The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Otago & Southland Provincial Districts]
The colonisation of Otago, as of Canterbury, may be traced back to the writing and teaching of that energetic political theorist, Edward Gibbon Wakefield. His principle of the “sufficient price”—the payment for land in new colonies, to be devoted to the settlement of the country and the immigration of labour—was the basis on which the New Zealand Company founded its settlements in Wellington, Nelson, and New Plymouth; and it was on the same principle that the New Edinburgh or Otago scheme was ultimately brought to a successful issue.
In 1842 Mr. George Rennie, the son of a well-known Scotch agriculturist, and a personal friend of Wakefield, contributed to the “Colonial Gazette,” then published in London, a series of suggestions for the foundation of a colonial settlement in New Zealand on a new and improved plan. The method suggested by Mr. Rennie was largely that subsequently adopted by the founders of Canterbury and Otago. When a suitable site had been selected, a body of engineers and surveyors was to be despatched to lay out a town, build a wharf, clear the ground, and stock it with cattle. When the colonists arrived, the land—about 106,000 acres—was to be sold to them, and about three-quarters of the proceeds were to be spent in immigration and the construction of roads and bridges.
It is likely that Mr. Rennie's attention had been drawn to New Zealand by the return to Scotland of a few of the colonists who in 1839 had sailed from Glasgow to Wellington. The Rev. Dr Macleod and Sir Archibald Alison, the historian, had assisted in this attempt to find an outlet for the surplus population of the old countries, and for some years an intermittent stream of Scotchmen—about 500 in all—found their way to the New Zealand Company's settlement. But the Company was apprehensive lest Mr. Rennie's scheme should endanger the success of the settlements already formed. Captain Hobson, then Governor, was strongly opposed to the wide dispersal of the settlements, and Mr. Rennie's choice of the East Coast of the Middle Island at once caused a serious difficulty. The Company's Directors by no means approved of many of the conditions of settlement on which Mr. Rennie laid stress; moreover, they were engaged in a permanent feud with the Colonial Office, and there seemed little prospect that anything would come of Mr. Rennie's plan. The colonies were then regarded by the Imperial Government as an expensive nuisance, and every possible obstacle was thrown in the way of fresh settlements. However, Mr. Rennie's letters to the “Colonial Gazette” attracted the attention of Captain William Cargill, a Peninsula veteran, who, then in his fifty-ninth year, was interested by the adventurous nature of Mr. Rennie's scheme, and entered enthusiastically into all his projects.
These two allies perseveringly urged their requests upon the Colonial Office, till in 1843 the Directors of the New Zealand Company announced that the much vexed question of titles to the land they had taken up was settled; and Captain Cargill and Mr. Rennie then offered to submit the choice of a site for the new settlement to the Company's principal agent in New Zealand. Taking advantage of the project for the Church of England settlement later established in Canterbury, they proposed that the new colony—to be called New Edinburgh—should be a purely Scotch Presbyterian settlement, that it must include provision for religious and educational purposes, and that the funds derived from the sale of the Company's lands should be employed in assisting Scotch labourers and workmen to emigrate thither. The “Terms of Purchase,” now for the first time formally laid before the Company, were as follows:
That the Company should set aside for the new settlement 120,550 acres.page 58
That the land should be divided into 550 acres for the town, 20,000 for suburban lots, and 100,000 for rural lots.
That the town should be divided into 2200 lots of one-quarter of an acre each; the suburban lands into 2000 lots of ten acres; and the rural land into 2000 lots of fifty acres each.
That 200 town lots should be reserved free of charge to be the property of the future municipal corporation.
That a single property should consist of one town lot, one suburban lot, and one rural lot.
That 200 properties on these terms should be reserved for the Company.
That the remaining 1800 properties should be offered for sale at £120 each.
That the purchase money thus received—£216,000—should be divided—£54,000 going to the Company in payment for land at 10s per acre, £30,000 for surveys and other expenses in founding the settlement, £81,000 for emigration, and the balance in various proportions for roads, and bridges, churches, and education.
That the order of selection of properties should be fixed by lot.
The Directors having duly considered these terms, replied that they would accept them, if a sufficient number of applications for land were received to ensure the success of the settlement.
At this juncture a new element was introduced into the colonisation project. In 1843 the great “Disruption” in the Scotch Presbyterian Church had occurred. Among those who for conscience sake seceded from the Establishment to found the “Free Kirk” was the Rev. Thomas Burns, nephew of the great poet; and he now comes into the story as one of the leaders in the Scottish emigration scheme. Through the efforts of Mr. Rennie, and the brother of Captain Cargill, the New Zealand Company directors were persuaded to endow their proposed Scotch settlement on behalf of the Free Church; and it was to the Rev. Mr. Burns that the offer of minister to the Colonial Church was now made. Mr. Burns accepted the appointment, and it was stated in the Report presented to the Free Church General Assembly in 1843 that £25,000 of the land purchase money was to be set aside for ecclesiastical and educational purposes to parties holding the principles of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. Unfortunately, Mr. Rennie's letters to the Directors of the Company did not make this last point clear, and serious difficulties arose later on in connection with the promised endowment. But at the time the prospects of the settlement were bright, and the promoters were widely congratulated on having secured the services of so able and conscientious a minister as the Rev. Mr. Burns.
Hitherto the proposed settlement had been described as “New Edinburgh.” To this title many exceptions were taken, and various substitutes were suggested, such as New Reekie, Edina, Bruce, Duncantown, Napiertown, and Wallacetown. At last, in 1843, Mr. William Chambers, of “Chambers's Journal,” in a letter to the “New Zealand Journal,” proposed the name Dunedin, the “old Celtic appellation of Edinburgh”; and in 1846 this name was formally adopted to mark the centre of the new settlement.
In this same year, 1843, Captain Fitzroy succeeded Captain Hobson as Governor of New Zealand, and appeared to take a sympathetic view of the Scotch colonisation scheme. Colonel Wakefield, acting for the New Zealand Company, was to select a spot suitable for the settlement on the East Coast of the Middle Island. But when forty families, including some 200 people, were ready to start, there came to England news of the Wairau massacre and the death of Captain Wakefield. But for this unfortunate event it is likely that Port Cooper (Lyttelton) would have been chosen as the site for the new colony; for the reports received in Scotland from the Deans Brothers, who had settled on the Canterbury Plains, had roused much interest and enthusiasm. However, in 1844 a difficulty arose between the Colonial Office and the New Zealand Company, as to the validity of the Company's titles; and the whole of the operations directed by Mr. Rennie were at once brought to a full stop.
Matters were now at a deadlock. The Colonial Office would do nothing for a special church settlement, and Mr. Rennie would not alter the most essential features of his scheme. It was hoped that Captain Fitzroy would be able to make some arrangement that would suit all parties; but it was not till the end of 1844 that those concerned were informed that a spot for settlement had been chosen at Koputai (Port Chalmers). But during the weary months of inaction Captain Cargill had almost decided to go to India, Mr. Burns had almost made up his mind to accept a Free Church charge in Scotland, and Mr. Rennie had become disgusted with the whole affair. He held out resolutely, however, till the New Zealand Company's Directors, seeing that their chief hope of success lay in making the enterprise a Free Church scheme pure and simple, virtually deposed him. The work was then carried on by Captain Cargill and Mr. Burns with the assistance of Dr Aldeorn, a physician of independent means, who proved to be a most valuable page 60 acquisition to the little band of colonisers.
Reference has already been made to the native and European inhabitants of the district of Otago, who dwelt there before the settlement of 1847. The country immediately round Port Chalmers had been visited by Captain James Herd, in the “Rosanna” expedition in 1826, by D'Urville, the French navigator in 1840, and in the same year by Governor Hobson, who obtained the nominal cession of this part of the country from the native chiefs Karetai and Koroko. Captain W. Mein-Smith in 1842 reported on the district as a possible site for settlement, but preferred Akaroa. Dr. Shortland examined the country round Otakou with some care in 1843, and camped on the spot which was then called Oteputi, and is new Dunedin. Bishop Selwyn spent a day at Otakou Harbour in 1844; and from all these sources of information the New Zealand Company's officers had a fairly accurate knowledge of the country when they were requested to get it examined and surveyed for the new settlement.
When Captain Fitzroy arrived in New Zealand he decided to allow the New Zealand Company to make its own bargain with the natives for the land required by the Free Church colony. Accordingly Mr. J. Symonds, police magistrate, and Mr. Frederick Tuckett, surveyor, were despatched from Wellington, with instructions to purchase 150,000 acres, and on no acount to survey until the ownership of the land was properly transferred.
Mr. Tuckett, who had helped to survey and lay out the Nelson settlement, stipulated that his choice should not be confined to Port Cooper, or any other site, but that he should be allowed to examine all the coast from Banks' Peninsula to Milford Haven. Under these conditions the little ship “Deborah” sailed from Nelson on the 31st of March, 1844. The master was Captain Thomas Wing, who was afterwards for thirty years pilot at Onehunga, and did not die till 1888. Besides Mr. Tuckett and his two assistants, Messrs Barnicoat and Davison, and five boatmen, Dr(afterwards Sir David) Monro accompanied the expedition, and subsequently published a full account of it in the form of a journal. The Rev. Charles Creed, Wesleyan missionary to relieve the Rev. James Watkin at Waikouaiti, also sailed in the “Deborah,” and the Rev. J. F. H. Wohlers, who laboured for forty-three years—until 1885—at Ruapuke among the Maoris. The Government officer, Mr. J. Symonds, was picked up at Wellington. Mr. Tuckett stayed for a week at Port Cooper (Lyttelton), travelling some distance into the interior, and the ship was visited by two of the most powerful of the Southern Chiefs, Taiaroa and Tuawhaiki (Bloody Jack), who had much to do with the final agreement with the natives that rendered possible the Otago settlement.
Mr. Tuckett rejected Port Cooper as unsheltered, and the plains as not sufficiently accessible from the harbour for settlement. He intended to cross westward to the hill country, then walk south to the Waitaki and follow it down to the coast. But his Maori guides failed him, and he was compelled to go on by sea. The “Deborah” took a week to reach Moeraki, and there Mr. Tuckett went ashore, and in three days walked to Waikouaiti. This prosperous settlement, the centre of the great whaling trade built up by Mr. John Jones, has been described in a previous section of this introduction. Unfortunately at this point Mr. Symonds and Mr. Tuckett quarrelled and separated. Mr. Tuckett found it necessary to make some sort of preliminary survey, to which Mr. Symonds would not agree, as the land had not yet been transferred from the Maoris. Thereupon Mr. Symonds sailed for Wellington, but a reconciliation was at last effected by Colonel Wakefield.
On the 23rd of April, 1844, the “Deborah” reached Koputai (Port Chalmers), while Mr. Tuckett went on overland from Waikouaiti to the present site of Dunedin. The explorers were charmed with the appearance of the country, and with the landlocked harbour; though Oreputi (Dunedin) was then covered with bush, and the land was peopled only by wild birds and pigs. Mr. Tuckett, however, decided to see the country as far as Foveaux Strait before finally choosing ground for the new settlement. The intrepid wanderers lost their way on the Taieri and endured many privations. The Molyneux impressed them greatly, and had the mouth of the river afforded better accommodation it is likely that the centre of the settlement would have been fixed there. The natives at Molyneux had been decimated by measles, and only a few survivors of a numerous tribe remained. From the Mataura Mr. Wohlers sailed for his island home of Ruapuke; the scene of his self-sacrifice for the next forty years. At the mouth of Waihopai, and also at Riverton (the Aparima), more good country was found; but after spending three days on Stewart Island, which then had a flourishing settlement of seventy white people, Mr. Tuckett decided that the Port Chalmers site combined more advantages than any other that he had inspected; and from the Molyneux the party made their way back on foot. The privations in the way of hunger and cold endured by these pioneers in threading their way through brackless bush and fording icy streams, can hardly be conceived by those who know the country only as it is now.
Having returned to Koputai, Mr. Tuckett proceeded to draw up elaborate plans of the chosen district on a scale of two miles to the inch. He and Mr. Symonds quarrelled again as to whether Mr. Barnicoat should represent Mr. Tuckett in making the preliminary survey; and Mr. Symonds again returned to Wellington to lay his complaints before the Government. About 150 Maoris collected at Koputai, and after much trouble Mr. Tuckett succeeded in arranging the purchase of an area of 400,000 acres. This territory became known as the Otago block, and stretched from Taiaroa Head down to Tokata Point (the Nuggets), and ran inland to the Kaihiku and Mihiwaka ranges. The sum paid for the block was £2400, at the rate of about 1 1/2d per acre. Meanwhile Colonel Wakefield had come down from Wellington with the Land Commissioner, Mr. Spain, the protector of Aborigines, Mr. Clark, and Mr. Symonds. Colonel Wakefield was thoroughly satisfied with Mr. Tuckett's choice, and after another week spent in preliminary examination of the land, the purchase was completed. The deed of transfer was signed on behalf of the Maoris by Tuawhaiki, Karetai and Taiaroa. The whole business was carried out with complete consent and goodwill on the part of the natives, and the Europeans owed much to the skill and tact with which Tuawhaiki—a man respected by all for his courage, intelligence and honesty—managed the negotiations.
The contract was accepted by the Maoris on the 31st of July, 1844. From the 400,000 acres purchased Colonel page 61 Wakefield selected 150,000 acres on behalf of the New Zealand Company; and two suveyors with several assistants were sent down from Wellington to assist Mr. Tuckett. Of these gentlemen Mr. Nicholson (later Sir Richard) afterwards gained high honour in the legal profession in England, and Mr. Allom, after holding several important positions in the West Indies, returned late in life to New Zealand. But Messrs Allom and Nicholson were soon recalled. News came that the funds and credit of the New Zealand Company were alike exhausted, and that all work and expenditure in the colony must be stopped. Mr. Tuckett, there fore, applied to be relieved of his charge, and his connection with the settlement now ceases. Though sometimes selfwilled and impracticable, he was a thoroughly capable, energetic, and conscientious man, and the subsequent history of the colony fully justified his judgment in the choice of the site of New Edinburgh. His successor, Mr. William Davison, was left for the time almost alone to wait developments on the shores of Koputai.
At the end of 1844 a party of Nelson settlers moved down to Koputai to try their fortune in the new land. Mention has already been made of the Andersons and McKays, from whom many Otago families are descended. Anderson's Bay is named after the leader of this little band. In February, 1846, another addition to the party was made by the arrival of Mr. Kettle and a number of surveyors to complete the task of laying out the settlement. On the 10th of December, 1846, the first white child that saw the light in Dunedin—the son of Mr. John Anderson—was born. The first child born at Port Chalmers was the son of Mr. Lethwaite, a Taranaki settler, who had come down in 1844. But in the meantime events had been progressing fast on the other side of the world, and the founders of the settlement were now at last able to take another definite step towards the accomplishment of their aims.
During 1844 and 1845 it had become more clearly evident to Captain Cargill and Mr. Burns that the work, if done at all, must be done themselves. Captain Cargill's business kept him in London, whence he maintained a constant correspondence with the other leaders in the movement. But Mr. Burns and Dr Aldcorn travelled over the length and breadth of Scotland advocating the cause of the still embryo colony. At last their perseverance bore fruit; and the heads of the Free Church began to regard the enterprise as distinetively their own. Mr. Burns, in spite of much bitter eriticism and jealousy, carried out the practical work of preparing the way for the colonists, and in May, 1845, there was held in Glasgow the first meeting of clergy and laymen “for the purpose of considering the scheme of a Scotch settlement at Otago, New Zealand, in connection with the Free Church.” At this meeting, Mr. Burns explained the situation to the gentlemen present. Mr. Whytlaw, who had just returned from the Bay of Islands, gave an enthusiastic account of his experiences, and the meeting resolved to form a Lay Association to carry out the Otago scheme. The resolutions carried express the strongest confidence in Captain Cargill and Mr. Burns, and urge upon the notice of the Free Church the facilities offered by the New Zealand Company for colonisation and for missionary enterprise. This Lay Association of fifty members soon increased in numbers and in influence; and for eight years it carried out its work of promoting the Otago settlement with great vigour and success. But nothing permanent or definite could be done till some compromise was effected between the New Zealand Company and the Colonial Office, which had all along been bitterly hostile to one another.
In 1845 the affairs of the Company were brought before the House of Commons in a three day's debate. The exposure of the incompetency and misrule of the Colonial Office was so overwhelming that the Government saved itself only by making the matter a party question. The Company triumphed all along the line, and Government was constrained to advance them £100,000 for seven years to enable them to pay off their liabilities and arrange for the Church of England and Free Church settlements then contemplated. Dr Aldcorn wrote a pamphlet entitled the “Scheme of the Colony of the Free Church at Otago in New Zealand,” and he and Mr. Burns set forth again on their missions distributing pamphlets, lecturing, and exhorting their fellow countrymen to join in their adventure. But for a long time they received little direct encouragement; and Mr. Burns was at last driven to accept a call to the church at Portobello, near Edinburgh. This was in July, 1846, and in page 62 1847 the Lay Association began its more active labours, with results that were subsequently apparent.
Meantime the Company had arranged with Mr. Charles Kettle to proceed with the survey of the settlement. Mr. Kettle had first gone out to New Zealand in 1839 in the first of the Company's emigrant ships; and he had done good work in surveying a large portion of Wellington province. He returned to Scotland in 1843, but reappeared at Koputai as surveyor to the Company under circumstances already described.
The accommodation at Port Chalmers was naturally very scanty. Mr. Kettle and his wife occupied one room of Mr. Tuckett's house, Mr. Park and his wife another; and meals were taken in MeKay's whare. Mr. Davison had occupied his time in surveying the coast line of Port Chalmers, and Mr. Kettle now proceeded to arrange for a general examination and division of the whole block. After a journey on foot to the Nuggets and back, Mr. Kettle allotted various sections of the work to his eleven assistant surveyors. The site of Port Chalmers was first surveyed, and accurate bearings and soundings taken for the harbour. The district round Balelutha and Inch Clutha was handed over to Messrs Wylie, Wills and Jollie, the last named being the settler who afterwards surveyed a portion of Canterbury, and after a long and active connection with that province, died at Paten in 1895. Between the Molyneux and Tokomairiro the ground was surveyed by Messrs Thomas and R. J. Harrison. The district between the Tokomairiro and Taieri, the Waihola and Waipori, was taken by Messrs Tully and J. C. Drake. The fourth contract covered the Taieri Plains, which were surveyed by Messrs Scroggs and Abbott, whose names survive at several points of interest in the district. The fifth contract, covering Anderson's Bay, and round to Kaikorai and Cape Saunders, was taken by Mr. H. Charlton. The town of Dunedin itself was subsequently laid out by Mr. Davison and Mr. R. Park. Many of the roads in the surrounding district were laid out by Mr. Davison, who, however, returned to England, soon after the completion of the surveys, in 1847. Mr. Charles Pelichet should be mentioned as Mr. Kettle's assistant, who laid out the sections on both sides of the Upper Harbour, and generally took an active share in the work of preparing the site for the long expected colonists. His name is perpetuated in Pelichet Bay.
The site of Dunedin as it was then of course presented a very wild though impressive and picturesque aspect. The surrounding hills were covered with bush from the summit to the water's edge. The chief peaks were Whakari (the Flag-staff), and Kapukataumahaka (Mount Cargill). A little winding stream, the Owheo (the Water of Leith) was the only river in sight. Along the flat and on the lower slopes of the hills, Mr. Kettle and his assistants proceeded to lay out the new town. The native names of the locality were to a large degree already replaced by titles introduced by whalers and early settlers. The name Otago (Otakou—red ochre) originally applied to a small district on the lower harbour, but was chosen by the Directors of the New Zealand Company to apply to the whole settlement. Portobello (Herewaka) was so called by a Scotsman named Christie, who settled there in 1840. Murdering Beach perpetuates a massacre of a boat's crew so early as 1825. Deborah Bay takes its name from the vessel that brought Mr. Tuckett's party down in 1844. Hamilton Bay was so called by Mr. Kettle after Mr. W. J. W. Hamilton, later a prominent member in the Canterbury colony; and Dowling Bay took its name from the nephew of Mr. George Rennie.
The original intention was to christen the port town New Leith or New Musselburgh. But the Lay Association decided that it should be named, after the champion of the Free Church, Port Chalmers. The survey of the town was completed in May, 1846. The names of most of the early immigrant vessels are retained in the streets—Wickliffe, Laing, Mary, Ajax, Bernicia. Scotia Street was so called after the schooner owned by Mr. John Jones. Harington Street bears the name of the New Zealand Company's secretary; Currie Street, that of one of the most energetic of the directors. The ability and popularity of the greatest of New Zealand's Governors are commemorated in the names of George Street and Grey Street.
In Dunedin Mr. Kettle was instructed to reproduce as far as possible the names of the Scotch capital. Thus the majority of the streets bear the names of streets in Edinburgh or Leith. According to Dr Hocken, there are twenty-one exceptions. Several of these—Cargill, Jones, page 63 Macandrew and others—relate to old colonists. Dowling, Smith and Russell Streets are called after friends of Mr. Kettle. Graham Street and Grant Street bear the names of old settlers, who had land on the town site. Vire Street was so called after the French man-of-war which helped the “Surat” passengers, when that vessel was wrecked at Catlin's river.
The same desire to connect the new settlement with the old home of the colonists is evidenced in the names that occur in many parts of the Otago block outside Dunedin. The Waimatau (renamed Molyneux by Captain Cook after his sailing master) was now called Clutha, the Gaelic name for the Clyde. The town at the ferry on the river, Balclutha, the island between its branches, Inch Clutha (once Tauhinu, the birth place of Tuawhaiki) suggest further reminiscences of Scotland. Subsequently as the settlement extended the number of these traditional or national appellations was greatly increased.
The new settlement was now reported ready for the colonists. But Colonel Wakefield, the Company's New Zealand representative, knew little what was happening in England, and in fact he was not informed of the departure of the first ships until long after they had set sail. The Company was still struggling on, against the inveterate opposition of the Colonial Office. Then Lord Derby was replaced as Colonial Secretary by Mr. Gladstone, and that statesman at once invited the views of the New Zealand Company Directors and Mr. E. G. Wakefield upon the position of affairs in the new colony. Mr. Wakefield, as always, advocated local control by the settlers; but Heke's war and other outbreaks made it impossible at the time to modify existing arrangements. By May, 1846, the Directors were so wearied by the long conflict that they were ready to hand over to the Imperial Government the complete control of their affairs. But the Company's shareholders refused to allow this step, and when Sir Robert Peel's ministry was succeeded by Lord John Russell, and Earl Grey became Colonial Secretary, the aspect of affairs changed. Earl Grey was very anxious to promote further colonisation, and freely admitted that the New Zealand Company had a strong case against the Government for neglect and wilful obstruction. He, therefore, arranged in 1847 that the Company should receive additional power to continue their valuable work, and that the sum of £136,000 should be advanced to cover their liabilities and enable them to proceed with the task of settlement; on condition that if, after three years, the Company should be unable to make headway, Government should step in and take over the Company's assets.
From this year dates the resuscitation of the movement for settlement. The arrangements that had been made in 1845 between the New Zealand Company and the Lay Association were now revived and re-issued in various forms. There were six successive issues of these Terms of Purchase, the last appearing in 1849. The labour of colonisation was to be undertaken by the Company to the extent of surveying the land, conyeying the emigrants to their destination, erecting buildings and making roads and bridges. The Lay Association was to supervise the conduct of the scheme on Free Church principles, selecting the free and assisted emigrants, and selling the properties.
The properties to be disposed of consisted each of three allotments: a town section of a quarter acre, a suburban allotment of ten acres, and a rural section of fifty acres. The ten acre allotments were all close to the site of the town, at North-East Valley, Anderson's Bay, Roslyn, St. Kilda, and the fifty acre rural sections lay in the Taieri, Tokomairiro and Molyneux districts. The price of each property was £120 10s, at the rate of £2 per acre. The whole extent of the Otago Block was divided into 2,400 properties, of which 2,000 were for sale to private individuals, 100 to be purchased on behalf of the local municipal government; 100 to be taken up for religious and educational purposes; and 200 to be reserved for the New Zealand Company. Out of the sum of £289,200 thus obtained, £108,480 was to be devoted to emigration and the supply of labour, £72,300 to surveys and public works, £36,150 to religious and educational purposes, and £72,300 was to go to the New Zealand Company. The Association was to be allowed five years to dispose of these 2,000 properties; and any balance in hand at the end of that period might be resumed by the Company. On the other hand, if the Association succeeded in working off the whole area in that time, it might apply for any further portion of the 400,000 acre block to extend the settlement.
A vigorous effort was now made throughout Scotland to promote the enterprise. Mr. John McGlashan, for many years a prominent figure among Otago colonists, now first appeared on the scene, and by his untiring energy and diplomatic ability did much to ensure the success of the scheme. Mr. McGlashan page 64 replaced Dr. Aldcorn, whose failing health compelled him to withdraw from his post of secretary to the Association; and under the new regime an immense amount of information in the form of pamphlets and circulars dealing with the scheme, was scattered broadcast through Scotland. The “Otago Journal,” which first appeared in January, 1848, did good service to the cause, but followed the departure of the first ships to the new land.
Captain Cargill now advised the Directors to advertise for vessels to carry out the first party of colonists. Mr. Burns at last felt assured that the scheme was fairly under way, and finally gave up his Portobello living to be free for his new duties. There were many applications for passages, and in November, 1847, the ballot for order in choice of the properties was held. Up to that time 104 properties had been purchased by private individuals, and the prospects of the little colony were bright. The Directors duly called for tenders, and finally accepted as the ships for the transport of the expedition the “John Wickliffe” and the “Philip Laing.”
A certain amount of interest must always attach to the individuality of these pioneer vessels. The “John Wickliffe” was a ship of 662 tons, owned at Greenwich and chartered at a cost of 2,000 guineas. The “Philip Laing” was a barque of 547 tons, belonging to a Liverpool firm who received £1,800 for the use of the vessel. The “John Wickliffe” was to sail from London and was the storeship of the expedition, loaded with bricks and slates, tools of all kinds for all varieties of trades, guns and ammunition and food. The sum of £500 in gold and silver was carried on board. The commander, Captain Daly, was an old East India man. The ship's physician was Dr Manning, who remained in the colony, and lived on till 1886. There were on this ship ninety-seven emigrants, with Captain Cargill at their head. The passages varied from sixteen guineas for steerage to sixty guineas in the best accommodation. The “Philip Laing” carried the majority of the emigrants, of whom 247 set sail, under the supervision of the Rev. Thomas Burns. Captain A. J. Elles, who lived on at Invercargill till 1887, was commander of the “Philip Laing” and Dr Ramsay was surgeon. The colonists thus started for their new home under the control of the two leaders, who had done more than any one else to accomplish the success of this great enterprise—Captain Cargill and the Rev. Thomas Burns.
The “John Wickliffe” sailed from Gravesend on the 24th of November, 1847. The voyage was dangerous and almost disastrous. Heavy weather tossed the ship about in the Channel for three weeks, and on the 8th of December she put into Portsmouth leaking badly. After refitting, she left again on the 16th of December, and narrowly escaped collision with a homeward bound vessel. After being nearly wrecked on the Scilly Islands, the “John Wickliffe” made a fairly comfortable voyage to the far south, but almost met with destruction in the vicinity of Kerguelen's Land. At last on the 22nd of March, 1848, after a voyage of 119 days in all, the vessel dropped anchor inside Taiaroa Head.
The “Philip Laing” started from Greenock on the 27th of November, but was driven by bad weather into Milford Haven. It was not till the disembarkation of the “John Wickliffe's” passengers has been completed, and the preparations for receiving the women and children at Dunedin were finished, that the second vessel arrived. Like the first, it was met and conducted to its anchorage by Pilot Driver, a splendid specimen of the old whaling school, who died in 1897 in his eighty-fifth year. He had been appointed by Governor Grey to take charge of the maritime affairs of the young settlement, and was for many years a prominent and interesting figure at Port Chalmers. The “Philip Laing” reached its destination twenty-four days after the “John Wickliffe,” on the 15th of April, after a voyage of 140 days from its starting point. The scattered band of pilgrims was now re-united, and, in fine weather, and with eager enthusiasm, they set about establishing themselves in their new abode. The “barracks” for the immigrants were long low houses, built with the help of the friendly natives, of flax, rushes and small timber; they were situated near the beach between Rattray Street and Dowling Street. Here the new comers were made comfortable enough. But the unloading of the vessels was conducted without proper direction and in a rather disorderly way, so that much time and energy were wasted over the business. It took more than two months to disembark the cargo and tranship the women, children, and stores from the Lower Harbour to Dunedin.
The manner in which the emigrants conducted themselves throughout this adventurous enterprise was eminently characteristic of their nationality and of the strongly practical faith that they professed. When the “Philip Laing” left Milford Haven, the voyage was inaugur- page 65 ated, not by the festivities usual on such occasions, but by a religious gathering, in which psalm-singing and prayer took the place of dancing and social amusements. Under the Rev. Mr. Burns the strictest discipline was maintained among the passengers. There was school for the ninety-three children twice a day, conducted by the schoolmaster, Mr. Blackie, and some of the passengers. The people rose at 6.30, and the berths had to be scrubbed out before breakfast. Twice a day there was a religious service with an extra one on Sunday. The diversions practised on board, says Dr Hocken, “consisted chiefly in singing national songs and in practising church psalmody.” A striking proof of the earnestness and sincerity of all concerned is to be found in the willing submission of the colonists to the [gap — reason: illegible] rigid rules of conduct imposed from the first by Mr. Burns and Captain Cargill.
The day after the arrival of the “Philip Laing” Mr. Burns preached his first sermon to his flock. He was followed in the evening by the Rev. Mr.Creed, the Wesleyan missionary who had been brought down in the “Deborah” on Mr. Tuckett's trip to relieve Mr. Watkin at Waikouaiti. But though the settlers were inclined to toleration, their leaders had determined that the Free Church character of the young colony must be maintained. Mr. Creed conducted the services at the gaol when it was established, and Captain Cargill, in 1849, addressed a long letter to Mr.Creed advising him to confine himself to the duties of his own appointment. Mr. Creed, not unnaturally indignant, published the letter with comments in the “Otago News,” and the episode gave. occasion to a good deal of bitter feeling. It was clear that the promoters of the Otago settlement were not inclined to deal lightly with the claim of the colony to be considered as a purely religious and sectarian foundation. The first church and school house was opened within three months of the arrival of the “Philip Leaing.”
The chief landing place was at the bottom of Jetty Street; but most of the stores had to be brought ashore on the men's backs. The provisions brought out in the vessels were sold by the Company at what were considered reasonable rates: sugar 3 1/2d per pound, tea Is 3d per pound, beef and mutton 6d per pound, oatmeal 2s 6d per stone, flour 3s per stone.
On the 21st of April the land purchasers formally selected their town allotments, page 66 which, it will be remembered, were quarter-acre sections, theoretically worth 10s each. The first private owner to choose a Dunedin section was Mr. D. Garrick, who took up the quarter-acre at the corner of Princes and Rattray Streets; on which the Bank of New Zealand stands. In a short time he sold his section for £100 to the landlord of the Royal Hotel, which was erected on the site. The new owner sold it after for £300, and it was resold in 1861 to Messrs Young and E. McGlashan for £1,600. These gentlemen sold a portion of it for the site of the new bank in 1863 for £9,000. These figures may give some idea of the rapid rise in land value in the settlement. Within ten years' time the records show an astonishing advance in the market price of these allotments. Writing in 1857, a colonist says: “Of the 2,000 quarter-acre sections which comprise the town of Dunedin, 979 have up to date been selected. So keen is the competition that £20 and up to £50 is often obtained. No better idea could be given of the advance in the value of the land which but ten years ago was a valueless wilderness, than by stating the fact that sections which originally cost 10s are now worth £500 to £1,000.”
The most important of the early selections were those made on behalf of the Free Church, which, in accordance with the Terms of Purchase, had received an allotment of 100 properties (6025 acres) to be held for it by the Trustees for religious and educational uses. These were Captain Cargill, Rev. T. Burns, Mr. Edward Lee and Mr. E. McGlashan, brother of the Secretary to the Lay Association. The selection were made with admirable judgment by Captain Cargill and Mr. Burns; twenty-two in Dunedin and Port Chalmers, the rest scattered through the provincial district. For the first four years the total income derived for religious and educational purposes was only £33; but their value then rapidly increased. Three special “reserves” were also chosen by Captain Cargill: one for the manse, at the top of Jetty Street, a second for the school and schoolmaster's house, where the City Hall stands, a third on the site known since as Bell Hill, part of which was afterwards used to reclaim the foreshore. Since 1873 the First Church has stood here, but this is really the fourth church in direct line of descent. The old First Church, after being used for public meetings and political gatherings, was converted into a woolshed and was finally destroyed by fire in 1865.
The architecture of the colonists' houses was necessarily simple. They ranged from wattle and daub and tree fern, to wooden frames. There was, at first, but little employment for labour. Wages under the Company were 5s per day for mechanics and 3s for labourers. At first the day was ten hours, but Mr. Burns should have the credit of taking the first step towards an Eight Hour day in the colony. When, in 1849, Mr. Fox, as agent of the Company, was petitioned to remedy the grievances of labour in Otago, he was able to show that wages were fifty per cent higher and hours ten per cent less than in the Old Country. So far, then, the immigrants had certainly gained by their adveturous voyage to unknown shores.
The first attempt to connect Otago officially with the central government of the colony was made by Governor Grey, who sent down from Wellington Mr. A. C. Strode and Mr. J. Macarthy, to act respectively as Inspector of Police and Collector of Customs to the new settlement. Hitherto the new colonists had not much reason to look upon the older settlements with a friendly eye. The newspapers in Nelson and Wellington had gone out of their way to “pour, contempt on the Free Church colony. “The inhabitants” were described as “poor, characterised by inertness or laziness in their proceedings”; and it was added that “having seen the harbour with its bar, its squally gusts, its steep precipitous shores, the town with its surrounding wilderness of hills, and the Taieri with its formidable swamp, the judgment which would inevitably be pronounced as to the capabilities of the place would be unfavourable in the extreme.” Such sentiments as these were not likely to conciliate men so seriously in earnest as Captain Cargill and his followers, and the attempt to exercise an official overlordship from Wellington was at first unpopular in the extreme.
In September, 1848, the “Blundell” arrived with a further shipment of colonists. Among these was a Carlisle printer, Mr. Henry B. Graham, who on the 13th of December, produced the first number of the little settlement's paper the “Otago News.” Mr. Graham was editor and compositor, and the little foolscap paper came out every fortnight; price, sixpence. In the June following, it was enlarged to folio size and issued weekly. It ran till the 21st of December, 1850, the ninety-first number being the last; and it was discotinued under rather unfortunate circumstances, which may claim notice later on.
During 1848 the little settlement was visited by Bishop Selwyn, who always entertained great respect for the character and ability of Mr. Burns. Later in the year Mr. Burns made his first pastoral visitation. and discovered that the colony now comprised ninety-three families and 444 souls. Within the Otago block were 166 natives, divided between the Heads, the Taieri and the Molyneux. Before the end of the year the arrival of the “Victory,” Blundell” and “Bernicia” had increased the population by 150 souls. Early in 1849 an important accession appeared in the person of Mr. W. H. Valpy, a gentleman of wealth, who had passed a long and distinguished career in the Indian Civil Service, and now came to New Zealand in search of health. Mr. Valpy settled at St. Clair, on the property called by him the Forbury. He built sawmills and flourmills, owned the Caversham Flat, besides two sheep runs, and spent at least £1,200 a year in wages. He was always a public spirited and useful citizen, but in 1851 he became unpopular through accepting a seat in the Legislative Council. His death, in 1852, deprived the colony of one of its most valuable members.
The first anniversary of the foundation of the colony was celebrated with due rejoicings on the 23rd and 24th of March, 1849; though the original character of the settlement was emphasised by the services for humiliation and prayer, in which the elders joined. Hitherto, little alteration had been made in the general appearance of the town site, which remained largely unchanged until the gold rush of 1860 and 1861 made it necessary to extend the habitable area. One road had been constructed from the end of Princes Street to the Green Island Bush, five miles away; and another was continued from the cemetery to the Halfway Bush and on towards the Taieri Plains. Some attempt was also made to keep open communication with Port Chalmers by a regular track. But these so-called page 67 roads were unmetalled, and in winter soon became impassable.
Early in 1849 it was suggested by Earl Grey that convicts should be allowed to finish penal sentences in the new colonies. A meeting was held in Dunedin to protest against this step, and strong resolutions were passed condemning it. About the same time it became evident that the New Zealand Company would soon terminate its existence; and serious controversy arose in the new colony between its supporters and its critics. Captain Cargill was severely blamed for defending the Company; and at the same time he was involved in an acrimonious quarrel with the “Otago News,” which spoke out strongly against the choice of land in the Otago block, alleging that the major part of it was unfit for cultivation. It was already clear that the friendly harmony with which the settlement was inaugurated could not long remain undisturbed. Within two years of the foundation of the settlement the alien element known as the Little Enemy—chiefly English gentlemen, Episcopalians, and supporters of the central government—had become a nucleus of revolt and strife against the leaders of the little colony. When, through the ill health of Mr. Graham, and the unpopularity of his views, the “Otago News” ceased to issue, its place was taken by the “Otago Witness,” which published its first number on the 8th of February; 1851. This paper was started largely through the generosity of Mr. Valpy, who supplied most of the capital, and was aided in establishing the paper chiefly by Captain Cargill and Mr. Burns. The first editor was Mr. W. H. Cutten, who was well qualified to represent the views and interests of the original colony. But the paper gained its first success through the energy of Mr. W. H. Reynolds. In 1854, when the Constitution was granted, it was much enlarged; and it outlived the opposition of the “Colonist,” which appeared in the rival interest in 1858. In 1861 Mr. Julius Vogel joined Mr. Cutten in the proprietorship, and not long after wards was established the “Otago Daily Times and Witness” Company, which still produces this, the oldest newspaper published in the colony.
The struggle between the settlers and the central government raged unceasingly from the outset. The colonists were determined to get the right to control their own local affairs, and to administer the country by a representative parliament. An apparent attempt on the part of the Wellington authorities to annex the first year's surplus of the Otago revenue—about £900—was fiercely resented; and aggravated the hostility of the colonists against their autocratic rulers. Earl Grey had, in 1846, granted a Constitution, with representative institutions; but Governor Sir George Grey had thought it inadvisable to adopt it, till the Maori difficulties had closed. This argument failed to appeal to the South Island settlers who had no “Native question” to trouble them; and when, in 1848, instead of the expected Constitution, the settlers found that they were to receive only a modified from of Crown colony government, their indignation was boundless. Governor Grey somewhat propitiated the Otago settlers by a timely visit, in which his unfailing tact and courtesy were conspicuous. But his nominee Legislative Council was held in abhorrence; and when Mr. Valpy, who had no faith in democracy, accepted a seat upon it, he was fiercely denounced. A public meeting, presided over by Captain Cargill, remonstrated against recognition of the tyrannical Crown colony system by the young settlement; and Mr. Valpy, who had accepted the nomination as a form of courtesy, soon resigned on the ground of ill health.
In May, 1851, the Otago Settlers' Association was formed, with the object of watching over the funds of the Association, and dealing with matters of local and general interest. The first chairman was Dr R. Williams, and Messrs W. H. Cutten, D. Napier, J. H. Harris, and W. Stevenson were some of the principal members. One subject on which public opinion among the settlers was strongly opposed to the action of the central authorities, was the administration of justice. Hitherto Mr. Strode, as resident magistrate, had sufficed to maintain order; but in 1850 Mr. Sidney Stephain, a member of a family that has played a distinguished part in the legal history of England and Australia, was appointed Supreme Court Judge of Otago at a salary of £800 a year. As for several sessions of there were no prisoners to try, the Settlers' Association protested against this needless extravagance. But the new Judge, after being mixed up in a by no means creditable libel and assault case, abruptly left the young colony in March, 1852; and in the same year the Supreme Court was abolished; to be reopened by Mr. Justice Gresson in 1858.
In 1851 the settlement received an important acquisition in the person of Mr. page 68 James Macandrew. This gentleman, whose career is discussed at length in connection with the provincial system, came out from London in his own vessel, the “Titan, “with a speculative cargo of merchandise. Whatever faults may be urged against Mr. Macandrew's faults may be urged against Mr. Macandrew's character, there can be no question of his energy, his practical ability, and his genuine enthusiasm for the progress and Wellbeing of the settlement where he made his home. Till his death, he played an active part in all its public affairs, and well deserved his high reputation as a politician and a leader of men. Another arrival in the “Titan” was Mr. W. H. Reynolds, always a prominent public man in Otago, and long afterwards a member of the Legislative Council.
In October, 1850, news had come that the New Zealand Company had ceased its operations, and had surrendered to Government its charter and its claim to lands in New Zealand. For some time before this the Company and the Association had been quarrelling over the “terms of purchase.” The Company had undertaken all cost of surveys and emigration, and was to recoup itself by the sale of its share of the Association's land. Hitherto the Company had expended £55,000, and had received only £27,500. But after some sort of compromise, the Company, as observed, resigned its charter, and the colony was left under the authority of the Colonial Office. The fact that a charter, had just been granted to the newly founded Canterbury Association prompted Otago also to apply for a charter. This was refused, and this rebuff still further irritated the Association against the colonial Office. At this time, the prospects of the colony were certainly far from bright. The efforts of the Association to attract settlers and capital had met with little success. Hardly enough land had been sold to meet the London office expenses, and the salaries of Captain Cargill and Mr. Burns were hopelessly in arrears. But at last, in June, 1852, the Constitution Bill, conferring Practical independence upon the colony, passed through Parliament; and the Association, now that its duties were done, dissolved in May, 1853.
Before the task of self-government was taken up by the young colony, the achievements of the settlement had fallen far short of the original promises. The “roads and bridges, schools and churches,” which had been described in the “terms of purchase,” were not yet forthcoming. The church had to be supported chiefly from the offertories, while Mr. Burns's stipend of £300 was largely fictitious. Educational matters did not at first flourish, and in 1850 Mr. Blackie, the first schoolmaster, resigned through ill health, and was succeeded by Mr. McDowall, who also found the attendance small and irregular. But various efforts were being made to rouse the intellectual life of the settlement into greater activity. The library had not been very successful; but the Mechanics' Institute, promoted largely by Mr. Macandrew and Mr. Burns, was socially and educationally of great value. Unfortunately the opening of this institution in 1853 was a fresh cause of controversy between the leaders of the colony and the “Little Enemy” faction. In 1851 Dr Richardson had arrived with the intention of establishing a branch of the English Church in Dunedin; and Bishop Selwyn appointed the Rev. J. A. Fenton to the new church. Here again friction was speedily manifest between the newcomers and the old identities; and a very ill-advised attempt on the part of the Anglicans to annex a portion of the Octagon Reserve as a site for the church, was the cause of much heartburning. From every point of view, it was highly desirable that some organised form of local government should be introduced into the settlement, so as to deal authoritatively with the financial and administrative difficulties that were constantly arising.
At last, in November, 1853, the little “Endeavour” brought down from Lyttelton the long expected news that the Constitution Act had become law. The intelligence was received with great rejoicings, and thus began a new era in the history of the settlement. But though the greatest obstacle to rapid progress was now removed, the life of the colonists was, and remained for years to come, an arduous and toilsome one. The difficulty of making a living in a new country was soon brought home to these adventurous settlers. Before the second batch of immigrants could be disembarked, operations were interrupted by rain which lasted for three weeks, and produced a very depressing effect upon the strangers. “Dark sombre forests, reeking with musty vapours, hung on the steep hillsides right down to the water's edge, while dripping mist rested like a pall overhead, shutting out the sun and landscape alike.” When the primitive houses were set up, it was a common occurrence to find them flooded out. When the pioneers began to try to make their way about the locality, they were met on every side by dense bush. “It was an almost impenetrable forest, and to get into the country the traveller had to bore his way through flax and fern and tutu and scrub and swamp.” Bridges belong to a later date. To get to Anderson's Bay the traveller had to take a boat or to make a long sweep round the sandhills by St. Clair. To get to Hillside, a way had to be forced through the bush by Fernhill. When it came to cutting and blazing tracks, it took a good bushman a hard eight hours' day to cover one mile. When the colonists first saw the Taieri Plains, that famous district was entirely under water. But through flax and fern and swamps the hardy colonists gradually forced their way. While the settlement was gradually extending into the Taieri, Tokomairiro, and Molyneux, the people on the outskirts of the colony suffered hardships almost inconceivable to their somewhat degenerate descendants. After the New Zealand Company had withdrawn from the colony, communication with England and Australia was rare and slow; even food was often scarce. Wheat was often at a premium; a little could be got from the Maoris, and many of the colonists had to do their own grinding. The camp oven was the universal culinary utensil; and “damper” baked in the ashes was a common form of bread. Manuka leaves often had to do duty for tea, roasted wheat for coffee, and manuka bark for tobacco. Even salt had to be got from sea water by evaporation. Away from town, the difficulty of keeping provisions in stock was even worse; and many of the early settlers had to carry their half-hundred of flour on their backs, through flax and scrub, as far as the Tokomairiro and the Molyneux. Before wheat could be grown the land had to be cleared, and the grain was reaped with hooks, threshed with flails, and winnowed in the wind, as in the “Shieling” hills of Scotland of old. There was little regular employment of labour, where each man had come prepared to do for himself all the work that fell in his way. There was little money in use; but many of the earlier colonists have left it on record that neither benevolence nor charity was wanting, that the settlers were hopeful and cheerful, and that they were generally page 69 united by a sense of confidence in one another, and an enthusiasm for their new life, which was one great secret of their ultimate success.
Such was the condition of the little colony when at last it received the long expected boon of an independent constitutional government. It was intended that the new Constitution should be brought into force at once; but the Provincial Councils did not meet for nearly a year, and eighteen months passed by before the General Assembly sat. In the meantime there was naturally a good deal of confusion and political agitation. In Otago the “Little Enemy” did their best to obstruct the promotion of Captain Cargill to the position he had so well earned as first Superintendent of the new province. By the Act, Otago was divided into two electoral districts. The Provincial Council was to contain nine members, three for Dunedin and six for the country district. In the House of Representatives it had three members; one for the town, and two for the country. The Legislative Council was made by the Act a nominee assembly, and was therefore from the outset the object of a good deal of ill feeling among the colonists. The Settlers' Association took up the work of preparing the people for the discharge of their new duties; and the election day duly came round.
The complete roll for the town contained 104 names, and for the country 275 names. The “Little Enemy” in vain endeavoured to include the Maoris—seventy-eight in number—in the first elections. A part from the feud between the “old identities” and the later comers who sought to supersede them, the most interesting public question concerned the land. The Constitution Act had committed the waste lands of the colony to the General Assembly, and that body at once, under the direction of the Governor, threw open these lands for sale at 5s and 10s per acre. As Canterbury and Otago had fixed their land price at £2 per acre, the Government's “eheap land” at once interfered with the development of these settlements; and as the result of a test appeal case it was discovered that the Governor had no power to authorise such sales. The cry for “dear” versus “cheap land” was one of the watchwords of the first election, and it was on these lines that the struggle was fought out. Captain Cargill was elected to be Superintendent, without opposition. The town members of the Provincial Council were W. H. Cutten, James Adam, and Alexander Rennie; the country members were J. H. Harris, James Macandrew, W. H. Reynolds, John Gillies, A. Anderson, Edward McGlashan. James Macandrew for the town, and John Cargill (son of the Superintendent) and W. H. Cutten for the country, were elected to the House of Representatives.
By this time (1854) the total population of the settlement was 2,400; 1350 males and 1,050 females. But only about 2,000 of these were included in the limits of the Otago block. More than 700 lived in Dunedin, 260 in the Taieri district, 140 at Waihola and Tokomairiro, and seventy at the Clutha. There were already about 35,000 sheep, 3,000 cattle, and 200 horses in the block. The sheep were worth about 35s per head, the cattle, £10 to £18, and the horses, £35 to £50. There were 2,000 acres under cultivation, and the productive power of the little colony was already established by the export of 1,000 bushels of grain in 1853. The limits of the province were extended in 1853 by the purchase, through Mr. Mantell, the Land Commissioner, of the last unsold portion of the South Island. This area comprised about four and a half million acres, south of a line drawn from Milford Sound to the Molyneux, and the total price paid was £2,600. Dunedin itself was growing slowly but surely, and the settlement was strengthened during this year by the arrival of two clergymen, the Rev. W. Will and Rev. W. Bannerman, as well as by the Association's agent, Mr. John McGlashan, who had all along been an important factor in the success of the colonisation scheme.
The first session of the Provincial Council was opened with great solemnity, and was marked by much excited discussion of the land question. The opening of the first colonial Parliament at Auckland on the 24th May, 1854, took the chief politicians of Dunedin far from their homes, and checked local activity for the time being. The need of labour to work the newly opened land produced various immigration schemes. Mr. W. H. Reynolds was sent to Melbourne to attract Victorians, and Mr. James Adam, in 1857, was sent as Immigration Agent to England, with more satisfactory results. The steady growth of the settlement rendered it necessary to organise and improve the town, and in 1855 the Dunedin Town Board was created. It consisted of nine members chosen by the electors, and the first chairman was Mr. John Jones. A struggle in the Council over education page 70 resulted in the establishment of a system including Bible reading without the Shorter Catechism. It was thus already clear that the strictly sectarian character of the settlement was rapidly disappearing.
It is impossible within narrow limits to trace the minor details of the growth of the province and its chief town. As to Dunedin itself, the new Town Board made some effort at forming streets and draining the town area; but the steady influx of immigrants and the lack of funds made their task very difficult. By 1857 “the place bid fair to be something like a town.” There were already four hotels, two printing offices, three churches, a high school, two breweries, two mills, a candle factory, and a photographic gallery. By this time 979 of the original 2,000 acre sections had been taken up, and it was stated that patches of land in the business part of the town, which nominally cost ten shillings, were now worth as much as £1,000. The population of Dunedin was now 890; the value of imports was £65,400, and of exports £23,000. The customs revenue was £8,200, and the town rates amounted to £220. Already the settlement was feeling the disadvantages of isolation from the rest of the commercial world; and the next year, 1858, marks the establishment of regular trade communication with England and with Australia. The “Strathallan” was the first direct ship from Dunedin to London; and Mr. Macandrew shortly afterwards chartered the “Strathfieldsaye” for Melbourne. But local jealousy did its best to defeat these enterprises. Later in the year, however, the indefatigable Mr. Macandrew astonished the town with another venture—the screw steamer “Queen,” 182 tons, which was to run regularly to Melbourne. Then came the “Pirate,” 285 tons, and Mr. John Jones bought the “Geelong,” 108 tons, for coastal trade. The province owed these advantages chiefly to the initiative and energy of Mr. Macandrew; and it was only with great reluctance that the Provincial Council consented to subsidise the Australian service.
Within the limits of the town, progress was now rapid. “One municipal section which in the very centre of the town had formerly been an unsightly nuisance, was now covered on both frontages by stylish shops.” A Town Board hall, a lunatic asylum, and a fire brigade station had been erected; a Mechanics' Institute was established; in 1859 a floral and fruit show was held; while iron foundries and sawmills already gave a strongly industrial aspect to the outskirts of the town. By 1860 the imports of the settlement had risen to £325,000, the exports to £80,200, and the customs revenue to £31,769. But in the next year the whole face and fortune of the country was changed by the discovery of gold.
As to the rest of Otago, the gradual expansion of settlement may be dated from 1856. In spite of the well grounded objection to “cheap land,” it was found impossible to maintain the original price with any prospect of attracting a large influx of settlers. Accordingly it was decided to divide the Otago block into eight hundreds, within which the rural sections were thrown open for sale at ten shillings an acre, with the forty shillings improvement clause. Outside these hundreds, 600,000 acres were thrown open for sale in blocks of not less than 2,000 acres, at ten shillings per acre, without the improvement clause. Several Australian runholders—among them Mr. W. J. Clarke—were attracted by these terms, and the opening of the back country from this time forth went steadily on. The leases ran for fourteen years undisturbed, with a valuation of sixpence per head for cattle and a penny for sheep. By 1861 there were 44,000 cattle and 194,000 sheep in the province. Much of the arduous work of exploring and surveying the pastoral country was done by Mr. John T. Thomson, who succeeded Mr. W. Mantell, the champion of the “Little Enemy,” in control of the Land and Survey Department. A great deal of North Otago was taken up at this time by Messrs H. Robison, Filleul Brothers, Teschemaker, Trotter, Valpy, Rich, and Suisted; and the foundation of Oamaru was laid. In the south of the province the agitation in Southland for its establishment under separate government for the time seemed to retard the growth of Otago. But the history of the new province, from 1861 to 1870, is described in a separate section of this volume. In 1860 Mr. W. G. Rees and Mr. von Tunzelmann, while exploring the interior of the province for new sheep country, penetrated as far as Lake Wakatipu, which had hitherto been known only from vague Maori rumours. These gentlemen navigated the lake for six days on a frail raft, and took up a large area of country around it. The Arrow, the Dart, the Shotover, the Rees, the Von Mountains, the Morven Hills, and Ben Lomond, were all named by these intrepid wanderers; and a new world was opened to the settlers, who had hitherto kept close to the coast and the chief town.
In 1859 Captain Cargill, who had begun to feel the pressure of old age, resigned his position. It was a foregone conclusion that his place would be filled by Mr. Macandrew, to whose energy and enterprise the colony was already deeply indebted. There was no opposition, but Mr. Macandrew brought out a very sanguine and progressive programme of public works involving heavy expenditure. Unfortunately, his recklessness had already entangled him in serious monetary difficulties, and an investigation of the public accounts in 1861 showed that there were large deficiencies for which the Superintendent was responsible. He was dismissed from his post by the Governor, and was imprisoned for debt at the suit of a private creditor. The vacancy caused by this unfortunate episode was filled by an election in May, 1861. The three candidates were Major Richardson, Mr. McMaster, and Mr. Macandrew. Major Richardson was already Speaker of the Provincial Council, and had won public confidence by his moderation and public spirit. Mr. McMaster, of Oamaru, was the squatters' candidate, and represented the pastoral interest, while Major Richardson was in favour of a fair price for land, and the encouragement of agriculture. In spite of Mr. Macandrew's faults and misfortunes he had a large following, and though the final choice of the electors fell upon Major Richardson, both his opponents polled heavily. Major Richardson proved a competent and successful Superintendent; but in the first year of his tenure of office, the colony was revolutionised by an event which the founders of the settlement neither desired nor anticipated—the discovery of gold.
As early as 1851, gold dust and auriferous quartz had been brought from Waikouaiti to Dunedin by Messrs Pharazyn and Nairn. In 1856 Mr. C. Ligar, afterwards chief surveyor of Southland, reported that he had found gold in the sands and gravel of the Mataura. Mr. J. T. Thomson, the chief surveyor of Otago, had also come across gold in the rivers; but at first little attention was paid to these announcements. Then, in time, the wonderful tales of the “diggings” in Victoria and New South Wales began to unsettle the hitherto peaceful and contented page 71 colonists. Many wandered off to Australia and to Nelson, where gold was already worked; and to meet the danger of a further loss of population, the Provincial Council was induced to offer a reward of £500 for the discovery of a payable goldfield. At last, in March, 1861, Samuel MoIntyre, an old Californian “Forty-niner,” came upon gold in the Lindis Pass. The Lindis is one of the upper tributaries of the Molyneux, and much gold has since been got there. But the “rush” did not last long. Not more than 300 miners were ever on the ground; and the attention of everybody interested in the search for gold was soon diverted to a much more encouraging field. In May, 1861, William Gabriel Read, who had also been on the Californian and Australian diggings, prospected along the Tuapeka and Waitahuna rivers, and found gold everywhere. To his enduring credit be it said, he at once reported the find to Major Richardson, and the Superintendent was thus able to make provision to meet the sudden emergencies that now arose.
The discovery of gold at Gabriel's Gully completely transformed the little colony. When it was known that within sixty miles of the sea, there was gold to be got in large quantities by anyone strong enough to handle a shovel or a tin dish, the whole male population of the settlement arose and poured inland. It was mid-winter; but at Tokomairiro only the pastor and the precentor were left for the next Sunday's service. “Dunedin,” says Dr Hocken, “followed the lead; morning after morning fresh parties left the town, master and man on equal terms; clerks and mechanics, the better class, and the shopkeepers, all travelling to the same goal.” The news soon spread in all directions. “On the 24th of June, 1861,” writes Mr. McIndoe in “Picturesque Dunedin,” “Tuapeka godfields were proclaimed by the Provincial Government. The news was spread abroad over New Zealand, Australia, and onward to Britain. If Dunedin was deserted by the 'old identity' male inhabitants, it was not long before their places were filled up a hundredfold. Within three months from the date of the proclamation, diggers were landing in Dunedin from the neighbouring colonies, sometimes at the rate of over a 1,000 a day. The conditions of the town were quite out of joint with the altered times. Dwellings, stores, offices, wharves, magistrates, police, light, water, fuel, provender, carriage, all were in short supply, with a daily increasing demand.” Naturally, prices rose at once. Within two months flour was £50 a ton, in Dunedin, meat 1s per pound, butter cost 2s 6d; while at the diggings, the cost of living was proportionately higher. “Habitations for the crowds did not exist. Sleeping room on a hotel floor without a mattress at half-a-crown a night was counted a luxury.” Suggestions were made to utilise the floors of the churches; but the majority of the newcomers slept under canvas. On all sides, in vacant sections and on the public reserves, there sprang up the tents of the diggers waiting for a chance to reach their destination. By the 11th of October, 1861, “Cobb and Co.,” famous in Australian history, had a coach running to Tuapeka, and the service was kept up with great regularity and success, considering the state of the roads. By springtime, the population of the settlement was increased by 20,000 or more, and the Superintendent requested the Victorian Government to send over a number of their constabulary familiar with the arduous work of the gold escort. The newcomers, under Mr. St. John Branigan, were capable and courageous men, who performed their daring duties with remarkable success “in a country with which they were unacquainted, in a climate far more severe than that to which they had been accustomed, and in houseless, trackless, mountainous regions hardly fit at the time for human habitation.” Every week the escort brought down to Dunedin large quantities of gold, the remittances soon rising from 500 ounces to as much as 8,000 ounces in one week. Yet, in spite of the heavy strain thrown upon the authorities, so well was order maintained that crime was almost unknown.
It is easy to understand that this sudden influx of population, accompanied by a marvellous increase in the colony's wealth, must have worked a great and immediate change in the settlement. In 1860 the imports of Otago were valued at £325,162, the exports at £80,268, and the customs revenue was £31,769. During that eventful year, the permanent population of Dunedin rose from 2,262 to 5,956; and the need for a great extension and improvement of the town was now urgent. “Warehouses were being erected in scores, as fast as tradesmen could be got to put them together. Dwelling houses, in wonderful diversity of shape of any available material, were showing in all directions. Empty cases, tin and page 72 zinc lining, old iron and bagging were all in requisition to provide domiciles.” Numerous destructve fires naturally ensued, and in one of these the office of the “Otago Daily Times,” which had been started in November, 1861, was destroyed. By the end of 1865 the town had lost £150,000 by fires alone. Several insurance offices were started, and the agitation for a fire brigade, in 1862, was followed by the introduction of gaslight in 1863, and the formation of the Water works Company in 1864. Meantime the Provincial Government was beautifying and improving Dunedin by the erection of the custom house, post office and courthouse, Council hall, and Colonial Bank (originally the post office); and so rapidly had the town progressed that the Dunedin Exhibition, for which the foundation was laid in February, 1864, was a great success. A Chamber of Commerce was formed in August, 1861, to cope with the constantly increasing commercial requirements of the settlement. The bad state of the road to Port Chalmers rendered telegraphic communication necessary, and this was inaugurated in 1862. The Government telegraph lines to Christchurch and Invercargill were opened in 1865. Increased traffic demanded larger wharfage accommodation, so that the old Jetty Street wharf was enlarged, and new wharves were run out from Rattray and Stuart Streets. The work of reclamation was begun along the foreshore in 1862, and vigorous efforts were made to meet the constantly growing demands upon the resources of the town. The Town Board was dissolved in 1865 on the ground of “extravagance and incapacity.” As a matter of fact, the work of roading and draining such a town required far more money than the Town Board had been able to expend. However, the town was now constituted a municipality, and in July, 1865, elected its first Mayor and City Council.
From this epoch may be fitly dated the history of modern Dunedin. The old days had now irrevocably passed away. The inevitable conflict between the “Old Identity' and the “New Iniquity” could have but one ultimate issue. Captain Cargill had died in 1860; and though Dr Burns and the survivors of the original settlement not unnaturally saw much that was objectionable to them in the new order of things, yet they could not hope to stem the influx of strangers, by which the Scotch and the Presbyterian elements in the little colony seemed likely to be submerged. But in time even the staunchest old identity came to understand that the great change which passed over the settlement was a necessary phase in its progress, and that in no other way could Otago so soon or so successfully have been developed from childhood to the strength of a full and prosperous maturity.
Since the “sixties” the progress of Dunedin, and of the whole province, has been steady and rapid. As to the city itself, the City Council has done its best, since its first appointment, to provide for the ever increasing requirements inseparable from its growth. But Dunedin has now attained a size that renders altogether inadequate the public works system of an earlier generation. The demand for a Greater Dunedin, in which the surrounding suburbs shall be merged, arises from the same needs as the agitation for electric traction and electric light and a larger water supply. From an irregular, badly drained, and rather squalid little town, Dunedin has grown within forty years into a handsome, well-built, and prosperous city. Among the events which mark a new era in the life of the city and the province may be noted the establishment of the University of Otago in 1871, the opening of cable communication with London in 1872, the constitution of the Otago Harbour Board in 1874, and the formation of the Union Steam Ship Company in 1875. Within thirty years this company has bought or constructed 100 steamers. In 1877 the fleet comprised eleven steamers with a tonnage of 5,500. Now the company owns fifty seven of the best appointed steamers in the world, totalling 92,600 tons. No stronger proof could be given of the rapid progress of the colony, and more especially of the city where the company has its headquarters. In 1878 the city revenue was £28,000; by 1884 it had increased to £41,000; while by 1898, the year of the settlement's Jubilee, it had risen to £105,000. In 1857 the total valuation of the town was £4,400. By 1898 it was £233,360, or, including suburbs, £381,800; a valuation representing, when capitalised, over £7,500,000 sterling. But it is superfluous to add statistics of this work, to prove the rapidity of Otago's growth and the soundness of its prosperity.