New Zealand's Burning — The Settlers' World in the Mid 1880s
Town, country and bush
Town, country and bush
Figure 11.4 ‘Town, Country, Bush’—and Railway, 1885 (For Southern Hawke's Bay see Figure 3.1, p. 39 above)
Our last two cases differ more markedly from the Hawke's Bay model. In contrast to the small Little River example, South Canterbury gives us the colony's largest ‘town, country, bush and railway’ pattern. Through its position on the colony's most extensive railway system, South Canterbury was receiving timber from Southland and firewood from North Otago to help compensate for Canterbury's deficiency in forests. This, together with the activities of Timaru's port, made South Canterbury part of a ‘town, country, bush’ system that operated to a significant extent independently of the Christchurch-Lyttelton port-capital. Timaru's port handled 8.6 per cent by value of Canterbury's exports in 1885, and also had 529 sailings of coastal shipping. It is not surprising that there were separatist rumblings in South Canterbury in provincial days, or that the region south of the Rangitata became the South Canterbury Education Board District in 1877.
As Figure 11.4 shows, the Auckland story is different again. Neither timber nor sheep were of much significance to the Waikato line, but it had a little over half of the colony's 1885 railway cattle traffic. It was the Helensville line that tapped the forest harvest, though only 18,290 tons of timber and firewood were involved. The Waikato line, then, was ‘country’ and the Helensville line ‘bush’. But the railway was playing a pretty insignificant part in Auckland's bush story. This can be well illustrated by a comparison with Canterbury. Canterbury, which produced only 15,662 tons of timber page 143 in 1885, railed 37,247 tons in the year to 31 March 1886. Auckland, which produced 185,432 tons railed only 22,063 tons. Canterbury, in other words, was railing both most of its own production and its considerable imports, thereby enhancing the significance of the Christchurch-Lyttelton capital-port complex. Auckland, with nearly half the colony's timber production, was handling most of it by sea. The year's overseas exports from the Northland ports of Russell, Whangaroa, Mangonui, Hokianga and Kaipara totalled 36,807 tons; Auckland's were a mere 13,062 tons. The same Nordiland ports cleared more than 879 coasters during the year,25 with timber for all parts of the colony. Auckland, then, had no tight ‘town, country, bush and railway’ systems on the Hawke's Bay model. This alone makes its colonial history markedly different to that of the rest of the colony.