The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 62
No. 2. President's Address — Delivered Before the Canterbury Chamber of Commerce, August 1889
No. 2. President's Address
Delivered Before the Canterbury Chamber of Commerce, August 1889.
The President, Mr. A. Kaye, said—
Gentlemen,—In rising to move the adoption of the annual report and balance-sheet, I realise that the events of the past year have fully borne out the hopeful and well-grounded anticipations which specially characterised the address of my predecessor in office, and which made at the time such a favourable impression on the public. Owing probably to the desire of demonstrating that our returning prosperity was an indisputable fact, greater attention and more publicity have, in the interim, been given to statistical returns, rendering it somewhat difficult to bring before you fresh figures and views that will be of use and interest; still the importance of the subject must be my excuse for possible tediousness while I seek to prove that the colony has made steady and decided progress, and emerged from that depression which has clogged the wheels of her trade for so long.
|Quarter ending 30th September||1,302,057||1,118,739|
|Quarter ending 3181 December||2,055,328||1,686,736|
|Quarter ending 31st March||3,117,734||2,983,630|
|Quarter ending 30th June||2,214,249||1,426,250|
|To end of June 1888-June 1889.||1887-1888.||Increase.|
|Flour, bran, and sharps tons||24,103||160,681||11,051||42,607||13,052||118,074|
|Frozen meat cwts.||616,416||736,116||462,947||494,802||153,469||241,314|
|Preserved meats Salted beef cwts.||67,497||122,380||57,694||97,841||9,803||24,539|
|Coal tons 84,057||82,575||52,926||49,821||31,131||32,754|
|Timber—sawn and hewn feet||45,417,227||183,224||36,090,551||146,345||9,326,676||36,879|
If we further analyse these figures, we are at once struck with the extraordinary expansion of the trade in the following exports:—Wool, grain, flax, and frozen meat, which I propose to deal with seriatim.
Some apprehension has been felt that, owing to disastrous snowstorms in the spring of the last year, more severely experienced in the Mackenzie country, and increased attention which our fanners have given to cropping, the returns for the present year (i.e., ending June) would show less favourably than usual, but the contrary is the case, as the increase of 4,699,041 lbs. in weight, and of 302,402l. in value, abundantly testify, to which must be added the 4,079,563 lbs. consumed in New Zealand mills, an increase of 100 per cent, on previous returns.
The incentive to breed crossbred sheep to meet the demands of the frozen mutton trade has happily resulted in the growers finding their page 11 returns augmented, owing to the enhanced value of this class of wool in the markets of the world.
|Total wool from Victoria||353,400||311,200||352,600 Bales.|
|Total wool from New Zealand||183,200||237,400||265,800 Bales.|
|Total crossbred wool from Victoria||93,500||75,000||54,200 Bales.|
|Total crossbred wool from New Zealand||91,500||127,000||171,000 Bales.|
The steady advance on the one hand, and equally steady decline on the other, is most marked, and buyers from America, Europe, and Australia, in their eagerness to overtake the increasing demand for this particular class of wool, have noted the change, and by their attendance at our local sales have materially helped to improve values.
The advantage is not likely to be a transient one, as, according to the Australasian, by a recent ruling of the United States Customs authorities as regards the classification of worsted goods, it has been decided that worsted goods will be hereafter classified as woollens, and pay duty on the higher scale, though worsted yarns will continue to come in at the old rate. The natural effect will be to stimulate the demand for very fine crossbred wools, which should be very satisfactory news to New Zealand growers.
It may not be out of place here to note that the requirements of the United States are likely to become enormous, and in view of the well-authenticated facts that the wool production there has about reached its maximum, that the consumption per head in the States is the largest in the world, their requirements for wool being more than is now being produced in the whole of Australasia in two years, it follows that that country's probable necessities are of the deepest moment in the consideration of our wool trade. So far the wool imported into the States for the enormous carpet trade has consisted chiefly of East Indian and Russian varieties, but inquiries have reached both Melbourne and New Zealand markets as to the possibilities of buyers being able to effect purchases of the rough, coarse crossbred wools carpet manufacturers require. Members will at once see what an important factor this is in the consideration of the increased cultivation of crossbred sheep; not only do they make the most profitable "freezers," but their wool is likely to find a ready outlet at remunerative prices.
Thus it will be seen possible markets have been steadily taken advantage of with very beneficial results. It is very interesting to note the proportion of wheat exported to the United Kingdom and Australia respectively as compared with last year.
|Year ending June.||United Kingdom.||Australia.|
Showing a wonderful expansion in this trade, especially to Australia, as, while the ratio of increase to the United Kingdom has advanced nearly 4¾ times, the increase to Australia exceeds 18½ times; or, if we take the value, we find about the same proportionate advance as in the quantity sent away to the United Kingdom, but to Australia the value exported is fully 25 times more than went forward in 1887-8. This latter feature is undoubtedly highly satisfactory, seeing that it must be to our advantage to cultivate the nearer markets of the sister colonies as often affording the best prices with the quickest returns.
It is generally admitted that the United States have about reached the maximum limit of the quantity of wheat they will annually have available for export to foreign countries; hence with the increasing population of Australia, the comparatively contracted areas in which wheat growing can be prosecuted to payable advantage,; considered with the uncertainties and variableness of its climate, we may reasonably look for frequent periods when we shall have large outlets in that direction, at prices more payable than will pro- page 12 bably be found in Europe. That New Zealand is in a very superior position to meet such demands through the productiveness of her soil, is shown in the average yield of wheat per acre in the Australasian colonies for the years ending 31st March, 1874-1889.
|N. S. Wales||1,450,503||109,931||36,760||1,597,194|
|Total for Australia||16,616,214||3,002,793||1,359,228||20,978,235|
|Balance in favour of New Zealand||171,613|
|Victoria.||New South Wales.||Queensland.||South Austraia.||Western Australia.||Tasmanli.||New Zealand.|
The fact is observed in the "Victorian Year Book" that "the average produce of wheat, oats, barley, and potatoes, is much the highest in New Zealand," and were we to add the mean for 1888-9 we should still further distance our friendly competitors. 'Twere easy to multiply figures on the wonderful productiveness of New Zealand soil, but enough has surely been said for this occasion to show the unique position New Zealand ' occupies amongst these great grain communities of Australasia. And this position should be especially pleasing to us, seeing that out of the total area in cereals throughout the colony for the past year of 793,866 acres, 402,307 acres belong to Canterbury province. One of the most striking features of the year under review has been the excellent quality of the grain marketed, which should go a long way towards overcoming the prejudice that exists in some quarters against New Zealand production. Thanks to our system of farming, we ship our grain much cleaner than is the case with shipments from Australia, or almost any part of the world; but we shall never obtain that perfection which will meet with the views of our foreign consumers, until we grade our numerous varieties into standard qualities. At the outset this would probably mean increased cost to growers, but it would undoubtedly pay in the end by the enhanced values that our recognised standards would secure. Too much stress cannot be laid on this question of quality, as we hear of really medium wheats being often offered in other markets as prime New Zealand milling, which must work out detrimentally to our best interests.
A new impetus was given to this trade by the scarcity of Manila hemp in the European and American markets, and consequent advance in the prices. This was quickly followed by large orders received in New Zealand from the United States, for binder-twine purposes. These have page 13 gone on increasing, so that the exports for the first half of the current year are larger than any whole year since 1883, viz. 6,025 tons, of the value of 132,821l., and there is every reason to believe that the demand will strengthen as the quality becomes better known and appreciated. Since the adoption of twine for binding up has become so general, considerable trade has been done in the colony in the manufacture of fibre into twine, resulting so favourably that it seems hardly reasonable to continue to import twine that can be as well made here.
|Year ending 31st Dec.||Frozen Mutton (including Lamb).||Frozen Beef (included with Sheep).|
Considerable attention has naturally been directed in ascertaining to what extent this heavy drain on our flocks has affected their numerical strength. From the sheep returns for the whole colony, which are not available till fully a year after the date to which they are compiled, we find the total number of sheep given on 31st May, 1888, as 15,042,198, as against 15,155,626, showing a decrease of 113,428 sheep. This decrease can be accounted for by the larger area devoted to crops, and to the severe culling which was practised throughout the colony owing to the dry summer of 1888, but chiefly to the largely increased export during that year.
|North Canterbury.||South Canterbury.|
|May 31st, 1889||2,927,835||1,666,742|
|May 31st, 1888||2,899,675||1,696,821|
|Total Number in Canterbury.|
|May 31st, 1889||4,594,577|
|May 31st, 1888||4,596,496|
It will be observed that there is a decrease in the flocks south of the Rangitata. This is mainly due to the heavy losses occasioned by the severe snowstorm of last spring. The pleasing side of these returns lies in the fact that North Canterbury flocks have not suffered by the weather, nor from the demand for "freezers," for we are proud of the position that North Canterbury crossbred mutton occupies to-day in the London market as being par excellence the choicest and most palatable of any frozen meat imported into the Old Country from any part of the world, and it is therefore a matter of congratulation that we have not as yet overstrained this important source of supply; and it is to be hoped that North Canterbury will long retain its premier position, which can only be done by a strict and observant oversight on the part of those who have the selection of the sheep for the slaughter pens, so that none go forward but what are in the pink of condition. The exports of frozen meat for the colony for the first six months of the present year are 312,941 cwt., of the value of 342,398l., "and satisfactory as the increase is, it would have been far greater but for the calamitous fire at the Belfast Freezing Works in December last, which, taking a low estimate, has probably diminished the number of carcases exported by fully 100,000. Taking into account the exceptional prices which have ruled in London, this possibly represents a loss of profit of 50,000l. to the district. Though the loss is so great, the accident has resulted in far more commodious and capacious stores, as well as extra engine power, being erected, with a possible annual working capacity of nearly 400,000 carcases. As a further outcome, large works have been erected on the South line of railway at Islington, with a present working capacity of 200,000 carcases, but with accommodation for 600,000 carcases per annum, provided additional steam power be supplied; therefore the measures taken by the shipping companies to provide extra carrying capacity are well timed, so that the immediate future of this thriving industry has been thoughtfully and wisely provided for. The boom that occurred in the Home market in May-June, due to the sudden contraction of Continental supplies and the sharp advance in prices, and speedy clearance of all stocks held, indicate that the barrier of prejudice against meat frozen is gradually and surely being broken down. The long-wished-for time has come that sales are able to be mode on a cost, freight, and insurance basis, whereby growers' and shippers' actual liability for loss, when once the meat is aboard and insured, ceases. Already large transactions have been completed on this basis. These facts tend to show the day is not far distant—nay, may we not say has arrived?—when this valuable commodity will be recognised as a very important factor in the meat supplies of the Old Country, as witness the reported sudden leap in prices, owing to the stoppage of supplies through the London docks strike. Time will not permit me to more than briefly refer to one or two more of the many other products which have all conduced to make up such a grand list of exports, bearing out what was well said in a leader in the Argus last year, "that the immediate prosperity of New Zealand will not be from her rich coal beds nor from her goldfields, but frompage break
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