The Jubilee History of Nelson: From 1842 to 1892.
New Year's Day, 1845.—Election for Legislative Council.—Mr. Domett de clines.—Completion of the Fort.—Maori Troubles at Happy Valley. —Interesting Event.—Petition for Recall of Governor Fitzroy.—Anniversary Day.—Erection of Catholic Chapel.—Presentation to Rev. S. Ironside.—Meeting of Working Classes.—Recall of Governor Fitzroy. —Public Rejoicings.— Lightband's Tannery.—Explorations.— Heaphy and Brunner.—Brunner's memorable Journey.—Governor Grey.—Lieut. Governor Eyre.—Retirement of Mr Donald Sinclair.— Appointment of Major Richmond.—Mr. Domett appointed Colonial Secretary.—Mr. Fox appointed Attorney-General.—Hon. C. A. Dillon appointed Commissioner of Crown Lands.—Re-instatement of Magistrates. —Influenza.—First Selection of Rural Lands.—Depasturing Licenses.—The Beaver.—Mr. Jollie.—Consolidation Awards.—Compensation Awards.—Compensation Scrip.—The Home Government and the Company.—Final Settlement with Landowners.—Purchase of Waitohi.—Trust Funds.—Mr. Tytler retained.—Mr. Henry Seymour goes Home to assist.—Union Bank closed.—Paper Money.—Mr. Fox resigns Attorney-Generalship.—Nominees to Council.—Death of Colonel Wakefield.—Earthquake.—Laying Foundation Stone Presbyterian Church.—Mr. Packard tries to take Cattle to Takaka Overland.—Some Statistics.—Foundation Stone of Christ Church laid.—Mr. Weld's Explorations.—The First Coal Mining Company. —First Cloth-Weaving in Nelson.
New Year's Day, 1845, was a holiday in Nelson—which was partly attributable to the circumstance of the Benefit Society and the Society of Odd Fellows having selected that day for celebrating their anniversaries. The members of both Societies met in the morning at their respective Club houses, and, accompanied by music and banners proceeded to Church, where the Rev. C. L. Reay delivered an appropriate sermon from Numbers x—29. After service the Odd Fellows walked round to the Haven, and the Benefit Society went strait to the Carpenters' Arms, where Mr. Harley had made most ample provision for their entertainment. About seventy sat down to a substantial dinner, the cbair being taken by Mr. C. Elliott. Speeches were afterwards made by Messrs Renwick, White, Fell, Heaphy, Ward, Empson, Greaves, and Fox. The Odd Fellows also spent a very agreeable day, having been provided with a good dinner by Brother Bryant. The Court of Requests, however, did not keep holiday. This Court had been established in lieu of the County Court, and Mr. C. B. Brewer appointed Commissioner. There was only one case for hearing—a claim of five shillings, part of a sum of £28 deposited in the Union Bank, in which the plaintiff was nonsuited, and a witness, Mr. J. N. Beit, narrowly escaped being committed for contempt of Court.page 88
In January, 1845, appeared an important advertisement convening a meeting of the settlers of Nelson for the purpose of electing a representative in the Legislative Council. The election was to be on the principle of universal suffrage, every male settler of the age of 21 and upwards being entitled to a vote. Hitherto the early settler found himself brought into contact with a Government in the construction of which, and in the direction of whose policy, he had no more voice than the most ignorant savage in the country. There was the old tyranny of taxation without representation over again. But sending a member to a Council, in which he could be steadily outvoted on every question important to the Settlement by the Government Nominees, was not a promising remedy for the evil. A real Representative Legislature was what was asked for. On the 25th, the meeting was duly held in the Court House. Notwithstanding the novelty of the proceeding, it excited very little interest, the people generally looking upon the whole affair as a solemn mockery. The attendance was, consequently, very limited.
The Police Magistrate briefly informed the meeting that he had received a communication from the Governor, to the effect that his Excellency would place in the Legislative Council any gentleman whom the settlers might choose, if he reached Auckland by the 1st March.
Dr. Monro having been called to the chair.
The Hon. C. A. Dillon proposed Alfred Domett, Esq., as a gentleman in whose hands the interests of the settlers might safely be entrusted.
E. W. Stafford, Esq., seconded the proposition.
F. Otterson, Esq., J.P,, then proposed and Mr. Perry seconded Dr. Monro.
The Chairman requested his name might be withdrawn, as he would be unable, in the event of his being honored by their choice, to devote the necessary time to the performance of the duties which would devolve upon him.
Dr. Monro's name was consequently withdrawn, when the meeting unanimously declared in favor of Mr. Domett.
Messrs. Monro, C. A. Dillon, F. Otterson, A. McDonald, E. W. Stafford, A. Macshane, and J. Saxton were appointed to acquaint Mr. Domett with the result of the meeting, and to inform him that, if he accepted the appointment, his expenses would be paid by the settlers.
The following is a copy of Mr. Domett's letter in reply:— "To Dr. Monro, J.P., the Hon. C. A. Dillon, F. Otterson, Esq., J.P., and the Gentlemen forming a Deputation from the Meeting held at the Court House on Saturday last.
—I thank you sincerely for the honour you have page 89done me in choosing me to represent this settlement in the Legislative Council. But I beg you to excuse me when I declare my determination not to accept the trust your partiality would confer upon me.
"My reason for this course is simply this. The Legislative Council, as you know, is composed of his Excellency the Governor; three official members under his control; and three non-official members, to be chosen now by universal suffrage. The Governor introduces all measures whatever, and has a casting vote in addition to his own. All measures introduced, then, are Government measures, which Government can always carry in spite of the opposition of the non-officials, being in number five to three. And that the power thus possessed will always be used in such instances, we have the experience of all the sessions of the Council to prove.
"Such being the composition of the Legislative Council, it appears to me that the only case in which it is useful, or even rational, for the public to send a representative to it, is when the general policy and spirit of the Government are such as that public approves of. Their representative then may possibly be of use in supporting, improving, and rendering more palatable to his constituents the measures introduced by Government; his opposition, too, not being necessarily of that sweeping kind which is crushed as a matter of course, may be advantageously exerted in checking or overthrowing such parts of Government's policy, such of the details of its measures, as he may believe detrimental to the public or the section of it he represents.
"But, when the whole policy and every act of the Government are calculated to meet with the most decided disapprobation of the public, it is evidently idle for the latter to send a representative to a Council so constituted. For his conduct must be in such case one unvarying course of opposition, no compromise being possible —no middle line discoverable. And such opposition will as invariably be put down by the Government party with their superior number of votes. Your representative becomes then a puppet —his sitting in that Council a farce.
"Now the government of this country, as at present carried on, I, for one, do most sincerely believe to be of the latter description. To it I can conceive no relation possible for a representative of Englishmen but that of unqualified, uncompromising, unrelaxing opposition. For surely Captain Fitzroy is so pledged to the policy he has uniformly acted upon, that no abandonment of it, no change in it, is to be expected from him. Such opposition being useless in a Council so constituted, you will excuse me, gentlemen, if I confess my want of ambition to go through the mockery of attempting it.
"I should be sorry, too, by accepting the trust you so partially proffered me, to publish my acquiescence (of however little page 90consequence it be) in this attempt to obtain for the Legislative Council of this country some of the credit and importance while it has none of the actual character or practical operation, of a representative body.
"If such a Government should hereafter be established in New Zealand as a popular representative might usefully support or usefully oppose, and you should be pleased to express the same wishes as on this occasion, I shall then be most happy to show myself in that particular, as now in all others.
"Your most obedient servant,
"Alfred Domett., January 26, 1845."
On Tuesday a second meeting was held, to consider what course should be adopted in consequence of the refusal of Mr Domett to represent the settlement in the Legislative Council. A. McDonald, Esq., in the chair.
After some desultory conversation, Mr Fox observed that he considered the offer of a representative member in Council as a tub thrown out to catch a whale. If the Governor had really that affection for us which this liberal offer might be intended to indicate, let him show it in some more substantial manner. The present offer was a mockery. It held out to us the prospect of a representative chosen on the most enlarged basis of universal suffrage, not even women or children being excluded from electing or being elected by the instructions given to the Police Magistrate. But when the representative reached the Council, what followed? Why, he could originate no measure, and every independent vote he gave against Government was swamped by the nominees, whose duty the highest law officer in the colony, the Attorney-General, had said is always to vote with the Governor, whether they think with him or not. Till this was altered, he thought it a mockery to send a representative. It had been suggested that a representative might watch the proceedings in Council, and communicate with the settlers when their interests were affected; but the newspapers would serve that purpose as well, and reach us just as soon. Under the present administration of the Colonial Government, he would not consent to send a representative to Council. He begged therefore to propose the following resolution:—
That so long as the existing constitution of the Legislative Council continues, it is not convenient to send a representative to that body, since he cannot possibly influence its decisions, carried as they are by the compelled adherence to Government of its pledged nominees.
Mr Domett briefly seconded the resolution. He did not see the use of sending any one to the Council to stand up continually like a skittle for Government to bowl down again. The introduc-page 91tion of universal suffrage would be heard of abroad, but no one would take the trouble to examine the constitution of the Council, and see that the representative was powerless. He saw by the very thin attendance—there not being a dozen people present— that the public perfectly well understood that the thing was a farce.
The resolution was put and carried, and the meeting dispersed.
The commencement of the fort on the Church Hill has been referred to; the work, although temporarily abandoned, was eventually completed. It was a ball-proof stockade, with rampart and ditch, covering an acre. The walls were wood, two inches thick; then an inside one the same, the space between, six inches, being of rammed clay. Six guns were mounted inside, and there was a drawbridge at the north and only entrance. This place of refuge and defence was in existence at the time of the following alarming episode.
Nelson was not yet free from Maori troubles. The picturesque and attractive spot that we know as Happy Valley was the scene of the disturbance.
No part of Happy Valley was cultivated or occupied by the natives at the period of the formation of the settlement; and though previously to the Commissioner's award they had asserted a claim to a portion of it at the northern extremity, they did not in any way attempt to use or occupy it. The natives who made this claim resided in a pa on the sea coast, four or five miles north of the valley, and separated from it by a thick forest of that extent. The chief of the tribe was Paramatta, a native of small influence, in consequence of his having been taken prisoner, and kept as a slave for many years by Tuawaike (Bloody Jack) of Otago.
When the Commissioner of Land Claims held his Court in Nelson, Paramatta, as well as the other principal chiefs in Blind Bay, spent several days in the town, and he eventually received a share of the gratuity which, with the concurrence of the Commissioner, was distributed among the different tribes from whom the land had been originally purchased by the Company's agent.
Paramatta crossed the Straits to pay a visit to some of the Waikato tribe in the Northern Island; and on Tuesday, 14th January, he returned to this settlement, accompanied by a few Waikatos and some of his own tribe. The party landed between Nelson and the Happy Valley, and immediately proceeded to the latter, where they visited all the settlers located there, informing them that they must quit the land immediately, or that they (the natives) would destroy their houses and "make kai" of (that is, eat) the inhabitants. Paramatta himself was exceedingly violent, flourishing his tomahawk over the heads of those he page 92addressed, and using the usual ferocious gestures displayed by natives when they meditate bloodshed. Towards evening the party quitted the valley and came down to the farm of Mr Jollie, about a mile nearer Nelson, where they lighted fires close to his thatched buildings and ripe corn; and after threatening him to the same effect as the settlers in the valley, and making a great disturbance till four o'clock in the morning, they left him with a promise of an early return.
On the following day, a formal complaint having been made by the injured settlers, the Police Magistrate (Mr Sinclair) accompanied by Mr Tinline as interpreter, went to the Happy Valley, whence he sent for Paramatta, who came attended by about 18 natives armed With tomahawks. A long conversation ensued, in which Paramatta asserted that' the valley was his;' that he would drive the settlers out of it, and serve the Police Magistrate and his interpreter as Rauparaha served Mr Thompson and Brooks at the Wairau. At last, however, he agreed to refrain for a fortnight, in order to enable the Police Magistrate to procure such evidence of the sale and Commissioner's award as he had referred to, and the Police Magistrate and interpreter returned to Nelson late in the evening.
Scarcely, however, was his back turned when Paramatta recommenced his aggressions, became much more violent than before, personally assaulted some of the settlers, and at last broke into the house of one named Gordon and robbed him of a quantity of flour, after which he left the valley, saying that he would return on Monday and destroy everything. After leaving Gordon's, he burned a stockyard belonging to a cattle-keeper in the valley, and a quantity of shingles which had been cut and piled in the wood.
On Saturday, the settlers having renewed their complaints and offered evidence of the facts the Police Magistrate called a public meeting, over which he presided, and which was attended by several of the principal settlers, amongst others Dr. Monro, J.P., and Mr Vallé, J.P. It was proposed, and agreed to by the magistrates and settlers present, that the Police Magistrate should on the following Monday proceed to the valley, protected by a well armed force of volunteers, for the purpose of showing Paramatta the plan signed by Mr. Commissioner Spain and the protector, and warning him against any further breaches of the law.
On Sunday morning alarming rumours were afloat of the savages having committed more serious aggressions during the previous night, but they, fortunately, proved untrue. They led, however, to the calling of another public meeting by the Police Magistrate, preceded by a private meeting of Justices of the Peace, at which were present the Police Magistrate, Dr. Monro, and Mr. Vallé. After a long consultation, the Police Magistrate page 93announced to the public meeting that the magistrates had decided not to take any step towards checking the aggression, except to write to Paramatta, desiring him to come to Nelson to see the plan; and also to write to Wellington for police protection. The resolutions of the justices was not concurred in by Dr. Monro, though, in accordance with official etiquette, he appeared on the bench when it was promulgated by the majority, from which he dissented.
The announcement of this change of purpose, on behalf of the Police Magistrate, was viewed with great dissatisfaction by the settlers; and on the following morning (Monday) a public meeting was held on the cricket ground, numerously and very respectably attended, when the settlers expressed the opinion that the Government had on this, as on every previous occasion where the natives were concerned, forsaken its duty to the settlers; that the latter were bound, therefore, to protect themselves; and that immediate steps should be taken to defend the settlement against the aggressions of Paramatta. It was then determined that the New Zealand Company's principal surveyor should, on the following day, proceed to the valley and cut a broad line of demarcation across it, in exact accordance with the Commissioner's approved plan; that he should be accompanied by an armed volunteer force under command of the Company's Resident Agent, which should not leave the ground till the line was finished—and that Paramatta should be invited to inspect the line and the plan, and warned against any future aggressions.
The rest of Monday was spent in making preparations, and the next morning an armed muster was held, when a proclamation, warning the settlers against the steps they were taking, issued by the Police Magistrate, was read by the chief constable, and received with much good humour and many hisses.
The same morning, the volunteers assembled at five o'clock, and proceeded to the valley, to the number of one hundred. Among them were Mr. Fox, the Company's agent, Dr. Monro, J.P., Messrs. Tytler, E. W. Stafford, A. Domett, A. McDonald, R. Newcome, J. Poynter, C. B. Brewer, A. Macshane, J. Saxton, W. Shepherd, W. O. Cautley, R. Phelps, C. Heaphy, C. Empson, F. Jollie, H. Martin, junior, Barnicoat, Benoit, Kelling, Duffy, Budge, Christie, Bishop, Bramwell, Hart, &c., &c. The whole were thoroughly armed and provided with ammunition, and the march was effected with the greatest order and regularity.
On arriving at the northern boundary of the valley, Mr. Stephens, with a number of men, immediately proceeded to cut the proposed line, the armed volunteers having been stationed so as to cover the party during their employment.
On the previous evening, the Rev. Messrs. Reay and Butt, page 94the Church of England clergymen and missionaries in the settlement, had volunteered to go to Paramatta's pa by sea, for the purpose of offering him safe conduct, and endeavoring to persuade him to inspect the line and plan. This, however, they were unable to succeed in. They found him sulky and suspicious, and equally unwilling to obey the letter of the Police Magistrate (which he had received) inviting him to Nelson. Mr. Reay, therefore, leaving Mr. Butt and Mrs. Reay (who had voluuteered as an hostage), at the pa as a security that no violence should be attempted against Paramatta, proceeded to meet the party in the valley, which he reached shortly after the line was commenced.
It was considered very important, if it could be accomplished, that Paramatta should personally inspect the plan, and be cautioned against a repetition of his illegal acts; and it was proposed, on hearing Mr. Reay's report, that the party should immediately proceed to his pa. Mr. Reay, however, declined acting as the guide of an armed party, and it was not considered prudent to visit him unarmed. As the road was then difficult and intricate, and no other guide could be procured, the intention was abandoned, and Mr. Reay returned to the pa himself, taking the plan for Paramatta's information, and also several printed notices issued by the Company's agent (which had been kindly translated into the native language by the Rev. Mr. Butt), informing him that the line had been cut, warning him against any further disturbances, and telling him that, if they were repeated, the white man would come and take him and bring him to be tried by the Queen's law. Paramatta would not look at the plan, but it was shown to the other natives, and the printed notices distributed among them. Three young natives who had accompanied Mr. Reay also reported to their friends what they had seen in the valley. Paramatta also told Mr Reay that he believed that the settlement of the land claims was a fraud, because, after they had been settled in the Hutt and elsewhere, further payments had been made to the natives concerned by the Governor, in spite of Mr. Spain's and Mr. Clarke's decisions. He, therefore, believed it was all a cheat on the natives.
The line having been completed, the party returned to Nelson in the same excellent order in which they had left it in the morning, and were dismissed a little after five o'clock, having been twelve hours under arms, and marched about twenty-six miles in the course of the day. Before dispersion, nearly the whole party enrolled their names as volunteers, to meet and drill at stated times, and to hold themselves prepared on every occasion to afford the settlement armed protection if necessary.
It is satisfactory to know that Paramatta gave no farther trouble.
An interesting event in connection with the family of one page 95of Nelson's oldest and best known settlers took place on the 23rd January,1845. Two daughters and a son (the present Mr. Henry Redwood) of Mr. Henry Redwood, of Waimea West, having on that day entered into the holy estate of matrimony. The following is a copy of the event in the "Examiner":—
On Thursday, the 23rd instant, at the Waimea, by the Rev. J. P. O'Reilly, Catholic clergyman of Wellington, Joseph Greaves, Esq., solicitor, to Miss Mary Redwood, eldest daughter of Mr. Redwood, Waimea; also, Mr. Henry Redwood, to Mrs. Elizabeth Reeves; and Miss Elizabeth Redwood, to Mr. Edward Bolton, all of the Waimea
Just a twelvemonth from the day on which a meeting was held in Nelson to congratulate Captain Fitzroy on his arrival, another meeting was held to petition the Home Government for his recall. In so short a time His Excellency had managed to make himself thoroughly unpopular. The following resolutions, passed at this meeting, will indicate the temper and feelings of the settlers:—
Mr. Macshane proposed, "That the policy of Captain Fitzroy, in administering the Government of New Zealand, is calculated to bring speedy and irretrievable ruin on the colony, and is rapidly extinguishing all hope of restoring the friendly relations which existed between the colonists and the natives in the early period of their intercourse."
Mr. J. Tytler, in seconding the resolution, stated that he fully concurred in all which the mover had said.
The Hon. C. A. Dillon proposed, "That a Committee be appointed to prepare a memorial to her Majesty, stating the grounds of our dissatisfaction with Captain Fitzroy's Government, and praying for his immediate recall and the practical adoption of the principles laid down in the report of the Committee of the House of Commons on New Zealand. Also, petitions to Parliament, praying the House to address her Majesty to the same effect."
Seconded by Mr. E. W. Stafford, and carried unanimously.
The following gentlemen were then named as the Committee to draw up the memorial and petition:—Messrs. Fox, Domett, Beit, Monro, Stafford, and Macshane.
Proposed by Mr. Fox, "That the inhabitants of the other settlements be requested to unite with the settlers of Nelson in their memorial to the Queen and in their petitions to Parliament."
Seconded by Mr. Cautley, and carried unanimously.
The petition was drawn up, but before it could be signed Lieut.-Governor Fitzroy was re-called.
Anniversary Day was celebrated as on former occasions; it is, however, worthy of note, that on this occasion special prizes were offered for the best dressed flax—an industry that was already beginning to attract considerable attention. Its history has not been a success so far as Nelson is concerned. Experi-page 96ment after experiment has been tried, Many hundreds—nay thousands—-have been sunk inflax machinery, but so far the industry has not progressed, and at the present time there are only three or four small flax mills in the district.
Messrs. Nattrass and Edwards brought out some expensive flax machines in 1845. They were put up in the Company's old store at the Haven, and worked there. It was not a profitable speculation. It is also worthy of note that Nelson beer was now an article of export, both Wellington and Auckland being customers for it.
Perhaps some notice should be given of the settlement of Nelson in its social relations. It would require too much space to do so properly; but as to one part of the subject, which is in general too exclusively made to stand for the meaning of the word "society," namely social relaxation or amusement, it may be remarked that there existed in the settlement considerable harmony and conviviality, little formality, and no pretension. Expensive luxuries of any kind were, and had ever been since the foundation of the settlement, very rarely indulged in. People dined together constantly, but seldom or never had "dinner parties;" "drop in" anywhere in the evening, but gave no soirees or balls. Though beginning to decline, bachelorship rather prevailed in the settlement—a melancholy fact, which partly accounted for the absence of formality.
A meeting of persons interested in the erection of a Roman Catholic chapel and school-house was held on Tuesday, the 11th March, 1845, in the house lately occupied by Mr. Beit, in Bridgestreet. F. Otterson, Esq., J.P., in the chair.
The following resolutions were agreed to:—
|1.||"That the building of a Catholic chapel and school-house shall be immediately commenced on the reserve appropriated for that purpose by the Governor."|
|2.||"That Messrs. Greaves, Otterson. Eedwood. Ward, and Duffey be appointed a Building Committee, and to receive further subscriptions."|
|3.||"That Mr. Otterson and Mr. Greaves be requested to act as Trustees."|
The Treasurer reported the sum already subscribed, which amounted to £60. A similar sum had been promised by Colonel Wakefield out of the religious fund of the settlement, but the stoppage of the Company had thrown difficulties in the way of obtaining it at the present moment.
It was agreed by the meeting that a plan for a chapel and school-house should be obtained from a competent person; and that the building should be erected so that it might receive additions from time to time.
A few months before this a small subscription was set on foot in Nelson to present to the Rev. S. Ironside, the Wesleyan page 97missionary who resided in Cloudy Bay at the time of the Wairau massacre, a small testimonial of the sense in which his efforts to render assistance on that melancholy occasion was held by the friends of the unfortunate men. The moment Mr. Ironside heard of the dreadful event which had taken place, he proceeded, in his whaleboat to the spot, although the whalers in the bay hesitated to accompany him, on account of the state of the weather and the dangerous swell on the bar of the Wairau river, until they saw him with a crew of Maoris. The only assistance Mr. Ironside was able to render was, the burial of the dead and succour to the fugitives who found their way to bis abode. The testimonial presented to Mr. Ironside was a handsome edition of the Bible in three volumes, which had been sent out to the late Mr. Young, and which the executors of that gentleman very kindly parted with for the purpose.
The following is Mr. Ironside's acknowledgment of the present:—
, February 20, 1845.
"—I accept, with great pleasure, the very valuable present of books which you have forwarded to me at the request of several of the inhabitants of Nelson.
"You have been pleased to put by far too high an estimate upon my services in connexion with that tragic event which we all so deeply mourn, and which time will not obliterate from our memories, I only did my duty; and no one, in any station of life, should take credit to himself for doing his duty, although it might be painful and melancholy to his feelings, and attended with personal risk.
"It would have been much more gratifying to me, could I have been of service as mediator before the affair had arrived at its dire extremity; but, unfortunately, I knew not of it until it was too late.
"I beg you will convey to those whom you represent my grateful sense of their kindness in thus honouring me; and I may further add that the very handsome manner in which their wishes have been communicated to me by yourself has considerably enhanced my gratification.
"I have the honour to remain, sir,
"Your most obedient servant,
In April the working classes of Nelson held several meetings to discuss the steps which should be taken to secure the settlement against any hostile attack of the natives. A deputation of them having waited on the Police Magistrate to request that a public meeting should be called to devise measures for the public safety, the request was acceded to, and the meeting took place in the Court House. After a short discussion, it was agreed page 98to put the Fort in complete repair, and make such other defences as the safety of the inhabitants required, by volunteer labour. The meeting was also of opinion that it was desirable for the inhabitants to be regularly drilled, and to establish a nightly watch. The Magistrates expressed their willingness to co-operate with the settlers, and to exert themselves to the utmost to ensure their safety. Messrs. Fox, Macshane, C. Elliott, Fell, and Coates, were nominated a Committee of Safety, to whom the details of the defences were left.
The second sitting of the Supreme Court was held on the 7th April before his Honor Mr. Justice Chapman. The Grand Jury, of which the Hon. C. A. Dillon was Foreman, made a long presentment, in which the following paragraph appears:—
"We have also to present that the titles to land in this settlement remain undetermined, although a period of seven months has now elapsed since the investigation by her Majesty's Commissioner and his decision that the purchase of the district from the natives had been completed."
Towards the end of October, 1845, the people of Nelson heard with much satisfaction of the re-call of Governor Fitzroy. A subscription list was opened, and it was decided that there should be a festival to celebrate the event. Accordingly, on 13th November, at the first dawn of day, a salute of 21 guns was fired from the hill beside the fort. Then there was a grand dinner, for which a large piece of ground had been enclosed at one end of Mr. Harley's garden, in Bridge-street, and decorated with shrubs and flowers. Three hundred and fifty people sat down to a substantial dinner of "beef, mutton, pork, various puddings, and beer." The principal speakers were Mr. Fox and Mr. Domett. As soon as the diners had left, there was a big tea, at which 600 women and children sat down.
In the course of the day three figures, intended to represent Captain Fitzroy, his prime minister the Chief Protector, and the great legal authority of the colony the Attorney-General, were paraded through the town, and in the evening were consigned to the flames, in the middle of the town. The head of the first figure was carved in wood, and its dress closely resembled that worn by Captain Fitzroy when he visited Nelson. The other figures more approached caricature, the heads being painted masks, but the dresses were in keeping with their respective callings.
The Waimea settlers also held a separate festival, nearly opposite the village in Waimea West.
Governor Fitzroy was succeeded by Governor Grey, who arrived at Auckland on the 10th November, and assumed the Government of the colony on the 18th of that month.
There can be no doubt that Governor Fitzroy had a most difficult duty to perform. Unpopularity was almost a certainty, page 99for it was impossible for any Governor to perform his duty to the natives as well as to the Europeans, and in the position in which the New Zealand Company had placed its settlements, without some friction.
"His temper was fussy and excitable. His character was of the highest, and his ability as a naval officer and man of science unquestioned. He had at his disposal a force entirely insufficient for the support of his authority; failure was therefore to a great extent inevitable, the more so with one accustomed from his training to rely on force and to have his will obeyed. If he was unpopular with the New Zealand Company and the settlers, he impressed the Maoris with a confidence in our justice which stood the colony in good stead during subsequent years, when their support and good feeling were invaluable." (Brett's History).
It is interesting to note that tanning and dressing leather was an industry commenced by Mr. Lightband early in 1845. Towards the end of that year the "Examiner" had the following notice of its progress:—
"We visited a few days since the workshop of Mr. G. W. Lightband, who is engaged in tanning and dressing leather, and were agreeably surprised to find the progress he has made. We were shown skins of various kinds—calf, kid, dog, sheep, and hide leather—all dressed remarkably well; and from inquiry we have since made, we learn that this leather is in no way inferior to the best English, and very superior to any imported from the neighbouring Colonies. None of the leather dressed in New South Wales or Van Diemen's Land is capable of resisting water; but the leather made by Mr. Lightband possesses this quality in an eminent degree. We were also shown a few skins of parchment equal to any we ever saw. The bark used in tanning is the black birch; Mr. Lightband has tried the hinau, but did not find it succeed so well. Too much praise cannot be given to Mr. Lightband for his perseverance. Without funds or assistance, he has made numerous experiments, and proved the qualities of all the materials obtainable in the settlement for the tanning and dressing of leather; and alum and salt are the only ingredients with which he has not supplied himself. There is one disadvantage, however, under which he labours, and which it is not in his power to remedy; and that is the careless manner in which animals of all kinds are skinned here. We suppose this originated from a feeling that skins were of no value, and not worth the care bestowed on them where they can be turned to account; but now that there is a demand for all which can be obtained, we hope more care will be taken of them. The number of cattle and sheep slaughtered in this settlement is quite inadequate to supply ourselves wholly with leather; but the quantity would be greatly augmented if the skins of all the page 100animals were preserved which die from casualties, bullocks by eating tutu, calves which have been slipped, young kids, &c., and we might see a useful branch of trade flourishing here, and keep within the Colony a considerable sum of money which at present is sent to England or the other Colonies —We also saw the other day several pairs of shoes made from leather tanned at Pitfure. Mr. McRae has adopted the plan long prevalent in the remote parts of Scotland, and perhaps continued there to this day, of making the farm supply the greater part of the clothing worn by the inhabitants. This leather also resists the water remarkably well".
Explorations went steadily on in different directions. Towards the West Coast an expedition, consisting of Messrs. Fox, Heaphy, and Brunner, guided by a native of the nearly extinct Rangitani tribe, the former possessors of the country, explored Lake Rotoroa, visiting its head waters, and crossing the valleys of the Tiraumea and Tutaki, came upon the Buller about twenty miles from the lake, and followed it down to below the Matiri. From this point the explorers retraced their steps to Nelson. In crossing the Buller Mr. Fox was carried down by the current and nearly lost his life. A few weeks afterwards, Messrs. Brunner and Heaphy again started to explore the West Coast. On that occasion they crossed the mouth of the Buller, and made their way nearly sixty miles further to the southward to the native settlement Arahura. A most interesting account of this trip was published by Mr. Heaphy. They travelled back along the coast, crossing the Buller on a fragile raft of flax stalks, and rude logs of totara drift wood. They tramped the entire length of the coast from Arahura to Cape Farewell; their daily diet being, as a rule, fern root, and three small potatoes each. At the Karamea they were fortunate enough to spear some flounders. They were reduced to a very low condition. The exposure to wind and weather was perhaps more weakening in effect than the absence of nutritious food. Four miles a day, including stoppages for rain, was the most they could average. At West Wanganui they found a supply of flour which had been forwarded from Nelson by Mr. Fox and the Rev. C. L. Reay, Ultimately they reached Pakawau, where they were hospitably treated by the natives, who brought them to Nelson in a canoe. They arrived on the 18th August, 1846, after an absence of five months.
But Mr. Brunner was not satisfied with this journey. Soon after his return, he started again to trace the Buller to its mouth, intending afterwards to still further explore the country further south, and ascertain the practicability of crossing the island in the direction of Otago or Akaroa. He engaged Ekehu, the Eangitani Maori, who had been his former travelling companion, and a friend of his Epike-wate, who were to receive their outfit and £5 each on their return. The Maoris' wives insisted upon page 101going with them, and so Mr. Brunner had to incur the additional expense of providing an outfit for them also. This curiously composed exploring expedition left Mr. Kerr's farm at Waimea on 4th December, 1846. They reached the Howard river on the 15th, where they stayed two days, all hands being more or less affected with dysentery. On the 18th they crossed the hill at the head of the Howard, and made the Rotorua Lake, about a mile from its outlet. They found the canoe left behind on the former visit, and in it they paddled to the head of the lake. They explored it, and found it entirely surrounded by a chain of snow-capped mountains, with a good-sized stream flowing into it from the southward. In the lake they found a fresh-water mussel abounding, called the Kaiehau, which, boiled with the roots of the raupo, makes a palatable dish, and is said to have been a favourite meal of the Chief Rauparaha. Mr. Brunner had a good deal of trouble with the Maori women. Epike's old wife was one day missing. They had to retrace their steps, and did not find her until evening, when she explained that she had been struck by the Taipo and did not know what she was doing. The party made their way to the Tiraumea, and here the two Maori women quarrelled and fought. Their husbands taking part in the combat, Mr. Brunner had some difficulty in reconciling them and persuading them to continue their journey. The weather was mostly wet, and their progress necessarily very slow. Their food consisted mainly of fern root, and sometimes the root of the cabbage tree. They were also fortunate enough to catch a good many upukororo, or fresh-water herring; these they salted and dried for future subsistence. Painfully and slowly they toiled through the rocky gorges of the Buller, sometimes only making a third of a mile a day. On the 9th March, Mr. Brunner suffered about two hours of most intense pain, and the next day the Maori women suffered in the same way. It was believed by Mr. Brunner to be a species of influenza. The natives tried a curious remedy, cutting themselves all about the painful parts with a sharp stone, and then bathing in the river. Next day they were worse, and the illness settled in the leg of one of them, so that she could hardly put her foot to the ground. It was the 4th of June before they reached the mouth of the Kawatiri, or Buller, and saw the Maori pa; but unfortunately found neither Maoris nor provisions. From here they walked to the Teremakau and Arahura. Space will unfortunately prevent full extracts being given from Mr. Brunner's intensely interesting diary. From Arahura he proceeded with some local natives across the Hokitika on to Okarito, and thence to Parika, about 80 miles further south than on his former expedition with Mr. Heaphy. He turned homewards, rejoining his Maori companions at Mawhera. They went up the Grey river and to the Lake, now so appropriately named after the hardy explorer, Lake Brunner. They re-page 102turned to and continued their journey up the Grey River, the shingle bed of which in many places abounded with coal, though of an inferior quality, to a very fine seam which the explorer had noticed on his journey up the river. (That seam has since become well known as the Brunner Mine.) Leaving the Grey they struck across country, crossing the Inangahua Saddle and following that river down to its junction with the Buller. Toiling slowly up the south bank of the Buller, with one of the Maoris very lame, and food exceedingly scarce, Mr. Brunner one night suddenly lost the entire use of one side, and in the morning could not move. He had the mortification of hearing one of his Maoris, Epike, propose to leave him, as he was too ill to recover, but Ekehu refused to leave him, and Epike and his wife started off by themselves. He was compelled to remain a week where he was, the woman kindly attending him, and Ekehu working hard to obtain food, of which he made him take the best. At length with the aid of a stick and Ekehu's hand, the intrepid explorer was able to crawl slowly along. They overtook Epike and his wife, who had been clearing the country of birds, so that there were none for Ekehu to catch. Fraser's place, in the Motueka Valley, was at length reached—a fact which Mr. Brunner records in these words:—"So thank God I am once more amongst civilized men, or which I have had many doubts during my illness, and this preyed much on my mind. It is a period of nearly five hundred and fifty days from the time I wished Fraser good-bye on the banks of the river Rotoiti, and my seeing him again at his house, during which time I have never heard a word of English save the broken jargon of Ekehu, and the echo of my own voice; and I rather felt astonished that I could both understand and speak English as well as ever."
Explorations in a south-easterly direction had been made with a view of discovering a short route to the Wairau from the Waimea, notably by Messrs. Fox, Goulter, Ward, and Redwood. No more available route than that by Tophouse was, however, discovered, and that was for years the regular route to the east and south.
Mr. Stephens also made an excursion, accompanied by Messrs. Fox, Renwick, Jollie, and Wells, from Nelson through Queen Charlotte's Sound and Waitohi Pass to the Wairau plain. They left on the 3rd March, 1845, and returned on foot by way of the Wairau Valley and the Tophouse on the 20th.
In March, 1846, Governor Grey visited Nelson. The local paper said his energy had won the confidence of the people, and his urbanity their hearts. He came again about a year after, and both newspaper and settlers declared him entitled to the warmest support. Within six months after that, the "Examiner" began to wail over unfulfilled promises. The settlement was declared to be utterly neglected. Referring to His Excellency, page 103the newspaper states:—"We have now waited so long for the things he led us to expect, that we begin to fear we shall never enjoy them." In April, 1847, Governor Grey completed the purchase, for £3000, of the Wairau, and shortly after the surveys were recommenced. During this year New Zealand was divided into two Provinces—the Southern one consisting of Wellington and the South Island. Sir George Grey was made Governor-in-Chief, and Mr. Edward Eyre, well-known as an Australian explorer, and afterwsrds as Governor of Jamacia, was appointed Lieut.-Governor of the Southern Province.
Towards the end of 1847, Mr. Donald Sinclair was presented with an address upon his retiring from the position of Resident Magistrate. He was succeeded by Major Richmond, who had also been appointed Superintendent. The working classes presented the latter with an address of welcome.
Mr. F. Dillon Bell, who came to the settlement in 1843 as agent for an influential number of land-owners, was, in 1847, appointed agent for the New Zealand Company at New Plymouth. Upon the occasion of his leaving Nelson he was entertained at a public dinner, which was attended by most of the leading men in the place.
Sir George Grey visited Nelson again in February, 1848. Whilst here he offered the post of Colonial Secretary to Mr. Domett, and that of Attorney-General for the Southern Province to Mr. Fox. These offers were accepted. At the same time he offered a Government appointment to the Hon. C. A. Dillon, which was also accepted, and that gentleman became not long afterwards Commissioner of Crown Lands.
Whilst on his last visit Governor Grey offered to re-instate those Magistrates who had resigned under threat of dismissal from Governor Fitzroy, for their conduct in issuing the warrant for the arrest of Rauparaha and Rangihaeta. This offer gave general satisfaction.
In January, of 1848, New Zealand was visited by a severe epidemic of influenza. The natives along the Coast suffered greatly. Those living at a distance from the sea seem to have been attacked by the disease in a much milder form.
The first selection of rural lands commenced on Monday, 27th March, 1848, six years since the town selection took place. Many selections were made in the Wairau, the surveys of which were now in a very forward state. The total acreage surveyed and allotted to the Company's purchasers in and near the Wairau amounted to 34,219 acres. Considerable tracts of country began to be occupied for depasturing purposes, but it was some time before licenses could be obtained. The Company granted licenses at first, but their right to do so was doubtful. At length Regulations were made under the authority of the Crown Lands Ordinance, Sess. x., No, 1, and the Amendment Ordinance, Sess. page 104xi., No. 10. The licenses were nominally for fourteen years, at an annual rental, but the Grown could re-enter at the end of any year without paying compensation for improvements. The result was that few improvements were made, and the absence of boundary fences led to much trouble—which was not removed until some time after, when the freehold of most of these licensed holdings was acquired under the Special Eegulations of 1853, known as Sir George Grey's Regulations.
The following is a correct list of the licenses granted in 1850 for runs in the Wairau, Waihopai, and Awatere:—G. Duppa, N. G. Morse, W. Adams, C. Christie, E. D. Sweet, C. F. W. Watts, G. W. Schroder, D. Monro, Joseph Ward, C. B. Wither, E. Dashwood, J. Alison, F. Witherby, W. L. Shepherd, F. Vickerman, R. K. Newcome, E. Fearon, A. J. Richmond, H. Bedborough, J. Tinline, G. McRae, T. Renwick, Wm. Robinson, F. A. Saunders, W. Atkinson, S. R. A. Nicholls, C. Goulter, E. W. Stafford, H. Redwood, S. Stephens, W. O. Cautley, E. Green, C. A. Dillon, W. McRae, junr., H. Godfrey, J. P. Taylor, J, Shaw, C. and F. Kelling, R. Ross, A. Domett, T. B. Haylock, A. S. Collins, J. F. Wilson, E. Buxton, E. Bolton, C. Elliott, Clara Macshane, James Cross, Elizabeth Smith, J. Staples, Wm. Wells, W. McRae, senr.
Messrs Clifford and Weld had also taken up and were occupying the Flaxbourne property—and there were others who held licenses from the Company, and some were merely squatters without any licenses, in various parts of the district.
The site upon which the Town of Blenheim now stands was called first of all "the Beaver," from the fact that when the surveyors first attempted to lay it off, they were compelled, owing to floods, to roost, like beavers, on logs and stumps of trees. The land was comprised in two rural sections (300 acres) allotted to Mr. Alfred Fell. This gentleman lost no time in getting it cut up into quarter-acre sections, and these were sold at a uniform price of £10 each.
The name was changed to Beavertown, and again to Blenheim. Despite floods, which roared ten feet deep down Collie's Hollow, dividing the township into two, the settlers manfully stuck to Beavertown. Waitohi (Picton) was decided upon as the port for tne district; but there was no road from the valley of the Wairau, and despite the intentions of the Company, the Government, and the landowners; the port of shipment was the "Boulder Bank," at the mouth of the Opawa River. To this the wool from the Awatere was brought by the sea beach, and here many a hard-earned cheque was dissolved by the shearers and bullock-drivsrs, when they came down for their annual "spree."
Mr. Dillon Bell returned to Nelson in 1848, and succeeded Mr. Fox as Resident Agent. Mr. Francis Jollie acted for a time in that capacity in 1848, and again in 1849, He rendered sig-page 105nal service in carrying out what were called the "Consolidation Awards" to the land purchasers, with Mr. Sclanders as umpire, These awards did not include the whole claim of the respective parties upon the Company; but by allowing them to consolidate their suburban and rural lands in a block, and to select it from the unallotted lands, they reaped material advantages. In addition to which, what was called compensation scrip, of the value of £150, was given to each selector as compensation for delay in settling his claim.
A large quantity of scrip available for the selection of land was thrown into the market, at prices varying from five to ten shillings in the pound. The holder of this scrip had very great advantages over a mere ready-money customer, for, in the first place, he could secure any particular tract of land without the annoyance and risk of competition to which the latter was subjected; and, in the next place, the scrip for which he had merely given five or ten shillings in the pound was worth as much as the sovereigns of the cash purchaser. The opportunity thus afforded to the working men was not lost. Scrip was purchased with avidity, and there was soon a considerable body in the settlement of peasant proprietors.
In the year 1846 a loan of £100,000 was guaranteed by Act of Parliament to the New Zealand Company. The application for this loan was founded on the expenses and losses of the Company, which were adduced as forming a valid claim on the Home Government; and although Lord Stanley, in 1845, positively refused to recognise any such claim, yet upon considerations of general policy, and principally on account of the large body of her Majesty's subjects, who had expended much of their own capital in forming settlements, in full reliance on the continuance of the Company's operations, her Majesty's Ministers agreed to recommend Parliament to grant the above loan. An additional sum of £136,000 was advanced in the following year to enable them to resume operations. These advances were secured by a mortgage of the Company's estates in the colony, then fixed at 1,074,483 acres of land. The Act of Parliament which authorised this further loan, enacted that it was to be applied, with the balance then unpaid of the £100,000 loan (amounting to £20,000) in the discharge of any charges or liabilities of the Company, and for the purposes of the Act.
The Company had admitted, in 1846, their liability to their Nelson settlers of £50,000, which ought therefore to have been discharged out of the money received under the above-mentioned Act. It was not paid, however. The Act of Parliament also provided that if at the end of three years from April, 1847, the Company found themselves unable to carry on their operations, they should be at liberty to surrender their charter; that all liability in respect of the loans and interest should then cease; and page 106that they should be entitled to receive out of the proceeds of all future sales of land in the colony the sum of £268,370 15s. (being at the rate of five shillings per acre for the 1,074,483 acres to which, on the 6th April, 1847, they were entitled), with interest at the rate of 3½ per cent. from the time of giving the notice of surrender. In 1850 the Company gave the notice of surrender. Thus matters stood until the passing of the Constitution Act. This Act, although hailed as a welcome instalment of the rights of the people was not altogether satisfactory to them, because amongst other causes for dissatisfaction it saddled them with this debt of £268,370 15s.
All disputes between the landowners and the Company were finally settled, as regards compensation, upon the following terms: —The Company expressed their willingness to afford any reasonable compensation in land, but absolutely refused that pecuniary recompense which many of the settlers were disposed to demand. On this basis the Company further compensated the holders of allotments (which, as we have seen, consisted each of a town acre, a suburban section of 50 acres, and a rural section of 150 acres) by surveying a new town at Waitohi (Picton), the site of which was chosen by the Nelson land purchasers themselves, and giving to each allotment holder a town section therein; and as regards the suburban and rural lands, the purchasers were allowed, as we have seen, in many instances to consolidate both descriptions of land in one block, and in every instance where the land was inferior in quality a larger (often a much larger) quantity was granted than purchased.
The purchase of Waitohi was completed by Mr. F. Dillon Bell, acting for the Company, on the 30th December, 1848.
Mr. Dillon Bell proceeded there in H.M.S. "Fly," having been invited by his Excellency the Governor to accompany him. They sailed on 28th December, and were fortunate in being able to make satisfactory terms with the natives. Sir George Grey rendered much valuable assistance in arranging matters. It was agreed that a new town should be surveyed for the natives at Waikawa, in a similar manner to the survey at Otaki. There were to be town lots, and sections outside the town for garden grounds and cultivations for the natives. The Company also agreed to plough the land outside the town, and to provide seed wheat for the land so ploughed, the quantity of ground ploughed to be equal to the quantity of ground then in cultivation by the natives at Waitohi. A wooden church was also to be erected "as a place of prayer to our Saviour: the Governor and Mr. Bell will build it within the town of Waikawa." So ran the agreement. Finally, to conclude the payment for Waitohi, a sum of one hundred pounds cash was paid.
This pleasing information was conveyed to Mr. Francis Jollie, at that time acting as agent for the Company at Nelson, page 107by a letter from Mr. F. Dillon Bell, dated 2nd January, 1849.
The land purchasers were, so far as their claims for compensation were concerned, at last satisfied; and the New Zealand Company, although seriously to blame in holding out alluring expectations to the original settlers without first ascertaining their ability to fulfil them, and the non-fulfilment of which was a source of great bitterness and disappointment, were at all events sincere and honest in their endeavours to afford liberally such compensation as it was in their power to give.
But there was another serious grievance, which dragged its slow length along, during several years, and was not so soon settled. The principal disadvantages of new settlements were known to be the absence of means for giving an adequate education to the children of early colonists, and the difficulty of communicating with other settlements and the world at large. The Nelson prospectus provided against these serious evils. Out of the funds received from the land-purchasers, £15,000 was to be set aside for a College, £20,000 towards the encouragement of steam navigation, and £15,000 for religious uses and endowments.
Years passed by, the Company expressed its willingness to surrender its charter, and was in a moribund condition, if not actually dead.
There was no College, or Collegiate school of any kind, nor any steamer or steamers. The sum of £5000 had been paid to the Bishop of New Zealand for Church of England purposes, and certain sums, but not all they were entitled to, to other denominations.
The whole sum of £15,000 for a College and £20,000 towards promoting Steam Navigation, was never realised, but about £11,000 towards the one and £9000 towards the other was paid to the Company at the very first; but instead of applying it to the purposes for which it was subscribed they expended it in some other way.
The Company having received the money and spent it, the only chance the land purchasers had of seeing it back again, to be applied to the purposes for which they had originally subscribed it, was by appealing to the Government, who had undertaken to pay the unfortunate Company's debts.
The position of the settlement with reference to the question may be thus shortly stated:—In July, 1847, acting on a proposal coming from the Company, a re-adjustment scheme was agreed to by the settlers, and in due course of time received the cordial assent and approval of the Company, with this reservation, however, as regarded the Trust Fund—that the administration should be transferred to a Board, provided the Company possessed or could obtain the necessary powers. In accordance with the arrangement thus made, the resolutions, so page 108far as they related to land were duly carried out, as we have seen by the allotment of compensation scrip, the purchase of Waitohi, and by a re-distribution of Nelson lands. But as regards the Trust Funds, the settlers, having received all sorts of evasive answers for a couple of years, were at length informed in the month of March, 1850, that the Company had no power to transfer its trust.
In the meantime, the settlers had proceeded to elect a Board—Messrs F. D. Bell and Francis Jollie being nominated by the Company—Messrs. J. Saxton and A. Fell were elected on behalf of absentee proprietors, and Messrs. Monro and Stephens on behalf of the resident landowners. A Board was thus called into existence for administering the Trust Funds. But, as already mentioned, the Company had by this time discovered that they could not transfer the Trust.
The land-owners were furious. They estimated that the funds due to them amounted to between £50,000 and £60,000, while the Company was know to have set apart only £25,000 as a sum "which may possibly be due".
They determined to place the matter in the hands of Mr. J. S. Tytler, one of the earliest Nelson settlers who had returned home, and was practising his profession as a Writer to the Signet in Edinburgh. An amicable arrangement was to be arrived at if possible—failing that Mr. Tytler was to take the best legal advice, and act accordingly.
Mr. Tytler was also informed that he would have the benefit of the advice of Mr. Henry Seymour, who had already left for England. "He has," they wrote, "kindly undertaken to see you on the matter of the Trust Funds, and you will probably derive much assistence from his advice and accurate knowledge of the various official documents bearing on the subject, as well as from his experience in everything which concerns this settlement. We trust that you will be enabled to have repeated meetings and conferences with this gentleman, whose sojourn in England will probably be of some months duration, and as his position as acting agent for the greater number of absentee proprietors of land in Nelson, will give him numerous opportunities of conferring with that body, and ascertaining their sentiments relative to the question at issue, it is hoped that your mutual efforts will tend greatly to facilitate the progress of a satisfactory adjustment of this momentous and perplexing question."
Mr. Tytler set to work with a will, and was ably supported by Messrs. Fox and Weld, who were then in England. The efforts made were successful, and on Christmas Day, 1851, the fine ship "Maori" came into Nelson harbour with Mr. Seymour on board, who brought the glad tidings that an Act had been passed by Parliament, by which it was agreed that the amount page 109of the Trust Funds due to Nelson should be ascertained by the Commissioners of the Treasury, and thereafter vested in a Local Board upon the original Trusts. Mr. Seymour was some time after presented by the land-owners with some valuable plate in recognition of his services.
The utter breakdown of the Company is not attributable to any deliberate fraud or dishonesty, as was too frequently and too freely attributed to the Directors by the labourers, who were misled by the glowing representations of the Emigration Agents, and by the landowners. Both these bodies had substantial grievances, all of which may be set down to the mistaken policy of the system upon which the settlement was founded. The Directors were fully persuaded that plenty of land for settlement was obtainable—they never contemplated the possibility of what actually occurred. The result was hard upon their purchasers and labourers, and it was ruin to the Company. No one out of a Lunatic Asylum would have acted as they did but for the belief that a thriving settlement could be established, which would be the home of prosperous and contented settlers, and at the same time prove profitable to the Company. They intended well, they failed hopelessly, they made what reparation they could. It was not long before, with the surrender of their charter and the taking over by the Government of their assets and liabilities, the Company ceased to exist.
Early in 1847 the branch of the Union Bank of Australia, which had been established in Nelson at the foundation of the settlement, was removed, and at the end of 1849 Nelson was still without a Bank. This operated very injuriously; there being no longer the means of paying for imports by bank drafts, a great quantity of ready coin went out of the place without any corresponding supply coming in. The metallic currency almost disappeared, and the circulation was practically restricted to the Union Bank notes still in the place. Messrs. Morrison and Sclanders opened a small Bank of Deposit, and issued notes to the amount of some thousands, which were freely taken by the public. It is evident, however, that unless the parties were, as in this instance, of undoubted respectability, there was a great temptation to an over issue, which might, in the long run, have proved disastrous to the settlement. There had never been much "bad paper" in Nelson, and though, at auction, a great deal was sold on three and six months bills, they were almost without exception retired at maturity, and the tradesmen seldom made bad debts. There was no Bank in Nelson from early in 1847 to the middle of 1853, when the Union Bank of Australia again opened a branch.
With regard to the flax industry it is not a little singular that after all the experiments that had been made in the place, page 110and the lavish expenditure of money by Europeans, the natives were still in 1849 the only producers of it in any quantity.
Mr. Fox resigned the Attorney-Generalship in October, 1848, in consequence of the Home Government having decided to suspend the Constitution Act for five years, and virtually leaving it to Sir George Grey to give or withhold representative institutions at his pleasure. Mr. Fox would only consent to hold office on the understanding that representative Councils would be given. The Governor declined giving any pledge, and Mr. Fox resigned. He addressed a stirring letter to the Nelson settlers, in which he exhorted them to be satisfied with no mutilated form of self-government, and reminding them that until they obtained bona fide representative Government, they would have no security for anything else.
A nominee Provincial Council for the Southern Province was established, and its sitting opened at Wellington. Messrs. H. Seymour, Greenwood, and Monro were the Nelson representatives. It by no means satisfied the aspirations of the people; and a monster petition was sent Home, in April, 1849, praying for real and not sham representative institutions.
Colonel Wakefield, the Principal Agent for the Company, died from apoplexy at Wellington in September, 1848. He paid several visits to Nelson, and one of his last acts was to arrange satisfactory terms for the settlement of the dispute between the land-owners and the Company.
On October 18, there was a severe shock of earthquake, which lasted several days. Much damage was done in Wellington, but with the exception of a few chimneys which were shaken down, there was little injury to property in Nelson, and no one was personally injured.
The foundation stone of the first Presbyterian Church was laid by the Rev. T. D. Nicholson on 22nd February, 1849. There was a large concourse of people, and the Episcopalian, Wesleyan Methodist, and Lutheran clergy were present. The church was opened for Divine worship on 24th December, 1849.
At the beginning of 1850 the total number of Europeans and natives in the Nelson settlement (including Wairoa, Waitohi, and Queen Charlotte Sound, which had been annexed to Nelson by Government purchases) was 4780. The total excess of births over deaths since the foundation of the settlement amounted to 821, or an annual average of about 103. The number of Europeans living within the Town boundary was 1297, and 2075 in the suburban and rural districts, giving 778 more people in the Country than in the Town. The value of the wheat and potato crop for 1849 was estimated at £26,000. The total value of the agricultural produce raised in the settlement during the eight years of its existence reached the sum of £121,786. But yet farming did not pay the gentlemen possessed of capital, who once were farming on a large scale, and were employers of labour on their own land, but had gradually been obliged to give it up and let it go into the hands of tenants or secondary purchasers, who could make it pay better than they could. The total value of stock of all kinds at the end of 1849 was nearly £80,000. The money value of the produce of the live stock for that year was £15,897, and the value of the meat supplied £8,000, which, taking the capital value at £80,000, gave a return of nearly 30 per cent. on the investment. Adding the agricultural to the pastoral returns, the result is, that the actual purchase or income of cultivation and live stock for 1849 was £50,588. In the three years, 1847-8-9, produce to the value of £14,400 was exported coastwise, chiefly to Wellington, of which amount £2,123 was for ale and beer, and £3,708 for flour. It is remarkable how, since 1846, the settlement had, from importing flour, become an exporter of it. The export of timber since 1846 amounted to 618,000 feet, and the wool during the same period to 144,900lbs. weight and £5,390 value, of which £2,258 was for 1849 alone.
In June, 1850, the foundation stone of Christ Church was laid by the Rev. H. F. Butt. The designs were furnished by the Rev. F. Thatcher, of Auckland. It was opened on Christmas Day, 1851, by Bishop Selwyn. On that occasion the page 112Presbyterians and Wesleyans closed their Churches in order to take part in the services. This was another instance of the good-will which had always existed among the various denominations, and which exists still.
Early in 1851, the late Sir Frederick Weld, G.C.M.G., made some arduous and important explorations, travelling under many difficulties through the then unknown and difficult country between the Wairau and Port Cooper.
Increased demand for the produce of the settlement owing to the gold discoveries in Victoria in 1851 and 1852, conferred considerable benefit on the settlers. Fortunately few people left for the new El Dorado, although some, attracted by the exciting reports of rich finds, which from time to time reached the place, left to try their fortunes at the Australian diggings. This gold rush also had the effect of inducing a few to search for the precious metal in different parts of this settlement, but with no immediate success.
Nelson, with tantalising quantities of minerals, has been singularly unfortunate in endeavoring to work them. The fate of the first Coal Mining Company, formed in 1852, to work the coal at Pakawau, although brought out under the direction of some of the best men in the place, was not a success. It was the first of several similar adventures, most of which have proved equally unfortunate.
The first attempt at cloth-weaving was made by the late Mr. Thomas Blick in 1847-8. He had a good deal of trouble to get his loom built, but encouraged by several of the old settlers he persevered. The loom was principally constructed of wood, and bamboo split into reeds. The loom being built, the next thing was to get the wool spun into yarn. Fortunately some of the German immigrants had brought some of their spinning wheels with them from the Fatherland, and were very glad to turn them to use. A smart woman could spin about 1lb. of yarn in a day, for which she earned a shilling—and in those hard times was very thankful for it. The cloth produced was good strong stuff, although rather rough, but it sold well, and was worn by most of the gentry in the place. But times changed, and the Germans would no longer work for a shilling a day, and in consequence of this, and the heavy expense of handweaving, Mr. Blick was obliged to discontinue for a time. In 1858 he began again, enlarging his apparatus, which was now worked by a bullock, but to fulfill his desire to manufacture cloth in sufficient quantities to supply all Nelson, he utilised a small stream in Brook-street Valley, and erected an over-shot wheel of thirty feet diameter; the machinery was also added to by purchases from Sydney, and an article was turned out which, under the name of "Nelson Cloth," gained a good reputation. Mr. Blick died in November, 1860.