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Musings in Maoriland

The Rise and Progress of New Zealand

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The Rise and Progress of New Zealand.

There is ever a danger of confounding analogy and identity. If it is said a State is an organism—growing, developing as other living bodies grow and develop,—one must not assume that a nation passes through the same phases and has all the characteristics of an individual. It is a useful analogy to use—to say the State is an organism. There is, however, no identity, but often dissimilarity, between the growth of a person and that of a nation. With this caution, however, it will help us in briefly tracing the intellectual history of New Zealand—to speak of its progress in terms of growth, as if it were an organism. New Zealand began its career as a Colony in 1841. From 1832 to 1841 it was treated as part of New South Wales, and there was a British resident in New Zealand paid by the page 2New South Wales Government up to 1840. In 1841 it began an independent existence, having become a separate Colony on the 3rd May, 1841. British sovereignty was proclaimed on the 29th January, 1840. The colonists—most of whom, it may be said, had come from the mother colony—had been attracted thither by three causes. First, some had gone as missionaries; second, some were engaged in whale fishery; third, others were trading with the Natives and frequented the harbours of Auckland during the whale fishing, obtaining timber, etc., from the Islands. In 1839 the New Zealand Company was formed to provide for systematic colonisation, and in 1840 about 1200 settlers landed at Wellington.

In 1840, also, the City of Auckland was founded, and proclaimed the capital of New Zealand; and thus began what has been the peculiarity of New Zealand settlements—the planting of settlers at different points on the coast, with little communication between them. In the other colonies there was some central point from which the settlers gradually dispersed to the outlying lands. In New Zealand the settlements were like distinct colonies, and, in the case of Canterbury and Otago, under distinct religious associations.

In 1832 there was a British Resident. In 1840 came a Lieutenant Governor, acting under the Government of New South Wales. In 1841 there is a distinct government and there is a Legislative Council—a legislating and administering body rolled into one. That was the day of small things, for the European residents were but a handful. There was, however, some sale for land in Auckland, and a revenue also became possible. In 1841 the revenue from land was page 3£29,136 12s 3d, and from other sources £12,325 5s 6d—in all £41,461. The expenditure gives a good clue to the Government functions. It was—

Civil Service £13,822 12 6½
Native 977 6 2
Land (including surveys) 5,909 17 1
Native Land Purchase 1,510 11 6
Public Works 12,123 11 5
Education 209 17 0
Miscellaneous 5,547 11 5

Here, then, are two small communities—one in Auckland and the other on the shores of Port Nicholson—beginning to found a nation; living at peace with the Maoris, with small exports (£17,717 in 1841), and larger imports as the people were arriving in the Colony with their means (£133,358 in 1841).

No doubt, as Virgil has sung, the colonists left home

"Cum sociis natisque penatibus et magnis dis."

and they necessarily took many elements of their social life—part of the social medium or environment—with them. But a new life and a new environment had to be built up. New Zealand was not to become merely "a bit of England" amidst a Polynesian population. In time it would develop its own national life—-its own peculiarities—its characteristic social organisation, and like a living organism, it had first to look after mere existence. The settlements were planted amidst a warlike people, numerous compared with the handful of settlers. The estimate of Maoris at that time is various, page 4but in the North Island there must have been about 75,000 people when the settlers first arrived. Industries there were none; whale oil, kauri spars in the North, some flax, a little agricultural produce from the Maoris—that was all that the Colony yet produced. Manufacturing industries were unknown. Cattle-rearing came first, and as the settlers were first located in bush land, clearing bush had to keep pace with or precede agricultural development. Provision was made for religion, and, as in England, the schools were under the control of the Church—the Church was looked upon as the proper organisation to manage education. It, and not the State, was to civilise the Maoris and to teach the young. Little by little the vote of education mounted up, beginning in 1840 at £68 15s 5d, and going up to £209 17s in 1841; £200 in 1842; £200 in 1843; £200 in 1844; £875 in 1845; £1253 6s 8d in 1846; £1100 in 1847; and £3466 in 1848. The Education Ordinance of 1847 provided that one-twentieth of the revenue was to be spent on education. The schools were under either the bishop of the Anglican Church, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, or the Wesleyan Mission. At first the Maoris received the Pakehas kindly. In 1839, when Colonel Wakefield landed at Port Nicholson, there was a feast of welcome, but evil days came and misunderstandings arose. The first expenditure for military purposes was in 1844. Heke's war began in that year. The expenses before that year were £866 2s 9d. In 1845 they were £7108 11s 11d; in 1846, £10, 256 18s 11d. The total receipts from revenue and land sales being only that year £25,852 us 6d. a sum of £10,828 was spent in 1847; and this in addition to the expenses of page 5the Imperial Government for military purposes. The second settlement formed by the New Zealand Company was located in Wanganui in 1841. The third was formed at New Plymouth in 1841, and the fourth at Nelson also in 1841. In 1842 the first settlers direct from Britain landed in Auckland. Some few had arrived at Manukau in 1841 under the auspices of a Scotch Colonisation Company; but all the other settlers in North New Zealand had come from New South Wales or Tasmania. In 1848 the Otago settlement was founded, the first ship, the 'John Wickliffe', arriving on the 22nd March, 1848, and the second on the 15th April, 1848. Canterbury was founded in 1850, the first ship with the surveyors arriving in April, 1850. The first emigrant ship arrived on the 16th December, 1850.

We behold the settlements formed—small nuclei planted along the coast, each struggling for an independent life—each experiencing different difficulties and trials. In the North the Native questions loomed large. No doubt the Natives were a great help to the early settlers. They created a trade at once, and they were otherwise helpful—but the existence of a foreign people had its evil side, outside and beyond what are called "Native disturbances." It was a race trained in civilisation meeting a race not so trained—a race with one moral code, meeting another with quite a different rule of life. The social medium was different, and necessarily both races suffered.

All the settlements had this great advantage—there were picked men in them all. Such men as Domett, Fox, Featherston, Fitzherbert, Sinclair, Whitaker, Martin, page 6Swanson, Godley, Fitzgerald, Clifford, Pollen, Cargill, Burns, Macandrew, Gillies, Weld, Bell, Wakefield, Richmond, etc., not to mention other names as worthy, were men of whom an old nation might well be proud, and they brought with them high views of colonial life, and high ideals to live by. It was not a race for wealth which they were running, but they aimed at founding what had been happily named, "A Britain of the South." and the library was not forgotten. a newspaper was one of the first things thought of, Mr. Samuel Revans publishing on the 18th April, 1840, the second number of the 'New Zealand Gazette,' the first number having been published on the 21st August, 1839, in London. Churches were established whereever a settlement was formed, and they became centres of social life. Something was needed to weld society together. For it was not a whole village or town moved from Britain to some portion of New Zealand, but men and women from different parts of the empire, unknown to each other perhaps until they met on shipboard, going to form a new settlement. Along with churches, came schools. First, tentatively and poorly; but as the settlements got older the need of education was felt more and more, and with wise prevision, endowments were set aside, for the Colony, aimed to give in literary culture all that even England could bestow. Not however till 1869 was a University—the cope stone of an educational system—founded, and then in a small way. Three professors came to Otago in 1871, and the essentials of an arts' course were accessible to colonial students. Then came in a few years Canterbury College, page 7and a little later Auckland University College. There was also established a New Zealand Institute, so that the scientific men could compare notes, and diffuse information about the natural history of the Colony. Musical Societies from the first were attempted, and these with many fluctuations have been continued with varying success.

It is not necessary to write of physical training. For example, within nine months of the landing of the first emigrants in Otago we read of a challenge being issued to the Wellington Cricket Club by Dunedin cricketers to meet them half-way to see whose skill should win. After cricket came football—horse racing seems to have been even as now, popular—then lawn tennis, fishing, bowling, etc., etc. Every kind of sport and pastime has been duly acclimatised, and no doubt these have had their share in welding society together, as well as in keeping men physically strong. Then we have brought with us the unions and societies of the old world. The Masons, Oddfellows, etc., etc., have all their lodges and unions, and as the Colony has grown these have become strong amongst us.

One great impetus the Colony got was from the discovery of gold. It brought to our shores men of enterprise, energy, and ability. There became new surroundings for the communities, and parts apparently doomed to desolation for a long time to come, so far as human habitation was concerned, became peopled. Central Otago, Westland, and parts of Nelson and Marlborough were settled by an enterprising, hand-working and intelligent people. Settlements were born in a day.

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Then just as the gold tide was ebbing the Public Works Policy was introduced, and for the first time in the Colony's history the value of exports exceeded that of imports. In 1870 the imports were £4,639,015, and the exports £4,822,756. This was the highest figure the exports had ever reached, though the imports had in 1863 been as high as £7,024,674. Gradually after the Public Works Policy was adopted the imports rose, people came in great numbers to the Colony and they brought capital with them. The loans floated in England, and the purchase of railway plant and material necessarily increased the imports. Further, the mere fact of many emigrants coming to New Zealand brought settlers. The Immigration Policy that was pursued was liberal—perhaps in some instances too liberal,—as sufficient care was not sometimes taken in the selecting of those who received Government assistance to go to the Colony. It will be noticed as the flow of people into the Colony decreases, so the imports decrease, and as the flow increases the imports increase. The Public Works Policy brought more mechanics relatively than had come to the Colony before. The first settlers had looked to whaling and trading with the natives. Those who came under the auspices of the New Zealand Company, of the various settlement associations and down to the gold days, came as settlers—looking to the cultivation of the land as the aim and object of a settler's life. With the gold discoveries there came the "digger", seeking for a fortune, and to return soon to the country from whence he came; and with him came the usual camp followers to supply his wants. Few looked upon gold digging as a page 9permanent industry. The emigrants who came by and through the Public Works Policy had not the definite aims of any of the before-mentioned classes. They were to get work—Government work, it was thought—and in time they hoped to get employment for themselves or their families. Their ideal was not a settler's cabin and a farm, nor a digger's fortune; and just as public works ceased, and as the young people born in New Zealand came to maturity, it was asked, "What were they to do?" the claimant necessity for diversified industries found expression. The Colony must have manufactures, it was said, and factory life became possible. Only now are we entering the manufacturing era—though of course the more direct and simple manufactures have been with us for many years. Hides made into leather, tallow into soap and candles, are our earliest industries. The higher type of manufactures is only now finding a home amongst us; and the set is not so much towards a country as to a town life. The population of the towns increases more rapidly than that of the outlying districts. There are no doubt reasons for this. By railways, distribution has been made easier. The village shoemaker and tailor have to give way to the town factory. The settler can get his clothing and his boots cheaper in the centres of population, and better made; and, at the same time, the workers can be better paid as specialisation in work and machinery has made production easier and cheaper. Then, again, the machinery now used in agriculture—and soon to be applied even to pastoral farming, as witness Wolsely's sheep-shearing machine—has wonderfully improved and multiplied. Fewer page 10men need to live on the farms, and when workers are required they can be drawn from towns. Those things, more perhaps than the attractions of town life, have caused migration to the towns, and it is scarcely possible that this set towards town life can be stopped unless our industries are differently managed, very small farming encouraged, and village settlements created.

Our political system has passed through many phases. Beginning with a British Resident, then a Lieutenant Governor, both under control of the mother colony, New South Wales; we were a Crown Colony from 1841 until 1853. In that year a new constitution was proclaimed; a General Assembly consisting of the Governor, the Legislative Council—members nominated for life—a House of Representatives elected by freeholders and householders to manage Colonial concerns, and six Provinces, with a Superintendent and a Council elected by the freeholders and householders to manage purely Provincial concerns, became our government machinery. The Provinces were Auckland, Taranaki, Wellington, Nelson, Canterbury, and Otago—with their capitals, Auckland, New Plymouth, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, and Dunedin. At first the duties of the Provinces were mainly municipal, and outside of the Provincial Parliament there was little, if any municipal-life. By-and-bye came differentiation of functions. Boards of various kinds were established. Education was, after the first two or three years of Provincial institutions, managed by committees and boards of varying constitution. Roads were attended to by commissioners or elected boards under the Provincial Executive. The town centres were page 11created municipalities, free from the Provincial control, save that in some instances the main road through the town was considered Provincial property. Then came diverse things requiring attention—stock, sanitation and the management of the goldfields; and the Provinces organised bodies to meet the varying circumstances of their territory and so the system worked on till people at a distance from the central town thought their interests were being neglected. If a rival centre was established, why should there not be a new province? and if there was no splitting up of the Provinces, would they not soon become little republics, not municipalities, with no ties to each other or the Colony, and would not the Colonial Government be emaciated if not destroyed? the new Provinces Act was passed by those who feared Provincial development; and Hawke's Bay, Marlborough, Southland, and afterwards Westland, were its product. But what helped more to destroy the Provinces than their disintegration by multiplication was the General Government undertaking colonising functions. The Public Works policy was the sledge-hammer that broke the Provincial system into pieces. With loans there came interest and sinking funds to be paid, and that necessitated fresh taxation and an absorption of the revenues formerly given to the Provinces for their administration. In 1870 the end of the Provinces was seen by few, but it soon became apparent that Abolition was within a measurable distance. The only hope of their continuance lay in specialising their functions and in entirely separating their finance from that of the General Government, and that was never done.

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Another cause that may have contributed to Abolition was the feeling for unity that was in the air. Even the fact that the German Empire had been created, that there was a longing for closer relationship amongst other European races, had its effect on New Zealand, and on the public opinion of the Colony.

It has been said that the newspaper made its appearance with the arrival of the settlers. Perhaps nothing could better show the growth of a nation than its progress in literature. The newspaper, the political pamphlet, the struggle about political means—occasionally a little theological outburst—behold the beginnings of colonial literature! the living speech and the newspaper in the coming city, but the present village, are the means of literary culture. New Zealand had political training of a marked kind. It had to struggle for "Home Rule" as opposed to colonial office management. This struggle, extending over some years, led to debates, to pamphlets, to memorials, and to a sharpening and an educating that had a good mental effect on the colonists. But above all, the meeting and dealing with a Native population afforded a field for the display of statesmanship and philanthropy. The lives of Sir William Martin and Bishop Selwyn show how they struggled to preserve the Maoris and in the record of the Parliamentary debates will be found flights of eloquence that are not second to the best oratory of Europe. One short extract, the closing words of one of New Zealand's statesmen (Mr. James Edward Fitzgerald, C.M.G.) may be quoted. It was spoken on a series of resolutions moved by him on the page 136th August, 1862, in favour of equal rights to the Maoris. One resolution said:—

"That this House will assent to no laws which do not recognise the right of all Her Majesty's subjects, of whatever race, within this Colony to a full and equal enjoyment of civil and political privileges." Other resolutions provided for the representation of the Maoris in the Legislative Council and House of Representatives. In concluding his speech, Mr. Fitzgerald said:—"I know that evil days may come when the sacred inheritance of light and truth which God has given to a nation to hold and transmit, may only be saved by an appeal to the last ordeal of nations—the trial by war; but I know, too, how great the crime which rests on the souls of those who, for any less vital cause, or for any less dire necessity, precipitate that fatal issue. I grudge not the glory of those who have achieved the deliverance of a people or the triumph of a cause by any sacrifice of human life or human happiness; but I claim a higher glory for those who, in reliance on a law more powerful than that of force, and wishing spells more mighty than the sword, have led the nation, by paths of peaceful prosperity, to the fruition of an enduring civilisation. I claim a higher glory for those who, standing on the pinnacle of human powers, have striven to imitate the government of Him who 'taketh up the simple out of the dust and lifteth the poor out of the mire.' and I claim the highest glory of all for that man who has most thoroughly penetrated that deepest and loftiest mystery in the art of human government—'the gentleness that maketh great.' I have page 14stood beside a lonely mound, in which lies buried the last remnant of a tribe which fell—men, women, and children— before the tomahawks of their ancient foes; and I sometimes shudder to think that my son, too, may stand beside a similar monument, the work of our hands, and blush with the ignominy of feeling that, after all, the memorial of the Christian law-giver is but copied from that of the cannibal and savage. I appeal to-night to the House to inaugurate a policy of courageous and munificent justice. I have a right to appeal to you as citizens of that nation which, deaf to the predictions of the sordid and the timid, dared to give liberty to her slaves. I appeal to you to-night in your sphere to perform an act of kindred greatness. I appeal to you, not only on behalf of that ancient race whose destinies are hanging in the balance, but on behalf of your own sons and your sons' sons; for I venture to predict that, in virtue of that mysterious law of our being by which great deeds once done become incorporated into the life and soul of a people, enriching the source from whence flows through all the ages the inspiration to noble thoughts and the incitement to generous actions, I venture to predict that, among the traditions of that great nation which will one day rule these islands, and the foundations of which we are now laying, the most cherished and the most honoured will be that wise, bold, and generous policy which gave Magna Charta of their liberties to the Maori people."

The number of pamphlets and books on New Zealand and on the Native Question far exceeded those printed and published of any other colony. There were more page 15questions here. Political rights and the transportation of criminals were perhaps the only exciting questions in Australia. Here we had, in addition to the ordinary political struggles, the Maori, and his wars, his lands, and his treatment, and the question of Provincialism. The different centres fought with each other. This led not only to political, but also to literary activity. Further, as each Province was striving to bring settlers to its shores, so there were necessarily published descriptive works and sketches of the settler's life from each Provincial district.

Scientific works, at first few and far between, beginning with Hooker's and Hochstetter's, were published. The engagement of Sir James Hector as Geologist by the Otago Provincial Government was here of considerable importance; for not only were his own researches of value, but he organised the scientific examination of New Zealand's Rocks, Fishes, Birds, etc. The founding of the New Zealand Institute in 1869, with its annual volume of proceedings and transactions, marked a general advance; and henceforward Science became systematised, though it was almost wholly to foreign-trained scientists that we looked for discoveries. With the rise of university training the New Zealander is becoming the observer and recorder of the natural history of his own country. Poetry, the Novel, and Art have only recently been found amongst us.

There was no time for light literature in the early days. The hard realities of life, the struggle, as it has been said, for mere existence, for food, for dwellings, for communication, and for political existence and political means, page 16absorbed all the literary and intellectual energy of the colonists. An individual here and there, whose tastes had been formed ere he left the place of his birth, cultivated philosophy and poetry; but to the mass there were other things of more importance. We find Domett, it is true, writing Ranolf and Amohia in the spare, and perhaps in the working, time of his office as Registrar-General of Lands. But he was a poet before he left England. He had written many poems before the Colony was founded—e.g., "The Forest Beauties, Upper Canada," in 1834; "A Stage Coach in the Alleghanies," 1834; "A Christmas Hymn," 1837. He had been a contributor to Blackwood's Magazine in 1837, 1838, and 1839, and his Christmas Hymn had been published in America. As a describer of New Zealand scenery—especially of the wondrous hot lake regions —he had been the pioneer, and none have yet excelled him in describing the Terraces, and alas! none can now excel him, for on the 10th June, 1886, the Terraces were destroyed by what is called the Tarawera Eruption. His poems had local colouring; although the first part of Ranolf and Amohia details the philosophical speculations of Europe. Little by little, stray poems appeared, racy of the soil; and then came tales for weekly papers, written by New Zealand natives and by those whose life had been almost wholly spent in the Colony. The first poems and the first tales, like the beginnings of American literature, were English. There was little distinctively of New Zealand in them. Local colouring was rare, and though tales have been multiplied, and our weekly papers once a year at page 17least give prominent space to locally written novelletes, there is still little New Zealand in them. The United States is now getting a distinctive literature—Cooper, Bret Harte, Cradock, Clements, Whitman, are thoroughly American. We have not yet had a novel of high excellence that is wholly of New Zealand.

In poetry we are more fortunate, for we have Australasian poets, and poems that are native to New Zealand. We have Brunton Stephens, Gordon, Kendall, Mrs. J. G. Wilson (Austral), Parkes, Adams, Kelly, Harpur, Martin, Sladen, Wentworth, and others; and Mr. Bracken, who has published poems for many years, may be ranked as one of our best, and is one whose country is Australasia, for he has been reared in Victoria and New Zealand. He is helping, and has helped, to create a national literature; and every year shows fresh competitors for the poet's laurel, and fresh aspirants for the novelist's fame. There are more tales and more poems published in New Zealand now in one year than were published in the fifteen years, say, from 1850 to 1865; and the disputes about mere political machinery are lessening. The Native question has faded away. The political struggles are neither so intense nor so prolonged. Social questions, as distinguished from political disputes, loom large, and literature ranks higher year by year. Reading is getting more diffused, and though the young Colonial has not yet the reading tastes of those of the same age perhaps in older countries—pastimes, games, etc., being more popular—this may be excused when the history of the Colony is examined. But public libraries page 18are getting abundant, the booksellers more numerous, magazine literature plentiful, and the local tales and poems much multiplied and in the days to come these must have their influence. The University has now many students. Last year there were no fewer than 496 matriculated students in New Zealand. The schools, both primary and secondary, are better equipped and better taught than in days gone by. We have Art Societies in our various town centres, and the beginnings of art galleries in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin. All these agencies will have their effect. Who can predict what the future will be? New Zealand being insular, far removed from the continent of Australia—about 1000 miles distant—having distinct natural features—will its literature be idiosyncratic? Its high mountain ranges, its peculiar evergreen forests, its volcanic belt with its geysers, the fiords with their walls of green, and numerous waterfalls, the cold lakes with glaciers in the distance, the Native people, their history, and the stories of the struggles between the two races, and the Pacific laving the shores, will surely beget a literature and a poesy—New Zealand's own. Nor do we think it will be open to the charge of Philistinism or narrowness—for we are not like England—two islands near a continent where many foreign languages are spoken and where intercourse in literature has been nigh impossible. We are linked with Australia, and our Mail Service to San Francisco is like a shuttle, sent monthly, weaving as with a silken thread to sixty millions of English speaking people, having a literature yearly rising in importance and complexity and we have page 19the literary impetus from the old land, too, for the English magazines and weekly journals are read by us. We are still interested in the political and social questions discussed in their pages. We need not, therefore, be narrow or insular, though our literature may have its local colouring.

A national feeling is no doubt arising amongst us. We are forgetting we are English, Irish, Scotch, German, or Norse, and we are coming to feel that we are New Zealanders. As the years roll on there will be still greater solidarity, and that seems needed before a national literature can arise. There is, however, something that will operate in the time to come most wonderfully in preventing national narrowness, and that is the migration of the people. We have Victorians, Tasmanians, New South Welshmen, and South Australians, as well as Canadians in various parts of our Colony and in all the Australasian colonies are New Zealand born men and women. The more rapid communication in these days than was dreamt of fifty years ago must have its effect, and prevent too great intenseness in our literature. Mr. Bracken is himself an example of what this migration may do. He has lived in Victoria,— and who that remembers the early digging days of the sister colony cannot appreciate "Old Bendigo!" While by us New Zealanders his pictures of our scenery and social life are highly appreciated.

The pioneers then in politics, in government, in all the institutions that go to ennoble the race have done good work. The literary pioneers are now beginning to start with their "Auroras," "Philip Laings," and "Charlotte Joneses."

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Let us hope they will be as successful in founding a national literature as the passengers in these vessels were in founding settlements. This may be said: Mr. Bracken need not be ashamed of his efforts. When the history of our literature is written, his poem will not be forgotten, and in the future will not the labours of the writer be ranked as high as the work of the statesman or the warrior?

Dunedin, N. Z., 1890.

Robert Stout.