Canterbury Chamber of Commerce (Incorporated).
Christchurch "The Press" Company, Limited, Printers And Bookbinders, Cashel St. MDCCCLXXXVI.
|1.||The Colony's progress during the recent depression.|
|2.||Its present position, and|
|3.||Its probable future.|
The Colony's Progress During The Recent Depression.
No thoughtful observer of the state of commerce throughout the world during the years 1885 1886 can regard it with anything bat profound dissatisfaction, but in Now Zealand we have been cheered lately by a welcome improvement in the price of our chief staple—wool, both in London and Antwerp, This improvement has been both substantial and progressive, and it leads to the hope that it may be the harbinger of a general trade revival in Europe and consequently of the advent of blighter times in New Zealand. To those who look forward thus hopefully it will be interesting to—so to speak—take stock and consider to what extent, if any, the colony has progressed in spite of the past four or five years of depression. This may also be considered a specially opportune time for an audit, as an eminent English author in a recent work asserts that we are retrograding so rapidly, and our financial position is so strained, that repudiation is a common topic amongst leading colonists. Another writer, in a London newspaper, goes rather farther, as after criticising most adversely the financial position of the colonies in general he concludes by asserting that New Zealand has mortgaged everything she possesses but her climate, and warns the British public against lending us any more British savings. It is incomprehensible how writers of repute can become to imbued with prejudice that they unhesitatingly make assertions which must tend to tarnish the commercial honor of the colonies from whom Great Britain has gained so much. Surely England's interests lie as much in the future welfare of her colonial possessions as those of the colonists themselves. Where indeed would Great Britain's boasted commercial supremacy have been to-day were it not for the markets she has found for her manufactures in her colonial and other possessions? Who but the British trader has reaped the benefit of the £1,700,000,000 worth of British manufactures and products that have been exported from the United Kingdom to British possessions during the past thirty years? Who but the British trader has received the £[unclear: 4]6,000,000 worth of Australian and New Zealand gold that hat been laboriously dug out of the bowels of the earth during the same thirty years and sent to England to pay for British manufactures? Only a few years ago, namely in the quinquennial period ending 1874, the United Kingdom's annual average of exports of home products and manufactures to all countries was £235,000,000, cut of which £60,000,000 worth, representing 25 5 per cent, of the whole, went to her colonial and other possessions. But, while the annual average exports to all countries for the quinquennial period ending 1881, had fallen to £234,000.000, the annual average exports to her colonies and other possessions had lisen to £81,000,000 or 34.6 per cent, of the whole. The colonies and other British possessions have supplied and are still supplying the misses in the United Kingdom with cheap meat, bread, sugar, coffee, and other articles of food, as well as with cheap wool for clothing; and, had it not been for the enterprise mainly of colonists in raising these articles of necessity in such profusion as to bring them within the reach of all, the life of the working classes in Great Britain would ere now have became all but unbearable. Are page 4 not these facts sufficient to show that the colonies have been a mine of wealth to the British public? And yet large-hearted public writers appear to think that they are doing good work in warning the said British public to beware of us. Isolated as we lie from the great centres of thought and action, we are no doubt prone to shut ourselves up in our own insular ideas and to ignore the necessity for getting outside of them, and reaching a standpoint from which "to see ourselves as others see us." Bearing this in mind, though foreign criticism may seem to us sometimes to present distorted views of our condition and surroundings, we ought not to shrink from the duty of ascertaining whether it has not in reality thrown a new and clearer light on existing facts. But what are the facts, more especially with regard to the position of our own colony? It is true that we have not advanced "by leaps and bounds" during the past five years; yet it has been a period of comparative unprogression rather than of actual retrogression, as will be manifest from certain figures which I shall adduce, and which go to prove that we have not only made some progress, but that we have positively increased our national wealth.
In following up the contention that we have not actually gone backwards, I purpose comparing our position with that of some other countries, for, so long as our material and social well-being is intimately bound up with the progress and position of other nations upon whom, directly or indirectly, we have to rely as customers for our goods, so long will their prosperity or adversity be of vital importance to us.
|1st April, 1881||452,019|
|1st April, 1886||578,283|
We here have an increase of 96,264 persons or within a fraction of 20 per cent, in the five years, and when it is remembered that the times have not been such as to attract immigrants, the increase may be considered fairly encouraging. In Australia and Tasmania the population increased from 2 252,490 in 1879 to 2,668,737 in 1884, or about 18½ per cent, for a similar term of five years, but this period included the prosperous times of 1880-1881. Perhaps the most satisfactory feature in these figures is that it is mainly owing to our healthy climate that we have been able to obtain this ratio of increase. On comparing the annual death-rate per 1000 of mean population in the Australian colonies and Great Britain, we find the following results:—New Zealand, 10.39; Victoria, 14.18 New South Wales, 14.52; South Australia, 14.83; Tasmania, 17.06; Western Australia, 17.93; Queensland, 18.82; Great Britain, 21.3. Now, as the death-rate in Great Britain is almost the lowest in Europe, we may conclude, even after making due allowance for the character and average age of our populalation, that we in New Zealand are blessed with the healthiest climate in the world—an important consideration, which is perhaps not sufficiently known or appreciated by the well-to-do classes that leave England to settle in the colonies. A climate such as ours has the additional merit that the better health enjoyed by our people enables them to work to greater advantage than other nations.
|The Colony.||Percentage of increase.||Canterbury.||Percentage of increase.|
|31st May, 1880||11,530,623||3,289,463|
|31st May, 1885||14,546,801||26.16||4,410,238||34.07|
This increase in our flocks is eminently satisfactory, and it bears a most favorable comparison with the progress made by our neighbors, as well as with that of every other country. In 1880 the sheep in Australia and Tasmania numbered 59,175,024, and in 1884 they had only increased to 60,289,688, or by barely 2 per cent. In the United States, as shown by official returns, there were 50 350,244 sheep in 1884 and only 48,322,331 on 31st December, 1885, or a decrease in the twelve months of 2,037,913. The total number of sheep in Europe in 1884 was returned at 191,000,000, which shows a slight falling off as compared with ten years ago. The other countries of importance are the Argentine and Uruguay Republics, in the Argentine Confederation there were 61,000,000 sheep in 1880, 69,000,000 in 1883, and they are supposed to have increased to 73,000,000 in 1885, but there are no official returns to that date. This increase, however, vast as it appears, is only some 19.67 per cent, for the five years, as compared with 26.11 in New Zealand. In Uruguay there were 18,000,000 sheep in 1874, and the number had fallen to 14 536,000 in 1884, or a decrease of about 3½ millions in the ten years. It is thus seen that, with the exception of the Argentine Republic, New Zealand is the only country in the world that is increasing its flocks in any marked degree.
|Australia and Tasmania||310,155,000||346,409,000||352,660,000|
The official figures of the number of sheep in New Zealand in 1880 and 1855, and the corresponding shipments of wool, axe as follows:—
These figures show that there has been the marvellous increase in our production of wool of 26,770,568 los, or over 43 percent, within the live years, and this increase is the more encouraging in that it is partly owing to the average clip having improved from 5.33 lbs per sheep in 1880 to 6.07 lbs per sheep in 1885. Now, when it is noted that the River Plate sheep averages only 3 8 lbs of wool against 607 lbs from the New Zealand sheep, and furthermore, when we find that the average price realised in Europe during 1885 is estimated at 5½d per lb for a Plata wool against 9d for New Zealand, we may reasonably infer that our farmers must enjoy far greater natural advantages than their congeners in South America. If also we estimate the expenses of selling New Zealand wool in London at the extreme rate of 1½d per lb., and the clip at 6lb, we have a net return to the farmer on these figures of 3s 9d per sheep, whereas, deducting only ld per lb for expenses on the River Plate wool, there is left 4½d per lb for 3.8lb, or only a fraction ever is 5d per sheep.
In further considering the colony's progress, we cannot do better than examine the agricultural statistics, showing the land in cultivation and sown with grasses in March, 1881, and March, 1886, respectively From these I have collated the following figures:—
Holdings and a reage under cultivation, and artificially sown grasses.
Thus, while the total extent of land under cultivation and broken up for crop in 1881 was 4,843 718 acres, it had increased in 1886 to 6740,993 acres, or by nearly 40 percent. These figures are most striking when compared with the returns of 1885 tor England, which show a total area under cultivation of every description, including permanent pasture, of only 21,880,307 acres. The comparative magnitude of operations in this country becomes manifest when it is noted that the ratio of cultivation in New Zealand is 11.65 acres per head of population against barely one acre per head in England.
A reference to the returns from our coal mines also reveals a rapid and sure progress, year by year, in this important industry. Here are a few figures extracted from various official sources, which may prove interesting:—
This important industry is evidently expanding so rapidly that the day cannot be far distant when the West Coast coal will rank as one of our most valuable exports. The bituminous coal of Greymouth is now fully recognised as one of the finest in the world for gas making, and that from her twin sister Westport is equally sought after for steam purposes. Perhaps it is not commonly known that one ton of Grey-mouth coal can be depended upon to yield 12,000ft. of 16½ candle-power gas, while the very best Newcastle coal will only yield 9000ft to 9500ft per ton, and the residuals from the Greymouth are the more valuable. These facts are gradually being recognised in Australia, and it is gratifying to know that the Ballarat Gas Company has contracted with the Brunner mine for all its present requirements and that Hong Kong has recently ordered 8000 tons of West coast coal. Any one giving a little consideration to the study of mineralogy must come to the conclusion that New Zealand possesses an important and valuable asset in her coal mines, and when the harbor works on the West Coast are sufficiently advanced to give security to ocean-going ships, we shall doubtless see a gigantic coal trade established to Australia and the East.page 6
Another cheering feature in our statistical position is the rapid development in the exports of manufactures and miner products, as shown in the following table compiled from the official Gazette :—
|Animals — Live stock horses, sheep and cattle||2,352||89,290||86,938|
|Bacon and hams.||312||19,761||19,449|
|Bran and sharps||15,596||34,581||18,985|
|Provisions—Salt beef and pork||2,802||26,610||23,808|
|Sundries—Consisting of woollen manufactures, and other miscellaneous goods||50,071||141,965||91.894|
An increase of over 400 per cent, within five years in twenty article? of comparatively minor importance, though dealing with such proportionately large figures, is hard to parallel in the history of commerce.
|Estimated quantity of wool used by woollen mills in the U. Kingdom.||Number of hands employed.||Pounds of wool need per employe.|
These figures establish the great economy of labor effected by improved machinery and the consequent reduction in the cost of the manufactured article to the consumer, even after allowing for increased remuneration to the factory hands. It is said that the climate of New Zealand is more suitable for dyeing wools than that of any other country in the world, and consequently a better color can be given to the highest qualities of tweeds and fancy coatings. If this is correct, it opens up a vista of prosperity for our woollen mills, the magnitude of which we cannot at present pretend to estimate.page 7
The progress of the merchant shipping of a country is often accepted as a test and measure of its commercial importance and development, as, ceteris paribus, that country is usually most prosperous and progressive which has the largest dealings with the rest of the world. It must be evident that a command of the means of economical transportation of commodities from its own to other ports will, other things being equal, give the country possessing such means a decided advantage in the race for wealth. The following summary collated from Mr Giffen's and Sir T. Farrer's reports, as well as from the trade and Customs returns of the shipping in New Zealand and other countries is, therefore, of interest, as it shews that, with the solitary exception of Great Britain. New Zealand owns the largest steam fleet per capita of any country in the world.
The rapid increase of the merchant shipping of New Zealand in both steam and sailing vessels is mainly due to the enterprise of the New Zealand Shipping and Union Steamship Companies, and they can fairly boast that both in point of equipment and speed their favorite passenger steamers will compare with those of the most celebrated lines. We are, however, in need of a cargo-carrying service that can be worked at a minimum of cost to convey our bulky products, such as wheat and frozen meat, to the markets of the world. As giving some idea of the economy of the present time it may be mentioned that towards the latter part of 1885 shipbuilders on the Clyde were willing to contract for steel vessels at £9 10s per ton. They were also offering at a relatively low cost a class of steel steamers fitted with triple expansion engines, which steaming at a moderate speed, can accomplish a long voyage with an average consumption of half an ounce of coal per ton per mile. At this rate, assuming paper to be as efficient a fuel as coal, the burning of a half-ounce letter on board such a steamer would generate sufficient steam to transport one ton of freight one mile. A line of steamers of this description would carry our frozen mutton, wool, tallow, wheat, &c., to England at a much less cost than is possible by magnificently fitted-up passenger and mail steamers worked at the great cost which a high rate of speed involves.
|Letters despatched, 1880.||Letters despatched, 1885.||Telegrams, 1880||Telegram 1885,|
The Present Position.
To come now to consider our present position. There can be no doubt that our progress has been much retarded by the serious fall in the price-level of our wool and wheat in European markets, and we have not made that headway which our previous experience has accustomed us to look for as a matter of course. We find ourselves with a foreign debt, on 31st March, 1886, of £31,688,349, the interest upon which has to be paid in gold, notwithstanding that its purchasing power as compared with our products has appreciated from 25 to 40 per cent, since the bulk of the money was borrowed. And it is here that a finger of warning should be held up, as until there is some certainty of a substantial advance in the foreign values of our leading products, and consequently an expansion in the value of our exports, it is absolutely necessary that our legislators should—to use the words of the Premier—"taper off" our future borrowings, or we may find that we have moulded a concrete debt difficult to liquidate. So long as our borrowings are strictly confined to really reproductive works there is not much to fear, but we cannot disguise the fact that in the past-the irretrievable past—anormous sum of money have been squandered for which we got no return, and no thoughtful observer can regard the results otherwise than with great concern. We in New Zealand are not, however, alone in having incurred a heavy public burden, as is shown by the striking increase of the national debts of the world during page 8 the past thirty odd years. In 1848 the national debts of the twenty-four leading countries in the world amounted to a total of 1650 millions sterling. In 1880 they had increased to 5750 millions. In fact the national engagements of France have, it is estimated, risen from 223 millions in 1854 to 1434 millions sterling on 1st July, 1885; and those of Italy from 36 millions in 1848 to 438 millions in 1884; whilst the United Kingdom and her Dependencies now owe 1100 millions, The ratio of debt per capita in New Zealand has, however, slightly decreased of late, as on 31st March, 1881, the population was 482,019 against a debt of £27,108,269 or £56 4s 9d per head, while on 31st March, 1886, the population was 578,283 and the debt £31 688,349, thus reducing the ratio to £54 15s 11d per head. At the same time there is little doubt that foremost in the future troubles of New Zealand will be the question of further borrowing, as there are masses in this country who, reckless of the after consequences, demand the expenditure of borrowed money simply that labor may be paid for at a fictitious value, and would-be popular legislators are too apt to pander to this pressure in order to curry favor with a certain class of voters. The present has, however, been aptly termed the "age of hope," and doubtless it is this feeling that animates and encourages us to believe that without the aid of "heroic remedies," but with ordinary prudence and self denial, the recuperative powers of New Zealand are sufficiently great to enable us to put our finances on a solid footing, if we only make the effort to do so. The recent property-tax assessment returns strengthen this opinion, as, notwithstanding the many reverses we have suffered during the past four or five years, there is still a balance in our favor on the past three years' operations. The misfortune is that the balance is not nearly so much as it should be, considering the large sums of public and private money which have been spent in improving our "real estate" in the interval. The following figures however may perhaps encourage many of us to renew our efforts:—
Return Of Assessed Value Of Rateable Property In New Zealand
|Assessment, 1882. £||Assessment, 1885. £|
|Proportion of Crown pastoral lands on which rates are payable by occupiers, included in 1882 totals, stated separately for 1885||3,700,000|
The serious complaints that have been made of both trade and agricultural depression during the past five years are not reflected in the above figures as much as might have been expected. On the contrary, they show a total increase of not ess than £6,650,000 in the rateable value of our town and country properties during the past three years; and, when we remember that the valuations are practically assessed by the owners rather than by the assessors, we may reasonably infer that, as a whole, they have not been overstated.
Again, upon examination of the published banking returns, we find that there were in Australia and New Zealand on 31st March, 1886, twenty-seven banks of issue doing business in these colonies; that their capital and reserves amounted to £22,064,534, their total assets to £125,984,240, of which £13,941,060 was represented by coin and bullion, and their liabilities to £92,506,003, £86,577,371 of which consisted of deposits. On 31st March, 1881, on the other hand, the deposits with these banks amounted to £58,933,163, so that they have increased by the enormous sum of £27,644,208, or some 46 9 per cent, within five years. These figures show the strength of the chief financial institutions in Australia and New Zealand, and also that there must have been a considerable accretion to the wealth of the colonies as a whole during the five years under review. of the six Banks doing business in New Zealand, three are practically branches, with colonial headquarters in Australia, so that it is impossible to say with accuracy how much of the 22 millions of proprietary capital is allocated to or owned by New Zealand. The official returns for this colony show, however, that deposits in Banks of Issue have increased from £9 293,497 on 3lst March, 1881, to £10.602,934 on 31st March, 1886, or by £1,309,437. It is true this increase is only a trifle over 14 per cent, but none the less it is an actual increase of nearly one and a-half millions, and should help to show that our present position is very far from being desperate. In Great Britain the deposits, including those in the Bank of England, were £512,000,000 in 1881, and £559,000,000 on January 1st, 1886, or an increase only slightly over 9 per cent. These figures approximately make deposits per head in Australia (excluding New Zealand), £28; in New Zealand, £18; in the United Kingdom, £15. Passing to the Savings Bank returns in New Zealand we find that the deposits advanced from £903,765 in 1880 to £1,638,035 on December 31st, 1885, or over 80 per cent.—a result that speakes volumes for the thrift and general well-being of the industrial classes, from whose ranks the bulk of these depositors are derived. Looked at from the same point of view, the following figures lead to the conclusion that the working classes in this country are better off than in any of the three wealthiest European nations.
Savings Bank Deposits, 1885.
|Population.||Deposits.||Rate per Head.|
|Australia & Tasmania||(1881)||5,927||2,668,737|
This fact, however, may have led to our being reproached by certain English capitalists for having built railways in the hope that people would come here to use them, rather than for the purpose of supplying the wants, of an existing population.
As further evidence of the soundness of New Zealand's position, the following figures indicate that the volume of our foreign trade, unlike that of other exporting countries, has steadily increased in spite of the heavy fall in prices.
|Exports and Imports||Exports and Imports|
The visible improvement in the general industrial situation in America, and the signs of a revival of trade in Great Britain, lead to the hope that we shall before long see an expansion both in the volume and value of our trade If we have been able to hold our own so well in the struggle for material advancement, or even make a little headway during a time of commercial quietude, it is not unnatural to expect that we shall move onwards more rapidly when the turn of the tide sets in.
Whilst considering cur position I cannot refrain from a passing reference to the value of our timber industry. It is often alleged that our forests are being so fast depleted that in the immediate future the supply will be imperilled. But the experience of the world scarcely supports this view, as, according to estimates that have been made, the whole area annually felled is only nineteen millions of acres and may be increased to forty millions before reaching the annual average increase in the growth of forest trees in exporting countries. Hence, as the area of forest trees in New Zealand in proportion to that which is annually felled is probably equal to the area in the majority of most timber-exporting countries, we are entitled to infer that, with no material increase on our present consumption, we need not be much alarmed about impairing our capital in trees.
In concluding the consideration of our present position, it is a consolation to feel that, whatever may be said about the condition of the commercial and agricultural industries, New Zealand has at least been able to maintain the great bulk of its industrial classes in a higher degree of comfort than any other country. There can be little doubt that the increased consideration which of late years has been given throughout the civilised world to the study of the social sciences, has had the effect of reducing the percentage of abject poverty in it At the same time we must admit that so far we have been unable to remove entirely this blot upon modern civilisation. In New Zealand, as elsewhere, a certain amount of destitution, more or less severe, appears inevitable, but any impartial observer who has travelled must come to the conclusion that the percentage is very much less in this country than in any other, and that as a matter of fact gaunt hunger is practically unknown. We hear much about the unemployed, and doubtless, there may be a few who from time to time have to suffer through want of work, to say nothing of those who are unable to obtain what they consider remunerative employment, but the heart-breaking misery that may be seen in any of the larger cities in Europe or America and in a less degree in Australia does not exist in New Zealand. Indeed it has been well said that New Zealand is the working man's paradise, and in no other country are the poorer classes as a whole so well fed or so well clothed as they are here. It can be readily shown that per head of our population we consume far more meat, more bread, more sugar, more tea, more coffee, and more of all the everyday articles of food than any other known country, and also that the ratio of income per capita is greater, so that, whatever our burdens may be, the masses are not the sufferers therefrom. The fact is, that the present generation are not so well satisfied with their lotas their forefathers. There is now a days a greater tendency than formerly to exaggerate trouble. At any rate there are better opportunities for airing grievances, real or imaginary, and it is probably this facility for making complaints that causes us to imagine that our ills are very much greater than they really are.
The Probable Future,
In considering our future prospects, we should not lose sight of the opinion of eminent economists that the price of meat and dairy products has risen nearly 50 per cent, within the past thirty-five years, and that as the supply is not keeping pace with the general increase of population and wealth, prices of these products, in comparison with those of most other commodities, must continue to rise. Now, as the meat and dairy products of New Zealand are far greater than she can consume, any such rise in price must be to her advantage, especially as prices of nearly all the articles she imports in exchange have a falling tendency. Again, our great staple—wool—after falling to a point lower than has been known in the present generation, has revived considerably, and, although it may not regain its old level, unless indeed there be a general "boom" in trade throughout the world, yet the latest advices all indicate that prices are at least approaching a rate that will leave our producers a profit.
Our coalfields, as may be gathered from my previous remarks, are on the eve of being developed in a manner that very few are aware of. There is reason to believe that the coal resources of New Zealand, as compared with its area, are infinitely superior to those of most other countries, except possibly England, and consequently we may take it for granted that in this respect we are at least as well equipped for the industrial contest as other countries, and as likely to be able to take a good place therein.
With the introduction of the most recent scientific appliances for crushing and smelting gold there is every possibility of our increasing its present rate of production to a very considerable extent. With crude and faulty appliances our goldfields have already yielded some £42,327,907 sterling up to 1835, but this is nothing to what might be done if we keep pace with the times and introduce the most recent inventions. The old methods of smelting gold are now being abandoned in Australia in favor of American processes, as for instance the "Provost" furnace process, which is now generally used in the United States, and is said to have proved a great success. It consists in fusing the ore by means of a suitable flux, and with the addition of lead when that metal is not found in sufficient quantities in the ore. No doubt modern science and modern appliances will be introduced here with marked benefit to this industry, and it might be well worth the expense if our Government would adopt the suggestion thrown out by a gentleman in Auckland and send an expert to America to study the most recent inventions. It is, however pleasing to learn from the Minister of lines that our quartz mines yielded 111,432OZs of gold in 1835 against 88,299ozs in the previous year, or an increass of rather over 25 per cent.
As an agricultural country we stand alone amongst the Australian colonies in the productiveness of our soil, as the following figures demonstrate:—
Consequently with natural resources which, taken as a whole, are unequalled by those of any other country, it will indeed be our own fault if we do not succeed.
In looking to the future, however, it will be well for us to bear in mind that the want of scientific knowledge is one of our weakest points, as there can be no doubt that we are scarcely abreast of the times in this respect. It is scarcely necessary to point out how advisable it is for every one in this age of progress to acquire scientific knowledge, for on what nowadays does efficiency in the production, preparation, and distribution of commodities depend but the best use of methods fitted to their respective characters, and an adequate acquaintance with their physical, chemical or vital properties, as the case may be—that is, it depends on science. In this country, where minerals are so plentiful, a knowledge of mineralogy, for example, is of great advantage And a large amount of capital has undoubtedly been sunk in hopelessly unprofitable gold and coal mining ventures through want of this knowledge, which, with it, might have been most profitably employed in these very pursuits. Even the farmer, in draining his land, manuring his crops, or feeding his stock to advantage, owes a debt to science. In short, just as fast as productive processes become more scientific, which competition inevitably tends to make them, so fast must scientific knowledge grow necessary to every one. The advantages of production on a large scale, as distinguished from a small one, are generally admitted. Mill shows that, "as a general rule, the expenses of a business do not increase by any means proportionally to the quantity of business," and he has pointed out some of the more important items of economy attributable to manufacturing on a largest scale, such as the advantage of having the largest number of machines that can be attended to by a single worker at one time, the economy of engine power, &c., &c. page 11 The general principles that apply to manufacturing operations on a large scale apply also, though perhaps in a modified degree, to agricultural and pastoral pursuits. An illustration of the advantages of turning out farm products on a large scale is supplied by some of the cheese factories in England. One of these, for instance, in Cheshire, converts into cheese the milk from 500 cows, and the dairy is worked by only two men and two women, with an extra man to look after about 150 pigs, which are kept to consume the whey. Thus not only is labor saved, but a more uniform quality of cheese is secured. At present in New Zealand we lie under the disadvantage of having too limited a population to produce many articles that can be profitably manufactured only on a large cale. Hence we are compelled to confine our industrial undertakings mainly to such as can be successfully carried on with small establishment a. As it is generally admitted that countries which have acquired any great degree of preeminence in the economy of manufactures have invariably substituted large for small factories to enable them to reduce cost of production to a minimum, we must materially increase our population if we are ever to become a great manufacturing country. The difference between a great and a small production of any commodity, whether raw or manufactured, often represents the difference between profit and less
The undeniable relative depression of trade that is still unfortunately more or less experienced makes us too apt to forget the lessons of the past, and, while exaggerating present evils, refuse to recognise that they are simply counterparts of what have happened before and have ultimately proved self-corrective. When we see nothing but improvement behind us why should we expect nothing but deterioration before us? Within the past thirty-five years the Colony has made remarkable and continuous progress in all the essential elements of prosperity. The earnings of labor have increased absolutely and relatively, the cost of living has been generally reduced; education has been provided for the poorest; the incidence of taxation has been adjusted so as to press least heavily on the lowest incomes, and comforts and conveniences that were unknown in Europe only a century ago, except to the wealthiest, have now been brought within the reach of all. It is true that the struggle for success becomes keener and more severe, and in order to secure a fair share of the benefits which are to be obtained in the present age, men are required to be more competent, better skilled, and more alert than formerly. But notwithstanding this increasing difficulty in maintaining a good place in the contest, there is certainly far less absolute destitution in the world now than in former days, and we may rest assured that in spite of temporary deflections from the onward march of improvement there is a steady and continuous increase in wealth and prosperity in which we must fully participate, if, basing our anticipations upon the past thirty-five years' experience, we were—paraphrasing what Macaulay wrote half a century ago—to prophesy that in another thirty-five years New Zealand will have a population of five millions better fed, clad, lodged, and educated than the average well-to-do classes of to day, that scientific cultivation, [unclear: r]ich as a flower garden, will cover a great portion of these islands; that our debt, vast as it seems to us now, will appear to our children a trifling encumbrance; we might be deemed visionary. But when we consider what this young colony has already achieved, and bear in mind that it is inhabited by a tirelessly progressive people, who have the courage and endurance, the ambition and the determination, to succeed—for these are the qualities characteristic of emigrants—why should we not anticipate that progress at least equal to that of the past is destined to continue in the future?
Gentlemen,—My term of office now ends, and, although many of you, wearied with the length of my recent addresses, will doubtless give a sigh of relief, yet I would fain hope that our discussions, however incomplete they may have been, have not been quite without profit or entirely devoid of interest. I beg to move the adoption of the report and balance-sheet.
Mr Joseph Gould seconded the motion. After the very able and exhaustive address the President had given them, it was not necsssary for him to say much. He, however, quite coincided with the hopeful views expressed by the President, and heartily re-echoed the wish that the next year would see a marked revival in trade, and improvement in the general prosperity of the colony. [Cheers.]
The office-bearers for the year were elected as under:—President, Mr Joseph Gould; Vice-President, Mr F. Graham; Committee, Messrs F. Banks, W. Chrystall, M. Gard'ner, John Cooke, W. D. Meares, W. G. Rhind, G. G. Stead, A. C. Wilson, and Hon. E. W. Parker.
Messrs Waymouth and Humphries were elected as Auditors.
An alteration of the rules in the direction of reducing the entrance fee to country members outside the radius of five miles to two guineas, moved by the President, and seconded by Hon. J. T. Peacock, was carried, Mr P. Cunningham expressing his opinion that the alteration wag not necessary.
The President requested the meeting to give the incoming Committee power to deal with the section of land belonging to the Chamber on Bedford Row.page 12
After some discussion in which the Hon.
T. Peacock, Messrs W. D. Meares, Chrystall, Mitchell, Cunningham, and Banks, took part, it was resolved—"That the incoming Committee have power to deal with the section of land belonging to the Chamber, in Cashel street and Bedford Bow, in any way they deemfit."
Hon. J. T, Peacock moved—"That a very hearty vote of thanks be accorded to the retiring President, Mr G. G. Stead." [Cheers.] They would all agree with him that Mr Stead had taken a most lively interest in the work of the Chamber 5 not only so, but he had brought to bear upon this work an amount of ability which it was impossible to overrate. [Cheers.]
The motion was put and agreed to.
Mr Stead said, in acknowledging the vote, that what he had done was a labor of love. He took a great interest in the future of New Zealand, and could not but deprecate the practice of depreciating our resources and looking too much on the dark side of the picture.
Votes of thanks were accorded to the retiring Committee, the Auditors, and the Scrutineers.
Mr Cunningham asked whether the Committee were doing anything with regard to reduction of the cable charges between Australia and New Zealand. Elsewhere they were taking active steps in the matter.
The President said the Committee had been in communication with the Post-master-General, but nothing had come of it.
The meeting then terminated.
Progress of the Colony.
The following letter and enclosures, which will be read with interest, have been laid on the table of the Chamber of Commerce for the information of members:—
September 1st, 1886.
"Sir,—I have the honour, by direction of the Colonial Treasurer, to enclose here-with statements giving statistical information asked for in your letters of 4th June and 21st July last, and at the same time to express regret that it was not found possible to send you the figures at an early date. There is an immense amount of labour involved in compiling both the Census and the Property Tax Returns, which cannot be done in a month or two, and even now as you will observe, some of the figures given are only estimated. It is thought, however, you may rely upon them as being pretty nearly accurate. The gold export and general import and export returns are not included, as they are published quarterly in the Gazette, in which probably you have already seen them. It is hoped the information is not supplied too late for your purpose.
J. C. Gavin,Secretary to the Treasury." "G. G. Stead, Esq., Christchurch."
|1.||Total number of Freeholders, 1886, 73,000,|
|2.||Value of Real Property (exclusive of Crown and Native Lands, Railways, Ac.), £96,832,640.|
|3.||Value of Real Property assessed for the year 1885, £112,000,000.|
Note.—No. 3 is exclusive of Native Lands beyond five miles of any road suitable for horse traffic, and of all railways, telegraphs, and public works.
The total amount of personal property has not yet been ascertained.
(Exclusive of stock belonging to Natives).
|This, added to the estimated cost of opened lines, March 31st, 1886, viz., £12,472,814, gives the following estimated value of lines opened to 30th June, 1886||£12,620,814|
|Middle Island, inclusive of Stewart Island||8,000,000|
Since 1870 an area of 4,273,000 acres has been purchased from the Natives in the North Island at a cost of £900.000, the value of which may be taken at least at £1,500,000; this is included in the £2,250,000 North Island, as above. The above estimates are for unsold Crown Lands, and do not include education reserves, endowments for High Schools, Universities, hospitals, harbours, municipalities, and other public purposes, the total value of which will be at least two or three millions more.
|Cook Strait Cables||81,280||2||4|