1848 - Byrne, J. C. Twelve Years' Wanderings in the British Colonies [New Zealand sections] - NEW ZEALAND - CHAPTER III, p 87-94

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  1848 - Byrne, J. C. Twelve Years' Wanderings in the British Colonies [New Zealand sections] - NEW ZEALAND - CHAPTER III, p 87-94
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AT present, New Zealand, as a colony, as far as its connection with Government is concerned, is particularly favoured.

At the period of the grant of the charter to the Company, Lord John Russell was at the head of the Colonial Department; he is now Premier, and no doubt wishes to make every recompense to the colony, for the long misgovernment it suffered, through the delay in bringing the land claims of the Company to a settlement, whilst Lord Stanley and Mr. Gladstone were at the Colonial Board.

He also has, in the last Session, by a loan of upwards of two hundred thousand pounds, proved his desire to make some amends to the Company for the non-fulfilment, by Lord Stanley, of the conditions of its charter, and he hopes for the ultimate success of the New Zealand Company, as an experiment in the system of colonization.

The Company having been brought forth, legally constituted, under his eye when he ruled at the Colonial

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Office, it is now no wonder that he should wish to see it spring forth strong, energetic, and prosperous.

At all times it is a hard task to raise into trade and credit a bankrupt, who is known to possess no funds; how much harder, therefore, and more difficult, to deal with an assemblage of such? To be successful, the effort must be gradual, and the lever that is to accomplish it must be placed on a solid foundation, time being requisite as the principal assistant.

Above all other colonies, New Zealand is protected and assisted by many parties in the House of Commons, connected with the Company or otherwise interested in its welfare. We have at no time, or in connection with no other colony, however valuable, had such interest displayed, and the time of the House so much occupied, as with New Zealand, particularly in 1846. The press, also, entertains, from some cause or other, a high opinion of these colonies, and they possess by far the most able colonial paper in the New Zealand Spectator, which is said to be under the influence, if not direction, of Mr. Buller.

From these causes it is not likely, therefore, at least as long as the present Government lasts, to suffer from inattention or the want of any support the executive can afford it. But these considerations are of little value, unless the natural advantages of the country are such as to present internal sources of success.

New Zealand does, and will for years, depend upon its flax, pork and timber, for its internal prosperity. Its towns might, and its agricultural population would be, very largely benefited by the establishment of an extensive system of whaling. Vessels fitted out in its ports

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and despatched to the fisheries could, on account of their vicinity, return at no distant lapse of time, and forward their oil, by regular trading vessels, home or to Sydney. This would require, however, the assistance of extensive British mercantile enterprize and capital.

There is some copper, but not of great richness, and plenty of iron in New Zealand; but, for years to come, these can be but of little use. From what sources then is the prosperity of New Zealand to come? It is removed at a great distance from any market, for even its agricultural produce. Sydney is the nearest place, of any extent, where a market might be found; yet, although a vessel can sail from Sydney to New Zealand in eight or ten days, it is entirely a different matter when the order of things is reversed, and you are sailing to Sydney instead of from it. Strong westerly winds prevail during the great part of the year in those latitudes, and against these a ship has to beat fifteen or sixteen hundred miles. The passage to Sydney often occupies as much as six or eight weeks, generally about a month.

Thus are the settlers, in respect of time, really at a great distance from the nearest large market. Moreover, when the produce reaches Sydney, it has to compete with the produce of the lands of New South Wales, in many instances cultivated by unpaid convict labour. The general price of every thing in the Sydney market is so low, that the cost of carriage there would be a very serious consideration.

Cattle or sheep cannot be produced to any extent for the reasons specified in another place: the country not

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being suited to them: so that little can be expected from this source.

After a careful consideration of the resources of New Zealand, the writer is of opinion that, for years to come, it cannot be either an extensively settled or extremely prosperous country. Its situation, as commanding the trade of the South Seas, is its greatest recommendation; but that, for long years, must principally be confined to whaling. It cannot become, from its position, any great entrepot for goods, because the countries in those seas will not be sufficiently settled for ages to require such a market.

At present, it is merely calculated to support, on its most favoured lands, small numbers of colonists, who must be satisfied with the necessaries without the luxuries of life; and a limited number of shopkeepers and merchants, for the chances of trade with the natives and South-Seamen, if these can again be induced to resort to the harbours of these islands.

Timber, such as spars, with flax, and oil obtained on the coast, or in the way of trade from the South-Seamen for refreshments, would afford to the population the means of procuring those necessary articles of dress, &c, obtainable only from other countries. As population increases in New South Wales, it will become more difficult to compete in the markets of that colony; so that on any occasion, except such as a drought, to which that place is subject, little return could be expected from Sydney for any produce of an agricultural kind sent there.

To none that know these colonies well, does land in quantities seem of much value, because of the expense of clearing

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in the first instance; then, again, even if the land were cleared, of what use is it, unless labour can be procured at a moderate rate of remuneration, and a market be near for its produce? It is extremely improbable, therefore, that for some time to come, unless valuable mineral discoveries shall take place, land may be purchased to any extent, at the price of one pound an acre; consequently, little means can be expected from this source for the purpose of promoting emigration.

The advantages most emigrants, departing for New Zealand, expect to derive are very questionable. Trade is essentially the only pursuit by which a competence may be accumulated in the course of years. And colonial traffic requires experience and shrewdness, as traders there often fall across very sharp practitioners.

The climate is a great recommendation, on account of its temperature and salubrity. In this respect it bears some resemblance to England, reversing the seasons. Soil and climate united, where the former is good, are of such a description as to produce, in great perfection, all the grain, fruits and vegetables of Europe, and a few tropical ones with little labour.

The disadvantages of New Zealand for immigrants have been deeply felt by many already there: the inaccessible nature of the country in many parts; the almost insurmountable difficulty that exists in conveying produce or anything else across its deep valleys, streams, and rugged hills; and, moreover, the scarcity and dearness of beasts of burthen. There is neither a mining, a manufacturing, a trading, or even a seafaring population of any extent, to dispose of

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produce to, in the towns. The greater portion of the population must depend on agriculture, and, producing only for themselves, they cannot make purchases from others. In the markets of the towns, the Aborigines are competitors with the whites in disposing of most of the articles produced, and they have greatly the advantage, having retained for themselves much of the best and most convenient land, for which they have had to pay nothing, and which does not require to be cleared. Their wants are few, and they pay no taxes. Thus has a settler in New Zealand to contend, first with carriage, which is no obstacle to the natives, as they most generally use their canoes; then with the interest of money invested in the land and the cost of its clearing; then with wages, which he has to pay white workmen, before he can come into the market with the Aboriginal native, who, having the land fur nothing, cultivates what and how much he wishes--acting in a manner as small farmers at home for the supply of the limited wants of the towns.

Custom-houses have been established in the various ports; so that on those articles a settler requires--tea, wine, sugar, spirits, clothes, &c, &c, duty has to be paid for the support of the Government of the country. This does not fall on the Aboriginal, unless he indulges in these things, which to him would be unnecessary luxuries.

The whites are seldom able to prevail on the Aborigines to engage with them as servants; they prefer freedom, and the cultivation of the soil on their own account. They rear large numbers of pigs, which are, and always have

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been, the principal article of animal food made use of on these islands. Many of these animals are partially fed on fish, and their flesh frequently tastes strongly of it.

Above all, the labourer without capital can expect but little in New Zealand, because its productions are such as not to afford room to the master to pay him liberally. He may, indeed, procure a subsistence, because the necessaries of life are cheap, but he will find little more.

In 1844, hundreds of persons, many of whom had been reduced from the middle ranks of life, were to be seen walking about the towns of New Zealand, particularly the Company's settlements, actually offering their labour to any one who would support them, being unable to leave the colony for want of means.

Tradespeople are abundant, far beyond the wants of the place; a considerable portion of this class of immigrants having been originally induced to come out by the high rates of profits and wages said to prevail at that period.

In fine, as a place of settlement, New Zealand at present exhibits advantages almost for no one; and it would be well that time would be allowed to elapse, so that the fostering care of the Government might, by degrees, improve the condition of those already there, who have suffered so much, before further immigration should disturb, or the influx of labour interfere with, the employment of those who have, up to this period, found it so difficult to obtain it.

In concluding his account of this new colony, the author thinks it advisable to give the following list of market prices from Wellington, New Zealand, April 1, 1847-First flour £16 10s. to £17 per ton; bread per 2 lb. loaf

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4d.; beef 8d. to 9d. per lb.; mutton 7d. to 8d. per lb., pork 4d. to 6d.; maize or Indian corn 5s. per bushel.

Bullocks, per head.. £7 10 0
Cows, per head.. £7 10 0 to £8 0 0
Heifers, per head.. £5 5 0 to £6 0 0
Prime ewes, per head. £0 16 0 to £ 1 2 0
Prime wethers, per head. £0 17 6 to £ 1 3 0
Horses, rough hacks, each. £24 0 0 to £30 0 0

These prices, it will be perceived, are at least from fifty to one hundred per cent more than at Sydney, Melbourne, or Hobart Town. Bread, while only 4d. the 41b. loaf at Launceston, in April 1847, was 8d. in New Zealand. Meat is also double the price of what it is in Sydney and Hobart Town, and more than three times the price it is in Melbourne, Australia Felix. Even New Zealand pork, the most plentiful article of animal food, was from 4d. to 6d. per lb., although it is anything but in good quality, owing to the fishy taste it universally has: the pigs chiefly subsisting on the finny tribe, by the rivers and sea-coast. There is, therefore, at present, not much prospect of New Zealand supplying Australia with agricultural produce as the advocates of the colony assert--the case seems rather to be vice versa.

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