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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 1 (April 1, 1938.)

Immigration Problems

Immigration Problems.

Force of circumstances had impelled this Irish aristocrat to seek a solution to overcrowding. Having reached the conclusion that immigration was that solution, it was but natural for him to go further into the matter and to study the theories and the practical problems that beset this question of immigration.—So we see the wheels of fate, slowly, but surely, carrying this first-rate man into a first-rate destiny.

To study the immigration problems of the nineteenth century is to study Edward Gibbon Wakefield. An indiscretion of youth had not only sent Wakefield to prison, but had effectively ruined his ambitions for a political career. Dreary months of prison life diverted Wakefield's active mind from politics to colonial reform, which henceforth was to be his life's work. Apart from writing extensively on colonisation, he was the driving force behind many immigration schemes for which he worked day and night. But throughout twenty years of endeavour, he never succeeded in establishing a colony that matched up to his ideals, for he seemed to be invariably at war with the Colonial Office and the powerful missionary section, and as he lacked sufficient prestige to exert influence with people in high places, he was forced to rely on the powers of second-rate men for the carrying-out of his schemes. These men ignored Wakefield's ideas and instructions just whenever it suited them, and so the Wakefield settlements invariably deviated from the way their inspirer and originator would have them go.

Years of endeavour and countless struggles against a pitilessly unsympathetic Colonial Office eventually wore out his spirit and battered his health. Wakefield, sick nigh unto death from watching “the things he gave his life to broken,” sought a place of retreat where he might rest awhile, and from where, after renewing his body and mind, he could come back to his darling colonisation schemes once more “and stoop and build them up with worn-out tools.” Wakefield chose as his place of retreat, the Hills of Malvern.