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The New Zealand Survey

Canto I

“New Zealand Survey”: Page 68.

Canto I.

Note 1, Page 5.

“May not these
Cascades of solitude, which long have spent
Their force in vain, as having none to guide,
Be brought in requisition yet to aid
Laborious enterprize;”

Empire; Nation; Colony; Future; Technology; Commerce; ProsperityIf we look on the map of the Southern Hemisphere one may easily perceive that it requires no great amount of prescience (especially to a mind of thought and enterprize, even although such spirit of enterprize may not have the power or means to put thought in a practical or tangible form) to see and shew to others how New Zealand shall yet become the Great Britain of the South. Take into consideration the genial climate of New Zealand, then its extensive seaboard, its numerous harbours and navigable rivers, such that may be much improved upon, and again its multitude of inland never failing streams, many of them well adapted, with little expense or trouble, for the driving of any kind of machinery for manufacturing purposes, where perhaps steam engines would be of less service through the want of a cheap supply of coal, should such prove to be scarce. Those streams with their waterfalls and rapids, how easily could they be brought into actual service in aiding the enterprize and industry of those who may yet discover their interests lying in that direction; so that instead of sending the wool of the country away to be spun and manufactured elsewhere—only to be brought back again with heavy charges attached,—such could be spun and manufactured here, to be dispersed among markets elsewhere. Standing on this point of view and looking toward the numerous islands and their populations, on the vast Pacific ocean, and taking into consideration the extensive field of wealth there will be to work upon, in the development of their resources, from which every kind of raw material in cotton and other produce may be had to be manufactured in New Zealand for the markets of the southern world. On the one hand, not only see the naked wants of the Pacific islanders, but also see the whole page 69“New Zealand Survey”: Page 69. range of the western coast of America, far from other manufacturing districts, whose chief occupation is the raising of grain and agricultural pursuits, such Western American states would readily absorb a vast amount of manufactures of the textile class; and, on the other hand, Australia and all the islands lying between that and China, and even China itself,—all on each hand lying on the way direct, without the disadvantage of doubling stormy capes, all lying more natural to the future mart of New Zealand than to any other manufacturing country in the world. Thus the new Great Britain of the South may yet be able to share in the profits of commerce as inward flowing wealth like that of the old Great Britain of the north. Long have I regarded the practicability of the Panama route to the southern world with such desire, which creates wonder why those at the head of affairs cannot see the benefits that would accrue by having such a way opened, yet felt assured that the time would yet arrive amid the changes which occur in the world’s affairs, that such would eventually be adopted; now that such a course is about to be pursued I cannot but regard it again as the first step in the march of improvement among the isles of the Pacific, but also as the laying of the grand foundation upon which may yet be reared the future greatness and power of New Zealand as the second Great Britain of the world. And may I here also add—if Wellington can mind her “P’s and Q’s,” as the saying is, she may become the London of the South, while many a flourishing Glasgow and Manchester may spring up among the other Provinces. Though such may belong to the future, yet who would not congratulate the rising generations on the prospects before them, with the hope that they may rightly use the privileges bequeathed from their fathers.

Note 2, Page 9.

“The floods progression, in its rise as through
The forest flowing greatly is in check
As there are great obstructions to its course;
But when into the clearings it has come
The current seems momentum fresh to gain
In its free course, which no small damage bring
Upon the cottager, by washing off
His seed sown soil, thus rend’ring labours vain.”

When observing the natural progress of events one cannot but mark the changes which occur. The periodical floods of the Hutt river have often been a serious annoyance to the people of page 70“New Zealand Survey”: Page 70. the valley, and many a plan has been discussed, of how the river might be kept within its bounds, but all such plans were never tried, save when a few of the inhabitants of the village near the bridge, at one time clubbed together to try the experiment, of casting up a dike or mound along the bank of the river for a few chains, but such soon shewed itself a failure, a work of no avail. But in the course of time nature seems to be bringing round in her own way the amelioration of an evil complained of by the substitution of another in its stead, which affects the few comparatively, rather than the many; so that the floods of the Hutt, in regard to their general overflowing, may yet only exist in the history of the past. There was a time when the forest was standing in its prestine glory, and when the river was of narrower dimensions than now, that a day’s heavy rain from the north or north-east would bring down a freshet from the Tararua ranges enough to make the river overflow its banks at various points, thereby spreading a sheet of muddy water over the greater part of the valley. I have seen upwards of an acre of potatoe land, a few days after being planted, by such a kind of flood totally swept off; the loose soil of which had lately been ploughed and harrowed; and along with the soil went the seed, leaving only the hard subsoil, with the mark of the plough on its face where the furrows were drawn. That same piece of land I believe is now not molested with such visitations. Wheat patches in newly formed clearings were not safe sometimes from such devastations, especially where the force of the water formed a current in a clearing. When the water subsided, it was no uncommon thing to see all one’s labour greatly damaged, for instance, by log heaps, which were piled up ready to be burned at the proper season, being sometimes scattered and swept all over the wheat patches; and the springing wheat, being robbed of the soil through which it had sprung, would be lying flat, being held to the subsoil by a single fibre of its roots; such damage being greatly detrimental to the expected crop. Weather; Perception; WorkAgain, in summer floods, which generally took place about the approach of Christmas, at the time when people begin hay-making. The season looking propitious, the sun shining brightly in an azure sky betoken nothing but prosperity, and so the labours of the season proceed. Fields of hay are cut down, hay-makers are busy tossing about the hay to the influence of the sun, while preparations are being made for stacking, the husbandman dreaming of nothing but that all appearances are in his favor. Some may have succeeded so far well, but with many it has been otherwise,—when a seemingly sunny shower of rain has come on, thickly gathering clouds would add their disheartening signs in regard to the state of the weather; rain pouring page 71“New Zealand Survey”: Page 71. copiously all day, and continuing all night; next day the river begins to rise, and by and bye it overflows its narrow boundaries, and swelling into a flood, it carries the hay along, cleaning up the newly mown fields, where most subject to its force. When the flood has subsided then may be seen the damage,—lots of hay sticking against the fences wherever the current has borne it; the hay so much mixed up with sand, that it is utterly worthless. Such has sometimes been the effects of a rainy day in hay making time at no great distant date, while the river kept its widely circuitous course of narrow bounds. But now since the last heavy earthquake of the year 1854 when the ground got such a heaving, undoing its somewhat solidity, many acres of land—land cleared of the forest and in cultivation—have been swept away with the river. Thus the river has opened for itself, in several places, fresh channels more direct, instead of going round, as formerly, long circuitous bendings; while in doing so, some people have lost a good deal of fertile soil, having left in its place an expanse of shingle, with a great many half embedded trunks and roots of trees. So now that the river course in many places has become more straight and from three to four times wider, the greater number of the inhabitants of the valley reap the advantage, seeing such floods as depicted above are becoming more rare both in winter and in summer, on account of the more rapid escape of the water from the upper part of the valley. Here a circumstance of note may be worthy of being recorded about 3 years after the earthquake of 1854 a more serious flood occurred than had been experienced since the beginning of the Colony, for the water came in such a body and rose so high that it not only was the ruin of some small haystacks which were considered safe, while also carrying off sundry pigs and cattle, but also by lifting two houses from their steadings aud carrying them off into the current with their inmates—families who had lately come into the neighbourhood—who unfortunately were lost. It was several days after the subsiding of the flood before the lost bodies of the unfortunates were found, when they were discovered here and there partly buried among the sand and shingle and other wreck left by the flood. Such a melancholy occurrence cast a gloom over the minds of the people of the Hutt; while the natives declared that such a flood had not occurred within the memory of their time, or that of their predecessors, so far as they had learned.