The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]
Wellington Provincial District
Wellington Provincial District.
Settlement in New Zealand was begun almost simultaneously in several parts. This was probably not a wise way for civilization to attack a country possessed by numerous savage tribes, and it is more than probable that the massacres and bloodshed which marked the first thirty years of systematic colonization would have been entirely avoided if the newcomers had acted upon the adage—which must, even then, have been an adage—” Union is strength.” In the opinion of many, decentralization—which is nowhere so perfect as in New Zealand—is still a very great drawback to the Colony. This, however, is debatable, and therefore unsuited to the pages of a Cyclopedia.
The settlements soon became provinces, and though provincial government has been abolished for nearly twenty years, the old provinces have been retained as provincial districts, though it is not clear that any necessity for such distinction exists, or that any benefits are derived therefrom, except the convenience of departmental land management. The county divisions and electoral boundaries are entirely independent of each other and of the provincial boundaries. The old provincial clannishness still exists, however, and it is interesting in statistical matters to compare figures relating to the several parts of the Colony as originally distinguished.
The Colony is now divided into nine provincial districts, namely :—Auckland (25,746 square miles), Taranaki (3,308), Hawkes Bay (4,410), Wellington (10,312), Marlborough (4,753), Nelson (10,269), Westland (4,641), Canterbury (14,040), and Otago (25,487). The population is about equally dense in Wellington and Canterbury, where there are ten inhabitants to every square mile of territory. Taranaki and Hawkes Bav come next with seven to each square mile; Otago follows with six-and-a-half; then Auckland with five-and-a-half; Westland and Nelson with nearly four; and Marlborough with three. Nothing further need be said to show that this fair Colony is most sparsely populated.
Boundaries And Area.
The Provincial District of Wellington, of which this volume of the Cyclopedia treats, comprises some of the central and the whole of the southern portion of the North Island. The boundary line which separates it from Taranaki extends from the mouth of the Patea River in a north-easterly direction to Pipiriki, and thence follows the Wanganui River as far north as the thirty-ninth parallel of latitude. The line dividing the district from Auckland follows this parallel to the Hawkes Bay line, which strikes a fairly direct course south to the Ruahine Range and the Manawatu Gorge, following the Manawatu River for a short distance, and thence extending to the East Coast at a point near page 196 Cape Turnagain. The sea-board forms the boundary for the whole of the remainder of the provincial district. From Cook Strait to the north boundary is some 180 miles, and the mean breadth is sixty miles, the area being about 6,600,000 acres. In size the Wellington district takes fourth rank. Auckland and Otago are each more than double the area of Wellington, and Canterbury is more than a third larger.
Although the district does not contain the highest mountains in New Zealand, it has a considerable area of mountainous country, among which is included the largest active volcano in the Colony—Mount Ruapehu. The volcanic belt, of which this mountain is the most southern vent, extends to White Island in the Bay of Plenty. The principal mountain ranges in the district are the Kaweka, Kaimanawa, Ruahine, Tararua, and Rimutaka, all more or less connected. The Kaweka attains an altitude of 5,700 feet, and is situated on the eastern boundary to the north of the Ngaruroro River. The Ruahine, which varies from 3000 feet to 6000 feet in height, extends from Ngaruroro to the Manawatu Gorge. South of the Gorge the range is known as the Tararua. It extends to the shores of Cook Strait, dividing into two main ranges some forty miles north of Wellington City, the western range retaining the name of Tararua, the other being called the Rimutaka. Both ranges average about 3000 feet in height, the highest point being attained at Mitre Peak in the Tararua Range, which is 5154 feet high. The Kaimanawa, an offshoot from the main Ruahine, is situated near the northern boundary, and rises 4500 feet above the sea level. Further to the westward, and separated by a large valley, where flow the Wangaehu and Waikato Rivers, is the volcanic chain of mountains which includes Ruapehu, 9008 feet high, and the cluster of volcanoes known generally by the name of Tongariro, the principal cone of which is Ngauruhoe, 7515 feet. Several of the vents are in a state of activity, and it is unsafe to approach near the lips of the craters. Mount Ruapehu, famous on account of the lake at its summit, has recently burst into eruption. The lake is now one of boiling lava, and it is anticipated that this will overflow down the steep sides of this mighty mountain, destroying all the vegetation in its course.! Fortunately, there are no farms, or, indeed, any signs of cultivation for many miles round; nor is it likely that the overflow will be so rapid as to destroy life.
Valleys And Plains.
The Wellington provincial district is rich in rivers, but cannot boast of possessing the largest in the Colony. This is found in the South Island, and is known as the Clutha; but the second largest, the Waikato, though belonging to the Auckland provincial district, takes its rise at the base of Mount Ruapehu within the boundaries of the Wellington district. The largest river in the province is the Wanganui, which is sometimes called the “Rhine of New Zealand.” It is over 110 miles in length, and is navigable for river steamers for sixty miles. The Rangitikei, the second in importance, flows a distance of over 100 miles before reaching the coast, while the Manawatu, which has formed the celebrated gorge of that name, pours into the Tasman Sea a volume of water estimated at 642,593 cubic feet per minute. Smaller rivers include the Waitotara, the Wangaehu, the Turakina, the Ohau, and the Otaki on the West Coast, the Hutt (Heretaunga) which flows into Port Nicholson, the Ruamahanga, which, after flowing through the Wairarapa Valley and lakes, falls into Palliser Bay, and the Pahaoa, the Aohanga and the Akitio on the East Coast. There is but one lake of any importance in the district, namely, the Wairarapa, about twelve miles long by four miles broad, and situated at the southern end of the valley, whose name it bears. The northern line of the district is not far south of Lake Taupo and the small lake Roto Aira, the most southerly of the lakes included in what is known as the Hot Lakes District, is just within the boundaries.
This part of the Colony is notable for its splendid and extensive forests, over one half of the land being still under bush. The Waimarino Forest has an area of three-quarters of a million acres. It is fairly level and densely covered with excellent timber, mostly totara, maire, matal, and rimu. Being far in the interior, however, this valuable timber will page 199 not be available till the country is opened up. Another large block is known as the Rangitikei-Hautapu Forest, 400,000 acres in extent, containing some first-class milling timber, which will be made available ere long, by means of the railway extension beyond Hunterville. Between the forests named is a vast extent of bush country drained by the Turakina, Wangaehu, and Wanganui Rivers. It is not anticipated that much of this timber can be utilised, owing to its inaccessibility, but there is no doubt that the land will be cleared and sown down in grass. In the Pohangina Valley and on the slopes of the Ruahine Range there is a further block of some 100,000 acres, much of which has already been selected, and is in process of exploitation and settlement. The Wellington-Manawatu Railway intersects a vast block of forest land on the west side of the Tararua Range, which extends from Pukerua to the Manawatu Gorge, and contains about 380,000 acres. A good many sawmills are at work, and this bush israpidly being transformed into pasture country, for which it is eminently suitable. To the north of Masterton, the chief town of the Wairarapa, is a block of over a quarter of a million acres in extent, known as the Forty-mile Bush. The Wellington-Ekctahuna Railway is being continued through this fine bush to Woodville, just over the borders of the Hawkes Bay provincial district, where it will connect with the Government railway from Napier. This country is fast becoming settled, and the timber is being cleared for purposes of agriculture; while at Pahiatua, Eketahuna, and elsewhere, sawmills are busily engaged. Another block of 100,000 acres of bush is situated to the east of the Puketoi Range, and on the same side of the Tararua lies the Wairarapa-Tararua Forest, which continues on both sides of the Rimutaka Range. Many other forests of lesser extent are found within the district.
The statutes in force afford opportunity for the fullest possible measure of local self-government. Provision has been made for creating local governing bodies whenever the inhabitants of a prescribed area so desire; and, on the other hand, if the ratepayers should wish to be relieved of self-government, they may have their district merged in the county of which they form a part. The provincial district is divided into counties, each with its elective council. Of these there are twelve, namely, Waitotara, Wanganui, Rangitikei, Oroua, Kiwitea, Pohangina, Manawatu, Horowhenua, Pahiatua, Wairarapa North, Waiarapa South, and Hutt. Besides these, portions of the Patea, Taupo West, Taupo East, page 200 and Hawkes Bay counties are included in the Wellington provincial district. The County Councils have no jurisdiction over the lands comprised in the numerous boroughs. Wellington, the capital city of the Colony, is of course the chief town of the provincial district. There are fifteen corporations, of which Wellington, Wanganui, Palmerston North, Masterton, Pahiatua, Marton and Feilding are the principal. The smaller Boroughs are Foxton, Carterton, Greytown North, Lower Hutt, Petone, Onslow, Karori and Melrose. There are six townships whose local governing bodies are known as Town Boards, viz.: Johnsonville, Featherston, Halcombe, Bulls, Waverley, and Lethbridge (Turakina). Another form of local self-government is the system of Road Boads, the popularity of which is evidenced by the large number of Road Districts that are worked under the Act. The following are the Road Boards within the boundaries of the Provincial District: Kohi, Motoroa, Okotuku, Patea East, Wairoa, Waitotara-Momohaki, Whenuakura-Waitotara, Kaitoke, Kaukatea, Mangawhero, Purua, Upper Wangaehu, Fitzherbert, Manawatu, Manchester, Otaki, Te Horo, Wirokino, Akiteo, Castlepoint, Eketahuna, Masterton, Mauriceville, Upper Taueru, Featherston, Taratahi-Carterton, Makara, and Seatoun. There are two river protective and drainage districts, viz., those of Waiohine and Wairarapa South.
The Wellington and the Wanganui Harbour Boards are the governing bodies which control the two principal ports, the members being elected, nominated, or ex-officio. The port of Foxton is under the management of the Marine Board which appoints the harbour-master.
The Licensing Districts are co-extensive with the Electoral Districts and the electoral rolls are available for the purposes of the triennial elections of committees and for local option polls, which are also taken every third year shortly after the committees are elected. The nearest resident Stipendiary Magistrate sits as chairman ex-officio of the several Licensing Committees.
Capital provision is made for the care of the sick, and for the relief of those who may suffer injury. The hospitals of Wellington, Wanganui, Palmerston North, and Masterton are managed by the Hospital and Charitable Aid Boards of the respective districts, page 201 which also undertake the relief of the poor. The Lunatic Asylum at Wellington is presided over by a duly qualified medical superintendent appointed by the Government.
There are two prisons in the Wellington provincial district, viz., those of Wellington and Wanganui. A new prison, which is a monument testifying to the industry of the prisoners by whom it is being built, has been partially completed at Mount Cook, Wellington. It is a conspicuous, if not a handsome, structure, and may be seen from most parts of the Capital City. It is said, however that a much better use could be made of such a noble site, and it is possible that in the near future some alterations may be made whereby the site can be utilised for University purposes.
Her Majesty's Customs are collected at the Customhouse in Wellington and Wanganui, where resident collectors are in charge A Government officer is in charge at the port of Foxton, assisted by a harbour-master. The Stamp Department is administered by Deputy Commissioners resident in Wellington and Wanganui. A Commissioner of Crown Lands, assisted by competent officials, controls the Land and Survey Department. There is a Waste Lands Board for the Wellington Land District, which is co-extensive with the provincial district. The Commissioner is Chairman of this Board, the members being representative men possessing local knowledge, selected from various parts of the district. All deeds for the conveyance of land within the provincial district may be registered at the Land Transfer and Deeds Registry Office in Wellington, where a Registrar is in charge.
The Military and Naval Forces consist of the Permanent Militia and the auxiliary forces of volunteers. A battery of the Artillery and a Torpedo Corps constitute the former, and take charge of all guns and ammunition, torpedo-boats and steam-launches. There are a considerable number of volunteer companies, such as cavalry, mounted rifles, naval artillery, field artillery, engineer, rifle and cadet corps, formed in the district, and these constitute the auxiliary forces.page 203
Splendid facilities exist for travelling within the provincial district. No less than 329 miles of railways are completed and in working order. Of this total, 245 miles were constructed by the Government, and eighty-four miles by an enterprising company formed in the Empire City and known as the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company. Most of the more important boroughs are connected by the railway system. The others are served by mail coaches, pending the construction of the road for the iron horse. The highest altitude attained on the railway is at the Summit Station on the Wairarapa line, 1144 feet above the sea level.
No better test of the progress of the district can be applied than a comparison of the census returns extending over a considerable period. In the month of February, 1871, the total population of the provincial district, exclusive of Maoris, was 24,001. At the last census in April, 1891, this had increased to 97,725, being upwards of 400 per cent, increase in the period. Of these, 95,410 were British; 58,125 being born in New Zealand, 20,810 in England, 5,425 in Scotland, 5,703 in Ireland, and 2,516 in Australia. The aliens numbered only 2,315, including 308 Chinese. Halfcastes included in the total, numbered 261. At each succeeding census period from 1871 to 1891 there has been a considerable increase in the population of the district. The period 1874 to 1878 exhibited the largest addition, the gain being 21,279, or 71.43 per cent, of increase for the period. During the last period, 20,189 were added, or 26.04 per cent, on the previous return. Even at this rate of progress the population should be doubled in about sixteen years. It may be remarked here that the estimated population of the provincial district as made up to December 31st, 1893, was 105,684. The proportion of females to each 100 males in 1871 was 82£10, and in 1891 it had increased to 86£59. The Maori population of the district at last census was 3,957, of which 2,186 were males, and 1,776 females. Every county of the district has some representatives of the native race resident within its borders, the largest numbers being in the Wanganui and Horowhenua coun[unclear: tie]s. The number of dwellings, 4,779, in 1871, had increased in twenty years to 17,544, showing a most satisfactory rate of progress.
The usual variety of creeds is found within the provincial district in common with the rest of the Colony and other parts of the Queen's dominions. Under the heading of the “Religions of the People,” the Blue Book issued by the Government shows in April, 1891, 44,315 returned as members of the Church of England, 14,469 Presbyterians, 12,260 Roman Catholics, 9973 Wesleyan Methodists, 2237 Lutherans, 1739 Baptists, and 1468 Salvationists, other denominations number less than a 1000 each, while 2801 objected to state to what denomination they belonged.
The children are well looked after in the matter of education. There are two Education Boards, viz., Wellington and Wanganui, which control some 150 schools in various parts of the district. These schools are supported by the Government under an effective system of National Education, which is free, secular, and compulsory. Besides these there are a great many excellent denominational and private schools which are all largely attended. Secondary education is provided by the Colleges, Collegiate and Girls' High Schools, managed by experienced Boards of Governors. At the Technical Schools of Wellington and Wanganui, drawing, painting, modelling, carving, plumbing and other useful arts are taught.
Agricultural And Pastoral.
A good evidence of the progress of settlement in the Colony is furnished by the return of the number of persons holding property over an acre in extent, either freehold or rented. In February, 1893, the number in New Zealand was 42,768, which had increased to 46,647 in the same month of 1895, and of this number over 7,000 were in Wellington District, representing a total of some three-and-a-half millions of acres. The number of acres under crop, exclusive of land under grasses, for the same year, was 58,983. Of lands sown down in grass, which had not been previously ploughed, there were 1,684,119 acres, an increase of nearly 35,000 acres on the previous year. Besides this large total, over 224,000 acres of grassed land had previously been broken up. The area in turnips and rape was 23,115 acres; and in potatoes, 2713 acres. In wheat, oats, and barley there were page 206 31,437 acres, which produced over 582,000 bushels, in addition to which, cocksfoot and rye grass to the total of 17,698 bushels were grown in the district.
The progress made in the settlement of the country could not be regarded as satisfactory page 207 without a corresponding development in local manufactures. This has been very marked. Comparing the results as tabulated by the Registrar-General in the years 1878 and 1891, in the former year there were 137 factories of all kinds in the district. In the latter the number was 333. These workshops found employment for 4,281 hands, who received £312,251 per annum in wages. The approximate value of the manufactured goods produced was £1,412,465, and the value of land, buildings, machinerv and plant was estimated at £893,037.
In both imports and exports the Provincial District of Wellington compare favourably with the other districts. During the decade of 1884–1893, there was first a general falling off in the imports of the Colony for five years, but since 1888 there has been a fairly steady recovery. Auckland began the decade with £2,035,071, but fell in 1889 to £1,395,287, recovering in 1893 to £1,512,654. Canterbury began with £1,378,108, fell to £1,247,683 in 1891, and advanced to £1,379,733. Otago began with £2,373,796, fell to £1,706,296 in 1888, recovering to £1,860,733 in 1892, and falling of to £1,756,429 the following year. Wellington began the decade with £1,343,756, sinking to £1,082,660 in 1888, but advancing to £1,770,480 in 1893. As Marlborough, Nelson, and Westland have fallen off from £319,673 in 1884 to £213,695 in 1893 it is probable that Wellington has been importing in bulk and supplying these smaller provinces from goods that have passed through the Customhouse at the Capital. During the same period the total population of these three provinces has increased about twenty per cent., and their exports have increased by eighteen hundred per cent., so it is plain that there can have been no reduction in consumption to account for the reduced imports. It is probable that Wellington had credit during the earlier years of the decade for a large share of the exports of these western provinces.
In the exports for the same period, there has been a fairly general increase, Otago being the only exception. Auckland has increased by about forty per cent., Wellington by about thirty per cent., and Canterbury by about twenty per cent. In amount Canterbury heads the list with £2,403,906; Otago follows with £2,173,995; then Auckland with £1,485,741; and then Wellington with £1,342,792. Hawkes Bay, with £801,530, page 208 comes so near the million as to deserve honourable mention in the list of exporting provinces.
The total exports for 1893 amounted to £8,985,364, and the total imports to £6,911,515, which shows that there was not much borrowing being done, though the interest on previous loans was painfully apparent in the increased exports. There can be no doubt, however, that the borrowed millions, though not all very wisely spent, have helped to make exporting possible, so that though there is no visible return for the extra two millions of exports, it cannot fairly be said to be “a loss on the year's trade,” as the political economists are always ready to term it. It may be mentioned here that while the quantity of wool exported in 1884 was increased in 1893 by almost thirty-five per cent., the value in the latter year was only about twenty-five per cent, greater, showing a heavy loss to the Colony by the reduction in price.
The Wellington Provincial District furnishes a great variety of scenery. Tourists may choose between the ascent of the snowy glacial steeps of Mounts Ruapehu and Tongariro, which will each reward the enterprise by a view of the crater of an active volcano, and the more comfortable if less exciting drive over the Murimotu Plains to Pipiriki on the Wanganui River, passing through one of the grandest of virgin forests, which the axe of the bushman has not further desecrated than by clearing the track. The upper reaches of the Wanganui, above Pipiriki, afford scope for canoe excursions of the most exhiliarting description. The river runs through several gorges which are shut in by precipitous cliffs, and through these the river rushes in wild tumult. Skilful native oarsmen marvellously manipulate the tiny skiffs over these boiling rapids, and the daring tourist has time to breathe freely while passing over the quiet stretches of water which are found between. From Pipiriki to Wanganui the journey is accomplished by first-rate paddle steamers, from the decks of which the beauties of this fine river may be seen in perfect safety. In the more easily accessible parts of the district there are several notable drives, among which may be named the Manawatu Gorge and the Forty-mile Bush. The former was perhaps the more famous for its charming scenery, now, alas, marred by the construction of the railway line connecting the western and eastern parts of the island. page 209 Settlement in the Forty-mile Bush has been so rapid, and the axe of the woodman so destructive, that the natural forest scenery has largely been destroyed. Perhaps the finest drive now left is that through the Awarua Bush, between Ohingaiti and Moawhango. From the road which winds round densely wooded spurs, lovely peeps are obtainable of the Rangitikei River and the Blue Mountains beyond. At other points are shady dells with the dark green foliage of the native bush as a background, and the shapely fern palm by way of variety in the foreground. Splendid scenery may also be found without leaving the railway carriage, on the ascent and descent of the Rimutaka Range, which the traveller will not readily forget.
The Old Province.
The Wellington Provincial District was originally called a province, and the Government was by an elected Superintendent and Provincial Council. The first Superintendent, Dr. Isaac Earle Featherston, filled the office with conspicuous ability from the year 1854 till 1871. He was succeeded by Mr. (since Sir William) Fitzherbert, K.C.M.G., who retained the position till 1876, when the provincial form of government was abolished by Act of the General Assembly. The first Speaker of the Provincial Council was Mr. (afterwards Sir Charles) Clifford, Bart., who held office during the years 1853 to 1857 inclusive. In the session of 1858, Mr. Alfred Ludham was Speaker; in the following year, Mr. George Hart succeeded, and retained the honour during the sessions of 1859 and 1860; and Mr. Charles William Schultze occupied the distinguished position from 1861 to 1865 inclusive. The last Speaker was Mr. William Waring Taylor who took office in 1865, and was re-appointed every year till the termination of the provincial system.page break