CHAPTER VIII: 1846
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Political occurrences and local sketches have chiefly occupied the preceding pages. I will now, in conclusion, touch lightly on a few of the present and promising resources of New Zealand in a mercantile point of view, and on their probable consequence in connection with its geographical position. I will refrain from details, not only because they would require too much space for admission into this limited paper, but because I believe that they have been already published by others whose authority is preferable to mine.
The natural resources of New Zealand hitherto discovered, are now well known to be great; but they are not of a kind to demand merely slight exertions, in order to make them available. Industry, temperance, integrity and discretion, are indispensably required by those who would derive much advantage from the natural resources of that country. Capital alone will not yet do much; safe channels for its employment are wanting.
A very healthy climate, favourable in a high degree to old as well as young people, but particularly to children; a rapid vegetation, which continues throughout the year, excepting a few weeks; and an equable moderate temperature, are permanent advantages of the first class, --but the excess of wind and abundance of rain, in some particular localities, must not be overlooked. There are many good harbours on the north east coast of the Northern Island (though in other habitable districts they are by no means numerous, or easy of access) and inland communication by boats or canoes, is extensive. Thus the healthiness and accessibility of the country add to the value of its natural productions, the principal of which are: timber (of many qualities, from the hardest and toughest to the lightest or most pliable), flax, gum, bark, dye-wood, copper, sulphur, manganese, iron, china clay, fuller's earth, coal, limestone, lead, silver, alum, ochre, pumice stone, and volcanic earths.
As cultivation extends and cattle increase, corn, European flax, potatoes, hides, and wool of excellent quality, will be
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produced in greater abundance. Even in the rough "bush," as it is called, cattle, horses, sheep, and goats thrive greatly; but as pastures improve, animals will likewise become proportionally better in their respective qualities. The wool of New Zealand is already known as long in staple, and uniform in strength of fibre, --(effects of equable moderate temperature, and continuance of nourishing food throughout the year). It is probable that wool, hides, tallow, and salt provisions will become staple articles of export, especially from the middle island (called New Munster) where there are so few natives that the progress of colonization would not be impeded materially.
Very little is yet known of the mineral treasures even in the northern districts, and nothing at all of the contents of the central and southern parts of the islands. Volcanic action has been remarkably intense in the northern island, and slight earthquakes have been felt; but there is no evidence of any damage to buildings hitherto erected, neither have the natives any distinct account of serious convulsions having occurred for some generations. 1
Copper is said to be very abundant, and easy of access. Coal is plentiful in several places, but has yet been worked near Nelson only. There is an extensive coal field near the Waikato River belonging to Whero-Whero; and there is said to be excellent coal remarkably convenient for shipping in Preservation Harbour, at the south end of the Middle Island. Tin also, and other minerals of value have been found, although search for them has been only recently made, and not by persons fully conversant with mineralogy.
As a coasting trade is growing fast, and there are great facilities for building small vessels, it will not be necessary for over-sea traders to visit inferior harbours; their cargoes can be collected at the principal ports. The violent winds that are frequent, and the iron-bound character of much of the coast, make it advisable for ships of burthen to avoid exposure on the western or south-eastern shores, where high seas prevail and where few harbours exist.
Some of the coasting vessels are owned, and almost entirely manned by natives; but owners of English vessels and their masters, usually prefer white men, although more expensive---on account of the difficulty of dealing with natives in their own country, without a good knowledge of their language and
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usages. Native seamen are found by masters of vessels (as native women are by husbands), so completely under the influence of their families and a variety of native usages, that they sometimes become exceedingly troublesome, to say the least; and on this account, as well as others, natives are not preferred on board English vessels, although whalers and oversea voyagers in the Pacific take some occasionally. They make active and hardy seamen.
The geographical position of these island is generally acknowledged to be very important --politically as well as commercially considered. Their situation immediately opposite to the principal Australian colonies; the nature of their productions; the facility with which ships sail from New Zealand to South America, the Islands of the Pacific, China, or India, and from each back again, in about equal times; show that the future importance of the colony will be great, however slow may be its progress for many years, and whatever difficulties and disasters may unhappily befall the present generation of settlers. Perhaps no colony is better suited to British habits and constitutions: or would be better adapted to British enterprise, were it not peopled by an aboriginal race, whose strength and numbers have hitherto been so little appreciated that a threatening state of affairs has been brought about, which at present checks progress.
There are some - perhaps many persons - who look on the New Zealanders themselves as impediments to the prosperity of British settlers in that country. To such persons I would say: the best customers of the settlers in New Zealand are the natives. They are purchasers of a large amount of blankets, clothing, hardware, tobacco, soap, paper prints, arms, ammunition, boats, small vessels, canvas, and other articles, for which they pay in ready money, in native produce (such as flax, pigs, fish, potatoes, corn, &c.) in land, or by their own labour. The amount of native produce consumed by the settlers is really
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surprising; and a similar practice will continue while peace prevails, because the native is heedless of the value of time, and can sell his produce at prices considerably lower than those which can be afforded by the settlers.
In conclusion, it is my deliberate conviction, that the prosperity of colonists in New Zealand will depend on the prevalence of amicable relations with the aboriginal race.
Printed by J. DAVY and SONS, 137, Long Acre.