The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 29
|Wheat, Provisions, Tallow, Timber, &c||1,047,492|
|Total Imports £6,973,418|
|European and Chinese (estimated) at 30th Dec, 1877||417,530|
|Maori (estimated at about)||46,000|
A mere comparison of figures is apt to mislead. Especially is this the case with regard to the figures relating to exports and imports. It by no means follows that the largest aggregate of these represents the largest prosperity. Let us take an example. We will suppose that a given extent of land produces £100,000 worth of wool, which is exported, and in return for it £100,000 worth of wheat imported. We have here an aggregate of exports and imports of £200,000. Now let us suppose that the land being partly put under crop yields £100,000 worth of wheat, and £50,000 worth of wool; that the wheat is consumed in the country, that the wool is exported, and that in return for it agricultural implements and machinery are imported. We have here only an aggregate of £100,000 of exports and imports. There can be no question as to which of the two examples is most favourable to the Colony, but that one shows an aggregate exterior trade of only half that of the less favourable condition. It would be well if this example, one of many, were borne in mind, to lessen the tendency to draw deductions from the mere quantities of exports and imports.
Save a few products of the sea, the land gives to man all that he requires for his use, all that ministers to his comforts, all that constitutes his luxuries. The land of New Zealand yields largely and variously. First let me touch on its mineral wealth.page break page break page break page break page 24
Before 1861 some amount of gold was obtained from the Nelson and Coromandel gold-fields, but it was not until in that year the Otago gold-fields were discovered that New Zealand held high rank as a gold-producing country. Since that time, including 1861, to the end of 1876, Otago, Westland, Nelson, Auckland, and Marlborough have produced no less a quantity than 8,237,800 ounces, valued at £32,117,000. I believe the auriferous resources of the country are as yet sparingly developed, and that there remains to be obtained a vast quantity of alluvial and quartz gold. Iron exists in great quantity, but the conditions hitherto of population demand and mechanical labour have not promoted its production. It is a wealth that only slumbers; in time it must prove of great moment. Copper has also been found in quantity, and lately evidence has been shown of the existence of extensive deposits of silver. The islands abound in coal of different qualities. There is the lignite, little different from charred wood; there is the brown coal, so much used on the continent; and there is splendid bituminous coal, better in quality than the famous Newcastle coal of New South Wales. One of the purposes of some of the railways constructed has been to enable coal to be economically obtained, and we may safely look forward to large results in the future from this industry. During the five years ended 1876 coal to the value of £1,000,000 was imported into the Colony. The day is approaching when all such imports will be unnecessary, and we may therefore consider that a virtually new and growing industry, commencing with an average value of £200,000, is added by the railways to the resources of the country. Platinum, lead, tin, quicksilver, and bismuth have also been discovered, but not as yet in quantity. There is reason to believe that extensive deposits of the most valuable ore of quicksilver exist. In various parts springs of petroleum oil well to the surface. As yet no flowing wells have been struck, but it is nearly certain they will be. The deposits in America are decreasing, whilst the use of mineral oil is largely increasing. At no distant date it is likely that adequate efforts will be made to tap in quantity the petroleum which there is every reason to suppose exists abundantly in parts of the Colony. Chrome, manganese, and plumbago have been found in quantity. New Zealand is rich in building stone of great variety. Around Oamaru a white, easily-worked stone is obtained, for which there is a large demand in Australia. From White Island, on the east coast, there is reason to suppose sulphur in quantity can be procured.page 25
The timber of New Zealand is of great variety, and some descriptions are very valuable. The results obtained from pastoral pursuits are truly astounding. During the fifteen years ending 1876 no less than £27,719,000 worth of wool was produced in and exported from the Colony. The growth of the industry may be gathered from the fact that the export of the first of these years, 1862, was £674,000, and for the last, 1876, £3,895,000.
It would be hard to exaggerate the agricultural value of a considerable quantity of the land of New Zealand. The history of New Zealand is one continued record of an increase in the value of and demand for land. Of course the quality of the land varies much. Some, such as the land on the plains, has a great depth of soil; some is so rugged and at such an altitude as to be suitable only for sheep, and some is too high even for that purpose. Probably experience has not yet proved what is the greatest use that can be made of the land, especially of much of the land in the North Island. But the results as they stand are sufficient to satisfy the most exacting. I cannot profess to give you of my own knowledge an analysis of the value of the land. Yet, as this is the most important question in relation to the future of the Colony, I feel that my task will be ill-completed if I fail to bring the matter fully before you, but I must do it by the aid of others. I have obtained permission to read to you portions of a letter, addressed by Mr. Morton, the chairman of two companies owning 850,000 acres of land in New Zealand, to one of the officers of the companies in the Colony, in which he particularly dwells on the value of New Zealand land:—
"Mr. Ford's estimate of the value of Acton at £7, as corroborative of our own, is satisfactory. My own conviction is that a much greater rise in the value of good freehold land in New Zealand is certain to take place, and this at a much earlier period than you in the Colony or the public generally have any conception of. In looking into the agricultural returns of Great Britain, with abstract returns for the United Kingdom, British possessions, and foreign countries, for 1876, I find that the average yield of wheat per acre in New Zealand, out of the 90,804 acres under this crop for 1875-6, was 31-5 bushels, while in Victoria, with its 321,401 acres, the average yield for the same year was only 15-5 bushels per acre; New South Wales, with 133,610 acres, was 14.7; South Australia, with 898,820 acres, was 11.8; Tasmania, with 42,745 acres, 16.4; Natal, with 1,740 acres, was 12.6; and Cape of Good Hope, with 188,000 acres, was 8.9. Dominion of Canada, for 1871, the latest date given, the average of the Lake Ontario page 26 district is 6.4; Quebec, 8.5; New Brunswick, 10.8; Nova Scotia, 11.8. Then if we turn to the United States, the great competitor, so to speak, for the population of Europe, the average yield of wheat for 1874 (the latest date given) is 12.3 bushels per acre, and the United Kingdom, in which the best of the land only is cultivated for wheat, and this highly cultivated and manured, only yields an average of 27½ bushels per acre. I give you herewith in a tabulated form the returns of cereal crops, so far as given in the Blue-books, not only of the above, but also of the several countries in Europe."
"From the tabulated statement (page 27) you will easily see that when it comes to be generally known and understood in the United Kingdom and Europe, as well as in Australia and America, that the returns to an agriculturist are so superior in New Zealand to those in other countries, and this with a climate relatively superior, their attention will naturally, and as a matter of course, be concentrated upon New Zealand. If you only put down the cost of ploughing, seed harrowing, reaping, thrashing, and carting to port, all of which may be said to be nearly the same in the several countries (reaping and thrashing alone excepted in Austraha and California, where, I understand, it is done by a special method, with the straw left standing on the field), and deduct these charges from the returns the grain would yield, say, at 5s. per bushel all round at shipping port, you will find the immense advantage in the shape of returns to the agriculturist in New Zealand from any of the Australian Colonies, the Cape, or America. In this I do not deal with Europe, as in the countries where the yield is great the land is not only highly cultivated but heavily manured. Then, when you take into consideration the fact that in all Australia the land may be said, after being cropped, to be left in an unproductive form, and allowed to revert to its natural state, no permanent pasture of an artificial character (viz. English grass) is given for Adelaide in 1876, and only 19,260 acres for 1875; for New South Wales none stated; for Victoria, out of 1,126,000 as under crops and grass, only 293,000 acres is given as under artificial grass; for Western Australia and Queensland none given; and for Tasmania (the most favoured for this of all the Australian Colonies), out of 332,000 acres, only 102,000 is given, or under one-third of the whole: whereas in New Zealand, out of 2,377,000 acres, not less than 1,770,000 acres is given as sown out in permanent artificial grass. For Natal and the Cape, none. For Canada none stated, but I have no doubt, both in it and the United States—viz the Atlantic—a relative proportion to New Zealand will also be sown page break page 28 out in English grass; but, on the other hand, they have a six months' winter, when the ground is wholly covered with snow, and when there may be said to be no outside feed for cattle and sheep. So far as I can make out all that can be said of small agriculturists in Canada, the States, or in any of the Australian Colonies, the yield of wheat per acre, or the returns therefrom, will only pay the farmer fair wages for his own labour, or in some cases yield him probably 10s. to 20s. per acre beyond this: whereas in New Zealand, with the climate much more pleasant to work in than any of the others, the farmer, after allowing himself wages at the same rate as in the other Colonies for self, family, and horses—viz. manual and horse labour—would have from £4 to £4 15s. per acre net returns, instead of 10s. to 20s., as in the others. Then, after the land is cropped and sown out in English grass, the yield in feed for sheep is four to five times (viz. equal to 20s. per acre of yearly wool return) what it was previous to being broken up and laid down in English grass, instead of (in Australia at least) yielding less returns in pasturage than it did in its natural state."
"You will thus easily see how much better it will be for a man to pay £10 per acre—ay, even £20 per acre—for good land in New Zealand, than £1 to £2 per acre for fair land in Australia. The cultivation of 20 acres of good land in Australia (I mean the labour, and ploughing, sowing, harrowing, and reaping, thrashing, carting to port, &c., cannot be put down with safety at under close upon £3 per acre, basing my estimate upon the current rate of manual and horse labour in the several Colonies. The returns from the wheat crop in these Colonies will not yield 5s. per acre over this sum one year with another, whereas the returns from New Zealand will yield £4 in excess of this. As before stated, I am taking the wheat all round at 5s. per bushel at the shipping port in the several Colonies in this statement. From the foregoing it will be seen that the net returns from wheat to the landowner, after paying £3 per acre for the manual and horse labour, is fifteen times more in New Zealand than Australia and for the United States; and for years after the land has been cropped in Australia, it will yield next to nothing, until the natural grass again springs up and gets a sale, when two or three acres must go for each sheep: whereas in New Zealand one acre of good English grass will keep four to five merino sheep, and for three cross breeds, over the year. I daresay, when you have all the foregoing weighed over and thought out, you will conclude with me that at no distant date good agricultural land will be selling at £10 to £15 per acre in page 29 New Zealand, according to quality and locality, and A 1 agricultural land at from £20 to £25 per acre."
"In the returns on profit of one acre in New Zealand of wheat against 15 or 20 acres, as the case may be, in Australia or America—viz. the net returns after payment or allowance for labour, seed, &c.—I omitted one very important item of outlay, viz. the fencing of one acre, say in New Zealand, as against from 15 to 20 acres, and the maintaining of said fences. I doubt not you will concur with me in the rapid and permanent increase in value that must necessarily take place on agricultural land in New Zealand, when once the facts as already stated are known and generally recognised."
Another gentleman, a large landowner in the Colony, and enjoying exceptional opportunities of acquiring information, has furnished me with the following memorandum:—
"A great deal of land will yield two grain crops in succession, and after a green crop eaten on the land yield two more grain crops, and so on, continuing to give two grain crops in succession for one green crop, without any signs of failure. This can be done upon the best agricultural land in the Middle Island, of which there is a large area."
I leave you to form your own opinion of these statements. This I can say, I have been in other Colonies, but I never saw anywhere such earth hunger as prevails in New Zealand amongst all classes of its people.
I give you a statement prepared by Mr. Hayter, the Government statist of the Colony of Victoria, of the average yield per acre of the principal crops during the six years ending 1876, in the Australasian Colonies, excepting Queensland, where complete returns are not made:—