The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 22
I have said that when the present commercial depression shall have passed away, steps might be successfully taken to commence a joint stock company for the manufacture of woollen goods. These monetary depressions come periodically, although not at equal intervals. That they are caused very much by speculative transactions, commercial and territorial, cannot be doubted. On the whole, although inconvenient, they are useful; for the Anglo-Saxon race, especially when transferred to a new country, are enterprising and progressive. The same hope of success that inspires men to achieve greatness, induces them to venture a good deal off the beaten track, and too freely to discount the future. But these depressions compel men to take stock of their position, and to strike a balance; the temporary cheek inducing cautious and sounder action. The future prospects of Southland are indeed bright. It is a district teeming with unfound wealth, with a climate temperate, invigorating, and healthy. With land available for and awaiting the plough, it needs nothing but stout hearts and willing hands. A steady and constant stream of men and women can find in Southland the means of obtaining a comfortable livlihood, whatever their state may be, with the almost certain prospect of gaming before old age has been reached, a moderate independence, and with the knowledge that they are assisting to build up in this South Pacific indeed a greater Britain.
Mr Scandrett having resumed his seat amidst applause,
The President said it was now open to any member to discuss the valuable and interesting paper which they had just heard.
Mr Hanan, remarked that in his opinion Mr Scandrett had spoken more favourably of the Nightcaps coal than its merits deserved. He had experimented with it, and found that it would not give enough heat to page 10 fuse iron. It was principally useful for domestic purposes. The coal was of recent formation, and had been upheaved before it had matured into the anthracite coal used for smelting iron. As to the timber supply, he supposed that Seaward Bush would only last some years longer, and then where would we look for more? There were about thirty sawmills at work within a certain radius, and the timber would soon be exhausted. Like the Prodigal Son, we were spending our fortune without providing for the future. In time we would have to fall back on the Longwood Ranges, and then Riverton would go ahead, and Invercargill in a measure be depressed, as the timber would be shipped from the former place.
Mr Carswell said that Mr Scandrett was to be congratulated on the subject he had chosen. It was scarcely to be expected that he should agree with all that had been advanced, but it had been made plain to everyone present that in the words of a writer who had been quoted it was not a question of what the settlers could do, but rather what might they not do, so varied were the resources of the land in which they lived. Under these circumstances there was room for surprise that they had not been more prosperous, and, in his opinion, one reason for that was because they had not depended sufficiently on their own resources.
Mr Bailey also joined in congratulating Mr Seandrett on the lucid manner in which he had dealt with the subject. He did not intend to traverse any of the statements made, but there were many points that Mr Scandrett could not be expected to find room for in a paper. Here was one that might be worthy of consideration. The establishment of the industries and the development of the resources mentioned would require a great deal of capital and united effort. There were in the district a large number of small settlors, especially under the deferred payment system. The Land Board had lately rather encouraged the taking up of five-acre allotments, and the question might be asked— "What were settlers of that kind to do? In many cases their holdings were too far from town to enable them to undertake daily work in it; the areas were not sufficient for successful farming, and were also too numerous to admit of market gardening being carried on. What opening was there for them? He thought that if the matter were considered there were many valuable industries which they might take up. There was bee keeping, for example. Honey at Homo was worth from 3d to 14d per lb, according to quality. This year it was a drug in the local market, and could have been bought in a quantity for 3d per lb. The reason was that there was too much for local consumption, and yet not enough for export. If a large quantity were produced it would bring a higher price, because it would be bought for export. The same remark would apply to beeswax, which was worth three times as much m the Home market as it was here. Another tiling was the growing of herbs. America exported to all parts of the world an immense quantity of herbs and medicinal roots and barks, all grown on small holdings. The climate of Southland was well suited for such an industry, and there were many sheltered localities in the district that could be utilised in the way mentioned. A good deal might be done in the way of encouraging such an industry by the formation of a society, which could introduce seeds in to the district and furnish them to small holders. By that means the subject would be brought before the public.
Mr Denniston, after referring to the able way in which Mr Scandrett had treated a very important subject, said that with Mr Carswell, who had anticipated him on that point, he would ask—How was it that, with such a district, they were not better off than they were? That matter required elucidation, and might perhaps be dealt with in another paper.
Mr Kingsland, who was equally well pleased with the paper, thought that they had more reason to congratulate them- solves on being as well off as they were, rather than to fool dissatisfied at not being more prosperous. After giving interesting particulars about the value of some New Zealand barks for tanning purposes, Mr Kings-land said that Mr Hanan had somewhat under-valued the coal products of the district. He had only looked at them from one point of view. The experiments now being made by the Gas Engineer gave the following results:—A ton of Nightcaps coal gave 7900 feet of 16-candle gas at a cost of 20s perton delivered at the works. A ton of Newcastle yielded 9000 feet of 15-candle gas at a cost of 34s. So far, results were in favour of the Nightcaps coal for gas-making, provided the cost of purifying could be kept down to the price of Newcastle coal. In the case of the Nightcaps coal, however, there was no residual product in the shape of coal tar, which was a loss of 3s per ton of coals, nor was there any coke. The coal gave a standard of light slightly above the London standard; 16-candle gas was the standard there, and the Nightcaps coal gave 16 seven-tenths. From West Coast coal they obtained 19-candle gas, but that, as would be seen, was a much higher standard than they had in London. For gas-making alone it might, therefore, be anticipated that the Nightcaps coal would, in the end, be of value.
Mr J. T. Martin said he was surprised at the quantity of information the paper contained. He hoped that before long energetic steps would be taken to establish a woollen factory. It would find employment for the youth of both sexes. The number of persons page 11 employed by the Kaiapoi Factory, including the clothing department, was fully 600, and the establishment of similar industries here would be a lasting benefit to the district.
The Chairman said that in 1841 Mr Tuckett, Chief Surveyor of the New Zealand Land Company, was sent to Southland to report upon its applicability for settling the Free Church settlers. He reported that the place was utterly unfit for habitation—that it was, in fact, a mere bog. That was a great mistake, and it was astounding that a man in his position should hare made it. In consequence of it the Free Church settlers were not sent here, but to Dunedin. Had they come here, he believed Invercargill would have now been a town of 60,000 inhabitants, with its shipping near the railway station. Why they had not been so prosperous in the past was, in his opnion, due to the fact that Southland was not formed into a Province under the first Constitution.
Mr Scandrett, in replying, expressed his gratification at the manner in which his paper had been received. The question had been asked—Why are we not more prosperous? His reply was, firstly—That the present depression was not local, but general; and, secondly, we want more people. By and bye they might hope to have more influence as a district. At present large centres exerted more influence than small ones, to the detriment of the latter. For example, the people of Southland, after years of agitation, had only succeeded in getting a little under £5000 towards the construction of the Seaward Bush Railway, which would be of great benefit to the district. In Dunedin recently an outcry was made because there was some risk to carts in crossing the railway line to get on to one of the wharves. The result was that tenders were almost immediately called for the construction of a bridge over a street, at a cost of £25,000, whereas a caretaker would have been all that was necessary, and the money could have been laid out on reproductive works. In the same way Bluff Harbor was at first ignored in the proposal to subsidise direct steamships to the colony. But time would work a reformation, and Southland yet exert its proper influence in the councils of the State.
Henry and John Feldwick, General Mechine Printers, Dee Street, Invercargill.