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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 55

Sir J. Vogel on the Settlement of the Land

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Sir J. Vogel on the Settlement of the Land.


The following extract from a letter of Sir Julius Vogel to a prominent citizen in Christchurch is published in the evening paper:—

A subject on which I have been constantly thinking during the past few weeks is, How can settlement be best; promoted? I have twice tried to put apart large area for special settlement. First, I proposed a railway estate, but the proposition was not entertained. Secondly, I carried into effect a measure providing for setting apart a large forest area. This was upset immediately after I retired from office. I regard the disturbance of this plan with unmingled regret. Throughout Europe the forest populations are amongst the happiest and best-employed. My forest scheme would have led to the location and employment of a numerous population. Mr Mac[unclear: an]drew subsequently proposed a large railway estate, and had he remained in power I believe he would have carried out an advantageous scheme. He possesses those qualities of large hearted sympathy and breadth of view, the want of which made Mr Rollo ton unable to give effect to successful settlement. I think, in connection with railways now to be constructed, large areas should be set apart, and that they should be settled on a liberal and comprehensive basis. I think the exact plan should be referred to a select committee to determine, but I may point out the general features of a scheme which seems to me to promise the most success The object to be kept in view is to locate a large number of families, with holdings of from 100 to 500 acres, according to the quality of land. I would endeavour, while settlement was filling up, to establish an individual profit and a profit in common of a co-operative character, very much like the old Otago hundred system, only that the settlers should share the profits of grazing operations. These settlements should be self-governed, and arrangements should he made to enable the collective community to obtain money for improvements at about 5 per cent. Five thousand families In the Colony, and 5000 families of now arrivals could, I am convinced, under a plan of this kind be made happy and prosperous, whilst tin railway estates would yield in the end large results to recoup the cost of railways. If a system can be worked out by which individual owner ship and co-operative enterprise can be made to jointly aid each other, it will be susceptible of larger application than to the railway settlement. It may be made applicable to communities of farmers, much to the reduction of the burden under which they labour. You already know my views in favour of separate management by non-political boards of the railways in tin two Islands; of strengthening local government; of promoting local industries; and you are aware also that I prefer a land tax to a property tax. With regard to strengthening local government (decentralisation, as it is called), I am quite convinced that In doing so lies the best hope of true economy. As long as the local bodies have to trust only to Wellington they try to got as much expenditure as possible. If the power and the expenditure rested with them they would be as anxious for economy as they are now indifferent to it.