TESTIMONY OF TRAVELLERS IN FAVOUR OF NEW ZEALAND.
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TESTIMONY OF TRAVELLERS IN FAVOUR OF NEW ZEALAND.
Attempts to colonize New Zealand--The Missionaries--Colony of Scotch Carpenters--New Zealand Land Company--Recognized by Government--General View.
IT has long been a matter of great surprise to all those who are conversant with the subject, that no attempts to colonize so fertile a country as New Zealand should hitherto have been crowned with success. Numerous projects for its colonization have been formed at various epochs. The earliest on record was a scheme suggested by that great practical philosopher, Dr. Franklin, who, in 1771, published proposals for forming an association to fit out a vessel by subscription, which should proceed to New Zealand with a cargo of such commodities as the natives were most in want of, and bring back in return so much of the produce of the country as should defray the expenses of the adventure. The funds necessary for this expedition, amounting to £15,000, not being raised, the plan was obliged to be abandoned.
Two subsequent associations, formed with the best motives for improving both the country and the condition and civilization of the New Zealanders, were endeavoured to be carried into effect in 1825 and 1837; but from circumstances, the relation of which is not essential, were not carried into effect.
It is only an act of justice towards the missionaries to state, however travellers may differ in opinion on the subject, that almost every thing that has in reality been done for the civilization of the natives has been effected by these religious communities, who, during the last twenty years, have pursued their pious labours in New Zealand with unwearied perseverance.
It is also of great importance to intending emigrants to learn, that the missionaries are land-owners to a large extent, possess well-stocked farms, and by their attention to agriculture, and improvements connected with farming,
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they have not only benefitted themselves greatly, but improved the condition of the natives.
The great tractability and aptitude of the natives for engaging in works of labour and industry are sufficiently evidenced by the following extract from Earles New Zealand:--
"The colony of Scotch carpenters, who had formed a settlement at the head of the river, and of whom I made honourable mention on my first journey, finding themselves so close to what they considered might become the seat of war, and having no means whatever of defending themselves, made an arrangement with Mooetara, the chief of Parkunugh (which is situated at the entrance of the same river), and placed themselves under his protection. They accordingly moved down here."
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"Nothing can be more gratifying than to behold the great anxiety of the natives to induce Englishmen to settle amongst them: it insures their safety; and no one act of treachery is on record of their having practised towards those whom they have invited to reside with them. Mooetara is a man of great property and high rank, and is considered a very proud chief by the natives; yet he is to be seen, every day, working as hard as any slave, in assisting in the erection of houses for the accommodation of his new settlers. He has actually removed from his old village of Parkunugh (a strong and beautiful place), and is erecting huts for his tribe near the spot chosen by his new friends; so that, in a very short time, a barren point of land, hitherto without a vestige of human habitation, will become a thriving and populous village; for it is incredible how quickly the orders of these chiefs are carried into effect. I was frequently a witness to the short space of time they took to erect their houses; and though small, they are tight, weather-proof, and warm: their storehouses are put together in the most substantial and workmanlike manner."
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On the dissolution of the New Zealand Association (in 1837), some of its members formed the plan of continuing the prosecution of its leading objects by means of a joint-stock company, with a subscribed capital. Other friends of colonization gradually joined them, and in the early part of 1839 the funds raised were sufficiently ample to enable the Company to purchase an extensive territory in New Zealand (principally surrounding the harbours of Hokianga and Kaipara, in the Northern Island), and to fit out and despatch an expedition for the purpose of making further purchases, fixing the site of a town, and preparing for the early arrival of a body of settlers from England. The Company did not, however, announce its operations to the public until the month of May 1839, on the 12th of which the expedition sailed.
The main features of the system of colonization adopted by the New Zealand Land Company are ably and clearly developed, and we extract them verbatim from a carefully compiled work issued under their authority, and entitled "Information relative to New Zealand, for the Use of Colonists"
"1st, the sale of lands at an uniform and sufficient price; and, 2dly, the employment of a large portion of the purchase money, as an Emigration Fund.
"The grand object of the new or improved system of the disposal of colonial lands is to regulate the supply of new land by the real wants of the colonists, so that the land shall never be either superabundant or deficient, either too cheap or too dear. It has been shewn, that the due proportion between people and land may be constantly secured by abandoning the old system of grants, and requiring an uniform price per acre for all new land, without exception. If the price be not too low, it deters speculators from obtaining land with a view to leaving their property in a desert state, and thus prevents injurious dispersion; it also, by compelling every labourer to work for
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wages until he has saved the only means of obtaining land, insures a supply of labour for hire. If, on the other hand, the price be not too high, it neither confines the settlers within a space inconveniently narrow, nor does it prevent the thrifty labourer from becoming a land-owner, after working some time for wages,
"A sufficient, but not more than sufficient, price for all new land, is the main feature of the new system of colonization. It obviates every species of bondage by providing combinable labour, it renders industry very productive, and maintains both high wages and high profits; it makes the colony as attractive as possible, both to capitalists and to labourers; and not merely to these, but also, by bestowing on the colony the better attributes of an old society, to those who have a distaste for what has heretofore been the primitive condition of new colonies.
"The great object of the price is to secure the most desirable proportions between people and land; but the plan has the further result of producing a revenue, which will not only supply the requisite profit to the shareholders of the Company, but furnishes the means for an Emigration Fund--a fund constantly applicable to the purpose of taking labour to the colony--that is, in causing the best sort of colonization to proceed at the greatest possible rate. And this is the second feature of the new system.
"The employment of the purchase-money, or the principal part of it, in conveying settlers to the colony, has the following effects. It makes the purchasers of land see plainly that their money will be returned in the shape of labour and population. It tends, in fact, to lower the necessary standard of price, because, with a constant influx of people to the colony, the due proportion between people and land may be kept up by a lower price than if there were no such emigration. It, therefore, diminishes the period during which the labourer must work for hire, and, by the rapid progress which it imparts to the best sort of colonization, it explains to the labouring class of emi-
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grants, that every one of them who is industrious and thrifty may be sure to become not merely an owner of land, but also, in his turn, an employer of hired labourers, a master of servants. Altogether, it renders the colony as attractive as possible, both to capitalists and to labourers. In a new colony, planted in a fertile and extensive territory, it is obvious that the establishment of such a system is a matter of the deepest moment to the future welfare of society.
"The Company's regulations, in the present instance, offer a free passage to purchasers who are actual colonists, of whatever denomination, with their families and servants. But this offer, it is understood, will be confined to the present sales, the immediate object being the encouragement of a certain number of settlers, of the higher and more respectable classes, to accompany the first colonists, and to become the instruments of the diffusion of the arts and manners of good English society.
"The Company (as has been stated) have already acquired very extensive tracts of land in the North Island of New Zealand, and have despatched an expedition for the purpose of purchasing other lands, and of selecting the most eligible district for the first and principal settlement.
"The object of the Company in making this selection will be so to determine the place of their first settlement, as to insure its becoming a commercial capital of New Zealand, and, therefore, the situation where land will soonest acquire the highest value by means of colonization.
"Within this district the site of the Company's chief town will be carefully selected; after which, out of the whole territory there acquired, further selection will be made of the most valuable portion as respects fertility, river frontage, and vicinity to the town. The site of the town will consist of 1100 acres, exclusive of portions marked out for general use, such as quays, streets,
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squares, and public gardens. The selected country lands will comprise 110,000 acres."
Whether this system will be carried into successful operation, as it has been in South Australia, remains to be seen; as other parties will purchase lands of the native chiefs, perhaps, as cheaply as the New Zealand Company, which may interfere with their operations.
The British Government have, however, sent Captain Hobson, as an agent, to the Colony; and purchases from the natives, without his sanction, will not hereafter be considered valid, nor recognized upon the establishment of a government and legislature.
The first three ships with settlers of the New Zealand Company sailed in the summer of 1839, and have since been followed by other vessels, carrying many passengers, so that the number of Europeans in the islands must be now considerable. A small military force judiciously stationed, with one or two ships of war of small force employed in surveying, would do all that is required in conjunction with a colonial police.
After corroborating in every particular the favourable account of New Zealand presented in the preceding pages, Dr. Lang, in his recent work entitled "New Zealand in 1839," makes the following observations regarding the colonization of those important islands:--
"It is quite unnecessary, I apprehend, to consult Puffendorff or Grotius, as to the right of Her Majesty's government to colonize New Zealand, and to assume the sovereignty of the island. The necessity of the case demands such a measure on the part of the British government; humanity calls loudly for it; every independent chief in New Zealand will most assuredly hail it as a blessing to himself and his country; and however insignificant it may appear among the occurrences of the moment, posterity will undoubtedly regard its accomplishment as one of the most important events of Her Majesty's reign.
"Unquestionable as are the facilities for colonization in
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Southern Australia, as well as in New South Wales, they are not to be compared with those which New Zealand at this moment affords. In one word, whatever may be the destinies of the Australian Colonies, I am confident that, if colonized on right principles, New Zealand will one day be the Great Britain of the Southern Hemisphere.
"In one word, whether we regard the situation, the soil, the climate, or the natural productions and inhabitants of the country, I am confident there never has been a more favourable locality for the settlement of a British Colony than the New Zealand group of islands at this moment affords.
"It may be supposed, indeed, that in a country of which the natives have so long been represented in Europe as ferocious cannibals, Europeans would run considerable risk in attempting to form a permanent settlement. But the circumstance of there being at present a very considerable European population living in perfect security in various parts of the island is a sufficient answer to such an objection. Cannibalism has entirely disappeared in the neighbourhood of all the European settlements; and in their native wars the New Zealanders uniformly respect the Europeans who are settled among them, unless the latter, which indeed is seldom the case, take part with one or other of the hostile tribes.
"If many hundred Europeans can live at present in perfect safety among the New Zealanders in all parts of the island, even when pursuing a species of traffic that reduces the unfortunate natives to absolute beggary in their own land, it must be evident that as many thousand Europeans would stand in still less need of military protection, especially when living together in concentrated communities, and all their intercourse with the natives conducted on the principles of impartial justice and enlightened Christianity."
The sovereignty of New Zealand is now assumed by her Britannic Majesty. A charter of incorporation has been
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granted by Government to the New Zealand Company, and their title to the possessions they had acquired in the island ratified. Ministers have also established a seat of colonial government at Awkland, in the northern island, appointed a Governor, a Chief Justice, an Attorney General, Courts of Law, and all the requisites for administering the government of the colony.
Three principal settlements have been established by the New Zealand Company, viz. Wellington, in Port Nicholson, New Plymouth, and Nelson. The islands have received the names of New Ulster (northern island), New Munster (the southern), and Stewart Isle, New Leinster.
To conclude:--New Zealand has undoubtedly vast capabilities for agricultural pursuits, and is better adapted to the purposes of the general farmer than any part of Australia, of which country it must, before long, be the granary. Its climate is eminently salubrious, its soil extremely productive, wheat, maize, barley, potatoes, yams, melons, and peaches flourish abundantly. A crop of wheat and one of potatoes has been raised from the same field within the year. Green peas may be had eleven months out of the twelve, and carrots, turnips, cauliflowers and asparagus are produced in the greatest plenty. Tobacco grows freely in the islands, and it is impossible to over-rate the value of flax grown there as a staple article of commerce. Poultry thrives well, and wild pigeons and ducks are very numerous. Fish is abundant: bream, mackerel, salmon, mullet, soles, lobsters, and several other sorts are caught in large quantities on the coast. Whales approach, also, so near the land, that an extensive fishery is carried on from the shore by boats, and at a greater distance at sea by larger vessels. The colony is undoubtedly of great promise: the energy and activity of British settlers, aided by the vicinity of our Australian colonies, will soon spread a British population entirely over the islands.