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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 55

The South Sea Trading Company

The South Sea Trading Company.

It is trade and commerce that I look to, and it is to me matter of the greatest possible surprise why the people of Auckland have not responded to the attempts I have twice made for securing to this colony, and to this port in particular, the great trade of the South Sea Inlands. Twice I have proposed the establishment of a trading company for this purpose, and twice has the proposal been rejected by the Legislature. (Applause.) It is nearly ten years since I made the first proposal, and I am able to say that men in high authority and of great judgment were willing to admit—I am not speaking of any persons who are here, but; of men in Great Britain—that if the measure which I proposed in 1874 had been carried into effect, none of these native difficulties which have been the source of much trouble during the last eighteen months, would have arisen at all. And yet when last session the Government came down with a proposal to renew this intention of page break establishing a trading company, it was to my great surprise that I found that I did not receive the support of the members of the Auckland province. The vast importance of the subject cannot be underrated. When we see that great nations like France and Germany are ready to go to war over the annexation of these islands, can we not see that they have perceived how vast is the trade which in the future will spring up in connection with these islands, tor a considerable amount of their productions there would be a convenient market in a country like New Zealand, and in its turn this colony would give of its own productions for the purpose of securing for manufacture raw products of the islands. You may depend upon it that if nations so distant as those I have mentioned are anxious to obtain a footing in the South Pacific, it is not wise in us to be indifferent on the subject. When I asked the reason of the opposition that was offered to my scheme, I was told that the Auckland members opposed it, first—because they thought it might interference with some of the existing interests; and next, that they were not sure that the whole of the business would be brought to Auckland. Well now, gentlemen, it seems to me that the last is a mere geographical question which may be satisfied by looking on the map at the relative positions of the Islands and New Zealand. And with regard to the other I contend that one of the first measures to be propose ! was to acquire the existing interests of this colony with the view of extending them on a much larger scale over the Islands of the Pacific. I am convinced of this that if we once attempted to acquire the trade of the Islands we should be and ought to be more successful in that respect than they have been in New South Wales, and yet it is a fact that the trade between New Zealand and the Islands for five years amounted to only £560,000. while between New South Wales and the Islands it amounted to over three millions. Gentlemen, I will not any further dwell on this subject, beyond saying that, as Germany is establishing immense trading stations in remote islands, such as New Britain, New Ireland and New Guinea, and that as France is equally active in those islands which owe allegiance to her. I am convinced that the trade is of such importance that I can appeal with confidence to the people of Auckland not to be indifferent to it, and I ask them to look dispassionately a the whole question. I am sure that the Government will not force the matter upon them. I told the Auckland members that if they did not see it to be their advantage to support the measure that the Government would not force it upon them, and that Parliament would not pass it. I say that when we notice the energy which is being displayed by the nations of Europe in the advancement of their colonial interests and in the promotion of trade, we should not be indifferent as to our relations with these islands. The Government was prepared to help the people. When Bismarck was asked by the Home authorities lately what course he proposed to adopt in South Africa in regard to Angra Pequena, he answered "The same course as you adopted with regard to North Borneo." And what was that but the establishment of commerce by means of a large chartered company. I could not in justice to myself make a smaller reference to this question, and I hope it is one that will be considered.