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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 32

VII. Advantages

VII. Advantages

The demand for dwelling-houses in the towns and country districts exceeds the supply, consequently rents are high—this being one of the few disadvantages immigrants have to contend with in the Province. In Dunedin, a small cottage of only two apartments cannot be had under 7s. a week, and four-roomed houses rate from 12s. to 14s. a week, and it is difficult to find any page 60 even at these rents. Although buildings are being put up as fast as men can be obtained to erect them, the supply does not overtake the demand. To country towns and districts the same remarks apply as to scarcity, but the rents are somewhat lower.

What the working classes are doing, and what new arrivals will find to be to their advantage to attend to as soon as possible is to secure each a section on which to build houses of their own. According to the locality, the prices of sections vary. In Government townships the upset price is from £3 per quarter acre; in private townships it is much higher. In the suburbs of Dunedin, prices range from £50 a quarter acre, and the terms of payment are one-third cash, and the balance spread over two or three years, at eight per cent, interest. The building societies, and in some cases the sellers of the land, are willing to advance money to enable the purchaser to buy the material necessary to build the house, charging reasonable interest, and taking payment by instalments.

The cost of a cottage of four rooms, with provision for extension at a future time, may be fairly set down at about £150, including everything.

Taking a moderate example: Suppose a laborer to earn, with broken time, £2 a week—equal to £104 a year. His family, averaging five members, can live very well on 3s. a day, making per week £1 1s.; firewood and clothing, 5s.; rent or interest, &c., 8s.: total per week, £1 14s.—leaving 6s. a week, or say £15 a year, to the good. In thirteen years the whole cost of his property would be cleared off. This case does not take into account the reduction of interest as the debt is being paid off, nor any earnings the younger members of the family may make These are a set-off against school fees and any family additions or other contingencies. There are few steady laborers but can earn more than the above estimate, and live at considerably less expense, while mechanics and skilled workers will double the amount.

It is to most people a severe trial to sever the link that binds them to home. To leave the land of their birth, the land of their sires, with all its associations and relationships, and try their chance in a foreign land, especially if that land be an unknown page 61 one and inhabited by a strange race, requires a daring and determined spirit. The attractions which Otago presents to the intending emigrant remove, to a large extent, these formidable objections. The appearance of the country, its climate, its people, and its institutions, will make the immigrant feel at once at home. It offers to the workman tenfold better chances of bettering his condition than the overcrowded countries of Europe afford. It will be his own fault if he does not succeed and prosper. He is surrounded with all the advantages and with none of the disadvantages to which he has been accustomed. He has a large variety of occupations from which to select, as men do not stick very strictly to their own trades; he has a fine healthy bracing climate in which to work; if his occupation be out-door, the number of the days in the year on which he can work is more than in Britain; his hours of labor are shorter, being eight, and if he work overtime it is at increased wages; his daily pay is at least one-half more than at home, whilst the price of provisions is considerably cheaper, clothing almost as cheap, and far less fuel for firing is required. He can in a short time, by the exercise of ordinary economy, save as much as will enable him to buy a section of land and build a house of his own, with a garden attached, in which he can employ himself in his leisure hours. Ample provision is made for the education of his children, so that, if so inclined, he can enter them at the infant school and carry them through a college or university training. Let his religious belief be what it may, he has liberty to follow it, and in most cases he will find professors of the same faith with whom he can associate. Libraries and reading rooms are numerous, and can be joined at a cheap rate. He has abundant means of recreation and amusement to which he can resort. Savings banks, and building and friendly societies, in which he can place his savings, are on a sure footing and in a prosperous condition, and the credit of the Colony is the security for his life assurance. He has as orderly and law-obeying a community as anywhere exists from which to choose his circle of friends. There is scarcely a town or parish in Scotland, England, or Ireland from which an immigrant can arrive without finding an old acquaintance or friend to bid a hearty welcome, and perhaps renew former page 62 intimacy—old settlers who came from the same "county" are forming associations to facilitate this object. Good metalled roads open up the country in all directions, and for ten shillings he will get a seat in a four-horse coach to carry him a fifty-mile journey and back again; and in a year or two railways will convey him to the extreme ends, north or south, and for a considerable distance into the interior of the Province. If he is a farmer, there is abundance of first-class land from which to make his selection, and he can choose the conditions on which to pay for it. Every implement he may require can be obtained cheaply, of the newest pattern, of the best workmanship, and on the shortest notice. For drainage and artificial manures he will be at little cost. The weather for seed time and harvest is highly favorable, and a ready and profitable market awaits his crops, for which he is paid at once in cash. He has no obnoxious game, hypothec or entail laws to hinder his prosperity, and the foot of the tax-gatherer rarely treads his threshold. There is neither a school, a poor, or a police rate, a property, or income tax.

In providing an outfit, emigrants should not encumber themselves with a large stock of clothing or furniture. They will find, on arrival, that everything required can be procured at very little more money than at home, and dress can be adapted to the fashions of the place. All that is necessary is simply enough to keep them comfortable during the voyage. A few pounds in cash in the pocket will be of more advantage than large boxes filled with bed and body clothes: the expense of storing or moving about from place to place is serious. They should bring any surplus money by bank-draft or post-office order, and not in gold or notes, as these may be lost, whilst the money order is safe. On arrival, if they have friends who expect them, no time should be lost in joining them, as staying about the town is very unprofitable. The immigration agent will furnish, on this as well as other subjects, every information as to the cheapest and best route to be taken. Coaches and steamers start daily for all parts of the Province, and fares are very reasonable. If the immigrant is looking out for work, he should not be too particular in accepting an offer, although it is not just what he wants: far better to set to work at once than to idle about and get a doubtful name; page 63 nor should he be exorbitant in demanding extreme wages, for, however good a tradesman he may be, a man with colonial experience is more valued and sought for than a "new chum," though a short time will put the "new chum" on his level. Different trades or branches of trade are not yet nicely or narrowly defined in the Province, so that a gardener is generally expected to be able and willing to groom a horse and drive him; young men and lads for country work will be required to milk cows, as that part of dairy husbandry is usually performed by males; and artisans at times may find it to their advantage to be able to handle a pick and shovel, perhaps on a new gold field, or to work on the harvest field behind the reaper or mower, when the precious fruits of the earth are in danger of being lost from want of labor to gather and garner them. In a new country, a man should not only be ready to turn his hand to anything, but also to keep his eyes on everything going on around him. He does not know what may be his position in a few years, or what great improvements on old notions his observations may enable him to effect.

Immigrants should land with a firm determination to prosper; and by steady perseverance, sobriety, and strict attention to a few simple points, success is certain.

They should carefully avoid taking up too soon with easily-formed associates: although such might turn out, in the long run, good friends, there is the danger of their being the reverse. Avoid frequenting hotels as far as posssible: in themselves they are necessary institutions, but they are not intended for working men, especially strangers, whose own homes are in the neighborhood of their work. Avoid getting into debt for domestic articles. Buy provisions, clothing, fuel and furniture for cash. This can easily be done by arranging for wages being paid weekly or fortnightly, and if the amount is not sufficient to obtain some small article considered necessary, better wait a week than have it on credit. Shake off the bad, ruinous habits of pass-books, so common at home, and in a new country strike out a good and prosperous course. By so doing, better goods will be obtained at cheaper rates, their custom will be sought after by the best shopkeepers, and easy minds will be the result. "Out of debt, out of page 64 danger." Exceptions to this rule are—obtaining land on deferred payments, and borrowing money from building societies to erect a dwelling-house. In these cases, the debtor is to a certain extent his own creditor, and participates in the profits which he assists to make. Practice a rigid economy for a year or two. Frugality of habits, and denial of some of those luxuries and pleasures which older settlers indulge in, will be of great advantage. Take great care to save the first hundred sovereigns. It is far more difficult to save the first than the second or any subsequent hundred, as the profits of the first go a long way to make its successors.

By attention to this advice, and with the ordinary prudence and common sense for which Britons are celebrated, the immigrants will bless the day they landed in Otago and made it their home.

The simple statement that the Provincial Government has expended, almost every year since its establishment, an increasing amount on public works, would of itself indicate the foresight shown in the past, and be a guarantee for the future. Possessing, from its own resources, a large revenue without any taxation, and having a resolute, enterprising community, the public works of the Province must be carried on with increasing alacrity. The lament is, "the laborers are so few, while the works are so many." For the current year, about £290,000 have been appropriated for expenditure on forming and maintaining roads, bridges, railways, and tramways, carrying on harbor works, such as breakwaters, jetties, dredging and reclaiming, and erecting buildings for public purposes. Nor is the outlay of public money for similar purposes at all likely to be lessened, as every mile of railway constructed, road made, bridge built, or jetty erected, either opens up new country, gives greater inducement for settlement, or removes difficulties and expense in the transport of produce; and, as a consequence, will require the progressive movement to be carried on for many years, until every part of the Province is easily and rapidly accessible. At present, great activity is shown: no less than eight different lines of rail leading from seaports to agricultural and other districts are under construction.

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Current Prices and Rates of Wages.—Wheat, per bushel of 60lb., 4s. 9d. to 5s.; flour, per ton of 2,000lb., £11 to £13; oats, per bushel of 40lb., 2s. 6d. to 4s.; oatmeal, per cwt., 15s. to 18s.; barley, per bushel of 50lb., 4s. 3d. to 4s. 9d.; malt, per bushel, 8s. to 9s. 6d.; rye-grass seed, per bushel of 201b., 3s. 2d. to 6s.; rye-grass hay, per ton, £5; oaten chaff, per ton, £4 to £6; oaten hay, per ton, £3 10s. to £5; potatoes, per ton, £3 10s. to £4; turnips, etc., per ton, 25s. to 30s.; native flax, per ton, £14 to £18; rapeseed, 22s. per cwt. Wool, from 9½d. to 2s. 2d.; hides, 4s. to 20s. each; skins, 7d. to 5s. 9d. each; beef, 20s. to 25s. per 1001b.; mutton, 1d. to 2½d. per lb.; veal, 5d. to 7d. per lb. Leather, 1d. to 4d. per lb.; bone dust, £6 to £7 10s. per ton; boots, 6s. per pair, upwards; flax rope, £40 to £44; preserved meats, 2½d. to 6½d. per lb.; soap, per cwt., 18s. to 32s.; clothing, from 25s. per suit upwards; hats and caps, from 1s. to 21s.; ploughs, single, double, and treble mounted, from £10 to £25; drays, single and double horse, £21 to £25; wagons, six to eight horse, £60 to £75; spring carts and buggies, £18 to £50; reaping machines, £30 upward; chaff-cutters, £10 upward; saddlery, riding, from £6; harness, carriers', £10 upward; bricks, per 1,000, £2 15s. to £3; tiles, per 1,000, 20s. to 40s.; ale, per hhd., £4 to £7; porter, per hhd., £5 10s. to £6; whisky, per gallon, in bond, 8s. to 9s.; geneva, in bond, 6s. to 8s. 6d.; aerated waters, per dozen, 2s. to 3s.; compounds, per dozen, 8s. to 140s. Coal, at pit mouth, 8s. to 11s. per ton; gold, £3 to £3 15s. per oz.; lime, at kiln, 2s. per bushel.

Bakers, per day, 10s. to 11s.; blacksmiths, per day, 11s. to 14s.; boiler-makers and riveters, 10s to 12s.; bricklayers, per day, 12s. to 15s.; brassfounders, per day, 10s. to 12s.; carpenters and joiners, per day, 12s. to 15s.; coach-builders and painters, per day, 12s. to 15s.; coopers, per day, 9s. to 10s.; dairymaids, per annum, £40 to £50, and found; domestic servants, per anunum, £30 to £40 and found; engineers and drivers, per day, 12s. to 15s.; farm servants, per annum, £52 to £55, and found; gardeners, per day, 10s; laborers, per day, 8s. to 10s; masons, per day, 12s. to 14s.; mechanics, per day, 12s. to 14s.; painters and paperhangers, per day, 11s. to 12s.; ploughmen, per annum, £55 to £60, and found; page 66 plumbers, per day, 11s. to 13s.; plasterers, per day, 11s. to 15s.; saddlers and harness-makers, per day, 10s. to 12s.; shepherds, per annum, £55 to £60, and found; quarry men, per day, 11s. to 13s.; tanners and curriers, per day, 11s. to 15s.; upholsterers and cabinet-makers, per day 12s. to 14s.; tailors, per day, 8s. to 10s.; watchmakers, per day, 12s.; wheel and cartwrights, per day, 10s. to 12s.