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Official Guide to the Government Court: N.Z. Centennial Exhibition

Hall of Progress

Hall of Progress

One of the main sections of the composite exhibit is the Hall of Progress, which occupies some 5000 square feet. In the centre there is a large model of New Zealand, which shows the present distribution of our primary industries. Around the walls are 3000 square feet of murals, which give a pictorial representation of the history of New Zealand's agriculture from the days, of the first Wakefield settlements. The visitor sees the infuence of the gold rushes of the 'sixties in trebling population and expanding the internal markets. Then follows the first development of the pastoral industry, when merino sheep in their millions gave New Zealand the golden fleece. The 'seventies were years of intense public works development, followed by the slump of the 'eighties, when the price of wool, our only important export commodity, collapsed.

The advent of refrigerated transport in 1882 opened the door to a new prosperity for New Zealand. The successful shipment of frozen meat and dairy produce to the huge United Kingdom market was made possible, and New Zealand s primary industries were shaped to meet this market. There was subdivision of large estates, clearing bush and erection of dairy factories and freezing works. Intensive farming on smaller holdings supplanted the large sheep-runs.

After the Great War, intensification of farming continued. Falling prices for farm produce necessitated greater production, and there was a greater application of science to agriculture. Herd-testing and top-dressing of pastures became standard practices. There was closer subdivision of farms, better conservation of fodder, improved pastures. New Zealand moved to the forefront as a producer of dairy produce. The sheep industry was changing, too. The British housewife required small, high-quality joints, and lamb supplanted mutton in our meat export trade.

We see, too, the establishment of exotic forests and the further development of hydro-electric works to make New Zealand one of the best-served countries in the world in this respect.

The tremendous price recession of 1930-34 had the effect of further stimulating farm production in what was at first a vain effort to balance lower prices. Prices recovered in 1935-36 and, today, New Zealand has the greatest value of primary production recorded in her history.

Below the murals are display spaces for models, machinery, implements and other display material appropriate to the period depicted by the mural above.