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Historical Records of New Zealand

Navy Board to John Croker

Navy Board to John Croker.

Navy Office, 30th August, 1828.


We return Mr. Curtis’s letter (referred to us on the 12th instant), respecting the cultivation of the New Zealand flax, and we beg to state, for the information of H.R.H. the Lord High Admiral, that we have frequently had this subject under our consideration, and that there is no doubt, from the result of trials made at Woolwich and Chatham in the years 1821 and 1822, as well as on board the Wellesley at a subsequent period, page 684 of which we received a report from the captain in February, 1827, that both the hemp and flax of the growth of New Zealand are equal in quality to the same articles imported from Russia.

The question, however, raised by Mr. Curtis—namely, the extensive cultivation of these articles—has also already been well considered by us, in consequence of a letter from Viscount Goderick, to whom, on the 27th May, 1827, the Emigration Committee submitted a plan for the accomplishment of this object, but as in procuring naval stores it is necessary to use the utmost economy and to secure punctuality in the delivery, neither of which we conceived likely to result from the proposed measure, we felt it expedient to withhold our concurrence therein, and we see no reason now to induce us to alter our opinion.

We therefore request you will submit to H.R.H. that the vast expense which the cultivation on an extensive scale must occasion, the uncertainty of the crops, and the delay and difficulty which must necessarily attend the importation of hemp and flax from so distant a source as New Zealand, when they can be readily obtained both from the Baltic and from Italy, are circumstances which we presume will be considered sufficient with the reasons before mentioned to render it wholly unadvisable for the Naval Department to give countenance to Mr. Curtis’s project.

We are, &c.,

T. Tucker.R. Middleton.J. W. Lewes.

The Right Hon. G. W. Croker.