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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 24

From Mr. H. W. Farnall to his Honor the Superintendent, Auckland

From Mr. H. W. Farnall to his Honor the Superintendent, Auckland.

2½ Corporation-street, Belfast,

My Dear Sir,—

Owing to the short time that elapsed between my receipt of your letter of 17th April, and the departure of the out-going New Zealand June mail, I was unable to take that notice of it that I intended.

I can assure you the difficulties of my position here have been so great, and the impediments placed in my way so vexatious, and the work that I have performed so unappreciated, that had it not been for the great interest I take in the emigration work itself, and the real pleasure that it gives me when things go on at all straight, I should long since have lost heart altogether.

Your letters, however, and the hearty manner in which you entered into the spirit of the scheme I proposed to you in my letter of February 5, contrasting, as they do, so forcibly with the manner in which the Agent-General has so persistently showered cold water on every suggestion that I have made to him for the furthering of the common object we have in view, have quite put fresh life into me.

When I left New Zealand, so impressed was I with the favorable position of a New Zealand labourer or mechanic compared with the same class in Great Britain, that I thought the difference had only to be pointed out to them to make them flock out to us in unlimited numbers, I found myself grievously mistaken, and at first the difficulties I had to contend against in trying to popularise our emigration scheme appeared to be almost insurmountable.

There must, I suppose, be a limit to emigration from any country, for no country can afford to part (and neither will she part) with more than the overplus of her population; and as far as Ireland is concerned, it appears that the annual emigration from it even now equals, if it does not exceed, its annual increase of population by excess of births over deaths, therefore we have to turn the stream, already flowing towards other countries, in our direction. In connection with this fact, it must also be borne in mind that the emigrating class have nearly always friends in either Canada or the United States, and they naturally not only desire to go where they know their friends are doing well, but in a great many instances their friends send them the cash to pay their passages to one or the other of these countries. Under such circumstances it is not easy to convince a man that New Zealand, a place he has barely before heard of, and which he finds out it takes a three months' journey to reach, is really the best place for him to go to. Besides this, as you can easily understand, some of the agents for the other Colonies are not over scrupulous in spreading reports anything but calculated to engender confidence in New Zealand as an immigration field, reports in most instances with some foundation in fact, which, to ignorant and prejudiced men, makes them all the more difficult of explanation; over and above all this, any personal weight I might have brought to bear upon the subject has been greatly counter-balanced by page 11 the fact that I never have had any recognised authoritative position. I have been tolerated by the Agent-General, and that word just about expresses the very anomalous position in which I find myself.

As it appears that my services are the reverse of appreciated in New Zealand (a fact that by no means surprises me, considering that the Agent-General himself, who knows too well the difficulties I have had to contend with, has never given me the least credit for anything that I have done), I shall take the liberty of forwarding you one or two extracts from my correspondence with him, by which you will see that I almost implored him to allow me to make myself as useful as possible; but it was all to no purpose. When I first came over here, I found an entire absence of anything like organization, without which, I apprehend, no business, whether emigration or otherwise, can be successful. There were a few agents appointed, who were also agents for other colonies; and although they were doubtless willing to send emigrants to New Zealand, if they happened to wish to go there, they themselves took no personal interest in the subject, and they all expressed the greatest satisfaction that I had come over to superintend and keep them up to their work.

I then made several suggestions to Dr. Featherston—suggestions which, in my opinion would have at once considerably increased the number of emigrants. The answers that I invariably received from him were, that he did not see any necessity for adopting my suggestions, and that the emigrants were coming forward quite fast enough. I may say that several of ray suggestions have since been acted upon, but I got no credit for originating them. One of my suggestions was that numerous local agents should be appointed, and as a tentative measure I recommended two to the Agent-General. The result was that one, although he acted as agent and subsequently received his commission, never received his appointment at all. The other received his, after six weeks or two months' delay, and after repeated letters from me to the Agent-General on the subject. After this comparative failure on my part, I did not care about recommending any more, as it of course, naturally enough, appeared to those I wished to appoint that my recommendation was worthless, and that I was of no account in the Agent-General's estimation. Some weeks after this the Agent-General himself requested me to appoint more local agents.

My idea when I came over as New Zealand emigration agent was that I should have a certain district appointed me, and that I should be responsible for all the work performed within the district; but I never have had a district appointed me, neither have I ever had any definite instructions from the Agent-General as to my course of procedure. It is true that in February last, after I had been here eight months and when I found that I was thwarted in everything that I attempted for the benefit of the cause, that I wrote almost in despair to the Agent-General, and he wrote and said that he would take an early opportunity of explaining to me what my duties really were; but beyond giving me to understand in that letter that I was expected to be continually on the move, he never did let me know, until quite recently he verbally informed me that "I was expected to travel about and hold conversaziones."

We shall never get the emigrants we require until there is really some well organised system maintained, why should there not be one responsible local agent in Ireland, another in Scotland, both, of course subordinate to the Agent-General who could personally superintend England, I know for a fact that the sub-agents in this part do not take anything like the same interest in their work, when working through an office in London as they do in working through a local office that they can appeal to at a moment's notice.

I also enclose copies of correspondence between the Agent-General and myself relative to the proposed Special Settlement in Auckland, also correspondence between Mr Stewart and the Agent-General on the same subject. page 12 This correspondence speaks for itself, as regards the latter correspondence I should think you could hardly have a better specimen of how not to get good emigrants than this correspondence represents, it will be necessary for me to say a word with reference to this correspondence between the Agent-General and Mr Stewart. I only became aware of its existence the other day, and then quite by accident as Mr Stewart had never mentioned it to me. It appears that Mr Stewart could not reconcile the sanguine manner in which I entered into the Special Emigrant Scheme, with the wonderful apathy in which the Agent-General took up the subject, he knew me then sufficiently well to give me credit for the honesty of my intentions, but being as I was in a subordinate position he thought it possible I might be taking too much upon myself, he therefore wrote to the Agent-General himself, with what success I will leave you to gather from his letters. Comment upon this correspondence is unnecessary, but there is one thought that must strike any one upon persuing it, and that is, Is Mr Stewart the only one whose enquiries have been met in this sort of spirit? and if this is the way the emigration department is conducted, is it any wonder that it does not do what is expected of it in New Zealand? I am convinced that there are numbers of men of Mr Stewart's social standing and position who would gladly throw in their lot with us, if only a little pains were taken to give them all and the fullest information they require. I am now in correspondence with several gentlemen, all of whom are possessed of considerable means, and have almost made up their minds to emigrate to New Zealand. Three families. I know for certain, have made all their arrangements for going, and you will have the pleasure of receiving them in Auckland before the end of November in all probability. The class of men obtainable as emigrants from this part of Ireland are certainly equal, if they are not superior to those obtainable from other parts of the United Kingdom or Europe, inasmuch as from what I have seen of them they possess all those qualifications so desirable for making good colonists; they are thrifty, honest, sober and industrious, but they are very conservative, and it is in consequence far easier to reach them through the medium of those to whom they have for generations been accustomed to look to as their leaders, than to make a direct appeal to themselves, in point of fact they must know you before they will trust your hence the extreme importance of getting men like Mr Stewart to take a personal and lively interest in the matter. The importance of it in fact can hardly be overrated for there is a strong feeling on the part of landlords, and employers of labour, and openly advocated by the Press, against the wholesale emigration which has for some years been depopulating this country.

And now in conclusion, I would remark that notwithstanding all this delay and most unaccountable opposition on the part of the Agent-General, you will still get the emigrants, though you will not get so many this year as I had anticipated. The original intention was that Mr Stewart and the first body of emigrants should start in September, and had the scheme been properly encouraged by the Agent-General either on the subject first being started, or on receipt of your telegram, this might easily have been accomplished, now, however, Mr Stewart and in consequence the bulk of those who are going with him, have put off their departure until next year, and purpose leaving England so as to arrive in New Zealand about the end of August. Although this is a great disappointment to me, I cannot say but that I fully concur with the wisdom of the postponement, for I am fully alive to the great importance of getting the party out to New Zealand in time to have them fairly housed and started before the setting in of the bad weather. I am still in hopes of getting some twenty families to leave about the middle of October, but it will of course entirely depend upon the spirit in which the Agent-General takes the matter up, if it is entrusted to him, or to the manner to which he assists me, should I be empowered to carry on the scheme.

page 13

There is one suggestion I must make and that is, in order to make the scheme thoroughly successful, assisted passages must be given to the steerage emigrants. Take fir example the case of a man with a family of six or seven or more children, suppose that by the sale of the tenant interest in his farm, &c., he becomes possessed of £300; this sum would be ample to start a working farmer on laud of his own with every probability of success, but reduce this man's capital by the cost of six, eight, or ten full passages as the case may be, and you at once destroy all the charm the scheme has for him.

"I have the honor to be, Sir,

"Your most obedient servant,

"Harry Warner Farnall.

"His Honor, the Superintendent,