banks of Newfoundland, and the island itself will become most valuable some day, from the number of its fine sheltered bays, rich soil, and heavy timber, suitable for ship-building purposes. There are about 25,000 acres of available land, which only require a thousand Nova Scotians to turn land and fish to good account.

"The whole country to the west and south-west of Port Ad-

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venture is low and comparatively level for miles. The ironwood timber with which it is at present encumbered will, one would think, some day command a price that will pay for its removal; and then thousands of acres of good ground will be added to the productive resources of the island.

"The teeming abundance of fish in the bays and off the coasts of Stewart Island, the excellent edible qualities of some of the species, and the facility with which they are caught, offer unusual inducements to establish here a fishcuring industry on a large scale.

"The Barracouta, Thyrsites atun, & fish well known in Dunedin, is very abundant on rocky bottoms all round the island. With no other appliance than a slip of wood with a nail driven through it, and attached by a piece of cord to a supple rod, we caught them in Kaipipi Bay at the rate of one every minute.

"The Groper or Hapuka, Oligorus gigas, frequents deeper water, and is found in large numbers off Stewart Island. Its usual weight is from 30 to 60 lbs., sometimes attaining, however, according to Captain Hutton, a length of six feet, and weighing 120 lbs.

"We drew on board from 600 to 700 lbs. weight of this fish, in less than two hours, while becalmed one day.

"It was no unusual event with us, on raising our net in the morning, or late in the evening, two hours after setting it, to land 200 lbs. weight of fish of excellent quality, chiefly Moki, Latris ciliaris; Trumpeter, Latris hecateia; Blue Cod or Rock Cod, Percis colias; and Red Cod, Lotella bacchus.

"The Flounder, Rhombosolea monopus, is very common on the muddy bottom at the head of the bays and coves, and at the mouths of the creeks all round the coast. In addition to those mentioned above, we caught without much trouble a large number of Butter-fish and Kelp-fish--the former with hook and line, in Kaipipi Bay, the latter in our nets, along with the trumpeter and others already mentioned.

"Oysters of large size and good quality are found in great abundance in some of the bays. Cross and Scollay send annually a considerable supply into the Dunedin market. By judicious treatment and strict surveillance over the beds in the close season, this industry might also be largely developed.

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"While in Paterson Inlet, we received from the Bluff a basket of fish that had been driven ashore there in immense numbers; covered the beach, we are told, for miles.

"They were, it appears, pursued by large herds of porpoises; and when, in their efforts to escape these, they approached the surface of the water, it was only to be pounced upon by the mutton-birds, which hovered over them in dense clouds, and literally covered the sea over a large area.

"The fish measures from 3 1/2 to 5 inches in length. It is closely allied to the English sprat, Harengula sprattus, if not a variety of it.

"In flavour our party considered it quite equal to the European sardine.

"From the abundance of this fish at certain seasons off the coast of Stewart Island, its excellent quality, and the facility of curing it, it should become, at some future time, the staple of an important industry."-- Report by Dr. James G. Black.

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