The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Nelson, Marlborough & Westland Provincial Districts]
The Nelson Land District
The Nelson Land District covers an area of about 4,686,000 acres, in the north-western portion of the Middle Island of New Zealand. As at present constituted, the district differs considerably from the original province of Nelson, from which the two counties of Cheviot and Hurunui—both north of the Hurunui—were subtracted and annexed to Canterbury. The present area of Nelson is thus about 1,420,000 acres less than it was before the abolition of the provinces. The provincial district covers about two-thirds of the area of Wellington, and less than half that of Canterbury or Otago, and thus ranks among the smallest of the administrative divisions of New Zealand.
The greater part of the Nelson land district is rugged and mountainous, and the western and inland ranges are covered with dense bush which, except along well defined tracks, presents an almost impenetrable barrier to the traveller. From Pelorus Sound, a range of granite and serpentine formation runs southwest, forming in succession the St. Arnaud and Spencer Mountains, and attaining a height of at least 8000 feet. From Separation Point, between Blind Bay and Golden Bay, another mountain system runs south-west, approximately parallel to this first chain. South of Mount Owen, the Lyell and Brunner Ranges run almost due south towards the Westland border line. This system is crossed in its northern half by the Tasman Range, radiating in a northwesterly direction from Mount Owen towards Cape Farewell. The average height of these chains is from 5000 to 6000 feet. West of these, again, there is a coastal system, comprising the Paparoa Mountains between the Buller and the Grey in the south-west corner of the district; the Papahaua Mountains (4500 feet) behind the coastline on Karamea, Bight, and the Whakamarama Range, extending from Rocks Point along the north-west coast to Cape Farewell. Among these ranges are many notable peaks the chief of which, Mount Franklin (10,000 feet high), forms the natural centre of the inland mountain system. Other peaks—Mounts Murchison, Arthur, Peel, Snowdon, Rintoul, Travers, McKay, Richmond and Domett —range from 5000 feet to 8000 feet in height.
The chief rivers that water the northern section of the Middle Island rise on the slopes of the Spencer Range. “On the southern slopes of this wild alpinestack,” says Sir Julius von Haast, “we find the principal sources of the Grey, or Pohaturoa; on its north-east side the sources of the Wairau; on its eastern side, those of the Acheron and Clarence; and in the deep recesses of these snowclad giants, those of the Waiau-ua, or Dillon; so we may say that, with the exception of the Takaka and Aorere, which fall into Massacre Bay, the Wangapeka and Motueka, which run into Blind Bay, and the Karamea and smaller streams, which reach the sea on the West Coast to the north of the Buller River—all the rivers of any size in the northern part of this island take their rise in this magnificent chain.” Of the rivers contained wholly within the limits of Nelson, the most important is the Buller or Kawatiri. The chief source of this stream is Lake Rotoiti, about sixty miles south-west of Nelson in the St. Arnaud Range. It flows nearly due west through the parallel mountain chains that obstruct its way to the sea, passing a succession of magnificent rocky gorges and reaching the coast on Karamea Bight, after a course of about a hundred miles. Its chief tributary, the Gowan, drains Lake Rotoroa, another Alpine tarn about 1600 feet above sea level. Other tributaries are the Maruia, Matakitaki, Owen, and Inangahua, all snow-fed mountain torrents. Apart from the Buller the chief river of the district is the Grey, which rises in Lake Christabel, on the western slope of the Spencer Range, and flows west and south-west, reaching the sea at the southern extremity of the Paporoas, with a complete length of nearly a hundred miles. But the most important part of the Grey's course belongs strictly rather to Westland than to Nelson.
As might be expected from the character of the country, the lakes in Nelson province are all mountain tarns, embosomed in forests and set in magnificent scenic backgrounds. The chief are: Diamond Lake at the head of the Takaka, Lakes Christabel and Hochstetter in the Grey Valley, Lake Rotoiti and Lake Rotoroa near Mount Murchison, from fifty to sixty miles distant from Nelson, and Lake Matiri, west of the Owen Range, nearly 1000 feet above sea level. None of these are of any great extent; Rotoiti, for example, is six miles long by one mile wide; but their beauty fully compensates for their comparative insignificance in area.
Of the 4,686,000 acres contained in the Nelson land district, it is calculated that there are still 1,382,000 acres of forest below the 2000 feet level. There is, approximately, an area of 915,000 acres described as open land below the 2000 foot level; and above that altitude about 581,000 acres of open land, including the bare mountain tops. The total area of wooded country is set down at 3,200,000 acres, or just about three-quarters of the total area of the district. But nearly 900,000 acres of this is scrub or dwarf bush, and not more than 700,000 acres at the outside is worth clearing for the value of its timber. In the hill country, towards the west coast, there is a considerable variety of valueable timber—red, black and white pine, red and black birch (beech), totara, rata, silver pine, and cedar (kawhaka).
The rugged country which constitutes a large proportion of Nelson, is diversified by a number of valleys and sloping uplands, which afford good sheep pasture and give limited scope for agriculture. The lowlands proper are almost entirely confined to the shores of the bays; but there are many open areas generally described as plains in the interior of the country. Near the town of Nelson the Waimea Plains, including the Lower Motueka, Riwaka and Takaka Valleys, formed part of the original settlement, and are still held chiefly by small settlers. The Waimea and Maruia Plains, drained by the Buller, lie west of the Spencer Range, and cover about 30,000 acres of second-class land. Nearer the west coast are the Totara Flat and Ikamatua Plains, Mawhera-iti and Inangahua Valleys. On the south side of the Buller, Addison's Flat has a considerable area of level land. But on the whole, the surface of the country is irregular and broken, and may be fairly described as mountainous.
From this description it will be gathered that the natural resources of Nelson are mineral rather than agricultural or pastoral. The wealth of the district has always consisted mainly in its minerals, chiefly gold and coal; but though the area of soil suitable for cultivation is limited, good use is made of it. On the Waimea Plains, first class barley is grown, and oats and chaff are exported in considerable quantities for the West Coast. In and about the town of Nelson hop gardens form a prominent feature of the landscape. The humid but mild and equable climate of Nelson, at least in the coastal districts, renders the country exceptionally productive; and root crops and fruits of all ordinary varieties reach a high degree of perfec- page 5 tion. In the south-west and west of the district the rainfall rises from 30 inches to 35 inches, a mere nothing in comparison with the hundred inches per annum for which Westland is notorious. Where the north-west winds break on the coast the rainfall is naturally heavy; but inland and to the north, the meteorological conditions do not differ materially from those which prevail in Wellington or Taranaki, except that Nelson and the towns on and near Tasman Bay are generally well sheltered from the more violent winds. “The climate of Nelson,” says a local authority, “is one of the most enjoyable in the world. For weeks, and even months together, there is often a succession of almost cloudless days. The heat of the mid-day sun, however, is generally tempered by a cool sea breeze, and the thirsty ground is refreshed from time to time by light showers which fall chiefly during the latter part of the night. In the winter months sharp frosts are frequent and snow sometimes falls on the hills close round the town. But even at the coldest season the sun is delightfully warm during the greater part of the day, and the town is beautifully sheltered from the cold winds of the south. In summer, on the other hand, the temperature seldom rises above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It will thus be seen that, while the climate is eminently well fitted for invalids, it is bracing enough to be thoroughly enjoyed by people of robust health. The mean yearly temperature is 55 degrees Fahrenheit, and the average rainfall 35 inches.” Among the mountain ridges and valleys of the interior and southern portion of the province, however, the prevalence of cold and stormy winds and the general elevation of the country render the climate more severe, and the soil less productive. In the uplands most of the country, which has been cleared of timber, is leased for pastoral purposes. When the timber is felled and burned and suitable grass is sown, the land will carry two sheep to the acre and even more in limestone country. But in spite of the advantages that certain sections of the country offer for pastoral and even for agricultural purposes, Nelson has always been justly regarded as a mining district, and the importance that it early attained and long enjoyed amongst the first settlements in New Zealand must be attributed to its mineral wealth.
The earliest historical notice of the portion of New Zealand, now called Nelson, is to be found in the Journal of the Dutch navigator, Abel Tasman, whose visit in 1642 is commemorated in the name of Tasman Bay. The name of Massacre Bay was conferred by Tasman on the north-west portion of the inlet now known as Golden Bay, because of a murderous attack made by the natives upon his crew. When Cook visited New Zealand in 1769 he surveyed this part of the coast, and changed the name of Tasman Bay to Blind Bay, the title by which it is perhaps more generally known. Between Cook's flying visit and the end of the eighteenth century, little was heard of New Zealand by the outside world, and it was not till the attention of Australian and American sealers and whalers was directed to these waters as a profitable field that this island became to Englishmen something more than an abstract geographical expression.
The inhabitants of the Middle Island long retained the evil reputation which was perpetuated in the name of Massacre Bay. As far as can be judged from the somewhat confusing native chronology, the Maoris whom Tasman met at Massacre Bay belonged to the great Waitaha clan who came originally from Hawaiiki in the Arawa canoe. After spreading over the habitable parts of the Middle Island the Waitaha, towards the end of the sixteenth century, appear to have been conquered by the Ngatimamoe, a tribe from the East Coast of the North Island. But in a little over a century the Ngati-mamoe in turn were overcome by the Ngai-tahu, another East Coast tribe. About 1830 this tribe in turn fell before the might of the famous Te Rauparaha, who led the Ngatitoa and Ngatiawa tribes from his stronghold at Kapiti to take vengeance on the southern natives for the treacherous murder of some of his warriors. Rauparaha with Te Pehi and Rangihaeata had established themselves at Kapiti about 1820, and exercised a sort of feudal lordship over the northern half of the Middle Island, when the New Zealand Company was founding its first settlements. The Maori inhabitants of the districts now known as Nelson and Marlborough were thus of mixed race—Ngatiawa, Ngatitoa and Ngapuhi conquerors, with a few survivors of the Ngaitahu and Ngatimamoe dispossessed by the invaders. But the native population of the Middle Island was never large. Mr. Halswell, in a report provided for the New Zealand Company in 1848, estimated the total number of the Maoris in both islands at 107,000. But of these over 100,000 belonged to the North Island, and only about 2600 are described as located on the south side of Cook Strait. There were a few in the imme- page 6 diate neighbourhood of Blind Bay, and they appear to have owed a sort of informal allegiance to the great northern chiefs who periodically raided the “Land of Greenstone,” from the North Island.
Apart from the aborigines, the only people to whom Nelson district was known before the settlement was established were the whalers and sealers who occasionally touched these shores. By the end of the eighteenth century whalers from America and Australia had found their way to the New Zealand waters. In 1827 the Australian Whale Fishery Company was floated, and whaling was established as a regular industry in Cook Strait before 1829. Even before this, the more southern portions of the island had become the home of white men; for Polack, in giving evidence before the Committee of the House of Lords in 1838, stated that on the Middle Island there were Europeans who had lived there for thirty-five years. Most of these married Maori wives, who were frequently much superior to their husbands in dignity and morality. For the whalers of those days, although they were undoubtedly brave and often generous, were usually violent and reckless, and addicted to coarse dissipation. But even among these waifs and strays, many of the virtues of a higher type of civilisation were preserved. “Many of the men,” writes Mr. Sherwin (Brett's History of New Zealand) “were outlaws and crime-hardened without doubt, but they kept the remembrance of one day in seven as a day of rest. They taught their boys the English idea of fair play, and their daughters while unmarried, the theory, if not the habit, of chastity. There were no women of his own race for the sealer to mate with. White women and white civilisation were behind him and beyond his reach; but the woman who cooked his food and sockled his children became his life companion, and the main element in a new home he was founding in a new world.” It was by such men as these that the first lessons of civilisation were taught, and the foundations of European social life laid, in the Middle Island.
The colony of Nelson was not formally founded till 1841. But long before that date attempts were made to acquire tracts of country in New Zealand for the purpose of colonisation. The first New Zealand Company was formed in 1825; it was succeeded in 1837 by a New Zealand Association, and this was followed, in 1838, by a New Zealand Colonisation Company; but the New Zealand Company which first succeeded in establishing colonies here was formed in 1839. The object of the Company was largely commercial; the first prospectus issued to the public offered, as an inducement to investors, the hope of “profit by means of the sale of land.” But the New Zealand Company was to many of its original promoters much more than a trading concern. In the annual report issued to the shareholders in 1841 the directors claim that the Company has other motives than merely selfish profit. “Whilst it does not pretend to disclaim a due regard for its own interests, it is also powerfully actuated by an enlightened and generous desire to promote to the uttermost the concurrent benefit of those who have undertaken under its auspices the bold enterprise of planting another scion of the Anglo-Saxon race and of Great Britain in a remote island of the Southern Hemisphere.” The Earl of Durham, the Company's first Governor, Mr. Joseph Somes, its Deputy-Governor, and many of the able and distinguished men whose names are to be found in the Company's records, were very different in character and purpose from the land speculators usually associated with such enterprises; and they were guided in their policy chiefly by the theories of colonisation propounded by that gifted and resourceful Empire-builder, Edward Gibbon Wakefield. The author of the “Art of Colonisation” left a deep impression on every public undertaking with which he was connected; and he has been justly described by Dr. Hocken as the life and soul, the moving spirit of the New Zealand Company throughout the ten or eleven years of its existence. The leading principle of the Wakefield system of colonisation was that what he termed a “sufficient price” should be paid for “waste land,” and that a portion of the proceeds so raised should be devoted to an immigration fund to procure labour from the Old Land. The theory of the system was that the land in the new colony would not be sacrificed to the “land shark,” but would remain a valuable source of income to the settlement, and at the same time labour would be attracted to work the soil and promote the growth of the young colony with extreme rapidity. The marvellous progress made by the colonies founded on these principles has been a sufficient proof of the soundness of Wakefield's judgment and of his statesmanlike ability.
Unfortunately the New Zealand Company early drifted into a position of hostility to the British Government. There was an idea current among English politicians that the Company intended to set up in New Zealand a form of constitution independent of the Imperial authorities. Moreover, the Government objected to the vagueness of the induce- page 7 ments which were held out to shareholders. Land was being sold in London which had not yet been acquired by the Company or purchased from the natives. A third grievance against the Company was that they were supposed to have broken their pledge of dealing justly and benevolently with the Maoris. So late as 1844 Lord Stanley described the Company as “an unprincipled, capricious body, utterly regardless of the rights and welfare of the natives.” The Company indignantly repudiated these charges; and at the same time they had some just cause of complaint against the Imperial authorities, who refused to take any precaution for the protection of the colonists or the preservation of the peace among them, while forbidding the settlers to organise for these purposes among themselves, In fact, the Government of the day persistently did its best to obstruct Wakefield's somewhat visionary schemes. It was under these unfavourable auspices that the first systematic attempt was made to establish a British colony in New Zealand.
The first colonising expedition sent out by the New Zealand Company reached these shores on the 16th of August, 1839, in the ship “Tory,” 400 tons. It was under the command of Colonel William Wakefield, brother of the great coloniser, who was instructed to acquire land from the Maoris by purchase. The only semblance of title to property that the Company could so far boast appears to have been based on certain agreements made by Captain Herd, of the old New Zealand Company, in 1826, which were supposed to cover, as the Company's prospectus put it, “extensive tracts of the most fertile land, in situations highly favourable both for agricultural and commercial settlements.” Rusden has pointed out that 100,000 acres of land had been sold by the Company in London before a sound title to a single acre had been acquired. When the “Tory” reached Port Nicholson, Colonel Wakefield set about his purchases with all speed, and soon obtained from the natives an agreement to dispose of most of the country now known as Wellington and Taranaki. He then turned his attention to the south side of the Strait, where he found that much of the Wairau district had been already disposed of to a certain Mr. Blenkinsopp for “an old six-pounder gun.” But to secure the southern districts it was necessary to get the consent of the Ngatitoas and Ngatiawas, who had their headquarters at Kapiti under the famous Te Rauparaha. According to Wakefield's own account he proposed to the natives to buy all the Ngatitoa possessions “on both sides of the Strait,” and though Te Rauparaha at first strenuously objected, he was won over by a display of the “trade” and presents that Colonel Wakefield was prepared to offer. In the end the Company claimed that these negotiations put them in possession of all the land in the two islands between Aotea harbour and page 8 the Hokitika river on the west side, and between Whareama and the Hurunui river on the east; in other words, the greater part of the districts later known as Wellington, Auckland, Taranaki, Hawke's Bay, Nelson and Marl borough. The terms of purchase are indicated by Wakefield's boast that he got a million acres in the South Island for less than £50 in goods. The total value of “trade” exchanged for these lands was almost exactly £9000; comprising, among other articles, 300 red blankets, 200 muskets, 60 tomahawks, 320 fish hooks, 100 steel axes, 276 pocket knives, 480 pocket handkerchiefs, 144 jew's-harps, 36 razors, 24 combs, and 12 sticks of sealing wax. After the Wairau massacre, when Te Rauparaha and other chiefs stated their case to Governor Hobson, they contended not only that the payment was altogether inadequate, but that only a potion of the land had really been sold. According to Te Rauparaha, Blind Bay and Massacre Bay had been disposed of by him, but the Wairau was never included in the contract. But whatever the facts may have been the circumstances under which this supposed sale was conducted were certain to lead to subsequent misunderstanding. Governor Holston had managed to establish British authority over New Zealand in a general way by the Treaty of Waitangi, but, as Mr. Wallace points out in his history of New Zealand, he knew enough of native land tenure to understand that, from the Maori point of view, Colonel Wakefield's casual and hurried purchases from individual chiefs would certainly be contested and would probably prove invalid. This fact must be borne in mind when considering the attitude subsequently taken up by the Governor towards the Company and the officials, more especially in connection with the Wairau massacre.
However, for the time being all went well with the Company's projects. The settlement at Port Nicholson was established under what seemed to be very favourable conditions, and the directors decided to found another colony further south on similar lines. The locality was to be somewhere near Port Nicholson or Port Cooper—that is, Lyttelton—but the choice of the exact spot was to be left to the commander of the expedition. The terms of settlement are sufficiently interesting to deserve detailed notice. The original area of the settlement was to include 201,000 acres, to which native reserve of 20,000 acres and a town area of 1100 acres were added. The land was offered to purchasers in 1000 lots, each allotment comprising one town acre, fifty acres of suburban land, and 150 acres of rural land. The price of each allotment of 201 acres was £300, and priority of choice was settled by ballots taken before the expedition started. The Company reserved to itself the right of purchasing a hundred allotments on the same terms as the shareholders. Of the sum of £300,000 received from the sale of allotments, £150,000 was to be devoted to promoting and assisting immigration, £50,000 to defray the Company's expenses in establishing the colony, and £50,000 to “public purposes”; among which were included the items, £15,000 for education, £15,000 for religion, and £20,000 for steam communication. The balance of £50,000 was to go to the Company as profit on its investment. The price of land was intentionally fixed at a high level not only to discourage speculation and to provide a fund for the improvement of the young colony, but also to prevent the immigrant labourer from starting on his own account too soon and leaving the colonists without the industrial help that they were certain to require. Unfortunately, while the Company kept the land out of the reach of the artisan immigrants, it failed to supply a sufficiency of employment for them; the long delay over the allotment of the land subsequently caused much suffering, as it was necessarily accompanied by scarcity of work, lowness of wages, and an insufficient suppy of food.
The expedition sent out to form the second settlement—that of Nelson—left England in April, 1841. It consisted of three vessels—the “Whitby,” barque, 437 tons, Captain Lacey; the “Will Watch,” barque, 215 tons, Captain Walker; and the “Arrow,” brig, 200 tons, Captain Gear. The expedition was in charge of Captain Arthur Wakefield (another brother of Edward Gibbon Wakefield), and it brought out the surveyors, labourers, and stores required for the foundation of the settlement; while the purchasers, or colonists proper, were to follow in 1842. Most of the purchasers were under the impression that the colony was to be located near Banks Peninsula in the neighbourhood of Port Cooper (Lyttelton harbour); and that was the Company's original intention. But when Captain Wakefield reached Port Nicholson he found that Governor Hobson was strongly opposed to the establishmest of another colony so far south. Finally, as a compromise, Captain Wakefield decided that the land purchased on the shores of Blind Bay was a suitable locality. The relations between the Company and Governor Hobson at this time are sufficiently indicated by the despatch to the Secretary of State dated the 25th of May, 1840, in which his Excellency states that, in his opinion, page 9 the proceedings of the authorities at Port Nicholson in levying taxes, appointing magistrates and setting up a constitution of their own, amounted to high treason. In January, 1841, the Governor had announced that none of the Company's land titles would be acknowledged outside the original block of 110,000 acres around Port Nicholson. As to the Blind Bay proposal, Governor Hobson specifically warned Captain Wakefield that the lands in that vicinity were claimed by many persons dating their native titles prior to Colonel Wakefield's purchase. But the Company was determined at all costs to carry out its programme, and in defiance of the Governor's remonstrance Captain Wakefield and his three ships proceeded to Blind Bay.
On the way from Port Nicholson the little fleet was driven by stress of weather to Kapiti; and here Captain Wakefield first met Te Rauparaha. The great chief was evidently disturbed by the advent of so many Europeans, but made no attempt to interfere with them. The ships, continuing their voyage, passed close to Cloudy Bay, and were much struck with the attractive appearance of the Wairau district. They anchored in Astrolabe Roads, and the first choice of a site for settlement was made at Kaiteretere, towards the Riwaka. But the pilot, Mr. Cross, took a boat down the coast toward the south-east, and discovered the inlet of Wakatu, or Nelson haven, and there it was decided that the new town should be built. When the strangers reached the shore they were met by a number of the natives, who were evidently at a loss to understand their purpose. Captain Wakefield promised them presents when the land bought by the Company should be handed over. But it was clear that the Maoris either disbelieved or disapproved of the sale, for the chiefs made answer that they would accept no presents lest they should seem to admit that their land had been fairly sold. Thus early it was manifest that the precipitate methods of the New Zealand Company or their agents were likely to raise serious difficulties with the owners of the soil. However, for the time there was peace. The Maoris welcomed the newcomers and gave them valuable assistance in setting about the construction of their homes.
The first colonists were enthusiastic page 10 over the advantages of the Wakatu site. The harbour, protected by the Boulder Bank, was an unexpected and most welcome discovery, and though one of the first three ships, the “Whitley,” went ashore on entering, the pioneers considered themselves at least as well off for a port as the newly established Wellington settlement. In a letter dated the 6th of November, 1841, Major Heaphy writes in high praise of the locality, and its prospects. The soil was excellent, the plains were covered with fern and grass with occasional belts of bush; and though the work of clearing promised to be heavy, yet the Company appear to have taken unusual care to fit out this expedition in such a way as to enable the settlers to cope successfully with most of the difficulties they were likely to meet. The surveyors started on their work with energy, and soon had the site for the new town pegged out. Wakatu, with the adjacent districts of Waimea, Moutere, Motueka, and Massacre Bay, constituted the area within which the colonists, who had taken up land on the Company's terms, were to select their allotments.
The first immigrant ship to reach the new settlement was the “Fifeshire” (557 tons, Captain Arnold), which arrived on the 1st of February, 1842, a day ever since celebrated as the anniversary of the province. Tents pitched among the fern and scrub, and a few frame-houses brought out in sections, accommodated some of the pioneers; but most of them had to live in whares built of fern and mud, and thatched with toi toi. Before the buildings were finished a heavy rain storm and flood severely tried the endurance of the strangers. In the same month of February another barque, the “Lloyds,” 450 tons, arrived with the wives and children of the first batch of colonists. The “Fifeshire” was wrecked as she was leaving the harbour early in 1842 on her return trip; but other immigrant ships in rapid succession brought people from the Old Country to the settlement—the “Mary Anne,” “Lord Auckland,” “Brougham,” “Bolton,” “Hope,” “Martha Ridgway,” “London,” and “Clifford.” Considering the remoteness of the country, it is somewhat surprising to find that between November, 1841, and July, 1842, no fewer than sixtyseven vessels of various kinds visited Nelson. The New Zealand Company was able to carry out its contract with the settlers by finding employment for them while arrangements were being made to allot the land; and the little colony soon began to put on a somewhat civilised appearance.
One of the earliest evidences of progress was the establishment of the “Examiner,” the first Nelson newspaper. The printing plant was brought out in one of the first ships, and the first number of the paper appeared on the 12th of March, 1842. It was published weekly at a shilling a number, and was from the first extremely popular with the settlers. Another proof of social activity amongst the pioneers was the founding of a Temperance Association, chiefly through the exertions of Mr. Alfred Saunders. In the same year Mr. Ben Crisp inaugurated the Band of Hope movement, and every year thereafter, for fifty-three years in succession, he gave the children of Nelson a treat on the anniversary of Queen Victoria's birthday. A Literary and Scientific Institute and a Benefit Society (of which the inaugural meetings were held on the voyage out, aboard the “Mary Anne”) were also started in 1842. In this same eventful year the first furrow was turned by the plough in Nelson, the first ladies' school was opened (by Miss Husham), branches of the Masonic and Rechabite orders were established, the Rev. S. Ironside held the first Wesleyan service, and Bishop Selwyn visited the settlement, and consecrated as first Anglican resident clergyman the Rev. C. Reay.
As was natural, considering the relations that existed between the central authorities and the New Zealand Company, and the distance between Nelson and Auckland, the settlers had frequently good cause to complain that their interests were neglected by the Government. There were no customs officers, and no officials competent to grant publicans' licenses. A gaol and a pair of stocks weer already established in the town, but there was little provision for the preservation of the public peace or the defence of the settlers against the natives. Moreover, the long delay over the distribution of the allotments kept many people wasting time around the township. But in spite of all drawbacks, the progress of the settlement was rapid. Within seven months of the arrival of the first immigrant sliip there were about 2000 people in the young colony. Before the end of the first year there were 250 good houses standing, fifty more were under erection, and there were in addition 230 whares and huts. The new arrivals at first depended to some extent on the natives for their food supplies, and all prices were high. A price list, dated June, 1842, quotes mutton at 1s 2d and beef at 1s per pound; bread, 9d per two pound loaf; salt butter, 1s 9d per pound; milk, 6d per pint; eggs, 4s per dozen. Cows were sold at £20 to £36 each, and mares from £50 to £60. Wages were necessarily high; mechanics earning 12s a day, and unskilled labour about 7s. As the year went on the people began to spread outward into the country, and the survey of the Motneka and Moutere districts was completed. A little later Captain Wakefield and a small party made an expedition along the coast as far as Massacre Bay, and discovered both limestone and coal. Some traces of gold were also found, but the settlers refused at first to attach any importance to this discovery. An attempt to work the coal and lime was frustrated by the natives, who, without using violence, showed that they were not prepared to tolerate any interference with what they regarded as their property. Captain Wakefield and Mr. Thomson, the Police Magistrate, arrested the chief offender, who was fined; and this display of firmness certainly had a salutary effect on the attitude of the local natives towards the newcomers. But unfortunately the settlers were as yet unfamiliar with the Maori character, and this ignorance was likely, sooner or later, to lead to disaster.
Towards the end of 1842 Mr. J. S. Cottrell had explored a way into the Wairau district, and found that the character of the country in no way belied the attractive appearance which had roused the enthusiasm of the settlers on their voyage to Nelson. A little later Mr. Edward Stafford found another route into the Wairau, and the glowing accounts of the district that reached Nelson determined Captain Wakefield to take up land there on behalf of the settlers. It must be remembered that Colonel Wakefield and the New Zealand Company held that the whole of what is now called Marlborough, was included in the purchases they had made at the time of the Wellington settlement. Mr. Tuckett, the Company's surveyor, visited the district, and reported on it in very favourable terms; and preparations were page 11 at once made to extend the settlement in that direction. But the Maori chiefs who claimed suzerainty over the northern districts in the Middle Island left no room for doubt about their opinions on this subject. As soon as news of the projected survey reached Kapiti, Te Rauparaha with two other chiefs, Te Hiko and Te Rangihaeata, crossed over to Nelson and warned Captain Wakefield that the Wairau must not be taken over because it was not included in the original sale. In reply, Captain Wakefield merely re-stated the Company's claim. Rangihaeeata, in angry terms, repudiated the sale, and warned the Company's officials that if they went to the Wairau they would meet with resistance. Te Rauparaha took a milder tone, and entreated the surveyors not to persist in going to the Wairau, at the same time requesting the agent to refer the claim to the native Commissioner, Mr. Spain. But Captain Wakefield determined to rely upon the title of Captain Blenkinsopp, from whose heirs the country had been purchased, and on the Company's claim, and decided to go on with the survey.
To discuss the confusing question of native land tenure would be outside the purpose of this work; but it must be remembered that the New Zealand Company's title to many of its most extensive purchases was based upon a very flimsy substratum of right. For instance, a large portion of Taranaki was bought from a few Ngatiawas, who were certainly in subjection to the Waikato Te Wherowhero who claimed the country by right of conquest. Mr. George Clarke, then chief Protector of Aborigines, and the Rev. Henry Williams, both frequently called attention about this time to the unsatisfactory nature of the Company's claims. In one instance the Rev. Henry Williams relates that he pointed out that the southern half of Auckland province had been acquired by the Company at a time when none of their officials spoke Maori, and no one had ever consulted the natives at such important centres as Wanganui, Taupo, Tauranga, Kawhia and Rotorua. Under such circumstances, and taking into account the complicated way in which tribal and personal ownership were interwoven among the Maoris, it is extremely probable that the Company's title to the Wairau was altogether baseless. According to the account of the original sale given by Te Rauparaha to Governor Fitzroy, the only land sold in the Middle Island by him to Colonel Wakefield was the country around Massacre Bay and Blind Bay, and his version of the transaction has at least the merit of being entirely consistent with the statements he made to Captain Wakefield. But the Captain, who believed that only firmness was necessary to overcome the Maoris, is said to have threatened that he would arrest or even shoot the chief, if it were necessary; and this mistaken severity probably had much to do with the later sequence of events.
In accordance with Captain Wakefield's instructions, early in April, 1843, Messrs Cottrell, Parkinson and Barnicoat, surveyors, with forty men, left Nelson for the Wairau. When news was brought to Kapiti of this step, Te Rauparaha and Rangihaeata openly declared their intention of preventing the survey; and though Mr. Spain, the Native Lands Commissioner, did his best to pacify them and obtained a promise from them to do nothing without consulting him, they started for the Wairau with a considerable body of followers. Landing at Cloudy Bay, they proceeded to put their threats into execution by destroying Mr. Cottrell's and Mr. Parkinson's houses, and compelling the surveyors to come down to the mouth of the river. Mr. Cottrell conveyed the news to Nelson, and the Police Magistrate, Mr. Thomson, issued a warrant against the two chiefs for arson. To carry out the arrest about forty men were got togeher, and, accompanied by Captain Wakefield, the Magistrate, and other officials and settlers— forty-nine in all—they set out for the Wairau. No one appears to have anticipated resistance, and the preparations made, no loss than the subsequent events, reveal entire ignorance of the serious nature of the project they had so rashly undertaken.
The story of that fatal morning of the 17th of June, 1843, has been often told, and no two accounts appear to correspond precisely. But from Te Rauparaha's own statement and the official account published in the New Zealand Gazette of the 1st of July, 1843, there does not seem any doubt that the Europeans acted without much wisdom or discretion. When the white men found Te page 12 Rauparaha and his followers on the banks of the Tua Marina Mr. Thomson, it seems, at once demanded that the chiefs should surrender and come on beard the Government brig. Te Rauparaha refused, but it is generally agreed that the natives offered to defer the question of the Wairau lands till Mr. Spain and Mr. Clarke arrived to discuss the matter. Mr. Thomson, it is said, then threatened first to handcuff the chief, but here a band of armed natives led by Te Rauparaha interposed, while Te Puaha in vain attempted to act as peacemaker. The leaders of the Europeans now decided to retire across the stream to the main body of their followers, who were still on the far side, and it was at this moment that the first shot was fired. According to Te Rauparaha, Mr. Thomson, prompted by Captain Wakefield, gave the order to fire upon the Maoris, and it was not till after several Maoris had been killed or wounded that the Maoris returned the fire. According to the European account, the first shot came from the Maoris, as the Europeans were retreating over the stream. But it is generally agreed that the white men, unprepared for a struggle and unaccustomed to the native methods of fighting, were soon overpowered. When Governor Fitzroy went to Nelson in 1843 to visit the new settlement, he did not hesitate to say that the conduct of the rank and file of the party, who deserted their leaders when the attack began, had produced in him, a sense of “deep and inexpiatable shame.” If this condemnation sounds harsh, there is at least no doubt that the majority of the Europeans displayed no discipline and organisation and very little resolution in this disastrous skirmish; and after a little desultory firing Captain Wakefield, finding the position hopeless, called on his friends to surrender. They delivered up their arms and shook hands with Rauparaha in token of peace. The history of Rauparaha and his well-known reputation for blood-thirstiness do not encourage the belief that he had decided to spare his prisoners; in fact, as he stated in his defence to Governor Fitzroy, it was the usual native practice to kill the leaders of a defeated war party. But any hesitation he may have felt was soon dispelled by Te Rangihaeata, who told him that his own wife (Te Rauparaha's daughter) was among the slain. Te Rauparaha then consented to the demand for the lives of the prisoners, and either Rangihheata or his followers immediately killed them. The victims of this coldblooded murder were Captain Wakefield, Mr. Thomson, Captain England, and Messrs Cottrell, Richardson, Howard, Brooks, Cropper, and McGregor. In all, twenty-three of the party were killed, and of twenty-six who escaped several were wounded.
The terrible news was brought to Wellington by Mr. Tuckett and Mr. Barnicoat, who succeeded in reaching the Government brig with seven other survivors. Colonel Wakefield at once set out for the Wairau, and on reaching the spot heard for the first time of the massacre of the prisoners, including his brother. The horror created by this news spread even beyond the colony to Australia and England; but it was naturally felt most keenly in Nelson, where the sight of the widows and orphans of the murdered men constantly reminded the settlers of the dreadful calamity that had overtaken them. It was expected that the massacre would encourage further attacks on the Euroepan settlements. But the natives near Nelson had little reason to sympathise with Te Rauparaha; and though the settlers enrolled themselves as a militia and fortified Church Hill, they had no further difficulty with the local Maoris. As for Te Rauparaha and Te Rangihaeata, they seem to have considered that the Wairau, in native fashion, was paid for with the lives of the Europeans, and they sailed back to Kapiti shortly after the massacre. Naturally enough, it was confidently expected by the settlers that the Governor would take prompt action and would inflict severe punishment on the guilty chiefs. But Governor Fitzroy was by no means inclined to be led blindfold by the party which loudly demanded “blood for blood.” In February of the following year, he met Te Rauparaha and his followers at Waikanae and invited them to give their version of the story. After hearing the Maori account of the whole affair, the Governor surprised and shocked the great majority of the European colonists by deciding that he would do nothing to avenge the victims of the massacre. The English, the Governor said, were wrong in building houses upon disputed land, in acting upon claims that were still undecided, and in trying to apprehend men who had committed no crime. He reproved the Maoris for the killing of the unarmed prisoners, but informed them that as the English had been very largely to blame, and as the Maoris had been “hurried into crime by their misconduct,” he would not attempt to inflict any punishment for the massacre. Looking back upon the events from the present standpoint, it cannot be denied that Governor Fitzroy was in the main right in his conviction that the Europeans were primarily to blame for the tragedy. But he did not appear to appreciate the fact that such leniency as he displayed, though based on a keen sense of justice, was certain to be interpreted as weakness by the Maoris. In any case, it was not to be expected that such tolerance would meet with the approval of the colonists; and in Nelson, more especially, the Governor's refusal to exact any penalty from Te Rauparaha roused the bitterest resentment. This feeling was heightened rather than dispelled by the tone of his Excellency's remarks in reply to a deputation from the people of Nelson early in 1844; and the hostility thus stirred up against the Governor had much to do with his subsequent recall. But even after the lapse of sixty years it is still difficult for any colonial to speak dispassionately of or judge impartially the conduct of those chiefly concerned in this fatal episode.
It was inevitable that the tragic events just recounted should for the moment paralyse the activity that had hitherto pervaded the young colony. It was rumcured that Te Rauparaha and his followers intended to attack the settlement at once; and there is some reason to believe that they had designed to anticipate the vengeance of the white men in this way. The settlers, as stated above, enrolled themselves as a militia and fortified the Church Hill; but the natives in the vicinity had no sympathy with Te Rauparaha; in fact, they more than once interfered to protect Mr. Tuckett and other Government officials from the threats of the strangers from the north. But this dreadful incident naturally alienated the whites from the natives throughout the colony; and the bitterness felt in Nelson was aggravated by the conciliatory tone adopted towards the natives by Mr. Shortland, the Acting-Governor, and subsequently by Governor Fitzroy. A deputation consisting of Mr. Alfred Domett and Dr. Monro page 13 (afterwards Sir David), proceeded to Auckland to lay the views of the colonists before the Government, and to demand more adequate protection for the settlers than the small force of fifty-three soldiers which were supposed to guard the colonies on both sides of Cook Strait. But subsequent events proved that there was no need for such precautions; and when the first agitation had subsided the routine of ordinary life in the little colony was speedily resumed. One incident of this early period now almost forgotten was the attempt at settling a German colony in the Nelson district. Several allotments were purchased by a Hamburgh firm from the New Zealand Company, and the immigrants arrived with four missionaries in the “St. Pauli” They took up land in the Moutere district; but they suffered severely by a heavy flood, and most of them decided to move into Nelson township. A second German expedition arrived in the “Skiold” in September, 1844—some 200 immigrants in all. Mr. F. Kelling and his brother Mr. C. G. Kelling, who were later members of the Provincial Council, superintended the Moutere settlement, and those who remained there succeeded very well. But half of the second expedition and nearly all the first were so discouraged by the hardships and trials of the new life, that they left the same year for Australia.
The experiences of the early settlers were in many cases calculated to test severely their courage and endurance. The New Zealand Company was unable to continue employing all who required work, and the Company's pay fell from 28s to 18s a week. Before the end of 1843 the Company had to suspend all its works, and even this resource was withdrawn from the settlers. In some instances seed potatoes and mussels from the seashore were almost the only food available for the poorer colonists. But in spite of all these disadvantages, the progress of the settlement was from the first steady and rapid. In February, 1844, the first flax mill and the first brewery were established in Nelson—the latter by Mr. Hooper, whose name was long connected with the industry. By the time the third anniversary of the colony came round there were 1460 inhabitants in the town and 1576 in the country—a grand total of 3036. There were already about 6000 sheep and 1000 head of cattle. Roads had been made to Wakefield, towards Wakapuaka, and around Motueka—fifty-four miles in all. There were 1262 acres of ground in cultivation, mostly in wheat and potatoes; while a rope walk, a flour mill and three saw-mills had already been erected. There were five public houses, a bank, a Wesleyan chapel, two Anglican churches, five schools, a Literary Institute with a library of 600 volumes, and an Agricultural and Horticultural Society. In 1845 Mr. Lightband started a tannery, which was to be the foundation of a great industry; and the progress of settlement in the country was as rapid and successful as the growth of trade in the town.
For the next three or four years the page 14 necessity for finding more room for th settlers led to extensive explorations of the adjacent country. Between 1846 and 1848 Messrs Fox, Heaphy and Brunner explored the west coast, Mr. Brunner being the first of the colonists to find his way so far south as Milford Haven. On the east side, the only access to the Wairau was by way of the Tophouse; but the explorations of Messrs Goulter, Ward and Fox opened up much valuable country to the south. The final settlement of the Wairau land claims, by Governor Grey in favour of the New Zealand Company, afforded an outlet into that desirable district, and many of the colonists began to migrate in that direction. The “squatters” of those days were constantly finding their way into hitherto unknown or unsettled country, and by 1851 Mr. F. W. Weld—afterwards Sir Frederick Weld—had extended his explorations through the almost inaccessible pastoral land lying between the Wairau and Port Cooper. The life of these pioneers was not only hard but dangerous, and death by drowning is a common incident in the early annals of Nelson. Mr. Young (Immigration Officer), Mr. Constantine Dillon (Member of the New Zealand Executive), and Mr. Otterson, were three prominent settlers who met their fate in the treacherous streams that were a constant menace to the colonists in the early days.
Already Nelson had begun to take an active interest in the political life of the colony. Sir George Grey appointed Mr. Alfred Domett Colonial Seeretary, Mr. W. Fox Attorney General, and the Hon. C. Dillon a member of the Executive Council. As early as 1850 an agitation for representative Government was begun in Nelson, and at a large public meeting held in the town, resolutions were passed in favour of the ballot with a six months residential qualification, and triennial parliaments. But when the Constitution Act was finally passed in 1852 it met with little approval in Nelson. One centralised executive would have suited public feeling in Nelson better tnan six provincial governments. However, a great deal of interest was taken in the first elections for both central and provincial parliaments. In the first New Zealand Parliament, Messrs Travers and Mackay represented the town of Nelson, Mr. Weld the Wairau, Mr. Cautley, and Dr. Monro the Waimea, and Mr. Picard, Motueka. The first Superintendent of the province was Mr. E. W. Stafford; the speaker of the first Provincial Council was Mr. Donald Sinclair; the Provincial Treasurer was Mr. Poynter; and the Provincial Solicitor, Mr. Henry Adams. Subsequently Mr. Henry Seymour, Mr. Ralph Richardson, and Mr. Matthew Richmond were called to the Legislative Council to represent the province. As it will appear in later seetions of this work, Nelson supplied to public life in the colony a number of eminent and able raen far more than proportionate to its comparatively small area and limited resources. With reference to the post of Superintendent, it may be added that Mr. Stafford resigned office when he was appointed Colonial Secretary in 1856, to New Zealand's first responsible Government, and was succeeded by Mr J. P. Robinson. In 1865 Mr. Robinson was drowned in the Buller river, and his successor, Mr. Alfred Saunders, held office until 1867. He was succeeded by Mr. Oswald Curtis, who retained the post till the abolition of the provinces. Of these gentlemen it will be more convenient to speak at length in a later section devoted to Nelson's public men.
Between 1847 and 1850 there was constant trouble between the settlers and the New Zealand Company. The colonists had good cause for complaint, both as to the failure of employment and the long delay in the allotment of land; but eventually the Company compromised by granting additional areas of land, with a special allowance on behalf of the widows of the victims of the Wairau massacre. But the chief land difficulty that had to be faced, arose, not through the mismanagement of the Company, but through the action of the Central Government. Before Governor Grey left the colony, he had passed new land regulations, throwing open large areas at five shillings or ten shillings per acre. The runholders, afraid that their holdings would be encroached upon, bought up as much land as possible around their pastoral runs; with the result that, not only were they as a class financially embarrassed, but a large amount of land was locked up and rendered no longer available for purposes of settlement. The evil effects of these well meant regulations have not yet been wholly obliterated by a more enlightened legislation as to the tenure and disposal of the colony's lands.
The first efforts of the colonists were naturally devoted to the cultivation of the soil; and fruit growing was early found to be a paying industry. But the discovery of mineral wealth soon turned the attention of the settlers in another direction. In 1852 a company was formed to work the coal deposits to the west of Nelson; and a certain page 15 amount of excitement was aroused by this venture. The discovery and development of the immensely valuable Australian goldfields in 1851 and 1852 conferred an indirect benefit oil Nelson by raising the price of its produce; though, at the same time, many of the settlers were attracted away to the Victorian diggings. It was not till 1856 that any important discoveries of minerals were made in Nelson. In that year an English company was floated to work the Dun Mountain copper, specimens of which had created a very favourable impression at Home. But though the prospects were good, the company eventually failed. A more important event the same year was the discovery of gold at Motueka. There was little of it, but a small rush at once eusued. At one time as many as 300 diggers were on the spot, and provisions rose to fabulous prices; but the new “diggings” were soon worked out. A reward of £500 was then offered by a number of Nelson merchants for the discovery of a goldfield within the province. In 1857 gold was found at Collingwood, and about 1000 diggers flocked to the field; but here again the find was not destined to be permanently valuable. In 1859 Mr. J. Rochfort found gold on the Buller river, and Dr. von Haast, the explorer, also found coal in the Grey; although for the time none of these discoveries proved a commercial success. A far more important source of prosperity was the establishment of a woollen mill in 1859, by Messrs Webley and Blick. For some years this mill was the only factory of the kind in the colony, and gained a high reputation for its excellent work; and it is a valuable indication of the energy and resourcefulness of the young colony that so important an industry was started so early in its history.
The religious life of the little community was quickened in 1857 by the appointment of the first Bishop of Nelson —the Right. Rev. Edmund Hobhouse. The educational interests of the town and colony were promoted by the foundation of Nelson College in 1859. In the same year was founded the Nelson Institute, which had the good fortune to be inaugurated by the distinguished scientist, Dr. von Hochstetter, who was then studying the natural history of the colony. The establishment of a second newspaper, “The Colonist,” in 1857, and the appointment of a Board of Works to construct and maintain a system of public works of the town, are further proofs of the high level of the social and civic progress to which the little settlement had already attained.
About this time, however, the settlement sustained a serious material loss. The settlers in the Wairau had begun to agitate for separation. This demand for separate provincial existence was precisely similar in origin to the movements which led to the secession of Hawke's Bay from Wellington and Southland from Otago. The settlers in the outlying districts complained that they were taxed for the benefit of the town, and were themselves left without sufficient roads, bridges, public buildings, or even Government officials. As they were always in the minority on the Provincial Council, they had no means of redress. They were further aggrieved because large areas of land in the district had been disposed of under the new Land Acts without benefiting the Wairau. The people of Nelson were not disposed to coerce the Wairau settlers, as the public feeling was not generally in favour of the provincial system. As there was little opposition to the request of the discontented colonists, an Act was passed by the General Assembly, in 1859, separating the Wairau district from Nelson, and incorporating it under a separate government as the Province of Marlborough.
The population of Nelson was materially increased in 1860 by the outbreak of the Maori war in the North Island. There were as many as 1200 refugees from the Taranaki district in Nelson by the end of that year, and they were welcomed with hearty and generous hospitality both by the settlers and the Provincial Council. In 1861 many diggers from Australia passed through on their way to Otago, where gold had just been discovered, and prospected and worked some of the auriferous districts in Nelson province. They had some success in the Buller and Wangapeka districts, but the lack of roads and the difficulties of transport and communication soon wearied them of the country. But by the end of 1863 splendid specimens were obtained at Lyell Creek and a “rush” followed. Over 10,000 ounces were obtained in the Buller district in a few months, but the old difficulty about roads once more checked the development of the country. However, in 1864 a more important discovery of gold was made in the Marlborongh province, at Wakamarina, only thirty-one miles from Nelson. The Maungatapu road was already open, and a great “rush” to the new field at once took place. Canvastown, at the mouth of the Wakamarina, and Havelock soon grew into townships of considerable size; and Havelock was able to boast of a newspaper and several resident Government officials. The Wakamarina field, however, was altogether overshadowed by the discovery of gold on the West Coast in 1865. In January of that year 1300 cunces of gold came into Nelson from the Grey and the Hokitika river districts. The usual “rush” ensued, and by the end of May there were nearly 10,000 men on the field. As there was then no road from Westland to Canterbury, Nelson was the natural starting point for the diggers making for the Coast, and the gold was all passed through Nelson. Prices rose to a fabulous height on the West Coast, and the commerce of Nelson profited accordingly, until the protests of the Canterbury people, jealous of Nelson's monopoly, induced their Provincial Government to make a road over the ranges at the head of the Bealey. The immense influx of population and the rapid growth of trade that followed upon this, gave rise to renewed agitation for better means of transit between Nelson and the Coast, and the project of a railway towards Westport and Greymouth was once more discussed. One unfortunate incident that marked the opening of the West Coast field was the death of the Provincial Superintendent, Mr. Robinson, who was drowned in the Buller river. His place was taken by Mr. Alfred Saunders, who was re-elected to the position of Superintendent when his term of office expired in 1866.
Early in that year the first number of the Nelson “Evening Mail” was published. It was the first daily paper in the new settlement, and soon attained a very considerable circulation. In the same year (1866) Nelson experienced another of the benefits of civilisation by being brought into telegraphic communication with the rest of the colony. But infinitely the most dramatic episode of the little settlement's history in 1866 was the dreadful crime known as the Maungatapu murder. The story has been often told, and details of such an incident are unnecessary here. It is sufficient to ob- page 16 serve that in October of this year three men—Burgess, Kelly and Levy—were hanged in Nelson gaol, and Sullivan, who had turned “Queen's evidence,” was sentenced to a long term of imprisonment. How many murders these ruffians had committed will never be known, but they were finally brought to their account through the disappearance of four men—Kempthorne, Matthieu, Dudley and De Pontius, who had left Wakamarina for Nelson, but never reached their destination. Sullivan's confession included these four victims as well as Mr. Dobson, a surveyor, who had been killed a short time before on the West Coast. The horrible nature of these crimes produced a deep impression on the public imagination, and for many years the Maungatapu murders were quoted throughout the colony as the evil climax in New Zealand's criminal record.
Towards the close of 1866 Bishop Suter was appointed to the diocese of Nelson by the Anglican Synod, but did not arrive in the settlement till September, 1867, Earlier in that year Mr. Alfred Saunders had been succeeded as Superintendent by Mr. Oswald Curtis. About this time the Nelson Acclimatisation Society did good work for the provnce and the colony by introducing the trout and red deer, which now attract so large a share of the attention of tourists and visitors. The province was growing steadily in prosperity; and the establishment of a profitable trade in hops and barley was both cause and effect of the brewing industry that had already gained a firm foothold in the town. Flaxmills were started at several points in 1869. Nor was this prosperity much affected by the general depression which overspread the colony about that time. When the Duke of Edinburgh paid his longexpected visit to the settlement (in April, 1869), he found perhaps more general comfort and fewer signs of poverty than in any other town in New Zealand.
By 1871 the population of the town of Nelson had risen to 5424. It is true that this represented a falling off from 1867, when the census return gave 5652 as the town population. But the gold discoveries had much to do with the temporary inflation of 1867, and ten years later the reduction of population in the town was more than balanced by a steady growth in the country districts. It was on the country that the prosperity of the settlement depended, and in spite of occasional heavy floods and temporary depression the rural districts were steadily developing. Coal and wool were high, Nelson hops were a valuable commodity, and the prospects of the settlement were never brighter than in the five years that immediately preceded the abolition of the provinces. In 1873 the construction of the NelsonFoxhill railway was begun, and though the route finally chosen by the Government did not meet with the approval of the settlers, the line has been a very valuable public. asset to the district. The inauguration of the Vogel public works policy gave employment to large numbers of men throughout the colony, and the consequent dearth of labour for ordinary purposes was to some extent remedied by immigration. The province progressed steadily, and the expansion of the town was marked in 1874 by its elevation to the rank of a municipality. The first Mayor was Mr. J. R. Dodson, who helped to give to the municipal government of Nelson the tone of prudence and economy by which it has always been distinguished.
During the agitation for the abolition of the provincial system which Mr. Vogel stirred up in 1874 and 1875, Nelson took an active part in promoting the desired change. The Constitution Act had never been popular in Nelson, and provincialism found no such ardent advocates there as it found in Otago and Canterbary. When the elections were held at the end of 1875 and it was found that a considerable majority of the members chosen were abolitionists, the satisfaction of the Vogelite party was expressed nowhere more plainly than in Nelson. The Provincial Council, during its last years, had already shown signs of its sympathy for Mr. Vogel's policy by asking leave to borrow a quarter of a million for local public works. But Nelsón had little cause to be gratified with the practical results of abolition. Only a very small proportion of the millions borrowed under the Vogel regime went in the direction of Nelson, and the long-continued attempts to secure a through line to the West Coast have so far proved unavailing. But in spite of these disadvantages, the progress of the settlement was consistent and steady. One important sign of development, which applied to the whole colony as well as to Nelson in particular, was the completion of telegraphic communication with Australia by the cable which comes ashore at Wakapuaka. Another proof of the commercial growth of the province was the establishment of the Anchor line of steamships, which included the little fleet that had long monopolised the coastal trade in the hands of Nathaniel Edwards and Co. Meantime the mineral wealth of the province was being exploited with some success. More gold was found at Tadmor in 1877, and in 1881 another attempt was made to work the Aniseed Valley copper deposits. But as in many other parts of the colony, the money invested in mining ventures in Nelson has produced a very small return, and on the whole the mineral deposits have proved rather a disadvantage than a benefit to the province by diverting attention from more stable and permanently profitable industries. It has been asserted by many competent authorities that Nelson would have been more prosperous to-day if the people had never put a penny into mining enterprises.
By 1883 the rise in the price of hops attracted a good deal of capital towards the hop-gardens, which were for many years among the most beautiful features of Nelson's suburbs. Again, in 1889, there was a distinct “boom” in flax, and many mills were built only to be deserted or dismantled when the flax market collapsed. The establishment of a Chamber of Commerce in 1884 showed that the mercantile interests of the town and the province had become too extensive to be organised by individual enterprise. There had been an older Chamber of Commerce which maintained a precarious life from 1858 to 1864; but the later institution had better reason for its existence and more scope for its operations. By 1885 the agitation in favour of a railway to the West Coast had reached fever heat; but it was not till 1887 that the arrangements between the Midland Railway Company and the Colonial Government were completed and work was begun at Brunnerton. The subsequent history of the line is detailed in the Canterbury volume of this work; and nothing more need be said of it here except that little as Canterbury and Westland have profited by the work on this long desired line, Nelson has so far benefited even less. The Midland Railway Company let a contract at the Belgrove end of the line towards the end of 1890, but nothing very important had been done towards the accomplishment of the scheme on which Nelson had built so many hopes when the operations of the Company came to a premature end.
The year 1891 inaugurated for the colony the supremacy of Democratic Liberalism. The defeat of the Atkinson administration and the accession of Mr. Ballance to power encouraged hopes in Nelson that the district might enjoy a larger share of the benefits of colonial progress than it had hitherto received. But in spite of its many natural advantages, the position of Nelson has always been against its advancement to the highest rank among colonial centres of Population or industrialism. It lies somewhat off the track of New Zealand's coastal and intercolonial commerce, and the back country behind the harbour and the town is too broken and limited in extent to balance these local deficiencies. But though Nelson was not destined to realise the high hopes of its founders, it has still continued to advance steadily towards prosperity. Between 1880 and 1890 many large and imposing public buildings were erected, the town was improved by the purchase of a public park, and the municipal authorities did their best to make the most of the beautiful surroundings and natural attractions which render Nelson one of the most delightful places of residence on this side of the worid.
The casual references to the development of industries scattered through the foregoing pages indicate clearly enough that Nelson is primarily a mineral district; not that its resources in other directions are to be ignored. Its agricultural products are all excellent in quality. Barley and hops, chiefly util- page 18 ised for the brewing industry, grow splendidly on the Waimea Plains, and in and around Nelson city. Oats and chaif are largely exported to the West Coast, and wheat, maize, rye and all kinds of root crops are grown. Nelson has always been famous for its fine yields of fruit. For 1903, the average yield in wheat was about thirty-two bushels to the acre, in oats about forty-four bushels, and in barley about thirty-five bushels; in every case a result nearly equal to the Lest colonial averages. But the area for all grains is very limited; wheat 1600 acres, oats 5000 acres, barley 3200 acres. In no case is sufficient attention paid to any kind of grain to justify its being regarded as the staple production of the district. The pastoral resources of Nelson are, however, very consderable. Recent returns showed that seventy-seven Crown tenants held 317,000 acres in the district under pastoral lease. The grazing land is mostly the timbered hill country, which after being cleared and sown will carry at least two sheep to the acre, and even more where the soil rests on limestone. But here again the area taken up for this purpose is too circumscribed to give much scope for the industry. By far the most important of the industries established in the district since its settlement is mining. Ever since 1863, when gold was first discovered, a large amount of energy and capital has been devoted to the exploitation of the mineral wealth of Nelson. By 1865 the whole western coastline of the South Island was peopled by miners as far south as Jackson's Bay. The West Coast, including Westland, has produced not far short of 50 per cent. of the gold raised in the colony. Reefton and its neighbourhood still forms one of the chief quartz mining centres of New Zealand. The oldest alluvial field is, as already stated, at Collingwood; and dredging, as well as sluicing and gold washing, has been tried with some success in the south-western rivers. Other minerals are found in considerable quantities at different points in the district—silver, copper, chrome, manganese, h[gap — reason: illegible]aematite, antimony. Reference has already been made to various attempts to work the rich copper deposits at the Dun Mountain and Aniseed Valley; but lack of capital has hitherto prevented any permanent success. Silver ore has been worked néar Collingwood; but the low price of silver has rendered this experiment futile. At Parapara on Blind Bay there are large deposits of h[gap — reason: illegible]aematite in conjunction with coal and limestone, which should ultimately prove of high commercial value. But by far the most important of the useful minerals of Nelson is coal, which is found in the Collingwood district and near Blind Bay; but chiefly within the Grey and Buller coal reserves. The centre of the industry is Westport, and the quality of the best steam coal procured in this field is unsurpassed anywhere in the world. The output for 1902 from the mines at work within Nelson district was over 537,000 tons; and the fact that so large an area is covered by the coal deposits indicates that even better results may be reached in the future.
Among the extractive industries of Nelson, sawmilling plays an important part. Reference has been made to the many varieties of useful timber trees found in Nelson district—black and red birch (beech), red, white, black, and silver pine, rata and totara. A large amount of timber is of course used in the mining districts for props and planking, but apart from this the sawmilling industry has increased rapidly of late years. There are about forty sawmills now in active work, and the output from them, in a recent year, was about 9,000,000 feet of various timbers, chiefly black and red pine, though silver pine is coming largely into use for railway sleepers. Of other minor industries in the country, the preparation of flax for the American market has occasionally assumed some importance, but the constant fluctuations in price render the industry very unsatisfactory and precarious.
The chief manufacturing industries of Nelson are naturally located in the chief town; those include iron foundries, fruit preserving and canning works, breweries, biscuit factories, coach building and sash and door factories, boot factories, brick kilns and sawmills. One of the most important of the town trades is jam making, with which the name of Mr. Kirkpatrick is invariably associated. His celebrated “K” jam is known throughout Australasia, and it represents the output of the best fruit growing districts in Nelson—Takaka, Motueka, Richmond, Spring Grove, Foxhill and many other villages. The factory was started in a small way by Mr. A. Kirkpatrick in 1881, and is now one of the most important establishments in this, line of business in the Southern Hemisphere. The huge buildings are splendidly lighted, most efficiently equipped, and scrupulously clean. They not only take off a large proportion of Nelson's fruit crop, but give permanent employment to a large number of wage earners; and the various kinds of preserves turned out by the “K” factory have gained high awards not only in many colonial towns, but even in Paris and London. The suc- page 19 cess of Mr. Kirkpatrick's efforts ought to be sufficient to dispose of the popular superstition to the effect that Nelson is not a good field for industrial enterprise. Whenever the right man has chosen the work for which there is a widespread demand success has attended him in Nelson as certainly as in any other industrial centre in the colony.
The development of the province has always been seriously retarded by the need of adequate means of internal communica tion. Even now, over sixty years after the first settlement, Nelson district does not possess so much as forty miles of railway. A line runs for about thirtyone miles southward from the chief town to Motupiko, passing through Stoke, Richmond, Brightwater, Wakefield, Foxhill, and Belgrove. It is soon to be extended over the Motueka river and ten miles on toward Tadmor. There is a small railway—the Westport-Mokihinui line—which connects the coal mines along the west coast of the district with Westport; and there is a branch of the abortive Midland railway—an extension of the Grey-Brunner line—which connects Reefton with Greymouth. But these lines lead nowhere—that is, they fail altogether as means of communication between the chief centres of industry and population. The West Coast railway, so leng advocated and desired, is still merely a hope of the future; and the connection between the more important towns and settlements in the district is still kept up only by roads and bridle tracks. The main road toward the West Coast runs from Motupiko to Reefton— nineteen miles form the Westland border —a distance of 136 miles, through rough country, including the fine scenery of the Buller Gorge. Along the West Coast the Karamea special settlement is connected with Westport on the south and Collingwood district on the north-east by a bridle track. There is a good road from the head of the Takaka Valley, passing through Riwaka, Motueka and Montere to Richmond, eight miles from Nelson. Towards the other coast of the South Island communication with Canterbury is by road—partly drag road, partly bridle track—which runs by way of the Tophouse, Wairau Gorge, Clarence Valley, and Jollie's Pass down to the Hanmer Plains, famous for their hot mineral springs. The road which runs cast from Nelson to Picton connecting the district with Marlborough, via the Rai Valley and the Pelorus, is a splendid highway; but the peoplé of Nelson may justly complain that the district has been worse treated in the matter of roads and railways than any other in the colony.
Among other institutions of a more or less directly educational character may be noted the School of Music, the Museum and the Public Library. The Philosophical Society, the Debating Society, the Harmonic Society, and the Camera Club help to provide entertainment, as well as intellectual and artistic training, for those who appreciate it. Public sports are by no means neglected, as the records of the local cricket, football, rowing, howling, and cycling clubs can testify. The Botanical Reserve, including Zig Zag Hill, Trafalgar Park, Queen's Gardens and Victory Square are public reserves which add much to the attractiveness of the town and promote the health of its inhabitants. In spite of its comparative isolation, Nelson enjoys most of the advantages of civilisation, in the form of railway and steamer service, cabs and busses and telephones; but its chief charm consists in the serene and peaceful beauty of its surroundings. “A gem, an idyll, an immature Arcadia, a Sleeping Leauty”—the oft-quoted words in which Max O'Rell expressed his admiration for the little town, suggest perhaps better than any other phrase the impression which the sight of Nelson produces upon those who see it for the first time.
The geographical character of Nelson district, and the nature of its chief industries, are obstacles to the growth of a dense population. The total population for the whole district was returned in the census of 1901 at 37,915. The populations of the four largest provincial districts range from 141,000 (Wellington) to 175,000 (Auckland); so that Nelson compares very unfavourably in this respect with the more thickly-populated centres of the colony. The population of the district at the previous census was 35,734; and the rate of increase during the intervening five years had thus been a little over six per cent.; an increase which is entirely put in the shade by the rate of increase for Auckand (14 per cent.), Wellington (16 per cent.) and Taranaki (21 per cent.). It is manifest that Nelson does not present sufficient industrial or natural advantages as yet to attract any great influx of population.
The town of Nelson contains a large proportion—nearly 20 per cent—of the entire population of the district. The total population of the town and port recorded in last census was 7167; a total which is exceeded by only two among the New Zealand towns, outside the four great provincial centres. Westport is the only other town in the district that rises much above the rank of a village; its population, including those on shipboard, being reckoned at about 3100. Motueka with 886 inhabitants, and Richmond with 543, are the only other centres that deserve mention. The balance of the district's population is seattered over the sheep stations and through the mining districts that provide occupation for the people outside the few small country towns.
Perhaps some light may be thrown upon the progress made by the town and page 23 province of Nelson since the foundation by referring to the condition of the district at the time of the Jubilee celebrations. In February, 1892, the survivors and descendants of the first settlers met to commemorate the foundation of the colony and the conclusion of the fiftieth year of its existence. “Within that half century, Nelson had expanded into a well-built and well-kept town, covering 4800 acres, and containing about fortyseven miles of streets, the chief of which, with their asphalted pavements, were reckoned among the best formed and cleanest in the colony. It possessed waterworks, gasworks, parks and public reserves and many public buildings and institutions that would do credit to cities many times its size in the Old World. By 1896 the municipal revenué for the year was over £16,000; the Corporation's assets amounted to over £60,000 and— final test of municipal prosperity in these colonies—the town had a debt of over £43,000. Since the Jubilee twelve years ago, the town has not made any very notable advance; in fact, compared with the more active and enterprising commercial centres of the colony, it has, in some respects, fallen behind in the race. But there is a firm basis of solid prosperity below the surface in both town and country; and the commercial and industrial records of Nelson show that it has played no unworthy part in the development of the colony.