The Past and Present Of New Zealand With Its Prospects for the Future
The Geography of New Zealand
The Geography of New Zealand.
There are three groups of islands upon the globe which are far more conspicuous than all the rest, by their peculiar position and general importance. The first of these, in every point of view, are the British Isles, situated at the western extremity of Europe, the chief seat of civilization and Christianity. The next are the Japanese, on the east of Asia and of China, where Heathen civilization is chiefly displayed. Those two groups may therefore be said to represent the maximum of Christian and Heathen advancement in everything which we generally mean by the term civilization.
The last group is that of New Zealand, differing from them in being far removed from the grand continents of the earth, and bearing the same relation to the innumerable islands of the pacific which the others do to their respective page 192 continents. Thus New Zealand represents the greatest degree of barbarism into which isolated man has fallen, when deprived of those aids which the other two possess.
In one respect there is a strong point of resemblance between these three insular races, and that is in their indomitable perseverance, courage, and energy of character. The untaught savage of New Zealand as boldly defies his foe, and is equally fearless of death, as in former times the painted savage of Britain unflinchingly resisted the highly-disciplined legions of Rome. Of New Zealand it may be safely predicted, whatever portion of the Maori element may form its future population, it is destined to occupy no inconsiderable place in the history of mankind. Its position so admirably adapts it for trade that its commerce must soon closely link it with every part of the world. The value of its central position can scarcely be overrated.
The New Zealand group chiefly consists of the Northern, Middle, and Stewart’s Islands; in addition to these are the Chatham to the west, and the Auckland and Macquarie Isles to the south.
The three grand isles have a length, from north to south, of 1100 miles, extending from 34¼° to 47½° S. Lat., and lying between the 66½ and 78½° E. Lon. They enjoy a temperate climate, equally free from extreme heat or cold, having fern trees and palms flourishing in their entire length.
The two islands are, as the crow flies, of nearly the same length, but from the crooked form of the Northern Isle it is in reality the longest, each being about 530 miles. The greatest width of the Middle Isle is about 150, and the least, 90, whilst that of the Northern Isle, from the greatest width of 300, tapers to about 20, and in several places to not more than six miles.
Stewart’s Island is of a triangular form, each side being about 30 miles long; it is separated from the Middle Island by Foveaux Straits, 15 miles wide; Cook’s Straits, 18 miles wide, dividing the Middle Island from the Northern.
The Northern Island is estimated at 26,000,000 square miles, the Middle Island 38,000,000, and Stewart’s Isle page 193 1,000,000, making a total of 65 millions of square miles, which is somewhat less than the area of Great Britain and Ireland; but New Zealand, lying North and South, enjoys a greater variety of climate. At the south end it is equable but generally of a low temperature, even the heat of summer there is inconsiderable. In the Canterbury Province the summer heat is greater, and it is already observed that the cultivation of the land and planting of trees is making a perceptible difference for the better in its extensive plains, which were previously nearly destitute of timber.
The climate of Nelson is highly spoken of; its sheltered position hinders the heat from being dissipated by the high winds, as is the case in more exposed positions. On the contrary, it is complained that the heat there is frequently quite oppressive. The pomegranate and grape flourish; at Wanganui the orange grows in the open air, but is not very fruitful; at the Bay of Islands it bears freely, and at the North Cape the banana, guava, cotton, and yams, will flourish.
The coast line of the entire group is 3000 miles, and in that grand sea board there are many fine harbours, some of which are equal to any in the world. There is, however, one drawback to many of them, the want of any great extent of level land in the vicinity, the surrounding country being in general composed of lofty ridges of hills.
The north-eastern coasts are bordered by many isles, some of which are of considerable size, as the Great Barrier, the Little Barrier, the Poor Knight’s, Mayor, and the Great Mercury Islands. In Cook’s Straits, Kapiti, Mana, D’Urville, Stephen’s and many others. In Foveaux Straits, Ruapuke and Solander Island. The native name for the North Island is, Te Ika a maui—the fish of Maui, who is fabled to have pulled it up; they have another ancient name for it in their legends, Aotearoa, but it is now never used. That of the Middle Isle is, Te Wai Pounamu—the water of the green stone. The nephrite which the natives so prize is generally found in certain of its lakes and streams, hence its name. The old one for Stewart’s Isle is Rakiura, its new one was derived from a sealer, who discovered it to be an island.page 194
New Zealand’s grand geological feature is the mountain range which runs the entire length of the Middle Isle, parallel to the west coast, this crosses the straits by Kapiti, a small island 1789 feet high; and thence by the Tararua, 4800 feet, and Ruahine ranges, it reaches the Ruapehu and Tongariro mountains, and thence by Rotorua to White Island. This is also the volcanic range of the Northern Isle. The number of mountains and their elevation is surprising. In the North Island the loftiest mountain is Ruapehu, or rather Para-tai-tonga, which is a little more than 10,000 feet. Tongariro, the true volcano, is about 7000 feet; Mount Egmont, or Taranaki, 8000; Ikurangi, 5535; Mount Hardy, Waiapu, 3700. The highest mountain in the peninsula north of Auckland is Maungataniwha, 2157 feet, and the Island terminates with Kapowairua, a basaltic peak, 960 feet. These are the chief mountains of the North Island, although there are several others which might be mentioned in the neighbourhood of Taupo, as Pianga, Kakaramea, and Tauwhara, on the banks of the Taupo Lake; Maungatautari, Pirongia, and Taupiri, in the Waikato district.
But it is in the Middle Island that the mountains attain their greatest elevation, Mount Cook’s first peak being 13,200 feet, and its second 12,300 feet; the Kaikoura, 10,000 feet; the Lookers on, 8700; Mount Aspiring, 9135; Black Peak, 7328; Pisa, 6426; Mount Eyre, 6084, and of those ranging from 6100 to 2000, a large number. In fact, the Middle Island is either plains or mountains, but extensive as the former are, they bear but a small proportion to the mountainous regions of the island.
In Stewart’s Island there are several mountains, the two loftiest being respectively 3200 and 2110 feet high. Many of the New Zealand mountains are of volcanic origin; at present there are only two active ones, Tongariro and Wakari, or White Island, but there are boiling springs and solfataras without number, the chief localities of these are in the region between Tongariro and Wakari; near Auckland, at Mahurangi, and Ohaeawae, near the Bay of Islands, there are thermal springs.
New Zealand's grand geological feature is the mountain range which runs the entire length of the Middle Isle, parallel to the west coast, this crosses the straits by Kapiti, a small island 1789 feet high; and thence by the Tararua, 4800 feet, and Ruahine ranges, it reaches the Ruapehu and Tongariro mountains, and thence by Rotorua to White Island. This is also the volcanic range of the Northern Isle. The number of mountains and their elevation is surprising. In the North Island the loftiest mountain is Ruapehu, or rather Para-tai-tonga, which is a little more than 10,000 feet. Tongariro, the true volcano, is about 7000 feet; Mount Egmont, or Taranaki, 8000; Ikurangi, 5535; Mount Hardy, Waiapu, 3700. The highest mountain in the peninsula north of Auckland is Maungataniwha, 2157 feet, and the Island terminates with Kapowairua, a basaltic peak, 960 feet. These are the chief mountains of the North Island, although there are several others which might be mentioned in the neighbourhood of Taupo, as Pianga, Kakaramea, and Tauwhara, on the banks of the Taupo Lake; Maungatautari, Pirongia, and Taupiri, in the Waikato district.
But it is in the Middle Island that the mountains attain their greatest elevation, Mount Cook's first peak being 13,200 feet, and its second 12,300 feet; the Kaikoura, 10,000 feet; the Lookers on, 8700; Mount Aspiring, 9135; Black Peak, 7328; Pisa, 6426; Mount Eyre, 6084, and of those ranging from 6100 to 2000, a large number. In fact, the Middle Island is either plains or mountains, but extensive as the former are, they bear but a small proportion to the mountainous regions of the island.
In Stewart's Island there are several mountains, the two loftiest being respectively 3200 and 2110 feet high. Many of the New Zealand mountains are of volcanic origin; at present there are only two active ones, Tongariro and Wakari, or White Island, but there are boiling springs and solfataras without number, the chief localities of these are in the region between Tongariro and Wakari; near Auckland, at Mahurangi, and Ohaeawae, near the Bay of Islands, there are thermal springs.page 195
Next to the mountains may be mentioned the lakes, which are equally numerous, and some of considerable size and great beauty. In the North Island the chief of all is Taupo, called by way of distinction, Te moana, the sea; it is a large sheet of water thirty miles long, and in one part as many miles wide, with one small island, Motu Taiko, of extreme beauty in the centre; this fine lake has evidently been caused by the subsiding of the ground, as it contains great numbers of trees still standing up in its waters; this may easily be accounted for by the immense quantities of matter ejected from the neighbouring volcanoes in former days, the surrounding country for many miles being covered with a stratum of pumice, in places several hundred feet thick,* overlaying a charred forest. The waters of this lake are of very great depth, and as deep a blue as those of the ocean itself. This lake is probably not more than 1200 feet above the level of the sea, whilst the neighbouring one of Rotoaira, which is only separated from the former by Mount Kakaramea, is nearer double that elevation; standing on the dividing range, the eye at once perceives the great difference of level. The same is also proved by the cultivations of the natives on the banks of these lakes; whilst at Rotoaira, the potatoe, with a little wheat is all that can be raised, at Taupo, the maize kumara and melon grow to perfection, and the summer heat is felt to be far greater there than at the other place.
* It may be remarked as a general rule, that wherever there has been a volcano, there will also be found a lake near its base, of size proportioned to its activity, and the best measure of it.
On the west coast is a complete line of lakes at the base of the Tararua range, running parallel to the coast, and reaching almost as far as Mount Egmont, apparently caused by a line of subsidence between the mountains and the sea; some of them are of singular beauty, as that of Horowhenua and several near it; none are of any great size, the largest being little more than three miles long. At the southern extremity is the large, though not very interesting, Wairarapa Lake; it is probably the remains of an inland sea which once flowed over those extensive plains, whose boulders still remain as a lasting memento of the fact.
There are numberless small lakes even to the land’s end itself, to which it will not be necessary further to refer, except that Lake Mapere, near the Bay of Islands was examined by Captain Sir James Ross, who found the bottom covered with timber, corroborating the native tradition that it was a tract of land which suddenly subsided and engulfed their cultivations and villages.
Some of the lakes amongst the southern Alps of the Middle Island are of considerable size. The Wakatipu Lake is 60 or 70 miles long, and although only a few years ago all but unknown, it has now two flourishing towns on its banks, with several steamers plying between them; such is one of the changes effected by the discovery of gold. The width, however, of this lake, as well as of many others, is page 197 not in proportion to its length; they generally occupy the steep hollows between mountain ranges. Te Anau and Wanaka are both fine lakes, also the Hawea, the Ohau, Te Kapo, Maui Pouri, Colridge, Rotoroa, Rotoiti Brunner, Heroite, and Sumner, are all found amongst the grand western range of the Southern Alps. On the east coast, to the north of the Akaroa range, is the Waihora, or Ellesmere, as it is now called; this is a large and interesting sheet of water which is rapidly becoming raised, and affords a proof, if one were wanting, that at a comparatively recent period the Canterbury plains were under water, and that perhaps within a century the sea may have flowed between the Sumner and Ellesmere. Even since the purchase of the Middle Island from the natives Lake Ellesmere has greatly decreased in size, and a singular claim on that account has been advanced by the natives to those parts from which the water has retired. They took possession of them; the Europeans told them they were trespassing; the natives replied that when they parted with the land they did not sell the water, and therefore this was clearly theirs still.
New Zealand has a large number of rivers, but few that are available for vessels of any burthen. In the North Island the chief are on the Western Coast. The Manawatu, though a bar river, is navigable for vessels of two or three hundred tons for a considerable distance; it has such a tortuous course that forty miles up the stream it is only about six miles in a straight course from the sea.
The Rangitikei is a very rapid river, but can only be entered by small craft.
The Wanganui has two and a half fathoms on its bar, and is considered by far the safest river in the North Island, and is now more frequented than all the others put together, and by the largest vessels as well. The Waitotara, which has acquired its name from the remains of an ancient grove of Totara trees, belonging to an older level, still standing up in it, and the Patea, are visited by small steamers and traders, so likewise the Waitara and Mokau. The Waikato is a noble stream, taking its rise with the Wanganui, one on either page 198 side of Tongariro; it flows from the south side and passes through Lake Taupo by a deep channel, the upper part being called Horotiu until it is joined by the Waipa, it then becomes a fine broad river of considerable width, with many large islands in it, but the water shoals so at its mouth that it can only admit vessels of any burthen to the town, which is close to the heads, but steamers drawing three feet can go 80 miles up the river, and those drawing two-and-a–half feet can go up the river Waipa 70. The Wairoa, which flows into Kaipara harbour, is also a fine stream, and navigable for some distance by small vessels; this is the last of the rivers on the western side of the island. On the east coast, the Waiho, or Thames, as well as the Piako, flow into the Frith of the Thames. A short canal of about a mile would unite the Piako and Waikato by the Mangawaro, and thus enable vessels from Auckland to reach the Waikato towns direct. This is a consideration worthy of attention; and a canal of about 30 miles, from the Waipa to the Waiongaruhe, would open a way from the Waikato to the Wanganui. The Wakatane is entered by small craft as well as the Opotiki. There are many other smaller streams too numerous to notice.
In the Middle Island the Waimakariri is navigable some few miles. The Rakaia and Rangitata are large and rapid mountain torrents, extremely dangerous, but useless for navigation. The Molyneaux or Clutha, is the great river of the Middle Island, and the grand outlet of a large farming district; steamers and vessels drawing only a few feet can go up it for some distance. The Mataura forms the eastern boundary of the province of Southland. The Oreti, or New River, has Invercargill, the capital town of Southland, at its mouth. Jacob’s River has the town of Riverton on its banks, which is a port of entry. The chief river, however, of that estuary is the Aparima. The Waiau is the outlet of Lake Anau. All these rivers belong to the south side of the island; on the west the rivers are few and dangerous, but the discovery of gold has already raised towns on their banks, and caused a large population to flock to those hitherto unknown parts.page 199
The Hokitika is a small and difficult river to enter, yet its large and increasing town has encouraged small steamers to venture there. The Totara and Okarita have also towns on their banks, and The Grey has two flourishing ones, Grey Mouth and Cobden, but the river is dangerous. The Buller flows through a considerable extent of available land, which the others are entirely destitute of; the town of Westport stands on its banks. The Aorere, has the town of Collingwood at its mouth. The Motueka and Waimea Rivers flow through the finest land in the Nelson province. The Wairau also waters a fine district, and has the town of Blenheim on its banks; this river has been greatly benefitted by the earthquakes of 1855, which, by the subsiding of that district, deepened it several feet, and thus increased its usefulness. The harbours of New Zealand are superior to the rivers as far as commercial utility is concerned.
Wellington, which is now the capital, entirely owes its present distinction to its central position, and having so fine a sheet of water, the harbour being completely landlocked. Port Nicholson is its English name, and Wanganui-a-te-ra its original one, meaning the great expanse to the east; and at the base of the precipitous and lofty hills is seated this slowly rising empire city. Its citizens sadly feel the want of space for their metropolis, and are using every effort to fill up a portion of the harbour to extend its bounds, but in all probability these expensive efforts will be exceeded by the elevating power of earthquakes, which already have done much to anticipate their wishes even since the foundation of the place. The position of Wellington is central and easy of access. The town at present has a population of about six thousand, and now the Panama line is open, and its steamers touch there on their way to Australia, it gives the port greater commercial importance. Napier, on the east coast, comes next, it is more properly speaking a roadstead, but is considered safe. There is an inner harbour accessible for small craft. Turanga, or Poverty Bay, is likewise an open roadstead, so also Hicks’ Bay. Tauranga is considered a very good page 200 harbour, though of contracted size; the same applies to those of Mercury and Coromandel. Auckland has a noble position, being seated on an isthmus only five miles wide, it may be said to have two frontages to the sea, and thus has a double harbour, the Waitemata on the east coast, and the Manukau on the west. The Hauraki Gulf, or the Frith of Thames, forms an inland sea, to the north of which Auckland stands at the entrance of the Waitemata; a more suitable place for commerce can scarcely be found; a direct communication thence to the Tropical Islands north and east is obtained. Wangarei is a small port, north of Auckland. Tokerau, or the Bay of Islands, forms one of the largest and best harbours in all the Australasian colonies, but having been deserted by whaling vessels it is not so much frequented now as it used to be before New Zealand became a British colony. Wangaroa, a large land-locked sheet of water, is a safe harbour, and capable of receiving vessels of all sizes, but the entrance is narrow and through portals of rock like dock gates; having little available land on its shores, and no particular advantage of position, it is little known or frequented. North of Wangaroa is Mongonui Harbour, in Lauriston, or Doubtless Bay, and beyond it that of Mount Camel, which though small is safe, and easy of access. At the extreme end of the island is the little Harbour of Parengarenga.
On the west coast, the first to the north is Ahipara, which is rather better than an open roadstead; Wangape, a little to the south, is a small harbour, and a few miles beyond it is the well-known one of Hokianga. Kaipara is of great extent, but like the Manukau is chiefly filled with mud flats. The next is at the mouth of the Waikato, and then that of Waingaroa, where the little town of Raglan stands, beyond it is Aotea and Kawhia. New Plymouth is an open roadstead, and then the ports, Wanganui and Manawatu; the picturesque harbour of Porirua is accessible for small vessels only, the earthquakes of 1855 having materially raised it and left a large portion of it dry.
On the opposite side of Cook’s Straits the first harbour is page 201 that of Port Underwood; then Queen Charlotte’s Sound, which is only wanting in level land and a way of communicating with the interior to render it one of the finest harbours in the world; so likewise the Pelorus Sound, Port Gore, and Port Hardy in D’Urville’s Island. Bruce Bay, in latitude 43° 36′, is said to be a very safe harbour, far superior to that of any of the west coast rivers. At Dusky Bay there are innumerable fiords, many of which are excellent harbours. The Bluff is becoming a place of importance, the mail steamers from Melbourne coming to it direct. The jetty called Campbell Town is a rapidly rising port. Otago is a fine sheet of water. The anchorage for large vessels, is Port Chalmers, near the heads. Oamaru, although little more than an open roadstead, from its being the outlet of a great wool-growing district, is likely to become a place of importance; also Timaru for the same reason. Akaroa would be a fine harbour, were there any available land in its neighbourhood. Port Cooper has the same fault, but the tunnel, now nearly complete, by bringing the railroad from Christ Church direct to the port of Lyttleton, will obviate that objection. These are the principal harbours in the Middle Island. In Stewart’s Isle, Patterson Inlet is an excellent harbour, as is also Port Pegasus.
The three characteristic features of New Zealand are—its forests, ferns, and grassy plains. The forests are chiefly confined to the mountain ranges. The grand covering of the lower hills is fern. The grassy plains of the North Island are chiefly on the west coast, extending from Manawatu to Mount Egmont, near 130 miles in extent by an average width of 15 miles; nearly adjoining are the Tongariro and Muri Motu plains, extending to Taupo on one side, and by the Waiongaruhe almost to the Waikato. The central plains at the head of the Wanganui are very beautiful. The Ruahine range is chiefly composed of elevated rounded hills, covered with verdant grass, reaching to the Ahuriri district, which is the most extensive grazing ground on the east coast; there is also a considerable extent at Wairarapa, page 202 Wairoa, and in patches at Poverty Bay and Opotiki. Thence to the Thames fern reigns, in its valley there are small patches of grass, but thence to the end of the island no natural grass is found. In some places, especially at the North Cape, there are large plains of even hilly ground, covered with nothing but rushes, which have succeeded the destroyed Kauri forests.
In the Middle Island there are plains, large and small, at the Wairau, Waimea, and Motu-Eka, at the base of the Kaikoura mountains, also along the entire eastern side of the island, with few interruptions, and from the lower ranges to the sea; a great portion of the land however is one grand plain of shingle scarcely covered with soil, and only supporting grass of a coarse, cutting, sedgy character, much inferior to that of the North Island, filled also with spiny bushes of the Tumatakura, and that singular family of plants, the Acifolia Taramea, commonly called Spaniards; still, they sustain immense flocks of sheep, which seem to thrive on the scanty vegetation.
When civilized man first visited New Zealand, it was in its fern age, the larger portion being entirely covered with it; indeed, it still is, although the hand of the colonist, and the foot of the animals he has introduced, are rapidly causing it to disappear: it is regarded as a sign of good soil wherever it flourishes, and the contrary where grass or the Manuka scrub prevails.
In the forests of New Zealand it is extremely rare to see any particular tree solely occupying the ground, they are generally filled with all the different kinds intermingled. The Kahikatea and Totara are, however, in some few instances, exceptions, forming forests of themselves.
Captain Hobson, the first Governor, divided the islands into four provinces—Ulster, Munster, Leinster, and Connaught; that division gave way to a new one by Sir G. Grey, of six provinces—Auckland, Taranaki, Wellington, Nelson, Canterbury, and Otago. Since that period the province of Wellington has been subdivided, and the new one of Ahuriri founded; so likewise has Marlborough been page 203 taken from Nelson, and Southland from Otago. There are therefore now nine provinces, but Auckland, Canterbury, and Otago are out of all proportion large in comparison with the other six. Thus the province of Auckland contains 17,000,000 acres; Hawke’s Bay, or Ahuriri, 2,816,000; Taranaki, 2,399,360; and Wellington, 7,473,120; making the grand total acreage of the North Island 29,688,480.
To begin with Auckland, the most northerly province of New Zealand; from Cape Maria van Dieman to the southern boundary, near Lake Taupo, is 364 miles, and its greatest breadth, from Tologa Bay to the south head of Kawhia harbour, is 198 miles; the war has added an area of at least 1,600,000 acres. The last census, in 1864, gave Auckland a population of 42,132, being 25,686 males, and 16,445 females; but it has since reached 50,000.
Auckland, the capital town, is by far the largest in the North Island. The town itself has a population of fully 12,000; but, taking in Onehunga and Epsom, there is a contiguous population of 17,000. The pensioner villages of Howick, Panmure, Otahuhu, are rapidly becoming large places, and, on the confiscated land up the Waikato and Waipa, many towns have been already founded, at each of which some of the military settlers with their families are located.
The chief town, Ngaruawahia, or the parting of the rivers, is placed at the junction of the Waipa and Horotiu, which was founded by the Maori King; this it is proposed to call Newcastle; Kingston would have been more appropriate. Beyond it is Hamilton, and still further Cambridge; at the former the 4th Waikato Regiment is stationed, with 454 settlers of the 4th regiment, their families, and others a portion of the 4th at Cambridge, with 813 settlers of the 3rd and their families. There are two settlements founded on the Waipa, one called Harapipi has 53 settlers of the 1 st Forest Rangers, their families and others; at Alexandra, also on the Waipa, there are 676 settlers of the 2nd regiment, their families and some others; at Kihikihi, 62 of the 2nd Forest Rangers with their families. Other towns lower page 204 down the river have also been founded, and as many as 1200 men with their families stationed in fifteen localities; roads are being laid out, and steamers are constantly plying up and down the river for upwards of 40 miles. A few years, therefore, will make a great difference in that district, and add materially to the importance of Auckland, especially as it abounds in coal, and probably in gold as well.
North of Auckland is the romantic and flourishing little settlement of Wangarei. Beyond it are several small places formed by those who came out to obtain the 40-acre grant offered by the Provincial Government to each male adult, thus Mangapai, Mangawai, and several other places have started into being; the population by this means drawn together, had at first to contend with great difficulties, but are now gradually advancing; most are highly respectable, and form very interesting little communities. Beyond them is the Albertland, or Nonconformist settlement, at Kaipara; it has likewise had to contend with many difficulties, by which most of its original members were drawn away to other parts, but eventually the little community of those who remain must prosper. The Bay of Islands has probably little exceeded the population it had thirty years ago; and though the site of the earliest commencement of an European town, this noble harbour has still a very deserted appearance. Mongonui is a very small but delightfully situated settlement in Lauriston Bay, and this terminates the progress of the European northward, excepting isolated families, who reach even to Parengarenga, nearly 200 miles north of Auckland.
In the south-eastern part of the province new towns are rising up at Tauranga, Maketu, Wakatane, and Opotiki.
The beautiful lake district, with its warm lake and hot springs, will have its townships, baths, and fashionable watering places, which will draw visitors from every part of the world.
Before leaving this province its resources must be alluded to. The Kauri (Dammara Australis), a noble and valuable pine, is not found in any other part of New Zealand; it is page 205 still very abundant, and forms one of the chief exports to the south. There is no timber for house building that can compete with it, unless it be the Totara, which not being equally plentiful is much dearer. The Kauri attains a great size, it has been found as much as 12 ft. diameter, nor is it uncommon to meet with it 200 feet high. Another valuable timber tree, which is also nearly confined to the province, is the Puriri (vitex littoralis), it is not seen further south than Taranaki; for ground plates, blocks, and posts, there is no timber like it for durability; it has never been known to decay, and appears as imperishable as stone itself, and so extremely hard and cross-grained, that it can only be worked when green.
Another valuable and most ornamental tree, which is likewise peculiar to this province, is the Pohutukawa (Metrocideras tormentosa); it bears bright scarlet blossoms, which render it most conspicuous, and its favorite locality is on cliffs by the sea shore, attains a considerable size, and from the knotted and gnarled character of its branches, greatly adds to the beauty of the prospect, is chiefly used for knees of vessels, for which purpose it is well adapted. The Tanekaha, a pine much prized for masts of small vessels, is almost, if not entirely, peculiar to the province. Also the Tarairi, an ornamental but not valuable tree, only fit for firewood and charcoal. The Manawa (Mangrove) is very abundant, and prized for the soap manufactory, from the great quantity of potash it contains.
Another valuable article of export likewise confined to the north is the Kauri resin, which is still found in considerable abundance, although it has now been worked for many years; it is a very profitable article of commerce and meets with a ready sale in England, where it is chiefly, if not solely, used for callendering calico, but the Americans turn this resin to a better purpose, making a varnish from it equal to that of gum copal.
The Thames Valley and Coromandel district contain gold, which, when more carefully explored, will, there is little doubt, be found in increased quantities. Coal will also be a valuable article of export; it is abundant, and as the demand page 206 increases, so will the several workings be carried on in the same ratio. Copper abounds on the Kawau and Barrier Islands, where it has been worked.
The general character of the ground of this province is poor. The Kauri it is well known only grows on a cold pipeclay soil, which is most retentive of moisture, and on which scarcely anything but Manuka scrub will flourish, when the nobler tree disappears; this does not suit the farmer, but wherever the soil is volcanic there the country changes; this is very perceptible about Auckland, the land around its numerous old craters being rich and productive. At Maungatautari, the soil is of a red ochreous nature, and so light that in the heat of summer it is almost drawn up into the air by the sun’s rays alone. The natives soon exhaust it, but a proper system of cultivation will doubtless hinder this injurious process from going on. At Taupiri the surface of the ground is covered with an angular quartose gravel, which may indicate the presence of gold.
A few words remain to be said of the climate. Its position naturally would give it the warmest, but this in some measure is counteracted by the narrowness of a large portion of the island, which brings it under the influence of the winds on both sides, and greatly increases its humidity, hence a larger quantity of rain falls in Auckland than in any other part of the Island. Another peculiarity is the suddenness of these changes; but this refers chiefly to the narrow parts. Where the island widens, then the climate becomes hotter in summer and colder in winter; on the pipe-clay soils the winter frosts are almost, if not quite, as severe as in the most southerly parts of the island. On the volcanic soils the heat is at times almost tropical, and the orange, banana, yam, guava, and cotton can be raised; the grape flourishes and the fig; in fact, on good soil there is scarcely any limit to vegetation. In the Waikato the heat of summer and cold of winter are greater and more enduring, from the increased width of the island; the climate is more equable in summer and winter, hot days and cool nights, clear skies, and most enjoyable weather.page 207
Taranaki Province is the adjoining one to Auckland on the western coast; in 1840 it was founded by the New Zealand Company, chiefly of emigrants from the counties of Devon and Cornwall. It commences at the Mokau, taking the south side as its boundary, and thence it crosses to Waiongaruho and follows its course into the Wanganui, having that river as its boundary until it reaches the Tau-mata-mahoe path, and thence by a straight line to the Patea river, having the sea board for its other side.
The town of New Plymouth is seated on the north at the base of Mount Egmont, a most picturesque position, having that beautiful cone shaped top in the background, with its spurs terminating in the sugar-loaf rocks, running into the sea on the west. The town slopes to the shore opposite the roadstead, but unfortunately it does not possess a harbour.
* The following verses give a graphic account of the sad effects of war:—
The Taranaki Mother’s Lament.
Farewell to my cottage, farewell to my home,
’Midst strangers, and houseless, my children must roam,
The trees of the forest are burning, and fall,
Our dwelling is blazing, and we’ve lost our all;
The garden is trampled, the orchard is gone,
And once more sad pilgrims we’re breadless and lone;
O where shall we wander, and where shall we lie.
For no friendly Maori now cries, haeremai.
Our faithful horse, Ranger, is driven away,
The poultry quite frantic are flying astray;
Dear Tommy, the pony, has met a sad lot,
He saved his poor master, himself has been shot;
The sheep are all stolen, with Daisy, the cow,
And none are so hapless as we are just now;
Perhaps by to-morrow by hatchets we die.
And no friendly Maori now calls, haeremai.
Loud booming of cannon and rifles we hear,
And yells of defiance convulse us with fear;
Our trembling young children, scarce able to stand,
Keep asking for why they are brought to this land;
They hear that their father must leave them and fight,
And who shall protect the poor lone ones at night?
O tell us, dear mother, when danger is nigh,
Will no friendly Maori exclaim, haeremai?
Say when shall we welcome sweet tidings of peace,
And when shall these battles, these butcheries, cease?
Shall we ever return to yonder loved farm,
And know that the natives will do us no harm,
That they are forgiven, and they, too, forgive,
And once more good friends and good neighbours we live?
Most joyful the day when the Maories shall cry,
In true Christian love, haeremai, haeremai.
Written in New Plymouth during the war in 1861, by a settler’s wife.
Already the province is beginning to recover, and when peace is fully restored there can be no doubt that it will soon regain its former prosperity. Its natural beauty of position will always be an attraction, and the opening up of its southern portion will give fresh energy and resources to the whole. The military settlers are now being located at the Patea, which will form the germ of a future town. Small steamers and coasters can safely enter the river, and will carry away the produce of a district which may with justice be called the garden of New Zealand.
One of the most conspicuous objects in the town is a remarkable mound called Marsland, on which the stockade is placed. The curious volcanic cone-shaped rock called the Sugar-Loaf, is an object which greatly adds to the beauty of page 209 the place; the arrival of vessels and landing their cargoes by means of large boats, which are hauled in by ropes, presents a very animated scene. In former days they had a farmer’s club and jovial meetings, singing a song which might be called their national one, and I doubt not these meetings will be revived, and the old song again sung with increased vigor.*
The passing moments to beguile,
To cheer our spirits, raise a smile,
Though rude the voice and rough the lays,
We’ll sing in Taranaki’s praise,
And soon will prove in doggrel rhymes,
Despite the badness of the times,
That of all places on the coast
We surely have most cause to boast.
So banish care and don’t despair
Of fortune in this place so rare;
But in a bumper pledge the toast,
New Plymouth fair, New Zealand’s boast.
We’ve famous land for him who tills:
To grind our corn we’ve got good mills;
We’ve churches for the orthodox,
And for the sinners jails and stocks;
We’ve lowing herds on every side,
And Hapuku† in every tide;
And as for fruit, the place is full
Of that delicious bull-a-bull.‡
We’ve coal, jet black,§ on yonder hill,
And Manganese close by the mill;
There’s nickel too, if we are right,
And signs of silver, rich and bright;
And where’s the man will dare to tell
But that a gold mine’s there as well?
And other things we’ve got besides,
We’ve got Gledhill to tan our hides.
To strike the whale with harpoon true
We’ve Barrett and his hardy crew;
Our flagging spirits soon we’ll cheer
With Davy’s stout or George’s beer;
Nor fetch tobacco from afar
When Nairn can twist the mild cigar.
We’ve gallant hearts and ladies fair,
A climate that’s beyond compare;
We’ve crystal waters, noble wood;
In fact, we’ve everything that’s good;
Sure nothing more we need to add
To prove the sin of being sad;
And gaily here through life we’ll rub,
And merrily meet at the Farmer’s Club.
These are the names of some of the earliest Taranaki settlers.
This song was written by Mr. Hursthouse, in 1844. Tune composed by Mr. Newland.
The lofty peak of Egmont’s hill
O’ershadows verdant plain;
Through chasms deep full many a rill
Leads murmuring to the main.
And thus, and thus on every hand
Old Egmont crowns the land.
Ere sons of Britain sought this shore,
Were gloomy forests round,
This land was known in ancient lore
As savage hunting ground.
From highest, highest, highest top to strand
Old Egmont crowns the land.
Now blooming fields and flow’ry dales
O’erspread the plain and glen;
Kine go wandering o’er the vales,
And lusty farming men.
Around, around, around, the homesteads stand,
And Egmont crowns the land.
No foe again shall dare intrude,
This Maori warfare o’er,
And smiling peace with friendship pure
Dwell in each rural bower.
Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! our homes shall stand;
Hurrah! Hurrah! our homes shall stand,
While Egmont crowns our land.
† Hapuku.—One of the best and most abundant of the New Zealand fish.
‡ Bull-a-bull. The common way of pronouncing Poro-poro, a solanum producing an edible berry.
§ Jet Black. Originally ask Black, a pun on a settler’s name.
Indications of petroleum being discovered near the Sugar-Loaf Rock, borings were made and a small quantity was met with: a company was then formed, but it is to be feared the expectations of a remunerating yield will not be realized; iron sand, a volcanic production containing a portion of nickel, is more likely to prove a valuable export. Fine sponges, equal to the best from Turkey, are found in the vicinity of the rocks, and would amply repay being dredged for, and might prove the commencement of a lucrative trade.
The Province of Wellington joins that of Taranaki at the page 211 Patea, and as far, apparently, north, as the juncture of the Waiongaruhe with the Wanganui; why the boundary line should not have been carried on from the north-eastern termination of Taranaki straight across the island appears extraordinary, as the Auckland Province was disproportionately great without this evident encroachment on the southern one, and has likewise the addition of all the confiscated land. To the east it is bounded by the Hawkes Bay Province.
Wellington was founded by the New Zealand Company in 1839, and therefore is the earliest capital, and, excepting Kororareka, the oldest town in New Zealand. It is prettily placed at the base of a lofty range of hills, on a narrow slip of land about two miles long, not originally more than 60 feet wide before the earthquake of 1855 raised it, but at either end, Thorndon and Te Aro, swelling out into a considerable extent of building ground, being in shape something like a pair of spectacles; this form, however, will soon disappear by the reclaiming of land from the sea, the width of the narrowest part being thus rapidly increased.
The noble harbour, in the south-west corner of which the city stands, makes the place, and combined with its central position between the two islands, has led to its being the present capital of New Zealand. The town, or The Empire City, as its inhabitants rejoice to call it, possesses some excellent buildings, and within the last two years has been greatly improved. The Church of England has two places of worship, that of Rome two likewise, and the page 212 Presbyterians also, besides those of the Wesleyan, Independent, and Primitive Methodists. The Parliament Houses are an ornament to the place, perhaps the chief, for none of the ecclesiastical edifices add much to the general character of the town. Government House, once the residence of the Company’s chief agent, Colonel Wakefield, is well situated, but unbecoming the residence of the representative of majesty. The new pier and asphalt pavement may be mentioned amongst the most recent improvements of the place. At the termination of the harbour, nine miles off, is the valley of the Hutt, containing 15,000 acres of good but heavily timbered land, the value of which, however, is greatly impaired by an erratic river, which at one time takes a fancy to work itself a channel on one side and then on the other of the valley, much to the annoyance and loss of the proprietors. The Hutt has a scattered population of between one and two thousand. On the Porirua road and harbour there is also a little gathering of homesteads.
Wellington may be said to possess a climate of its own;—formerly it was considered as being subject to more rain and heavier winds than any other part of New Zealand, but now, owing perhaps to the clearing off the heavy timber from its hills, there is less rain and wind than in past years. On the east, by the Hutt Valley road, crossing the Rimutaka mountain, the traveller reaches the extensive Wairarapa plains, in which are the rising towns, Featherston, Greytown, Masterton, &c. But although much good land is to be found in that district, there is also much that is covered with large boulders from six to ten inches in diameter. The road over the Rimutaka ranges is romantic, and the heavy wooded gorges are very beautiful; to the west by Porirua the traveller leaves the peculiar climate and district of Wellington, and when he has ascended the Horokiri Valley, passed over the Tararua and descended into the low plains to the north, he enters an entirely new character of climate and country, which is much warmer and dryer, gradually increasing in width from the mountains to the coast; at Manawatu they terminate, and then the Ruahine rangepage 213
commences at a distance of from 30 to 40 miles from the coast; this line is succeeded by the Wanganui and Nga-ti-rua-nui ranges, bordering the finest parts of the province, or rather of the entire island. Wanganui is by far the most flourishing town on the west coast, and near it is the rising town of Turakina, and beyond that Tutai-nui. On the Waitotara and Patea towns are also springing up. The telegraph from the Bluff terminates at Wellington, but will, it is hoped, be carried on by the western coast to Auckland.
The province of Hawke’s Bay, originally part of Wellington, in 1858 was the first to be created under the provisions of the New Provinces’ Act, and formed the 7th of the provinces. Half of it is said to be still in the hands of the natives; but so many large purchases have lately been made by the Government and private individuals, that the portion still belonging to them must be greatly diminished. A large part of the province consists of alluvial plains and undulating hills, rising gradually from the sea coast towards the Ruahine mountains. These are chiefly adapted for sheep farming. The vine flourishes along the coast, and bids fair to be cultivated for wine; indeed, it is surprising so little has been done with it in New Zealand generally; the coast line being chiefly lime is admirably adapted for its growth.
Napier, the capital, is an increasing town; seated on a peninsula formed by the estuary of the rivers Esk and Tutaekiri. Its position is picturesque. The population numbers 1280 according to the last census, which is not inconsiderable considering its recent origin. The climate is very good, and considered generally to be much drier than that of the western coast. Villages are springing up, with the names of Clive, Havelock, and Waipawa.
The province at present is entirely taken up with sheep runs, the native lands being leased for that purpose. There are few districts where they thrive better, as proved by the latest statistical returns, which show upwards of half-a-million, and an export of more than £100,000page 214
a-year of wool. Sheep farming being so profitable has chiefly engrossed the attention of the settlers, but more thought is beginning to be paid to agriculture; already there is a good metalled road 70 miles in length, and conveyances for passengers run as far as Waipawa. The European population of the province in December 1864 was 4,107; the natives are estimated at 2500, who have remained not only peaceable, but have co-operated with their European neighbours in resisting the Hauhaus.
We now pass over to the Middle Island. The first and oldest of its provinces is that of Nelson, which contains about 8,000,000 acres; it is 160 miles long by 120 in width; its west coast line is formed by the great Alpine range which stretches from the north to south end of the Island. This is pierced here and there by valleys of various width, through which several streams and rivers find an outlet to the sea. On the south it is bounded by Canterbury, and on the east by Marlborough; the sea board is indented with bays, creeks, and harbours, where vessels of considerable burthen may find shelter in any weather. From the generally precipitous character of the western coast range, the land available for tillage along it is comparatively of small extent, and confined to the limits of the various valleys which intersect the mountain range; those of the Karamea, Buller, and Grey, are the chief, and contain respectively about 10,000, 60,000, and 150,000 acres of good land, chiefly wooded.
At the Grey and Buller are valuable and extensive gold fields, and at both places coal of excellent quality in the greatest abundance. From the Grey also there is now a biweekly communication by coach with Canterbury. Along the north-west boundary is Golden Bay (formerly Massacre Bay), containing about 60,000 acres of level or slightly undulating country, especially about Collingwood. Takaka and Motupipi districts are of a very fertile character. The town of Collingwood bids fair soon to become a place of importance; the recent discovery of its richness as a gold field is attracting numbers to it, as there is little doubt that,page 215
by sinking deeper shafts, the true auriferous deposit will be reached: we shall not be surprised to find it soon becoming another Hokitiki.
At the end of Blind Bay is the city of Nelson, the capital of the province; it has a small but safe harbour, formed by a remarkable boulder bank; the entrance, however, is narrow and impeded by a singular rock called the Arrow Rock; but although this contracts the passage, still there is a sufficient width for vessels of almost any burthen; the rise and fall of the tide being fourteen feet, renders the boulder bank a most suitable place for the repairs of vessels, which are laid down upon it with the greatest ease; and this is still further facilitated by a cradle having been erected by the Wellington Steam Navigation Company.
The town stands in an amphitheatre of hills; it possesses excellent Government buildings, a college, museum, literary institute, and public schools; the Church of England has a Bishop. Nelson has long been famous for its ale breweries, and also for its hop fields, the most extensive, perhaps, in all the Australian colonies; a cloth manufactory, which produces a durable article, said by the Nelson people to be unequalled in quality; there are also tanneries, for which the bark of the Tawai black beech, or birch, as the settlers call it, is used.
Greymouth, which has only started into existence since the discovery of gold there in 1865, is now rapidly becoming a large place; the diggers have so increased, that it has naturally attracted a large number of shopkeepers;—newspapers are published, churches and chapels erected, theatres and places of all kinds are springing up; thus these parts, which so lately were all but untrodden by civilized man, are now rapidly becoming the busy haunts of life, and teeming with a population gathered from all parts of the world. Such is the effect of gold! It possesses twenty-six public houses! and nineteen firms of importers and merchants. Greymouth is a long township, principally facing the river, the source of supply for all the diggings on its banks, as well as those contiguous to it; many of the stores are substantial buildings. It has already a population of 10,000.page 216
Marlborough Province was formerly part of that of Nelson, and extends from its eastern side to the mouth of the Conway river on the eastern coast; in it are the Kaikoura ranges, with several other noble mountains. Its capital is Picton, seated on one of the many arms of Queen Charlotte’s Sound; and were it not so shut in by mountains from access to the interior, it propably would have been the selected site for the capital of New Zealand. At present it is a small but neat town, so also Blenheim, on the Wairau. Havelock, Renwick, Kaikoura, and Mokonui, are likewise rising little places. The chief support of the province is derived from its sheep runs; much of its surface being well covered with grass. The slopes of the Kaikouras and the valley of the Wairau are admirably adapted for sheep, and thus no province has advanced more steadily than this, though so recently formed. There is no part of New Zealand where fish are more numerous and of such variety as in Queen Charlotte’s Sound, the importance of this is beginning to be perceived, the curing of the different kinds becoming a lucrative branch of industry; one person is said to have cleared £1200 last year by the sale of fish which he had dried; they are of a quality which has made them highly prized both in New Zealand and Australia.
The Canterbury Province occupies the centre of the Middle Island, being bounded on the north by Nelson and Marlborough, and on the south by Otago. It lies between the parallels of 43° and 45″ S. latitude, and contains about 12,000,000 acres, of which fully a quarter form one grand plain at the eastern side of the western range of mountains; these three millions of acres extend to the sea, and are covered with flocks and herds, the whole being divided into sheep runs; the grass, though scant and thin in general, still sustains large flocks of sheep. These plains are intersected by many rivers, or rather torrents, which rush with great impetuosity to the sea, and rise so suddenly as to render them very dangerous; the lower ranges appear to have the best grass and in the largest quantity. As the population increases these sheep runs are being gradually encroachedpage 217
on by small farmers, to the disgust of the lordly run-holders, but to the permanent benefit of the province, by increasing agriculture and improving the face of the country. The run-holders have been pioneers to introduce agriculture, and the more perfect development of the natural resources of the country; there are nearly a thousand of them in the Middle Island. At present the plains have a dismal look, seldom if ever green, of a dingy yellow; in passing over them the eye of the traveller is wearied, but, wherever there is a station, it rises up like an oasis in the desert, surrounded by a little grove of blue gums, a Tasmanian Eucalyptus, which flourish there better than in their own country, standing forth as conspicuous objects in those vast plains.
Christ Church is a wonderful city; seated on the Avon, a beautiful clear stream, on whose banks the Government buildings stand, a noble pile of durable stone, just finished, and a little further the river is spanned by a well-built stone bridge; the city is surrounded by an avenue several chains wide, which is planted with a double row of trees on either side; this, in a few years, will give quite a character to the place; the generally low and swampy nature of the site will, it is to be feared, render it unhealthy, but the place is remarkably neat and clean, and there are numerous artesian wells, which materially add to its health, as well as to the comfort of its inhabitants. In addition to those of the Episcopalian and Wesleyans, the Presbyterians have a good church and the Roman Catholics a well finished one likewise. The club is an ornamental building. Though the real town is small the suburbs are extensive; the population is now between 7000 and 8000. The tunnel connecting Christ Church with its port being on the point of completion, if not already so, the character of the city in a commercial point of view will soon be greatly changed, as it will then have a straight, easy, and rapid communication with the Lyttleton Harbour. That town, the seaport of the province, is neat and compactly built, with four places of worship, English, Scotch, Roman, and Wesleyan; and from 1500 to 2000 inhabitants. Before the tunnel was formed the town was badlypage 218
watered, but whilst making it, a fine stream was discovered, which now affords a constant supply.* The carriage road thence over the hills to Sumner is very precipitous, and not without danger. The scoriacious rocks and cliffs on the Sumner side are extremely curious, perforated with caverns, which are turned to account by their owners and used as sheds, stables, and storehouses. Sumner only wants trees to make it a most romantic spot.
Kaiapoi, about 10 miles from Christ Church, near the mouth of the Waimakariri, or Courtenay, is a small port for vessels not drawing more than six feet of water, the centre of a rich extensive agricultural and pastoral district, with several pretty little villages around. Ricarton may be named as one which, with its neatly trimmed hedges, well cultivated fields, and comfortable homesteads, will make the stranger fancy he is transported back to old England;—indeed the many comfortable homes of the Canterbury pilgrims would make one think they had brought with them these domestic shrines from the land of their nativity. In whatever line we bend our steps there they are to be seen, whether we visit Cashmere, the abode of the patriarchal ex-Judge of Moradabad, or the Kaiapoi, or Rangiora, we meet with convincing proofs of the rapid and sure progress of the province, which, though so recently founded, has outstripped all in energy and success.
Timaru, at the termination of the Canterbury plains, is a rising little town, striving for separation; it is the outlet of a considerable pastoral district, and is about 110 miles from Christ Church. The importance of this place, with its surrounding districts, will be seen from the amount of customs paid for the year ending June 1865, £6740; for the year ending June 1866, they had risen to £9342; whilst the export of wool has risen to 8200 bales from this port. In 1861 the population of Timaru was only 300; the town and suburbs have now fully 800. It has an English and Scotch
* This stream is not only a thermal one, the temperature being about 80° but contained fish when first tapped, which is remarkable, flowing as it does from some subterranean lake.
Church, also a Wesleyan Chapel, and publishes a newspaper.
At the extremity of the remarkable promontory of Akaroa, is the fine harbour of the same name, of which the French, in 1839, intending to take possession, sent out two vessels under Captain Laborde, fitted out by a Company called Le Bourdelais, but they were forestalled by the Governor sending Captain Stanley, of the Spitfire, who arrived there three days before, hoisted the British flag, and was holding a court over some whalers. When Captain Laborde and his vessels arrived he laughed, and told Captain Stanley that he was regularly forestalled, but landed his emigrants, who formed a little colony, and several still continue there, chiefly occupying themselves in raising fruit. The elevation of the land is so great that it has hitherto quite shut out all communication with the country beyond, except by horse across the hills to Pigeon Bay, whence a small steamer runs three times a week to Lyttelton. It has five saw mills, and during the year 1865, nearly 2,000,000 feet of timber, 5000 posts and rails and 200 large piles, 30 tons of cheese, 70 kegs of butter, 600 packages of fruit, were exported from this little settlement; sheltered from the cold winds it enjoys a warm climate suitable for the vine.
In April of 1865, gold was discovered on the west coast of the Canterbury Province. The effect produced by this event has been wonderful; in a part which was almost unknown, and which had been visited by very few of our countrymen prior to the finding of gold, a large town has sprung up, roads have been made, and coaches run, even telegraphic wires are laid. In a little more than a year the entire population and revenue of the province were doubled, and its resources most wonderfully developed. The quantity of gold exported from its first discovery to the 30th November 1865, was 187,560 ounces, value about £750,000. The period over which the export extended was eight months, since which it has continued largely to increase. The population of the gold-fields may, in the absence of official returns, be estimated at 50,000. Thepage 220
export of gold in one fortnight in June 1866, exceeded 75,000 ounces!! The first rush took place in February 1865, to the Green Stone Creek, or Hohonu River, a tributary of the Teramakau; the finds there were of sufficient promise to attract a large number of diggers from the adjacent provinces, when their researches were rewarded by the discovery of the precious metal at the Waimea, Kaneiri, Hokitika, Totara, Wanganui, Mikonui, Okarita, and many other spots. The fame of the new diggings produced the usual results; a flood of immigration from the other colonies set in, which still continues without diminution. The coast further to the north has proved very rich in its yield, and it is now known that from 60 miles north of the River Grey to Bruce’s Bay South, an extensive district, is one vast gold field.
Hokitika, the centre depôt, whence the supplies for the diggings are chiefly obtained, is a large regularly-built and comparatively substantial town, it is interesting as showing the talismanic influence of gold, in causing an important town in a few months to take the place of a densely-timbered swamp. It has had a municipal charter granted, and possesses its Mayor and Aldermen like any of the old-established towns, and this is also a proof of everything being reversed at the antipodes. Hokitika, the offspring of a year, obtained its municipal charter, whilst some of the oldest towns, which are coeval with the colony, are still without one;* great activity is manifested in improving, clearing, draining, and forming the streets, for which purpose an improvement committee was early organized, which has been cordially aided by the Provincial Government.
Hokitika contains the enormous number of ninety-two public houses and twenty-three importers and merchants, one of whom is a Chinese, whose countrymen also are flocking like eagles to share the carcase, much to the disgust of
* Late accounts seem to show that this charter, on account of misunderstandings between the General and Provincial Governments, has been repealed; but the last papers state it has been formed into a county by the name of Westland, and has thus initiated a better system.
the other diggers, of whatever race or nation, who all unite in disliking the celestials.
Otago was colonized in 1848, under the auspices of the New Zealand Company, by an association of the members of the Free Church of Scotland. Dunedin, the capital of the province, is situated at the south-western extremity of the harbour, the sides of which are beautifully wooded. The Port, or town of Port Chalmers, is near the entrance where all the large vessels anchor, and thence goods and passengers are taken up to Dunedin by small steamers. The Matoura river forms the southern, and the Waitaiki the northern, boundary; between these and extending to the west coast is a tract of nearly two hundred miles. This province is more hilly than that of Canterbury, generally well grassed, and suitable for cattle and sheep. It has, however, several large tracts well adapted for agriculture; of these the chief are the Tairi, Tokomairiro, and Molyneaux, the latter of which is the most extensive, and, perhaps, the richest in the character of its soil; the climate, though much colder, is still good and healthy.
In 1861 gold was discovered in this province. It was long felt to be the grand desideratum of New Zealand; the various Superintendents of the different provinces made liberal offers of a £1000 for the first discovery of a paying gold field, but I cannot find that any one of the provinces ever bestowed the reward, fancying at first; perhaps, that it had not been found in sufficiently paying quantities. The New Zealand provinces were in a very precarious position when the Australian diggings were in all their glory; numbers were drawn away from their scant population. The state of Dunedin then was anything but prosperous; the town, whilst solely in the hands of the old identities, as the original settlers were called, made little progress; but immediately gold was discovered the tables were turned, and the Melbourne diggers rushed in and completely altered the character of the place; from being exclusively Scotch, it became a scion of Melbourne. The go-a-head spirit of Victoria was soon seen in the town of Dunedin,page 222
which rapidly became enlarged, and filled with noble edifices, so that now its chief streets may rival any in the colony. Many of its houses are of hewn stone; the different Banks are beautiful edifices; the streets well paved, and like Christ Church lighted with gas. The exhibition buildings are noble, and greatly to the credit of the province; it was an exhibition which was well calculated to advance these Australasian colonies generally, and deserving of more interest and encouragement than it obtained from them; excepting Tasmania, they were scarcely represented at all. The population, too, was trebled, so that in a short time Otago stood first in point of numbers. The Dunstan, Shotover, and Wakatipu diggings have been very profitable, and are giving rise to towns containing permanent, instead of temporary, erections. The changes occasioned by the gold diggings in that remote part are extraordinary. Wakatipu Lake, some 60 or 70 miles long, has now two flourishing towns on its banks, Queenstown and Kingstown. There are two, if not three, steamers plying between those places, and another large one being built; with communications by Cobb’s coaches thence to Dunedin.
Gold gave an impetus to trade, immigration, and advance, but Otago has another source of wealth in its sheep. Wool exported increases every year. In 1861, 1,665,983 lbs., of the value of £111,065, were exported; in 1865, this was increased to 5,260,840 lbs., value £359,471.
The effects of gold are seen in the imports and exports. In 1861, when gold was first found, the imports were £859,733, and the exports £843,702, but the next year they rose to, imports £2,394,483, and exports £1,742,431; and in 1863 imports reached £3,416,070, and exports £2,351,734; but in 1865, when gold was discovered in Canterbury province, the imports fell to £1,730,529, and exports to £1,406,592.
Oamaru, the most northerly township in the province, is the centre of the grand wool-producing district of Otago; it is 80 miles distant from Dunedin, and being the only port for the shipment of wool along the coast north of Port Chalmers,page 223
is becoming a very important place; its population at present is 900. The “Oamaru Times” is also published weekly. The Provincial Government has erected a jetty at the cost of £7000. The duties collected for the year ending September 30th 1865, were £3712. 19s. 9d.
Waikowaiti is a small town on the northern shore of the River Waikowaiti, half-a-mile from the sea, and 28 miles north of Dunedin; it has a considerable population gathering along the banks of the Clutha, forming already the nucleus of a town. Another settlement has been formed in the Shag Valley, to which the name of Palmerston has been given.
The province of Southland was taken out of that of Otago, and when the gold diggings were flourishing, it bid fair to become a most important one. It is to be observed, both of it and the other newly-formed provinces, that in proportion they have advanced far more rapidly than the larger ones, a proof that when the islands are divided into counties, their progress will be proportionably increased; the population of Southland, according to the last census, was more than doubled in three years. Invercargill, the capital, is a rising town; it is seated on the New River, about 28 miles northwest of the Bluff, on a level plain; it has a population of fully 2000, and possesses several good buildings. Before the diggers left the lake district they derived their supplies chiefly from it. A line of rail was constructed from the Bluff to the town, a great undertaking for the place in its infancy, involving its Government in expenses which it could not meet, and, strange to say, the railway carriages were seized by the creditors; but the General Government came forward to lend a helping hand, and now the province is gradually getting into a more healthy state. The railway is completed and in operation; the telegraph commences at the Bluff and now traverses the whole island, crosses Cook’s Straits, and reaches as far as Wellington. The arrival of the overland mails here from Melbourne is a great thing for the place; it is also the port for all the produce of the southern end of the island; yet, strange to say, there is a retrograde feeling increasing, and a desire to be reincorporated with Otago.page 224
Campbell Town, at the Bluff, is likely to increase, from all the steamers stopping there. Riverton, next to the capital, is the largest place, it is well situated, and must advance, being the outlet of that part. The direct communication with the sea from the lake district is to the Bluff, and this will insure a certain amount of traffic with the interior, which will always benefit the province.
Stewart’s Island, or Rakiura, is also an important appendage of Southland; it has, however, made less progress than, perhaps, any other part of the New Zealand colony. The descendants of the earliest colonists, the whalers, who first inhabited it, still continue to do so. Its population chiefly consists of a half-caste race, who have their little farms, and divide their time between them and fishing pursuits. The curing of fish appears likely to become an important and lucrative business; one individual employs thirty men, and has exported nearly 7000 lbs. of them at a time; they are highly esteemed, and meet with a ready sale. The export of oysters is also becoming greater every year; they are said to be of a very fine kind, equal to the best “natives.” The natives of that part reside on the little island, Ruapuke, which lies midway in Foveaux Straits.