The Farthest Promised Land — English Villagers, New Zealand Immigrants of the 1870s
5 Colony and Hearthland, 1874–80
5 Colony and Hearthland, 1874–80
ON THE FINE morning of 19 February 1874 Christopher Holloway was liberated from quarantine on the Mongol and boarded the small steamer Peninsula for the journey via Port Chalmers to Dunedin. His voyage to New Zealand as a saloon passenger must have seemed to the erstwhile farm labourer, a most gratifying promotion even though his union associations had led to animated arguments with some of the more class conscious of his fellow passengers,1 but before he reached Dunedin he was to realise that in the colony he would enjoy an even higher status, as a visitor of real importance, to be consulted and courted by the greatest in the land. Halfway between Port Chalmers and Dunedin, James Macandrew, Superintendent of Otago, came on board the steamer from his home on the hillside above the harbour, and gave Holloway ‘a most hearty welcome to the colony’. Holloway found him to be ‘a free, pleasant and agreeable gentleman — a fine specimen of the Scotch race’.2 The conversation on ‘the great and important object’ of Holloway's visit was continued in Macandrew's room in the government offices. It was arranged that Holloway should stay at one of the city's best hotels, as the guest of the government, and that he should have all possible assistance in planning and carrying out his tour of the province. The pattern which Holloway worked out in consultation with Macandrew and other Otago leaders was followed page 80 throughout the New Zealand tour. He spent some time in the main centres and a number of the larger towns, staying in the best hotels, while local worthies conducted him on visits to the various industries and public institutions. Excursions were also made to nearby country districts, sometimes with overnight stays at hotels or with local settlers. The journeys between the various centres were designed to allow Holloway to see a good deal of the country and its resources. Travel was by train or coach, or on horseback, usually in company with a knowledgeable person, such as a government surveyor. Wherever he went, Holloway took every opportunity to mix with all classes of the community.3
At the end of his first day in Dunedin Holloway returned to the Mongol for his last night on board. In his journal for the following day he endeavoured to sum up his first impressions of the people of Dunedin:
Everything here betokens prosperity, the inhabitants are well dressed, thoroughly respectable. The children with their shining rosy cheeks are the very picture of health. — A man's a man here, as you see them walking along the streets, their head erect, and their whole bearing impresses one with the idea ‘that Jack is as good as his master’. No cringing here, — yet there is no rudeness — but everything around betokens comfort, respectability, and happiness.4
The gold rushes of the 1860s had made Dunedin the foremost city of New Zealand, and by 1874 it had consolidated a position of commercial and industrial supremacy which it was to hold for the next two decades. In his first ten days Holloway visited the hospital, museum, and a number of schools; and also various industrial works including a soap factory, a clothing factory and a foundry. His main guide round the city was John Bathgate (1809–86), who was just resigning as the colony's Minister of Justice, to take up an appointment as Resident Magistrate and District Judge for Otago. Holloway also drove out to the Taieri Plains to see the farm of provincial councillor James Shand, and to Mosgiel to see the woollen mills, and Andrew Todd's farm. One day was spent at the immigration barracks with the Mongol's immigrants. Holloway's first impression that New Zealand was something of a workingman's paradise was repeatedly confirmed by what he saw and heard.
On 2 March, accompanied by an officer of the province's survey department, Holloway began an extended tour of Otago and Southland. He travelled by coach through Milton, Balclutha and Mataura to Invercargill, taking careful notes on the quality of the land, and the facilities of the townships, on the way. From Invercargill he visited Bluff Harbour, and Riverton. From Riverton he was taken by provincial councillor Theophilus Daniel, a settler with a whaling background, to see the Pahia Plains. This entailed a boat trip round the coast with a party of Maoris, and an overnight camp on the beach. While in Invercargill Holloway met some old acquaintances from Oxfordshire. James Palmer, whom he had recruited from Bletchington for Brogdens, told of wages averaging ten shillings a day, since he had arrived in New Zealand on the page 81 Zealandia on 4 January 1873.5 From Palmer, Holloway had good news of William Terry, a union man from Kirtlington, who had also come out on the Zealandia for Brogdens. In a letter printed in the Labourers' Union Chronicle of 27 December 1873, Terry had reported that he was about to take a place on a farm on 1 October. His wife was to look after the house, and their wages were to be £70 a year and all found, including the children. The Chronicle also printed a letter, dated from Invercargill on 18 March 1874, from Charles and Matilda Town, who were possibly also Brogden immigrants recruited by Holloway. They seem to have been well on the road to prosperity when Holloway called:
… My dear father and mother, Mr Holloway was here yesterday (Sunday), and he came to see me in the afternoon, but I was not at home. He told Tilly that we looked very comfortable and happy … Wages here are now ten shillings per day; but I have not been working for wages now for this last six months, for there is me and three more of my ship mates together; we have been taking contracts of the Corporation — making roads and ditches or anything … Harry and two more men are working for us … we are paying ten shillings per day for eight hours' work … Dear father and mother, Tilly has bought her a sewing machine, and she is very busy learning to work it … Charley is a big boy now, and he has got a pig and three goats and a lot of fowl …6
From Invercargill Holloway began a tour into central Otago on 16 March, travelling via Winton and Benmore into the high country. From Kingston he travelled by lake steamer the whole length of Lake Wakatipu. From Queenstown he travelled by coach through Alexandra, Roxburgh and Lawrence back to Milton, visiting gold mines and farms on the way. He reached Dunedin again on 29 March, and the following day saw some of the Scimitar's party and heard news of their voyage. Taking Dunedin again as his base, he now began to examine the country to the north. His diary for Thursday, 2 April gives a good idea of his stewardship in the use of his opportunities.
He left Dunedin at 7 a.m. that day, by coach for Palmerston, and on the journey took careful note of the quality of the land by the way. After lunch at Waikouaiti, Palmerston was reached at 1 p.m. Holloway immediately made his way to the home of W. A. Young, to whom he had a letter of introduction but that gentleman was not in. Having considered how he could improve his time to the best advantage, Holloway decided to climb Mount Puketapu, which rises about 1000 feet above the town. In his diary he remarks that he was amply repaid for his trouble:
The scenery from the top of this mountain is magnificent. At its foot lies the pretty little town of Palmerston. Then you have a beautiful view of Shag Valley well studded with smiling homesteads and flocks of sheep, and other cattle. Then you behold the River Shag winding its serpentine course through the valley till it empties itself into the sea. — In the distance you behold the wild mountain range — while on the eastern side of the mountain you have a splendid view of the ocean for many miles.7page 82
Having descended from Puketapu, Holloway came upon four men stone breaking by the road side. He questioned one of them, and found that they were paid three shillings a yard for the work, and that a good hand could break three yards a day. The man assured him that New Zealand was a fine country for working men. Leaving the stone breakers, Holloway next fell in with a Mr J. Keen. Keen told him that ten years before he had had scarcely a shilling in his pocket, but now by industry and perseverance he was in an independent position. Keen showed him the Town Hall and the new English Church, for the erection of which he had collected £700, and next door to which he was erecting a new house for himself. Leaving Keen, Holloway reached his hotel in time for dinner at 6 p.m. He had just dined when Mr Young walked in. Young introduced him to Mr Main ‘a large squatter’, Mr Gilligan, mayor of the town, and a number of others. From their conversation, Holloway gained an insight into squatter life. In his diary he remarked that some persons were very bitter against the squatters, but his own view was that they should receive fair consideration for having opened up the country when population was scarce, though they should not be allowed to stand in the way of progress when the land was required for closer settlement. In the course of time the group turned to a good deal of grumbling about ‘the government — the brokenness of the land, etc.’, but Holloway was amused to notice that when someone asked about the time, these gentlemen all pulled out valuable gold watches. Having listened to the opinions freely expressed and the advice very generously given, Holloway records that ‘I very quietly resolve to think for myself and draw my own conclusions’.
Next day Holloway travelled by coach to Oamaru, where he spent several days. He describes it as a busy thriving town, the centre of a fine farming district. Here he spent some time at Windsor Park, the 14,000 acre estate of Edward Menlove. He found that Menlove ran 19,000 sheep, as well as growing large crops of grain. He was employing about a hundred men at average wages of twenty-five shillings a week and keep, but at harvest time had employed 180. One thing which Holloway noticed here and on other large properties did not please him so well — there was no accommodation for married men with wives and children. Instead large bunk houses were provided, reminiscent of shipboard, and here large numbers of single men lived and slept. Holloway asked if he might see how the men were fed, and Menlove told him to go in and see for himself.
… I entered the room as desired, and saw some 40 men set down to as good substantial dinner as one could desire. There was roast beef, vegetables, and plum duff. I was told that the men get beef or mutton 3 times a day, and plum duff 4 times a week, — the employers here say that if a man is to work well, he must live well.8
Holloway took up with Menlove the question of accommodation for married men, and suggested that he should erect a number of decent cottages.
On 8 April Holloway returned to Dunedin, and prepared an address for page 83 a public meeting which had been arranged for the 10th. The address was given to a crowded audience, chaired by the mayor, in the Masonic Hall. Holloway explained his reasons for visiting the colony, and gave his impressions of the province as a field for immigration. At the question time which followed he was disappointed at the shortsighted selfishness of many present. They were opposed to immigration because they wanted to keep the good things for themselves. Holloway spent a few more days in Dunedin, writing and posting to England, visiting members of his party still detained on Quarantine Island, and seeing further places of interest. On 15 April he set out by coach for Canterbury, and after a night at Oamaru, crossed the Waitaki, having spent fifty-seven days in Otago and travelled 1,334 miles in the province.
Holloway travelled at a leisurely pace through South Canterbury, taking over a week to reach Christchurch. He spent a long weekend in and around Timaru, and noted that ‘the land in this neighbourhood is very fertile, and is pretty well all occupied by small cockatoo farmers.’ Holloway was coming increasingly to understand that an important theme of New Zealand politics was the conflict in interests between the growing number of small farmers, the ‘cockatoos’, and the entrenched large pastoralists, ‘the squatters’. As the extention of small farming would be in the best interests of emigrating English farm labourers, Holloway was encouraged by meeting squatters who also believed it would be in the colony's best interests. He had the company of one such, a gentleman with a 30,000 acre run, when after an overnight visit to Geraldine, he travelled by coach to Ashburton. The company of this ‘free, intelligent and communicative’ squatter enlivened the drive over broad, empty monotonous plains. Throughout his travels, Holloway showed a good eye for country, and he noted how the Canterbury Plains varied from fertile silt to almost worthless gravel. His journal also expresses something of the varied beauties of the New Zealand landscape. Thus even while commenting on the monotony of this coach trip, he notes the grandeur of the backdrop of the snow-capped Southern Alps to the west, and the great sweep of ocean beach to the east.
At Ashburton Holloway found that, as at Timaru and Geraldine, the province's superintendent had made every possible arrangement for his comfort and convenience. Canterbury seemed, in fact, to be determined to outdo its rival, Otago. It had been arranged that Alfred Saunders, a founding settler and former superintendent of Nelson, should be his companion while in the Ashburton district. Together they visited a number of the ‘small cockatoo farmers’, and Holloway's report on the careers of several of them, published in the Labourers' Union Chronicle of 25 July 1874, must have served to spur the emigration movement:
… I came across a Mr Joseph Hunt, formerly of Great Rollright, in my own county of Oxfordshire. He told me that he was working in that village for 8s a week — house rent to pay, and a wife and three children to support out of that. He had heard of New Zealand, and Joe thought page 84 within himself that he couldn't worse his position by removing to another locality … In the year 1856 he bade farewell to Old England and after a long voyage he landed safely in New Zealand, with 2 ½d in his pocket … He set to work in real good earnest, and being a sober, energetic and persevering man, determined to get on if possible. He succeeded beyond his most sanguine expectations; and today I had the pleasure of visiting him in his own freehold house, which he has erected upon his own freehold farm of 210 acres. He has given his children a good education, and I thought within myself, as I sat with my friend at the tea-table, what would have been Joseph's prospects had he remained an agricultural labourer in Great Rollright, in England? In all probability he would have been over head and ears in the baker's and grocer's debt, without any possibility of paying it; with the Chipping Norton union staring him hard in the face, and the prospect of being buried in a pauper's grave … On the morrow, after leaving Mr Hunt, I called upon Mr Church, a small farmer; he is brother of Mrs Taylor, our General Secretary's wife. He was formerly a carman, in London, but not succeeding so well in life as he could wish, he emigrated to New Zealand a few years ago. On his arrival in the colony, he did as every man should do who wishes to make his way out here, that is, pitched into the first employment which presented itself, determined, in the first place to get a knowledge of colonial life, and work his way upwards, if possible. And what has been the result? — why this — when I visited him today he was owner and occupier of a very fine fertile farm, well fenced and watered, of 200 acres of land, and has succeeded in placing himself in very easy and comfortable circumstances. He, too, has in his turn become an employer of labour. I was very agreeably surprised to find that Joseph Smith, a young man who came out with me in the “Mongol” from Chesterton, Oxfordshire, had been engaged by Mr Church to work for him at £50 a year, with board and lodging — and my word they do live here, no red-herring diet, but beef or mutton three times a day. Smith laboured at home for 12s or 14s a week, and kept himself …
During Holloway's visit to Christehurch, four emigrant ships arrived at Port Lyttelton, and he found time to visit three of them. On 27 April he went with the Superintendent, Rolleston, to see the 359 immigrants who had arrived on the Rakaia from London the previous day. All was found well on board, and Holloway was then taken to the quarantine station on Ripa Island, where he was pleased with the spacious well fitted buildings. On his return to Christehurch he visited the emigration depot, and with this also he was well satisfied. A month later, on 27 May, he went with Rolleston to welcome 251 of Andrew Duncan's recruits, on their arrival on the Varuna from Glasgow. On 1 June he had the great pleasure of accompanying Rolleston to board the newly-arrived Ballochmyle, and meet his friend Joseph Leggett and many other Oxfordshire acquaintances in his party. He was able to arrange for Leggett to be allowed ashore to spend his first night in the new country with him, and they spent a very pleasant evening together chatting over old times. Within a couple of days Holloway had found Leggett a situation at his trade, working at twelve shillings for an eight hour day on the building of a new school in the city. He left Leggett well pleased with his first impressions of New Zealand, and with his own prospects.
On 5 June Holloway set out by coach to cross the Southern Alps and page 86 visit Westland. He was astonished at the mountain scenery of Arthur's Pass, and decided that it must be some of the grandest in the world. At Hokitika he was met by James Bonar, Superintendent of Westland, who took him to be guest in his own home. Holloway spent a little over a week in Westland, visiting sawmills, farms, goldfields and coal mines. He then set out for Nelson by the difficult overland route via Reefton, Lyell and Lake Rotoiti. His midwinter journey on horseback through this mountainous interior must have provided the most unpleasant travelling of his entire trip. The accommodation houses were primitive, there was a day of torrential rain, and at times his guide was not very sure of the way. Apart from the area around Hampden (modern Murchison) he saw little worthwhile land until he reached the Waimea Plains on 25 June.
The last twenty miles by coach from Foxhill to Nelson provided a strong contrast to the rugged interior. On each side of the road were well tended farms with neat wooden houses and well kept garden plots. In Nelson the Superintendent welcomed him and conducted him to a comfortable boarding house. During the next ten days he had a good look around Nelson and its vicinity, and went by sea for a two day visit to Collingwood, on the shores of Golden Bay. He liked the district and its pleasant climate, but decided that with its limited area of agricultural land, it was hardly the place for a person who still had his way to make. On 7 July he left by sea for Picton, and spent a little over a week in Marlborough. Here he considered that the immigrants' prospects were restricted by so much of the good land being tied up in large sheep runs.
On 16 July, after a very rough crossing of Cook Strait, Holloway reached Wellington. Parliament was in session, and he was able, over the next few days, to have valuable interviews with various leaders and officials of both the General and the Provincial Governments. On the evening of 17 July he visited a session of the House of Representatives. As soon as the premier, Julius Vogel, was made aware of Holloway's presence, he arranged to be introduced to him, and retired with him to an adjoining room for ‘a lengthened conversation upon the nature and object’ of his visit. Thus began an acquaintance which was to be renewed a year or two later in England. Vogel was very interested in Holloway's impressions of the South Island, and in his account of the position of the agricultural labourers in England. Holloway decided that Vogel was ‘evidently a man of very great abilities, large powers of mind, very far seeing, and in every way fitted to be the leader of a powerful nation’. He had another long interview with him a day or two later, when the subject of immigration was discussed from various angles. Vogel was interested in Holloway's views on whether English immigrants would object to repaying part of their passage money. Holloway pointed out that if New Zealand wished to secure her share of emigrants, in competition with the great inducements offered by Canada and Queensland, it would be in her interests to continue free passages. Vogel considered that New Zealand offered better prospects than these colonies both in climate and in other ways. The following page 87 evening Holloway was able to attend the House to hear Vogel present the budget. Before beginning his tour of Wellington Province, Holloway learnt all he could from the provincial officials concerned with immigration and land settlement. He also had interviews with the Superintendent, William Fitzherbert, and at his invitation went out one Sunday to his home at the Hutt. Holloway was not able to use Wellington as a base for extensive excursions into the country districts. The high hills and mountains that hemmed it in from its hinterland had yet to be effectively mastered, but its magnificent harbour augured well for its future.
On 27 July Holloway travelled by coach over the hills to the Horowhenua Coast, and began a five weeks' tour of the coastal lowlands of western Wellington and Taranaki. For the purposes of his visit, this was one of the most promising regions that he saw, with large areas of fertile, well-watered land waiting to be colonised. Development had been delayed by problems of communication, conflicts with the Maoris, and the need to clear large areas of dense forest. With good prospects for a lasting peace, and roads and railways advancing as a result of Vogel's policies, the pace of settlement was beginning to quicken. The first day's journey to the little river port of Foxton was largely through uninviting sandhills, and Holloway learnt that a belt of fertile land between the sand hills and the mountains was still in Maori hands. Inland from Foxton an extensive area of fine bush country had been sold by the Maoris. Here Holloway visited first the recently founded township of Palmerston North, pioneered largely by Scandinavians. A tramway had just been completed linking the settlement with the port of Foxton, and as a result a timber industry was beginning to flourish. Holloway found that settlers who had been there for three or four years were well established. Thirteen miles to the north Holloway visited the six-month-old township of Feilding. It had been founded by the Emigrant and Colonist's Aid Corporation, an English association under aristocratic patronage, combining philanthropic and commercial aims in the development of a block of 106,000 acres acquired from the New Zealand Government a year or two earlier. Holloway found that there were already over six hundred souls in the settlement, that a railway through the district had been begun under an agreement with the government, and that a sawmill was operating, and others about to be erected. He visited some of the settlers' homes and found them well pleased with their choice. He travelled on to Wanganui through the older settlements of Bulls, Marton and Turakina, and was well pleased with what he saw.
After a day or two looking around Wanganui and the nearby countryside, Holloway moved north along the Patea Coast, a region devastated in the fighting of the late 1860s, but now re-occupied and with settlement beginning to flourish. For a week from 7 August, Holloway made his headquarters the frontier town of Hawera, a few miles from the Waingongoro River, which for the meantime had been tacitly accepted as the boundary for settlement and the white man's authority. Holloway page 88 described Hawera as a considerable town, but still in the course of formation. The accommodation was good, but recent rain had turned the unformed streets into almost impassable mud. The large block house was now used as a school and place of worship. In visits to the surrounding countryside Holloway was impressed with the fertility of the land, and the peaceable outlook of the Maori settlements. He found that new areas of forest land were becoming available for settlement. He learnt that beyond the Waingongoro the notorious Maori Chief Titokowaru, who had led the latest campaign against the Government forces, was turning to cultivation of the land and had sent to Wanganui for the plants to establish a hop garden; while the chief Honi Pihama, another former foe, held the contract for carrying the white man's mails in the area beyond the pale between the Waingongoro and Stoney Rivers. For one of his excursions from Hawera Holloway lists his entourage as consisting of ‘Commissioner Parris — Captains Wray & Skeet — Mr Kennedy, clergyman — Pepe Heke, a chief's young wife — Honi Pihama, the chief, as our leader — and several other natives, all mounted’. There is not a hint of the fact that ‘Mr Kennedy, clergyman’ was the Revd H. M. Kennedy, who had taken social precedence over Holloway on the Mongol, now recently installed as incumbent of the frontier parochial district of Patea. Holloway would not have been displeased to find that on the New Zealand bush frontier the Anglican church limped in poverty behind more vigorous rivals.
On 13 August Holloway left Hawera by coach on the seventy-six mile journey round the coast, through the Maori district to New Plymouth. He described the Waimate Plains between Hawera and Opunake, as a ‘fertile and beautiful piece of country’, and hoped that it would soon pass into the hands of settlers, to be covered with smiling homesteads. Throughout the day, he judged the land he passed through to be ‘very fine country’, and noted that it was well watered by the streams radiating from the cone of Mount Egmont. Late in the evening he reached New Plymouth, the capital of Taranaki Province. Isolation through lack of a good port, Maori wars, and dense bush, had combined to make Taranaki the colony's most backward province. Three weeks in the New Plymouth settlement confirmed the impression Holloway had begun to form in South Taranaki, that the province had prosperous days ahead, and had much to offer the emigrating English village labourer. Holloway found that his visit had been eagerly awaited in New Plymouth.
Three months earlier, on 16 May 1874, the Taranaki Superintendent, Frederick Carrington, had arranged for the gifted Harry Atkinson (1831–92) to assume the leadership of the provincial government. Atkinson had acted vigorously to move the settlement out of the doldrums into which it had drifted. Early in the year the Moa Block, of nearly 50,000 acres of good forest land inland from New Plymouth behind Mount Egmont had become available for settlement. Atkinson was determined that it should be opened up promptly and vigorously, but he was aware that this would only be possible if a stream of immigrants began flowing page 89 into the settlement. Exactly six weeks after accepting office, Atkinson farewelled William Mumford Burton (1830–93), an experienced Taranaki settler appointed to proceed to England as Taranaki's own emigration agent. Atkinson used the occasion to warn the Taranaki settlers that they were gaining a reputation for indolence in the other provinces, and that if they were ever to be spoken of as other than a small fishing village they would have to introduce immigrants.10 In appointing Burton he had brushed aside suggestions that he should wait for Holloway's visit before doing anything. While waiting for the fruits of Burton's mission, Atkinson pressed Taranaki's claims for some of the free immigrants already on the way. Vogel offered him 100 immigrants from the Waikato, and when she reached Wellington on 11 July 1874, Carrington, who was in Wellington for the parliamentary session, boarded her and persuaded 119 to proceed to New Plymouth.11 The majority of this party were recruits from Alfred Simmons's Kent union. They reached New Plymouth on the coastal steamer Luna on 15 July, and were royally welcomed as the settlement's first significant party of immigrants for many years. A number of them were sent to begin clearing the site for the future township of Inglewood, deep in the bush on the Moa Block, and here Holloway went on horseback to visit them on 20 August. He found that the provincial government had been providing them with steady work at five shillings per day, wet or dry, and that it was now intended to put them on contract work at five shillings per yard for stone breaking and three pounds per acre for bush felling. These, Holloway found, were ‘tip top’ prices.
… the larks singing joyously over head, the sheep and cattle quietly grazing in the well fenced paddocks, and the jolly settler whistling behind his plough as he turned over the fertile soil …
His main criticism of the settlement concerned the uncertainty of its link with the outside world, as a result of its dependence on an open roadstead. Towards the end of his stay a party of seventy German and Scandinavian immigrants being forwarded from Wellington had to be carried on to Auckland on account of bad weather, and he himself was detained for a week when the steamship he intended to travel on was unable to put in.
Holloway finally left New Plymouth for Manukau Harbour on 4 September, and arrived in Auckland by train from Onehunga the following morning. He was welcomed by the Superintendent, John Williamson, and various provincial officers, and accommodated in the Waitemata Hotel. He spent the next fortnight seeing Auckland and the surrounding countryside, and travelling by sea with Williamson for a visit of a few days to the thriving goldmining district of Thames. Here a meeting of the local Maoris had been arranged so that Holloway could be introduced to them. On 21 September he set out for North Auckland, but the steamer had to put back after losing her propellor. While she was being repaired he accompanied Williamson on a visit by steamer to the Coromandel gold fields. He arrived back at Auckland on the evening of 29 September, and sailed immediately on the repaired steamer for the Bay of Islands. In three weeks in North Auckland he first visited the various settlements around the Bay of Islands, and then crossed by way of Ohaeawai and Taheke to the Hokianga where he visited Judge F. E. Maning, famed as a Pakeha-Maori (i.e. a European who has become a Maori cribal member and married a Maori wife). He then travelled overland via Waimate and Hikurangi to page 91 Whangarei, and thence continued south through Waipu, the Albertland settlement, Warkworth and Waiwera to reach Auckland on 21 October. From what he saw in North Auckland, Holloway decided that if new settlements were to succeed there, much more would need to be done about roading, and in the wooded country the settlers would have to be given part-time employment to help them get on their feet.
With his time now rapidly running out, Holloway left immediately for a quick look at the Waikato, travelling by road to Mercer, and thence by steamer on the Waikato River to Hamilton. After meeting some of the settlers there and learning that they were anxious to see some of the class of men he represented, he travelled by road to Cambridge. Both these townships had been founded ten years previously by military settlers, on land confiscated from the Maoris. Holloway then returned by way of Te Awamutu to Ngaruawahia, and thence back to Auckland, having been impressed by the fertility of much of the Waikato. After a short rest in Auckland he went by sea to Tauranga, and travelled inland to see something of the thermal wonders of Rotorua, including the famed Pink and White Terraces, destroyed by the eruption of Mount Tarawera some twelve years later. Returning to Auckland, he took a steamer to Wellington, and after a few days of visiting in the capital, sailed for London on the sailing ship Halcione on 24 November. In his diary he had kept a careful record of his journeys and when he added them up, found he had covered 6,430 miles in the colony. Few colonists could have claimed to have seen as much of their country as he had.
Holloway arrived back in London on 9 March 1875, and immediately took up his old links with the union, resuming his attendance at district committee meetings in Oxford, although he was, of course, no longer district chairman. He had returned just as the weakened National Union was beginning to be riven by internal dissension. Joseph Arch came under attack from former friends and allies, unity was broken when Matthew Vincent formed his own union, whose main purpose was to acquire land to be shared by its members, and his Labourers' Union Chronicle shifted from being the organ of Arch's union to being one of its most bitter opponents. Arch and his executive were able to launch a fresh newspaper, the English Labourer, on 26 June 1875. By vigorously defending themselves and their policies they prevented Vincent's movement from making any great headway among the rank and file. Nevertheless, this disunity following industrial defeat had a serious effect on the memberships, which dropped from over 86,000 in June 1874 to 40,000 at the end of 1875. The decline of the union also owed something to the emigration movement, which had removed so many of the more vigorous and able members. Holloway remained loyal to Arch, and soon after his return gave public expression to his admiration for his leader. This was in a lecture on New Zealand, delivered late in April in his home village of Wootton, in the open space in front of Killingworth Castle. He began the lecture by sketching the position of the rural labourer on the eve of the Revolt, and then proceeded: page 92 When the Almighty had a great work to be done, He raised up suitable instruments for accomplishing it, and he believed that their noble President, Joseph Arch, was raised up by Divine Providence to be the deliverer of the farm labourers, as Moses was to be the deliverer of the Israelites. Joseph Arch was trained up in the school of poverty and privation, and, possessing good natural abilities, which he improved by self-culture, he was pre-eminently qualified to be the leader of this great movement.13
Holloway went on to tell how the farmers had forced the union to turn to emigration, with Arch going to Canada and himself to New Zealand. He described the many attractions of New Zealand, a land where labouring men ‘did not look down at their toes so much’, but went around with their heads erect.
The Labourers' Union Chronicle's report of this address was reprinted in full in the New Zealand parliamentary papers, as also was the full and carefully written report Holloway prepared for the union. In this he remarked that ‘perhaps no one individual had ever before had afforded to him such rare opportunities for acquiring a general knowledge of the colony’, and he told of the excellent facilities provided for him by both the general and provincial governments. Yet he had been left quite free to draw his own conclusions:
I mixed pretty freely with all classes of the community — from the Hon. J. Vogel (Premier) down to the lowest settler … I have associated with the great landed proprietor, and with the less affluent settler, who is steadily advancing upward to a more prosperous position. I have met with the employer of labour and the employed, with the prosperous and the unsuccessful, and I have come to the conclusion that any of our labourers, gifted with temperate habits, such as sobriety, industry, frugality, and perseverance, may, in the course of a few years, become occupiers of land themselves, and have placed to their account at the bankers a considerable sum for times of sickness and old age. Indeed, gentlemen, I feel convinced that New Zealand, with its fine, healthy climate, its salubrious air, its fertile soil, its mild winter, its temperate summers, its liberal land laws, its fine educational system, its freedom from State-Churchism, and its civil and religious privileges, is secondary to no other colony in point of the advantages and privileges it has to offer to intending emigrants of the proper class.14
In expanding in detail on these various advantages, Holloway referred, as supporting evidence, to ‘the immense number of letters which reach our shores by every mail’ with glowing and encouraging accounts of the success of new colonists.15 Running through the report are Holloway's views on the best approach to colonial life for the English farm labourer immigrant. He should not stay in a town, where house-rent was higher than at home, but push up into the interior of the country, where it would be much easier to secure a piece of freehold and run up ‘a neat wooden cot’ of his own. In most parts of New Zealand he would find wood for firing abundant and easy of access — a great attraction to a man who may have shivered through every winter of his life before emigrating. While there were special settlement and deferred payment systems which made it page 93 possible for an immigrant of limited means to get almost immediately into possession of land, Holloway advised working for an employer for the first year or two, to gain a knowledge of colonial life.
In view of Holloway's excellent first hand knowledge of New Zealand, and his enthusiasm for emigration to the colony, it comes as no surprise that Featherston enlisted him onto his staff, ‘as Emigration Officer for the purpose of lecturing and giving information as to the prospects of persons emigrating to New Zealand’.16 C. R. Carter was wanting to resign his appointment, and was apparently only continuing out of a strong personal loyalty to Featherston, who had persuaded him to withdraw a resignation he had submitted on 7 July 1874.17 To replace him, Featherston needed a man of similar oratorical and organising gifts; one also who was knowledgeable on New Zealand conditions, who had an affinity with the English rural labourer, and who was willing to accept the whole country as his brief. Holloway seemed clearly to be such a man. He began his new duties on 17 May and quickly settled into his new position. On 1 September 1875, Featherson accepted a month's notice of resignation from Carter.18 From this time until April 1880, when his services were finally dispensed with on the closing of the emigration drive, Holloway was New Zealand's principal peripatetic agent in England.
Holloway joined the Agent-General's staff at a time when rural emigration to New Zealand had lost a good deal of the impetus that had carried it to such heights in 1874. On 1 June 1875 Featherston reported that he considered that the feeling in favour of emigration was not as strong in the agricultural districts as it had been in 1874.19 No doubt there were several reasons for this — including the effect of the earlier exodus on local wage rates, and the fact that those best fitted for emigration by personal temperament and circumstances had already gone. The tragic loss of the Cospatrick, which became known in England right at the end of 1874, and the continuing publicity provided by the official enquiry, also had a dampening effect. An ‘anti-emigration agent’ from New Zealand may have had a little influence. This was a Mr McPherson who had given a public lecture on the ruin ahead for the New Zealand working man during Holloway's visit to Dunedin. When Holloway had asked the superintendent, Macandrew, about him, Macandrew explained that McPherson had called on him a few days earlier to say that he was about to visit Britain and would appreciate a commission to lecture on New Zealand as a field for emigration. On his request being refused, he had said he would do his best to dissuade emigrants from coming to the colony.20 At a public meeting sponsored by the Oxford District of the National Union in the Oxford Town Hall on 16 December 1874, McPherson obtained the chairman's permission to address the audience, and with the authority of nine years' residence in New Zealand, gave a warning that the colony was not a good field for emigration. There were cries of ‘no’ when the chairman asked those present who had relations in New Zealand whether they had received any complaints from them, but the doubt had been sown.21page 94
When Holloway joined Featherston's staff it included, besides Carter, one other full-time emigration agent — William Burton, the Taranaki Provincial Agent. Upon his arrival in England towards the end of 1874, Burton visited several districts, but was unsuccessful and returned to London much discouraged. Vogel, who was in London at the time, suggested to Featherston that Burton should be invited to visit the Grimsby district of Lincolnshire, where a lecturer was wanted to help the Laceby local agent, John H. White, who was continuing the good work he had begun in association with Carter and Andrew Duncan. Carter accompanied Burton to Lincolnshire, and introduced him to White.22 Burton began his Lincolnshire campaign with a public meeting in Laceby on 14 January 1875,23 and was soon having increasingly encouraging results. A firm friendship seems to have been quickly established between the Burtons and White, and together they made a good working team. Their first party, of ninety-two emigrants, sailed by the Collingwood on 13 April, and larger parties sailed by the Halcione on 27 May, the Chile on 11 June and the Hurunui on 23 November. On 1 June 1874 Burton was transferred from the service of the Taranaki Province to that of the General Government, and Mrs Burton was also placed on the payroll as Assistant Emigrant Agent.24
Holloway's work as a New Zealand agent began with meetings at Twyford and Castle Thorpe in Buckinghamshire on 17 and 18 May 1875. He attended the National Union's Annual Council at the end of May, and then gave further lectures in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.25 He apparently gave his audiences good measure, as the correspondent who reported his lecture in the Oxfordshire village of Minster Lovell on 4 June noted that his address lasted one hour and three-quarters.26 It seems that Holloway took some time to adapt his methods to the needs of his new task. His experience as a union delegate, organising and encouraging union branches across the English countryside, and surveying the scattered settlements of New Zealand, had made him too disposed to travel rapidly from district to district. In emigration work this produced little in the way of demonstrable results. Thus during 1876 he addressed 137 meetings, and his agency cost the New Zealand government £312 7s., yet the number of emigrants whose papers bore his name totalled only 39 ½ ‘statute adults’.27 His work must have had some influence on many more emigrants than this, but the completion of the process of recruitment had been left to local agents, or the London office. In comparison, the Burtons, concentrating on north Lincolnshire, in joint agency with John H. White, obtained 247 statute adults during 1876. This agency cost the New Zealand government £733.14s. 10d. for the Burtons and £130 in commissions to White.28 When Holloway began work for the 1877 season, the Agent-General instructed him to concentrate his work more, and remain in districts likely to give the class of emigrants wanted.29
Even the Burtons' 1876 recruitment figures clearly indicate a striking decline in the flow of emigration to New Zealand. This was due to page 95 changing conditions in the colony as well as the decline of interest in emigration in rural England. For reasons partly personal, partly political, Vogel's dominance of the colony's policies began to wane. Suffering from gout and the effects of overwork, Vogel left New Zealand in September 1874 to attend to the raising of a further loan in London, and to reorganise the Agent-General's office there. Featherston's relations with the cabinet had become strained, largely because it was difficult for politicians in New Zealand to understand the problems he faced in Britain. Featherston was also now a sick man, and the arrival of a sick Vogel to virtually take over his functions as Agent-General for the first half of 1875 created an unhappy situation. Meanwhile apprehension was growing in the colony as the burden of debt rose while export prices fell. Working men also were becoming fearful that a continuing flow of immigration would eventually glut the labour market. The abolition of the provincial governments, set in motion by Vogel before he left for England, and completed by his colleagues the following year, added further strains to the uncertain political scene. For the next few years the immigration work of the Agent-General and his staff was plagued by the shifting policies and contradictory instructions of cabinets unsure in their reading of the signs of the times. News reports and private letters must also have been carrying contradictory messages to potential recruits in rural England.
These vacillations in New Zealand government policy and public opinion began to appear during 1875. Featherston was initially given an order for 25,000 immigrants for the 1875–76 year, by Vogel. The New Zealand cabinet, probably influenced by the appearance of unemployment in some districts during the winter of 1875, reduced the order to 13,000, though considerably more were sent because Vogel read this to mean 13,000 statute adults.30 By the time Featherston received the reduced order he had already accepted almost enough applicants to fill it, and as a result recruitment had to mark time for nearly six months.31 Because of this the campaign was not very much affected by discouraging news arriving from the colony at the turn of the year. On 6 October 1875 a public meeting in Dunedin, claiming to consist of some 1200 persons, passed a unanimous resolution to be forwarded to the House of Representatives, expressing ‘increasing alarm’ at the government's bringing further immigrants to a country ‘already crowded with unemployed workmen … who are now bordering on starvation’. This was answered in the house on 8 October by Harry Atkinson, who had taken over the immigration portfolio on Vogel's departure. The meeting, he had been informed by the Immigration Officer at Dunedin, had been got up by three well-known local demagogues, and most of those present had not been unemployed, but had attended ‘to have some fun’. Over 600 new immigrants had arrived in Dunedin since 18 September, and all had readily obtained work. Undeterred by this rebuttal the Dunedin demagogues got up a further meeting on 18 October, at which it was resolved to acquaint the people of Great Britain with the real state of the country, and the miserable fate page 96 which awaited any intending to emigrate to it. Reports of both meetings were supplied by the organisers to the British press, and appeared in The Times of 20 December 1875, as a reprint from the Liverpool Albion. A letter from Featherston, refuting the various allegations, appeared in The Times the following day.32 Featherston's own confidence may, however, have been a little shaken by the telegrams he was receiving from the colony. One of 17 December instructed him to stop sending emigrants to Hawke's Bay, another of 17 January 1876 stopped all except nominated emigration to Taranaki, and a third of 26 January 1876 asked that no more emigrants be accepted for despatch to Auckland, Taranaki, Hawke's Bay and Nelson until June.33
On 21 April 1876 Vogel, now back in New Zealand, and once more premier, cabled Featherston an order of 5000 adults for the year to 31 March 1877. The first ships were not to arrive till October, so as not to affect the labour market in the southern winter.34 As it was, the mid-winter labour reports from local immigration officers showed that there was a good demand for rural workers in most districts. A ‘great scarcity of labour’ was reported from Hawke's Bay, with wages higher than for years, so the assessment cable to Featherston six months earlier had obviously been wrong.35 The abolition of the provinces meant that local needs were not now assessed by provincial executives with some power to control labour demand, but by purely administrative local immigration officers, who naturally tended to play safe. On occasions they apparently underestimated the labour demand which the opening of new country was to create, as the public works policy began to bear its delayed fruits. Despite the reduced order from the colony, in the northern summer and autumn of 1876 it did not prove easy to find enough English rural labourers to fill the immigrants ships.36 In the midst of these difficulties the ailing Featherston resigned his post, and died a few days later, on 19 June 1876. Vogel, eager to return to the excitements of the metropolis, resigned the premiership to take up the vacant post. He arrived in London early in 1877, to face the, to him, irksome task of carrying out retrenchments ordered from Wellington.
To bring his agency's expenditure within the reduced budget, Vogel had to dispense with the Burtons, who returned to Taranaki later in 1877. Holloway he considered too valuable to let go, and he was able to arrange for him to take leave of absence, with a retainer of thirty-five shillings a week, until the now shortened emigration season began.37 In May 1877 Holloway was recalled to active duties, and concentrated initially on the neighbourhood of Yeovil in Somerset.38 In the face of renewed instructions to reduce expenditure, Vogel decided in August to give Holloway notice that he would not be required after 1 December, but he later reconsidered the matter, and decided to once more give him leave of absence until the spring, with a thirty-five shilling a week retainer.39 Holloway's background made him invaluable in selecting farm labourers, as well as in drawing applicants. He must have travelled extensively over these years, interviewing applicants as directed by the London office. In a page 97 despatch of 23 May 1878, outlining the working of his office to a new Minister for Immigration, Vogel explained that applicants residing within a reasonable distance were required to call at the office and see the secretary, and ‘Mr Holloway has personal interviews also with a larger number’.40
Early in 1878 the Minister for Immigration wrote to Vogel that the power of the colony to absorb immigrants of the right stamp ‘may be said to be unlimited’, but when the year's order was telegraphed on 23 March it was for only 5,000.41 The demands of the colony's labour market were at odds with the government's financial position, which called for retrenchment. When the shortened emigration season began in the northern spring, Vogel reported that agricultural labourers did not seem disposed to come forward in good numbers, as they were obtaining better wages than in former years.42 The shortened recruitment period was arranged so that ships did not arrive in the colony until October, to coincide with the rising labour demand of the southern spring. This meant that emigrants were being sought only during the northern busy season, and put New Zealand at a disadvantage in competition with the Australian colonies which maintained a fairly steady flow throughout the year. While recruitment was thus proceeding haltingly in the English countryside, an unusually strong winter demand for labour was becoming apparent in many New Zealand districts. From Lawrence in Otago the chairman of the Tuapeka County Council telegraphed the Minister for Public Works on 15 June to inform him that ‘never in any period of the history of the colony have the requirements for immigration been so great as at present’.43 He advised that although contractors were offering up to eleven shillings a day for labourers, they were still in some cases being forced to throw up contracts and forfeit their deposits. The Mayor of Invercargill also telegraphed the Minister for Immigration in similar terms, asking that 1200 emigrants be despatched to Bluff Harbour for the coming spring. This request came from a crowded public meeting, held in response to the largest requisition ever presented to the mayor of the town.44 The minister responded by cabling Vogel to send 600 agricultural labourers to Southland. The mid-year survey of the labour market brought further reports of strong demand from Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin.45 Orders for additional immigrants were accordingly sent to Vogel. A cable of 9 August asked for 1,000, chiefly for Canterbury, and another of 15 August instructed that 300 be shipped to Timaru direct.46 Yet a hint of warning of things to come had been provided by the experience of the Nelson district. All immigration to Nelson had been suspended on 17 May, following a petition from labourers and others advising of hard times in the district.47
The interaction between the New Zealand immigration drive and the Revolt of the Field which began in Warwickshire in the spring of 1872, reached a fitting culmination in Kent in the winter of 1878–9. Under Simmons's astute leadership the Kent and Sussex Labourers' Union had grown steadily in strength throughout the ‘seventies, easily warding off page 98 sporadic attacks by its opponents. After making a strong feature of emigration while launching its successful wages movement in 1874, the Kent union had shown only a limited interest over the following years. But when in the autumn of 1878 the farmers and landowners of Kent began to organise a widespread ‘show-down’ with the union, the thoughts of Simmons and his executive turned immediately to an emigration drive as one effective counter-measure. The Kentish lock-out of 1878–9 may be taken as a belated closing episode of the Revolt, and the special endeavours which the New Zealand Government made to recruit the locked-out men represent the last major episode of the ‘Vogel’ immigration drive. It was appropriate that Holloway, who had been so closely involved in both movements, should be sent by Vogel to Kent to work with the union in recruiting emigrants for New Zealand.
Vogel had already despatched his year's quota of emigrants when the Kentish lock-out began towards the end of October 1878. If the pattern of the previous year or two had been followed he would have marked time as regards recruitment until the following May. That events took a different course was due to the lock-out's coinciding with an unusually strong demand for labour in New Zealand in the southern spring of 1878. The link between the two was provided by the personalities of Vogel, and of the New Zealand premier, Sir George Grey. Vogel, ever the opportunist, saw in the lock-out a repetition of the possibilities he had helped to seize in 1874, and Grey, at this stage of his career an erratic demagogue almost obsessed by the injustices imposed on the common people of Britain and New Zealand by land monopolists, apparently could not resist going to the aid of the oppressed ‘serfs’. Already on 3 October the Minister for Immigration had written to Vogel that ‘the Government believe there will be employment for far more immigrants than they have authorised you to send’.48 Well before this letter reached Vogel, he must have been approached by Simmons, who told his executive on 13 November of interviews with various emigration authorities.49 On 21 November Vogel cabled Grey, ‘Kent and Sussex labourers have struck; seems splendid opportunity obtaining immigrants. Could send several hundreds by steamer, arrive February, or later by sailing vessels. Reply. Vogel’.50 The completion of a direct cable link between Britain and New Zealand in 1876 made possible rapid negotiations on urgent matters. On 28 November Grey cabled in reply that additional emigrants should be sent for Otago, Canterbury, Wellington and Taranaki Provinces. In transmitting a copy of the telegram by mail two days later, the Minister for Immigration wrote of almost unlimited demand for more labour in these districts, with repeated applications being made to the government by local bodies and private employers.51 In the colony the government proceeded to negotiate with the New Zealand Shipping Company for a large steamer, while in England Vogel opened negotiations with Simmons. On 13 December his government cabled Vogel that a steamer for 600 emigrants had been arranged to sail in January, and on 16 December Simmons told a mass meeting of page 99 labourers in the Canterbury theatre that he had that day concluded negotiations for free passages to New Zealand for 700 farm labourers and their families.53 Vogel promptly despatched Holloway to Kent, where he spoke at a large union meeting at Faversham on 20 December, and thereafter addressed union branches in all parts of Kent. He was shortly joined by the Revd Joseph Berry, recently arrived from New Zealand, with a contract from the government to give eighty lectures, as mutually arranged by him and the Agent-General. Vogel had offered Simmons a first-class passage to accompany the party, provided a reasonable number were recruited, and on 28 December he was able to announce that he was going. He sailed with a party of about 400 on the steamer Stad Haarlem from Plymouth on 14 February.54
As Simmons's party set out for New Zealand, reports of widespread distress in the mother country moved Grey to a further initiative. On 15 February he cabled the colonial secretary offering to find employment for six thousand able-bodied emigrants, in addition to those whose passages were being paid by the colony, should the Imperial Government be prepared to forward them to the colony, and Vogel was instructed to assist by indicating the classes of labour in demand.55 The Imperial Government declined the offer, but it was passed on to the Local Government Board, who in turn circulated it to the Boards of Guardians.56 This, of course, was not the type of immigrant that Grey had intended in his offer, and the New Zealand community was strongly opposed to the recruitment of poor house inmates. It was as well that the offer came to nothing, as the labour market had begun to deteriorate by the time the Stad Haarlem arrived, and those of her immigrants who landed at Christchurch had difficulty in finding work. Simmons spent several weeks touring New Zealand, and wrote an enthusiastic book on the colony57 on his return, but he had apparently correctly assessed the country's economic future. He revealed five years later that he had sought an interview with Grey and urgently advised the discontinuance of free passages for a few seasons.58 He gave no hint of this on his return to Kent, as he obviously wished the farmers to believe that there was a danger of further parties being sent. However, neither such subterfuge, nor the strength of the Kent union, was able to protect the wages of the farm labourers of the county from the effects of the prevailing depression.
New Zealand also was moving erratically towards depression during 1879. The cabinet finally accepted the reality of the situation in August and on the 15th telegraphed Vogel putting an end to free emigration for men. They were now to pay five pounds in advance, but women were still to come out free, on account of the imbalance of the sexes in the colony.59 The government now endeavoured to shift the emphasis of its immigration policy to the recruitment of farmers with capital, who would pay their own way out, and assist in employing the colony's surplus labour. Several lecturers were engaged especially to appeal to this class, among them Arthur Clayden, the Berkshire supporter of the Revolt of the Field, who page 100 had spent some time in New Zealand in the late ‘seventies, and went back to England on the Stad Haarlem's return voyage, to begin his lecturing engagement.60 The Grey ministry fell in October 1879, following a general election, and the new government was forced by the colony's deteriorating economic circumstances, to move steadily towards phasing out assisted immigration. In the past nominated immigrants had been sent out throughout the year without restriction, as their applications were approved, but on 27 October 1879 Vogel was instructed to suspend all nominated immigration except those already promised, and females.61 On 6 November he was instructed that apart from single women the government wanted no immigrants to arrive during the following winter.62 On 26 February 1880 Vogel was informed that the colony's unemployed were numerous and increasing. Not only should he send no immigrants, but he should also warn men without means against making their own way out.63 On 2 April 1880 Immigration Officers throughout New Zealand were advised to discourage all nominations as much as possible, and that they were even to advise men who wished to bring out their wives and families that nothing could be done for them in the meantime, except in very special cases.64 Finally, on 24 April, officers were advised to take no more nominations, but to tell applicants to make their own arrangements with one of the shipping firms.65
Ironically, just as New Zealand was finding that it could absorb no more immigrants, applicants began to come forward spontaneously in unprecedented numbers in Britain. On 7 April 1879 Vogel reported that he was receiving 500 enquiries a day,66 and on 1 May he wrote that he had received as many as 1000 enquiries in one day, and had accordingly withdrawn all advertisements, as he already had enough applicants to fill the year's order of 3000 emigrants.67 He had also by 1 September 1879 once again stood down Christopher Holloway on a retaining allowance.68 But with neither advertisements nor agents to encourage them, the enquiries kept flooding in. Thus, on 23 October 1879 Vogel advised that an ‘immense number’ of nominated men were coming forward, undeterred by the five pounds payment.69
The New Zealand Government finally dispensed with Holloway's services in April 1880.70 His departure thus coincided with the end of an era in the peopling of New Zealand. He settled back into his home village of Wootton, as a shopkeeper, of apparently moderately prosperous circumstances. He lived to see both the sons of his second marriage established as clergymen in Anglican orders.71 Certainly, in terms of his origins, he had ‘made good’. So also had a large proportion of those whom he had launched on a new life in the antipodes.