Voices from Auckland, New Zealand.
[Quote from settler regarding emigrants to Auckland]
We have been favoured with the following extracts from the letters of a settler in the province, of considerable standing and experience:—
No earnest entreaties, no expressed willingness to do anything, should prevail with the agents to give Land Orders to clerks, shopmen, or persons of that class. Such people only go to Auckland to be miserable, and to be a burden on the public. Some few young and energetic lads of that class do, after a little suffering, manage to get on; but there is the greatest difficulty in getting a chance of doing well for any one not accustomed to energetic manual labour. People with capital, who are, at the same time, willing to rough it for a time; good agricultural labourers, carpenters, brickmakers, bricklayers; and, in general, men who have a trade such as is wanted in a new country, and who are steady and industrious, may all come, with advantage to themselves and the colony, but no others.
Persons with capital who are about to emigrate might be recommended to bring out servants with them. The value of the Land Order will be more than the expense they will thus incur, so that they need not be very anxious about binding them to serve them for any length of time. If such agreement is made, however, it is advisable that in all cases the agreement should be to give them the current rate of wages of the district, as any other way is almost sure to engender heart-burnings. A person who intends to invest money in the purchase of land will find that to bring out a good class of agricultural labourers and a few respectable female servants, even without any agreement, will be the cheapest and best way of remitting his money to Auckland. He can bring each of them for £16, and if of the right class will receive for them £20 worth of land.
The Immigration Agent, feeling it to be a very important duty, both for the sake of the immigrants and the province, that they should not be discouraged at the outset, and that everything should be done to make matters as smooth for them as possible, has provided himself with a list of houses and furnished apartments to let, and of boarding houses, with their terms; and, on his recommendation, the Superintendent has rented a large building for the purpose of affording temporary accommodation to those whose limited means may make it advisable that they should be saved the expense of lodging until they have time to look about them.
It is well that applicants for Land Orders should exactly understand their position. There is no land belonging to the Government for sale near Auckland, nor, the writer should think, within thirty miles of it; and the best land that is coming into the market—a good deal of it very good—is much further away. To any one who knows this country this will not appear a matter of much consequence, as every part of the province is near water communication, and new settlements are springing up in all directions. The writer has had experience of a farm between twenty and thirty miles from Auckland, abutting on a navigable creek, such as they have almost everywhere, and he was able to send his produce to Auckland at a considerably less cost than if he had been only five or six miles from Auckland, close to one of the main roads. In fact, the most flourishing farmers in the province—Messrs. Williams, Brothers—have the principal part of their land at the Bay of Islands, from whence they send large supplies of sheep, cattle, and horses, to Auckland; and their manager at Auckland informed the writer that it cost them just one shilling a-head to bring sheep there. Many immigrants imagine that they are to be set down on a cultivated farm, or at least on one bearing good grass. They should all be undeceived as to this. The land is naturally covered with fern, shrub, or trees—the last, by far the best of the land—if level, or nearly so. Good bush (forest) land costs about £2 10s. an acre to fell the trees and burn them off—that is, if the labour has to be paid for. The writer's sons have had a quantity cut down last spring, by contract, at 35s. and 37s. 6d. per acre. This will be burnt off in March; and afterwards grass, and even a fair crop of wheat, will grow upon it if sown on the surface among the ashes. Every emigrant should understand that he must calculate upon supporting himself for twelve months in some other way than by the produce of his land.
There are no such things as "Free Grant Lands," as distinguished from any other lands belonging to the province. A Land Order for 40 acres, issued by a duly authorised agent, is just the same to any person wishing to purchase any land belonging to the Government as a £20 note, with this difference, that its possessor must remain in the province to reap the benefit of it, and will not be in a condition to sell his land for five years after he has arrived at Auckland.
The Government is constantly purchasing blocks of land from the natives; and a number of surveyors are then set to work upon them and subdivide them into farms of different sizes. When two or three blocks have been thus divided, the Superintendent advertises that on and after such a day such and such lots of land in such a district will be open for sale; and in applying for these lots, or any unsold lots previously open for sale, the holders of Land Orders are on the same footing as if their Land Orders were money, with the single exception to which the writer referred above. If a person has a 40-acre Land Order, and buys an 85-acre farm—as one did yesterday—he hands in his Land Order and page 54£26 10s.; or, if he buys so much land as he has orders for, he has nothing to pay.
There is a good deal of work for land surveyors in the colony, and there are a good many land surveyors (not many, however, of a superior class). The Provincial Government does all its surveys by contract, at a fixed price for the different kinds of work. A land surveyor's life in New Zealand is rather a hard one, but they generally make a tolerable income. My private opinion is, that there is a want of a person thoroughly qualified. Everything, however, depends on his ability and industry. If, indeed, well qualified in these respects, he might, very possibly, after a time, be employed by the Government, and, at all events, could not fail to find private employment. This, of course, is only my opinion, formed from observing the very moderate qualifications of some who are employed. You will ere long have correct maps of the province.
Means of education in Auckland, both for boys and girls, arc abundant and of good quality.
Families in which there are grown-up daughters, able and willing to take situations as domestic servants, have a great advantage, Female servants are much wanted, and meet with great encouragement, A good carpenter and wheelwright is sure of employment.
The land orders are just equivalent to the price of twenty or forty acres of land, as the case may be, to be selected by the holder from any land that the Provincial government has, or may have, open for sale. New blocks are continually being surveyed, and brought forward for that purpose; thus whether the whole, or only a part, or no part, of any lot selected may be fit for cultivation will depend wholly on the wisdom of the selection. If the immigrant chooses, he will get at the Land-office, without fee, all the information they have as to the quality and nature of the land open for selection in the different blocks, or he cart employ a recognised land agent to select for him, or to assist him in making his selection, at an expense, I believe, of 6d. per acre. It would be an easy matter to send home plans from the Survey-office, as the different blocks of land are cut up and ready for sale; but it would only mislead intending emigrants to do so, as on their arrival here they might very likely find the greater part (at all events the best part) of these blocks already taken up, and that in order to get a good choice they must select from still more recent surveys. The surveys are going on rapidly.
Mr.—writes chiefly to inquire what would be the effect of servants or children, in respect of whom land orders have been granted to the head of, a family, leaving the province before the stipulated five years has expired. It is quite plain by the act, that in such case, a Crown grant could not issue in respect of land held in respect of these orders. Any peculiar circumstances involving hardship, such as having expended money in improving such land, would doubtless receive a fair and equitable consideration from the Government then existing, and the matter would without doubt be arranged as favourably as possible for the holder of the land orders. Every person, however, bringing out servants should make such arrangements with them as will, as far as possible, secure their remaining in the province, while at the same time there is little fear if the proper class of servants is brought out, that they will have any temptation to leave the province, whether they leave their master's service or not.
There is no difficulty in obtaining employment for good agricultural labourers, or girls willing to go to service. A lot of fine men came by the Harwood from the North of England, chiefly from the county of Durham—shipwrights, carpenters, and blacksmiths. They are all doing well, and are now sending home for their families.
It is the desire of the Provincial Government rather to have five hundred Immigrants arrive here who will feel contented and satisfied, than to have as many thousand grumblers and disappointed persons accusing the Government here and its Agents in England of having deceived them. Many of those who arrive here come with exceedingly incorrect notions about what they are coming to. This, to some extent, is inevitable; the difference between a country such as our mother-country is and any young colony being so many page 55and so great that nothing one can read or hear will enable them to form a correct idea of it. A good deal, however, may and ought to be done to correct erroneous expectations, and with this object the writer will mention a few particulars. In the first place we have in this Province, at least in that part of it as yet purchased from the natives, no grassy plains. All the land is covered either with forest shrub, or fern. The land in the neighbourhood of volcanic hills, all of them long ago extinct, is generally a light soil and is very easily brought into cultivation, but does far better with grass than anything else—in fact will speedily be well grassed by mere surface sowing. Next to that is the land covered with forest trees; where this is not much broken (the writer means where it is tolerably level), it is the best land generally. In most places the trees can be cut down by contract at from 35s. to 40s per acre—it is even done at 30s. This is done in winter and early spring. The felled trees are allowed to lie over the summer, and in the end of March or early in April they are burnt off: the unburnt remains are then tumbled together in heaps, and upon the ashes grass seed, wheat, or oats are sown, and generally do very well. Fern land can be laid down with grass at about half the cost of forest land probably, but in most cases not so successfully, and in almost all cases it will be a year or two longer, before you can have good grass upon it. It has to be cleared by burning off the fern, very lightly ploughed, and allowed to lie fallow for a good while to sweeten it, before it can be sown to advantage. In newly opened districts, where cattle have not been kept before to any considerable extent, cattle, properly selected, will thrive well in the bush for some years, but such runs deteriorate in place of improving; they, however, enable a gettler, who understands what he is about, to get a good herd of cattle while he is by degrees getting land into grass. Bush runs don't do for sheep, but our made pastures are far superior to the natural grass runs in the southern provinces, and sheep forming is rapidly increasing here.
Every person thinking of coming here should distinctly understand that for at least twelve months after his arrival he must expect to support himself from some other source than from the produce of his land. All young men, in fact, all men accustomed to work, the writer advises to take service for a time—by so doing, they save their money and gain the needful experience. Where the men are of the right sort they have not hitherto found much difficulty in getting employment. A considerable number of immigrants of the superior class have selected their land in very good localities, and if rightly directed will, I doubt not, after the struggle which we have ail had to go through, do very well. There is no land in the hands of Government, at least, none worth having, at all near Auckland. That, however, the writer considers of much less consequence than it may appear to a stranger. Population is rapidly spreading northwards, roads are being made, settlements are springing up, and such is the nature of the country that every part of it is near some navigable creek or river by which farm produce can be brought to Auckland from even great distances at far less cost than it could be brought a short distance by land. I have had a farm between twenty and thirty miles from Auckland, and brought my produce here at two-thirds of the cost of bringing it five or six miles by one of the best roads.
It will be well for immigrants to make up their minds really to rough it for a while, and not spend their money in building comfortable houses or furnishing them nicely. When I came to this province, nearly ten years ago, I got two natives to build me a raupo hut—that is a hut with a frame of poles crossed by supple-jacks, to which are tied bundles of a sort of broad reed that grows in the swamps. I got a carpenter to floor it and make doors and windows; altogether it cost me about 20l. It was more comfortable either in summer or winter than a weather-boarded house, and I think looked better; it being, however, dangerous for fire, I had no fire-place in it, but had the cooking carried on in a separate place. We lived there five years; we never were, either before or since, so free from colds, &c. As for furniture I brought scarcely any with me, as I was not sure when I left home where I would settle, and I believe I did not in those five years expend 51. on furniture, and we did very well without it.
At first they felt it somewhat odd to be without so many things we used to have, but by-and-by we did not mind it. Such, too, is the mildness of the page 56climate, that I don't think there were more than three or four days in each year that I wished we could have had a fire in our sitting room.
This may perhaps be egotistical, but the writer has said this much about himself thinking it may be useful to others and you. Every one may be assured that a man's respectability here will not in the least suffer by his doing any honest kind of work, or living as roughly as it suits him to do. The writer has seen a retired major of the—Regiment without a coat leading his dray laden with manure; and he has himself, when driving his own dray, been repeatedly stopped and spoken to frankly by such ladies as the Bishop's and the Chief Justice's wives. A man's position here depends upon what he is, not on what he has; it is so at least in a degree that is not understood at all in Great Britain. Emigrants may do well to lay this to heart. It would be well too if emigrants who propose to settle on land immediately after arriving would arrange so as to arrive here if possible between the end of August and end of April. The other months are not so suitable for travelling about (although May is occasionally a fine month), and there is generally so much rain, especially in June July, and the beginning of August, as to dishearten strangers who arrive about that time. Agricultural labourers may come at any time, as there is a good deal of work done during winter—only they won't like it much at first,