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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 2


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The Dunedin National Industrial Association was formed to aid in the encouragement of manufactures. The members of the Association felt that the colony could never hope to be permanently prosperous if reliance were put on one or two products only. The more diversified our industries are the less the risk of dull times and commercial crises. Looked at from a mere money point of view, the need of developing manufactures was felt. The members of the Association, however, believed that in addition to the money point of view there was another aspect in which the encouragement of industrial enterprise should be considered; namely—the more diversified the industries become, the greater arc the advantages educationally to the people.

Being thus impressed with the absolute need of diversified industries, the question was asked, How can we best attain our aim ? Various projects were proposed. First, it was felt that the very existence of such an Association would he one means of impressing on the people the need of manufactures. Second, the Association could carefully watch the legislation proposed in Parliament, so that nothing detrimental to the rising manufactures might be enacted without protest; and third, the Association might use every effort in fostering and encouraging the local manufactures already started, and then urge on the founding of new industries The holding of an Exhibition was deemed one way of drawing attention to the already existing manufactures and of encouraging the colonists to use locally manufactured articles. Beyond this, it was felt that an Exhibition would be the best way of showing what the colony was capable of doing in manufactures, and also in what direction new industries might be started. It was with these objects in view that arrangements were made for holding an Industrial Exhibition in Dunedin.

The Association has had considerable difficulties to overcome. First, the getting of a suitable place for the holding of an Exhibition was difficult. It was thought that there might be erected a permanent building in the Botanic Garden Domain that would be suitable for holding the Exhibition, and that might be used for concerts and meetings, and also as a Winter Garden. This project, though, warmly taken up by many citizens, had to be abandoned. There was no proper provision in the existing Public Domains Statute for erecting such a hall and charging for admission, and the City Council did not feel page 7 warranted in moving in the direction indicated. The Association hope, however, that this project will not be entirely abandoned; but that some means may be devised for the erection of a hall suitable for Industrial Exhibitions, and also suitable for social meetings.

So far as the exhibits are concerned, they must speak for themselves. The Association think that any one viewing this display of the products of a country so newly settled as New Zealand, must admit that in the colony there are all the natural agencies necessary to the establishing and maintaining of varied manufactures. The industrial development in Dunedin since 1861 has been most marked; and the fact that Dunedin has successfully competed with manufactures from all parts of the world in the Sydney and Melbourne Exhibitions ought to urge on all kinds of industrial enterprise. The educating effects of industry are generally underrated. A nation devoted to industry is a peaceable and thrifty nation, and its people happy. But not only in mere well-being does industry help forward humanity. The existence of varied manufactures calls out all kinds of intellectual energy and demands the best training in Science and Art. Inventions to overcome difficulties, and all the mechanical aids that get rid of hard physical exertion, follow in the wake of manufactures. Man rises as his command and control over nature increases. And there arises also that scientific spirit that has made such strides during the present century—the spirit of investigation and love for truth—for the real. An impetus is given to true research and the claims of humanity are recognised.

To further develope our manufactures, however, several things are requisite. First—There must be a feeling created that it is our duty to foster Native industries by all legitimate means. Second—Something must be done to prepare our youth for following industrial enterprises. The first may be aided by the holding of this Exhibition. It will show how much has been done; it will also point out the vast possibilities of our colony in industrial enterprise; and it will, it is thought, prove that in many industries we can equal, if not excel, the products of older countries. The second thing requisite, is the training of our youth to industrial pursuits. One of the great advantages that old countries have over colonies, is that there is in the former, always a great number of men trained to certain manufactures. In the colonies, manufactories have often to be started, wanting the necessary skilled workmen; then again, manufactories grow and have their history and associations. Here they have to be started without these advantages. To overcome such difficulties, there is need of the youths being industrially trained. Politics include industry as well as government. Technical Schools and page 8 Technological Museums should be founded. These would be useful not only in training youths to industries, but they would also help to create an enthusiasm in the founding of factories, and Industry might compete with Medicine and Law for the possession of our best youths. Perhaps after a time, under such an enthusiasm, it might he considered a greater honour to conduct a factory or to start a new industry, than in England it is reckoned to obtain a peerage, or found a family.

The Industrial Association has therefore many claims on the public. Its aims are legitimate and praiseworthy; the means it takes to further them, cannot be condemned Its members are fully aware that in no new country can it be expected to have industries so numerous and so well equipped, as in older countries, but it is believed that a public spirit once created amongst the population in favor of local manufactures, must bear much fruit. It will draw out all the varied intellectual powers of the young colonists. Some may excel in one branch of industry, some in another. It will provide for diversity in occupation—a diversity that of itself, tends to intellectual advancement. If this Exhibition, held under the auspices of this Association, does in any small degree tend to create an enthusiasm for local industries, it will have accomplished its object. For the aid and assistance given by the exhibitors, and some who are neither exhibitors nor members of the Association, hearty thanks are due. The desire to show what the colony may produce, animates many. If since 1861, we can show so many industries; if, contrasted with the General Exhibition of 1865, our products have become so numerous, varied, and interesting, who can predict to what stage of advancement we may not reach, say in a decade? Our immediate Industrial outlook is hopeful. New industrial forces are about to be brought to bear upon our powers of production. There might be named—the manufacture of Sulphuric Acid (now being established in our midst), and it is not easy to over-estimate its effect upon agriculture and manufactures; the successful Deepening of the Channel to the Port by the labours of the Harbour Board; the fair prospect of a Company being started to undertake the Freezing of Meat, with its natural complement of a line of steamers direct from our city to London; and the re-leasing in smaller blocks of the millions of acres of land about to revert to the Crown. And when the close interaction and interdependence of industrial forces is remembered, who can guage our progress ? This is the first exhibition of the Industrial Association. Who can say what advances other exhibitions may not show, once the industrial spirit is diffused throughout our people ?

Robert Stout,

Chairman of the Association. Dunedin,