Picturesque Dunedin: or Dunedin and its neighbourhood in 1890
The idea of the promoters and founders of the settlement of Otago was to make it as far as practicable representative in its character. Its inhabitants, institutions, localities, and towns were mainly to be derived from and identified with Scotland. To a large extent this was carried out down to a recent period; hence Otago is often called a Scotch settlement. The name of its chief town or city is itself indicative of this—Dunedin, a word of Gaelic origin, signifying "the face of the hill," or "a knoll on the hillside," which in former times was frequently applied to the Scottish metropolis. Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, was particularly fond of using the name in his poems.
Dunedin, thy skirts are unhallowed and lone,
And dark are the rocks that encircle thy throne;
The dwelling of beings un bodied is there,
There are spirits abroad, let the traveller beware !
This in many respects is descriptive of the early condition of the-subject of this sketch.
Several names were suggested for the capital of Otago, such as New Edinburgh, Edina, and Chalmers, in honour of the great divine who occupied the foremost position in the Free Church of Scotland. Fortunately, the choice fell on the name it now bears, it being more descriptive of the physical appearance, as well as in it self suggestive. Instructions were also given to the chief surveyor to name the streets pretty closely after those in Edinburgh, which accounts for the similarity obtaining within the original boundaries, though this arrangement has been completely abandoned in the extensive additions recently made by reclamation. The present appearance of the city, as regards limits and conformation, gives but a slender indication of what the town was about thirty years ago.page 15
Taking first a view of the limits. The total area of the town as first surveyed was nine hundred acres.
On the landward sides there have been no alterations in the boundary, as the Town Belt completely prevents such a thing taking place in that direction. Seaward, or properly speaking, along the foreshore, the changes and extensions are very marked and extensive. Starting from the southern point, at the junction of Anderson's Bay Road with Princes-street, the water of the bay naturally stretched inward, covering the Market Reserve until restricted by Market-street and Manor-place, till Princes street was again reached. From this point the shore-line continued in a pretty straight course to Jetty-street, then inclining inwards to where the Colonial Bank and Custom House now stand. Practically, it may be said that Princes-street from High-street southward constituted the eastern boundary; all the sections fronting the water having been reserved for wharf age purposes. Then trending along the base of Bell Hill round the Jail and Stuart-street, the tide again made an inroad, its waves lapping the line of Great King-street, and sometimes even George-street, receding again round Athol-place. The line of Pelichet Bay may almost yet be traced by the Wharves' and Quays' Reserve on to the furthest extremity at St. Abb's-place, little changes having been as yet effected in this direction.
Take now a view of the surface. From Moray-place northward and down to the water's edge was a flat piece of land, in some places swampy and dotted all over with flax, fern, tutu, and lawyers. It was a good forenoon's work to struggle along the surveyor's line to the Leith and again return to High-street. Popularly, this flat was known as the Swamp, although there were redeeming features, as along the banks of the Leith and for several chains on the town side of it there was a splendid forest of timber, which made that portion a coveted spot, and the sections were soon bought up.
In the front of the town stood Church Hill, afterwards-known as Bell Hill, because on it the first alarm tower was erected, flanked by an old ship gun. Although only attaining a height of 113 feet above high water mark, Nature intended it to adorn and beautify the town; but other objects were in view, so its reduction was decreed. How much more useful and page 16ornamental would that eminence have been to the city in its original condition than it now is!
The streets were as far as practicable laid off at right angles. Of course in some instances, from the steep and broken nature of the ground, this rule had to be departed from. The number of streets laid off was about sixty, several being over a mile long, and the length of the whole close on thirty miles, each street being a chain wide. About the centre of the town an octagonal piece was laid off as a reserve to be kept for increasing the attractions of the place, and not to be built on. Notwithstanding the precautions taken to keep this piece of land sacred for public uses, an insidious attempt was made by Land Commissioner Mantell to alienate it from its original purpose and hand it over to the Bishop of New Zealand for the exclusive use of the Anglican Church. So soon as the secretly-devised scheme was discovered, a meeting was held, and a representation made to the Governor of this flagrant attempt at a breach of faith on the part of his subordinate, and fortunately the protest was made in time, as initiatory steps had been taken to have the necessary documents prepared to validate the illegal gift. The return mail brought the satisfactory reply that all proceedings had been stopped. To show that it was not from animosity or ill-feeling the interdict was applied for, the prime movers offered to contribute liberally so as to purchase sections in an approved locality for the use of the Church. This Land Commissioner on other occasions showed by his conduct a spirit very inimical to the settlers and injurious to the settlement.
Other smaller reserves for special purposes were also set aside, but the non-building restriction was not applied to them.
Reference has been made to the Town Belt, the landward boundary of the city, and by far the most important recreation ground. To those unacquainted with the colony it will be necessary to explain that the "Belt" was a wise provision made, not only as regards Dunedin, but also in the cases of several of the towns of the colony, whereby a wide strip of land, as far as practicable circumambient, was laid off and reserved inalienably as a public park or recreation ground for the use of the inhabitants. In the case of Dunedin, as has already been shown, page 17the Belt did not encircle the town, because the waters of the bay intervened; but the Belt as it existed has ever been carefully watched over by the residents, and so tenaciously have their rights been adhered to and maintained, that even when two small portions, consisting of not over an acre in each case, were temporarily appropriated, one for an Observatory and the other for a Fever Hospital, not a stone was left unturned until both were removed and the sites thrown open to the public. An attempt was also made at one time by the City Council, when Corporation finances were at a low ebb, to lease the Belt in sections for the purposes of revenue and improvement, but so strong was the feeling of the populace adverse to the proposal, that although the leases had been offered and sold by auction, the contracting parties were obliged to abandon the transaction under threat of legal proceedings. It is true all the cemeteries for the town and city have been taken from the Belt, and exceptional excuses may be pleaded for this concession; but when it was proposed a short time ago to increase the size of the Northern Cemetery by including another piece of the Belt adjoining, and of no present value, the opposition was so great that the Legislature refused to sanction the alienation.
The Belt contains 500 acres, and added full one-half to the area of the town, and is now under the control and management of the City Council, although it does not absolutely belong to the citizens, but is the property of purchasers or owners of land within the original Otago Block. From a hygienic point of view, the value of this Belt to Dunedin cannot yet be appreciated, as there is always an abundance of pure air around; but so soon as the smoke from thousands of workshops arises from the lower parts of the city, (and the time is not far distant), the residents will bless the day such a wise provision was made for the health and enjoyment of the population.
form a fine background, environing the city so as to render it impregnable to an invading force. These grand ramparts, Saddle Hill, Chain Hills, Silver Peaks, Flagstaff, Pine Hill, page 18Cargill, Signal, and Goat Hills, form a bulwark which renders Dunedin unassailable by a land force, and the approaches by water could be easily guarded. Formerly, an old honeycombed gun from on board a stranded ship, having been placed on top of Bell Hill, was sufficient to repel any whale-boat or ship's boat attempting to invade the security of the inhabitants, and, in addition to this formidable weapon, all the male inhabitants were sworn and banded together to defend their hearths and homes against any intruder. Half-a-dozen sailors from an American whaler knew this to their cost when they attempted to disturb the serenity of the locality by boisterously singing songs and otherwise misconducting themselves, in 1848, who were forced ignominiously to retreat before the special constabulary.
Wear their caps of snow,
In very presence of the regal sun,
The view which the site of Dunedin and its surroundings presented to the beholder from the bay before the theodolite lite touched the soil, was truly magnificent. Nature displayed herself in her most gorgeous attire. The attraction lay not alone in the wild mountainous scenery already alluded to. There was something more exquisite still to admire. From the shore brink up to and over the lower ranges inland, and stretching east and west as far as the eye could encompass, was one great ocean of forest, over whose vast expanse not one break could be seen. The contour of the land was plainly traceable, now rising up to the ridge top, again descending to the valley below, with interminable undulations, but nowhere could the most experienced eye or powerful telescope descry a glade from which an observation could be obtained. This enormous vegetable carpet did not, however, weary the eye with a continuation of sombre shades and dismal hues; it sparkled with colour, bright, distinct, blended. Shades and tints were everywhere noticeable. The tall-growing pines, towering here and there above their fellows, looked like raised work on the otherwise smooth surface, whilst the vestal purity of the flowers of the clematis peering forth from the uppermost growths of the lesser trees, looked like coy maidens glorying in life's sunshine. There, arrayed in colours equal to those of the rainbow in number, the foliage of the enormous varieties of trees and shrubs formed a groundwork which to the appreciative eye was a source of joy, page 19which now to realize would require a visit to some primeval virgin forest of New Zealand.
It was no easy task to penetrate the shades which these pristine tenants threw over the solid earth, for here, there, and everywhere, entwined and entangled, were supple jacks and lawyers, barring all progress, without the assistance of a tomahawk or by paying the penalty of leaving a piece of raiment or skin as a forfeit. "How far have you got to-day?" was wont to be a question. "Nearly a mile," was the satisfactory reply; and he was a very good bushman who in those days would blaze a track of one mile in eight hours.
Underneath this dense and ponderous foliage there were other vegetable products, lower in the scale, but amply repaying any labour, inconvenience, or suffering needful to learn their history. First lay prone some of the forest monarchs whose heads aspired during their lifetime far above their fellows. Totara, red, black, and white pines, had in their dotage sought the shelter of mother earth, and now their trunks, dead enough in themselves, are clothed with a new life, a wonderful vegetable existence, living in shadow, dying in light. And as attendant mourners over their departed greatness, shrubs small in stature but striking in their growth, foliage or blossom, combining with the tree ferns in all their characteristic elegance, cast a feeling over the mind of the reflective beholder, that while death is a pervading element, other life follows close or accompanies it.
In those wooded dells, along whose depths the burnie flowed, gathering volume and strength from each rill which trickled down the hillsides at frequent intervals, and particularly lurking in and about some rocky crannie, on the margins of these streams, a world of wondrous variety of ferns, lycopods, and mosses were to be obtained, which amply repaid any toil or difficulty in securing them. Perhaps no space in New Zealand of equal size contained such a profusion of vegetable products, from the stateliest timber tree, always excepting the giant kauri, down through all the grades to the minute filmy fern and moss, as did that contained within the site of Dunedin and its immediate vicinity.
The denizens of the forest were not numerous. The wild pig, an intruder, was the only animal of value, and early page 20Dunedinites had rare fun in hunting him up Maclaggan-street and towards the Leith. The native rat, as voracious and destructive as his successor, the Norwegian, and the poor little harmless lizard, now nearly extinct, were the only quadrupeds.
The birds were plentiful and various in species and families, from the little Wax Eye, Tauhou (Zosterops), the sprightly Wren (Xenicus), the homely Robin (Petroeca), the fantastic Fantail, Piwakawaka (Rhipidura), the gregarious Ground Lark, Pihoihoi (Anthus), the familiar Kingfisher, Kotare (Halcyon); then the Parson Bird, Tui (Prosthemadera) with its white feather bands dangling from its throat, the best of our mimics, but very averse to being confined; along with the Bell Bird, Moki (Anthornis) pealing forth its rich notes through the woody depths, responded to by the faint "coo" of the Wood Pigeon, Kuku (Carpophaga), which in greatest wonderment at the noise, made no attempt to fly any distance to be out of range of the fowler; the Paradise Duck, Putangitanga (Casarca), the drake adopting curious stratagems to direct attention from his brood of young; the Grey Duck, Parera (Anas), the most appreciated of native birds for the table, flocked plentifully around; the Wattled Crow, Kokako (Glaucopis), which selected Mount Cargill as a favourite residence; and relieving the watches of the night the Laughing Owl, Whekau (Athene), which has altogether disappeared along with its principal staff of support, the native rat, and its smaller relative the Morepork, Ruru, with which every early settler was so familiar from its peculiar cry which conferred on it its name, as well as from its occasional habit of sharing his residence; the since proved destructive Parakeet, Kakariki (Platycercus), and Kaka (Nestor) had not then the grain or fruit which civilization introduced to feed on and destroy, revelled on the insects and blossom designed for them by Nature; a lone Heron, Kokuku (Ardea) in its snow-white plumage might be seen diligently fishing for eels or other small fish on the sedgy streams, whilst the Woodhen, Weka (Ocydromus) with its thievish propensities willingly appropriated whatever attracted its notice, and earned for itself the reputation of being the connecting link between the bird and the mammal, a rudely formed notion having arisen that there were no male birds, the hens dropping sucklings; and then of more honest disposition the Swamp Turkey, Pukeko page 21(Porphyries), with, its red shanks and bill, occupied another position; and bringing the list to a close, another connecting link, not certainly so wide, was found in the Ground Parrot, Kakapo (Stringers), which scientists hold to connect the Owl and the Parrot, was wont to be plentiful; and these also roamed at freedom the almost wingless Kiwi (Apteryx), which runs like an ostrich, and by striking the ground with its foot brought up the worm on which it desired to feed. And last and greatest of all was the Moa (Dinornizes), who stalked around in imperial majesty; and although having ages ago quitted this sublunary sphere, anticipating incredulity as to presence, laid himself peacefully to rest on the banks of the burn which trickled down from the hill and flowed through the South Recreation Ground, and when his bones were in 1864 unearthed, and carefully collected by Alex. Beg, then curator for the Botanic Gardens; now in proof the complete skeleton is exhibited in our museum.
On the 27th November, 1847, the ship John Wickliffe sailed from London with Captain Cargill, the official agent, and 90 immigrants, and on the same day the ship Phillip Lacing sailed from Greenock with the Rev. Mr Burns and 236 immigrants; the Wickliffe arriving at Otago on 23rd March, 1848, and the Phillip Lacing on the 15th April following. The weather was extremely fine, and the surroundings being enchanting, the great majority of the new arrivals were highly satisfied with the place and with their prospects. The male portion was first conveyed to town principally by boats, but a few of the more adventurous preferred to try their skill in penetrating the dense bush that intervened between Kauai or Port Chalmers and their future home. All arrived safely and soon busied themselves in making preparations to accommodate the women and children, either in barracks or in roughly built huts, and in about three weeks this was satisfactorily accomplished, and the nucleus of the future community thus formed. A spirit of indomitable resolution pervaded the whole company, and each vied with the other in their efforts to promote the settlement.
Arrangements were soon completed for enabling those entitled to select their sections, and the first choice made was that corner of Princes and Rattrap streets, on which the Bank of New Zealand now stands. Following this, selections were made page 22In different directions from Manor-place to the Leith, just as the taste or judgment of the party indicated. Immediately all available labour was directed to building, clearing, and fencing. The work of street formation, being in the hands of the Resident Agent, was from various causes not carried on so energetically as was desired, and this became a subject of common complaint. As a proof of the energy and enterprise exhibited, the church and school were erected and opened on the first day of September. As further evidence of the vitality of the small community, a newspaper, the "Otago News," made its first appearance 13th December of this year, having at its start a fortnightly issue, subsequently coming out as a weekly, and surviving until the 20th December, 1850, when the ninety-first number announced itself as "the last of its race," and bade its readers a "sad farewell." The little paper was characterized by a vigorous outspoken style. Holding views differing from those of the large majority of the settlers, it did not hesitate to express them, in one or two instances thereby causing deadly offence. So strong was the dislike to the opinions of the little paper, and so great was the fear that its so-called misrepresentations would do incalculable injury to the growth of the settlement by retarding or diverting the influx of immigrants from the old country, that it was determined to withdraw all support and start an opposition journal. The main points which constituted the offence were the persistent attacks made on the distinctive principle of a class settlement, and the repeated assertions that the soil and particularly the climate were such as to prevent all hope of ever being able profitably to grow cereals, particularly wheat, so that the energies of the people would require to be directed to stock raising and wool-producing, which would not employ a large population. Serious enough was this estimate of the capabilities of the settlement, long since disproved, but whether deserving of such severe punishment may be open to question. There can be no doubt the proprietor, editor, printer, and publisher of the "News," for he held all these positions in his own person, had at the starting of his paper a very high estimate as to the land of his adoption, judging by the motto which he selected for his paper: "There is pippins and cheese to come."page 23
For the period ending 31st December, 1848, the public revenue, exclusive of land sales, was £909 10s 7d, the expenditure being £659 4s 9d; and according to the census taken on the 31st March, 1849, twelve months from the first arrivals, the population of Dunedin consisted of 240 males and 204 females, a total of 444; the births having been 25, the deaths 9, marriages 8. The buildings erected were 46 in clay, battens, fern-tree, and poles, 41 in wood, 5 of grass and poles, 5 of poles and logs, 2 of bricks, and none in stone; the total being 99, and the estimated cost of the whole £6102. The householders numbered 102, there being several joint-holders. Facilities for commerce were limited to a wooden jetty abutting on a stone pier at Jetty-street, equipped with a crane equal to three tons weight; and Princes-street for a distance of about 400 yards from the foot of High-street was metalled, so as to connect with the jetty. There was also a metalled footpath, 110 yards long, leading from Princes-street to the church and school.
There were also at this date two hotels for the accommodation of travellers, a branch of the Hand and Heart Lodge of Odd fellows, a Building Society, and Cricket Club. The first anniversary was celebrated by a regatta, horse races and rural sports; whilst the more staid and sedate commemorated the event by services in the church both fore and afternoon.
A quotation from a writer of the period will be appropriate.
"As pioneers and founders of a new colony, the world has "a right to demand the benefit of our first year's experience; "more particularly those intending to be settlers who are anxiously "waiting for disinterested information from parties already "settled…. The principal part of the houses at present are "built between two small hills in Princes-street, which runs in a "continuous line from north to south of the town. The unevenness "of the ground, although it may render it more picturesque, "unfits it in some respects for business purposes, and no doubt "as the number of inhabitants increases, the main body of the "town will lie towards Pelichet Bay and North East Valley, on "what at this time presents the appearance of a swamp; but a "few good drains would carry off all surface water and leave fine "level sites for building purposes. The small hills at the back "will form delightful spots for crescents and villa residences, page 24"affording a prospect of the bay and the town, with a peep at "the ocean beyond.
"Below may be seen the edifice set apart for a church and "school, a plain wooden building with a library attached, the "manso, and Capt. Cargill's residence, neat mansions of wood "towards the south end of the town, with small gardens; Mr. "Valpy's house forming a conspicuous object, but not a very "pleasing one in point of architecture; the principal surveyor's "house, on a small rising ground, with its fanciful verandah, "a confused cluster of houses round the Commercial Inn and the "Royal Hotel; these are some of the most prominent objects in "the picture of the town. Here and there, too, dotted among the "houses, may be seen the painted tops of gipsy-like tents, or "the more rustic dwellings of clay and grass, peeping from amid "a bower of trees. There is a police magistrate, two physicians, "one solicitor, three merchants, two butchers, two bakers, five "shoemakers, one tailor, and several storekeepers, carpenters, "and sawyers."
Passing from the more material features of the infant town to those of a more intellectual character, as was to have been expected from the foundation of the settlement, provision for religious instruction was at once attended to. Working plans, windows, doors, and other fittings for a church were brought out in the "Philip Laing," and no time was lost in getting the building erected. The most imposing position in the town, where the First Church now stands, was the site first selected; but the church was not, however, placed there, but close down to the water's edge, at the rear of the Standard Insurance buildings.
On the first Sunday after his landing, the Rev. Mr. Burns preached to the assemblage in the forenoon, and the Rev. Mr. Creed, Wesleyan missionary for the district, discharged the same duty in the afternoon, an excellent friendly feeling subsisting between the two parsons. Although Otago was essentially a Free Church settlement, sectarian bigotry was not practised, and as there was a good number of members of the Episcopal Church within its bounds, it was natural to expect that provision would soon be made for holding service according to their particular form. Accordingly, on the last Sunday of. January 1849, the first congregation of that body met and service was held in the jail, and page 25intimation was given that public service would commence at the same place each Sunday at 11 a.m. The associations connecting the building and its designed purpose with that to which it was thus appropriated, do not appear very congruous, but in those early days people were obliged to put up with strange bedfellows and not be over nice in many particulars. The building was tenantless as a prison.
The library too was prosperous. The books, although not numerous, were select, each one worthy of a place, and so as to facilitate their distribution, the plan was adopted of sending monthly selections to the more remote settlers, who were thus saved the toil and expense of a weekly journey into town. Popular lectures were also instituted, most of the shining lights contributing their quota to the general diffusion of knowledge. And in addition to local talent, more experienced colonists (among others Mr., now Sir William, Fox and Mr. J. E. Wakefield) were introduced from the north to illume somewhat the obscurity of the future.
For the proper arranging of these lectures, it was necessary that some particular body should be liable, and naturally and properly it fell to the lot of the Mechanics' Institute to come to the front. This Institution, which had an early start in the community, was steadily growing in importance and influence, and was able, by voluntary subscriptions, to erect a hall where the Cargill Monument now stands, which in its day did good service in different directions. The building itself had wooden walls and shingle roof, and in design was of Doric architecture, the size being forty feet square, and its holding capacity about two hundred. Used at first as a lecture and reading-room, it was subsequently utilized for holding the meetings of the Provincial Council, Law Courts, public meetings, and Town Board. Afterwards used as the location of the branch of the Oriental Bank; then as the chambers of a firm of solicitors, both members of which now occupy seats on the Bench in our supreme judicature; next transformed into a meat market; it was at length swept away to make room for other requirements.
Lighter entertainments were also provided to relieve the tedium and mono to my of existence. Occasionally concerts were got up, and in the absence of professional performers, volunteers page 26were not a wanting, and as a matter of course their efforts were rewarded with rapturous applause. Less seldom, too, a ball or dance was quietly organised, which tended largely to assuage the longings of the youth for more excitement and amusement.
More serious affairs, however, were not overlooked. Taking a foremost position was the regulations for hours of labour. To the settlers in Dunedin is the credit and renown due of being the first community in the British dominions where eight hours was acknowledged and established as a fair and adequate time during which the labourer and artisan should work for his hire. A few of the more niggardly employers were opposed to the rule, and in this they were supported by the General Agent of the New Zealand Company at Wellington, who, when asked to make the system, operative among his employés, replied that their brethren in Wellington worked longer hours. In spite of this opposition the indomitable pluck displayed by the true friends of the work man prevailed, and before the first year of the existence of the settlement had passed over their heads, the eight hours system of labour was an established fact. Less fortunate was the attempt to limit the lowest rate of wages for labour to three shillings a day. The price was ridiculous. No man in the colony for eight hours' work should receive less than twice this amount, but at the time the rulers were squeezing down to half-a-crown ! a feat they did not accomplish, for with an expansion of trade and increasing numbers, the honourable employers took up all honest labour at much higher figures.
Possibly the question may be asked, From whence did the early settlers obtain their supplies of life's necessaries? In the first place the ships brought out extra supplies supposed to last for twelve months, and then from the neighbouring settlements of Nelson and Wellington, flour and potatoes could be obtained until the land enabled them to supply themselves. Then as to fresh beef and mutton, Mr John Jones's station at Waikouaiti was within easy communication, and there were some "auld Scotchmen" in possession of the place before the settlers arrived, who had a few sheep and bullocks to sell; and moreover the harbour was well stocked with fish.
A few of the early settlers spoke and wrote rather doubt fully as to the wisdom of placing Dunedin where it stood. Some page 27thought the chief town ought to have been at Port Chalmers; another small coterie asserted that the distinction should hare been conferred on the Clutha district; the majority, however, heartily approved the choice. Un favourable comments were also made by the newspapers in the neighbouring settlements as to the character of the community. Nelson and Wellington were particularly pointed and venomous in their remarks. "The inhabitants" were represented as being "poor, characterized by "inertness or laziness in their proceedings; that having seen the "harbour with its bar, its squally gusts, its steep precipitous "shores, the town with its surrounding wilderness of hills, and "the Taieri with its formidable swamp, the judgment which "would inevitably be pronounced as to the capabilities of the "place would be unfavourable in the extreme."
Against these malign remarks the more sanguine in their expectations pointed with satisfaction to the utterances of the Bishop of New Zealand and Governor Grey, both of whom said that a man must see every settlement in the colony before he could know and appreciate the advantages of Otago, and also to the fact that the new arrivals had of course the option of choosing where they liked, and yet all of their own accord, with two exceptions, selected their quarter-acre sections m Dunedin. Again, the settlers on the rural land, all but four, had gone to the Taieri instead of the Clutha, not because it was better land, but as it was nearer a town and market. Nay, even one landed proprietor who went to the Clutha district, returned, finding life there but a Robinson Crusoe affair after all.
At the outset the settlers were rather dismayed by seeing the announcement in a Wellington paper of April, 1848, to the following effect:—
"Mr Strode proceeds to the Otago settlement for the "purpose of swearing in three or four gentlemen as Justices of "the Peace, and Sergeant Barry with four privates of the "mounted police are likewise under orders for the same "destination."
This was, indeed, a projected farce, which happily for the reputation of the "authorities" was never carried out, as Mr Strode arrived as chief of the police, with a half-caste Maori as his only assistant. The idea of sending an organised semi-page 28military force to maintain the peace where disturbance was-unlikely to be known, was only equalled in its absurdity by some of the later performances. A vaunting display of officialism seems to have been the pervading idea of the "authorities" in Wellington, and in subsequent details instances of this will be given. The chief constable had very soon afterwards an addition made to his dignity by his appointment as Resident Magistrate and sub-treasurer, and the genus Justices of the Peace so grew apace, that in a short time it consisted of one J.P. for every twenty of the whole male inhabitants.
To solace the remaining portion of the residents, and to give a stamp of authority to the action of the officials, in February, 1850, the "authorities" in Wellington generously proclaimed Dunedin entitled to the name of town. A town certainly, with plenty officers to administer laws, regarding which the people were in total darkness, and of which the magistrates themselves were profoundly ignorant. As a crowning favour, the Governor himself paid an official visit to the newly created town, held a levee, and was informed by one of the presentees that "the place was hard up for leather; they had plenty of everything else." His Excellency appreciated the sentiment. However, he did not consider it went far enough. So in an address to the public he somewhat astounded his audience by saying that it was his intention to recommend the Home Government to sanction his proclamation of a Lieutenant-Governor with attached staff, at a cost of a few thousands a year, to supervise and control the actions of a handful of people whose united earnings would scarcely amount in gross to the sum required to pay the royal representative. This grand idea, however, did not eventuate; but another, equally absurd, was splendidly carried out.
The Dunedinites were slow to perceive the great boon to be derived from a host of rulers and administrators of laws and ordinances, which the people themselves had no say or representation in either framing or passing. It was consequently the duty of the distant "authorities" to force on a recusant community, and against their emphatic protest, the presence of a Resident Judge of the Supreme Court of the colony of New Zealand. Was it not a fact that for the two years that had elapsed since the settlement was formed, one criminal case, and page 29that trivial in its character, had occurred? True, but what might happen in the future was better known in Wellington.
So Mr Justice Stephen arrived in Dunedin in due course, and was awarded a reception befitting the high office which he occupied, and all sought to do him honour. As it was known that in official affairs very little attention would be required, something, consequently, must be found for him to do. The Horticultural Society readily came with its aid, and appointed him president. The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Know ledge solicited his aid in opening up some dark features in science or history, which he promised to do, but failed to perform. Twelve months after his appointment he was subjected to the direful necessity of opening the first session of the Supreme Court; but there was neither criminal nor civil business to transact.
A second session of the Court was held three months after the first; but no business was on hand. A third sitting followed, with a similar result, and now matters had come to a terrible pass. Something must be clone. So, as His Honor could not get any cases to try, might he not himself become a subject for trial before the inferior judicatory? And of verity he effected it; for in January, 1852, he was arraigned before a bench of magistrates for assault, and was acquitted by a majority of one only, the minority administering to him a severe rebuke, to which His Honor replied, "Could I wait for the tedious and tardy process of the law?" The assaulted was about half the size and weight of the judge; but as a wind-up of the affair, one of the J.P.s, a well-known M.D., challenged His Honor to a duel, as the knight-errant of the lady who had been insulted. In March, 1852, Mr Justice Stephen, and family left Dunedin. In May a proclamation was issued at Wellington abolishing the Supreme Court at Dunedin; yet strange to relate, for the first day of June following a sitting of the Court was announced, to which thirty-six unpaid jurymen were summoned, and attended to find there was no business to transact, and no judge to preside had there been any.
Before quitting for the present the department of the law, it may be stated that the building first used as a Court House in 1848 was the Survey office, near where the Colonial Bank now page 30stands, but it was so small that four men could hardly move in it after the space allotted for the justices and clerks was reserved, the interested public standing outside. "The first special Court" House was situated near the present jail, was a common unlined "weather board erection about 12ft. by 12ft., with a 'door and" two windows all in the front,' the court room being entered "right from the street. A rough deal table in the centre of the" room formed the bench, at which sat side by side the police "magistrate and the clerk. In a small recess off the court-room" the magistrate had his bed, where he spent his nights." This detailed description is from the pen of one who knew. Other little episodes, similar to those of the Supreme Court judge, occurred among the rulers of the people, whether following example or for diversion's sake, cannot well be determined. Perhaps too many authorized authorities in a community is a greater misfortune than no authority at all; but the majority of the people pursued the even tenor of their way, and brought their town rapidly into prominence. An endless task it would be to detail in order the processes by which this was done. Those old pioneers had a specific object in view, and attain it they would, let who like repine. Nor would they tamely submit to a dictation in commercial affairs, which, unfortunately, they had to accept in more public life. Gifted with and guided by the spirit of self-reliance, these resolute men of old put their shoulders to the wheel, and in a short time raised many monuments of progress. Property Investment Societies, to assist in putting up buildings, were soon in full swing, and proved of immense advantage. Flour mills, driven by water-power, were a first requirement. Hitherto the grain was ground by steel hand-mills, and for this work the women were generally told off.
There were certain circumstances existing, however, which greatly crippled the march of progress, and hindered the residents from advancing as rapidly as they could have wished. In the first place the surplus of the public revenue, after the expense of collecting was defrayed, was sent off to Wellington to be applied for purposes there, whereas it should have been retained and expended in the district in works of public utility, such as road-making, bridges, jetties, &c. It leaked out that the sub-treasurer had on hand £900, which he was forwarding to the page 31north under charge of Captain Stokes, of H.M.S. Acheron, which had arrived in port after completing the coast survey. A public meeting was at once convened, at which strongly condemnatory resolutions were passed, and a demand made that the money should be sent back, the "Acheron" having sailed in the interval. The firm attitude taken up by the settlers had the desired effect, and the money was forthwith returned and expended on works.
Another drawback was the absence of banks or other institutions by which monetary transactions could be facilitated.
To supply this much felt want, it was proposed to establish a Joint Stock Company to start "The Bank of Otago," to be con ducted on Scotch banking principles. The necessary capital was subscribed, the requisite arrangements completed, and the notes ready for issue; all that was wanted was a charter from the Government to legalise the institution. This was, however, not granted, so the venture was reluctantly abandoned, much to the chagrin and regret of all concerned.
There was no regular intercommunication, postal or otherwise, between Dunedin and the other settlements, everything depended on small coasting vessels, on the regularity of whose visits no dependence could be placed. In fact there was no post office at all in Dunedin, nor Custom House either, both of these important institutions being located at Port Chalmers.
A steady progress continued to be made against all adverse circumstances, so that at the end of 1852 the total population of Dunedin amounted to 628—not a very great increase, certainly, yet it bore a fair comparison to the increase which had taken place in the settlement generally, as at the same date the total population was 1,752. The Editor of the "Witness" newspaper, which had come into existence on the departure of the "News," in concise, comprehensive and conclusive language recorded that during the year "births were incessant, marriages numerous, deaths few." Truly happy was the state of a community such as this.
Our narrative has now arrived at the close of the first epoch—a period during which the people had not a word to say as to their own government, their head centre was a far off, vague, ill-to-be-realised idea, which, exercised a power, legitimate or otherwise, quite unknown to those most interested. Now, how-page 32ever, the end of this indefinable existence was at hand, and a new era was approaching which would in its realization prove that a people, however few and far remote from other constituencies, can be far better governed by their own conclusions than by the obtruded opinions of others.
The early part of 1853 was taken up in mating preparations for the three different representative elections, which were to take place under the new order of things. Every one was interested, and a considerable amount of feeling was roused between the two contending parties. The first two questions to be decided were the claims sent in by the settlers under which they sought to have their names placed on the electoral rolls; and were the Maori inhabitants entitled to a vote? The party most urgent in pressing the claims of the Maoris to be registered, was com posed of those who from the first were opposed to the distinctive feature of the settlement and were distinguished as the "Little Enemy," their number being comparatively small. What was lacking in numbers was, however, made up by the pertinacity with which they urged and stuck to their points. It was of no use, however. The opinion of the law officers of the Crown was obtained on the question, and they ruled that the natives were not qualified to be registered. The bench accordingly refused the applications, and the rolls were thereafter completed. Un accountable delay, however, occurred in "Wellington in having the New Constitution brought into full operation, but this removed, the elections soon took place; that of the Superintendent of the Province was carried by acclamation. Dunedin returned by a unanimous vote one member to be representative in the General Assembly; and by a poll selected three members for the Provincial Council.
It may be mentioned here in passing that for both the Assembly and the Council elections the Province of Otago was divided into two electoral districts only, viz.—town of Dunedin, and country. These districts were very soon afterwards increased in number by the subdivision of the country into several districts, so as to meet the wants of the settlers, and give the different localities a fair share in the representation.
The town was now to have the benefit of some kind of local responsible authority.page 33
The Provincial Council having met, after arranging their own internal economy, was prompt in acknowledging the requirements of the town; and at its first session in January, 1854, passed an ordinance entitled the "Dunedin Public Lands," under which a Board of Commissioners was appointed, consisting of all the members of the Provincial Council itself, and in addition "six other persons to be elected by those qualified to vote in any of the electoral districts of the province." The special duties of this Board were defined to be: "To deal with the lands reserved for public purposes in and about the town of Dunedin." It will thus be seen that the Dunedin reserves originally made, were not exclusively, or in any way particularly for the residents in the town, but were set apart, reserved and destined for such public purposes as were detailed.
The public purposes for which the lands were reserved were, "such as fortifications, public buildings, sites for places of public worship and instruction, baths, wharves, quays, cemeteries, squares, a park, and other places for health and recreation in and about the town of Dunedin." The municipal estate was a speciality for the town alone.
The powers vested in the Commissioners were to let on lease for any period not exceeding nineteen years any part of the said lands for any purpose not inconsistent with the purposes for which they were destined and reserved. Particular stipulations were also made regarding "that part of the lands called the Town Belt," by which every precaution was to be taken for preserving "the trees and shrubs therein, or such parts of them as it might be desirable to preserve, with a view to the order and amenity of the ground, and also for draining and improving it, and ultimately laying it down in grass, with walks and carriage drives, as a public park or place of public recreation, provided that no buildings or other erections other than the necessary fencing be erected on the said lands."
It is needless to say that no leases were made nor rents collected for any of these reserves, in fact, in spite and in face of the Ordinance and the Commissioners, a large amount of squatting took place, houses and whares of the usual description and of the material most easily obtained, were planted on almost every place, save and except the Octagon. page 34Summonses were issued and evictions decreed; but these were seldom carried out, being generally disregarded by almost all concerned.
The only exemption to this was in the case of the jetty, for which a special ordinance was passed, authorizing and empowering the Commissioners to levy tolls, dues, and wharfages on a scale set forth in a schedule attached, and from which a fair revenue was derived.
The powers of the Commissioners were thus limited to merely the reserves in and about Dunedin. It was necessary, therefore, that a more extended authority should be created. For this purpose an empowering ordinance was passed, vesting in the Superintendent certain powers heretofore exercised by the Governor or Lieutenant- Governor of New Zealand and by the Resident Magistrate of Otago. Among these were powers providing for deeds and vital registration, licensing publicans and auctioneers, debts' recovery and roll courts, militia and constabulary, sheriff and coroner, prison regulations, asylums, slaughtering, savings' banks, education, census, rates and tolls, dogs; on all of which the Superintendent could legislate with the advice and consent of the Provincial Council.
As the town had now become a district, and even a separate part of the Province, it became necessary that some distinct and separate powers should be conferred on the inhabitants. Accordingly, in the second session of the Provincial Council, 1855, an ordinance was passed, "constituting a Public Board for the town of Dunedin, to be incorporated under the name of the Town Board, to have the administration and management of various matters and things concerning the town, which might be from time to time beneficially devolved on such a Board elected by the inhabitants." The Board was to consist of nine members, who would accept and hold for the benefit of the town and its inhabitants all lands, buildings, goods, and other property, have and use a common seal, and borrow money for the execution of any undertaking entrusted to them by ordinance of the Provincial Council.
This enactment was followed by another ordinance to regulate the management and control of streets and other things page 35within the town of Dunedin, and in, through, or upon the lands commonly called the Town Belt, which were thereby declared to be the limits of the town; and for liquidating the expense of all works authorized and resolved on by the Board, it could levy a rate upon all properties within the limits not specially exempted by the Act. Two years later, power was also conferred on the Board for revenue purposes to tax all vehicles using the streets for traffic, and to issue licenses authorising them to ply for hire.
The whole powers and machinery having been created, the registered electors for the town district in August; 1855, made choice of the members of the first Town Board, who, having been duly installed in office, proceeded to take immediate steps to improve the condition of the town and promote the comfort of the residents.
Like other communities where liberty of judgment and free expression of opinion is allowed, there were battles, bloodless battles, to be fought. In Dunedin it was the battle of the streets, and it had three phases. First, every man who bought a section, even in the least accessible spot, loudly demanded that good access should at once be provided for him. These malcontents being discredited, their attack on the Board was of the lighter sort. The next was more formidable, and was over the levels and drainage. No systematic plan had been laid down as to permanent levels, for very valid reasons; there was no available talent to work out a suitable plan, and if there had been, no cash in the exchequer to pay the labourer for his hire. Hence, some houses which had in the dim past been built on piles, or were, as a wag of the day described them, "dwellings on stilts," had now the door-steps level with the street, and others that had in the same misty bygone times been built level with the surface, had now the "croon o' the causeway" topping their eaves. Darkness had been made light in some places, in others light had been made darkness. The diversion of the streams had made some sections desert which formerly were well watered, and old dry places of the earth were now morasses. Actions were on all sides threatened, and what could the Board do but remain dormant? Such would have been the case, on the principle that "keepin' a quiet sough things would settle page 36doon," had not the most formidable of the opponents come into prominence. Now, it was not the internal economy of the town which was attacked, but how to get out of the "plagued place" away to the south. The Board was its own enemy, and the warfare was hot and furious. Three exits from the town were proposed. From priority of selection and its final accomplishment, the "South Gate" receives first notice. On the original plan the main road to the south followed the present tram-line to Kensington, thence over an impracticable hill past the cemetery down to Caversham, or alternately the route of the tram as now carried out. In the latter case it was simply making a road through a bog. The Board had nothing to do with the route after leaving its boundary; but before reaching this point there was the swamp from Manor-place to consolidate, which would absorb all and more than all revenues. Beyond the margin of the town its authorities could not interfere, and this remark applies to each proposed diversion. However, the Superintendent had selected his residence on the south line, which, according to popular opinion, constituted another vote in its favour. The "Middle Gate" next claims attention. This followed up Stafford-street, crossed the Belt, and detoured on to the district road and followed down Cargill Hill. The objection here was the steepness of Stafford-street, and that it was to serve private interests. The latter fault was extenuated, it might be said condoned, by the fact that the implicated proprietors had at their own cost proved that a practicable road could be made, and then asked the Board to contribute towards its further development. Later on, when their hopes from official support were blasted, an appeal was made to the country settlers to come forward and help them. The "West Gate" was advocated, supported, and attempted by the majority of the Board, This road was up and through Maclaggan-street, described at the time by a candidate for a seat at the Board as a dark subterranean passage through a labyrinth of trees and rocks. The majority, however, called for tenders for its construction, and had the work carried on until all the funds had been expended, when its advocates wisely abandoned the scheme, almost concluding it to be impracticable. The greatest difficulties would, however, have arisen after the limit of the Board's territory had been arrived at. Fortunately page 37for all, the solution was arrived at by the Provincial Government undertaking not only to fill up the south end swamp, but also to form and maintain the whole length of street from the entrance to the town at cargill Hill, to the exit at the Water of Leith, thus treating it as a portion of the main trunk road running from north to south of the province. Although thus relieved of a great responsibility, the Board had still serious difficulties to contend with. Every street presented a formidable undertaking to make it fit for traffic, and constant appeals had to be made to the Provincial Council for assistance, which generally were very graciously granted.
There was also the difficult question of sanitary drainage, which was raised by a few alarmists. The culvert across Princes-street from High-street was the source of a large amount of contention. As in other cases, so in this, every one had his own idea of how best to put the evil down. At length, after a long period of incubation, the happy idea of building a stone culvert across the main street was resolved on, and having been contracted for and honestly completed, this fountain of complaint was finally dried up. Minor questions arose as to other localities, which were looked on by those immediately interested as of first importance, but time, that soothes down all things, so acted as to relieve the Board of responsibility.
It being deemed advisable to close the original cemetery, at the top of Rattray-street on the grounds of its inconvenient position, and the risk of drainage there from proving injurious to the health of the inhabitants, the Board first selected for a burial ground a portion of the Town Belt at the southern end (28 acres), which was known at the time as "Little Paisley," having been so named by a native of that ancient town who had squatted there, who afterwards obtained the renown of being the first weaver of woollen cloth in the Province. A second site was afterwards chosen (also part of the Belt, 31 acres) at the entrance to the North East Valley, close to the Water of Leith, and now the Botanical Gardens. But this one was eventually abandoned, both because it was considered unsuitable, and because it was objected to by a number of the settlers.page 38
Very general dissatisfaction prevailed in Dunedin at the-absence of any means for ascertaining the correct time. True, there was a bell and a bell-ringer, but it appeared that the bell-ringer was displeased with the amount of the contributions received by him from the public for his year's services in ringing the bell three times a day, and consequently declined further operations. The complaint was made that a public index of the time was of too much importance to be left to the caprice of an individual depending on the voluntary contributions of the public for his pay, and the Board was urged to take up the matter and provide a public clock, or adopt any other practicable means by which the good people of Dunedin might know "the time of day." Financial difficulties, however, presented themselves, so that the worthy Board-men could not comply with the request.
At this particular juncture the members of the Board were not a very happy family, and some difficulty was experienced in keeping up the requisite number of members; and it so happened that on one occasion when an advertisement, signed by the-Superintendent, appeared calling on the ratepayers to assemble-within the Mechanics' Hall to elect one person to be member in room of one who had resigned, the general meeting consisted of two ratepayers, and a fit and proper person having been duly proposed and seconded, the presiding officer declared him elected without a dissentient voice, and the important proceedings having been brought to a close, the meeting shook hands at the door and separated in a most orderly manner. Indifference like this was exceptional, as two of the members resigned immediately afterwards, and on the announcement for their successors to be elected being made, quite a little stir arose among the ratepayers,, resulting in four candidates being nominated, necessitating a poll,, which was appointed for the following day. On the understanding that the poll would be open from 9 a.m. till 4 p.m., the ratepayers were not anxious to hurry up, but judge of their surprise when arriving at the building about eleven in the forenoon the constable in attendance announced to the astonished electors that the whole affair was over, as the returning officer at 10 a.m. had declared the two candidates who had the largest show of hands at the nomination duly elected. An emphatic protest against such an arbitrary proceeding was lodged in the hands of the page 39Superintendent, signed by 17 ratepayers, and calling on His Honor to declare the so-called election null and void.
The satisfaction received in return was a very poor one, to wit, that the ordinance empowered the Returning Officer to hold the poll closed if no votes had been recorded before 10 o'clock.
To secure a revenue was a first duty of the Board. Without this nothing could be done by way of improvement. Accordingly, a committee was appointed to report as to ways and means. In due fulfillment of their duty, they stated that in their opinion the Provincial Government having sold a large number of town sections, should be applied to for aid in making and improving the streets, and thus by affording more convenient access further sales would be promoted; and suggested that the Government should be asked for a vote of £1000 for the streets generally, a further sum of £1000 by way of loan for general improvements, and another £1000 for completing and metalling the main lines; in all £3000.
Income was expected from two other sources, first the Municipal Lands and next the reserves, which were estimated to produce £300 per annum—an amount which would rapidly increase. A third source was suggested, but one which involved an important step, applying for power to levy a rate on sections sold, but not occupied or fenced, which could not be reached under the existing law. These numbered some 350, and a tax of 10/-each would, deducting expenses, yield another £150. The question of toll-bars was also mooted, but laid aside as premature. It was universally admitted that it would be a scandal and disgrace to Dunedin if another summer were allowed to pass without something being done towards making footpaths, and rendering passable the main thoroughfares. But the question arising was, how far the Town Board was the most competent body to carry out these improvements with efficiency and economy? The administrative capacity of the Board was by many doubted, and as a specimen Jetty-street, which was in a disgraceful condition—in fact a perfect bog during the previous winter, was pointed to.
A general consensus of opinion, however, prevailed not only as to the propriety, but the necessity for taxing unoccupied sections. A large influx of population had commenced under page 40the new immigration scheme, two ships from London arriving, within three days of each other with 220 passengers, and no house accommodation could be found for them; and although scores of sections were unoccupied, not a foot of land could be obtained on which suitable houses could be erected. Grasping speculators had the land locked up for their own special interest, and to the detriment of the town itself.
The opinion of the Provincial Solicitor having been obtained on the point of levying an extra rate on unoccupied sections, the Board in May, 1858, passed the following motion: "That the resolution imposing a uniform rate of one shilling and sixpence in the pound be rescinded, and be substituted by a rate of one shilling in the pound on improved and occupied lands and buildings, and a rate of two shillings and sixpence in the pound on waste sections, the property of individuals." On this basis the assessment for the year amounted to £486 4s. However, the Board, much to the chagrin of its members, ultimately found that the exceptional rate they had resolved on could not be enforced, and they were reluctantly compelled to abandon it, although to their credit be it said several of the proprietors of vacant sections expressed their readiness to pay the amount charged.
The general trade of the town was confined to supplying the residents of the Province with their few simple necessities and requirements to enable them to prosecute the operations on farm, and station. The mutual dependence on each other was felt and readily acknowledged by both. As the country progressed, the town benefited, and trades multiplied, expanded, and improved. The strides were not great nor rapid; they were sure, albeit a little slow. Fluctuations in value then as now caused a little depression, and as the value of cereals had considerably fallen, from what had for some years ruled, the impression was that this fact "was likely to be productive of some inconvenience, if not temporary embarrassment among agriculturists. On the other hand the increased value of wool would go far to neutralize the deficiency in the value of grain." On the whole, however, the commercial prospects were good. The amount of real wealth had increased rapidly; the great complaint was the want of money or something to represent the real property of the country.page 41
The sales of sections within the town, which took place by auction, were rapidly proceeded with. Competition was strong, and prices realized considered very satisfactory, in some instances exceeding fifty pounds a-piece, although not in the most attractive situations.
The Dunedin Harbour, too, at times presented an unusually gratifying appearance. In one week there were six sea-going vessels at anchor off the town. The barque "Dunedin," of 400 tons, direct from London, lay within a mile and a half of the jetty, having sailed up and discharged a portion of her cargo, was beginning to take on board a freight of oats for Melbourne. The "Gil Bias," brig, had discharged her inward cargo and had almost concluded her loading with oats, also for Melbourne, her cargo, when completed, being valued at £3000. The captain of this vessel had the credit of bringing the "Gil B as," the first vessel of any considerable tonnage, up to the Dunedin Harbour, and the hope was entertained that soon the jetty and its tramway would be sufficiently extended to enable the "Gil Blas" to load and unload alongside. The schooner "Ellen" was also discharging kauri timber from Auckland, and the "Emerald Isle" a general cargo from Wellington. There were strong advocates for placing a small steamer in the harbour, which it was predicted would prove an excellent speculation by making one or two trips a day to and from the port, carrying passengers and mails, and as occasion required, towing vessels.
The idea of a steamer monopolized public attention. Besides the increased facilities it would afford to trade, and the augmented traffic it would create, the greater opportunities it would afford the Dunedinites of a little rational and healthful enjoyment was a consideration of importance, and not to be overlooked in connection with what would be its real and greatest value, its auxiliary aid in the trade of the harbour. To institute or assist such a service was beyond the power of the Board; but it was hoped that the Provincial Council might get it accomplished.
One writer, speaking of this period (1857), says:—
With regard to the capital of the province, Dunedin, there are now evident symptoms of enlargment. For some years the place had been almost stationary; now, however, one who has been page 42absent for twelve months cannot fail to perceive great changes. The place bids fair to be something like a town. We know of few more picturesque positions, containing commodious sites for commercial purposes as well as for villas and private residences. Before another year passes there will be some public buildings worthy of the place; at present there is nothing deserving of the name.
The population of Dunedin is composed chiefly of officials of Grovernment, merchants, storekeepers, and tradesmen. It is the seat of the Provincial Government and Courts of Justice, and the channel through which the whole exports and imports of the province pass. The amount of business done is much larger than the appearance of the place would indicate. The Union Bank of Australia has an establishment here. There are four hotels in the town, two printing offices, three places of worship, a high school with its rector, one male, and one female teacher, supported by the Grovernment, besides a private academy. There are two breweries in the neighbourhood, which promise to make the place celebrated for its ale, the climate being peculiarly adapted for brewing. There is one flour-mill in operation, and another flour and oatmeal company have commenced to build on the Kaikorai stream, there being a third in the Tokomairiro, all driven by water power. A candle manufactory has recently been started, which turns out very superior candles, and works up all the material to be found in the province. It is intended shortly to start a tanyard on a small scale. A good deal of money used to be sent away for candles, which is now retained, and the same thing will occur in regard to leather. An attempt has been successfully made by the enterprising landlord of one of the hotels to produce gas, and his intention is to extend his operations considerably farther. A bleach-field has been started near at hand, to which house-wives can send their yarn and clothing to be put through the necessary operations. A photographic establishment has been opened in Princes-street for some time past, and is well patronised by the public. Watchmakers, chemists, and other similar branches of trade are all having representatives, and the printing offices vie with each other in turning out their almanacs and weekly newspapers, in which poetry and prose,page 43facts and fiction, politics and polemics, are wondrously combined and displayed.
Of the 2000 quarter-acre sections which comprise the town of Dunedin, 979 have tip to date been selected At the upset price of £12 10s, yery few are now disposed of. So keen is the competition that £20 and up to £50 is often obtained. The business part of the town has of course all been selected, and no better idea could be given of the advance in the value of land, which but ten years ago was a valueless wilderness, than by stating the fact that sections which originally cost ten shillings were now worth £500 to £1000. Of course this refers to the business part only.
Vessels drawing fourteen feet of water could come within two miles of Dunedin jetty; the probability being that as the place progressed vessels of much larger tonnage would be brought up, a very small outlay only being needed to increase the depth to eighteen feet. The shipping interest of the town consisted of three fairly large brigs and half-a-dozen seagoing schooners, besides several smaller crafts. When several of them were at anchor in the bay, the appearance of the water presented an air of importance very gratifying to those who were the pioneers of the settlement.
In regard to the foregoing remark as to the status of the population being composed chiefly of "officials of Government," it may be explained that the Provincial Government soon after its advent had the Post Office and Custom House both removed from Port Chalmers, their original location, and established in Dunedin, where all the business was transacted. For the accommodation of the different branches of the service, the Provincial authorities erected a long stretch of one-storied buildings from the corner of Jetty-street down to what is now Liverpool-street, which were occupied by the Superintendent and Provincial Treasury, the Custom House, Post Office and Constabulary; but the sum total of the whole crowd of these officers did not tot up to the number of Justices of the Peace in the Province.
During the four years from 1853 to 1857, several other interesting events occurred in addition to those already en-numerated. A fair and market were established, or rather attempted; the fair intended to be half-yearly and the market page 44weekly. From the want of suitable buildings and sufficient population, both, soon collapsed. The first vessel of any size, the schooner "Star," of wondrous celebrity, was built and launched. Regular mail service was established between the town and Waitaki in the north, and Invercargill in the south. The loyal sympathies of the people were excited by the terrible accounts of the European War, which was then raging in the Crimea, and in response to an order from His Excellency the Governor, a solemn fast for peace in Europe was proclaimed and observed by every one, so far as cessation from business was concerned; and not only this, but a subscription to assist the Patriotic Relief Euncl was opened, and the handsome sum, for so small a community, of £485 5s was transmitted to London. In ecclesiastical matters, too, progress was being made. The Presbytery of the Clrureh of Otago was constituted, and the Anglican portion of the residents resolved on the erection of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, the services of this body having been conducted in a small building on the east side of Bell Hill for some time past.
On 31st December, 1857, the population of Dunedin was: males, 444; females, 446; total 890. 'The value of imports, £65,401; exports, £22,908; Customs Revenue, £8218; the valuation of the town property, £4400, for rating purposes and the rates at 1/- in the pound, £220, every penny of which was collected.
The year 1858 may justly be characterised as the period of a fresh departure in the voyage of life, not only to the Dunedinites themselves, but also to all the Province. Even if nothing more definite and striking in interest and importance were pointed to than bringing the Province within the circle of steam navigation, this of itself was sufficient to put a distinguishing stamp on its history. Hitherto shut up almost within themselves, having no reliable means of transport or of communication with the outer world, they were now furnished with an inter provincial and intercolonial service. And in addition a direct export trade was started to London, which it was foreseen would prove of immense advantage.
Again, by the impetus given to immigration by the special agency opened up in Glasgow and Edinburgh, as well as from other sources, the number of vessels which had arrived at the page 45Port during the year, outside and beyond coasters, amounted to 52, of which, nine were steamers; and the departures were 47, bound for Britain, America, India, China, and the adjacent colonies. Some of the immigrant ships arriving brought complements of from 263 to 375 passengers each; the total for the year coming close up to 3000. The larger portion of these found their way to friends in the country, still a good many tradesmen remained in Dunedin. Although there was, during a portion of the winter, a number of these out of employment in Dunedin, for whom work was provided on the roads by the Government, by far the larger number were readily absorbed by the developing resources of the community.
Dunedin had greatly improved during the year. A large number of houses had been built, every day new ones were being commenced, and an improvement as regards size and stability was also noticeable. In Princes-street a two-storied stone store was in course of erection, and a two-storied stone dwelling house was in progress at Elm Eow, and stands there still, being the oldest stone building in Dunedin. The Club House, too, in Maclaggan-street, which, although of wood, is still to be seen in proximity to the Police Station, will give an idea of the more advanced style of architecture of the period. The state of the streets was the great cause of complaint, particularly during the winter; nothing could be finer than the climate overhead, but on the ground under foot progress was hardly possible from the state of the streets.
The shipping trade demands particular notice.
The first direct ship from Dunedin to London.—On the 22nd May 1858, the ship "Strathallan" cleared the Customs, and two-days after got to sea. The cargo consisted of 780 bales of wool, valued at £19,010. It was much regretted that for want of co-operation among exporters, the ship had been detained much longer than expected, and did not carry a full cargo, thereby entailing a very heavy loss to the enterprising charterers, Macandrew and Co. Trade jealousy was at the bottom of the affair, engendered and kept aflame by petty spleen on the part of one or two offended politicians. Had the merchants been actuated by a desire to further the interests of the province, page 46there would have been a direct ship two years "before, as had been the case in Canterbury.
Shortly after the sailing of the "Strathallan," the "Strathfieldsay" was laid on by the same charterers to load for Melbourne, and sailed on the 16th June with 2757 bags of oats and 59 bales of wool. In this case, also, the charterers were unsupported and unfortunate, as on arrival at Melbourne prices for grain had fallen below the prices paid in Dunedin, so the cargo was stored on shipper's account.
Another wonder was, however, in store for the Dunedinites, through the enterprise of the same mercantile firm. On the 28th August, the screw steamer "Queen," of 182 tons, was seen gracefully steaming up the harbour and anchoring about half a mile from the jetty. The town was taken by surprise at finding a steamer of such dimensions coming up the bay so far, the possibility of which would have been ridiculed a short time before. Few occurrences since the formation of the settlement called for such hearty demonstrations of rejoicings. On heaving in sight of the town she was greeted with a salute of 21 guns from the cannon on Church Hill. This was responded to by a display of fireworks from the steamer. Of course everyone visited the steamer, and the universal testimony was that she was a perfect model, divided into four water-tight compartments, and fitted up with every comfort and convenience for the accomoda-tion of a considerable number of passengers. The residents were in ecstacies, and claimed that no other Province in New Zealand could boast of such a vessel, and each congratulated his neighbour on the great addition to the shipping of the town, sincerely wishing that Mr Maeandrew, to whom the Province was indebted in this matter as in others, would meet with such encouragement as would enable him to continue the vessel in the trade for which she was intended. It was expected that her ordinary passage from Melbourne to Otago via Foveaux Strait would be accomplished in six days, and the intention of her owner was to run her once every two months to Melbourne, the intervening time being occupied on the New Zealand coast from Auckland to the Bluff.
The success which attended the first venture in locally owned steam, together with the great favour shown by the page 47residents all over the Province towards the enterprise, and the resolution shown to support it, together with the more assuring, because tangible fact that the Provincial Government, after considerable delay and evasion, at length agreed to subsidise the service, induced the owner of the "Queen" to add to his fleet another larger and more powerful vessel, the "Pirate," of 285 tons, which had originally been built for the Glasgow: and Liverpool trade, but afterwards sent out to Melbourne, was purchased and placed in the trade between that port and New Zealand.
A further addition was made to the steam fleet by Mr John Jones, who purchased the P.S. "Geelong," 108 tons, in Melbourne, and placed her on the trade between Dunedin and the coast to the north; and the Government in this case also supported the trade by a subsidy for a period of two years.
And it was not long ere the remaining gap was filled, as early in May the little screw steamer "New Era," formerly "Pride of the Yarra," came up to Dunedin Jetty, and by special invitation quite a small crowd took advantage of the favourable day to visit Port Chalmers and inaugurate the trade. Favours often come double, so within a few days another small screw steamer, the "Victoria," also arrived from Melbourne, the question arising was whether there was sufficient trade for both.
The census returns for 1858 give the population of the town on 81st December as: males, 863; females, 849; total 1712, The imports for the year valued £96,620; the exports, £4 7,029; custom revenue, £11,173.
The aspect of the town continued steadily to improve. Many existing buildings were added to, renovated, and raised to the altered levels of the streets, and new ones of more attractive and superior character were being proceeded with. "One municipal section which, in the very centre of the town, had formerly been an unsightly nuisance, was now covered on both frontages with stylish shops." This was rather a high-flying character to give the buildings at the corner of High and Princes-streets, recently pulled down to make way for the Insurance building. As a verity, the only private building which had up till the end of 1861 been erected with any pretensions to stability or design, is "that now owned by the New Zealand Government Insurance, at page 48the corner of Rattray and Princes-streets. Although, the buildings, were increasing in number, and their character was improving, no architectural display worthy of notice had taken place. The Union Bank was contented with a small shanty at the corner of Manse and High-streets; the Oriental Bank held the Mechanics' Institution. The Government offices for Post Office, Customs, Treasury, and Police, were a range of wooden, iron, and stone structures, one story in height, stretching from Jetty-street to Liverpool-street. The Hospital and Lunatic Asylum occupied the sections on which the Corporation buildings now stand, and the Immigration Barracks, two stories in height, fronted Walker-street. The whole of these were almost entirely in wood, the cooking and heating apparatus not having received any particular care in plan or execution; yet, strange to say, no case of lire occurred.
The Town Board erected a special habitation for itself, and for a lire engine which had been imported at the cost of the then only Insurance Company. This dwelling was set up on the beach near where the present Custom House stands, and the appliances for extinguishing fires being safely housed therein, the inhabitants considered themselves secure, even although there was no-water supply except from the bay.
The Board, however, was not the only occupant of this choice site. It sat there on sufferance. The Provincial Government were the supposed owners, and to make provision for the Maoris, whose territory had been invaded and land acquired at a nominal value, the Council voted a sum for the erection of a comfortable residence for the natives adjoining the Town Chambers, which was called the Maori Hostelry, in which the aborigines kept up their usual rites, disposed of their wares, entertained their visitors, and finally laughed at the Pake has for their credulity. It turned out afterwards that this piece of ground was a Maori reserve, and the Provincial authority had to pay a very large compensation.
The Supreme Court sittings were resumed in Dunedin, and at the first meeting, although there were a few irregularities,, one case of a serious nature was tried, but the charge was reduced to a lower scale. At next Sessions His Honor explained it was his intention to have holden a Session some months ago, but the page 49absence of His Excellency prevented; however, in future he proposed to hold a Session in Dunedin twice a year, and would endeavour to arrange his arrival and sojourn to meet the convenience of the public. His Honor, however, deplored that 'Dunedin was behind all other parts of the colony. There was no accommodation for the Court, which was of first importance in administering justice; there were the total absence of restraint and discipline in the building courteously denominated a jail; and worst of all, there were no prisoners in it. A few paltry and inadequate additions were being made for the accommodation of prisoners when they could be got, but there was no fence around the building to prevent escape, and no turnkey to keep control. In fact, when there was a prisoner he was habitually sent to town for his own rations without any guard; nay more, from the system of indulgence adopted, the prisoners remained the guests of the gaoler, because forsooth their so-called prison house was made to them a comfortable house of accommodation of which they were glad to avail themselves. Such a state of things did away with the wholesome terror of the law, and brought its administration into ridicule and contempt; nay more, it induced the gaoler to commit a crime, the punishment for which might be the same as for treason or murder. He trusted the Grand Jury would find it their duty to use their influence to the utmost point to put an end to a system so demoralising to the population and so disgraceful to the Government.
It was not only of the prisons the learned Judge had to complain. He was grieved to find that equal apathy prevailed as to finding accommodation for the Supreme Court. It was with considerable difficulty, and after more than one refusal by the committee, that the use of the building in which he sat was obtained, and at one time he seriously thought of adjourning the Court until proper accommodation was secured.
The Dunedin gaoler was celebrated for the tact he displayed in managing his prisoners under very disadvantageous circumstances. The first prison was erected on the section at the corner of Stuart and Cumberland-streets, adjoining the present gaol, and contained two large cells, with a day room, and was surrounded with a substantial wooden fence 7ft. high, which gave it the appearance of security. From some untoward cause it page 50caught fire in 1855, at the time containing only one prisoner, who worked very hard to save his domicile, on the justifiable-principle that he had been very comfortable in his lodgings therein, and was afraid in the future he would not be so well off; however, notwithstanding his exertions, total loss ensued. The Provincial Council had been alive to the necessity of making increased accommodation for the number of prisoners, unfortunately bound to increase by the increase of population, and so a new building was at once pushed on to completion on the site of the present erection. The gaoler, Mr Monson, who had held office since June 1851, got arrangements completed, and at once transferred himself and his single guest to the new quarters. The building was very inconvenient, and had nothing like room for its forced occupants, on some occasions numbering 26 and 27—mostly runaway sailors. Nor had the keeper any regular assistant. He had the moral support of the chief constable, and sometimes the presence of an unarmed warder, on whom no great reliance could be placed. The law of kindness was adopted, since that of severity could not be enforced. The prisoners were in the habit of coming up to town for their rations once or twice weekly, and being generally good-tempered tars, were often treated by the people; but when the hour for closing up arrived,, a homeward-bound tack was at once followed, so as not to get the old man into trouble by locking them out. That many escapes were made is undoubtedly true, but the settlers generally aided and abetted the escapee, as the majority of sailors were not only very handy about a place, but also ever ready to put their hands to work. It was like a social gathering to visit the gaoler's garden (where Findlay & Co.'s yards now are) and find the prisoners busy among the vegetables being grown for their own use, and have the master himself pointing with pride to his strawberry beds, which, when the fruit was ripe, would be given to those of his boys who behaved themselves.
The new gaol was not by any means a place for the safekeeping of its inmates. By the simplest means the tenants could effect their escape by door or window, and even though a seven foot palisade surrounded the building, that was easily scaled by an ordinary mortal, and much more easily by an expert. It was a usual custom, too, for outside friends to pass in to the recluses page 51presents of any description, and such, transfers were frequently made, as witnessed by the fact of occasional rows taking place, and of the gaoler frequently bringing bottles of grog to light.
" A sum of £5000 had been voted by the Council for a new gaol, and plans had been prepared and submitted for the approval of the General Government more than nine months before, and the delay in proceeding with the new building was attributable to the indecision of the General Government. Considering the means at command of the gaoler, the gaol was in a highly creditable state as regards cleanliness and order." These remarks-of the Grand Jury were elicited by the opening statement by His. Honor, who added that ere long their gaol would cease to be, what it had hitherto been, an object of derision to beholders, and a reproach to the flourishing Province. Furthermore His Honor said he would forward the presentment of the Jury to the proper quarter.
Another Court called the District Court was also established early in 1859, and a day appointed for the first sitting; but as the Government had neither appointed a Crown Solicitor nor forwarded instructions, Judge Harris had to adjourn the sitting until word was received from Auckland, which had now become the seat of Government. Some months afterwards the appointment was made and business was commenced.
The suggestion was thrown out at a soiree held in the church, that it would be much for the benefit of the townspeople were an Athenaeum established in the town, that being a better name than Mechanics' Institute. To carry out the idea a meeting was subsequently held, which resolved to form such an Institute, and a committee was appointed to wait on the Board as to obtaining a site for the proposed building. Accordingly, at the next meeting a resolution was passed agreeing to lease to the Athenaeum managers the section at the corner of Manse and High-streets at the nominal rent of five shillings a year. The preliminaries being arranged the committee drafted a constitution with a view of submitting the same to the proprietors of the Mechanics' Institute, in the hope that an amalgamation would be affected. However, a strange difficulty occurred. So little interest appears to have been taken in the affairs of the Institute, that for several years no committee had been elected, and when a general meeting of page 52members was called, it was found there was actually only a single individual entitled to claim the privilege—Mr Macandrew, as he alone had paid the amount to constitute life-membership, none of the others having paid their annual subscriptions. The only practical course was adopted, publishing a statement of the finances and inviting the public to enrol, so as to revive the society. From the statement it was shown that a balance of £130 5s 9d belonged to the Institute, which sum was deposited in the Union Bank; the whole having been realised from rents. After considerable delay sufficient interest was awakened to resuscitate the Institute, and at a meeting of the newly-enrolled members it was among other things resolved, in order to place the Institution on a satisfactory practical footing, to confer with the Atheneum committee, the opinion being that the existing building was quite inadequate for combined uses, and that a more suitable edifice could be erected. The Government being on the look-out for a post office site, it was thought they might, on account of its eligibility, select that belonging to the Institute, and pay handsomely for it.
Satisfactory proceedings ensued. Both committees met, and the interview was cordial and harmonious. The design and objects of both being the same, it was resolved to amalgamate and jointly provide for intellectual recreation and advancement in science, art, and literature, by means of a public library, reading-room, museum, and public lectures.
The plans for the new building for the Atheneum and Mechanics' Institution having been approved by the members, tenders were called for and one accepted for close on £5,500, the whole to be completed within six months from the signing of the contract. The business of nominating trustees and otherwise arranging for carrying into practical effect the objects of the Institution were also decided on, "the committee relying on the hearty co-operation and support of the entire public, the object being the founding and carrying out to a successful completion of an Institution in which the community in general was interested, which would serve a great moral purpose, furnish the means of intellectual enjoyment, be a convenient resort alike for town and country settler, and all in an erection which would be the pride and ornament of Dunedin." A call was to be made on the page 53inhabitants to provide sufficient funds, as all then available was £3,000, which left £2,500 to be collected.
The proposal was received with enthusiasm, but the appeal for subscriptions was not so successful, so after considerable delay a wooden building of more modest design was erected, which still remains at the corner of High and Manse streets.
Horticultural excellence was one of the earliest aspirations of the Dunedin settlers. A society for the furtherance of this was part of the programme laid down for the community at its very first existence; it was not, however, until the town was in its eleventh year that an attempt at a Floral and Fruit Show was made. On Anniversary day, 1859, the first show was held in the schoolroom, and of course the room was beautifully decorated and the exhibits far beyond expectation in number, quality, and variety. A special feature of this first show was that professional gardeners (and there were a goodly number of first-class hands) abstained from entering into competition, leaving the contest altogether to amateurs. The appreciation by the general public of this useful institution was shown by the fact that over 400 visitors paid for admission during the afternoon. The number of competitors was 11, and exhibitors 24. Grapes, peaches, melons, pears, apples, gooseberries, vegetables, native ferns, besides flowers in bloom, cut and in pots, in collections and in devices, were staged in splendid order. A second show, held on the Queen's Birthday was equally successful, speaking volumes in favour of the quality of the soil and the mildness of the climate; the depth of winter presenting but few checks to vegetation. The schoolroom was found far too small for the exhibits and visitors, and it was resolved to apply for a piece of the Botanic Garden reserve for the use of the society, on which by erecting a large tent, or some other device, to make a place suitable for the exhibition, whereby a very desirable impetus would be given to the operations of the society.
In both the following years this society continued in active existence, holding their public shows and more private meetings, at which specimens of native and introduced plants were exhibited and their merits discussed, and useful horticultural know ledge disseminated. A very large amount of enthusiasm existed, and it was all needed, because the attention of people was more page 54closely devoted to provide the necessaries of life than, to indulge-in what may be called its adornments.
A flute band was also another sign of the march of progression. The streets, especially of a dark evening, wore a most lugubrious aspect, and the musical devotees who set a going this movement were heartily to be thanked for their generous, effort at whistling the populace into something like good humour and spirits. Starting with the flutes and drum as the nucleus of a full instrumental band, an appeal was made to the public to-provide the means to obtain the necessary instruments. The very thought of old familiar tunes being pealed over Dunedin from Bell Hill was enough to relax the purse strings of the most parsimonious. "With accustomed liberality Dunedin responded willingly to the appeal, so that ere long a fully equipped band was under instruction, ready with its martial strains to lead on to fame and glory those who aspired to such celebrity.
Simultaneously almost with this new departure a movement was set on foot to form a volunteer rifle corps, and at a meeting convened by the Superintendent in July 1860, a large committee-was formed to make the necessary arrangements, His Honor undertaking to write to the General Government for a supply of rifles. A considerable number of the males from youth to middle age very soon enrolled themselves, and at the first muster on Bell Hill a respectable squad of seventy-five men put in an appearance, and in the presence of a wondering crowd took their first lesson in military drill. Very regularly the company assembled and mastered the movements under the able tuition of Adjutant Junor and Captain McCallum. Rifles were long of coming to hand, as the Colonial Secretary sent notice that there were none in stock, but that in due time a supply would arrive and so enable him to administer to the wants of this loyal and deserving muster. Assured by this hope the question of dress was next discussed, and almost by universal assent the Highland garb was adopted. Unfortunately there was not enough tartan to supply all who ordered, so a little delay took place in turning out in full parade order. A sound from a distance was in the meantime heard, not certainly the tocsin of war, but the more grateful one of auriferous discoveries, so that ere a sword had been drawn or a rifle handled, that first regiment of Dunedin page 55volunteers dissolved into nothingness, and the majority of the units took to the more congenial task of using along handled shovel and a tin dish, their uniforms being a blue jumper and watertight boots.
But not to anticipate. The "Harbingers of the Town" were still further developing as regards accepted refinement. The old original style of transit was by bullocks on sledges. Wheels were of no use comparatively, for the sledge could slide along, where the dray would sink to the axle. The time for a new departure was, however, at hand. The bullock team, dray, and sledge must give way to the more useful horse; accordingly horses and carts made their appearance on the street in 1858, somewhat of a wonder to most, but the innovation was cordially welcomed. A greater surprise, however, was in store for the townspeople when Alex. Mollison landed on the jetty a real coach, having the tremendous words "Royal Mail" in large characters emblazoned on each side. And this too for the conveyance of passengers and mails as far as the Clutha. James Mclntosh, who had ridden the south mails for some time previous, was the plucky introducer of the coaching business, and handled his whip so deftly and well that this "coach" proved safe at all times. Jimmie is now located at Lawrence carrying on a wider extent of business.
And not only was the inland traffic accelerated and much more comfortable, the seaward became even more rapid, as the paddle steamers "Prince Albert" and the smaller "Ada" were added to the fleet, and trading to the southern ports. The "Storm Bird," a screw steamer, was also added, and a new intercolonial steam service with Melbourne was inaugurated, the "Omeo" being the first of the line. Not to be behind the times, joint stock companies came prominently to the front. The "Brethren of the Mystic Tie" were asked to become subscribers for the erection of a Masonic Hall, and shortly after a company was being formed to work the coal fields at Green Island and Tokomairiro.
Private enterprise was also being steadily developed. In order to meet the increasing demand for victuals, in August 1859, Duncan's flour mill at the Water of Leith was started. This mill was of much higher character than any of its prede-page 56cessors, the owner having introduced the most modern machinery as well as erected his building on the most approved principle. This portion of the building, as well as the water-wheel, are still in constant work, although now largely added to.
Mason and Wilson's iron foundry and steam saw-mills were opened in January, 1860, and His Honour the Superintendent presiding at the opening ceremony, expressed his pleasure at finding Dunedin so far advanced as to give encouragement to such an enterprise; and although it was but a small beginning, the time was not far distant when numerous works would be started by ship-builders and boiler-makers, busily employing many hands in making iron vessels, steam-engines, and also railway engines and carriages.
Taking advantage of the steam-power, a coffee and spice grinding establishment was shortly after erected contiguous to the sawmill. A second candle and soap works also sprang into existence in King-street, under the name of the Albion. And to give greater monetary facilities for the increasing trade and commerce, a branch of the Oriental Bank was opened in July 1860, but in August 1861 retired in favour of the Bank of New South Wales.
Although there had from the earliest days been a goodly number of Masonic brethren in the town, no successful effort had been made to bring the members together until August 1860, when the first Lodge was formed. Odd fellowship had been, as formerly noticed, early established, and had now a very comfortable little building in Princes-street, near the Bank of New South Wales. At about the same time a Teetotal Society was also formed, and that wonderful display, a Church bazaar was also held on the last day of 1860. During the period the liberality of the inhabitants was frequently called upon and liberally responded to, the claims from Britain connected with the Crimea and India receiving liberal acknowledgement; whilst from nearer home the straits to which the settlers at Taranaki were reduced by the Maori rising, kindled the liveliest sympathy, and every effort was put forth to render prompt and effective assistance. Fortunately for the place, very little want or destitution existed. Incurables were attended to at the hospital, and private unostentatious benevolence met all other requirements.page 57
A few discursive remarks in closing this sketch of the first or "Old Identity" period may be allowed. It may, however, be fairly stated that the whole treatise shows too much diffusiveness; but the object has not been to preserve strict continuity or to exhaust each subject, simply to deal with each event as closely as possible in the order of occurrence.
Considerable friction occurred regarding the street levels. The Provincial Engineer had the fixing of the levels of the main streets through the town, but these he would not furnish to the Board, possibly having got his back up because the Board would not allow him to cut a straight line across the Octagon to connect Princes and Greorge-streets as they now are. This divided authority in the town was of considerable hindrance to the Board, as no levels for the streets abutting on the main line could be determined under the circumstances, so that intending builders were at a disadvantage. The Board itself had no funds to pay for a thorough survey, so that under threats and denunciations it knew not what to do. Consequently the idea of throwing the whole onus on the shoulders of the Government was suggested. The streets certainly had not been much improved even under the Engineer, so that it was well remarked that in going along the main road through the Cutting it was common for travellers to sink knee-deep, and females often got helplessly stuck, and had to be dragged out by force of arms.
This condition of affairs had something to do with the attempt to carry out an old suggestion—that of making the Pelichet Bay flat the business part of the town. One or two large proprietors of town sections about Albany-street had sufficient influence to induce the Provincial Council to vote a considerable sum to build a jetty at Pelichet Bay; but this was the whole length to which the proposed change was carried into effect. The trade of the town had become fixed, with High-street as its centre, and to move it would be an arduous task. A considerable portion of the municipal estate was in that locality, and the most of it had already been leased for business sites. So great was the desire to get possession of these, that while at the first sale in 1856 prices ranged from 8/- to 12/- a foot, in 1859 some of these which had been forfeited were re-sold at £1 13s to £2 a foot per annum. page 58The new Court House, too, had been built alongside the gaol, and almost every other condition was opposed to the scheme.
In the month of October, 1859, a very strong gale of northwest wind sprang up, and unfortunately some fires had been burning in the bush on the road up to Woodhaugh, by which the grand old forest trees were set ablaze, destroying all the magnificent timber, going along the course of the Leith till shore was reached. None of the houses were burned, but many narrow escapes were made.
The allusion may be pardoned, but to those who belong to the "Old Identity" period, the statement will perhaps be received with some astonishment, that of all the firms who were in business in Dunedin before the Golden Era, only two now remain under the same name, marking the time that has gone past, and these are William Couston (Rattray-street), and "William Wright (Gt. King-street).
The valuation and revenue of the town are not at present available, but a few other statistics by way of example may be excusable. On 31st December, 1860, the population was: males, 1230; females, 1032; total 2262. The births during the year were 290, marriages 74, deaths 51. On 16th December, 1861, the census showed: males, 3630; females, 2326; total 5956. In this number were embraced 106 officers and men of the 70th Regiment.
The exports for 1861 include gold.
The opinion, almost amounting to conviction, had been entertained from the earliest years that Otago would become celebrated as a great gold-producing country. This feeling received confirmation and strengthening as time rolled on. Sometimes the rumours and reports were practical jokes, at others a substantial basis was shown for the statement. A "lump" was first reported to have been found-in the North East Valley creek, and all Dunedin went thither to find themselves only befooled. Then more officially gold was reported, as found in quartz, at Goodwood. The surveyors were finding traces at the Mataura, the page 59Makerewa, the Waiau, the Dunstan, and at Moeraki, but for some time nothing importance was discovered. In 1860 a knowing old digger showed a sample of rough gold, which he said he had unearthed down the Peninsula, and tried to sell his secret for a reasonable sum, so much down before divining the spot. A couple of explorers started in search, and having, with the help of Proud foot, the surveyor, examined a good portion of the bush, at length discovered two or three prospecting holes, but not a trace of the metal; so his little game did not come off. In May 1861, discoveries of gold at the Lindis were announced, assured to be a certainty, and thereto was a hurried concourse of eager steps directed. The field, however, proved not sufficiently rich to maintain a population eager for wealth, The Micawberism of the people was not to be much longer put to the test; nor much delay to be experienced until the strained anxiety and expectancy which had been of so long duration was fully satisfied. Whilst yet the disappointed Lindis troop had barely time to return to Dunedin, many of them sadly cast down and forlorn, hungry and weary from their tiresome journey, the full blaze of success appeared in an opposite direction. Suddenly the fact was realised that within comparatively easy distance of the town gold in almost fabulous quantity had been discovered, to obtain which required nothing more than ordinary manual labour with a shovel, a tin-dish, and a cradle. Specimens or samples, the result of an hour or two of inexpert work, amounting to three ounces of gold exhibited in a shop window, set Dunedin all ablaze.
Past existence had been a monotonous, pleasant experience. A slow steady development had been taking place, the population was like a large family annually growing, knowing and trusting each other to a large extent, but in the event of one individual attempting to shoot ahead being manifested, jealousy and disparaging prophecies were certain attendants. Now, however, an extraordinary overturn was to take place. What had been calm and placid suddenly became excited and restless. Even the grave seniors lost their equanimity and with a wise head-shake would say, we knew years ago there was plenty gold hid in the soil of Otago, and only waited the sturdiness of youth to find it out, but now we will go and get a share of it; so that page 60although, it was midwinter, Dunedin with its comfortable housing and certain supplies was deserted for the upland houseless region of Tuapeka with its lack of any provision for domestic comfort, save a little manuka scrub for a fire and a chance wild pig or stray sheep, to catch which entailed no little difficulty.
On the 24th June, 1861, the Tuapeka goldfields were proclaimed by the Provincial Government. The news was spread abroad over New Zealand, Australia, and onward to Britain. If Dunedin was deserted by its "old identity" male inhabitants, it was not long before their places were filled up a hundredfold. So rapidly did the news spread, and so attractive and reliable was it considered, that within three months from the date of the proclamation diggers were landing in Dunedin from the neighbouring colonies, sometimes at the rate of over one thousand a day. These came principally from the Victorian goldfields.
The conditions of the town were quite out of joint with the altered times. Dwellings, stores, offices, wharves, magistrates, police, light, water, fuel, provender, carriage, all were in short supply, with a daily increasing demand, and from whence was the demand to be supplied?
Habitations for the crowds did not exist. Sleeping room on a hotel floor without a mattress, at half-a-crown a night, was counted a luxury. The floors of the churches were proposed to be utilized, but the great relief was under calico. The tents with which the diggers came provided were soon set up on vacant sections, street lines, reserves, at the rear of premises, anywhere and everywhere were they pitched, and a new and varied population was in possession waiting for opportunities for themselves and their belongings to be conveyed to their destinations, or until their other plans were matured. To the credit of the crowds be it stated that their conduct throughout was worthy of the honesty and intelligence a genuine gold digger is known to possess. "With a nominal police protection the life and property of the deserted females were as safe as in more settled times.
The more noteworthy events which occurred in the early digging days having special reference to Dunedin, may be briefly enumerated before alluding to civic affairs.page 61
Commercial matters had now assumed considerable proportions, and the number of merchants was largely increased. It was therefore considered necessary that a Chamber of Commerce should be formed, which was accordingly done on the 23rd August, 1861, There was urgent need for such a recognised authority to give directions and decisions on mercantile affairs. This will appear more manifest when the fact is stated that no fewer than three wrecks of steamers had taken place on the coast between the first day of the year and the date of the inauguration of the Chamber. These were the "Ada" at the Molyneux, the "Victory" at Wickliffe Bay, and the "Oberon" in Bluff Harbour. And these were within the year followed by the "Oscar," at New River. Various questions connected with such calamities as well as from fires, were likely to crop up, on which the combined opinion of such a body would prove invaluable. The steamers and sailing vessels trading coastwise and beyond the colony had greatly increased, and serious conflagrations were sure to be numerous, as almost all the new buildings which were being rushed up were built of timber.
Warehouses, bonded and free stores, hotels and accommodation houses, were being erected in scores, as fast as tradesmen could be got to put them together. Dwelling-houses, too, in wonderful diversity of shape, and of any available material, were showing in all directions. Empty cases, tin and zinc lining, old iron, bags and bagging, were all in requisition to provide domiciles. A few remnants of these outre buildings are still to be seen in Walker, Stafford, and Maclaggan streets, but the great majority have been effaced.
Means of transit to the goldfields were speedily being provided. Lots of horses and waggons for goods were imported, and the ubiquitous Cobb and Co. started their first coach to Gabriels early in October, and in January, 1863, the Company's coach made the trip through from the Dunstan in one day. Of course the roads were in a fearful state, and the strain on the poor horses was very great. The traffic was, however, carried on with wonderful regularity and freedom from accident, and a month later the first cab made its appearance on Dunedin streets, to be speedily followed by many others in different designs. In November, the Daily Times newspaper made its page 62appearance, the offices being in Princes street, but before it had been a fortnight in existence, the first serious fire occurred, causing a loss of £10,000, which included the whole plant of the newspaper. However, by dint of great perseverance, and the favour of other printers, it appeared as usual the next morning. The same month the Bank of New Zealand opened its office in Rattray street, where its business was carried on for several years, accompanied almost simultaneously by the Bant of Australasia. Being in the same connection, it may be noticed here that in December 1863, the Bank of Otago was opened in Princes street, and after undergoing several vicissitudes, the name disappeared, to be resuscitated as the National of New Zealand. Within a week of this Bank of Otago, a rival institution, the New Zealand Banking Corporation, opened its doors in Manse street. Soon finding that the name was cumbrous, and apt to confuse with another Bank, the name was changed to the Commercial Bank. Its career was not, however, very successful, and after a few years its existence terminated. Kindred in character, but less pretentious, the Dunedin Savings Bank was opened in September, 1864, the depositors numbering 127, and the deposits £717. Under the careful supervision of the manager this institution continues flourishing up to the present date, although when the Government system of Savings Banks was years afterwards introduced, the desire was to absorb the local institution, an attempt which was stoutly and successfully resisted.
As usually happens, the crowding of buildings of such a highly inflammable nature as wood, and containing goods of a dangerous class—spirits, oils, &c.—led to fires which became very numerous and destructive, in one or two instances attended with loss of life. A meeting to organise a fire brigade was held in August, 1862. The estimate has been made that the loss by fire to the end of 1865 amounted to £150,000. Several Fire Insurance Agencies had been opened, representing colonial and foreign offices, and in the end of 1863 a local Fire and Marine office was projected, and although started did not long survive. Early in 1862 a Gas and Coke Company was formed, and the lighting was in the hands of private enterprise until purchased by the Corporation in 1875 for £43,000. The first gas was lit in May, 1863. In September, page 631864, the "Water Works Company was formed, to introduce the water from Ross Creek, and continued in possession till their works were also bought by the City for £120,000 in 1874.
As was to be expected, with the increase of population came also an increase of infirmity and want. To provide for these attendant evils a movement was made to establish the Benevolent Institute, to which liberal subscriptions were given, and a bazaar held September 1864 realised £1,100' for the same object. As in former years to outside calls a deaf ear was not turned, the Lancashire Relief Fund having had about £1,000 transmitted, and the English and Scottish District Relief Fund close on £3,000. One very sad calamity occurred during this period. By a collision in the harbour on the 4th July, 1863, the Rev. H. Campbell, first rector of the High School, with his five children and two servants, who had only the previous day arrived from London, were all drowned.
The business requirements of the town demanded greater facilities of communication with the Port than existed. Everything must be done not only with the least possible delay, but with the utmost despatch. The road to Port Chalmers was like all the others in wet weather, execrable, so the first telegraph post was placed in position in May 1862, and the whole was completed and in working order in a very short time. The Government system to Invercargill and Christchurch was opened in 1865. Not to be behind in providing amusements for the people—and also for profit—the Princess Theatre was opened on 4th March, 1862, followed by the Theatre Royal on 12th July afterwards. Billiard matches and cricket, to which the most noted players that could be obtained were invited and tempted by high rewards for exhibition of their skill. Caledonian sports were held in the Horse Bazaar on 1st January, 1862, the Society was forthwith formed, and on the first day of 1863 the first gathering took place, which has interruptedly been held since on each New Year's Day. Horse racing had in the olden time been carried on by fits and starts, it was now to be confirmed as an institution. A Jockey Club was formed, and the first race-meeting took place on the 24th March, 1862; on 4th March, 1863, a champion cup of £1,000, with sweeps, was run for under its auspices at Silver stream, and won by Ladybird. All these things were the page 64outcome of private enterprise, and give but a faint idea of the stir and bustle of the earlier years of the golden age.
The Provincial Government had heavy responsibilities cast on them by the new state of affairs. The maintenance of order and suppression of crime were theirs. A thoroughly efficient police force must be at once obtained, and in response to a request to the Victorian Government a commissioner and number of men were at once-sent across from Melbourne, of whom any country in the world might be proud. St. John Brannigan and his officers and men had arduous and daring duties to perform in a country with which they were unacquainted, in a climate far more severe than that to which they had been accustomed, and in houseless, trackless mountainous regions, hardly fit at the time for human habitation. These duties were gallantly performed even to the sacrifice of the lives of several of their number. And the greater honour is due to the memories of some of them from the fact that they perished when out searching for some poor digger-who had lost himself in the angry piercing snow storms which so often occur in the mountainous regions.
Owing greatly to the vigilance of the police, the record of crime of a serious character was a very light one. A case or two of sticking up, and one case of murder—which never was traced—another of poisoning, for which the culprit forfeited his life,—the first execution in Otago—were the only blots on Dunedin history. Not satisfied, however, with the police, the Government obtained a detachment of officers and men of the 70th Reginient, to be ready for any emergency. It was a needless precaution, however, so after about eighteen months' stay this only representation of the British army which had ever set foot on Otago shore, or is-ever likely to do so, took its departure.
To provide wharf accommodation was also incumbent on the Government, so the wharf at Jetty-street was greatly extended, widened, and strengthened; new ones were also speedily run out at Rattray and Stuart-streets, and every effort made to give facilities for the landing of goods. In carrying out these new works, the first steps were also taken in harbour reclamation. The work of reducing Bell Hill began in October 1862, the-excuse being that the stuff was needed to fill in the foreshore and form Bond and Jetty-streets.page 65
The Provincial Government deserve also credit for their literal efforts to add permanent structures in the adornment of the town. To this period is due the erection of the Custom House, the present Post Office and Court House, and the Provincial buildings and Council Hall, the Colonial Bank (built for the Post Office), all of which, although not finished, were in hand. Then in memory of the first Superintendent the Cargill Monument was erected in the centre of the Octagon, but afterwards removed to its present site, so that the straight line of the street might be obtained. Perhaps the most plucky venture of all was the Dunedin Exhibition, the foundation stone of the building being laid masonically on 17th February, 1864. The idea was at first considered quite beyond the means of the province and premature. The result proved differently, as it was a complete success. The building is now used as the Hospital.
This may well be called the transition period of the town. The sudden emergence from almost rural simplicity and quietness into unwonted energy and bustle, occasioned many anomalies. The most of the business establishments were temporary in character, and have since been almost all swept away, and others of a more permanent nature occupy their place; in many instances, too, the characteristics of the locality have been changed. Formerly Stafford-street and Walker-street were the busiest of the busy; now they are greatly deserted.
How has the Town Board been progressing during this time? Certainly not satisfactorily, for on 13th April, 1865, an ordinance was passed by the Provincial Council dissolving it.
The authority which created it now pronounced its doom. And why ? Either the members were not fit for the position, or perhaps the body had not a sufficiently honourable title for the Dunedin of the period !
The Town Board may also have accomplished its temporary purpose, and was erased to make room for a new order. Let it be here recorded that in eleven short years afterwards the Provincial Government followed to the same bourne, as in 1876 it was abolished by the Act of the Assembly. This uncalled-for Act has been disastrous, as the Council was verily a true nursing father to Dunedin.page 66
Extravagance and incapacity were imputed to the Board-In their favour something may be advanced. To form the streets, after reducing or filling up to the permanent levels, was a herculean task, and looking back now the wonder is how it was so well accomplished in the abnormal circumstances. The Provincial Government were certainly liberal in their assistance. For in addition to the continued maintenance of the main line, a loan of £30,000 was made, which was afterwards converted into-a gift. The engineer, Millar, F.S.A., was one of the new introductions, and so were most of the members of the Board before its dissolution. One great blame cast on the Engineer was designing extravagant lamp-posts with the motto "secundo curo" (I prosper, I take care) impressed thereon, and which he had also-added to and engraved on the public seal of the Board, which had borne hitherto neither device nor motto, but only the plain shield, and name.
There were differences of opinion among the public as to the wisdom of the Government action, one meeting having been held at which, the Provincial Council was denounced for executing the Board, by old identities particularly, who had a fondness for the title.
To fill the interregnum between the old state of affairs and the intended new order, a Board of three Commissioners was appointed to take charge of town affairs, and for the first time in its existence by this dissolution ordinance, Dunedin was called a city. It cannot be said that the dignity was due to any ecclesiastical position, as the first bishop was not designated for months afterwards. And it is furthermore a strange fact that in all the acts passed by the Supreme Legislature of the colony dealing with municipal corporations, Dunedin for long was the only one called a city, all the others ranking as towns or boroughs.
The ordinance having been passed by the Provincial Council, the citizens were called on to elect their first mayor, which was done on 21st July, 1865, when there were five candidates. The city was divided into four wards, for councillors, each having two members, who were chosen on 1st August. The election of mayor is annual, and is made by the ratepayers of the city. The number of councillors was some years subsequently increased to twelve. Aldermanic days have not yet, however, arrived.page 67
The different City Councils, since their initiation, have each and all done the best they could to improve the streets and render things more comfortable for the inhabitants. Mistakes have undoubtedly been made, but these are inseparable from all sublunary undertakings. Some of these have been gross blunders, and entailed large expenses, but with the buoyancy of a new life they were soon condoned.
The city thoroughfares had the primary claim, so every effort was made to get the proper levels and formation, which, being done, footpaths and kcrbing speedily followed; so that in the words of an old identity in 1870, who had for a short time been an absentee, "you can walk fraeae end o' the town tae the it her without filing yershoon." A considerable amount has still to be done before the plans are completed, and many section-owners will be put to large cost to reduce their property to the street level. It would be tedious to give details of the costs of city works up to this period; enough will be said when it is stated that the City Surveyor in 1878 estimated, in reply to a resolution of the Council asking for the cost of "works that ought to be undertaken in each ward, in order to complete the formation of streets and footpaths, and to provide for surface drainage," also for "the extension of underground sewerage for each ward, in order to complete a thorough system of drainage for the city,"—that" to complete the works required under the first paragraph of the resolution will require a total expenditure of £97,837, and the expenditure for underground sewers, of £44,000; being a total of £141,873." This, be it remembered, was additional to the large sums previously expended. However, the work of formation has now been carried out nearly to a successful completion.
The Gas Works threatened for a time to be a white elephant in the hands of the Corporation, and a source of lasting regret to the inhabitants that ever they had fallen into the hands of the municipality. Recriminations bitter and biting were made in the Council Chambers and in the Press. A solution was eventually discovered, when, by the substitution of Mr Graham as manager, the price has been reduced, the quality improved, the works renovated, and after all done, a handsome surplus accrues to the Corporation funds as profit revenue.page 68
The Water Works bear a different complexion. The scheme, as originally designed, and for the purchase of which the city was mulcted in a large amount, was quite unsuitable for the requirements, and a constant source of ill-founded fears of danger. Several schemes were proposed to augment the supply, and acrimony in its worst features was displayed in the Council Chamber in discussing the various plans. Ultimately and wisely the Silver Stream project was adopted and carried out in a raw and undigested method, but which, by the expenditure of a few thousands additional, could be made renumerative and exempt from claims for damage. The cost of this additional water supply to the Corporation was £81,758.
There was nothing else of a public character worth noticing in which the Corporation had been engaged, excepting the erection of the Municipal buildings and the management of the city reserves.
These Municipal buildings were founded in 1874 and opened in 1875, at a cost of £22,000, the names of the mayors of both dates being inscribed on the portals. [As these and the other edifices of the city are particularly elsewhere herein described, further reference is unnecessary.]
The condition of the reserves is a public disgrace. Each and all of them intended to adorn and beautify the town, are instead a blotch on its fair features. Not but money has been thereon and therein expended. It appears to have been too easily obtained to have been so speedily squandered. Take any or all of them, the same remark applies to each. The Octagon (as the oldest) is disgraceful, the Triangle (as the youngest) is not one whit better. Any amount of expense has been gone to in providing, planting and protecting trees, but this having once been done, no further care has been taken, so that the Octagon has become a mark of reproach, and the trees in the Triangle broken down by thoughtless football players. Visit the Botanic Grardens, which, a few years ago, were unfortunately transferred to the City Council as conservators, and instead of having improved under the new custodians, have become a bye word among the people. The old native growths, which afforded grand botanic specimens, have been ruthlessly destroyed, never to be restored, and a few of the most common pines of Europe occupy page 69their place. Let no one expect in visiting these Gardens to find any plant either native, rare, curious, or attractive, worthy of notice, The Leith stream is also now an eyesore, and it would repay those interested to open a new channel through the hill at the Botanic Gardens, and fill up the present bed. The manure depot at the University entrance is abominable.
The same calamity seems to attend the action of the Council in providing baths for the people. The ridiculous efforts made by the continued wisdom of the councillors in making provision in this behalf, culminated in the baths at Logan's Point, the waters of which are credited with containing a good admixture of city drainage. The matter is not, however, settled, and in its wisdom the Oouncil may see fit to spend a few more thousands of the city taxes.
It is an easy matter to criticise and find fault with the action of others, at the same time the question may pertinently be put, By whom will it be better done ?
The great enterprises which have been developed in the city, whether industrial, as connected with metals and produce of all descriptions, together with our shipping, banking, insurance and other interests, will be found more fully detailed in the portion devoted to them specially.
The harbour improvements alone need therefore be alluded to. These must in a great measure speak for themselves. Reclamation was commenced by the Provincial Government as formerly noticed, and in 1874 Otago Harbour Board was constituted, to which the further prosecution of this work, along with others associated, was fully committed. Although the name gives it the wider range of Otago, still str.ctly speaking the principal part of the work done, and to be done, is connected with the city. In earlier days there were two channels leading up from Port. The long and deep one round by Macandrew's Bay was that principally used, the shorter and present one was only available for lighter-draughted vessels, and even then only at high water. Considerable discussion ensued as to which was the better to be made the permanent one, and with a wise discretion Mr D. L. Simpson, the Engineer, a man eminently fitted for the position, decided on the short one, and otherwise designed all the harbour improvements. Had the Engineer received fair play page 70from his Board, he would have continued in his position, and the works would have been much further forward. However, an amount of personal feeling was introduced, and caused his retirement.
The Board from time to time has been allowed to borrow £700,000, more than half of which has been expended on the upper harbour and on the jetties, with the success that now ships drawing close on to 20 feet can be safely brought up to the city to discharge and load. The extent of the proposed reclamation will add to the city area about 420 acres; this does not include all the harbour endowment, a portion being attached to neighbouring boroughs. The revenues arriving from this reclaimed land is annually increasing. Like all the other portions of our commonwealth, the Harbour Trust has had to undergo a period of "trial, but with returning prosperity it enjoys an increasing revenue, and will, no doubt, soon be able to resume those operations which scarcity of funds has caused for the present to be suspended.
"With wise and enlightened policy the Board has made the new streets, which are by its work added to the city, in some cases one and a half chains wide, and in the case of Cumberland street has so increased its length as to make it about two and a half miles long. This street throughout its added length will be built on only one side, as eastward it is used by the Railway. The advantages which have accrued to the citizens generally, by the deepening of the harbour, cannot be over-estimated. That it has been detrimental to Port Chalmers cannot be questioned, and that it will soon be more so is self-evident, as the channel must be so much further deepened as to allow all vessels crossing the bar to stear up to the city wharves.
A word may be said in regard to the suburban boroughs. The first new township proposed was at the end of 1860, when Richmond Hill—a portion of what is now Mornington—was placed in the market, and meeting a fairly ready sale, was followed by Balaclava, another portion of the same borough. The township of St. Kilda next followed suit, laid out with some pretensions to be a resemblance to a town. The boroughs, in the order of their charter of erection, stand: South Dunedin, St. Kilda, Caversham, Mornington, Roslyn, Maori Hill, North East Valley, and North page 71East Harbour. Some of these names are rather lengthy, requiring more time and ink in their frequent inscription than the borough rates can afford. Old associations were wrapt up in them, however, and with becoming dignity the originators adopted the motto, "Wha daur meddle wi them ?" which feeling is aptly illustrated by the case of the "Sawyer's Bay" railway station, when the Government tried to change its name to the more euphonious title of "Glendermid." The people would not have it, and the voice of the gods prevailed over the fiat of the crown.
Fluctuations in prosperity have been often experienced; sometimes matters getting so bad as almost to induce despair anon brightening, raising hopes to enthusiasm. These alternations can neither be predicted nor averted. They come almost as if in the usual course. Influences from without are the most powerful. Our country can produce far more than its population can consume. And if a responsive market cannot be found, we must stagnate. On the prosperity of our agriculturists mainly depends that of the town. Wool-growers show larger values in yields and exports; but for every hand the squatter employs the farmer represents ten. And on the larger miraber the mechanics and handicraftsmen of the city mainly depend.
If it had been the design in this imperfect history to provoke a smile, arouse indignation, elicit a surprise, or cause a tear, it could easily have been done. Did not the first City Council among its first acts issue an ukase that thenceforward no bells would be allowed to be rung on the public streets, which still holds good ? This cruel edict silenced for ever the sound of Sandy Low's warning voice, and evoked the awful blast of Joe Manton's trumpet. Did it not fall to be the duty of the first Mayors' Court to try the sheriff of the Province for larceny as a baillee, and allow him an easy way of escape? Was it not a fact that at dead of night the cannon's roar was heard along all the affrighted shore, and yet when the brave defenders turned out in battle array they found themselves the subjects of a laughable hoax? Did not the dew drops "fa' frae the ee" when the city representatives returned from Wellington and were received with a shower of "sulphuretted hydrogen," and the stirring strains of the rogue's march in sweetest cadences on page 72kerosene tins? And did not the people hold a East for disasters by sea and land? Did not a scion of Royalty visit our plebeian town and dance with the Mayoress ? Yes, of a truth, there is sufficient data.
In 1871 the University of Otago was formally opened; in 1872 the Port Chalmers Railway was partially opened, and a month thereafter the first cablegram arrived from London in eight days, congratulating the Province on the event. The construction of the Grovernrnent Railways was also after 1870 undertaken, and eventually opened both north and south. No one rejoiced more than the able financier who had conceived and brought to maturity this Public Works scheme, which, in the-detached state of interests formerly existing, must have been for some time postponed but for his ability and energy. In 1874 the ship "Surat" was cast away at Catlins River with a large complement of Government immigrants on board, though happily no lives were lost. This circumstance is mentioned because the "Surat" was the first passenger ship coming to Otago from Britain to which any serious casualty had occurred. There had hitherto been an almost total exemption from accident during the six-and-twenty-years that had passed.
Remarks general must now be brought to a focus, and as figures convey better ideas than words, a line or two may profitably be devoted to statistical references.
The amount of the rates, rents, and licenses, forming the city revenue, was in 1878 £27,932, in 1884 it had increased to £41,000, in 1889 it had receded by something like £10,000, thus showing the depreciation in the value of city property. The city alone was not the only sufferer; every interest and department had to undergo a trial, of which sufficient for the day was the evil there of. Up and away again is the principle on which colonial life is actuated, and here in was no exception. In this year of grace, 1889, with the material increase in the quantity, variety, and value of our products and exports, the dawn of returning prosperity has fairly set in, and with greater prudence, learned from experience, it will steadily increase until the lost in the past is regained in the future.
By the last census, taken 28th March, 1886, the population of Dunedin proper was 23,243, or with the contiguous boroughs page 73of Caversliara, 4,448; South Dunedin, 3,902; Eoslyn, 3,609; Mornington, 3,334; North East Valley, 3,221; Maori Hill, 1,388; West Harbour, 1,295; St. Kilda, 1,078; Ship board, 93; the gross population amounted to 45,611; Auckland "with its suburbs alone, among the towns of the colony, exceeding this number with a total population of 46,654. The population for subsequent years cannot be given with anything like accuracy, the excess of births and arrivals over deaths and departures being the only basis on which to estimate. There can be no doubt in any unbiassed mind but that the population generally has been reduced during the past two years.
The vital statistics for Dunedin are:—
|7 months, 1889||794||240||345|
The declared value of imports and exports, and the revenue collected at Custom House for Otago during
The values are not correctly stated in the Customs returns, as the last port of departure and possibly first of arrival gets credit for the whole value of the cargo, although the largest part properly belongs to other ports. The direct steamers are the cause of this discrepancy, of which the frozen meat trade returns afford a striking instance.
The Customs revenue collected at Dunedin for—
The quantity and value of gold exported from Dunedin from 1861 to 1888 is 4,656,126 oz., value £18,374,522.
The latest development of progress, and one which deserves special attention, is the New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition. Twenty-four years have passed since the first Exhibition was held in Dunedin on the lines of the Great World's Fair at London in 1862. A satisfactory result ensued from the attempt. page 74It is true that the Provincial Government, with, the Provincial revenues at its disposal, was the mainspring and greatest supporter of the whole affair. By it the building was erected as-a permanent structure, and as formerly noted, serves now another purpose.
The present Exhibition is a spontaneous outcome from the citizens themselves. All ranks and degrees have taken a share in the risk. From the highest Commercial Institutions subcribing their hundreds, on to the workers in shops and factories contributing their shillings; each is earnest in the effort, and where so much enthusiasm internally prevails, it is bound to spread and elicit a hearty response from an extensive circle. Everything promises well. Even the weather, which in former years Was wont to deluge the country during the winter months, has this season restricted its outpourings, and the people congratulate themselves on having the driest period ever before experienced. If the large amount of support promised comes at all in its fulfillment up to the mark, there will be one of the most extensive and interesting displays of the past and present mechanical tastes and abilities of the aboriginal South Sea Islanders, in contrast and comparison with the best efforts of civilization, which has ever been presented to the world. Local jealousies, which at the initiation of the project showed themselves, are now becoming hid or extinguished, and for the sake of the colony it is to be hoped that Dunedin, having single-handed undertaken the whole cost and responsibility—except a small contribution from the Government—of this somewhat expensive undertaking, will find that loyally the other cities and provinces will rally around, and by combined effort make this exposition of the colony's industries a stepping-stone from which every interest in the colony will make a rapid and steady advance.
The Commissioners are doing their very best, and under the guidance of the chairman, Mr John Roberts, whose cautious, yet earnest and clear foresight has opened the way, are making rough places plain, little doubt can exist; but that this effort will result in proving that these distant colonies of Britain are able to compete in many departments of trade with the mother country.page 75
Instead of quoting "See Europe Once," a transposition might be made, and we might say—
Dunedin, late "a mighty wild, science and art unknown"; and contrast that comprehensive description with what now obtains. The fathers have lived to see their infant settlement growing in growth and strengthening in strength day by day, and ere yet the last of these old worthies has vanished from this changeful stage, the scene is presented of the primeval wild transformed to a state of high civilization. A large and handsome city occupies the site, where, within memory's reach, not a house existed, and a godlike image was not. Where the umbrageous shades of myriads of stately trees and witching fronds afforded shelter to those numberless denizens of lowly nature, to whom this retreat had been given as their special birthright; and where afterwards a type of humanity, void of culture, obtained a footing and revelled in atrocious deeds; are now palaces and towers, teeming warehouses and emporiums, streets and terraces, tramways, palace cars, busses, cabs, and carriages—every approved means of locomotion; the arts and sciences; education in its every grade; religions numbering in their divisions nearly a score, amusements, games, and the thousand and odd accompaniments of modern civilization, which have all taken root, and flourish amazingly in this juvenile Dunedin. A precocity in growth does not always indicate weakness or premature senility.