London: Waterlow and Sons Limited, London Wall. 1893.
It is particularly gratifying to me to be one of the earliest to read a paper in this building which is destined, I believe, for a period to which no limit can be set, to hold the records of the advancement and unity of a great nation. No happier idea than the Institute could have been devised for impressing on future generations a sense of the extent to which the Queen Empress has endeared herself to her people. Situated at the very heart of the Empire, in the greatest and most populous city the world has probably ever known, the Imperial Institute holds out a welcome hand to every possession of the Crown. It is too early yet to even imagine all the services the Institute may render in the future, but I venture to express the hope that it will continue to be an enduring symbol of the unity of many countries combined into one nation—great and powerful, not only or chiefly because of its wealth, but because of the freedom and happiness of its people. Already the usefulness of the Institute to particular Colonies has been made manifest. The exhibits from New Zealand have attracted considerable attention from a large number of visitors. The Colony will be able from time to time to give fresh evidences of its resources, and of the progress of its development. The Colonists will benefit by the impetus which a knowledge of the Colony's capabilities will give to the influx of suitable population and of capital available for industrial investments. In course of time this splendid building will probably become a pocket edition of the whole Empire. I venture to think that the small cost to the various dominions will be many times paid by the results.
The First Discovery of New Zealand.
New Zealand is essentially a production of the Victorian era. It was during the present reign that its sovereignty was acquired, and that it was page 4 constituted into a British Colony. Its existence, however, was long previously known. The first authentic record of its discovery was Tasman's visit to the North Island in 1642, although, from maps and other evidence, it is believed that a Dutchman visited the Islands two years previously, and that Juan Fernandez made their acquaintance in 1576. One hundred and twenty-seven years elapsed before the Islands were again visited in 1769, this time by Captain Cook. He landed at Poverty Bay and remained six months in and around the country, and he again visited it on two subsequent occasions. During the earlier part of the present century the Islands were constantly resorted to by whalers, and from time to time Europeans landed and remained on shore. For many years there were continual and fierce struggles between the white visitors and the natives, the respective blame for which it is not easy to determine.
New Zealand Becomes a British Colony.
In 1839 Mr. Edward Gibbon Wakefield, acting with the New Zealand Company, sent out an expedition to make preliminary arrangements for a settlement. Land was acquired at Port Nicholson, on the shore of Cook's Straits. The pioneer body of immigrants arrived on the 22nd January, 1840. Thus was the first regular settlement formed at Wellington.
Meanwhile, under quite separate auspices, it was determined to proclaim the sovereignty of the Queen over the Islands. Captain Hobson, R.N., was sent out, and arrived at the Bay of Islands just a week after the first immigrants reached Wellington. The celebrated Treaty of Waitangi between the Queen and a number of native chiefs was arranged in February of the same year, 1840. Under a liberal reading of its provisions and as regards the Middle Island, on the ground of discovery, the Queen assumed the sovereignty over the Islands. New Zealand was then declared a dependency of New South Wales, but on the 3rd March, 1841, it was constituted a separate colony, and Captain Hobson became the first Governor.
I have rapidly gone over this earlier history, and with great difficulty have managed to condense it to the limits I have employed. Let me here say that information about the Colonies is so unequally distributed that I am quite unable to determine how many of my audience have no knowledge of New Zealand and how many know a great deal more about it than I do, and are better fitted to take my place. As it is impossible for me to discriminate, I can only ask the kind indulgence of those to whom my statements are twice-told tales. I have this in my favour, that the aggregate amount of information has become so greatly in excess of human receptivity that it mostly passes through the mind as through a sieve. As a rule, I should think it would be quite safe for an editor to republish a newspaper at the end of six months with the comfortable conviction that fully half his readers would consider it the latest special edition.
New Zealand's Extent and Position.
At any rate, I must, before resuming my narrative, utter a few words of description on the subject of my discourse. The Colony of New Zealand possesses an area of about 104,000 square miles, and is therefore a little less in extent than Great Britain and Ireland. The length of the three Islands, including the narrow straits that divide them, is about 1,100 miles, nearly due north and south, the breadth is from 46 to 250 miles, with an average of about 140 miles, but no part is anywhere more than 75 miles from the sea. Attached to New Zealand as dependencies are several groups of islands. They are some hundreds of miles distant, in different directions, but their total extent is insignificant. There is no great area of land north of New Zealand until North Asia or North America, somewhere about Behring's Straits, is reached. No land worth mentioning to the east until South America is gained, and it is impossible to say how far the Antarctic Continent (if there is one) lies to the south. The nearest continent is Australia to the west about 1,000 miles distant. There is thus no civilised country of any extent so isolated as New Zealand, and the fact of this isolation has had a great influence, and will probably have a much greater one in the future on the character and modes of thought of the Colonists. The obvious effect is to inculcate self-reliance, and a disposition to determine what they consider best for themselves without much deference to the opinions of the peoples whose countries are divided from their neighbours by narrow water-ways or arbitrary lines.
New Zealand's Physical Features.
As a country, New Zealand is wonderfully fertile and rich in resources. Its climate is most serviceable. There is plenty of wind and rain, and also magnificent sunshine. Every day in the year is suitable for human uses. Covering so large an extent north and south, there is naturally a great variation of temperature, but there are no extremes of heat and cold. Its natural features are wonderfully diversified. Its fiords, its lakes, its rivers, its waterfalls, its glaciers, its mountains, its hot springs, its marked variety of volcanic effects of past ages, its graceful woods, its pleasant peaceful fertile plains and valleys, make it, on the whole, the tourists' paradise. They have to go to many countries to see all the varieties of the earth's surface which are gathered together within the narrow limits of these small Islands in the Pacific Ocean.
It would be wrong to regard the Maoris as a naturally ferocious and savage race. They are very brave, and it has often been said they are born soldiers. Trees become fortresses in their hands. If they believe they are right in any conclusions they come to, fighting is their first and flight their page 6 last impulse. It is by no means the case, however, that their conclusions are always right. Before the British Sovereignty was declared the probability is that in most cases of disturbance the aborigines were not amenable to more blame than the Europeans with whom they came in contact. Since the Colony was constituted, there certainly has been no desire to deal harshly with them. Many of the most serious difficulties arose from misunderstandings on both sides. Hosts of mistakes were committed by the Imperial Authorities as was necessarily the case as long as they insisted on governing from Downing Street. Much trouble has arisen from direct land dealing by individuals with the natives. It is, I believe, unfortunate that the preemptive right of the Government to acquire land from the natives conceded by the Treaty of Waitangi was subsequently surrendered. When the Public Works Policy on a large scale was brought into force preemption to a limited extent had again to be insisted on to meet the difficulty of the unearned increment, or as it is now hideously termed "betterment," arising from the improved value of property consequent upon the expenditure of money, not by the owner but by other people. For the rest the natives arc a fervid, imaginative and singularly intelligent race, endowed with many great qualities. It will be a profound misfortune if a civilised remnant of them do not survive to once more grow into a numerous race.
From the Proclamation of the Colony to the Grant of the Constitution Act.
The Colony was at first virtually under the entire control of the Governor, but in 1853 a new constitution, passed by the Imperial Parliament, was brought into force. The Constitution Act was framed according to a plan devised by Sir George Grey. It gave to the Colonists full representative powers, even to the extent of altering and amending most of the provisions of the Act itself. Reservations were, however, made concerning the control of native affairs. The most remarkable feature of the Constitution, and one which in these days of abortive attempts in the same direction must command universal admiration for the genius of its devisor, Sir George Grey, was the gift to the provinces of separate local governments, endowed with large powers, but subject to the control of the Colonial Government.
|Wellington, founded in||1840|
|Auckland, founded in||1840-41|
|New Plymouth, founded in||1841|
|Nelson, founded in||1841|
|Otago, founded in||1848|
|Canterbury, founded in||1850|
|Hawkes Bay, carved out of Wellington in||1858|
|Marlborough, Bay, carved out of Nelson in||1859-60|
|Southland, Bay, carved out of Otago in||1861|
|Westland, Bay, carved out of Canterbury in||1868|
|1st.||—The disparity of means and condition of the provinces, chiefly occasioned by the deadening influence of native difficulties, and the large quantity of land which in consequence was shut out from settlement.|
|2nd.||—The interference with the colonial system of public works to which 1 shall refer later. The fact was that some of the provinces—eager young giants in the way of progress—were not contented with the efforts of the whole Colony, but desired to supplement them by extensive works of their own, entailing financial rivalry.|
The revenues of the Colony in short could not stand the provincial system contemporaneously with the large colonial prosecution of public works. It, however, played a splendid part in New Zealand's advancement. Without it there would have been little colonization; probably everything would have been frittered away under Imperial control in disputes with the natives. I am much mistaken if the last has been heard of the provincial system, it may be resumed some day with modifications which would not require to be of a serious character.
The Colonial Government Period From 1853 to 1870.
The Colonial Government period, between the Constitution coming into force and the year 1870, was one of great trial and endurance, but certainly not because of the faults of those who had charge of affairs. Personally knowing as I did most of the public men of New Zealand, with a good opportunity of judging their work, and remembering how many of them have passed away, I may be permitted to express the opinion that not a few of those who had the charge of affairs during the period I am alluding to, were men of brilliant abilities fitted to take their place as statesmen in any part of the world, aye, even in the United Kingdom itself. But what could they do with a mockery of power and a reality of powerlessness? I need not go far to confirm my words. Allow me to quote a few remarks made by Mr. Gladstone during a recent debate.page 8
"But the right hon. gentlemen, if I may say so, has been a little too sweeping in his condemnation of the policy of committing to Colonists in a foreign land the regulation of their relations with the Aboriginal inhabitants. It is not true that that has always been an unfortunate course of policy. On the contrary, there is the conspicuous instance of New Zealand where, as long as this country insisted on managing the military concerns of the Colony and the relations of the Colony with the Aborigines, there were, I will not say incessant, but very frequent, sometimes disastrous, thoroughly unsatisfactory wars, and they continually reproduced one another. The simple transfer of responsibility to the Colonists of New Zealand entirely changed the whole state of the case, and since that time the relations between the Colonists and the Aborigines have presented no painful feature of a violent nature except, unfortunately, the painful feature so common—that in cases of the kind, there appears to be a silent dwindling of the Aboriginal race, ending in its extinction."
In fairness, I have quoted the last three lines, but it is only right to remark that, of an estimated population in 1820 of 100,000 natives, it was computed that only about 40,000 remained in 1870, when the transfer to which Mr. Gladstone refers took place, and the last estimate of the Maoris living at the end of 1891 was 41,900. Otherwise the Prime Minister's words are open to no exception. I hope the Agent-General lost no time, after the delivery of those remarks, in calling upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and suggesting to him the equity of handing to New Zealand the few millions of money the Colony had admittedly lost by Downing Street interference.
Transfer of Responsibility to the Colonists.
In using the expression "transfer of responsibility," Mr. Gladstone euphemistically describes the sudden imperative withdrawal of the Imperial troops in 1870, at a time when war with the natives was proceeding on both sides of the North Island. There is a modern phrase which more aptly describes what took place. "Scuttled" is the word that would now be used. That the Colonists proved equal to the task they had to undertake was no excuse for the way in which the obligation was flung upon them in the midst of a double warfare existing at the time. I have always felt grateful to the Maoris for the way they behaved at this crisis. Had they been possessed of less generous instincts, they would have taken advantage of the position. The North Island was sparingly peopled, the Colonists of the Middle Island, by far the most wealthy and populous, were profoundly discontented with the onerous call which had been made on their resources, by expenditure which they comprehensively regarded as cast upon them to fulfil Imperial obligations contracted by the Treaty of Waitangi. The actual means of the Colony at the time were not large, and any attempt to raise page 9 a war-loan would have been scouted. The North Island was not only scantily populated, but much of the interior was almost impenetrable to Europeans, whilst the Maoris could go from end to end and from side to side of the Island with great ease. It took General Chute, with a considerable force, a long time to penetrate to New Plymouth from the Wellington Province, and his able performance of the task was regarded as a great feat. Had Te Kooti and Titokowaru, who were respectively at war with the Europeans on the east and west coasts, joined their forces, and other great chiefs combined with them, the issues would have been very grave. This risk the Colonists were left to confront whilst Downing Street exhibited the most stoical disregard of the consequences of its own previous acts, and of the responsibilities it had specially contracted.
The Public Works' Policy.
The Government had but one resource, a policy of the utmost conciliation, until they could place themselves in a position of strength for the future. It was a most anxious period. The 'Maoris were a fiery race, and any little dispute in any part of the Island might have occasioned a fierce and general war.
It has often been said and written that the Public Works' Policy was the outcome of a speculative desire to obtain the expenditure of a large quantity of borrowed money for the gain that expenditure would bestow, leaving to chance subsequent consequences. I will tell you the real facts, and I think I may say there are only two or three men now living who can speak with equal authority. The Public Works' Policy seemed to the Government the sole alternative to a war of extermination with the natives. It comprised the construction of railways and roads, and the introduction of a large number of European immigrants. The Government argued that if they could greatly increase the population of the North Island and open up the means of communication through the Island, and at the same time give employment to the Maoris, and make their lands really valuable, they would render impossible any future war on a large scale. They recognised that in point of humanitarianism there was no comparison between the peaceful and warlike alternatives. They considered also that, financially, it was infinitely preferable to spend large sums on permanent development, to expending equal, or probably larger amounts on issues of warfare. Up to the date of the withdrawal of the troops, the Colony had expended £3,700,000 upon matters relating to native difficulties, without reckoning interest on the large sums which had been obtained by loans. The Imperial expenditure from the Treaty of Waitangi to 1870 was upwards of £6,700,000, so that over ten millions sterling had been expended. You will see, therefore, that there were strong grounds for page 10 believing that from the financial, apart from the humanitarian point of view the policy of settlement was most desirable. The intimation at nearly the end of the year 1869 of the positive recall of the troops created a great panic. There was no cable communication at the time, but General Chute took the responsibility of detaining the force until communication could be made with England. Parliament passed resolutions asking for the permanent location of a regiment of soldiers in New Zealand at the cost of the Colony. The late Dr. Featherstone and Sir F. Dillon Bell were appointed Commissioners to negotiate with the Home Government. They were apprised of the determination of the Colonial Cabinet to try the effects of a policy of public works and immigration as the course most desirable to permanently effect the pacification of the North Island, and they were directed to ascertain what assistance the Imperial Government would furnish. Some of my hearers, who do not remember what took place, will suppose that Downing Street at once replied that the British Government would defray the cost of the immigration and of the leading railways in the North Island. But Downing Street did nothing of the kind. You may be sure there was no lack of ability to urge the case of the Colony by the eminent and able Commissioners I have named. Yet all they could procure, and that after a great deal of haggling, was a guarantee by the Imperial Government of a million sterling of 4 per cent. debentures. It is significant that since that date the Colony has obtained a premium on its own unguaranteed securities bearing 4 per cent. interest, and has even borrowed at a slight discount at 3½ per cent. In the halcyon days of the future when statesmen will only be guided by equity and justice we may expect that Chancellors of the Exchequer will, out of any savings they can effect, forward anonymous gifts of conscience money to New Zealand.
The Colonial Government dared not introduce the Public Works' Policy as a measure to subjugate the natives to future peacefulness. To have done so would have involved the risk of exciting them to immediate hostility. The most that could be stated in that direction was contained in the following paragraph in the speech in which a declaration of the policy was made.
"I cannot close this branch of the subject without adverting to the effect which the promotion of railways and immigration must certainly have on the native question. The employment of numbers of well-paid natives on Public Works, to which in their present temper they will resort with avidity, the opening up of the country and its occupation by settlers, which will result from the construction of roads coupled with the balancing of the numbers of the two races by a large European immigration, will do more to put an end to hostilities, and to confirm peaceful relations than an army of ten thousand men."
There was thus the necessity of bringing the measure forward on its merits, only as a colonising scheme. Pray do not think the Government had any doubt on the subject, but it was a bold departure for so small a community, and under ordinary circumstances it would probably have been page 11 proposed on a less ambitious and rapid scale. But the circumstances forbade anything of the kind. From what I have previously said it may be gathered that the South Island would not be willing to give its credit to benefit colonisation in the North Island without inducements applied to itself of a large character. Hence to really serve the North Island, it was necessary to frame the whole scheme on a scale sufficient to offer great advantage to the South Island. Even, as it was, the plan proposed was shorn of two most important features. One, the pledge to carry through the trunk line of railway from Wellington to Auckland, the other the reservation of an estate of some millions of acres of waste lands of the Crown, which, enhancing in value on account of the railways, would have amply covered their cost. Neither of these propositions was accepted. Apart from the success of the policy, with regard to ending expenditure on native difficulties, the results have been highly satisfactory. Not only was the population most usefully increased, but the railways have enabled the lands of the Colony to be made profitably productive to an extent which would otherwise have been impossible.
During the last financial year the net profits on the 1,886 miles of working railways were £449.000, yielding a return of £3. 1s. per cent, on the cost of £14,733,120. Assuming the average rate at which the money was borrowed to be 4 per cent. the return shows an amount of £140,000 less than the cost of interest. There cannot be any question that this deficiency, were it much larger in amount, is well repaid to the Colony by the collateral advantages derived. The railways were not constructed as a commercial speculation for the benefit of shareholders, but as aids to the progress of settlement It is a moderate estimate that they have raised the average intrinsic value of land within 15 miles of the lines on either side 10s. an acre, and if this be the case the increased value would amount to 18 millions sterling, considerably more than the whole cost of the railways. It is true this has not passed to the whole community but to a number of individuals. Had the reserved railway estate first proposed been sanctioned, a great deal more of the unearned increment would have been gained by the Colonial Treasury. But even so the wealth of the Colony consists of its own possessions added to the property of its people, and the latter if they benefited by Colonial expenditure are amenable to taxation. This calculation does not take into account the increased value of lands and buildings in towns consequent on the business which the railways have brought to them.
There is another and instructive aspect. The value of the exports, the produce of New Zealand in 1870, was four-and-a-half millions sterling. The value for 1892 was over nine millions. A great deal of the increase was due no doubt to natural progress, but a considerable amount is unquestionably owing to the facilities the railways afforded. It is a moderate estimate to consider that the exports would have been 15 per cent. or nearly a million and a-half less if there had been no railways to aid the locomotion.
The Public Debt.
The net Public Debt on the 31st March, 1893, amounted to slightly over 38 millions. At the time of the commencement of the Public Works' Policy the amount was close on nine millions, so that 29 millions have been the increase up to the present date. About half of this has been absorbed by the railways already constructed and in work. The balance is made up of railways in course of construction, immigration (on a large scale between 1870 and 1880), telegraph lines, waterworks on gold fields, roads and bridges (about four millions), native land purchases, light-houses, harbours, defence works, public buildings (including schools), and some other objects of a costly nature. Part of the amount, too, is represented by the premiums paid for converting loans bearing higher rates of interest into securities involving a less annual charge. Undoubtedly large as was the scheme of public works and immigration at its inception, it developed into one yet larger. Immense pressure was brought to bear on the governments of the day to expend more money than was intended on industrial objects. The good sense of the people, as a whole, at length came to the rescue, and the determination was arrived at to "taper down" the use of borrowed money, until now there is little expenditure of the kind. The heroism with which this resolution was carried out speaks volumes for the self-denial and self-reliance of the people of New Zealand. The change meant a simpler and more economical mode of living, a reduction of wages, a closer attention to producing industries, in short, a less reliance on the Government, a greater reliance by the people on themselves. It does not seem to me that the Public Works and Immigration Policy is to be condemned, because the time came for it to be reduced within small limits. If the possibilities of abuse arising from excess were to prevent the prudent use of the good things the world provides, there would be little progress. New Zealand is now ready to become the home of millions of people which it certainly was not in 1870. The policy not only answered its primal purpose of establishing peaceful relations with the natives, but it has opened to the Colony the means of enormous progress in the future.
From 1870 to the Present Date.
Although as far as the Public Works are concerned, 1 have travelled over a great deal of the interval since 1870, I must devote a few further words to the course of events to make my narrative complete. Between 1870 and 1880 the colonising administration occupied a very large share of attention, but when that time was nearly reached, and the determination was arrived at to "taper down" loan expenditure, social questions began to occupy the minds of the colonists to the extent their importance demanded. To Sir George Grey, Sir Robert Stout, and the late Mr. Ballance, belongs page 13 chiefly the merit of educating the people to the full conception of the many complex questions of a non-commercial character that go towards making a happy community. I shall call separate attention to some of these later on. From 1880 to nearly 1890 the Colonists had much to contend with on account of the low value of produce and the depression arising from the diminished loan expenditure. The process of recuperation had by this time become established, and I believe New Zealand is now in a highly flourishing condition, with good reason to expect continued prosperity.
|Provisions, Tallow, Timber, &c.||24|
|Millions of pounds sterling||185|
Is it not wonderful to think of this huge value obtained from these small Islands within so short a period? The average export per annum over the 40 years amounted to £4,625,000. The average of yearly population during the same time was 325,653, so that there has been over the 40 years ending 1892 an exportation of articles produced in New Zealand equal to £14 annually per head of population. The United Kingdom prides itself on being a great exporting country. During the 16 years to the end of 1890, the annual value per head of population, of exports, the growth, or produce of the United Kingdom amounted to £6. 7s. 5d., against £14 per head in the case of New Zealand. But even this comparison does not give a full idea of the difference between the two countries. The New Zealand exports were entirely the growth and produce of the country, whilst one-half of the exports from the United Kingdom were merely preparations or manufactures of imports received from other countries.
Cultivation, sheep and cattle-farming, and the collection of Kauri gum page 14 were the chief industries of the Colony in its early days, and they have, with slight intervals to the contrary, constantly continued to improve. Wool, as I have already shown, has been by far the largest article of export. The development of the pastoral industry, though gradual, has been steady and reliable. In 1861 a great impetus was given to Otago especially, and to the rest of the Colony in a less degree, by an immense influx of miners and others from Victoria, attracted by the discovery of gold at Gabriel's Gully. Steamers brought over many thousands of people to Dunedin, from which place they easily found their way over a great part of the province. When Gabriel's Gully was fully occupied, rich gold yields were procured along the course of the Clutha river and in the lake districts. The people of Dunedin were astounded by this great rush. They were an orderly industrious people, little disposed to change or excitement. The fresh arrivals soon characterised them as the "Old Identities." They retorted, and I think they had the best of the joke, by terming the visitors the "New Iniquities." To give you an idea of the peaceful condition of the first settlers I may mention as well authenticated, that in the early days the Governor of the small gaol in Dunedin made the inmates very comfortable, and he used to say to the prisoners in the morning, "You can go out all day, but mind, if you are not in by seven o'clock, I will lock you out." I am tempted to give you a further anecdote to show that in other parts of the Colony the influx from Australia was equally regarded with distrust. A gentleman who went to Wellington to attend to his duties as a Member of Parliament, took lodgings in that town. He asked for a latch-key, as on previous occasions he had been in the habit of doing. But the landlady said, "I would sooner wait up for you, sir, there are a number of people, I am told, come up from Dunedin and Otago, and it is not safe to leave doors only fastened by a latch." The cream of the joke was that the gentleman was himself the member for Dunedin. The differences between the "Old Identities" and "New Iniquities" did not last long. It is many years since they were entirely forgotten.
The gold industry' subsequently extended to the west coast of the Middle Island, and later on, immensely rich deposits were found at the Thames Gold Field, in the province of Auckland. Gold mining is still proceeding over a large portion of the Colony, and though the results are not as good as formerly, it is quite possible fresh deposits may be found, and the returns become better than ever. The value of the export of gold during the year 1892 amounted to close on a million sterling. There can be no question that enormous quantities of gold are deposited in the beds of the rivers in New Zealand; and it is to be presumed that the time will come when science and capital will be equal to relieving them of their valuable burden. Once the Clutha or Molyneux river, as it is variously called, fell a few feet lower than had been known before. Thousands of miners on its banks for three or four weeks obtained quantities of gold, with the greatest ease, by the use of knives, and other similar appliances. The late Dr. Sir page 15 Julius Von Haast, a distinguished scientist, was of opinion that during the glacial period, auriferous mountains, averaging several thousand feet in height, had been ground down, and deposited in the valley of the Clutha river. He estimated that if the stuff contained only one grain of gold to the ton of rock, there must be many thousands of tons of gold in the interstices of the river bed. A large amount of gold has been obtained by dredging, but, of course, this is an imperfect operation. The greatest quantity would be at the bottom of the river bed, in places at which natural obstacles originally existed, to which it would now be difficult to penetrate. There are many other auriferous rivers in the Colony.
New Zealand is bountifully supplied with coal, and large quantities of this mineral are now annually raised. It will probably enable the Colony to become an important manufacturing centre in time to come. There is already a disposition to manufacture as largely as possible. A number of industries of this kind have grown up during recent times.
The most important departure of the last 12 years is the exportation of frozen meat, chiefly mutton. It is assuming very large proportions. From a value of £118,000 in the year 1883 the export has grown until in the year 1892 the amount was over a million sterling. The number of sheep, notwithstanding these large exports, continues to increase. On the 31st of March of the present year there were considerably over 19 millions of sheep, whilst in 1881 there were only 13 millions. The dairy industry promises to become of large importance. It is being developed with great energy and already considerable exports of butter have been made to this country. It can be placed here in excellent condition. My limits will not permit me to discuss more narrowly the several industries of the Colony from which the Colonists are deriving, and are likely to still further derive, great advantage.
Constant efforts are made to promote settlement on moderate sized areas. The idea prevails generally throughout the Colony that very large estates are not desirable. The wish is to distribute population throughout the country, and though there is no objection to properties of a few thousands of acres properly worked, it is considered that when the area runs into tens of thousands of acres, unhealthy consequences arise. Lately there has been a strong movement in the direction of taking up bush land in the North Island. The bush is felled and after a time burnt. The ashes add to the fertility of the soil. The ground is then surface-sown with grass seed, and a fine pasturage grows up which will carry from three to as many as six sheep to the acre. The estimated profit per annum is about 5s. 6d. a sheep, and as the felling and burning generally cost not more than £2 to £2. 10s. an acre, and land is to be obtained page 16 either by purchase from £1 to £2 an acre, or at a small rental on perpetual lease, the results are very satisfactory. Suppose, for example, a man with £5,000 cleared and sowed 1,000 acres of land, and put a few sheep on it, he would be able, after a time, to count on a return of from £1,000 to £1,500 a year. The same in proportion would apply to a smaller area, and part of the money required could be saved if the land were taken on perpetual lease and the lessee worked hard himself. I believe there is a great deal of such land still to be had, besides there are millions of acres of native land, which, I understand, owing to the legislation of last Session, will be made more readily available for settlement than hitherto. The sheep in the North Island are nearly equal now to those in the South Island. The relative proportion of the former is greatly increasing.
The cultivated land in New Zealand, including land sown in English grass, is larger in area than all the cultivated land in the continent of Australia. I cannot give a better idea of the agricultural capabilities of New Zealand than a few official statistics of that Colony, compared with those of New South Wales and Victoria for the year ending 1891.
|New Zealand.||New South Wales.||Victoria.|
|Cultivated holdings over one acre in extent||41,224||51,550||35,945|
|Total acreage of land under cultivation, including land laid down in English grass||8,893,225||1,179,621||3,258,496|
|Produce of wheat in bushels||10,257,738||3,963,668||13,679,268|
|Average yield of bushels per acre||25.50||11.11||10.26|
|Produce of oats in bushels||11,009,020||276,259||4,455,451|
|Average yield of bushels per acre||34.03||21.32||23.43|
|Produce of barley in bushels||688,683||93,446||844,178|
|Average yield of bushels per acre||28.38||20.96||18.75|
|Produce of potatoes in tons||162,046||22,560||200,523|
|Average yield of tons per acre||5.94||2.72||3.50|
A similar table of the results of 1889 appeared in the Times in August, 1891. I have extended it to the latest available date.
Government Life Insurance and Public Trust Office.
There are two Institutions in New Zealand which are novel so far as concerns their being carried on under Government auspices. Although conducted on business and commercial lines, their primary object is to be of use to the whole community. I allude to the Govern- page 17 ment Life Insurance Department and the Public Trust Office. The first was established in 1870. It is not confined to insuring small amounts, as is the Post Office system of insurance in Great Britain. It has proved a magnificent success, considering that its business is confined to New Zealand only. At the end of 1892 there were 30 thousand policies in force, insuring a total of £8,000,000, the annual premium income was nearly a quarter of a million sterling, and the accumulated funds in hand amounted to little less than £2,000,000.
The Public Trust Office, under the management of the Public Trustee, undertakes, as its name implies, the duties of trusteeship in cases approved of and accepted by it. It is likely to become a very large and important institution, for a great number of Wills, under which it will be trustee in course of time, are deposited in the office. According to the latest report at the end of 1892, there were 1,912 estates in the office of a total value of £1,200,000.
The education of the people is at least of equal importance to any social question with which a government has the right to deal. In the earlier days of the Colony the provincial governments gave enthusiastic attention to the subject, and on their abolition, the general government followed in their footsteps with equal zeal and liberality. In a paper by Sir Robert Stout, recently published by the Statistical Society of Great Britain, that gentleman gave the following brief but comprehensive description of the educational system of New Zealand.
"All primary schools are free, and in them a sound English and commercial education can be obtained. Education is secular and compulsory, and the cost to the State for the year ending the 31st of March, 1892, was for public schools., £340,463; for native schools, £14,218; industrial schools, £9,856; deaf mutes, £3149; and the cost of general administration was £2,040. The number of pupils of all ages on the school rolls was, at the end of 1891, 119,523."
At the end of 1892 the number just quoted had risen to 122,620. Included in this number were 1,433 Maori (and half-caste Maori) children who attended the ordinary schools. There were besides 2,133 pupils at schools devoted to the exclusive use of native children.
Technical education is being introduced. There are also 24 secondary schools, most of them under the inspection of the State, but three or four of them are under the management of ecclesiastical bodies. The tests of the work of secondary schools are the matriculation and scholarship examinations of the University. The New Zealand University is an examining institution. Three Teaching Colleges are affiliated to it, all of which have received substantial Government aid.
Regulation of the Sale of Alcoholic Liquors.
During the Session lately over, a drastic Act was passed regulating the sale of alcoholic liquors. Under its provisions the people have to decide by ballot every three years within electoral districts conterminous with parliamentary districts whether the number of public house licenses shall continue as at present, whether the number shall be reduced by not exceeding one-fourth, or whether no licenses shall be granted at all.
During last Session also a measure was passed which gave to women the franchise on terms precisely similar to those which apply to men. They can, for example, register and possess the right to vote on the simple qualification of a six months' residence. A Bill to grant the Female Franchise was introduced in 1887 and passed its second reading, but further progress was barred. It has taken, therefore, six years to procure this reform. The plea that women are indifferent to the privilege is rebutted by statements which have been made that applications for registration poured in by thousands immediately the Act became law. There is no room to doubt that this measure will have an enormous influence on the future of New Zealand, and I unhesitatingly state my conviction that that influence will be a beneficial one. There is no reason whatever, that I can discern, why women should not have as large a share as men in determining the legislation which equally concerns them. The average woman is quite as intelligent and conscientious as the average man. She may not be equally informed on political questions, but it is most desirable that she should be and she has now the inducement hitherto wanting to acquire the information, which she will have no difficulty in doing. It seems to me that whenever a husband and wife are thinking of emigrating from this country the woman should turn the scale in favour of New Zealand. She will hardly have settled down before, instead of being subjected to the cold treatment of a stranger, she will find herself identified with the community by the sedulous efforts which will be made to teach her the merits of the various opinions which prevail. The full life of a Parliament in New Zealand is only three years, so that one general election is scarcely over before another is under consideration, to say nothing of bye-elections. To men, New Zealand has always offered large and varied attractions, of which freedom and self-government were not the least. The work is now crowned by women being placed on a similar footing. The mother who sees around her, children of exceptional ability may fondly, yet reasonably, hope that one of her sons will in time become Prime Minister of the Colony.
It is impossible to give you within the limits permitted me, an account of the opinions which prevail on labour questions, and of the mode in which the different views find a reflex in Parliament. There is at least a large majority who believe that the subject in all its bearings is fully entitled to Parliamentary consideration and decision. They go beyond the opinions prevailing in this country as to the limits which should be set to legislation on such questions as factory laws, employers' liability for accidents, hours of work, and the right to interfere in labour disputes. But, withal, there is a keen appreciation of the rights of property and of individuals. To persons who are interested in these subjects—and who are not?—many striking object lessons may be gathered from New Zealand.
It is doubtful if New Zealand will join in the federation of the Australian Colonies, if this ever takes place. The distance of New Zealand from Australia interposes many objections to its submitting to a central government so far removed from its shores. On the other hand, a Customs' union, with free reciprocal admission of colonial products, possesses signal advantages to a Colony capable of such large production.
As regards the federation of the entire British Dominions New Zealand has on various occasions shown itself favourable to such a proposition. At present, however, it is hardly within the range of practical politics though a great deal of attention has been directed to it during recent years. Sooner or later it must come unless the Empire is to be broken up. In 1876 Sir Hercules Robinson made a very interesting speech at Albury on the subject of Australian Federation. In it he computed that at the end of the century the population of the Australian continent would be over five millions. He took 4 per cent. as the annual rate of increase. The increase per year has, however, been somewhat lower. Mr. Hayter, the accomplished statistician of Victoria, has lately estimated that the population at the beginning of 1900 will be 4,410,000, and with the addition of New Zealand and Tasmania will be close upon 5,300,000. Sir Hercules Robinson could not take into account the falling off of immigration during much of the intervening period. But if the gold discoveries in Western Australia prove as valuable as is expected it is quite likely his estimate will be realised. I will, however, to be safe, take an annual increase of 3½ per cent. and at that rate I find that Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania, will, in 1930, possess a population of 14,706,800. At a similar rate of increase Canada, including Newfoundland, will have at the same date a population of 19,243,950, or Australasia and Canada together, say 34,000,000. Now, I put it to you, is it possible that 34,000,000 of British people thoroughly saturated with the page 20 love of representative institutions will consent to be governed by an Imperial Parliament in which they have not adequate representation? And equally strongly I put it to you, will the people of the United Kingdom consent to bear the main cost of the defence of the Empire without much larger contributions than the Colonies will be inclined to grant, if they have not a voice in the expenditure of the money? These are the reasons why I say federation must eventually come or the Empire be disintegrated. For my part, I think that long before there is so large an increase of population as that I have indicated, the feeling on both sides will be in favour of the paramount necessity of Imperial affairs being regulated by a legislature in which all parts of the Empire are represented.
The Future of New Zealand.
I have ill fulfilled my task if I have failed to imbue you with the belief that a great future lies before New Zealand. A country so rich in resources in the hands of an educated people, so self-reliant and energetic, must advance to a foremost position. There are many of my audience in the first spring of youth who have a long period of life before them. Perhaps in the course of events, when their attention by personal observation or by information conveyed, is called to the progress of New Zealand, a faint recollection of the anticipations I have indulged in this evening will occur to their minds and they will say "he was right."