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Historical Records of New Zealand

Some Observations on a Bill for admitting the produce of New South Wales to entry at the Customs-house of the United Kingdom.* (Banks Papers.)

Some Observations on a Bill for admitting the produce of New South Wales to entry at the Customs-house of the United Kingdom.* (Banks Papers.)

7th July, 1806.

Will it not be better, instead of the doubtful phrase of “Australasia“ or “New South Wales,“ terms certainly not synonomous, and which seem to cover some secret claims, to say plainly “His Majesty’s colonies, &c., of New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land ″? This puts in a claim for the territorial possession of Van Diemen’s Land, and leaves the greatest part of New Holland, as it ought to be left, open to the enterprise of any European nation who may venture in time of peace to make a settlement there, under a moral certainty of its falling into our hands in the event of war. The territorial possession of Van Diemen’s Land is worth asserting, and, as we have now two settlements upon it—one on the north and the other on the south side—may with some color of justice be maintained, and it will in time become a most valuable nursery for seals if other nations can be prevented from robbing the seal harbours when a stock of seals has accumulated in them.

The north and south limits assigned by the Bill to the lands, the produce of which may be legally brought to England, deserve consideration. Some sea room should be allowed to our enter-

* These observations are in the handwriting of Sir Joseph Banks.

page 277 prising
colonists in case they choose to circumnavigate the northern point of the third continent. The southern passages of Torres Straits are very shallow. To the northward there is deeper water. The ninth degree of south lat. is therefore submitted as the northern limit in the place of 10° 37′. It opens no additional prospect to the colonists of visiting our European settlements, but facilitates considerably the investigation of the northern, and probably the most interesting, parts of New Holland.

Why any southern boundary should be set to the enterprise of our successful sealers does not appear. The limit proposed by the bill of 43° 9′ S. will prevent them from visiting the south part of New Zealand, where treasures of seal-skins and oil have been accumulating for ages, and the little island of Penantipode, which has furnished 30,000 of the seal-skins and a proportionate quantity of the seal oil laden on board the expected ship which their Lordships have been graciously pleased to admit to an entry here, to the no small encouragement of the southern fishery. Besides, it is surely probable that the Antarctic, as well as the Arctic, regions produce whales and other sea monsters beneficial to fishermen, which may be made a source of profit to our new settlers, but cannot be advantageously fished for by any other Englishmen.

Will it be necessary to enact anything relative to the registration of ships built in New South Wales, either by an act of Government there or on their arrival in England, if furnished with proper certificates, or do the present navigation laws attach upon His Majesty’s territories there as soon as they are declared to be colonies? Timber costs nothing there, and ship timber of excellent quality is believed to exist on the coast, not far to the north of our settlements. Ships will in consequence be soon built there, notwithstanding the high price that labor must for some time continue to bear. If the masts sent home and fixed in the Sydney prove good—and we are told that she herself has a——* mast standing in her cut in that country— the probability of ship-building becoming a trade there will be much increased.

Is it necessary in this Bill to make any provision for the prevention of American intercourse with our infant colonies? If the existing laws are sufficient for that purpose, instructions ought to be sent to the Governor to enforce them with severity. The mischief the Americans have done by stealing convicts from Sydney, and when they found them useless or mischievous by landing them on the South Sea Islands, is almost incal-

* Blank in the original.

page 278 culable
. Otaheite is said to be at present in the hands of about 100 white men, chiefly English convicts, who lend their assistance as warriors to the chief, whoever he may be, who offers them the most acceptable wages, payable in women, hogs, &c.; and we are told that these banditti have by the introduction of diseases, by devastation, murther, and all kinds of European barbarism, reduced the population of that once interesting island to less than one-tenth of what it was when the Endeavor visited it in 1768. Surely these people will, if not otherwise provided for, soon become buccaneers and pirates.