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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 30

I. Its Discovery and Settlement

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I. Its Discovery and Settlement.

New Zealand was discovered and named by Tasman, a Dutch navigator, in the year 1642.

It may be said to have been re-discovered in 1769 by Captain Cook, who passed through the Straits still bearing his name, and touched at various points on the coast. As his custom was, then and on his subsequent visits he tried to benefit the natives by giving them useful seeds and plants, and by introducing pigs and cattle. These were of much use in a land which had no indigenous wild animal larger than a rat, and where, though vegetation is excessive, there was a want of food-producing plants and herbs.

During the next fifty years, trade and intercourse began to spring up between New South Wales, which had to some extent been colonised, and New Zealand.

In 1814 the first church missionaries arrived from New South Wales, and soon after others came from England, who began to teach the natives the truths of Christianity. About the same time, and for twenty or thirty years thereafter, various little communities settled along the coast. These consisted chiefly of sawyers, whalers, and produce-collectors, who all found work of some kind by which they could make a livelihood. Many vessels, especially whaling-ships, began to resort to the bays and harbours for spars, provisions, &c. Thus the country gradually became better known in England, where the splendid harbours, the magnificent forests, the fertile soil, and the salubrious climate came to be spoken of. Hence the desire arose for its regular colonisation. Accordingly, in 1838, an influential body of public men formed a New Zealand Company. Soon after the British Government made it a colony of the empire, and sent out Captain Hobson, R.N., as first Governor, who, in 1840, founded the city of Auckland as its future capital, on the page 4 Waitemata. This it continued to be for many years, till it was thought advisable to remove the seat of Government to the more central position of Wellington, on the north side of Cook's Straits.

Between the years 1839 and 1843, the New Zealand Company, having purchased sundry tracts of land on both sides of Cook's Straits, brought out a considerable number of emigrants. These began the settlements of Wellington and Nelson, Wanganui and Taranaki, all of which have flourished except, perhaps, the last, the growth of which was checked by the native war.

After a period of great trouble (1841-45), mainly caused by dissensions between the New Zealand Company and the Colonial Office in England, of which the natives knew full well, or were wickedly taught to take advantage, trade and agriculture began to revive. But so little was known of New Zealand in England, and so much loss had been experienced by the earlier settlers during this time of trouble, that immigration proceeded very slowly for some time. Attention was once more turned to the South Island, where, in 1846, the Scotch settlement of Otago was planted, and in 1850 the English settlement of Canterbury. The former of these went on quietly for some years, occasionally receiving an accession of population from Scotland, but its progress was not rapid till about i860, when gold was discovered in large quantities. The population suddenly rose from about 10,000 to nearly 65,000, and although a good many left for other gold-fields, yet it remains, including the re-united province of Southland, at about 62,000.

The province of Canterbury was settled, in the first instance, by a somewhat wealthier class of people from England. Lying next to Otago, it shared with it the benefit of supplying the gold-diggers there with all marketable commodities. But within a few years it had a gold-field of its own, gold having been discovered in large quantities on the west coast. A large population gathered here very speedily, and that part of the province, being separated from the eastern plains by a tract of rugged mountains, was detached and erected into the county of Westland.

Meanwhile various small settlements were being formed at various points on the coast, both of the North and South Islands. The most important of these was Napier, about 400 miles southeast of Auckland, in Hawke's Bay, which, with the adjoining district, was, in 1858, separated from the province of Wellington, and erected into the province of Hawke's Bay.

For some time it had been known that gold existed in paying quantities in the Thames Valley and in the Coromandel districts, in the province of Auckland; but here it was chiefly embedded in quartz, which rendered mining difficult and expensive. However, joint-stock companies were formed, and the result has been page 5 a very large yield of gold. The population immediately increased over the district, and several townships were established, of which Shortland is the chief.