1868 - Pyke, V. The Province of Otago in New Zealand - APPENDICES, p 59-71

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  1868 - Pyke, V. The Province of Otago in New Zealand - APPENDICES, p 59-71
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Report of Select Committee on West Coast.

The following extracts from the Report of a Select Committee of the Provincial Council, appointed in April, 1868, "to enquire into the expediency of forming settlements on the West Coast of the Province," will no doubt be read with interest:--

COASTAL HARBOURS AND RIVER AT MARTIN'S BAY. --Capt. William Thomson (Harbor Master), who is intimately acquainted with the coast line of Otago generally, states--"That in his opinion Preservation Inlet is one of the finest harbors in the Southern seas." He describes it as being "easy of access for large ships and steamers." In this opinion he is corroborated by other witnesses. Another good harbor is that of Dusky Bay or Sound, into and from which ingress and egress can be had at all times. "Milford Sound is also a good harbor, easy of access at any time of the tide, but not so roomy as those already mentioned." Martin's Bay-- vide Dr Hector's Report-"is three miles wide, and one mile long, from a line between the north and south headlands, and is navigable for vessels of any tonnage. I entered the river, and went up as far as the Lakes. I would have no hesitation in going into Martin's River" (the Hollyford) "with a vessel the size of the steamer 'Geelong.' The only obstruction is at the bar. I did not take soundings up the river, but from its appearance there seems to be plenty of water." Communication with the M'Kerrow or Kakapo Lake is therefore by a navigable river--the Kaduka, or Hollyford--which is 12 miles long, carrying 12 feet depth of water up to the aforesaid lake, to which the tide ebbs and flows, this lake being in itself 12 miles in length. The lower end has shallow sandy shores, bounded by clean gravel and sand

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terraces, presumed to be auriferous, whilst the upper end has the astonishing depth of 75 fathoms. "The river, which enters the head of the lake, has two principal branches, the south branch leading"--past its tributary, the Wawaihiwuk, or Pyke's Creek, at a distance of six miles--"by the Greenstone Pass to the Wakatipu Lake," upon the shores of which the Gold Fields Town of Queenstown is situate.

TIMBER. --The coast line, from Preservation Inlet to the northern boundary of the Province, and for a width of 20 miles inland, abounds with the finest description of forest timber, adapted for ship-building purposes and ship-spars; more particularly at Preservation Inlet and Martin's Bay. At the latter place the timber is large and well matured, consisting of valuable totara; white, black, and red pine; birch; and rata; far excelling any timber upon the East Coast, being generally of a tough, fibrous, and elastic character. Mr Green, an experienced shipbuilder of some thirty years' standing, says--"That there is not finer in the colonies; and furthermore, that he believes that a large and profitable export trade could be established between Martin's Bay and the Australias."

AGRICULTURAL LAND AND PASTURAGE.--The quantity of available land adapted for settlement, so far as the country has been explored, has been variously estimated. There seems, however, to be considerable areas of level land fitted for agricultural purposes.

Captain Thomson--"Martin's Bay is, as compared with Catlin's River, a more desirable place for settlement; the soil is something like the entrance to the Taieri, i.e., alluvial."

Mr Beverly says:-- "There seems to be a good deal of terrace land between Preservation Inlet and Waiau Valley; considers the level part of Martin's Bay the best of any country north of Preservation Inlet. It appears to be a rich alluvial soil, well adapted for agricultural purposes; but could not form any opinion of its acreage."

Mr M'Indoe, speaking of Martin's Bay:-- "I consider it very eligible for settlement. There are good harbors well sheltered; also fine sites for townships, with plenty of available water-power for machinery purposes. I went further into the country than any of those who accompanied the expedition--say about four miles--into the bush. The land, although not flat, is gently sloping; the soil is a rich alluvial and vegetable deposit, on a gravelly subsoil; and, in my judgment, there are 300,000 acres of land available for agricultural purposes. The land would be quite fit for ploughing, and the country easily cleared, there being little or no undergrowth."

Mr Hutcheson--an early and experienced settler, who had the advantage of being for five months on the West Coast in the winter and early part of the spring of 1863, in company with Dr Hector, then Otago Provincial Geologist, and now again with the expedition in 1867--states "That at Martin's Bay there is a large extent of available country, the greater part of the soil being a rich alluvial deposit, principally covered with heavy timber, consisting of totara, white, black and red pine, and rata." Further, "The country from Martin's Bay to Wakatipu is nearly all bush, of the same nature as Martin's Bay, and easy of ascent for the distance of about thirty miles. There is an ascent to the water-shed of say four or five hundred feet; thence it is undulating country, with bush."

MINERALS --Touching the minerals of the Coast, the only reliable evidence on record is that of Mr Hutcheson in regard to Preserva-

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tion Inlet, where he says--"Coal seams exist. I think it would be advisable to effect settlement on the East and West Coasts simultaneously, because, as affecting the West Coast, of the value of the probable exports of coal, timber, building-stone, and, in my opinion, 'gold'; and the superiority of its harbors."

This is corroborated by--

Mr M'Intyre, who states that "the coal is of good quality, and cropping out on the surface." He moreover states, "that having had experience of the well-known granite quarries of Aberdeen and Peterhead, he considers himself justified, as an expert, to to state that on the West Coast there is an unlimited quantity of granite, quite equal in quality to any he has seen in the Mother Country, and of easy access to shipping." Regarding the precious metals, he states that he is also a practical miner of Australian and New Zealand experience, and that "the land in the neighbourhood of Martin's Bay has all the appearance of auriferous ground, more so than any other part of this coast." This opinion is corroborated by Dr Hector's report. "There are, also, good indications of the existence of mineral lodes which have not yet been sufficiently investigated. The lower end of the lake, which is twelve miles in length, is shallow with winding channels, the shore being formed by terraces, from 10 to 6O feet above the sea level, of gravel and sand resting on strata containing recent marine shells. The terraces should be examined for beach gold, as they are similar in character to the auriferous terraces further up the coast." Vide Geological Report to the General Government, 1866-7. --"In Milford Sound, building stone of the most durable and handsome kind can be obtained with great facility, comprising granite, gneiss, and other chrystalline rocks. There are also good indications of white marble."

J. T. Thomson, Esq., Chief Surveyor. --"Has seen a sample of white marble brought from Milford Haven, the texture of which is close, and in my opinion quite equal to the white Carrara marble."

CLIMATE. -Capt. Thomson. --"The climate (of Martin's Bay) is more genial than on the East Coast."

Mr Watson Shennan. --"My impression of the climate is favourable as regards the ripening of cereal crops."

Mr Beverly. --"I was for two months on the (West) Coast in October, November, and December, 1867; I found the climate moist, and I judge it to be always more so than on the East Coast. The temperature appeared to me almost the same; I form my opinion from the appearance of the mosses, lichens, and the general luxuriant vegetation."

Mr Green. --"I have known the West Coast for the last 30 years, and from what I have seen and heard, I believe the northern part, from Preservation Inlet, to be a far superior climate to the East Coast. I am positive the temperature is adapted for the ripening of cereal crops."

Mr M'Intyre. --"The climate appears to be humid, and well adapted for pastoral purposes."

Mr Hutcheson. --"For five months, during the winter and early spring of 1863, the weather was rather wet, but mild--warmer than on the East Coast at the same season. Snow fell on but one night only. Climate suitable for growing cereals."

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Dr Hector. --"From meteorological observations taken simultaneously in 1863, on the East and West Coasts--the atmospheric pressure being nearly the same--the mean temperature at Dunedin was 44.1, at the West Coast 49.3; which fact fully bears out Mr Hutcheson's observations, that it was 'warmer on the West Coast at the same season of the year.'"

Your Committee, upon a careful review of the evidence, recommend that a settlement be formed at Martin's Day, a territory which presents advantages to certain classes of immigrants in many respects superior to the East Coast. There is every reason to believe that were the Government here empowered to give free grants of say 160 acres to each family of a stipulated number of bona fide, settlers, such as experienced Canadian foresters, or hardy and industrious immigrants from Nova Scotia, or the Orkney and Shetland Isles, whose previous training and occupations have been connected with shipbuilding, whale or other fisheries, it would be the means of initiating a prosperous settlement upon these shores. Having this in view, your Committee recommend that the Otago Waste Lands Act 1866 be amended so as to enable the Government to make free grants of land on such terms as shall secure actual settlement; the necessary but subsequent expenditure incurred for surveying to be defrayed by the settlers on deferred payments.

Your Committee, in addition to the last recommendation, recommend that further amendments be made in the "Waste Land Act 1866," such as would empower the Government to subsequently bring into the market and dispose of 150,000 acres of land--say 50,000 acres at 5s per acre, 50,000 acres at 10s per acre, and 50,000 acres at 15s per acre; after which the old upset price of 20s per acre might be resumed. Your Committee believe that this scheme would offer sufficient inducement to capitalists to purchase largely, and so aid in the rapid settlement of a territory which otherwise may remain for half a century unoccupied.

Your Committee are further of opinion, and recommend accordingly, that immediate steps be taken, by placing a sufficient sum on the Supplementary Estimates, to open a pack-horse track from Lake Wakatipu to the navigation at Lake Kakapo (M'Kerrow). This track your Committee find could be easily and inexpensively made, the distance being about 56 miles, and the altitude upon the saddle above the Lake country insignificant. This is evidenced by Dr. Hector's Report:-- "There will be no difficulty in constructing a road at a moderate expense between Wakatipu and Kakapo Lakes that will pass over a summit level of the mountains that does not involve a rise of more than 406 feet above Wakatipu Lake, which, being elevated 1,000 feet above the sea, consequently makes the western descent equal to 1,400 feet, 406 of which may be accomplished with imperceptible gradients."

Action has already been taken, in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee.

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The following is a summary of the Census of December, 1867:--

[Population from census]

The above return is exclusive of the Maori population, which is estimated at 450 souls. On the other hand, it includes 1,097 Chinese, who are principally engaged in gold-mining. Both races are peaceful and well-conducted, never interfering, in any way, with the European settlers.

Dunedin reckons nearly 13,000 inhabitants, and the suburbs about 7,000. On the gold-fields proper there is a population of 12,000 persons, of whom about 5,500 are actual miners (males). The agricultural districts muster about 12,000 also; other 1,500 are engaged in strictly pastoral pursuits, and the remainder reside in and about the various coastal towns.

It is noticeable that nearly 14,000 of the total population are under 10 years of age, and that 20,300 are under 21. Most of these young colonists are either native to the soil, or have been brought hither at at early age. From this array of youngsters the extent to which family settlement has progressed may be inferred. It will also be observed that more than two-fifths of the whole are in the prime of life, and that there is still great disproportion between the male and female population.

* Principally Chinese.

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The following Table will be found useful as a means of imparting, by comparison, a correct impression of the climate of Otago:--


It will be seen from the above that Dunedin has a more equable climate than either London or Edinburgh. The summer season is equal in Dunedin and Edinburgh, but the winter is much colder in the latter city. Dunedin is cooler than London in summer, but warmer in spring, autumn, and winter.

The extreme range of the thermometer is not nearly so great as in Britain. The range of temperature between the coldest and the warmest months is at Edinburgh 25° 3' and at London 26°. In Dunedin it is only 16°.



The Census Returns of December, 1867, furnish the following additional particulars:--

The total quantity of fenced land in Otago at that date was 665,572 acres; of which 122,208 acres were under crop, and 27,729 acres were broken up in readiness for cropping. Of land in crop, 56,018 acres were laid down in grass; 58,127 acres were sown to grain; 1,617 acres were cultivated --as gardens and orchards; and the remainder was appropriated to root and other crops. In addition, about 1,300 acres consist of plantations of forest trees.

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The following Table will illustrate the progress made during the last Nine Years:--






1858 1





9, 363




1, 423















In the year 1867, 616,473 lbs. of butter and 60,301 lbs. of cheese were produced-- showing that the dairy is not unattended to in Otago. And, as an evidence of the enterprise of the agriculturists, it may be mentioned that the number of reaping machines in use was 294, and of thrashing machines, 209. Of the latter, 44 were worked by steam-power. There is also a steam plough in work at the Clutha district.

There are now 1,330 lots of land, surveyed in sections of from 25 to 500 acres in extent, ready for application and sale; and, from a return published as a "Supplement" to the Provincial Government Gazette of July 1st, it would appear that there are upwards of 300,000 acres of unsurveyed land open for selection as agricultural leaseholds on the Gold-fields,

The following Table will show the present numbers of Live Stock in Otago, and their increase since 1861--




























During the season 1867-8 there were shipped 22,991 bales of wool, as against 19,916 bales shipped in 1866-7--showing an increase on the year's produce of 3,075 bales.



THE following list of Wages-Rates has been compiled from unimpeachable sources;--


Bakers, - per week,

£2 10s to £3.

" " - - " "

with board, 30s, 40s, and 50s, for 3rd 2nd, and 1st hands.

" " - - " "

Foremen, £4 10s.

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Blacksmiths, - - per day,

10s to 14s.

" " - - " "

Shoers, 10s to 12s.

" " - - " "

Hammermen, 7s to 8s.

Bookbinders, - - per week


Bootmakers, - - " "

£3 to £3 10s.

" " job work, per pair,

Wellingtons--making, 15s; closing, 10s.

" " - - " " - - " "

Watertights-- " 9s; " 3s 6d.

" " - - " " - - " "

Elastic sides-- " 12s; " 9s.

Brewers,-- per week,

£3 10s to £4.

" " - - " "

Superior hands, £5 to £6.

" " - - " "

Maltsters, £3 to £4 10s.

Brickmakers, per 1000 bricks.

18s, for tempering clay and making.

Builders,-- per day,

Stone-masons, 12s to 14s.

" " - - " "

Bricklayers, 15s.

Butchers, -- per week,

£2 10s to £3.


£3 to £4.

Carpenters, -- per day,

11s to 12s.

Coachbuilders, -- " "

14s to 15s.

" " - - " "

Superior hands, 18s to 20s.

" " - - " "

Wheelwrights, 12s to 18s.

Engineers, -- " "

10s to 14s.

Founders, -- " "

12s to 14s.

Gardeners, -- " "

8s to l0s

Millers, -- per week,

£3 to £3 10s.

" " - - " "

Foremen, £4 10s.

Painters--House, per day,

10s to 12s.

" " --Coach " "

12s 6d to 15s.

" " - - " " - - " "

Superior hands, £5 to £5 10s.

Paperhangers, -- " "

10s to 12s.

Plumbers,-- " "



Compositors, per 1000

1s 4d.

" " per week,

£3 10s to £3 15s.

" " overtime, per hour,


Pressmen, -- per week,

£3 10s to £3 15s,

" " overtime, per hour,


Overseers, -- per week,

£4 to £5.

Stone-men, (Night-overseers)

£6 to £7.

Lithographic, per week,

£3 10s to £4.

Paper-rulers -- " "


Saddlers -- " "

£3 to £3 15s.

" piece work, -- " "

Collars,-- each, 8s.

" " -- " "

best Saddles, " £3.

" " -- " "

weekly average, £3.

Sail-makers per day

10s to 12s

Sawyers--Bush, per 100 feet -

4s. Average weekly earnings, £3 12s

Sawmill Hands, per week,

£3 to £3 l0s.

" " -- " "

Drawers out, £2 14s.

" " -- " "

Engineers, £3 to £3 10s.

" " -- " "

Foremen, £4 10s.

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Tailors, -- per week,

£3 to £3 10s.

" " -- piece work,

Coats, double-breasted frock, 40s.

" " -- " "

" single or walking, 28s to 30s.

" " -- " "

" Sacs, 22s.

" " -- " "

Vests, 10s to 11s.

" " -- " "

Trousers, 12s 6d.

" " cutters, per week,

£5 to £7 10s.

Watch and Clockmakers, Jewellers, &c., - per week,



Warehousemen, per annum,

Seniors, £250 to £400.

" " -- " "

Juniors, £75 to £200.

" " -- " "

Youths, £25 to £60.

Storemen, -- " "

First Hands, £125 to £250.

" " -- per week,

Ordinary, £2 to £3.

Clerks, -- per annum,

£150 to £350.

Shopmen--Drapers, per week,

£3 to £5.

" -- " -- " "

Juniors, £2.

" " Grocers -- " "

First Countermen, £3.

" -- " -- " "

Second, " £2 153.

" -- " -- " "

Juniors, £2.

Female Hands:--

Shopwomen, per week

£2 to £4.

Dressmakers -- " "

25s to £4.

Milliners, -- " "

20s to £3.

Needlewomen, -- " "

20s to 30s.

Machinists, piece work:--

Crimean Shirtmakers,

18s per dozen, and other goods in proportion


20s to 30s.


Ploughmen,-- per annum

£50 to £70, with rations.

General Hands,-- " "

£45 to £50, " "

Married Couples,-- " "

£65 to £100, " "

Shepherds,-- " "

£55 to £65, " "

Head do,-- " "

£80, " "

Stockmen,-- " "

£60, " "

Overseers,-- " "

£100 to £120, " "

Managers -- " "

£250 to £350, " "

Married Couples-- where wife cooks,,,

£70 to £80, " "

Shearers, per 100

17s to 20s.



Good general, per annum,

£30 to £40.

Housemaids,-- " "


Cooks,-- " "

£36 to £40.

Nursemaids,-- " "

£25 to £35.

Laundresses, per day,

5s to 6s.

" " -- per doz.,

3s to 5s.

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Hotel Hands:--

Barmaids,-- per week,

£1 to £2 10s.

Barmen,-- " "

£1 10s to £2 10s.

Waitresses,-- " "


Waiters,-- " "

25s to 35s.

Cooks--female,-- " "

£1 to £2 10s.

" --male,-- " "

£1 10s to £4.

Housemaids, per annum

£40 to £52.

Grooms and Coachmen, per week

£1 15s to £2.

Draymen and Carters,-- " "

£2 10s.

Labourers--Road-men, &c., per day,

7s to 8s.

The Eight-hours system is the universal rule for all kinds of day work, and in every trade. The warehouses close at 4 o clock, and the shops at 6 o'clock (Saturdays excepted), throughout the year. Both masters and men, employers and employed, have been consulted in the preparation of this list.



All the necessaries of life are procurable at moderate rates. The following list of retail prices has been compiled from authentic sources, and may be relied on as being correct:

Bread, best white, 8d to 11d per 41b loaf.

Flour, first quality, 4d per lb.

" " per bag of 100 lbs, 25s to 30s.

Butter, 1s 2d to 2s per lb, according to season.

Honey, 9d to 1s per lb.

Cheese, good Colonial, 1s per lb.

" " English, 1s to 1s 6d,,

Milk, 6d per quart.

Oatmeal, 3d per lb.

" " per bag of 25 lbs, 5s.

Potatoes, per 100 lbs, 6s to 10s.

Tea, from 2s per lb.

Coffee, 1s 6d,,

Sugar, 5d to 6d do.

Meat--Mutton, 4 1/2d to 6d per lb.

" " Beef, 6d to 9d,,

Pork, 7d to 9d per lb.

Bacon, good Colonial, 1s per lb.

" " English, 1s 3d to 1s 6d per lb.

Fowls, 4s 6d to 6s per couple.

Eggs, 1s to 3s per dozen, according to season.

Fish of various kinds are cheap and plentiful--large barracoota, weighing from 4 to 6lbs, being sold at from 4d to 6d each.

Ale, good Colonial, of excellent quality and flavour, 2s to 2s 3d per gallon, in small casks for domestic use.

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The foregoing prices are those that obtain in Dunedin. In the agricultural districts local produce is somewhat cheaper. On the Gold-fields the cost of carriage slightly enhances the price of most articles. Meat, however, is generally about the same, because cattle and sheep graze all around. Of course, in very remote and isolated localities, the increase of prices is greater than in districts which are traversed by main arterial roads.



The following paper has been obligingly furnished by Mr Collin Allan, the Government Immigrant agent at Dunedin:--

A few hints of a practical character to such as are inclined to make Otago their future home may here be useful.

The classes of Emigrants chiefly in demand for this Province are ploughmen and farm servants, shepherds, and female domestic servants, all of whom command good wages for their labor.

Ploughmen receive from £52 to £55, and good hands as high as £60 per annum, with board and lodging; shepherds £60, and female servants from £30 to £40, according to experience.

The general scarcity of female servants in this Province is attributable to two causes:-- 1st, marriages, through which one half are taken out of the labour market before they are twelve months in the Province; and 2nd, those who were themselves servants two years ago now employ servants of their own.

Country servants are better suited for the requirements of the Province than those brought up in large towns.

The Provincial Government of Otago, through their home agent, John Auld, Esq., W.S., Edinburgh, give assisted passages to the classes above referred to, to the amount of one-half of the passage money. Applications for assisted passages must be made to the Secretary, George Andrew, Esq., Otago Emigration Office, 60 Princes street, Edinburgh, who will forward to the applicant a printed form of application to be filled, containing among other particulars a declaration that he is of good character, in good health, and free from bodily or mental defect; also a certificate by his medical attendant testifying to his health. In addition to these, the applicant must produce a certificate from his late employer, one from his clergyman, and, in the case of domestic servants, a certificate from a respectable householder, certifying, of his own knowledge, that the applicant is unmarried. These documents being returned to the office, the agent decides thereupon whether the applicant is suitable for an assisted passage, and communicates to him the result.

Friends in the Province have the privilege of sending for their friends and relations in the Home Country on prepayment of £10 per statute adult to the Immigrant Agent, Dunedin, Otago, who will forward passage warrants through the Home agent to the parties applied for. The settlers largely take advantage of this scheme to introduce into the Colony their relations at home.

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All who are thus assisted, whether at Home or in the Colony, make a declaration that it is their intention to settle in Otago, and not to leave the Province, in consideration of the assistance granted to them. Should they remove from the Province before the expiry of three years from the landing, they will be called upon to repay the whole amount of passage money advanced to them.

The ships carrying emigrants under contract to the Provincial Government of Otago are those of Messrs P. Henderson & Co. from Glasgow, and Messrs Shaw, Saville, and Co. from London. They must all he first-class ships, commanded by experienced captains, and well found in provisions of the very best quality. The Secretary from Edinburgh visits the ships before their departure, in order to see that the contract is properly carried out.

The voyage to New Zealand is the safest that can be taken to any part of the world. The average passages of Messrs Henderson's ships from Glasgow, for the last four years, have not exceeded 92 days.

It all depends on the passengers themselves whether the voyage proves pleasant or otherwise. With a view to their comfort and happiness, certain rules are laid down for their guidance, which must be obeyed. Of these, the most important is cleanliness, both bodily and in their berths, and regularity in airing their bed clothes on dock in fine weather. Great care should be taken in using lights on board, or any article of a dangerous or combustible nature. They should provide themselves with sufficiently warm clothing and bedding for the voyage, as the change from the heat of the tropics to the cold of the Southern Ocean is both sudden and often severe. The provisions are weighed out to each mess twice or three times a week, and properly cooked and served. Should a passenger have any cause of complaint against another passenger, or any of the ship's crew, he should at once go to the captain and state his complaint, and ia the majority of cases it will he rectified at once.

On the arrival of the ships in port, the Immigration Agent, in company with the Emigration Officer of the port, goes on board, and should there be any cause of complaint on the voyage, it is enquired into. The agent takes sole charge of the Government Immigrants, conveys them and their luggage to Dunedin, where the females and married men and women are given over to the Matron of the Immigration Depot, in which they are lodged until suitable situations are provided for them.

Immigration Agent.


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1   Southland is included in the returns of 1858.

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