Voices from Auckland, New Zealand.
The Land Grants
The Land Grants.
In other countries land is sold, but in this it is given to immigrants. The motive for giving it is to bring population, and convert the wilderness and solitary place into a populous and wealthy nation. This plan is not now necessary in Australia, as the abundance of gold was quite sufficient attraction there; nor in America, for that country was for ages the only known outlet for British emigration. But the remoteness of New Zealand from the mother country, and the competition of the colonial fields of Africa and Australia, with the near attraction of the valleys of the Mississippi, rendered it needful that some striking feature should mark New Zealand colonization. Hence the religious and almost denominational schemes of Canterbury and Otago arose. Hence also arose the broader and more British idea of giving our acres in cultivateable quantities to men adapted by ability and inclination to clear and plant them. The men who struck out that thought, sagely foresaw that it carried with it a light which, in the towns and villages of the home countries, should outshine the waving corn-fields of America, vineyards of South Africa, and the gold of Australia and California. And the ships which have lately brought us 500 souls in a fortnight have even surpassed their expectations. An impression has been current not only throughout the three kingdoms, but in some of the less genial colonies, that the page 45Province of Auckland is the place for settlers;—and that conviction has taken hold, not of the lighter and wandering portions of the people, but of an upper layer of society—the industrious—the skilled—the men whose ability and worth have in many instances enabled them to save a few hundreds of pounds—the very men whose integrity and uprightness, whose power and perseverance, qualify them both to originate and exalt a nation.
Immigration is, however, always a difficulty—sometimes a hardship—and those who undertake the business of a colonist, counting the cost, do not fail to calculate on drawing heavily upon their patience and endurance. The Pilgrim Fathers who, nearly three centuries ago, landed from the "May-flower" amid the thickets and dense woods of Cape Cod, without a living soul except the savage Indians to receive them—without shelter from the harsh blasts of winter till they had built one—those men had counted the cost; and when lighter minds and inferior men would have grumbled themselves to death, they spent their first Sabbath under the forest trees in singing hymns and in prayer, and on the six days they laboured and did all they had to do. And now that an Empire, second only to Great Britain in vastness and energy, has grown up, the posterity of those noble men celebrate the anniversary of their landing under the honorable distinction of "Forefathers' day."
There are difficulties for us in settling in New Zealand; but there are none which are insurmountable. There are no dangerous Natives—no freezing to death; no gloomy dread of being years without a sail in sight, or the arrival of a single visitor. The work of all colonists is of course up-hill work. But our hill is less steep and rugged than other hills; and like that of all our fellows, our work is free, of our own choosing, and the fruits will be all our own. But staying in the City of Auckland and spending money in self-indulgence, or listening to those who "talk fast" against the country, and the land, and the Government, is not colonising. Gathering up a party of fifty or one hundred persons, and selecting a quantity of land at the entrance of some kindly waters, fifty or one hundred miles from another settlement, and going to live and labour upon it—this is colonizing.
But there appears to be a difficulty in the minds of some of our new friends as to where they shall select their lands. That, of course is their own difficulty. Had there been only one block offered, there had been no hardship of choice between many; but as every man can select his few acres out of some thousands in different parts of the Province, either inland or coast-land, hilly or level, forest or fern, flax or ti-tree; the page 46advantages of a large choice should not excite a complaint that the variety is perplexing—but satisfaction that the field is so large and varied. "But the Auckland capitalists buy up the best lands." Some of it they do; but even for the very best, the "free-grant men" can compete with them in the lot (and many have thus beaten the capitalist); though they had much better make a selection from the many thousands of acres which are open to them without any competition; and no doubt some of the lands so opened are as good as those for which many compete, for the run for a block does not always arise from a well-founded opinion that it is really superior. The wisest and safest way, perhaps, is for a party to agree to send two or three of their body with the guide which it appears the Provincial Government would provide to accompany them, to inspect and report upon some block open for selection, and let the whole party bear the expense; and then, having made choice, let them go off together, and build their small dwellings, helping each other as Colonial neighbours cordially should do.
And our Auckland patriots, who having grown rich, feel that they should be also conspicuous, could hardly find a work more worthy their wisdom and benevolence, or even more remunerative for their efforts and capital, than that of taking the lead of a large party of persons who should obtain and settle upon a new district of the country, founding another town, and bringing thousands of acres into cultivation, and producing such provisions* as are now imported from other countries at an enormous expenditure of capital which might be well retained here, and find beneficial employment in the development of the numerous resources of our own Colony. There is at this moment ample scope for the formation of page 47settlements which, at some future time, cannot fail to become of the first importance for agriculture, grazing, sheep-farming, and especially for whaling and general commerce, on the rivers, estuaries and ports which give entrance to those large tracts of land, which are already available for the purpose in the interesting littoral districts, situated to the north of Auckland. Here is an object worthy the intelligence, ability, and capital of men who owe their distinction to the country they would serve: an object which would prove a blessing at once to hundreds of men who are not in a position to take the lead in such a movement, but who would be happy indeed to follow those whose character and experience and wealth both qualify and warrant them to lead.
Thus would they fulfil the designs of the Creator, and become the founders of new ports, towns, and groups of farms; would be in a condition to establish the means of education and worship—and thus escape the worst evils and the greatest hardships of colonial life.
* I have been familiar with some of the first-class manufacturers of cheese and bacon in England, and am of opinion that were any of them to settle in this country they would produce as fine a quality of goods as they do at home, and that the Auckland wholesale pricewould be fully double what they now obtain in England. Persons who bring inferior pro-visions to our markets greatly mistake, as we have no pauper population to consume them. The main demand is for the very best qualities; and any person taking the pains to produce them, will find as sure and remunerative a market in Auckland as can be found anywhere. The standing retail price in Auckland for good New Zealand cheese is about 1s. 6d. per lb.; and fresh butter has for some months been about 2s. 6d.—prices which cannot fail to satisfy manufacturers who pay no rent, and whose land and stock of cattle is annually increasing in value. I mention these articles of food because they can be readily produced by new colonists with but limited means, and because they find a constant market both here and in Australia; and perhaps a more safe aim could not be attempted than that of supplying the towns of New Zealand and Australia with such a quality of these goods as should close the door against the present large imports from Europe.