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Nation Making, a story of New Zealand


During the first century of the life of Australasia we have done a great work, and a good work. We have laid the foundations of Nations.

A hundred years ago Captain Cook found our Southern world a desert, inhabited by straggling tribes of wild men—in Australia hunting the opossum and the kangaroo, in New Zealand living on fern root and each other. Then, and for long after, Botany Bay and the Cannibal Islands were the terror of evil-page 288doers, and not to the liking of them that wanted an opportunity to do well. The desert continent and the forest-clad islands long remained much as Nature made them—untrodden by the White man, his sheep or cattle. The savage inhabitants produced no one article which a civilized man could eat or sell.

To-day, nearly four millions of Englishmen, a hundred million sheep, and countless herds of cattle and horses are amongst the first fruits of this one century, whilst Australasian wool, mutton, wheat, and wine take high rank in the markets of the world, and New Zealand produces, acre for acre, heavier harvests of wheat, oats, and potatoes than almost any other country.

A hundred years ago the frail bark skiff of the Australian savage and the war canoe of the Maori were the forerunners of the navies which now sweep across the wide waters of the Pacific. Then, the Gunyah, the Whare, and the fortified Pah were the sole representatives of architecture in Australasia. To-day, houses, schools, churches, colleges, and palaces are to be found within its wide dominion. Then, the savage Corroberee and the Maori Runanga were the sole precursors of our courts of justice and halls of legislation. Then, a few faint tracks worn by naked feet were the rude forerunners of the roads, bridges, and railways of to-day. Then, not an ounce of mineral was known to exist. To-day, we own and work the richest gold and silver mines in the world.

Then, Australasia owed nothing to the world outside, and the world owed nothing to her. To-day, she page 289owes a public debt of a hundred and seventy millions sterling, and in return has provided an English home for a hundred millions of English-speaking people in the future.

We are justly proud of what we have done. We have not been afraid to borrow, and we are in no doubt of our power to repay. We have, it is true, drawn largely—too largely—upon the future. But in all this have we not given abundant evidence of an Imperial spirit? In this sunny South we have faced and conquered difficulties and dangers, of which those who come after us will know nothing, except what history tells them.

In doing all this, is it strange that we regard ourselves as amongst 'the English of the English?' and like our ancestors of old, are steadfastly engaged in the heroic work of Nation Making, though under new conditions.

In times not long past, the countries we occupy were names of fear or terror to our countrymen who stayed at home at ease. Then anything was thought good enough for the colonies. But in this, as in other things, 'The old order changeth.' The founders of these young, strong nations have not laboured in vain. Our voice is making itself heard in the Councils of the Empire, and in the coming time, whatever France or Germany may do, neither of them will eventually rule in the Pacific. The potent voice of our American kindred has already cried 'Hold,' to an attempted exercise of tyranny. It will be heard again, should occasion demand it. Unless the Chinese immigration page 290question be allowed to drift, the inhabitants of the Austral continent and its adjacent islands intend to be paramount in these Southern Seas. Our watchword is, and will be: