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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 8 (November 2, 1936)

Veriety In Brief

page 54

Veriety In Brief

I was turning out an old trunk filled with faded odds and ends which belonged to my grandmother, who, by the way, was among the first if not the first white child to be born in New Zealand. She was born in the Bay of Islands. Some of these old possessions were wrapped in newspapers, and curiosity prompted me to scan them—yellow with age as they were. I found they were London papers, and one arrested my attention. A letter from a colonist is as follows:—

“May 6th, 1867.

“Dear Sir,—Having sojourned in Wellington for three years, we have now settled in Whanganui, and it may be that some friends in the Home country may like to hear of us in our new country in these far-off islands, of busy colonial life and prosperity. Whanganui is from Wellington about twelve hours steaming, by land the coaches twice a week perform the journey of 150 miles in a day-and-a-half, not travelling in the night. There are often two or three steamers moored at the wharf alongside the main street, and large quantities of cattle and other provisions are taken from this fruitful district to the wild and rugged regions of Westland, which is reached in about two days. The population of the town is about 2,500. There is a good public school, a Church of England, and a free Church of Scotland. The country is exceedingly fine. Among the settlers are some families who, some years ago, moved from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and some hundreds of persons from other colonies, and settled in Waipu, in the north, where they now have a flourishing colony. Many of these excellent people I know well; some are nearly eighty years of age and emigrated from Scotland when in their teens. They are among the best colonists, thrifty, clever, ingenious. One family in Whanganui are now on a visit to North America, and there is a movement on foot for forming a party, purchasing a ship by shares, the shareholders to come on here in their own vessel to settle with their old friends in the more genial colony of New Zealand. Poverty is hardly known by twenty inhabitants, and these are either women (deserted by their husbands) with small children, or worthless idlers whom nothing could raise to independence. In the outskirts, you would suppose from the smallness of the dwellings that the inmates were day labourers, but on close acquaintance you would find that some of them were carriers who remove goods from the wharf to the merchants' stores, others supply the town with milk, while with a few exceptions all live on their own freehold and are owners of property to the value of £200 to £1,000 or £2,000. The country is well adapted to support a large population extending sixty or a hundred miles north or south, and there will no doubt be, after a few years, a populous town and ample farms in abundance. We are about to lose the remainder of the troops, and no one appears at all anxious as to what will come when they are gone, although we are within fifty miles of the worst tribes of natives. But they are not likely again to try their strength; and if they should be so reckless the colonists will come smartly upon them and soon silence them. Among our remote settlers there is hardly more thought of danger than in the quiet farms of England. The war is past, and groups of eager land seekers are constantly penetrating the country, ready to pay from a pound to three pounds per acre for country quite in the state of nature.“—“Jasmine.”

* * *

An interesting feature of modern life is the increasing popularity of pen-friendship between erstwhile strangers. This method of communication is all to the good for a country like New Zealand—cut off from the rest of the world.

There is no other medium to equal personal correspondence for imparting a true knowledge and appreciation of the actual conditions prevailing in those parts of the world which are only read about by most of us.

A few people write in Esperanto, and their number is steadily increasing. Good progress is being made by the British Esperanto Association. Next year, 1937, will be the fiftieth year since Dr. Zamanhof introduced Esperanto to the world, and a special Jubilee Congress is to be held at Warsaw, where Dr. Zamanhof lived and died.

Many New Zealanders are planning to go Home for the Coronation. There is yet time to learn Esperanto and join the group for a thrilling holiday in the quaint old Polish town. Fancy, meeting one's pen-friends from all over the globe!—“Artful Dodger.”