Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 48

Are We to Stay Here? — A Paper on the New Zealand Public Works Policy of 1870

page break

Are We to Stay Here?

A Paper on the New Zealand Public Works Policy of 1870.

Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen

I have been requested to read a paper to the members of our Society upon the "Immigration and Public Works Policy of 1870;" and I believe there is no subject of inquiry in which every member of our society, as a colonist of New Zealand, is more vitally interested; as it is upon the success or failure of that policy that the progress and prosperity of the colony have principally depended; in fact, I may go further, and affirm that the success or failure in life of every person here present depends more directly than he has probably ever thought to be the case, upon the success or failure of the policy of 1870, now known as Sir Julius Vogel's Public Works Policy. That the policy has been to a great extent a failure, and is now proving disastrous to the colony, most people are inclined to admit; but it will be my endeavour to prove to you this evening, that the failure of the scheme is not due to any radical want of judgment on the part of the original promoters, but to the fact of the scheme not having been carried out in its integrity, and that it is chiefly in consequence of one of the cardinal points of the policy—viz., the settlement of the people on the Crown lands—having been ignored, that we now have to deplore a state of stagnation and depression almost throughout the colony, instead of a continuance of progress and prosperity.

To go into the whole question of the way in which the Public Works Policy has been carried out would take far more time than is at my disposal to write or yours to listen to; for instance, there are engineering questions as to whether certain lines could not have been page 6 more cheaply constructed if other routes than those adopted had been taken; and there are disputed points on all sides as to the utility of certain lines of railway which have not proved of a paying character, and which have since become known as "political railways," which would give rise to endless discussion, and into which I cannot now enter. Doubtless arguments could be found in favour of, and, on the other hand, objections urged against, nearly every section of railway that has been constructed in either island; but these questions would prove to be too wide for our society, and would involve too much loss of time in the discussion. I shall therefore confine my paper mainly to one single point—viz., "the settlement of the people on the lands of the colony," with which the system known as "squatting" is so inseparably hound up that I have found it impossible to go into one question without the other—in fact, "settlement" has so hinged upon "squatting" from the first history of New Zealand that I have had to treat it as one subject. This question of the settlement or non-settlement of the people on the lands is, I consider, the one of all others of the most vital importance to every colonist, of whatever rank or station in life; for it is obvious, that without the settlement of the lands, the present population of the towns cannot long be supported; and I maintain that it is owing to the fact of the country not having been actually and indeed "settled" in the proper sense of the term, that we now see the anomalous spectacle of hundreds of thousands of acres of fine land remaining almost uninhabited, whilst industrious men are daily leaving the colony because they cannot find homes for themselves and their families here; and every winter, crowds of the unemployed wander hopelessly about the country looking in vain for work, until the distress becomes so apparent that the Government have to find work for them, whether such work is required in the interest of the colony or not. To the same circumstance of non-settlement we can trace in a great measure the present lack of prosperity in the towns, the constant complaint of "business being dull," the overcrowding of the professions, and the eager competition for any "billet" which may become vacant, however trifling the emoluments attached thereto may be. There is great reason to fear that the colony has at present not only ceased to progress, but that it has actually entered on a period of retrogression, which may prove disastrous to all classes of the community, unless it can be speedily arrested; and for this reason, an inquiry into the causes of the want of progress is, or ought to he, of equal interest to all, whether the newly arrived immigrant who seeks to found a home in the colony, the tradesman hoping to establish a prosperous business, the labourer looking for permanent employment at fair wages, or the professional man seeking clients; but more especially to those of us who have sons growing up for whom we shall presently have to seek openings in which they can make their own way in the world, or daughters, whom we hope to sea in the future wives and mothers in happy homes of their own.

page 7

As it may seem somewhat presumptuous on my part, as a private individual, to go into these questions or to set forth any opinion I may have formed on the subject, I may explain to those of you with whom I am personally unacquainted that I have been resident in New Zealand for some twenty-two years, having arrived in January, 1859; that I spent four years in Hawkes Bay Province—viz., one year on a, sheep run, in which I possessed an interest, and three years engaged on the Government Survey Department; that I was some months on the Otago diggings, during the palmy days of Gabriel's Gully (1861), and that I have resided in this district of South Canterbury since June, 1863, having been for twelve years engaged in surveying for the Provincial Government, and for the last five years farming and grain-growing on a somewhat extensive scale, so that I have had some insight into most phases of colonial life; and as a surveyor, have had special knowledge on the subject of the land laws and regulations, both here and in the North Island, and unusual opportunities of observing the tendencies of those laws and regulations with regard to their facilitating or obstructing the bonâ fide settlement of the country. But, to return to the Public Works Policy, I shall endeavour to prove to you that it ought to have been a success, whilst admitting that, as carried out, it has turned out a comparative failure. It is desirable, therefore, for every one of us to study the subject earnestly, and if we wish to render New Zealand a country for our children and their posterity to live prosperously in, to endeavour to arrive at a just perception of the causes which have led to the present unfortunate condition of our adopted country, and each to contribute his share in the effort to arouse public opinion on the subject, with a view to remedy the errors of the past, and to ameliorate the present position of affairs.

It has been the custom during the last year or two for the Conservative papers to anathematize Sir Julius Vogel as the author of all our disasters, so I shall be at some pains to show you, not only that his original scheme was never carried out in its entirety, but also that the said scheme was warmly supported and strenuously advocated, not only by the public at large, but also by the great majority of the members of both Houses of the Legislature, including the most prominent members and supporters of the present Government, the division in the Lower House having recorded forty-five votes for, and only seven against the Bill; and in the Upper House twenty-five for, and only seven against it; whilst we find amongst the names of those supporting Sir Julius Vogel, the names of the Hon. John Hall, Messrs. Rolleston, Stevens, Studholme, M'Lean, Driver, Ormond, and Tancred, which facts prove conclusively that it is grossly unfair to turn round now and blame Sir Julius Vogel in the terms of unmeasured abuse which such papers as the Christchurch Press and the Timaru Herald delight to heap upon him.

page 8

Upon going carefully through the debates on the subject as given in the pages of Hansard, I find that the main point impressed upon members by many of the most able speakers was the paramount importance of "settling the people upon the land." It was upon this point that the success or failure of the whole scheme turned, and the evil effects of introducing large numbers of immigrants into the colony, without securing their permanent settlement upon the land, was over and over again reiterated.

As I am firmly convinced that the principal cause of the failure of the scheme of 1870 has been the monopoly of the land of the colony by the holders of large estates, I must ask your forbearance whilst I quote somewhat largely from some of the speeches on the subject made during the lengthened debates which terminated in the inauguration of the Public Works Policy, all advocating the actual settlement of the country; and I shall then proceed to show you that the country was not actually settled in the way which had been intended, and to point out to you some of the causes which frustrated that essential part of the scheme, so that the blame of the failure of the policy may rest on the proper shoulders—viz., on the Conservative or squatting element in the colony, and not as some newspapers would falsely have you believe, on the progressive or Liberal party. I shall commence by giving you a few extracts from the speech of Sir Julius (then Mr.) Vogel, sketching out the salient points of his policy; these and other extracts being quoted literally from the pages of Hansard; but, before giving these, it would be well to explain, for the benefit of those who were not then in the colony, that for two or three years previous to this memorable session of 1870, the colony had been in a state of complete stagnation and depression; immigration had almost entirely ceased; the revenue had fallen off from £1,862,000 in 1866 to £1,287,000 in 1870; all enterprise was checked, and a spirit of doubt as to the future had fallen like a dark shadow over all classes of the community—in short, all the conditions existed under which we are now again suffering after eight or nine years of prosperity.

Well, then, Mr. Vogel said:—

"Last year we had in this Assembly many evidences that the colonising spirit was re-awakening. During the recess, from all parts of the country those evidences have been repeated in the anxious desires expressed for a renewal of Immigration and Public Works. I now ask you to recognise that the time has arrived when we must set ourselves afresh to the task of actively promoting the settlement of the country. We recognise that the great wants of the colony are public works in the shape of roads, and railways, and immigration. I do not pretend to decide which is the more important, because the two are, or ought to be, inseparably united. * * * Now, as to the mode of payment for these railways: it is essential, in order that we shall not proceed too fast and undertake more than our page 9 means will justify, that we should fix a very effectual limit to the liabilities to be incurred. Speaking broadly, I contend that during the next ten years the colony will run no risk if it commit itself to an expenditure (or a proportional liability for guarantee of interest) of ten millions for railways and other purposes comprised in these proposals. * * * * * * * But there is another source from which to anticipate a reduction in the money cost—the land should be made to bear a considerable portion of the burden. We propose that authority should be given to contract for the railways by borrowing money, by guaranteeing a minimum rate of profit or interest, by payments in land, by subsidies, or by a union of any two or more of these plans. The contractors may want some money, but they should be glad to receive some land to yield them a profit consequent upon the effects of the railway; and similarly, if the routes be judiciously selected, the contractors should be glad to keep the railways with the security of a minimum guarantee. * * * * * * * In some cases the Government might take as collateral security the results of a special tax, or a mortgage over particular properties, such as railways in course of progress, or over rents and tolls. * * * * * * * I want to trace aggregate results. I suppose that some 1,500 or 1,600 miles of railway will require to be constructed, and that this can be effected at a cost of £7,500,000, together with two and a half million acres of land, and that, in addition, about a million will be required to carry out the other proposals I am making. I leave on one side the cost of immigration, because, as I have before remarked, that expenditure will be essentially and immediately reproductive. Suppose that this money is expended at the rate of £850,000 a year for ten years. It matters not for the purpose of our inquiry whether the money is procured by direct borrowing, by the security of a guarantee, or by the aid of payments in land in excess of two and a half millions of acres, which I have assumed to be part of the construction money. So confident are we that a great deal of the work comprised in these proposals can be effected by guarantees or subsidies, and by land payments, that we seek authority to directly borrow only six millions to carry out our proposals, including immigration. For the first three years the payments will be so inconsiderable as to leave little room for apprehension of difficulty in finding the money. After three years, supposing that extraordinary sums are required, will it be a great hardship to increase the stamp duties, or to have a house tax, or an income tax, or some tax which will touch that lucky class, the absentees, who enjoy all the advantages, whilst they share not the burden of the hard colonising labours, without which the most favoured country on the globe's surface could not attain permanent prosperity? * * * * might detain you for hours discussing the question of immigration in its various aspects. It is essentially one of the greatest questions of the day, a question of transferring to lands sparsely populated page 10 portions of the excessive populations of old countries. From whatever point of view you regard it, whether from the highest social, or the narrowest pecuniary view, immigration is a profit to the State, if the immigrants can settle down and support themselves. If many thousands of immigrants introduced at once could earn a livelihood in the colony, I would not hesitate to ask you to vote the money to pay for their passages. Long before the money would have to be paid, supposing it to be borrowed, the immigrants would recoup the amount by contributions to the revenue. But it would be cruel to bring out immigrants if you do not see the way to their finding the means of self-support. As every immigrant who becomes a settler will be a profit, so every immigrant who leaves the colony, or is unable to procure, a livelihood in it, will he a loss. We therefore say, that we will introduce immigrants only to those parts of the colony which are prepared to receive them. What the nature of the preparation may be it would be impossible now to define. It might be land for settlement, it might be employment of an ordinary nature, or on public works, it might be that facilities for establishing manufactories or aiding special or co-operative settlements were offered. What cultivation is to the farmer, what sheep breeding to the runholder, what an increase of clients to the professional man, are immigrants, if they become settlers, to the State."

From these extracts from Mr. Vogel's speech you will see that, whilst expatiating on the value and advantages of immigration, he laid special stress on the absolute necessity of retaining those immigrants, who were to be introduced permanently in the colony by settling them on the land; though, I must admit, he did not dwell nearly so strongly on this point as did subsequent speakers. You will also observe that the original scheme embraced the principle of paying in part for the railways by means of large grants of land, being an adoption of the plan so extensively resorted to in the United States of America, and which has been found to answer admirably there. This part of the programme was afterwards dropped altogether, owing no doubt to the fact of vested interests being powerful enough to prevent the granting of land to contractors or other outsiders, which was occupied under depasturing licenses, and all land in the colony worth anything at all came under that category. Of course these grants of land would only have been made to companies constructing the railways, whose interest it would then have been to sell the land at such a reasonable price to bonâ fide settlers as would have ensured villages and hamlets springing up alongside the lines, thus maintaining a paying amount of traffic; whereas, in too many cases, it has since been sold in large blocks to the runholders, whose object was to frustrate settlement instead of encouraging it, the railways consequently running for many miles at a stretch through rich land without any population upon it, and the passenger traffic consequently restricted principally to dwellers in the large towns.

page 11
I will now pass on to the speech of Mr. Richmond, who seems to have been impressed with the idea of the enormous possibilities of New Zealand under a proper system of settlement, thus speaking of the West Coast of the North Island, he says:—

"My conviction is, that the carrying capacity of the West Coast is enormous, I believe that the whole district from Manawatu to the White Cliffs, is capable of supporting a family for every 50 acres. There is a point of great importance that should be considered in our Immigration scheme, it is one thing to bring immigrants to a colony, but it is another thing to keep them there. I think that we shall fail if we neglect to provide that great attraction which all unaccustomed to rural life look forward to when coming to a strange land, I mean a footing on the soil. My belief is, that an essential condition of permanent settlement in this country is a liberal land law for immigrants."

Mr. Richmond appears to have had a dread that the whole scheme would be thwarted by the opposition of the runholders, and showed a desire to make concessions to them, not because he thought they were equitably entitled to any concessions, but simply in order to conciliate them, through fear of their great power in the Assembly. He says:—"For the present at all events I have not the boldness to propose that we in this House should undertake in any serious degree to modify the local land laws, which are the abomination of the country. I think it would be quite possible * * * * without bringing on my back the squatting interests of New Zealand, it appears to me that I could conceive of some regulations running parallel with the whole of the land regulations, with the single view to the settlement of immigrants. The men who have most certainly improved their condition in this country are the labourers who have got on to their own land and worked it for themselves. I would not throw any difficulties in the way of their occupying the land, but would facilitate it by every means."

Mr. Richmond, however, voted against the Policy, apparently foreseeing what has actually happened, viz., that the immigrants would be introduced, and the Railways made, not for the benefit of the people at large, but for that of the runholders, who in the mean time would find means to secure nearly all the cream of the country for themselves.

Mr. Travers (the next speaker) seems to have had similar misgivings, though according the Policy his support to some extent, he says:—

"He quite concurred in the spirit of the proposals which had been made, and that the Colony could not be raised from its present difficulties, otherwise than by increasing the population of the country, by devoting all its energies to opening up its resources, so as to make it more attractive and available to those who are in it, and more attractive to those whom they sought to bring to it, and he could not conceive any proposal which would commend itself more com- page 12 pletely to the sense of the people of the colony, than one which provided for an extensive and well considered system of Immigration and Public Works. He thought the Colonial Treasurer's proposals in the Financial Statement were based upon a general cry throughout the country for increasing the population by means of immigration. It was not an original proposition at all of the Honourable Members, but was forced upon them by the expressed opinion of the people of the Colony throughout its length and breadth, and it was to the fact of the Government seeing the necessity and knowing better than he (Mr. Travers) did, that it was impossible that the colony could be recovered from the state of depression into which circumstances had plunged it, without increasing its population, that they owed the propositions of the Colonial Treasurer—propositions which he was psepared to endorse to a certain extent * * * A well considered scheme of Immigration would be of enormous value to the country. It was patent to all that what was wanted was population, and that without it all the interests of the colony were seriously suffering."

Mr. Jollie, then member for Gladstone (South Canterbury), was with the exception of Sir Cracroft Wilson, the most unhesitating and bitter of all the oponents of the Policy: he was one of the old school of sqatters, who appeared to think that New Zealand had been created expressly for pastoral purposes, and looked upon it as little better than sacrilege to talk of settling people on the land; yet, even he admitted that something in the way of immigration was required, and would consent to borrow even as large a sum as £2,000,000 as a sort of compromise with the popular outcry for a large loan. Mr. Jollie said:—"Certainly we want additional immigration not only for the prosecution of Public Works, but for increasing the population of the country. I should myself not be opposed to a reasonable sum of money being voted for Immigration and other public purposes. I should not be opposed to the borrowing of so large a sum as £1,500,000, I should perhaps be prepared, reluctantly prepared, to authorise under proper safeguards the raising of £2,000,000, beyond that I would not

Sir Cracroft Wilson, whilst violently denouncing the scheme, yet admitted, like Mr. Jollie, that something might be done for the colony by Public Works and Immigration, he said:—"Sir, the Financial Statement of the present Finance Minister, is based upon two things, Immigration and Public Works, and we all know that by properly carrying out Immigration and Public Works, this colony would in a short time rise to a high pitch of eminence—that we all recognise."

Mr. Rolleston, as usual, advocated extreme caution, he said:—"The colony as a whole approves thoroughly the principle that is involved in a proposal of this kind, and recognises that our duty as colonists has in a great measure been neglected for some time past * page 13 * * * Do we think we are going to settle the country by initiating large works, and bringing people to carry them out? The object of the Government is not to put itself in the position of an employer of labour, nor to bring people hero, and then have to find them work for a year or six months afterwards. So surely as we enter upon the work with that object, so surely will the scheme fail. We have had notable examples of that. "We brought in some 3000 or 4000 people to Auckland, and we expended £100,000 or more in finding employment for these people, and I venture to say there is not a tithe of them in the country at the present time."

Mr. Rolleston, as you are aware, was then Superintendent of the Province of Canterbury, and in that capacity had the reputation of being the friend of the farmer, and was in consequence nicknamed by the squatters "The People's William." Many of the runholders had a violent antipathy against him for advocating more liberality in the Land Regulations, and also because he had proclaimed sundry reserves for Educational and other purposes on their runs, and it was in a great measure owing to the strong feeling they had against Mr. Rolleston, that the squatters of Canterbury as a class eagerly supported the movement for the Abolition of the Provinces, hoping no doubt to be able to carry things with a high hand in the Assembly, now that their privileges were getting somewhat curtailed by Mr. Rolleston and his adherents in the Provincial Council.

Now, when it is too late, even the most violent opponents of Provincialism in Canterbury admit that they made a great mistake in procuring the downfall of the Province, and have detrimentally affected their own interests, and those of all other Canterbury men in every way; whilst the squatters themselves find that they by no means have everything their own way in the Assembly, as they used to for so many years in the Provincial Councils. Bearing these facts in mind, I have been astonished at Mr. Rolleston's alliance, during the last year or two, with the very party of whom he was formerly the veritable bête noir, and am unable to account for it in my own mind, except on the supposition that his personal dislike to, and fear of Sir George Grey, may have induced him to cast all his former professions to the winds, if by so doing he could help to keep the Grey party out of office; or else, that having been disappointed in the expectation of getting a portfolio in Sir George Grey's Cabinet, he made sure of one as the price of joining the Conservative Ministry. You may remember that for several years he and Mr. Montgomery were in close alliance, and that their every act was warmly supported by the Lyttelton Times, and as violently opposed by the Press; whilst, now he finds himself ranged with the Hon. John Hall and the Press, and opposed by Mr. Montgomery and the Lyttelton Times, his conduct must appear inconsistent to nine-tenths of his former supporters, though he might attempt to explain away the inconsistency.

page 14

Mr. Bunny and Mr. H. S. Harrison both supported the Government proposals.

I now come to one of the most important speeches of the whole debate, that of Mr. Stafford, who was at that time member for our own town of Timaru. He approved generally of the scheme, and he spoke strongly, fearlessly, and uncompromisingly of the dangers of the land monopoly, pointing out the evils of the system of large estates, and instancing those of Nelson and Marlborough Provinces, where nearly the whole country was occupied by freehold sheep runs in large blocks to the total exclusion of small settlers. The same state of things existed almost throughout the Provinces of Wellington and Hawkes Bay. I know, from personal experience, that so long ago as 1859, all the best land in Hawkes Bay had been bought up in large blocks at the price of five shillings per acre, and most of it has been locked up from settlement to this very day. So many obstacles were thrown by the land regulations and survey system in the way of farm settlement, that it was almost an impossibility for an outsider to get hold of any piece of land for farming at all; and if some newcomer persevered until he did manage to get a piece, he quickly found out that he had practically outlawed himself, and was considered more out of the pale of society than if he had been convicted of horse-stealing. The very same state of things existed here in South Canterbury until comparatively recent times, as any of those who have been long in the district could testify. And, whilst touching on this subject, I may mention that I was in this district when the first number of the Timaru Herald appeared, and from that time to this I cannot recollect a single article having ever appeared in that journal which has advocated the bonâ fide settlement of the country, or raised even the most feeble protest against the way in which the country was monopolised by the squatters, and practically, almost entirely closed (at least to the southward and westward of Timaru) against real settlement. This, though the Herald professed to represent an agricultural district, though its growth depended in a great measure upon the increase in the number of small farmers, and though Mr. Stafford, our late member, who is continually held up by the Herald as a model for our admiration, spoke so strongly as he did in 1870 against this most pernicious system of land laws, and even went so far as to suggest that the Government should resume some portion of those large estates in the interest of the community at large. Contrast the conduct of the Herald on this question of settlement with that of the Lyttelton Times, which journal has for the last fifteen years consistently and fearlessly written against the monopoly of the land, though by so doing it earned the hatred of the most powerful class in the country, who made every effort to crush it; but its present success, and the great circulation both of itself and its weekly edition, the Canterbury Times, prove the truth of the old adage, that right will in page 15 the end prevail over might. I have said fifteen years, but even longer ago than that, the Times was the advocate of the small farmers. I will read you some extracts from one of "The Canterbury Rhymes," composed so long ago as February, 1858, by the late Crosbie Ward, who was then Editor of that journal, showing that even then he foresaw the ill effects of, and protested against, the monopoly of the land by the squatters:—

* * * * * *
When he stopped, rose Jonniol-tok,
Shrewd and subtle Jonniol-tok!
He the double-barrelled justice
Ever brought to give opinions;
And at once he shoved his oar in
In his customary manner:—
"I assent to these proposals
With a trifling reservation,
Ye will sweep away conditions
Which tie up the land so closely,
Only ye'll except the squatter—
Will not touch the rights of squatters,
Of the shepherds and the stockmen.
Ye shall take the rights of farmers,
Of the millers, bakers, butchers,
Tailors, drapers, clothiers, hatters,
Soldiers, doctors, undertakers,
Of storekeepers and bootmakers,
Of all trades and occupations,
Of all persons in the province,
But the shepherds, the runholders;
Them ye shall not touch nor injure."
Thus he spake and gave no reason,
Shrewd and subtle Jonniol-tok!
* * * * * *

Then spoke rugged Bobirodi,
The hard-headed one from Yorkshire;
He the prince of all the squatters,
Largest holder of runholders—
"Ye remember old Suellis,
Councillor with us of old time:
Crafty statesman, cunning prophet,
Who taught all of us our wisdom,
He arranged the matter for us,
And he said it should not alter,
Should remain as he had left it,
As he prophesied, so be it."

And the very big man, Stunnem,
Moving only eyes and shoulders,
Mutely making demonstrations;
Saying nought was most impressive;
Then the shepherds in a chorus,
Squatters and the friends of squatters,
Begged, implored, and prayed the Council
To consider all their hardships;
page 16 How their rents were so oppressive,
How their wool was sold for nothing,
How they could not sell their wethers
For the paltry price of mutton,
How the market rate of stations
Showed it was a loosing business,
And they begged and prayed the Council
To maintain the old conditions
That had tied the land so closely,
Only on behalf of squatters
Sweeping quite away the others.
* * * * * *

Few were bold enough to argue
In reply to Bobirodi
To the very big man Stunnem
To the subtle Jonniol-tok
And the few that stood their ground there—
Stood their ground, and asked for justice,
Simple justice to all classes—
They were bullied and brow-beaten,
Called to order, reprimanded
By the big men, the stock-owners,
Squatters, and the friends of squatters,
And the timid ones around them,
Who would fain be friends of squatters,
So the fluent Secretary,
Oloware, the rapid speaker,
With his colleague sitting by him,
Tomicas, the Chief Surveyor,
Trembled on the crimson cushions,
Gave them all that they demanded,
Granted all the boon they asked for,
Never dared to ask objections,
For they feared the mighty squatters.
* * * * * *

And they kicked the farmer backward
From the fertile spots of country
In the region of the Westward,—
Never thinking of hereafter.

Well, to return to Mr. Stafford, he said:—"Sir, this scheme to which our attention has been invited, proposed by the Government though it be, is one for which no Government, or no party within or without the wall of this House can claim the sole paternity. It is one to which the mind of the country generally has been for some time directed with an ever ripening conviction that it was necessary erelong to take some steps in the direction in which we are now invited to consider the propriety of moving. I should desire to see immigrants carefully selected from the agricultural counties, from the south and west of England, from the Lothians of Scotland, and from the north of Ireland, where the inhabitants are well skilled in every sort of agriculture. I would make provisions for settling these immigrants throughout the length and breadth of the country, especially upon the arterial lines of communication which it is proposed to construct, and page 17 in order to do so I should he prepared to walk over the heads of the whole existing land laws of New Zealand. Sir, there is a large part of the Middle Island of New Zealand familiar to me, where at the present time it is almost impossible for working men to obtain a place for the sole of their feet. Where whole districts have been carved out into large estates by the operation of a most pernicious system of land laws, a system adopted in 1853, and against which, at the time, I emphatically protested. Large estates have been allowed to accumulate, upon which nothing but sheep are allowed to run, while large portions of them are fit to maintain industrious settlers. It behoves us in connection with such a great scheme as that now initiated, to consider seriously whether we should not take power to resume portions of those large estates, giving, of course, a fair compensation for the lands taken back from those who are now for the most part in profitless occupation of them. I would settle along the line of arterial communication throughout the country, at intervals of not more than 8 or 10 miles, village communities, giving them, not a quarter or half-acre section, as may be sufficient for a village blacksmith, or a village publican, but village lots of some three acres, and suburban lots of 8 or 10 acres each, upon certain conditions of proprietorship and residence. I would attach to these communities considerable commons, not for the purpose of establishing a pastoral proprietory, but for the purpose of giving to each inhabitant of the village community, the means of maintaining a few cows."

Mr. Stafford speaking at a later stage of the Debate, was still more emphatic in pointing out the absolute necessity of throwing open the lands for settlement, and foretold in most prophetic terms the occurrence of our present difficulties, if that were neglected, he said:—"I have from the first believed that this scheme cannot work out eventually to a successful issue without an entire review of the existing land laws of the colony, and it was to me a very great source of pleasure that the suggestions I offered during the debate upon the resolutions (which appeared to me at the time to be treated if not with contempt at least with indifference by the House), viz., as to the absolute necessity now that we are going to largely increase the population of the colony by a system of State Immigration, for making some provision for settling the people on the land of the colony, have at last seemed to honourable gentlemen, to have some weight, and to be worthy of serious consideration. I firmly believe that if we are going to land a large number of people upon the shores of this country without offering them facilities for settling in the interior, away from the sea-ports, we shall have nothing but a hungry, discontented, semi-pauperised people * * * * That instead of having a healthy stream of immigrants coming into the country to reclaim its waste lands, we shall have a peripatetic, unsettled, and discontented population, who instead of being a source of wealth, will be a great source of injury and injustice to those already in the country."

page 18

How truly this prediction has been verified we can all see for ourselves—but we cannot say it was for want of due warning.

With regard to payment for Railways being made in land, Mr. Stafford said:—"He confessed that if he thought the land was going to be alienated in large blocks, he should altogether object to it. It would prevent the settlement of a large population in the country, and the carrying out of a scheme of colonisation, which after all was the main object they had in view. One effect of this Bill would be to do away with all the existing Provincial Land Laws, and assimilate them into one system, and in that direction he should like to see Legislation going."

Speaking of the monopoly of the land, I must tell you that at that time (1870), comparatively little harm had been done in South Canterbury, only a few thousands of acres each having been bought by some of the more wealthy squatters; yet, no sooner was the money borrowed and the railways commenced, than they rushed in, and swept up nearly all the good agricultural land in enormous blocks; the Government in the meanwhile looking calmly on, without endeavouring to interpose to save the country for actual settlement. In deploring this state of things one is met by the argument, "the land was open to all, why did not the public buy it?" In answer to this I shall have more to say presently. You will observe that Mr. Stafford advocated a system of village settlements, which has now, after 10 years fatal delay, and when too late to be of much practical use, been adopted, as explained in the last report of the Secretary for Crown Lauds, extracts from which I shall read you presently.

Mr. Macandrew in supporting the Government scheme, brought forward a new argument in their favour, viz., that railways would cost very little more in the long run than metalled roads, which all admitted to be a necessity—Loan or no Loan.

Mr. Mcgilliway's views were in entire accord with those of Mr. Stafford, as to the necessity of settling people on the land, he said:—"What was the use of railways or the development of any industry without population? Instead of asking the people to come out and labour on the Public Works, he would ask them to come out and settle upon the land at once, under such land regulations as would enable them to do so. He greatly doubted if the yeomanry and industrious tenantry would come out to work on the roads. The great summit of their ambition was to be landowners on easy and desirable terms. Instead of asking the immigrants £100 for 100 acres, it would be much better to acquire it at the rate of 2s. an acre, for 10 years. He admired very much what had fallen from Mr. Stafford, his scheme of colonisation appeared to him truly excellent. He would prefer seeing men, women, and children upon the land, instead of sheep and cattle."

Mr. Gillies, in the course of a speech, strongly against the Government, expressed similar views as to settlement. He said:—"I believe in immigration that attaches men to the soil, and I believe page 19 in providing for them out of the soil—that is true colonisation, if we can introduce such colonists. I say if there is one legitimate object for which the colony should borrow money, this is the object; and I say if we are in a position to borrow at all, let us borrow for immigration purposes to settle the people upon the soil, and make them, owners of the soil."

Mr. Fox, who was then Premier, spoke, of course, strongly in favour of the proposals, but time will only permit of a short extract. He said:—"what we want is roads, railways, and public works, and we must have as much money as will make them. My deep conviction is, that the time has come when we should again recommence the great work of colonising New Zealand; and the object of the Government proposals is, if possible, to re-illume that sacred fire. I may not live to see it fully done, but it will be my greatest happiness if I may be permitted still to wear my harness; and if in my latter days I shall not be able to take an active part in the work, still I shall be able to cheer on and to encourage that younger generation into whose hands the work will pass."

Mr. Stevens, one of the members for Christchurch, also expressed himself in favour of settlement. He said:—"I believe the way to carry on immigration is to give people regular employment at a fair rate of wages—at a rate that will enable them to live through the whole of the year comfortably, and save some money, and to give them abundant facilities for choosing Crown lands at a reasonable rate. I may say, from my own experience, which among the farming class is very extensive, that there is no man who does so well in settling in the country as the man who has got a little money and buys his own land."

Mr. Fitzherbert, of Wellington, who was even at that time a very old colonist, made a most forcible speech. He seems, like Mr. Richmond, to have foreseen the danger of the land being bought up before the immigrants could be settled on it, and in the strongest possible terms protested against such a catastrophe being permitted to happen; yet, that is precisely what has happened, and the disastrous results of which we cannot yet see the end of. As Mr. Fitzherbert's speech bears directly on the point I wish most strongly to bring out before you, I give you somewhat long extracts from it. He said:—

"It is well known that it has been a deep and growing conviction on my mind for the last two or three years that we were stagnating in this country, and that we were absolutely failing to perform our duty; that, from whatever cause, Provincial Governments and General Government alike seem to have got into a dreamy and dormant state; that they seemed to have become almost lifeless; that we had over-looked too much the great work of colonisation, which we ought to have considered as those who had to found a new country; that we had altogether forgotten our raison d'etre in this part of the world. I felt that we were false to our great interests, and that we were no longer page 20 the men who ought to parade the pretensions which we were constantly doing of being the great builders up of a country. With respect to this question of immigration, I do not hesitate to say that it is one of the greatest problems of the present day, than which there is no question of peace or war, starvation or plenty, civilisation or barbarism, of larger or more profound interest; and we form in New Zealand no small item in that problem, and, for this reason, that we are nearly about the last country within the Temperate Zone which remains yet uninhabited—I say uninhabited, for how else can it be regarded, seeing that we have only a population of a quarter of a million, including the infant born yesterday, to make up the number. To call this an inhabited country is simply trifling with terms. It is not enough to bring people out here and to drop them down anywhere in the country; they must be established and settled. If I thought that a system would be devised of a grand scheme of Public Works for the sake of finding employment for a number of strangers who would be brought here, I would oppose it. I say that the idea of bringing out people as immigrants with the view of obtaining employment upon Public Works in the colony is the most preposterous idea that was ever entertained. It would be a blot upon our administration if we permitted any such scheme to be carried out, which could have no other effect than that of utterly demoralising and corrupting the whole population. It would be monstrous that in a country like this, the immigrant should look to employment on Public Works for a permanent livelihood Panem et circenses. The pages of the past tell us that that was the ruin of one empire. But if such a system be a disease incidental to the mature age of nations, nothing could produce such a state of things in a young country but culpable incapacity of administration. What do we mean by settlement? I come here to a question of vital importance. The land question is the great theme. I admit the problem is not an easy one to solve. The problem in New Zealand has generally been complicated by many difficulties. It is no use to quarrel with that, but we must, by intelligence and discrimination, try to solve that problem. The land must be opened for the people."

Mr. M'Indoe, in speaking next, corroborated Mr. Macandrew as to the great cost of metalled roads in Otago.

M. Peacock, of Canterbury, supported the Government scheme.

Mr. Brandon spoke in favour of settlement. He said:—

"He had hoped that a scheme would be put before the House for inland settlement, somewhat on the plan of the old original settlements. That would have been the means of introducing not only labour, but capital also at the same time. It would have formed a settled population, instead of (as now seemed to be the great idea) introducing people to carry on works without thinking what was to become of them when the works were finished. There was plenty of land both in the North and the Middle Island ready and available for such a purpose. Instead of borrowing for railways upon any such scheme page 21 as had been proposed, it would have been better to have said to Provinces which had land available for such a purpose, or for the construction of roads—'We will assist you by legislation in the Assembly to offer to contractors payment either in land or in the form of a guarantee, you taking care that when the contractors have such land they shall settle it or sell it for settlement within a specified time.'"

Mr. Kelly spoke strongly in favour of encouraging small settlers, and also in favour of establishing local industries, which, in my opinion, can never be successfully introduced in any town except where the country districts around it are thickly settled by a fixed population. Mr. Kelly said:—

"The men they wanted were small holders of land—men who came from parts of the old country where industry and frugality were habits of second nature. * * * * * * The class of men which they required were those who in settling down relied upon their own exertions, and who would not, in times of temporary depression, go clamouring to the Government for work. The only way to secure such people was to insure them liberal land laws, by which they could obtain holdings at a cheap rate, to be paid for in a reasonable time, and make them accessible by good roads. There was one point which he had overlooked, and that was to impress upon the Government the necessity of encouraging new industries. It was a most important consideration, and one which could not fail to strike any one on looking over the customs returns, finding as they did there, articles of food, clothing, boots, shoes, cordage, leather, and other articles of manufacture, which might be just as well produced in this country. He found that the value of these necessaries imported into the colony, and which might be produced within its boundaries, amounted to two millions sterling."

Mr. Howorth reiterated Mr. Fitzherbert's views. He said:—

"It would not be wise to introduce immigrants to compete with the labour we have already here. The great inducement to the people in the old country (and in all countries, in fact) to come to the colony was, that they might become proprietors of the soil; that they might have land on which to settle and call their own. He did not think it would be any inducement to ask labouring men in England to come out to this country merely to accept employment on Public Works; they might be giving up a certainty for an uncertainty, and they might not like colonial life when they came here. The great inducement to persons leaving the home country was the prospect of making a new home for themselves and families, and releasing themselves from a position out of which they can have little hope of gaining an independence. He believed that if this colony were to take its place among the nations of the earth, it was the duty of its inhabitants to make themselves a nation, and to do that they must have population, which is the greatest source of wealth any country can have, and the means of developing large resources."

page 22
Mr. Mervyn spoke in favour of altering the land regulations, and showed that even so long ago as 1867, suitable settlers had left Otago, owing to the difficulty of finding land to settle on. He said:—

"The colony must ere-long take up the question of liberalising the land laws generally * * * he could speak with greater certainty with respect to the province of Otago (than Canterbury), and he could say that he had known hundreds of people compelled to leave Otago in consequence of land not having been thrown open to them on which they could settle. He had presented a petition to the House to that effect in 1867, and since he came to Wellington this session, he had met men who were on their way to California, for the simple reason that there were not facilities given them to enable them to settle in Otago. These men to whom he referred, he knew had £200 to £300 a-piece in their pockets, and it could not be denied they were a most desirable class of settlers, men who by frugal habits had saved what little they possessed, and so long as such a state of thing existed respecting the land laws, people might be brought into the country, but they would not settle."

Mr. Potts (of Canterbury) advocated opening up the country by branch lines to encourage settlement.

Mr. Ormond, then Superintendant of Hawkes Bay, also supported the Government proposals. He was subsequently instrumental in starting the Scandinavian settlements in the Ninety Mile Bush, which have proved what patient industry can accomplish in the face of great difficulties. He said:—

"It must be apparent to all that the country is starving for want of population to develope its resources. I have not those fears which some honourable members appear to entertain, that we shall not be able to borrow this money to advantage. I think we may with safety incur expenditure on productive works to any amount that we may be able to get, and I firmly believe that those works will be eventually remunerative."

Mr. Creighton supported the scheme generally, but pointed out that the land of the Colony should be made security for the loan. He said:—

"He believed * * * * that the resources of the colony fully warranted going into the market to borrow ten millions, but he also believed that what was called the Consolidated Revenue was not at present sufficiently elastic to justify such borrowing on the security of that revenue alone. Let the Government come down with a proposal to resume the landed estate of the colony, let them propose to pledge that estate to the Public Creditor, and then he would support the Government in borrowing ten millions. In Victoria the land was pledged to the Public Creditor, and the land fund was appropriated by a vote of the Legislature. In New South Wales the practice was the same, and so it was substantially in regard to Canada and California. If New Zealand was to go into the English market for a large loan, page 23 the English capitalist would require that the whole of the public estate of the colony should be pledged as his security. It would be unfair to New Zealand, to its credit, and to its good name generally, as well as to the capitalist, if the colony went into the market for such a loan, and offered any less satisfactory security."

Mr. W. H. Harrison in the course of his speech corroborated Mr. Macandrew's and Mr. McIndoe's statements as to the great cost of metalled roads in New Zealand; this is a fact often lost sight of by those who declaim against the Railways, as having entailed so much expenditure, as in all fairness, from their cost ought to be deducted the cost of the metalled roads which would have been necessary if no Railways had been made.

Mr. O'Neill went pretty deeply into the land question, and spoke of the lands of the colony, as being the birthright of the children born in the Colony. He said, speaking of Railways:—

"In 40 years England constructed about 14,000 miles of railways, at a cost of about £500,000,000 * * * At the commencement of the present year (1870), America had 48,869 miles of railways constructed, at a cost of 2,212,000,000 dollars. Speaking of land, he thought that in this country immigrants had been enticed to come out on representations that land was so easily obtainable, and that grants (free grants) could be got. Now 50 or 100 acres sounded large and comfortable in the old country, quite an estate, but little did the immigrant know that he might get almost barren rocks, or some wild secluded spot in the bush, far away from civilisation, on which he would have to make a livelihood for himself and his children. He believed that many immigrants were consequently disgusted with the country, and the representations which had gone home, had to a large extent stopped the tide of immigration. As there was plenty of land in the colony, he would give as a birthright forty acres of land to every child rocked for the first time in the colonial cradle, and he would have this arrangement in force until the end of the time estimated for completing the scheme proposed by the Government."

Mr. Curtis, then Superintendent of Nelson, supported the scheme.

Sir Donald McLean, Native Minister, also spoke, of course in support of the Government proposals. He said:—

"I will only add that, from the time the Government first took office, we felt that a policy for the country was wanted. We felt that firstly, the restoration of peace was necessary, and to that end we have worked constantly and earnestly, with what results the House and the country can judge. We also felt that when peace was restored, colonising operations were absolutely necessary for the progress of the country. We recognised that the country is one abounding in great auriferous wealth, rich in varied resources, but requiring a system of colonisation that should have continuity, that should not be spasmodic, or liable to break down suddenly—a system extending over a series of years, and which should be the means of bringing page 24 population, not only from Great Britain, but from Germany, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, and other parts of the Continent, which population should be able to make for themselves a future, and comfortable homes, in a land which needs but labour to make it, in fact what it has long been regarded as certain to become, 'The Briton of the Southern Seas.'"

Mr. Williamson, of Auckland, was also a strong supporter of the scheme, especially wishing to see the Maori lands settled. He said:—

"I ask myself, as I did in 1860—Are railways and great trunk roads required for opening up the country? and I cannot but see with more force than I ever did before, that such works are required, and should now be undertaken. But those works must go hand in hand with colonisation. Of what use will it be to open the country by roads unless we have traffic upon those roads? Sir, there is at the present time unoccupied land in the Province of Auckland to the extent of about 14,000,000 acres, and I ask, are we who are here now to retain the monopoly of those lands? The honourable member Tareha has told us to-night that the Natives are willing to dispose of their lands to the Government. I trust, sir, soon to see that land occupied and cultivated, and to see upon it the homes of our countrymen, and its 'wilderness made to blossom as a rose.'"

Mr. Driver, of Otago, spoke in support of the scheme, deploring the state of stagnation into which the colony had fallen at the time, thus, he said:—

"In fact, he thought the whole country was drifting into a state of utter stagnation and ruin. In every part of New Zealand, and amongst every class, the feeling was in favour of new blood and new capital. * * * * * * Unless some new life and new blood was introduced into the country, which could only be done by a reasonable and proper system of Public Works and immigration, he thought they would die an ignominious, and what might be termed a dried up sort of death."

Mr. Eyes, of Nelson, in supporting the scheme, said:—

"On behalf of his constituents, he desired to return his sincere thanks to the Government for having initiated the only scheme of colonisation worthy of the name, which had been undertaken by any Government who had held office in the country."

Having now gone through the list of speakers, I next come to Mr. Vogel's speech in reply, in which he said:—

"The ruling idea of the Government proposals is, that the few colonists of New Zealand have a great problem to solve—viz., how to improve the very magnificent estate which Providence has given into their hands; that it is the duty of those colonists not selfishly to endeavour to keep that estate for themselves alone * * * * * * but to set to work to open and improve it, and really to populate it" Speaking of the Land Laws, Mr. Vogel showed that he was afraid to have that subject ventilated, lest the squatters should combine to page 25 defeat his proposals altogether, thus he says—"The honourable member for Grey and Bell (Mr. Richmond) endeavoured once more to obtrude that irritating question, the alteration of the Land Laws. If the honourable member were sincere in desiring to see our measures passed, he would not endeavour to obstruct their passage by obtruding questions which he knows are of a nature likely to divert honourable members' minds from the consideration of those measures. He is sufficiently familiar with the interest which in this House centres in all questions relating to the Land Laws of the colony, to know, that if the question of a radical alteration in the Land Laws is raised, it will supersede the consideration of the Government proposals." Speaking of the Canterbury railways, he said—"The figures given by the honourable member (Mr. Rolleston) were very instructive. They showed us the astounding progress which Canterbury has made, and it seemed to me that it was in the mind of the honourable member to shut out the rest of the colony from the prospect of such improvement as has taken place in Canterbury, rather than to say to the other Provinces—'Go and do likewise.' We say only, we will construct such railways as may from time to time be found to be desirable and payable; but Canterbury entered upon railway construction with a population of some 12,000, and with that great tunnel difficulty before it. And what has been the result? One which the honourable member for Avon describes as eminently satisfactory." Speaking of the proposed railways, he said—"The Government shall understand it to be its duty, before the new House can be called together, to ascertain the opinions and wishes of the different Provinces, to enter with them just as is proposed by the Bill, into a discussion as to what railways they desire, what conditions they are willing to submit to in order to get such railways, what are the conditions of the country through which the proposed lines will pass, what will probably be the traffic, and to what extent the lines are likely to pay."

Mr. Richmond followed in a short speech, from which I take one extract:—

"We are providing means for bringing people here, but we are not providing attractions for the purpose of retaining them here. There is no attraction to the rural settler which will compare with the attraction of settlement upon the land; and there is nothing on the American Continent which presents so powerful an attraction to emigrants as the facilities which are afforded them of settling down upon their own land."

Mr. Vogel, in winding up the debate, said:—

"During the last few days of this Parliament, let us think of the people, not of ourselves, not of parties. Let us forget all differences, and give to the country the future which this Bill promises."

Then came the division, which disclosed an overwhelming majority for the Government—viz., ayes 45, noes 7, the only members voting against the Public Works Policy being Colonel Haultain, Sir C. Wilson, page 26 Sir D. Munro, and Messrs. Jollie, Richmond, Reader Wood, and Collins; yet the organs of the present Government would have you: believe that Sir Julius vogel is responsible for the debt, and that they had nothing to do with it!"

I have now gone through the debate, and given you quotations from most of the speakers in order to prove to you that the great majority of the House of Representatives supported Sir Julius Vogel's policy; and further, that nearly all the most prominent men concurred as to the absolute necessity of settling people on the lands of the colony on favourable terms, if that policy was to turn out a success, and that in the absence of such settlement nothing but a disastrous failure of the whole scheme could be expected.

In going into committee on the Bill, on August 9th, Mr. Fitzherbert said:—

"For the first time in our history I may say this colony as a colony is going in for Public Works, it is going to resume that great duty which has been so long neglected, that of colonisation. There is no doubt that in according the vote for that purpose there has been a unanimity such as has been rarely accorded upon any question in this House. Having in view that which must be faced by the Government, the actual settlement of the people, he would gladly have seen the Government propose, instead of a wholesale indiscriminate and promiscuous kind of proposal for taking land, that it should be limited in the direction of granting alternate sections, limiting the depth from the frontage. Colonisation in the North Island henceforward had become almost impossible, unless some change was introduced. He meant colonisation upon any concerted or large scale. The very eyes of the country were being picked out every day, and it was impossible to form anything like systematic settlements."

Mr. Richmond in opposing the proposal to pay for some of the railways in land, said:—

"Land is not only bad coin because of the uncertainty of its value, it is not only subject to discount, but it is also bad because we want to settle a population upon it, not to sell it in lots to suit the convenience of contractors and speculators, but to settle every part of the country with a population that will remain upon it. We do not want large farms, but we want the smallest farms that men can settle down upon and cultivate profitably, because then we get population settled in the country, and with population we get revenue. Unless those who think with me exert themselves to the very utmost, and make up their minds to sit here for the next three months, if necessary, to perfect these Bills, we are about to launch measures which will bring shame upon every one of us, who have so grossly failed in our duty, to protect the interests of the people of this country."

Mr. Carleton speaking of the proposed immigration, said:—

"Let me assure the House from the experience I have had among page 27 immigrants, that no man settling down upon a piece of ground in this country need expect a return under eighteen months or two years, and unless he has the means to sustain himself during that time, he sinks down at once into the position of a day labourer. I for one am not prepared to flood the country with mere day labourers, and to bring down the rate of wages to such as will not support a working man. I am one of those who ask a fair day's wage for a fair day's work, and I also ask a fair day's work for a fair day's wage. Some successes there have been, I know, and the greatest success has been in the importation of immigrants from Canada, and Nova Scotia. They are the best settlers I have seen, the hardest working, perfectly sober, and able to turn to in this country at a day's warning, without loitering about the town after disembarkation, and wasting what little means they have brought out with them. I have said this much concerning immigration, not by the way of discouraging it, for I myself most heartly desire to see it entered on; but to show the necessity of caution, of beginning quietly and steadily, and of feeling our way, and not bringing out crowds at once, but by degrees."

Mr. Driver said with regard to the Land Laws:—

"There was another great element which ought properly to come on now for discussion, and that was in reference to the lands of the colony. This he considered the backbone of the whole undertaking, and unless coupled with this in a proper way, it was impossible to think that the scheme could be carried out properly. He believed, more particularly with regard to immigration, that it was impossible it could be carried on under the existing system of Land Laws."

Mr. Rolleston in his speech showed that he was quite aware of the evils of large holdings. He said:—

"He was glad to hear what the honourable member for Timaru had just said, that he objected to the payment for these Public Works being made in land, because it showed that the honourable member was in earnest in his views with respect to the settlement of the country by people instead of sheep; but at the same time he did not think any great good would be obtained by doing away with the existing Provincial Land Laws. In Canterbury the Government had the land to dispose of for the purpose of making roads and other public works; but the moment they dropped the price of land it would be bought up by large speculators, who did not care about opening up roads, and in fact would rather be without them. The-settlement of the country would be obstructed by the land getting into the possession of large holders. No one, he felt assured, would accuse him of a desire to interfere with enabling people to settle on the land, or desiring to see large tracts of country occupied by sheep to the obstruction of colonisation * * * he would oppose the system of payment in land, because it would ultimately tend to prevent colonisation."

page 28

Mr. Williamson, speaking as to land in Auckland Province, said "that there was plenty of land to the north of Auckland which might be rendered available for settlement if in the hands of the Government, but which would be quite useless for that purpose if allowed to pass into the possession of private individuals. It was well known that wherever lands were thus acquired they were left to remain as they were before—a perfect wilderness. Colonisation was wanted in the North Island."

Speaking with regard to the taking of private land for railway purposes, Mr. Vogel said "it was the very bane of a new country, that greediness for compensation when any new work was to be carried out. The strong way in which it had been put down in America enabled important works to be carried out for the benefit of the public. There, private individuals were not allowed to interfere with the carrying out of great public undertakings. In this country we should also discountenance the organised greediness of persons who would prevent Public Works being carried out unless they could obtain extraordinary compensation from the Government."

Mr. Gillies said, on the same subject:—

"The honourable member for the Hutt was right in saying that the speculator would be in advance of them. Orders had gone from this city, since this Bill had been placed in the hands of honourable members, to purchase lands wherever the railway would pass through. He would suggest to the Colonial Treasurer, that unless some mode of valuing the land before and after occupation were adopted, it would be ruinous to attempt to make a railway under the provisions of that clause."

Mr. Moorhouse, speaking on this subject, said:—

"His experience was, that the sympathies of that part of the public who were called upon to judge in such matters as this, were not with the Government, but with the unfortunate people who acquired four, five, or even ten times as much for their land as it was worth. In the Province of Canterbury, twenty times the actual value of an estate had been given for it for this purpose."

With regard to this plundering of the Government under the form of demands for compensation, you may remember a charge of this kind was brought against the present Premier by the Lyttelton Times, on the occasion of his last candidature for Selwyn, at Leeston.

The Public Works Bill was read a third time, and passed on August 18th, 1870.

In the Legislative Council the debate was opened by Mr. Gisborne, who said in the course of his speech:—

"Immigration is unquestionably a reproductive work. Every immigrant whom we can bring into the colony, looking at the question in its lowest light, represents so much of revenue-producing power. But when we think of the importance of increasing our population, we must consider that immigration is the most essential of our requirements."

page 29
Colonel Whitmore, speaking in reference to the assumption that customs revenue would increase in proportion to the increase of population, said:—

"Neither the ordinary revenue nor the customs revenue shows any proportionate increase to the increase of population. There is nothing of the kind. I would further say, that a large immigration means a very considerable fall in wages, and it is the excess in wages which is spent in luxuries upon which our customs are levied; and if the wages of the people are reduced, the customs revenue of the country must suffer fully to the extent of the larger number of people. * * * We shall be leaning on a rotten reed if we think that immigration will so increase the revenue as to keep down that taxation, and to meet it we must trust to our own industry alone."

The Hon. Matthew Holmes, a thoroughly practical colonist, made a long speech, from which I will read you some extracts bearing on the question of settlement by small farmers. He said:—

"I think therefore that the time has arrived when we should entertain the question of the settlement of the country, and introduce as large a number of immigrants into it as our means will permit. And, sir, I cannot but pause to think how wanting in our duty we should be to our fellow-countrymen at home, who are, many of them, living in what we should consider abject poverty, and not a few in a state of complete destitution, were we not to make an effort to enable them to join us here, especially when we consider that there would be a double benefit to them, in placing within their reach liberal wages, plenty of good food, and the certainty of their becoming independent in a few years, as the result of sustained industry and sobriety. The profits of an ordinary labourer for one year would enable him to buy the fee simple of at least thirty acres of agricultural land, such as he never could have dreamt of possessing in the mother country; and to us there would be the great benefit of settling an industrious population on our waste lands, which only require a very moderate amount of labour expended upon them to make them productive. Sir, in thinking of these things, the mind is lost in the grandeur of the future of these islands, their insular position, fine temperate climate for Europeans, prolific soil, capable of growing all the productions of Britain, and most of those of the Continent, and mineral productions only waiting for a large population to develop them. Another argument in favour of immigration is, that so long as it continues, the prosperity of all classes is sustained, while a stoppage invariably produces depression amongst all the members of the community, For a colony to remain stationary means physical, mental, and moral decadence. America is a notable proof of this. There is no doubt that its continued extension and prosperity is promoted by the constant influx of people. All classes there (unlike the working classes of these colonies) welcome the new-comers as their best friends. * * * * * * Another question of vital importance is, what class of persons are we page 30 to introduce? My own experience as an employer of labour would lead me to prefer the small farmers from the Lowlands of Scotland, the north of Ireland, and the best agricultural counties of England, farm labourers from the same districts, shepherds from both sides of the Borders, the Lothians, Perth, and Sterling shires. Other classes worthy of consideration for settling on the West Coast of the Middle and Stewart's Island are Norwegians, Nova Scotians, and people from the north of Scotland and the Orkney and Shetland Islands. There they would have fine harbours, splendid timber for shipbuilding, and the sea teeming with valuable fish for curing. But, before entering on their introduction, the question arises, how are they to be settled, and what attractions can we place before them to induce them to select this colony for their future home? The first requisite is constant employment at a fair rate of wages. This can be secured for them only by commencing Public Works, such as are proposed by this Bill, in different parts of the colony. But the greatest attraction is the certainty of their being able to purchase upon easy terms lands upon which to settle permanently. I never met with a man of any grade who did not desire to possess a piece of mother earth. It is the one dream of the life of agricultural labourers especially, which can never be realised in old countries. Hence the large number of the best of that class who emigrate. It will, therefore, be necessary to have a good supply of land in the market ready for settlement. Our land system in Otago is very defective in that respect. The regulations are so complex that only bush lawyers can understand and take advantage of them. The difficulties thrown in the way of purchasers would lead one to believe that the Government was conferring a special favour in allowing people to purchase, whereas the obligation is all on the other side."

The Hon. Mr. Sewell said, on the subject of immigration:—

"I now come to the question of immigration. I entirely agree with the honourable members who have spoken of that as the cardinal point in any plan of colonisation; because, to my mind, everything revolves around this central point—the bringing of people into the country. It is in the people of a country that its strength and its wealth resides."

The Hon. Mr. Campbell said, in relation to the same subject:—

"I am sure that all those who have been in the country for the last few years must recognise that the utter cessation of immigration which has taken place, has been the one thing more than anything else, which has produced the present stagnation of trade in the country. When I consider that the total amount to be expended is £1,000,000, only sufficient to bring out 70,000 people, I do not think the proposal is too large for the country to undertake. I believe that a healthy scheme of immigration to the extent of seven, eight, or ten thousand people a year would not be too much for the colony to absorb. Unless we have a large immigration into this country we page 31 shall never be able to undertake manufacturing industries, or to cultivate the country, and we shall not enable the colony to meet the burdens which will necessarily be imposed upon it by the present scheme."

Mr. Campbell was then the largest sheep-owner in New Zealand, and is now a very extensive holder of freehold land, so that he looked at the question entirely from the point of view of an employer of labour.

The Hon. Mr. Robinson spoke next. He was then, and is still, one of the largest freeholders in the colony, and one who has kept nearly a whole county locked up from settlement to this day. He expressed the most liberal and patriotic sentiments with regard to other people's runs. He said:—

"He had very little hesitation in saying that when the great resources of New Zealand—that is, her mines, those great storehouses of wealth, her native industries, flax, &c.—were developed, and her fertile plains and valleys occupied, as they are sure to be, it would be found that New Zealand was capable of keeping a larger population than the present Australian colonies combined. Indeed, he might say, that he believed that the capabilities of this country were far greater than even its most sanguine colonists imagined. * * * * * * he saw around him many honourable members who had possessions in the shape of leaseholds, who probably thought they ran no risk, but let them not think they would go scot free. The people—the power of this country—would sweep those leases away, and turn those lands to their proper legitimate account, by converting them into homesteads for families, and populating the country, instead of letting it remain a wilderness in the shape of a sheep-station. * * * * * "Whilst money was being expended in conquering a peace and reclaiming land in the North Islsnd, the land in the South Island had been tied up in faster ratio. All the land in Nelson and Marlborough was leased for twenty-eight years, and was much more alienated from purposes of settlement than freehold land. * * * * * * Those leaseholders were like dogs in the manger; they could not put population on their land, and they would take care that nobody else did. * * * * In the Province of Otago * * * * * * they might call their land laws legion; and so complicated were those laws that any one arriving with, say £500, would find his money all gone before he could find out the land laws." I quote Mr. Robinson's peroration, which a Yankee would call "high falutin:"—"Upon the shape and form that Bill left the Council hung the question, shall this country, great in every sense of the word, take the lead amongst the civilized nations of the Southern Hemisphere? Shall this broad and sparsely populated land, with a climate for salubrity without a parallel, with its broad and verdant plains intersected by rivers, rivulets, and sparkling streams, its rich and fertile valleys, and its magnificent wooded slopes, become densely studded with millions of the happy and luxurious page 32 homes of prosperous and contented families, or shall the present and rising generations live a lifetime of poverty and misery?"

The Hon. Mr. Wigley, speaking in favour of making payment for the railways in land, quoted the case of the Albury Estate, taken up in that way by the Hon. E. Richardson, he said:—

"In Canterbury that principle had worked very successfully. In that province 20,000 acres of land had been taken up by the contractor for the railway, representing a sum of £10,000. The result of that system was, that the contractor had settled in the colony. Instead of taking the money out of the Government chest, the contractor had settled down, selecting his land in blocks of 8,000 or 10,000 acres, which formed nuclei for subsequent selections. * * * * * * he had no doubt that when the railways were completed the freehold land he had purchased would be settled on by small farmers and, from the way in which he had acted, he (Mr. Wigley) was induced to believe that he would bring other persons out to the colony, and thus do it a good service."

After Mr. Gisborne's reply, the division was called, and resulted as in the Lower House, in a large majority for the Government—viz., 25 for the Bill, and only 8 against it. Those who voted against it were Colonel Russell, the Hon. Ernest Grey, and Messrs. Kenny, Mantel], Nurse, Robinson, Taylor, and H. R. Russell.

Subsequently, in committee of the Lower House, Mr. Williamson said:—

"They should open up the country and render it fit for the reception of people, unless they wanted it all to themselves. Robinson Crusoe occupied a territory and was able to say he was monarch of all he surveyed; but he trusted that the British mind with which they were endowed (his honourable friend, the member for Gladstone, Mr. Jollie, included) would feel that this great country was not given to the present inhabitants to hold for themselves; that it was not for their own particular benefit that the money proposed to be borrowed was to be expended, but for the good of the whole British Empire. They should not forget that there were many others anxious to participate in the benefits which they enjoy. The great resources of this country would never become known or developed if left in the hands of the few who were now in occupation of it, and it was the duty of that House to give the Government the means of bringing out people who would assist in the object of improving the country and developing the vast resources of it. * * * * * * He trusted that those narrow-minded legislators, who had so long monopolised public places would no longer be tolerated—men who held their seats, not to the advantage, but to the great disadvantage, of the colony."

Mr. Mervyn said, by way of a last protest:—

"Under the Immigration Bill which the House had previously passed, no inducement was held out to intending immigrants to come to this country, in the hope that they might be enabled to settle upon page 33 the waste lands. He maintained that unless some such inducement were held out to the immigrants who were invited to our shores, the immigration scheme of the Government must prove a failure; because he believed that the proposal to bring people into this country merely to execute public works was based upon a false principle, and could not fail to he productive of disastrous results."

Sir Julius Vogel wound up with the following peroration:—

"The whole case for our measures may be summed up in a few words—Do we or do we not believe in the resources of New Zealand? If not, it is not wise that we should spend money in trying to develop the country. But, if we do believe in the resources of New Zealand, why should we not march with the time, and try to do rapidly that which would otherwise take a very long while to effect? Why should we not do for the country in ten years that which, if the work be not specially and energetically undertaken, will probably not be done in less than one hundred years? The Government believe that there are in this country vast and valuable forests, great and varied mineral wealth, teeming fisheries, pastoral lands, and enormous agricultural capabilities. Why should we not say to the overburdened population of the old country—Here is a laud rich in all natural resources; we are willing to develop it to the largest extent if you will come and make it your home. That, Sir, is the policy of the present Government!"

The division followed—ayes 35, noes 6.

And so the great Immigration and Public Works Policy of 1870 was carried triumphantly through both Houses of the Legislature, amid high hopes for its success and for the future prosperity of the colony. I fancy most of you will concur with mo in thinking, that if it had been carried out in its integrity, according to the ideas set forth in various speeches I have quoted from, it would indeed have been a success, and have led to great results; and probably, at this moment, all classes of the community would have been rejoicing in a fair measure of prosperity, instead of our being in a position to be held up by the home papers before the British public as a solemn warning and shocking example of spendthrift improvidence. I shall now, in accordance with the plan I sketched out in my opening remarks, proceed to show you that the colony has not been actually settled, or the inland district populated to anything like the extent it ought to have been, and which it is generally supposed by the dwellers in the large towns to be. In tact, that, with the exception of a few districts, such, for example, as the Christchurch district, extending, say, from South bridge to Amberley (which, I may remark, was mainly settled prior to the inauguration of the Public Works Policy), and in South Canterbury, the district extending from Temuka to the Waihi Bush (which was also settled prior to 1870), the greater part of Canterbury is held in large blocks to the exclusion of small settlers. And here, it would be as well to remark, that these districts I have alluded to as being page 34 properly settled, were so settled, not because there were no runs there, but because the land being all level and nearly all of good quality, the squatters found it impossible to "spot" it so as to prevent farmers buying it up, as was done in the Downs districts, and consequently the only effectual remedy against "cockatoos" would have been to buy up the whole run at one sweep, which few of the runholders were in a position to do, at the Canterbury price of £2 per acre, though the process was easy in Nelson or Hawkes Bay at 5s. per acre. I shall now give you some statistics tending to show what the amount of settlement ought to have been, if the country had been settled on the American system, by small farmers, instead of being carved out into great estates on the Australian system. In order to give you a clear idea of the different results of the two systems, I will first give you a comparative statement of the increase of population during ten years in some of the Western States of the Union, and in some of the Australian Colonies, also some results of the American census of 1880, from the London Times of 13th August last.

Comparative Increase of Population in some of the Western Slates and some of the Australian Colonies.
Area Square Miles. Population, 1860. Population, 1870. Increase.
Victoria 88,198 540,322 731,528 191,206
Tasmania 26,215 89,977 99,328 9,351
New Zealand 102,000 99,022 256,260 157,238
216,413 729,321 1,087,116 357,795
Illinois 55,410 1,711,951 2,539,891 827,940
Iowa 55,045 674,913 1,194,020 519,107
Indiana 33,809 1,350,428 1,680,637 330,209
Michigan 56,451 749,113 1,184,059 434,946
200,715 4,486,405 6,598,607 2,112,202

Here you have four of the newer States of the Union compared with the three most densely populated of the Australian Colonies, and what do we find? that though the area of the four States is somewhat less than that of the three colonies, yet the population in 1870 was over six times as great, and the increase in ten years was nearly six times as great.

During the twelve months ending 30th June, 1880,457,043 immigrants arrived in the United States, and 49,922 more during the month of July, and this rapid increase of population is reducing the weight of debt per head in a remarkable way. The figures given are:—
American National Debt.
Population, Total Debt. Debt per Head of Population.
1866 36,000,000 £556,685,000 £15 10 0
1871 39,000,000 458,406,000 11 15 0
1876 44,000,000 435,389,000 10 0 0
1880 48,500,000 400,000,000 estimated 8 7 0
page 35
Contrast this diminishing scale with the increasing scale of the New Zealand debt, which was:—
Population. Total Debt. Per Head.
1867 218,668 £7,579,000 £34 13 0
1874 299,514 13,897,185 46 7 0
1880, say, 483,000 30,000,000 62 13 0
Here is a table giving the increase of production and trade which has taken place in the United States in twenty years from 1860 to 1880:—
1860. 1880. Increase per cent.
Population 31,443,000 48,500,000 55
Wheat Grown 173,104,000 bushels 440,000,000 154
Do. Exported 4,155,000 bushels 175,000,000 4,112
Maize Grown 838,792,000 bushels 1,450,000,000 73
Do. Exported 3,314,000 bushels 100,000,000 2,917
Wool Produced 60,264,000 lbs. 232,500,000 285
Cotton 4,823,000 bales 5,675,000 17
Petroleum 500,000 barrels 19,741,000 3,848
Hogs Packed 2,350,000 6,950,000 195
Butter Exported 1,640,000 lbs. 38,248,000 400
Cheese do 15,515,000 lbs. 141,654,000 813
Merchandise Imports 336,282,000 dols. 670,000,000 99
Do. Exports 316,22,4000 dols. 835,000,000 164
Gold and Silver Produced £46,150,000 £79,711,000 73

One remarkable fact disclosed by this table is that, whereas in 1860 the imports exceeded the exports by 20,000,000 dollars, in 1880 the exports exceeded the imports by no less than 165,000,000 dollars, showing an enormous balance of trade in favour of the States. Another still more remarkable fact is the astounding increase in the exports of wheat, and this is of most vital importance to us in New Zealand. I confess I was surprised to find that the exports of this grain amounted to only the trifling quantity of 4,155,000 bushels so recently as 1860, less than the present export from Lyttelton, and now it has risen to 175,000,000 bushels. What may it not be in another twenty years?

I will next give you a statement of receipts and expenditure in the United States for the years 1879 and 1880, so that their financial, system may be compared in one or two particulars with ours:—
1878-9. 1879-80.
Customs dols. 137,250,000 dols. 186,522,000
Inland Revenue ... 113,561,000 dols. 124,009,000
Land Sales ... 924,000 dols. 1,016,000
Miscellaneous ... 22,090,000 dols. 21,978,000
273,827,000 333,526,000
page 36
1878-9. 1879-80.
Civil and Miscellaneous dols. 65,741,000 dols. 57,508,000
Army dols. 40,425,000 38,116,000
Navy dols. 15,125,000 13,536,000
Indians dols. 5,206,000 5,945,000
Pensions dols. 35,121,000 56,777,000
Debt Interest dols. 105,327,000 95,757,000
266,947,000 267,642,000
Surplus dols. 6,879,000 65,883,000
You will observe, first, that the expenditure is kept well within the receipts, the last year especially showing a very large surplus, and, secondly, that the revenue from land sales is so insignificant as to have no appreciable result on the state of the finances. In New Zealand, on the other hand, the land revenue has all along been a very large proportion of the whole revenue of the colony, so that its sudden cessation causes a violent disturbance in the fiuancial position. The tables given for a few years past are:—
Ordinary. Territorial. Total Revenue.
1873 £1,487,393 £1,265,788 £2,753,181
1874 1,873,448 1,150,900 3,024,348
1875 2,047,234 688,722 2,735,956
1876 2,391,344 1,149,622 3,540,966
1877 2,198,291 1,592,254 3,790,545
1878 2,328,752 1,586,562 3,915,315
1879 2,682,048 869,729 3,544,777
£15,008,510 £8,303,577 £23,305,088

From this it will be seen that during the seven years 1873 to 1879 the territorial revenue amounted to more than one third of the total revenue of the colony, instead of being, as in the United States, only about the three-hundredth part of the whole. It is well known that in New Zealand, in spite of the large revenue, the expenditure has generally been in excess of the receipts, the deficiency being met out of fresh loans. However, there is one point in favour of New Zealand which ought, in justice to the colony, to be here pointed out, and that is, that here the entire cost of the railways appears as part of the public debt, which is not the case in the States, as there the railways have been constructed by private companies, with the aid of Government grants of land on an enormous scale. There were in the United States at the end of 1879 no less than 89,497 miles of completed railways. These lines cost 4,762,500,000 dollars, and earned during 1879, 529,000,000 dollars, gross receipts, of which, after paying expenses, 219,916,000 dollars remained as nett earnings, which would give a profit of 4.6 per cent on the capital. The figures I have given tend to show that much as we are accustomed to brag of the rapid progress of the colonies and of our colonial cities, their progress is page 37 slow compared with the wonderful rapidity of progress in the United States. Let us now inquire into the causes of this difference, and I believe one of the most potent will be found in the difference of the land systems. The more I have studied the subject, the more I feel convinced, that the secret of the unparalleled success of the United States lies in this fact—viz., that from the very first colonisation of America, both the Government and the people have used every possible means to attract immigrants and to fix them as permanent settlers on small freeholds of their own, instead of, as in these colonies (owing to the occupation of the country under depasturing licenses), throwing every possible obstruction and difficulty in the way of the small farmers. There were in 1870, in the United States, no less than 407,735,000 acres occupied as farms, and the average size of the holdings was only 153 acres, which would give 2,665,000 farmers, most of whom are farming their own freeholds, and consequently have a conservative tendency and a patriotic interest in the welfare of their country. This was out of a population of 38,558,000, giving one farmer for every thirteen of the population. Since that time, the population has increased by thirteen millions; and, if the farmers are relatively as numerous, which there seems no reason to doubt, their number will now be about 3,660,000. It may be argued that 153 acres is too small a holding here; but I say, if it is a sufficiently large area to maintain a family in the States, it surely ought to be so here, with our superior climate and higher average yield of grain per acre. You will remember that Mr. Richmond maintained in a speech I have quoted from, that in parts of the North Island every fifty acres would support a family in comfort. But, to quote a local authority (Mr. John Grigg, of Longbeach), he, in an article in the September number of the New Zealand Country Journal, gives the gross product of a 200 acre farm at £743 10s, and the expenses at £250 13s. 4d. After deducting £1 an acre for rent, he leaves a profit of £292 16s. 8d. for the farmer. According to this estimate (which, however, I cannot by any means endorse), a farmer should clear £2 10s an acre, if his land was his own freehold, and he consequently had no rent to pay. The land in America is exceedingly cheap, being frequently given away to encourage bonâ fide settlement. I will read you an extract from a letter written to the Times by the Earl of Dunraven respecting the advantages at present offered by the Canadian Government in the new district known as Manitoba. He says—"A little more than a fortnight's journey from the shores of Ireland is Manitoba and the North West Territory, in the country drained by the Red River, the Assinebonie, and the Saskatchewan, are hundreds of thousands of acres of most fertile land. Of this land the Canadian Government will grant to any emigrant 160 acres for nothing, on the sole condition that in three years the man shall prove that he intends to dwell on and cultivate the soil. In addition, he has the right of pre-emption over the adjoining quarter section of 160 acres, at the price of ten page 38 shillings per acre, or £80 for the quarter section. The payment of this sum is spread over a period of ten years, interest being charged at the rate of six per cent, per annum, and no instalments are required for the first three years. Considering the fertility of the soil, the rapid development of the country, and the fact that the Canadian Pacific Railway is in course of construction, and affords a good market for labour, there is no doubt that a fairly industrious man could support himself and family, and find himself in possession of the fee simple of a farm of 320 acres long before the limit of time assigned for payment of the land—viz., ten years—had been reached."

I will also read a short extract from a letter appearing in the Times of August 5th last, signed "J. Sampson, Iowa," expatiating on the inducements offered to immigrants in that region. He says:—"Having experience here in the States, and having travelled here a good deal, I would say * * * * * * first, confine your search for a home to the States of Illinois, Winsconsin, Iowa, and Minesota. In them can be found cheap lands, pure water, a healthy climate, good schools, good roads, good markets, &c. The four States just named are largely settled in many parts by Irish people or people of Irish descent. The time from Ireland out here to Iowa is only thirteen days. Men sent out from Ireland to pioneer, as I suggest, would meet with a hearty welcome everywhere. People here are very friendly and cordial. The stranger and the foreigner are well treated by all classes."

When we consider the accessibility of the States from Europe, and the great advantages and inducements held out to immigrants of humble means, we need no longer be astonished at the vast proportions immigration into the States has assumed, so that last year 457,000 immigrants landed there, a number greater than the entire white population of New Zealand; nor need we be astonished at the correspondingly rapid growth of the cities, for instance, Chicago, a younger city than Melbourne, has now considerably more than double the population of that city.

Now, let us return to the question of the state of settlement in this colony. In New Zealand, according to published returns, there had beed sold, up to the 30th of June, 1879, 14,014,000 acres. If this land had been settled on the American system of small farms, it would have provided homes for 91,600 farmers, whose holdings would average in size the same as those of the States. This would have meant a rural population of about 733,000, and a correspondingly large increase in the town population, whereas we find from census returns that there were only 13,767 freeholds of over one acre in extent—say, a population of about 110,000 engaged in farming. I shall next read you two remarkable papers of statistics in support of my statement that there is comparatively little real settlement in this colony. One is an extract from a table prepared by the late Edward Jerningham Wakefield shortly before his death, containing a list of some of the great page 39 estates, and the other consists of portions of the report of Mr. James M'Kerrow, the Surveyor General and Secretary for Crown Lands. Mr. Wakefield's list is:—
In Cheviot County there were 3 estates containing together 170,000
Waikato County there were 1 estates containing together 80,000
Piako County there were 1 estates containing together 38,000
Marlborough County there were 11 estates containing together 309,000
Kaikora County there were 2 estates containing together 41,400
Amuri County there were 8 estates containing together 248,000
Ashley County there were 4 estates containing together 116,000
Selwyn County there were 2 estates containing together 35,000
Ashburton County there were 4 estates containing together 44,600
Geraldine County there were 4 estates containing together 60,000
Waimate County there were 11 estates containing together 282,000
Waitaki County there were 8 estates containing together 153,000
Waikouaiti County there were 2 estates containing together 39,000
Clutha County there were 4 estates containing together 125,000
Tuapeka County there were 4 estates containing together 115,600
Southland County there were 16 estates containing together 431,000
Wallace County there were 7 estates containing together 110,500
Total 92 2,398,100

From this list you will see that ninety-two estates (all but two of which are in this island) embrace between them no less than 2,398,100 acres of freehold land, or an average of 26,175 acres each. These ninety-two estates, if divided into farms of the average size of those of the United States, would provide homes for nearly 16,000 farmers; whilst, if we allow for each farmer a wife, an average of four children, a ploughman, and a servant girl, we should have no less than 128,000 people subsisting on these ninety-two estates alone, which probably do not now average more than 30 souls on each, or about 2700 in all. In contrast to these great estates, let us now turn to the village settlements and deferred payment blocks. You may remember that Mr. Stafford strenuously advocated the formation of village settlements with a system of commonages, in 1870, but many years were allowed to elapse before anything was done. Now, however, that all the good land has been swept up except in parts of the North Island, Mr. Stafford's suggestions are being tried, which is like the proverbial shutting the stable door after the horse is stolen.

Mr. McKerrow, in his Report dated 24th July, 1880, says:—

"Weight must also be given to the fact, that the easily accessible and most valuable Crown lands have been generally taken up. In the Canterbury District, for instance, there is very little Crown land remaining that anyone would care to purchase at £2 per acre * * * As we may not expect any great revenue from the sale of land in Canterbury, Otage, or Southland for the next two or three years, and the other land districts having mostly forest lands, are not likely to help very materially, it is evident that the Land Revenue from sales cannot be expected to rise very much above the £150,000 of the year ending 30th of June last.

page 40

"Deferred Payments, Agricultural Lease, Homestead, Village and Small Farm Settlements.

"During the past twelvemonths, under these several clauses of the Land Acts, the great work of settling 718 persons or families on 9.5,000 acres, has been accomplished. This is a marked increase of 50 per cent., both in settlers and acreage, as compared with the twelve months ended 30th June, 1879. Among the causes contributing to this result may be mentioned the passing of the "Land Act, 1877, Amendment Act, 1879," which by reducing the minimum price at which deferred payment lands may be offered from £3 per acre to £1, set free several blocks, that have since been taken up at 25s., 30s., £2, and higher, per acre. Another cause is the necessity imposed on heads of families to look out for something independent of employment on wages, which has become in all branches, public and private, more precarious than formerly. Although the deferred payment system proper was only introduced in 1873, and for a year or two was kept within very narrow limits, it has now assumed very large dimensions. On the 30th of June last, 1862 persons held 238,534 acres on deferred payments, the annual payment of fees due on which, being instalments of price, amounted to £54,100. Up to that date 675 persons, representing 97,113 acres, originally taken up on deferred payments, had fulfilled all conditions and converted the land into freehold. Of this number 115 persons, representing 13,778 acres, have done so during the past twelve months, in the exercise of the option to the deferred payment settler of discharging in one payment the balance of half yearly payments, if he has held the land 3 years, and fulfilled the improvement conditions.

"The Homestead System is by the Land Act, 1877, made applicable to the land districts of Auckland and Westland only. In Auckland 50 applicants selected 8816 acres for the twelve months, and since the introduction of the system a total of 260 selectors have taken up 46,271, or an average of 178 acres each. But as no one, unless representing a family or household, may select more than 75 or 50 acres, according to quality of land, (and if under 18, from 30 to 20 acres), it is evident that in the high average of 178 acres to each selection, there is a family represented by each selector. There is a set towards the system at present, several selectors having gone up lately from Canterbury.

"Village Settlements.—This mode of acquiring Crown Lands only came into operation on the 1st January, 1880. It is essentially a system for the encouragement of thrifty settlers, who begin with a dwelling and gradually create comfort around them. The maximum of land attainable is 50 acres * * * Although, hardly time has been given to get the system fairly into operation, and the time of application for all the 601 sections advertised has not yet arrived, 46 selectors, in Canterbury and Hawkes Bay, have already taken up 249 acres in areas ranging from 1 to 15 acres each—31 of page 41 the selections were on deferred payments, and 15 on immediate payments. Agreeably to instructions, village sites of 150 to 300 acres each are now being selected every 3 or 4 miles along the main roads, at convenient well watered spots in the Waimate Plains, and it is worthy of consideration whether this should not be done in all the best blocks of Crown lands, as they are opened up by survey. It is a very small matter apparently, making such reservations when the land is all a wilderness of fern or forest, but the importance and wisdom of it appears as the country gets settled, and sites are wanted for schools, churches, and homesteads for village tradesmen, and others following in the wake of the settlers. The main object of all these modes of settlement is not revenue, but the improvement and occupation of the country. Then are very expensive to work, and the question arises, Is the object fulfilled and the expense warranted? The reply must be in the affirmative. Summarising the results of all the settlement clauses, we had in New Zealand on the 30th June last, 3160 selectors, holding 374,425 acres, and liable for an annual payment of £65,000."

It is worthy of notice that these 3000 odd poor selectors are to pay £65,000 a year into the Colonial Exchequer, which is half as much as the rent paid to the Government for the use of all the 13 millions and a half of acres of land, held under Pastoral Leases by the squatters of the colony, viz., £113,000. From these figures you will see that these selections only average 112 acres each or 40 acres less than the average size of American farms, proving the truth of my contention, that 150 acres is sufficient to maintain a family in comfort. Now, with regard to the character of the land still open for selection under these various forms of settlement, I will read what Mr. McKerrow says, which goes to prove how heavily New Zealand is handicapped in the contest with the States, as to attractions for immigrants, he says:—"To the north of Auckland there stretches away to the north for 200 miles, a most interesting country of 3,000,000 acres, of which fully 1,000,000 or more than one-third are Crown lands. The soil on the open ridges is generally very clayey, and would require a great deal of pulverising to bring it into cultivation. The bottoms in the valleys are very fertile, as are also the limestone and volcanic ridges which are mostly under forest, and the areas covered with larva overflow * * * * It is proposed to explore a road line through it, and if funds are available, to open a bridle track. Until this is done, no settlement can take place, for in its present state, it will to the settler for ever remain an impenetrable unknown land. Wellington Country District.—This is 10,000 acres of hilly bush country. It lies on the ridge west of Hutt Valley * * and slopes down to Pahautanui small farm settlements. This is rather a rough piece of country, but being in the heart of a settled district and opened up by these roads, it is likely to be well taken up when offered for application. Otago.—Crown Terrace—A dray road was very skilfully selected by Mr. Bews, for the Lake County Council, up the steep side of this Terrace to the page 42 flat above. It was formed, and then the land was opened for selection, five or six families mostly Shetlanders have settled there, and in February last, within ten months of the date of their applications, they had several fields of well grown oats in crop at an elevation of 2300 feet above the sea. This road is part of the line Wakatipu to Cardrona and Wanaka. Southland.—Woodend to Seaward Moss.—This is an expanse of fully 40,000 acres of level land, stretching from near Woodend, a station five miles from Invercargill on the Invercargill-Bluff railway, across between the forest and coast line to the Mataura river. It is a swampy, mossy country, with isolated pieces of dry land interspersed. 1044 acres along the road line were surveyed into eleven sections, and offered for sale on deferred payments. It has all been taken up except three sections. By cutting drains to help the natural drainage, and pushing the road forward a mile or two each season, this extensive area, which is literally a 'howling wilderness' will eventually become an inhabited settled district."

From these extracts from Mr. McKerrow's report, you will be able to understand the undesirable character of the blocks of land still remaining in the hands of the Government of New Zealand, comprising as they do, only those blocks possessing such insuperable natural drawbacks, as to render them unworthy of the attention of capitalists or speculators, yet you see that in spite of these drawbacks, plenty of industrious thrifty men can be found to take them up under the deferred payment system, in the hope of making homes for themselves; and moreover, you see from the report, that numbers have succeeded in doing so, notwithstanding the great difficulties they have had to encounter. If, on lands of this character, 3160 selectors can be found to take up 374,425 acres (or 112 acres each on the average), what might not have been done with the land occupied by the 92 large estates before enumerated (with their area of 2,398,000 acres) under a judicious system of small farm settlement. Remember also that these 92 estates are all picked properties embracing some of the very best agricultural and pastoral land in New Zealand, whilst the poor selectors have to content themselves with the choice between the heavy bush (inaccessible as it is) north of Auckland, the clay hills near Wellington, the "howling wilderness" of swamp near the Bluff, or the Crown Terrace at Cardrona, 2300 feet above the level of the sea! It is also necessary, in reference to these 92 estates, to point out that they bear a very different proportion to the extent of country available for settlement in New Zealand, to what they would do in the United States; there, a block of land of the extent given, would be only the 185th part of the occupied land, and only about the 1100th part of the whole land of the States; whereas, here it represents more than one-seventh of the whole purchased land in New Zealand, and more than one-thirtieth of the entire area of the colony. In reality, the importance of these 2,398,000 acres to New Zealand is relatively much greater than even the above figures indicate, as in the States page 43 there are thousands of square miles of fertile prairie land yet unbought, whereas, here the 14 odd million acres already alienated from the Crown represent almost the whole of the land in the colony that is really fit for agricultural purposes. This proves incontestably that the colony cannot afford to have these large estates locked up from settlement, and consequently remaining almost entirely unproductive in respect of contributions to the colonial revenue, now that so large a proportion of that revenue has to be devoted to meeting the charges on the Government loans; and more especially as the expenditure of the loans on Public Works has been of such great and direct benefit to the owners of those large estates.

But, to come nearer home, I believe that since 1870, for every acre of good land bought in South Canterbury by small farmers, at least five acres have been added to the estates of the runholders. I will give you a rough list of some of the principal estates, with approximate acreages, so that you may judge how this district has been settled. They are:—
New Zealand and Australian Land Company Levels 80,000
New Zealand and Australian Land Company Pareora 20,000
New Zealand and Australian Land Company Hakateramea 30,000
(Late) Rhodes Seadown 10,000
Mr. Hoare Raincliff 15,000
Messrs. Studholme Opuha 15,000
Messrs. Studholme Waimate 45,000
Messrs. Teschemaker Otaio 17,000
Mr. Elworthy Pareora 40,000
Mr. Rhodes Bluecliffs 10,000
Messrs. Parker Waihou 10,000
Mr. Douglas Waihou 10,000
Messrs. Howden & Co. Pudding Hill 20,000
Messrs. Howden & Co. Hakateramea 20,000
Hon. R. Campbell Hakateramea 35,000
Mr. M'Lean Waihou 60,000

These sixteen estates contain about 437,000 acres or an average of over 27,000 each. This land, if cut up into farms of the average size of those in The States would provide homes for 2900 farmers, or with their families and dependents, say 23,200 souls, which is considerably more than the entire population of South Canterbury at the present time. Moreover, these 2,900 farmers would support a small village to, say every 100 farms, or 29 villages in all, each with its church, school, tradesmen's shops, &c. This of course would mean an immense development of the trade and commerce of Timaru, which is now in such a stagnant and depressed condition. Again, take the Oamaru district, there precisely the same state of things exists, and sufficiently accounts for the gloomy state of business affairs there. The Oamaru district is no doubt naturally very rich for its size, though its extent is much smaller than that of the Timaru district. The land is considered page 44 the very finest for wheat growing in all New Zealand, but it is principally held in large estates—viz., those of the New Zealand and Australian Land Company, the Hon. Matthew Holmes, the Hon. Robert Campbell, Messrs. John Reid, of Elderslie, Menlove, of Windsor Park, John M'Lean, and Borton and M'Master, which seven estates, I am told, embrace three-fourths of the best land in the district. In Otago, the price of land was lower than in Canterbury, and I believe the greater part of these Oamaru estates was purchased from the Provincial Government of Otago at £1 per acre. The land regulations had been frequently changed in that province, but the general system was to keep most of the land shut up from sale, but to throw open certain blocks from time to time in what were called hundreds I find, in a debate on the Otago Hundreds Bill, in 1870, that Mr. Bradshaw said "he had listened with a good deal of attention to the remarks of the honourable member with regard to the action taken by himself and the honourable member for Hampden, in 1866. He recollected very well that he and the honourable member for Hampden had opposed the proposal made at that time—that of free selection by purchase of land throughout the Province of Otago at the upset price of thirty shillings per acre. If that proposal had become law at that time he believed the agricultural land of Otago would have fall en into the hands of a few people, as well as the whole of the auriferous land of the country. They had condemned the system, and would do so again. The Colonial Treasurer (Mr. Vogel) would permit the whole territory of Otago, auriferous or otherwise, to fall into the hands of speculators—the whole of the land to fall into the hands of a few private individuals. It would be unwise when they were about to bring in a large number of people, to lock up the land or give one-fourth of the agricultural land in the Province of Otago to a very few people. From a return laid on the table he found that there were only 800,000 acres of agricultural land in the Province of Otago. The present Bill would give 300 squatters 640 acres each, or one-fourth of the whole of the land—that land which ought to be kept for the people coming into the country for settlement. As fast as they brought the people into the country, and as fast as they reduced the rate of wages, they would go away from the colony—they would go to the place where they would receive the best wages."

Mr. Bradshaw, in speaking against the monopoly of the land by the squatters, quoted a remarkable article which had appeared in the London Times, in 1866, on the question of leases for terms of years being given to the Runholders in Victoria, the writer says:—"But it had a still worse collateral result, which nobody seems to have foreseen—it entirely altered the position of the tenant. He could not be dispossessed unless the land he occupied was bought over his head for at least £1 an acre, which in the case of inferior land gave a tenure equal to fee simple * * * * The tenants of the Crown or squatters had been the objects of oppression! A genuine feeling of page 45 sympathy was excited on their behalf, and they employed the feeling with much dexterity, not only to protect themselves from the Government, but to strengthen their own tenure at the expense of their fellow-colonists. Like the Irish tenants-at-will they raised a cry for fixity of tenure, and compensation for improvements, and the Home Government interfered once more, and gave them leases of their lands, varying in duration according to the nearness or remoteness of the site. Thus did the Home Government by these three ill-advised measures, the compulsory raising of the minimum price of Crown land in obedience to what is now the thoroughly exploded theory of "Wakefield; the attempt to raise a revenue by prerogative, and the granting of leases to tenants who had no occasion for improvements, and therefore no intention of making them, raise up a most formidable interest, and place the most serious obstacles in the way of good government in Australia. The mismanagement of the Colonial Office raised up in Australia an Oligarchy of the most irritating and dangerous kind, possessing neither the distinction of worth, of wealth, nor of public service, and yet endowed with public laud, in many places valuable, well situated, and suitable for colonisation, and this in a lavish profusion which no conceivable public services could possibly merit. It is not too much to say that the democratic reaction, which has swept away everything before it, is mainly owing to the inexcusable error of calling into existence a body so peculiarly calculated to excite the envy, and irritate the passion for equality always so powerful in new communities. There is very little doubt that, had the Australian Colonies been independent Republics, instead of dependencies of England, blood would have flowed in a quarrel thus wantonly created * * * No country is safe unless its institutions are under the custody of men who have a permanent interest in its prosperity, of a class not living on wages, but bound to the soil by the ties of family and property. It is this essential condition of good government, which a mistaken policy has so long withheld from Australia."

But to return to Timaru. I firmly believe that at some future time, when our Breakwater and other Harbour Works are completed, and the large estates in the neighbourhood thrown open for settlement, Timaru will be one of the largest and most prosperous cities in New Zealand, from the great extent of fine agricultural land of which it is the natural centre and outlet; but in the meantime its development is retarded by reason of so much of the land in its neighbourhood being monopolised in large blocks, which are now lying comparatively waste and uninhabited.

In my opening remarks I undertook to explain some of the causes which have prevented to a great extent the land of South Canterbury being settled by small farmers, which I will now endeavour to do. In the first place, owing to the remoteness of the district from Christchurch, and its difficulty of access on account of the dangerous rivers (Rakaia and Rangitata), which had to be crossed between it and page 46 that city, the land was granted under Depasturing Licenses in very much larger blocks than prevailed in other parts of New Zealand, though not so large as in some parts of Australia; thus, The Levels Eun (Messrs. Ehodes) embraced 160,000 acres, the Pareora (Messrs. Harris and Innes) 90,000, the Otaio (Messrs. Thompson Bros.) 70,000, the Waimate (Messrs. Studholme Bros.) 130,000, the Waiho (Messrs. Harris and Innes) 60,000, and Messrs. Parker Bros. 90,000; so that nearly the whole coast country from the Opihi to the Waitaki was occupied by six large stations, containing altogether about 530,000 acres. In the interior districts of Australia, country that will carry a sheep to 10 acres is considered very fair, but in the block contained between the above-mentioned rivers the country was capable of carrying on an average 1 sheep to every 2 acres in its native state; so that the original applicants, having taken up the runs at a merely nominal rent, found themselves in a few years possessors of very large flocks of sheep.

Prior to 1870 there were very few small farmers south of the River Selwyn, except around Temuka and Winchester, but about the year 1872 numbers came down from North Canterbury, looking for land, on which the runholders took the alarm, and at once began taking steps to secure their runs in every possible way. Seeing this, the Government ought (in accordance with the warnings of Mr. Stafford, Mr. Fitzherbert, and the other statesmen from whose speeches I have quoted) to have stepped in and reserved the land from sale to the runholders by such stringent regulations as would have secured the actual settlement of the country by a farming population; but unfortunately, the Government acted supinely, and took no steps whatever in that direction, beyond making a few Reserves for Educational purposes, and the consequence was, that within about three years nearly the whole of the 530,000 acres I have mentioned as contained in the six large Coast Runs, passed into private hands, in enormous blocks, and now constitute some of the 16 estates I have enumerated as being amongst the estates of South Canterbury.

This land was virtually given to the runholders, having been bought in a great measure out of the profits made during the previous tenancy at a nominal rent of the land itself, and consequently the holders of the Depasturing Licenses had a great advantage to begin with over any outside buyers. But they had other advantages, viz., that their intimate knowledge of the land and the quality of different parts of it, enabled them to spot it in such a way as to be useless to an outsider; and moreover, the system of Improvement Pre-emptive Eights (which I believe was originally devised by the present Premier the Hon. John Hall, and no other), secured enormous areas of land on each run without the owner having to pay anything at all for it. Thus, for putting up each shepherd's hut (of one room), a 50 acre Pre-emptive Eight was granted, besides a 250 acre Homestead Pre-emptive over the head Station; but worst of all was the system of giving Improvement Pre- page 47 emptive Rights over wire fences, as 50 acres of Pre-emptive was given over every 38¾ chains of wire fence, these Pre-emptives were 38¾ chains long each, and nearly 13 chains wide, so that by running subdivision fences up all the watered valleys, and across all the open flats nearly the whole of the run could be secured from purchase. In two cases in particular in this District, fences were run along the main roads and then Pre-emptives taken out over them in such a way as to secure all the frontage. These fencing Pre-emptives could be taken parallel with the roads, whereas a bonâ fide settler wishing to purchase land, could only front on a road and run 40 chains back; but more than this, he was not allowed to buy within 40 chains of a road unless he fronted on it; so that, by taking a string of Pre-emptives along parallel to a road, the runholder actually secured from purchase 320 acres of land for every mile of fence he erected, at a cost of say £00, whereas the farmer would have to pay £610 in cash for the same amount of land, and then fence it at his own cost. On the Levels Run, the whole frontage on the west side of the main road from the Levels up to Sutherlands, a distance of about 13 miles, was secured in this way, and again on Messrs. Buckley and McLean's Run the whole frontage on the west side of the Main South Road from the Waihou to the Waitaki, about 12 miles, was secured in the same fashion. On one run at least, huts and wire fences were shifted after Pre-emptives had been granted over them, to fresh sites, and then fresh Pre-emptives taken out for them. The total amount of Pre-emptives actually granted was very large, being over 55,000 acres in South Canterbury alone—8,000 odd acres being thus covered on the Levels Station alone, to say nothing of the much larger extent of country indirectly secured by the Pre-emptives as already explained. These 55,000 acres may be said to have been held unbought for 10 years on the average, thus saving the interest on £110,000 annnually to the runholders, and losing the same to the Government. Gridironing you have probably heard a good deal about, but this I consider to have been comparatively harmless; it consisted in buying a series of 20 acre sections fronting five chains on a road and running 40 chains back, leaving 19 acres between each section unbought, as by the regulations no one could buy less than 20 acres without going to auction; this, however, was not very extensively resorted to, as it required too much cash outlay in proportion to results. Spotting however did much more harm, and was resorted to as a matter of course upon every run: this consisted in buying numerous small sections varying from 20 acres to 100 acres or upwards, scattered in such way as to spoil as much as possible of the country for purchase by a farmer or any outsider; frequently these were taken in such a way as to cover all the small creeks in the valleys, thus leaving the adjacent downs and ridges secure from purchase, owing to the lack of water. Shepherds and other employees had ordere to watch strangers seen on the run, and report them at headquarters; and so, many an unfortunate farmer (or would-be farmer), page 48 after wasting days in picking out a suitable selection, has found ongoing to the Land Office that he was too late, and that the piece of land he had chosen had just been secured for the runholder. Altogether, a man wanting a bit of land on which to make his home, had to take as many precautions, and be as much on the alert, as he would in Scotland to stalk a stag in a well preserved deer-forest—so it is no wonder that many abandoned the pursuit in disgust, and left with their little capital for California or some other country, where land was to be more easily obtained. With regard to young men of the higher classes at home coming out with small capitals, they were generally well received and hospitably treated, until they spoke of buying land, when they were quickly made to understand that they would lose caste if they did so; for, incredible as it might sound to American ears, or even in England, a public opinion had grown up, led by the runholders and their friends, that it was a mean action to buy land on a run; and, as the whole country was parcelled out into runs, it followed that a man could not buy land anywhere without offending the prejudices of the runholding class. I have said this may sound incredible, seeing that the colony was originally founded for the purpose of settling the land, yet it is not so when you come to consider how easily public opinion is warped, and guided in a wrong direction, to suit the interests of the leading class in any country, of which I might quote numerous examples. Thus, there are districts in England where snaring a hare is punished with greater severity than kicking a wife nearly to death, or where the shooting of a fox would be thought a worse crime than killing a man in a drunken row. Again, in the Southern States of America public opinion ran far stronger against a man who questioned the right to hold slaves than against one who flogged his slaves to death. Another example I might quote is, that in India, amongst the Thugs, a man is held in honour and estimation according to the number of unsuspecting and inoffensive victims he has murdered by garotting, and we are told that the Thugs actually offer up prayers (with all due formalities), for success before setting out on one of their murdering expeditions. In South Canterbury, as in Hawkes Bay, and doubtless in all other runholding districts of New Zealand and the colonies generally, public opinion had been so warped that the original end and aim of colonisation—viz., the founding of homes for the people, was lost sight of; and the runholders and their managers, so far from being ashamed of the means which they resorted to to obstruct settlement, and circumvent the small farmer (the despised "cockatoo"), rather plumed themselves on the discomfiture of the unfortunate men whose only crime consisted in attempting to get what had been the chief bait held out in inducing them to come to the colony—viz., a piece of land of their own on which they could live and bring up their family at peace with their neighbours; and where their own success and advancement in comfort would contribute to the welfare of the colony they had settled in. I have no hesitation in page 49 saying that in New Zealand, as in other Australian colonies, hundreds, aye, thousands, of promising young men, who, if they had been encouraged to buy land with a view to farming, would have turned out prosperous and successful colonists, have had their whole lives wasted through the fear of being thought to have acted dishonourably in buying land on a run, and sunk at last out of sight as aimless wanderers or improvident "rouseabouts." Young men without professions and unaccustomed to, and often physically unfit for, hard manual labour, have come out to the colonies by hundreds, some without money, others with a few hundreds, or even a thousand or two; but, unless they had enough to buy a share in a run, there was actually no opening for them in these colonies, and they had either to go as cadets on stations, which seldom led to anything, or take a billet on the roads driving sheep or cattle, or even go a step lower, and ship as cook to a party of shearers or bushmen. Their refinement and self-respect was soon lost, and they often ended by becoming the roughest of the rough, and helping to fill our prisons or lunatic asylums. Who that has lived long in the colonies but has met scores or examples of this class, and many of them might have turned out very differently if they had had a little encouragement at first, and could have seen some prospect ahead of acquiring homes of their own, through facilities being given them for buying land. But, even the bullock-drivers and other men employed on the runs were looked upon with suspicion if they saved up their wages, for fear they should buy land on their employer's run or that of one of his friends. The men were encouraged to "knock down" their earnings periodically, for two reasons—first, to keep them in the condition of willing servants, and, secondly, to avoid any risk of their buying land. Men seen on the runs were contemptuously designated "land sharks" by the runholders; but the day will come when public opinion will acknowledge that the real "land sharks" were the runholders themselves, who bought up enormous blocks, not because they wanted to cultivate them themselves, but solely in order to prevent other men getting footing on the soil on which to make homes and rear their children.

On the great arid plains of Australia the squatting system appears to be the only way in which the country can be utilised; but here, in New Zealand, with its fine climate and abundance of water, there can be no doubt that the settlement of the country would have gone on much more rapidly, and on a sounder system, if Depasturing Licenses had never been granted, except on the mountainous parts which are too rugged for agriculture. I really believe that if none had ever been granted, this Colony would by this time have had at least six times its present population, and there would have been few estates much exceeding 1000 acres in extent: nay, more, I believe that there would even have been more cattle and sheep than there are now, as there would have been a rapid increase in the systematic cultivation, and consequently in the carrying capacity of the land from the very first. In page 50 America, there were always "squatters" beyond the very verge of settlement (indeed, it was there the word originated), but they were never allowed to obstruct actual settlement, and had always to move further back before the advancing wave of farmers, so that they were a benefit rather than otherwise to the country; besides, they squatted amongst dangers of all kinds at the daily risk of their lives, and formed a sort of fringe of protection against the Indians to the actual cultivators of the soil. I believe that the presence of wandering tribes of warlike and ferocious Indians in all parts of America at the time of the early settlements there has proved to be the root of the prosperity of the United States, inasmuch as it prevented the monopoly of the land in large estates, held for pastoral purposes, and compelled the settlers to advance steadily, wave by wave, cultivating the soil, and building towns and villages as they reclaimed the wilderness; thus building up a nation on the sure foundation of a numerous and prosperous body of small freeholders.

In this country, I believe it would have proved to [unclear: advantage] of the State to have made free grants of land to bonâ fide farmers and farm labourers in blocks not exceeding 200 acres, with stringent conditions as to residence and improvement, rather than to have sold the land to runholders at £2 per acre, to be locked up as sheep runs; in which state it is of very little more use to the community than when in the hands of the Maoris, it was merely a hunting ground for wild pigs. Latterly, the runholders themselves have admitted the desirability of settlement by farmers, as each one would have been glad to see all his neighbours' runs so settled, provided his own particular block was left intact, as each one is quite alive to the enhanced value given to his own land by the fact of settlement going on around him; in short, he would be only too glad to profit by the "unearned increment" in the value of his own land brought about by the labours of other people. Another point to be remembered is, that though in this Island there was no necessity for mutual protection against the Maoris, owing to the paucity of their numbers, yet the great estates are practically protected against absorption by some foreign Power, not by the expenditure of money or force by their owners, as in feudal times, but by the fact of the Colony having been founded by Great Britain on the assumption that it was to be settled by a numerous population, and therefore that it would be worth her while to take up arms for its protection if necessary. To explain my meaning more clearly, let us suppose that this Island had been sold to three great capitalists, at 1s. per acre, one taking Nelson and Marlborough, another Canterbury, and the third Otago and Southland, and that they used the territories so acquired as sheep runs only, it is obvious they would be quite unable to protect themselves against a single privateer of any foreign Power which could land 100 armed men, and it is equally obvious that they could not expect the British taxpayers to send out a sufficient force to hold the Middle Island for their use and page 51 benefit. Bring this illustration down to the holder of 100,000 acres, and you must admit that it is unfair that his property should be protected by the State without receiving a very large contribution from his own resources. But to return to the system of Land Laws and Regulations here: you must remember, that in the early days the Provincial Councils in all the provinces, except Anckland and Taranaki, were composed mainly of runholders and of those merchants and others who depended chiefly on the runholders, and could not afford to quarrel with them; the farmers were mostly unable to spare the time and money required for attendance at the Council, whereas the squatters, with superior wealth and leisure, had no such difficulty, consequently the whole tendency of the Provincial Legislation naturally was still further to increase the privileges of the runholders and obstruct the advance of the small farmers. The fencing Ordinances, the Impounding Ordinances, and other enactments were all devised with this end in view; take any of these and read them over carefully, and you will see they were framed entirely in the interest of the runholder as against the freeholder. Even the Road Boards were so constituted as to be potent engines for preventing the spread of settlement. The Boards were generally composed of runholders and those immediately under their influence, so the working of the Board tended in this direction. The money was all spent along the main roads where the land had been already secured for the run either by purchase or pre-emptive; care was taken not to open any new block or district, by making a road into it, until it had first been "secured" by the runholders interested. If a "cockatoo" bought fronting on a road which had been merely surveyed and not made, it might be years before he could get his applications attended to, and his land remained in the meantime almost useless to him; whereas, on the other hand, large sums were spent in making roads through the extensive blocks bought up by the runholders for their sheep to run on. I know that in South Canterbury alone there are hundreds of miles of roads formed, and in many cases also metalled, through uninhabited estates, where you may travel for 10, 15, or 20 miles at a stretch without seeing a soul or the least sign of human habitation; and in some cases where no traffic has ever gone over the road except the carts used in its construction, until it has been rendered quite useless by the action of the rain cutting into what had been a road, until it became converted into a small gully. The Lincolnshire Delegates, who travelled through this district in February 1880, were struck by nothing that they saw more than by the numerous and expensive roads which they found ramifying in all directions, and which they said were even better than they had been accustomed to see in some parts of England. You can travel here for hours together, without seeing a solitary human form, over infinitely better roads than those which in Wales or Devonshire would lead through a district of small farms, with good sized villages at page 52 intervals of every two or three miles. When you consider that these very roads were all made during the height of the good times, when pick and shovel men were getting 10s. to 12s. per day, it is easy to understand what large sums were lavished in their construction, and also that no system of rating will suffice to keep them all in efficient repair in the future unless the rural population should become much more numerous than it now is. Again, the system of rating adopted by the Road Boards told against settlement, as under it good land, if left unfenced and uncultivated, was let off at a very low valuation, whilst similar land under cultivation had to pay on an excessive valuation. The rates on the leaseholds (runs) were most trifling, being based on the rental paid by the runholders; thus leasehold land was charged 1s. in the £ on, say 2d. per acre rental, whilst the same land on being bought would be rated as being worth from 5s. to 11s. per acre. Another anomalous regulation was, that though the runholder's stock could graze with impunity on a man's freehold block until he had ring-fenced it, yet the freeholder's stock could be impounded the moment they trespassed on the leasehold of the runholder, though altogether unfenced.

The numerous Reserves made by the Provincial Government for Educational purposes, and, which from a farmer's point of view might be said to be "saved from the wreck," as giving a chance to outsiders to obtain farms, were frequently let to runholders on whose runs they were, for 14 years at a low rental, thus spoiling the last chance of "settlement" on the run. Again, in a good many cases where small farmers have succeeded in getting footing on the runs and making little homes for their families, the runholders by buying up the mortgages over the farms, or other means, have managed to dispossess them; thus, it is no uncommon sight in riding through the country to see a clump of trees and a ruined garden, marking what had once been the house of a cottager and his family, but which is now absorbed into the great sheep paddocks of his wealthy neighbour. Of course, no law can prevent any man from buying out his poorer neighbours, but it is, looking at it from the lowest point of view, short-sighted policy on the part of the capitalist, who overlooks the fact that in his greed for more land he is removing the very class of small freeholders who serve, so to speak, as buffers between the great freeholders and the democratic element in the large towns; and there can be no doubt that but for the mistaken support of the small freeholders (who had been deluded into the idea that their interests were identical with those of the great landed proprietors) the Hall Ministry would never have got into Office at all. Again, there can be no doubt that the monopoly of nearly all the land fit for farming in the hands of a few large holders, at the time when, consequent on the influx of enormous sums of Loan-Money, many people were both able and eager to buy land, led to the "land mania" or rush for land at fictitiously high prices, which has proved so disastrous to New Zealand generally, and more especially so page 53 in this District of South Canterbury. If the land had been reserved by Government for bonâ fide settlement, and taken up by farmers at £2 per acre as they required it for actual use, the great majority of them would have been able to pull through the crisis in spite of low prices of grain; but having bought farms at from £10 to £15 per acre on deferred payments, the greater number have had to throw up their purchases, and sacrifice the instalments already paid. The drain on the resources of the colony by reason of the instalments falling due on such blocks as Kingsdown, Pareora, and The Totara, where sections sold from £15 up to £27 per acre, is now keenly felt, and will continue to be so for several years to come, as the money has to be found and remitted to England, to be distributed there instead of in the Colony.

In order to bring home to you practically the effects of the squatting system on individual interests, and, as a consequence, on the interests of the colony, let me suppose the case of three young men (whom we will call Smith, Brown, and Robinson) arriving in New Zealand, say twenty-five years ago, with equal capital (which we will put at £2000 each) and equal abilities and advantages of education, &c. Let Smith take up a run, Brown buy a farm, and Robinson go into the Government service, and let us sketch, by way of contrast, their subsequent careers. Well then, Smith, soon after his arrival, is advised to take up a run, and manages to secure a block of 50,000 acres of Crown land previously unapplied for, and consisting chiefly of low hills and undulating downs at a nominal rent. He lays out his money in the purchase of a small flock of ewes, a horse or two, and a couple of bullocks for draught purposes. He at once realises that, being a squatter, he is hedged round with privileges, and that the most able men in the Provincial Council, being also squatters, are constantly looking after his interests in common with their own. He puts up a hut, and fences in a small horse paddock, and immediately applies for a homestead pre-emptive right of 250 acres, which is at once granted to him without any payment whatever. As his sheep increase he puts up two or three one-roomed out-huts on different parts of his run, and gets a fifty acre pre-emptive over each of them, also without payment. Next he erects a boundary fence of wire, and applies for a long string of pre-emptives over the same. These he also gets granted him without payment, at the rate of fifty acres for every 38¾ chains of fence. By degrees, as years go on, he erects division fences across his run in various directions, taking care to run the fences as much as possible up his best valleys and through his best flats, and over all these he is granted, still without payment, other strings of pre-emptives. By this time he has secured about 3,000 acres of his run directly by holding pre-emptive rights over that acreage, but indirectly these pre-emptives secure about another 6,000 acres of country from purchase, by spoiling the frontages, taking up the water rights, or in other ways taking advantage of the Land Regulations. His flocks have now become numerous, as his country is naturally splendidly grassed. There is no native population to contend against, and there are no wild page 54 animals to molest his sheep. The climate is one of the healthiest in the world, and he has actually no dangers to encounter except the risk of being drowned in some flooded river, and, as he has plenty of good horses, this risk is much less than that incurred by the poor "swagger" tramping wearily in search of employment. Well, at the end of fifteen years Smith's bales of wool are numbered by hundreds, and he begins to think of securing the run effectually against all comers. He accordingly spots it wherever it is likely that farmers would buy, and where it is not already spoiled by his pre-emptive rights. He takes care to buy small sections along all the water-courses on the run in such a way as to prevent any "cockatoo" getting a block with water on it for his cows and horses; and if some hardy farmer manages to get hold of a hundred acres or so on the run, he immediately buys all round him, so as to block him from making further purchases or inducing friends to come and settle beside him. But even while thus blocking the poor "cockey," as he contemptuously calls him, our astute friend is careful to leave a narrow strip of Crown land intervening between his land and the "cockatoo's," so as to shirk having to pay half the cost of the latter's fence, which he would have to do if he actually joined him. But, the railway having been by this, time commenced under Sir Julius Vogel's scheme, Smith finds that, in spite of all his vigilance, two or three small farmers have managed to creep in and get hold of small sections on his run, so he thinks it best to make a clean sweep before the nuisance spreads (on the same principle that he makes strenuous efforts to exterminate rabbits, or eradicate Scotch thistles when first seen on the run), so he proceeds to raise a large loan, which he finds no difficulty in doing on the security of the land itself and his stock, and forthwith his run becomes transformed into a freehold estate, with the exception of the 3,000 acres of pre-emptive previously mentioned, which can still be held unbought for a few years longer. Smith has by this time been called to the Upper House as one of the landed aristocracy of the colony, and is accordingly entitled to affix the letters M.L.C. to his signature. He is also a J.P., Chairman of his local Road Board, Licensing Commissioner, &c., &c., &c., and he is held up to the admiring gaze of each newly-arrived "new chum" as an example of the success attending conspicuous merit in the Colonies, though he has never, in the course of the whole twenty-five years he has lived here, made the smallest sacrifice of either time or money for the benefit of his fellow-colonists;, and though the service he has rendered his adopted country during that time is confined to his having imported half a dozen Merino rams at £50 each—which, by the bye, turned out a most profitable spec' for him by his yearly sales of young stock from them—and in having succeeded in maintaining as a solitude for his flocks to ramble over, a block of land that, under a proper system of settlement, would have furnished homes and means of comfort and independence to some three hundred families of his fellow-countrymen.

So much for Smith, now let us turn to the case of Brown, who o page 55 his arrival here 25 years ago was advised to go in for a freehold farm with his £2000, and who accordingly bought 500 acres of good land on the plains, which was then to be had at £2 per acre. After paying £1000 for this land, he found he would have to fence it substantially on account of the mobs of cattle belonging to the local runholder. As there were no roads, and timber was very scarce, his ring fence, and a few interior paddock fences, ran away with £500, so that by the time he had bought a team of horses, the necessary farm implements, and a few cows, and put up a small cottage and stable, his capital was exhausted, and he had to trust to his first crop to keep things going; labour was expensive and difficult to obtain, a nor'-wester came and threshed out some of his grain before he could cut it, and he began to find that farming in the colony was rather a precarious pursuit. However, he succeeded in borrowing enough money (though at high interest) to keep him afloat, and by dint of thrifty industry and self denial, he has just managed to keep his head above water ever since; the great rise in the value of land, consequent on the increase of settlement around him, and the inauguration of the Railway Policy, having at length enabled him to sell 200 acres of his land at a price sufficient to clear the remainder from debt; he now finds himself the owner of a 300 acre farm, and the father of a large family, and wondering what on earth he is to do with his boys, who have all been brought up to practical farming, and who are steady and industrious, but for whom, after careful search and enquiries, he cannot find any Government land worth having for farming purposes throughout the whole extent of the Middle Island, and he is consequently beginning to think seriously—old as he is—of selling out, and moving with his whole family to the North Western States of America, where he hears there are vast tracts of good land to be sold at about a dollar an acre, and moreover where the farmer is welcomed as being in truth the very backbone of the country, and the mainstay of its prosperity; there he hopes his numerous sons will all be able to found new homes for themselves, though it is not without many a pang he tears himself away from this beautiful climate to face the cold of an American winter, or admits to himself the necessity he is under to exchange the Flag of Old England, for the "Stars and Stripes."

But, poor Robinson, who chose a career in the Government service has fared still worse in life. Twenty-five years ago he obtained a billet at £300 a year, being about twice what he would have had for the same work in England, and was thought by his friends very fortunate. He soon afterwards got married, spent his capital in building and furnishing a house, and then his troubles began. He found that the price of everything he had to buy (excepting meat) was much higher than in England, servants' wages more than double, and so on. He soon found he had some difficulty in making both ends meet. However, as his family increased, he also received a slight increase of salary, and managed to get along pretty well till the crisis of 1879, when, owing to a breach of faith on the part of his banker, he page 56 had to choose the alternative of sacrificing his house at half its value or borrowing on it at exorbitant interest, and chose the latter. This year (1880) he received an intimation from the Government that owing to the necessity for retrenchment his services will be dispensed with. He gets a year's salary as compensation, and is thrown on the world to find a living as best he can for himself and his large family, having spent the whole prime of his life in the Government service, and being now in a great measure incapacitated from age and ill-health from commencing in a new path with any chance of success. To add to his bitterness, he feels that the department he was employed in ought to have needed increase rather than reduction, if the population of the colony had increased to the extent he had been in the habit of calculating on, on the assumption that actual settlement was rapidly going on; but he now finds out, on investigation, that though there has been such a large influx of immigrants during the last eight or ten years, they have not settled in the country districts, for the simple reason that they found that there was no Government land left for them to settle on, and the prices asked by the large estate-holders for portions of land suitable for farming were altogether hopelessly beyond the resources of men of the labouring or small farming classes to give; the consequence being, that the would-be settlers have become discontented wanderers, precisely as predicted by Mr. Stafford in the speech before quoted. However, sir, I consider that the fate of the large estates of New Zealand is already sealed by reason of the enormous amount of indebtedness, public and private, now overhanging the colony. Without the breaking up of these estates into farms of moderate size, and the consequent increase of the producing population, it appears to me that it will be simply a matter of impossibility for us to keep up the payments of interest falling due for any length of time. I will now proceed to give you some figures taken from various printed returns, which, I think, will prove the position I have taken up. The population of the colony at the time of the last census in 1878, was 414,000, excluding Maoris. Of these only 119,000 were males between the ages of twenty and sixty, leaving 295,000 souls more or less dependent on these 119,000—viz., 76,000 women, 215,000 children and young people under twenty-one, and about 4,000 men over sixty. Allowing for the increase up to 1880, we may put down the population at 450,000, and the number of men between the ages of twenty and sixty as 130,000, inclusive of the prisoners in our gaols, the invalids in our hospitals, the lunatics in our asylums, and other non-producers. The interest and sinking fund on the public debt is put down as £1,535,000 per annum, to meet which involves a tax of about £11 15s. per head on the 130,000 men. But, there is the whole Government expenditure other than the interest on the debt to be provided for. I find that n the Appropriation Act for 1880-81 this is set down at £1,868,000, io which amount £604,000 is expenditure on public works. Deducting this item, and allowing £100,000 for reductions effected during the page 57 recess, we have left a sum of £1,164,000 to be provided for. You may say that the 10 per cent, reduction alone would amount to more than £100,000, but we must remember that the 10 per cent, extends only to salaries, and not to such items as pensions, postal subsidies, and other fixed amounts. I have left out of the question the profit on the working of the railways after paying expenses, say about £200,000 per annum, because I assume that at least that sum would be required for absolutely necessary public works, such as roads, bridges, and public buildings, and for the maintenance, removal, and repair of railways and telegraph lines now in use. Well, this Government expenditure of £1,640,000 means a further tax of £8 5s. per head on each of the 130,000 men in the Colony, which, added to the £11 15s. on account of interest, makes exactly £20 per head. Can this amount he provided out of indirect taxation? I do not see how it will be possible. But beyond all this, there are other heavy drains upon the resources of the community to be provided for. We have to allow for the interest on the loans of the municipalities and other public bodies. I find from a published return that up to 31st March, 1880, sixty-five boroughs had borrowed £1,597,000, at an average interest of 6 per cent., probably this sum has been largely increased since, as I find it had increased by no less than £394,000 during the twelve months ended 31st March, 1880, having stood at £1,203,000 the previous year. At any rate we know of £60,000, being the Timaru water loan, which was not included in the return; this makes it £1,657,000 at least, which entails the finding of another £83,000 per annum, putting the interest at only 5 per cent. Next there are the loans of the different Harbour Boards, of which I can find no return, but which must amount to a large sum in the aggregate, that of Lyttelton alone being £200,000; but this item being uncertain, we will leave out altogether. But, beyond all this, we have to take into account the private debts due to outside creditors by individual members of the community. I find from a return that the amount secured on mortgage, under the Land Transfer Act, On 30th June, 1879, was no less a sum than £9,651,000 (of which Canterbury province alone contributed £4,386,000). This item had increased by £2,607,000 during the twelve months ended 30th June, 1879, and it seems probable that nearly as large an increase has taken place again during the twelve months ended 30th June, 1880. Then, there are also the mortgages under the old system, and which are not under the Transfer Act, but of the amount of these I can find no return. At any rate we may assume that the total amount of money borrowed on mortgage at the present time is at the very least £12,000,000. If these sums had been borrowed from persons residing within the Colony the amount might have been left out as immaterial to these calculations, but we know that the greater portion of it must be English money borrowed through the several great loan companies, or through private agencies; we may therefore safely put down the amount borrowed from persons outside the Colony at £8,000,000 at the least, and the interest as averaging 8 per cent.; this page 58 will entail the finding of £640,000 annually in the shape of interest. Still, beyond this, we have to take into consideration the large sums payable to the different Banks as discounts and interest on advances, which are chiefly distributed and spent in England in the form of dividends and bonuses. From a return I find that, on the the 30th June, 1879, the total advances by all the Banks in New Zealand reached the enormous sum of £14,017,000, the deposits at the same date standing at £7,904,000. As most of the Banks hare head offices in London, it is difficult to arrive at the balance against the public of New Zealand, as probably a large share of the deposits are made in the London offices, and the advances are made chiefly in the colony; but to be on the safe side we will assume that both deposits and advances are made in the Colony and, deducting the former from the latter, we arrive at a balance of £6.113,000 against the public; this sum at 8 per cent, would mean £489,000 payable to the Banks in the shape of interest. But there is yet another, and that a very heavy drain upon the resources of New Zealand, which we must not lose sight of, but of which there are no statistics available. I mean the large sums yearly remitted, in the form of wool or other produce, for the benefit of absentee proprietors. Take, for example, the 340,000 acres belonging to the New Zealand and Australian Land Company, the whole of the profits of these runs, after paying working expenses, are remitted Home and spent in England or Scotland by the individuals who form the proprietory—or rather, I should say, not the profits merely, but the whole produce of the land except what is distributed in the colony in the form of wages or on materials for improvements. Then, there are several other companies in Great Britain holding large properties in New Zealand, notably the Waimea Plains Company which holds no less than 170,000 acres of freehold agricultural land in the Mataura district of Southland, and to whose railway scheme the Hall Government lent their assistance at the very time they were railing against the Grey Government for their so-called reckless extravagance. Again, there are sundry wealthy individuals (such as Messrs Clifford and Weld) deriving large revenues from estates in New Zealand, and spending the money in England or elsewhere outside the colony. However, leaving all these uncertain items out of the question, let us add together the sums which we know have to be provided, and I think we shall find it quite sufficiently alarming; they are—
Government Debt, say £30,000,000 Interest and Sinking Fund, £1,535,000
Municipal Loans, 1,657,000 Interest 83,000
Mortgages due to English capitalists, say 8.000,000 Interest 640,000
Debts due to Banks less deposits, 6,113,000 Interest 489,000
Total indebtedness, £45,770,000 Total interest, £2,747,000
Add Government expenditure (without Public Works), 1,164,000
Total amount to be provided annually £3,911,000
page 59
Dividing this by 130,000 (the number of men between twenty and sixty) we arrive at the conclusion that each man has to find annually £30. Though New Zealand, we all admit, has large resources, I am very doubtful if it will prove to be possible to find so large a sum as £3,911,000 every year. The exports of wool for the year 1879 amounted to £3,126,000 for the whole Colony, and of grain to £688,000, so that together they would be about £100,000 short of the amount required. The total exports for 1879, including gold, Kauri gum, and all other items, amounted to £5,667,000, so that after paying the outgoings there would be only a surplus of some £1,750,000 left towards paying for our imports which amounted to £8,755,000 in 1878 and £8,373,000 in 1879, and this is supposing that public works were entirely stopped throughout the Colony, except to the extent of the surplus railway revenue. Let us put the case in another form; the capital sums due amount altogether, as we have shown, to £45,770,000. Assuming the white population to be now 450,000, this shows over £100 of indebtedness for every man, woman, and child in the Colony (roughly, two-thirds public debt and one-third private indebtedness). Contrast this with the United States, where the Government debt was only £15 10s. per head of population in 1866, after paying for the great Civil War, and it has since been reduced to £8 10s. per head, with every prospect of extinguishing it altogether within another twenty years, as the interest is diminishing every year whilst the population is rapidly increasing. No less than £13,000,000 of the debt was paid off during the twelve months ended 30th of June, 1880, and according to the special correspondent of the Otago Witness the Government is now paying off the debt at the rate of £3,000,000 a month. In a recent publication, there is given a table showing the public debts of different countries and colonies, and also the amount raised by taxation in each, and these tables will be found useful for enabling us to appreciate the real weight of the burden under which the colonists of New Zealand will in future have to stagger:—
The Public Debt of the United Kingdom is £23 4 0 per head
The Public Debt France 25 8 0 per head
The Public Debt Canada 7 15 0 per head
The Public Debt Western Australia 6 11 0 per head
The Public Debt Tasmania 15 16 0 per head
The Public Debt New South Wales 16 16 0 per head
The Public Debt Victoria 19 7 0 per head
The Public Debt South Australia 21 8 0 per head
The Public Debt Queensland 42 8 0 per head
The Public Debt New Zealand 62 13 0 per head
The taxation is given as follows, viz.:—
United Kingdom (including local taxation) £2 18 0 per head
Canada 1 2 0 per head
United States 1 12 0 per head
New South Wales 1 18 0 per head
Victoria 1 19 0 per head
Queensland 3 7 0 per head
New Zealand 5 1 0 per head
page 60

It will be seen, therefore, that in both these lists this Colony holds an unenviable pre-eminence.

But in comparing our position with that of the United States, it must be borne in mind that the greater part of the American National Debt is now held by American capitalists, so that the interest is retained in the country; whereas, nearly the whole of our debt is due to English capitalists, consequently, the interest will have to be sent out of the colony every year, and no part of it will be spent here. The plain fact of the matter is, that the Government of New Zealand have attempted (in spite of the warnings of Mr. Stafford and the other speakers I have quoted from), to perform an absolute impossibility, viz.. to spend £20,000,000 reproductively in a country with a population only sufficient to justify a fourth of that expenditure. We, or rather our Landowning Rulers have attempted to combine the advantages enjoyed by pastoral races of people—viz., extensive tracts of land for their flocks and herds to roam over undisturbed by the conflicting interests of a settled population—with the advantages of an old and densely peopled country, viz., good roads in all directions, and a system of railways, telegraphs, and other modern luxuries adapted for and only justified by a dense population. The two conditions are antagonistic, and cannot be made to harmonise, they never have done so yet, and never will in any country. It is a well-known fact, that the purely pastoral countries of the world (in Central Asia, for instance), have remained in the same condition with regard to roads and other concomitants of civilisation as they were in the days of Abraham! The really good land fit for grain growing within the colony is very limited in extent, and scattered in patches widely apart through both Islands, but the bulk of it, being in the Provinces of Canterbury and Otago; so that to render a large scheme of Immigration and Public Works really successful, every acre fit for cultivation ought to have been reserved by Government from the very first promulgation of the policy, for actual settlement, in moderate-sized farms with numerous village centres; instead of which, I believe, that fully three-fourths of the good land is held in large estates, and consequently, those farmers who were too late to get a share of the other fourth, have had to content themselves with getting patches of inferior land, such as shingly plains, sandy river-beds, or steep hill-sides, or go without altogether. Upon this inferior land they now find to their cost that it is impossible to compete successfully as wheat-growers with the innumerable small holders of the good prairie lands of the United States; and, on the other hand, they find it equally impossible to compete as stock raisers with the holders of the large estates of picked land in this colony.

And here, I would say, that, under the existing order of things, it is, in my opinion, only a question of time for all the small holders of grazing land in New Zealand to be crushed out by the competition of the large holders. This process has been going on rapidly during the page 61 last two years, assisted by the arbitrary action of some of the Banks, who have suffered the small holders to succumb to the times by hundreds, whilst assisting the great holders, to the utmost of their resources, to tide over the financial crisis brought about by the failure of the Glasgow Bank; and this policy, all now admit, to have been suicidal on the part of the Banks in their own interest. It is obvious that the owner of 30,000 or 40,000 acres of good land bought from Government at £2 per acre (if in Canterbury, or at 10s. or £1 an acre in the other provinces), can afford to under-sell in the Stock Market either the farmer paying a rent of from 10s. to £1 an acre for good land, or the owner of a few hundred acres of inferior land bought from Government at the same prices that the picked land was obtained for. Thus, if there had been no outside debt to disturb the course of affairs, in the course of a generation or two the rural population would have become divided into two classes only, as was truly pointed out by Sir George Grey—viz., an enormously wealthy class of large landed proprietors, few in number, but having unlimited power in the control of the affairs of State, and a class of agricultural labourers, numerous indeed, but possessing no political power, and in condition little if any better off than their brethren in England. In fact, I question whether the farm labourer in England is not better off in some respects even now than he is here. There, at least in the southern counties, he generally has a neat little cottage and garden, with enough ground to keep a cow or a pig or two. His children look healthy and happy in the green lanes; he has his allowance of beer or cider every day; should sickness occur, he and his family are generally well looked after by the ladies of the parish, and his medicine found by the parish doctor, and in old age, if worst comes to the worst, he has the Union or often a comfortable Almshouse to fall back on. Hero he has to tramp long distances from one station to another in search of employment, and when he gets it, he has either to camp in a tent or be crowded with ten or a dozen other men in a rough men's hut with no garden or trees to shelter it from the hot sun; he is often thrown out of employment altogether during the winter, when, let him be ever so careful, his summer earnings melt away long before the next busy season comes round; he is generally unable to marry because he can find no home up country for his wife; and no provision whatever is made by the State for his old age, when past work. No doubt some of my opponents will argue that the competition amongst the farmers would have been more severe if the land had been in small holdings. I believe, however, it would not really have been so, for in that case the mere numbers of the rural population would have caused the towns to grow to three or four times their present size, and industries and manufactories of all kinds would have started into existence, which are now not attempted, for the simple reason that the country population is not sufficiently numerous to render the chance of success certain or even probable. We should then have had good page 62 markets within the colony for the productions of our small farms, instead of having, as now, to rely almost exclusively on the precarious profits of an export trade. I have no hesitation in asserting that at the present time most of the towns of New Zealand are altogether overgrown in proportion to the numbers of the surrounding rural population. Three or four years ago, when the large land-holders in South Canterbury were in haste to get their best lands laid down in English grass, extensive areas were let for cropping, generally two crops being allowed, to practical men owning teams of their own. Grain was then realising fairly remunerative prices, and a great amount of temporary prosperity in the district was created by the operations of these men. Now, much of the land has been laid down in pasture, and cropping given up, the consequence being, that numbers of ploughmen and other labourers have been thrown out of employment, farm horses have been sold off in such numbers as to have depreciated enormously in value, and the grain traffic on the railways is also materially diminishing. A further result must be a falling off in the customs revenue in the grain-growing parts of the colony, caused partly by the diminution in the number of labourers employed, and partly by the diminution in the earnings of those still in employment, but at lower wages than those ruling a year or two ago. In a recent copy of the London Times it was mentioned that, owing to the acreage in wheat in the eastern counties of England having fallen off to the extent of nearly 1,000,000 acres during the last ten years, the rural population of those counties had diminished to the extent of nearly 500,000 souls during the same period; that is to say, the people having failed to find employment in their customary country avocations, had been forced into the manufacturing districts in large numbers. In this colony, unfortunately, the working classes have very little in the shape of factories to fall back upon if country labour fails them, and I assert that it is hopeless to expect that capitalists will start anything of the kind, so long as the bulk of the land is locked up in large estates, thereby precluding all hope of a local sale for the products of the factories—in short, until the land is really settled by a permanent population it is mere waste of time and money appointing commissions on local industries, and a farce offering bonuses as an inducement towards the establishment of factories of any kind. For instance, take the flour-mills in Timaru and Oamaru, which were built in the prosperous times on the assumption that the country districts around those towns were being actually settled, and that therefore population would rapidly increase, they are now either shut up altogether or hardly paying working expenses, and why? because settlement was frustrated by the squatters, and consequently business of all kinds instead of expanding, as was naturally expected by the enterprising firms who spent their capital in erecting those mills, has rather shown a contraction—in short, they were misled by the fictitious appearance of prosperity produced during the cropping page 63 era, and now find out, when it is too late, that they are years in advance of the present requirement of the districts. The same circumstance of course affects the railways, public buildings, and other works carried out by the Government, and which were calculated for the requirements of a country thickly settled by farmers, rather than for the solitudes of the large estates. Let us turn to the example of other countries. It is well known that Trance is now the most prosperous nation in Europe, and many writers attribute the fact to the possession of the soil of France by over 5,000,000 small freeholders, consequently the great bulk of the rural population is frugal, industrious, contented, and ardently patriotic. So evident is this to statesmen that the Prussian Government is now doing all it possibly can to facilitate the subdivision of the soil of that country auto small freeholds on the French plan; and, even in England, many able writers are now advocating the adoption of some similar system, seeing how more and more unequal becomes the competition with the American producers of grain and meat, and taking warning by the terrible example afforded by Ireland of the evil effects of large estates and absentee proprietors. Look at the history of the United States, which country has achieved its present greatness amongst nations, owing chiefly to the fact that from the very first nearly every man who went there did so with the fixed idea of founding a home for himself and his children, and not merely with the idea of making money, and then returning to spend it in England. Read the history of early settlement in America, and what do we find? That the people had literally to fight their way inch by inch in subduing the wilderness. Settling in dense forests, and with a long and severe winter to contend with, they lived hard and frugal lives, importing little or nothing, and subsisting almost entirely on the produce of their own small farms. They had to contend with wolves, bears, and other noxious animals inhabiting the woods; but, worse than all, they were surrounded by bands of savage Indians, ready at any time to attack them, so that they had literally to till their fields with their rifles beside them, and carve homes for their families out of the forest, with their lives in their hands. Yet, in spite of all the hardships they endured, they were ready at the call of patriotism to lay down their lives for their adopted country, and, with a population of only 3,000,000, they were able to resist successfully the whole power of England, and to found a nation which already has a larger white population than Great Britain and all her colonies combined. Contrast the progress of population in the United States with that in the Australian Colonies. These colonies owe their origin to the settlement of New South Wales in 1788, and by 1820 the population was about 30,000. In the fifty years which had elapsed between that date and 1870, the whole population of the entire group of colonies, including Tasmania and New Zealand, had not reached a total of 2,000,000; whereas, in the same fifty years, the single State of Illinois, with an area only half that of New page 64 Zealand, had increased in population from 55,000 to 2,539,000, and a similar wonderful increase had taken place in many of the other States, notably Ohio, Michigan, and Missouri, which three States together had increased from 45,000 to 5,570,000 in the same fifty years. Again, the small state of Iowa, only two-thirds of the size of New Zealand, possessed only 95,000 inhabitants when admitted to the Union in 1846, and had increased to 2,000,000 by 1880, being about four times the present population of this colony—after all the large sums we have lavished in promoting immigration. There can be no doubt whatever that this striking difference in the rate of increase is due in a great measure to the different systems of land regulations, those in the States holding out every possible inducement for the settlement of the immigrants on the land, and those in these colonies obstructing such settlement as far as possible in the interests of the stockowners. No other explanation of the difference is sufficient, for, you must remember, that practically those Western States were more remote and difficult of access forty years ago than these colonies are now, whilst here we have the advantage of a far more genial and healthy climate, owing to the absence of the long and severe American winter; and, moreover, we have had the advantage of the stimulating effects of rich gold discoveries in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania, and New Zealand, whilst the five States quoted above have had nothing but their agriculture to depend on for their wealth and progress.

Now, let us consider the Land System of these colonies. Study the history of the Feudal System of Europe in the Middle Ages, and you will see so many points of resemblance between that system and the squatting system of the colonies, that squatting might be described as feudalism modified to suit peaceable times instead of warlike times. Thus, under the feudal system, the king, who was considered absolute owner of all the soil of his kingdom, granted large tracts to his different barons, in consideration of their rendering him assistance in time of war, or at other times contributing in money towards his personal expenses; but the barons soon acquired such great power as to be able to claim their lands as freehold, and hand them down from father to son. In these colonies the land was granted by the Colonial Governments in large tracts to the squatters, subject to a merely nominal rent, and the privileges attached to the possession of the runs were so great as soon to enable them to be converted into freeholds.

The "Head Station," with its group of huts for the dependents, takes the place of the old Feudal "Castle" with its adjacent village, and the ancient hostility shown by the Lord of the Manor to poachers and other intruders on his domain, finds its equal in these colonies in the stern determination to exclude cockatoos from the run, and so preserve its solitude unbroken for the benefit of the flocks and herds of the runholder. But, there is one important particular in which the page 65 system in these colonies is worse than the old Feudal System ever was, and that is, in the absence of provision for the family life of dependents. Under the old Feudal system the retainers and dependents of the Lord of the Manor were allowed land to cultivate for their own use and that of their families; it is true, the men had to fight when required by their lord, but he on the other hand was held bound to protect them and their families against all hostile comers; hence, in the course of a generation or two a strong mutual attachment sprang up, and the vassals were just as ready to lay down their lives in defence of their lord, as they were to do so in defence of their country against any foreign invader. In the colonies, you find on an average station from 15 to 20 men, shepherds, bullock drivers, fencers, and others, but generally only one or two women, and family life is almost universally discouraged. The stereotyped advertisment, "Wanted for a Station, a married couple without encumbrance," sufficiently indicates the feelings shown. If one of the hands on a station is rash enough to marry, he generally has to betake himself to the towns or farming districts to look for work; or perhaps he settles in the suburbs of some small town, and goes away from home every summer for the shearing and harvesting, earning, it is true, good wages for sis months, on which he and his family have to subsist during the sis months in which little or no work is obtainable. All thinking men must admit this to be an undesirable and unnatural system. Can we wonder that some of the wives take to drunkenness and other vices, during the long absence of their natural protectors, or that the children, being neglected and beyond the control of their mother as they grow up, develop into larrikinism? The other day the Government complained that Burnham, and the other Reformatories are already inconveniently full, and for this state of things I believe that the Colonial system of employing labour is in a great measure responsible. Another evil of the system is, that many of the men having to live for months together away from their wives and families, lose their natural home-loving instincts, and get educated, so to speak, up to the point of deserting them altogether—an evil now so commonly complained of in all parts of the colonies. There is still another evil brought about by the above state of things, which is a great lack of young men growing up in the country, fit to take a position as farm labourers, as the lads brought up on the streets of the cities are useless as ploughmen and ignorant as to the care of live stock; whilst there are very few girls growing up who are likely to turn out good dairy-maids or domestic servants on farms, the town bred girls aspiring to be shop-girls and barmaids. This evil is beginning to be complained of even in England at the present time, and is one which will be seriously felt here now that the immigration of farm labourers and country girls from Britain is almost at a stand-still.

However, there are of course stations and stations. As typical examples of squatting under its most beneficial aspect, I might mention page 66 Mount Peel and the Orari Gorge Stations. Here we see large tracts of rugged mountainous country, only a very small portion of which is fit for cultivation, held by the descendants of the old landed families of England, who have been trained up in the traditions of the duties and responsibilities of proprietorship, which have been thus defined by the celebrated Dr. Johnson, "a man of family and estate ought to consider himself as having charge of a district, over which he is to diffuse civility and happiness." You see scattered around the head stations little comfortable cottages, each with its neat garden, and upon enquiry you find that the married shepherds, ploughmen, gardeners, and others, live in these and bring up their families in comfort. At Mount Peel Station, there is a handsome little stone church built by the proprietor, in which every Sunday the men with their wives and children assemble for worship, service being held at intervals by a regular clergyman, and at other times by a lay-reader. On both of these stations the proprietors themselves reside permanently, having large families and households, so that the evils of absenteeism are avoided, and the children brought up in the country acquire a patriotic love for their native land.

It is only on stations managed on these principles that anything akin to village life in England is possible, where it is no uncommon thing to find servants who have been their whole lives in the service of one family, and perhaps their fathers before them; whilst, on stations generally in the Colonies, the hands are constantly being changed, and there is no sort of cohesion or kindly fellow-feeling between the different classes composing the rural population.

At the opposite extreme of station life in New Zealand I should place the stations held by the New Zealand and Australian Land Company and the other large Absentee Companies holding properties in New Zealand. Here you have enormous blocks of good agricultural land held merely as a speculation by absentees belonging to the commercial classes, and consequently, without any of the traditional sense of their responsibilities which I have above alluded to. It is well-known that the large investments made in New Zealand land by the Company, under the auspices of Mr. Morton, was one of the principal causes of the disastrous failure of the notorious Glasgow Bank—an event which carried ruin and misery into thousands of previously happy homes; and which failure also indirectly brought on the Financial Crisis in this colony, which has caused such irretrievable disaster here also. Well, the lands of these Companies are held merely as a speculation, with a view to being ultimately cut up and sold to colonists at an enormous advance on the price originally paid to Government; but, in the meantime, the prosperity of the present population is undoubtedly injuriously affected by the locking up of these lauds by absentee proprietors, who only seek for the largest possible return from the estates, in order to spend the proceeds in Scotland or England. Take the Levels Estate of 80,000 acres as an page 67 instance. I believe the progress of Timaru has been materially checked by reason of the way in which this fine block of land in its immediate neighbourhood is held closed against population; and in this and similar cases, it is open to argument whether Mr. Stafford's remedy of the resumption of land by the State on payment of compensation would not be justifiable in the interests of the community at large. Some few years ago there was apparently much progress in the Point District, owing to the cropping which was then going on on the Levels Run, preparatory to laying down the land in English grass; hut, at the present time, you may get on to this estate, within a few miles of Timaru, and ride through great paddocks of English grass for 10 or 15 miles at a stretch, without seeing a human being, or anything more to remind you of human life than an occasional deserted sod hut falling to ruins. The township of Morton and other townships were laid off, and sections sold to the public on the undertanding that the surrounding land was about to be disposed of in moderate sized farms; but now, the purchasers finding the farms still unsold, and everything in a state of stagnation, naturally complain that they have been misled and seduced into purchasing under false pretences. A short time since we saw a paragraph in the papers, saying that the Committee of the Glasgow Bank had decided not to realise their New Zealand assets in the shape of land till the times became more favourable for selling. What meaning has this for the people of New Zealand? Why, sir, it means that every struggling "cockatoo" or small tradesman has to contribute so much annually in taxation to meet the deficiency in the colonial revenue, caused by the payment of interest on money expended on the construction of railways through, and for the benefit of, those estates; and he has to pay this extra amount in order that the company may he able to hold those estates uninhabited, till other parts of the districts surrounding them shall have become more densely peopled and highly improved, so as to give these estates enhanced value in the market. To put it more plainly: the New Zealand and Australian Land Company hold in Canterbury, Otago, and Southland some 340,000 acres of freehold land, whilst the whole of the land sold up to date in those provinces is only 6,600,000 acres, so that the above company actually owns about one-twentieth of the whole. There has been spent on railway construction in those three provinces, according to the latest returns, about £5,473,000, a twentieth part of which sum would amount to about £273,500, which latter sum has therefore, I maintain, been spent practically for the benefit of the company's estates by the people of New Zealand, and consequently the interest on that sum has to be found annually by the people of New Zealand, until such time as the company, by the sale of those estates, allow new contributors of the revenue to step in and relievo the present population of New Zealand of part of the burden. Or, to put it in another way, the company will have bought the Canterbury estates page 68 at £2 per acre, and the Otago and Southland ones at £1 per acre, say £500,000, the total purchase money; this land they expect to sell at an average rate of about £8 per acre, the enhanced value being due to the railways and other public works, and to immigration. If they succeed in selling at that price, then about £2,700,000 will be withdrawn from New Zealand and sent to Scotland for distribution amongst the proprietors; and to allow of their realising this great profit, all of us who remain in New Zealand will have to bear the burden of paying interest on the proportion of the Public Works Loan expended for the benefit of those estates. The same argument of course applies to all the other great freeholds, but the evil is not so glaring in the case of resident proprietors who spend their profits within the colony. I have instanced the holding of the Levels Run by the company as being specially detrimental to the interests of Timaru; but the evils of absentee proprietorship are felt and deplored just as much in other parts of the colony. "Atticus," the writer of "Pastoral Notes" in the Otago Witness of December 18th last, says—"Public companies stand convicted of having brought about the present unsatisfactory state of things. It does not require the pen of a ready-writer to expose their system of station management. On several of the company's stations one solitary shepherd is the sole resident employed to protect their interests in the elevated regions of the wilds. They pursue a policy of self-aggrandisement at home and abroad, and Heaven knows how they have carried out their adopted programme to the letter. After holding possession of miles of country for the past twenty years, and having no doubt heaped up treasures in abundance, they have reduced below zero the rate of wages of the few hands they presently employ, and have also adopted a system of amalgamation, with a view of ruling the labour market, or moulding it to suit their own pockets, and establishing a labour ring amongst themselves."

There can be no doubt, that if the New Zealand runholders had been content to live on in the isolated and semi-civilised fashion in which the old feudal barons did, or in which the squatters of most parts of New South Wales and Queensland do still, they might have held their runs comparatively intact for many years to come. Had they confined their attention solely to producing wool and tallow, and steadily vetoed any attempts to borrow money, either for public works or for immigration, they would have been able to hold their ground permanently, and quietly crushed out all attempts to interfere with their privileges. Those professional men or tradesmen who dared to advocate liberal ideas, would have been quickly starved out of the colony, and in the course of a generation or two the population at large would have had to work at the improvement of the great estates on such terms as the proprietors chose to dictate, or to emigrate again to some country where the land was not all locked up, and where, consequently, the small farmer would stand some chance of rising to page 69 Independence. This position was no doubt clearly seen at the time by Sir Cracroft Wilson, Mr. F. Jollie, and the other squatters who so bitterly opposed the Public Works Scheme. But, sir, I contend that, by giving in their adhesion to the borrowing policy, the majority of both Houses of the Legislature placed it beyond the power of the large freeholders to escape for any length of time the responsibilities of their position; and, I argue, that the money raised on loan having been, expended mainly for the benefit of the landowners, they will have to provide the greater portion of the interest on the loans, either directly or indirectly, in spite of all the combined efforts they can make to evade doing so. It is obvious, that it is only possible to tax the trading and labouring classes up to a certain point. If you further tax the tradesman, who is only just able to make a comfortable living by his trade, he must adopt one or other of two courses: he must charge his customers—i.e., the squatters and farmers—more for his goods, or he must leave the country for one where taxes are lighter. Similarly, if you impose too heavy a tax on the labourers' necessaries, such as hoots, clothing, and groceries, he will either expect higher wages or take the first opportunity of clearing out of the colony. Here, I may mention, that a case of this kind has actually recently occurred. In a recent article in the London Times was given an account of the causes which led to the late Civil War in the Argentine Confederation. It appears that that country borrowed £5,000,000 in England about the year 1865, for the purpose of constructing a railway leading from the capital (Buenos Ayres) into the interior, and at the same time held out great inducements to immigrants, which were taken advantage of by large numbers, chiefly of Italian, French, and Basque origin. Everything prospered for a time under the magic influence of the borrowed money, property rose rapidly in value, new settlements went on apace, and some of the old residents made large fortunes; but presently the money was all spent, and then there was a collapse. Taxes had to be imposed to pay the interest on the debt. The large landowners of the interior were in the ascendant in the Legislature, so the Government decided on raising the required amount in the form of a customs duty of 20 per cent., instead of in the form of a land tax. What was the result? The people became dissatisfied, and numbers of the small settlers and labourers left the country; the revenue fell off owing to the diminished spending power of the people; then the Conservative Government blindly aggravated the evil, and so the process went on acting and reacting on itself, until they had actually worked the customs duty up to 60 per cent, ad valorem. At this point the strain on the populace proved too great; an insurrection broke out in Buenos Ayres against the Government; the landowners of the interior raised forces to overawe the city, and a civil war ensued. If, then, by a system of over-taxation our Government should drive the trading and labouring classes to leave the colony in any numbers, they would also at once ruin the small farmers who supply the towns with page 70 farm, dairy, and garden produce, and who even now find great difficulty in disposing of these goods at a price which will give them anything over the cost of production. The large farmers and graziers would then have to rely almost exclusively on an export trade, as the local market, both for grain and live stock, would be almost destroyed; and both the customs revenue and the railway traffic returns would show a large and constantly increasing deficiency. I see that the latter item is expected to fall short of the Colonial Treasurer's estimate for this year by no less than £164,000, and that, in spite of the fact that the last grain season (1880) the yield was nearly double what it had ever been before, and much larger than it is likely to be for many years again.

Taking into consideration the large amount that has to be provided annually to meet our liabilities, and the extreme sparsity of the population of the colony, I confess I can see no possible solution of the difficulty but by reverting to the land tax, and making each estate pay something in proportion to the amount it would contribute to the revenue if it were held by numbers of small farmers, instead of by one proprietor or by a company of absentees. To do this equitably, it would be necessary to have a sliding scale, (as has been adopted, after violent opposition by the monopolists, in the neighbouring colony of Victoria), according to the size of the estate, something after the following fashion, viz.:—
Freehold estates under 200 acres free
Freehold estates over 200 acres and under 500 acres 0s. 1d. per acre
Freehold estates over 500 acres and under 1,000 acres 0 2 per acre
Freehold estates over 1,000 acres and under 5,000 acres 0 4 per acre
Freehold estates over 5,000 acres and under 10,000 acres 0 6 per acre
Freehold estates over 10,000 acres and under 20,000 acres 0 9 per acre
Freehold estates over 20,000 acres and under 50,000 acres 1 0 per acre
Freehold estates over 50,000 acres and under 100,000 acres 1 6 per acre
Freehold estates over 100,000 acres and under 2 0 per acre

Two or more estates belonging to same owners or company to count as one, for the purpose of computing the rate per acre. Of course there would have to be modifications of the above scale according to the quality of the land, for instance, an estate like the Longbeach Estate, all first class land, could bear a higher rate, whilst estates on the shingly plains or in the Mackenzie Country would be very much less than the rate given. At any rate, the principle is perfectly just and fair, as the theory is, that people should contribute towards the expense of the State in exact proportion to the benefit they derive from the protection of the State; and if it suits a capitalist to hold a largo tract of land to the exclusion of other people, it is quite fair that he should pay for his privilege. The average customs revenue of the colony is about £3 10s. per head of the population, let us take this as a basis for comparing the tax payable under this scale by the land in large estates, with the same land if held in small farms. Take for example an Estate of 40,000 acres, the land tax would amount (at one shilling per page 71 acre) to £2,000 per annum; but divide the estate into farms of an average size of 150 acres, and we should have 266 farms, allowing an average of eight persons to each farm and giving a population of 2128 souls; these, at the rate of £3 10s. per head, would contribute £7,448 to the Government annually in the form of customs revenue, to say nothing of what would be contributed by their dependent population of blacksmiths, wheelwrights, and other tradesmen. Again, let us take the estates of the New Zealand and Australian Land Company, which I find by an advertisement on the cover of Messrs. Grant and Foster's report holds 340,000 acres of good land in New Zealand. Well then, 340,000 acres at two shillings per acre would amount to a total tax of £34,000 per annum, but what would the same land give if divided into small farms? It would divide into 2,266 farms of 150 acres each; allowing as before eight souls to each farm, we should have 18,128 souls without reckoning dependent tradesmen. This, at £3 10s. per head would mean a contribution to customs revenue alone of £63,448 per annum, to say nothing of stamps, post office, and other sources of revenue from the additional population, and the enormous increase of railway revenue which that population would ensure. Look at the subject in whatever light you may, whether as a matter of justice to the people who have been induced to come out here, expediency for the general welfare, or even absolute necessity in the interests of self preservation, I think most people studying the subject earnestly must admit, that some such radical change in the incidence of taxation is necessary; and not until it is made can we ever hope to escape from the depression and gloom which now overshadows and stifles the energies of the whole colony.

If the competition of the 3,000,000 small freeholders in America has been sufficient to shake to its foundation the whole system of land tenure in the United Kingdom, where it has been rooted for hundreds of years, and where the producers have the finest markets in the world at their own doors, I ask, sir, how is it possible that we, at a distance of 16,000 miles from those markets, can hold our own against that competition, except by adopting the American system of small holdings ourselves, or something as near akin to it as is now feasible? I believe that if our present system of large estates continues, a very few years will sec the increasing burden of taxation drive a large number of the industrial population out of the colony; and then the large freeholders, deprived of the assistance afforded by the presence of numbers of fellow-colonists to share the burden with them, will have to submit, with the best grace they can, to a much more heavy direct taxation than has yet been mooted by even the most radical section of the community, if they wish to maintain the credit of the colony and keep up the payment of interest on the Loans. In case of any failure to do so, the British Government would probably interfere in the interests of the capitalists who have found the money for those loans; since the laud of the colony was virtually pledged as security for them, as page 72 pointed out by Mr. Creighton in 1870, in the speech from which I have before quoted; but since that time the Colonial Government has permitted nearly all the good land to pass into private hands, without laying by the proceeds of such sale towards the repayment of the Loans, thus leaving the British capitalist in a position in which he might reasonably complain that he had been unfairly dealt with. The number of acres sold in New Zealand up to the end of 1878 was 13,820,281, of which 11,478,300 were sold for cash, realising £10,208,282. The land remaining in the hands of the Government is 5,080,000 acres in the North Island, and 29,786,000 in the South Island, but this nearly all consists of rugged mountain ranges and other waste country, which would not in all probability sell if offered at an average of 5s. per acre all round. It is true that, if the land had been sold to numerous purchasers, in small farms, the extra population, by contributing a large increase to both the customs, and railway revenue, would have made our creditors' position more secure; but now, the greater portion of our landed security has disappeared, without a corresponding increase in revenue to compensate for the loss of it. The forthcoming Census Returns will doubtless disclose a large increase in the total number of the population, owing to the extra-ordinary large proportion of births to the number of adults, as compared to other countries; but it must be remembered that it is only an increase in the number of adult males that can be depended on in calculating on an increase of revenue, the addition of a large infant population being an element of financial weakness rather than of strength to the colony.

It has been suggested that the large estate owners should lease their lands to tenants, in farms of moderate size, as recommended by Mr. John Grigg, of Longbeach, in a paper which appeared in the New Zealand Country Journal, but I fear this plan is not feasible, for several reasons: in the first place, the rent expected is far too high in comparison with what land can be obtained for in other new countries, and out of all proportion to the profits which may reasonably be expected from the land; in the second place, the owners of the large estates have generally neither the will nor the means to build the requisite houses and farm buildings on each holding, and mere tenants will not do so unless they get very long leases at low rents; and, in the third place, there are not farmers enough in New Zealand to take up a fourth of the area of the large estates even if they were willing, and as for farmers from England, of whom we have heard so much lately, I do not think many of them would care to exchange a lease in a country where unfailing markets exist at their own doors, for a lease in a country where they may find the markets most precarious and uncertain, even if the season should prove entirely favourable, as many fanners here have found to their cost during the last two years. Besides, as was pointed out by several of the speakers from whom I have quoted, men do not care to break up their homes, leave their page 73 native land, and travel 16,000 miles to find themselves in the same position as they held in the old country, viz., that of tenant farmers; and no inducements, short of freeholds of their own, would tempt them out here in any great numbers. In the London Times, of 1st October last, is to be found an account of the new "Colony," so-called, in the State of Tennessee, formed under the auspices of "The Aid to Land Ownership Society," of which Mr. Hughes, M.P., is president. They have 400,000 acres freehold, the site of the town being only seven miles from a main trunk line of railway, and eight hours, by rail, from Cincinnati, a city of 255,000 inhabitants. The climate is described as healthy and genial, the soil remarkably good, game in the neighbourhood plentiful, and the land is to be sold in small farms at the price of 1 dollar 70 cents per acre (about 7s.), of which only 25 per cent, is required in cash, and the balance in payments extending over a period of three years. This combination of advantages is to be found within a fortnight's easy travel from London, and the particulars are set forth at length in the same English papers which contain letters from New Zealand describing this Colony as in an almost hopelessly bankrupt condition.

As another means of relieving the colony of a portion of the burden of debt, it has been suggested that the Railways should be sold to a company or series of companies. I fear, however, it would be found impossible to meet with capitalists willing to incur the risk of taking them over, except at an enormous reduction on the cost price. Owing to the sparsity of population, the traffic is even now not sufficient to pay two per cent on the cost of construction over the whole of the New Zealand Railways, and you must remember that some of the lines have now been in use 10 years or upwards; and as no money has been set aside for maintenance fund, the purchasers would have to prepare themselves to meet a heavy expenditure within a year or two for laying down new sleepers, repairs to bridges, and for maintenance generally, to say nothing of special risks from flood, land slips, and other accidents to which the New Zealand Railways are so specially liable. Moreover the would-be purchasers finding that most of the Railways run for miles at a stretch through large estates, which are now in process of being rapidly laid down in permanent pasture, instead of being devoted to grain growing, would argue that the traffic returns instead of showing a constant increase year by year, would probably show a tendency to decrease, or possibly fall away, until they were actually below the point at which they would cover mere working expenses. As bearing on this question, I may here point out that New Zealand has actually 1,254 miles of railway open, as against 1,124 in the Colony of Victoria, which colony has more than double our population. If you compare us with the countries of the Old World, the disadvantage under which our railways labour through lack of population becomes still more apparent; and further it must be borne in mind, that this disadvantage will become more aggravated as the average wealth of page 74 the population diminishes; thus, in the prosperous times, numbers of people travelled for pleasure who can no longer afford to do so, and as the working men get thrown out of employment, they have to forego the luxury of moving about from place to place by rail; thus, a recent return showed that in four weeks ending 11th December, 1880, the number of railway passengers was less by 10,612 persons than in the same four weeks of 1879, which itself was not a prosperous year, as the financial crisis occurred in April of that year.

We have heard a great deal during the last twelve months or so on the subject of retrenchment; the present Ministry have received a great deal of laudation, in the columns of the Conservative journals, on account of the vigour with which they have set about cutting down salaries and discharging Civil servants (some of whom had been long in the Government service); we have had it dinned into our ears how fortunate it was for the colony that they took office when they did, just in time to save it from bankruptcy; we were solemnly assured that the very money (out of the £5,000,000 loan) had been all squandered by the Grey Ministry, which, as it now turns out, the Hall Ministry have been lavishly expending in Taranaki and other favoured districts ever since they took office. Sir George Grey's Liberal teachings, and warm solicitude for the real welfare of the mass of the people of the colony, have been craftily and unscrupulously distorted in order to frighten a too credulous public with the idea that they were evidences of Communism or Red Republicanism, and he has been made use of as a sort of shocking example, enabling the venial supporters of the Hall Ministry to attack any expression of dissent from their doings, and to brand the dissenters as revolutionary demagogues. Moreover, the persistent and virulent abuse of Sir George Grey served to divert the attention of the bulk of the people, whilst the dominant class of wealthy landowners divided as much as possible of the remains of the public estate amongst themselves. We have been told, over and over again, that all that was necessary to ensure the return of our lost prosperity was the continuance in office of the Hall Ministry; this idea has been so persistently impressed upon us as to give rise to a suspicion, in many minds, that the terrible financial crisis which swept over the colony, with the suddenness of a tornado, in April, 1879, was brought on by a "ring" of capitalists and land speculators, with a view to paralyse Sir George Grey's watchful care for the interests of the working classes, by holding him up to them as the author of all their misfortunes. If this suspicion is correct, we must charitably conclude that, in the excitement of political hatred, the irreparable mischief which would accrue to the colony, in consequence of that crisis, was not thoroughly foreseen, for we cannot bring our minds to conceive of men base enough to bring ruin to thousands of unoffending homes, in order to gratify political spite, or even in the reckless effort to secure self-aggrandisement.

Sir, I believe that the public of New Zealand, more especially in page 75 the cities and towns, are now beginning to suspect that, in their blind terror of Sir George Grey's so-called Communism, they have been deluded into putting into power the very men who have really been at the root of the evils which have befallen the colony. Our present Premier is The Man, above all others in Canterbury, who, by his invention of the system of pre-emptive rights and other abuses, has done most to build up the gigantic land monopoly which has utterly destroyed, for the present, all chance of New Zealand becoming a populous, prosperous, or great colony; he is the exponent and champion of the wealthy "ring" who decreed that Sir George Grey must be ousted from office, and the Land Tax abolished at all risks; and who proceeded to carry out that programme so recklessly, that they have completely played into the hands of the enemies of New Zealand, and caused the colony to be held up as a sad example and solemn warning to all other colonies, in many of the leading English newspapers. In proof that this is so, I will read an extract from the Otago Witness, of 25th December, 1880. Their home correspondent says: "Canada and the United States are reaping a splendid harvest of scared British farmers, and New Zealand would reap the best of all but for the indescribably dismal stories which are coming home from the colony. It is a thousand pities that it should be so, and especially that these stories should be so exaggerated as many of them plainly are. I can read between the lines two distinct sources of exaggeration. Some are political, and have their origin in a desire to exaggerate the difficulties of the colony in order to make capital out of the blunders and faults of the late Government. Those who are guilty of this, little think how far-reaching is the harm they do, and how they are making a rod under which their own backs will smart, when they diminish the credit of the colony, and scare away the class which, just now, the colony most needs—capitalist farmers. It is exactly this class of statement which most surely finds its way home, and is made most of where not one in a thousand has colonial knowledge enough to discount it to its true value. * * * * The English Press still keeps up a shower of most damaging articles upon New Zealand affairs."

What is the character of the retrenchment we hear so much about? I fancy the public are beginning to find out that the Conservative Ministers are setting about it in a way to do much harm, and very little real good after all. They have the strictest sense of duty when dealing with the poor "Civil servant," who has perhaps been twenty years in the Government service, and who has a large family to provide for; by all means cut him down ten per cent, just when he has naturally been expecting a rise after his long years of service, and if he ventures to grumble, tell him he may think himself fortunate that he is not turned out altogether; by all means cut down the railway porters their ten per cent.; even the poor servant girl at the hospital, on £20 a-year, is not too humble to have her £2 deducted, or the country postmaster, at £5 per annum, to be reduced to £1 10s.; these page 76 are all necessary retrenchments, and must be submitted to with a good grace. But you must deal very gently with the Hon. John Merino, who has 100,000 acres of freehold land, with no house on it but his own, and who shears, each year, 80,000 sheep; his nerves are susceptible, and his feelings delicate, so it would never do to hurt them, by taxing his land, as that Communist, Sir George Grey, attempted to do; if you talk of such a thing he will withdraw (so you are told) his capital from the colony in disgust, and New Zealand can never get on without capital (as you are also told, in an awe-struck whisper). At the same time, the Hon. John, being in the Legislative Council, is careful to draw his honorarium to the utmost penny, though he earns it by taking a good deal of trouble to conserve his own interests at the expense of those of the people. You may, perhaps, remember, sir, that when, last session, the Hon. Mr. Peacock brought forward a motion in the Upper House, to forego the honorarium for that one year, on account of the urgent cry for retrenchment, he could not get one single member to vote with him—with shame be it spoken!

Let us briefly recapitulate the work which the Hall Ministry have achieved since they took office. First and foremost, they have abolished the Land Tax, which told heavily on their friends and supporters, the holders of the large estates, and comparatively lightly on the mass of small owners of property, whether in town or country, and they have substituted in lieu thereof the Property Tax, which fails comparatively lightly on the large holders of land, and heavily on the owners of buildings or of improved farms. Under the Property Tax every owner of a house or shop in town has to pay a penny in the pound on its capital value, though it may be unlet owing to the general depression and bad times, and the unfortunate tradesman has actually to pay a tax on goods which are lying useless, because he is unable to sell them owing to the depressed state of trade. On the other hand, the great estates owned by the Levels Company and other absentee owners, pay on only one-eighth part of their capital, though they bring in a very large income from wool and other sources. Next, the Ministry have altered the customs tariff by increasing the 10 per cent. ad valorem duties formerly paid to 15 per cent., and by taxing articles formerly exempt. They have also imposed a Beer Tax of 3d. per gallon, which would have been 6d. but for the strenuous opposition of a portion of the public. The Hall Ministry have, by their 10 per cent all-round reductions in the Civil Service, completely demoralised every department of that service, filling the mind of every man in it with dissatisfaction as to the present, and uncertainty as to the future. By arbitrarily cutting down the pay of the lower classes of officials, who were previously in receipt of salaries already less than their equals in skill could earn outside the Government service, they have destroyed all exprit de corps in each branch of the service, and paved the way to losing all their best men as soon as the affairs of the page 77 colony begin to show signs of returning prosperity. Further, the Halt Ministry have suspended indefinitely public works in both islands of the greatest importance to the producing communities, who alone render public works reproductive, and squandered large sums in, as far as we can yet judge, entirely unproductive expenditure at Taranaki and other favoured localities, apparently for the sole purpose of pleasing constituents of some of the members of the Ministry. They have, in spite of the earnest, emphatic, and, I may say, prophetic warnings given by Mr. Stafford and others, of the disastrous effects entailed on the colony by the system of large landed estates in this Island, connived at the acquisition of enormous blocks of land in the North Island by speculators more or less connected with a prominent member of the Ministry, and who are said to form a ring having complete control of the land question in the Province of Auckland, and who expect to realise, by cutting up the land and selling in small blocks to settlers, the profits which ought to have gone into the Government chest, so as in some measure to reimburse the colony for the enormous sums spent in acquiring the land from the Maoris.

In short, the whole policy of the Hall Ministry has been to play into the hands of large capitalists, and heap burdens upon the mass of the people of New Zealand, to drive away men who have worked half a lifetime in the colony, in order to aggrandise the great absentee proprietors, forgetful of the fact that a day of reckoning must come, and that, by driving away the small farmers and industrious mechanics of the colony, the taxation rendered inevitable by means of our enormous debt must eventually fall with tenfold force upon the large landed proprietors. In the matter of railway management, the Ministry have increased the rate for goods to such an extent as to cause widespread dissatisfaction, and still further to reduce the chances of farmers at a distance from Christchurch growing grain with a reasonable margin of profit. I maintain, sir, that one-half the present rates, both for passengers and goods, would have been amply sufficient to pay interest on the cost of construction of the railways, if the country through which the lines pass had been occupied under a proper system of small farm settlement—which, I have shown, was an integral part of the original Public Works Scheme—instead of being occupied, as it now is, for the most part, by a series of largo estates, carrying only an extremely scanty population. In the United States, from which country the crushing competition to our wheat growers originates, the railway companies are now carrying grain a distance of 900 miles for the same price which is here charged for carrying it 100 miles; and why are they able to do this? For the simple reason that they have what we lack, a dense population of small farmers and their dependents spread throughout the country, and furnishing a large passenger traffic to swell the receipts.

If the present Ministry remain in office over another session they will find it necessary to advocate further sweeping reductions in the page 78 Civil Service and Public Works votes, on account of the stationary character of the customs revenue and the large falling off in the railway receipts, which is now estimated to be £164,000 for the year below the Colonial Treasurer's estimate. They will also, doubtless, as shadowed forth in Mr. Wakefield's late speech at Geraldine, endeavour to sweep away the vote for education, towards which property now pays its share, and throw the whole weight upon the parents of children attending the schools—a section of the community who now contribute most heavily to the revenue of the colony through the ad valorem customs duty. And here, I must remark, that in the case of the schools having less than twenty-five scholars, and which are to be done away with to save expense, the reason why so few children are found in one neighbourhood is, that in consequence of the land having been bought up in great tracts by the runholders, the small farmers have had to settle on a few rough corners left unbought on account of their inferior quality, and thus, perhaps three or four poor families are found together, separated by ten or twelve miles of uninhabited land from the next small community; whereas, if the farmers had been allowed to spread wave by wave over the country, as in America, there would always have been numerous families within a school radius of three or four miles. Thus, in a map in my possession of Buena Vista County, in the State of Iowa, no less than seventy-nine schools are shown as existing in a block of country twenty-four miles square, and which was only first settled in 1860. For this reason, I consider it would be quite fair to compel the owners of the uninhabited blocks to subsidise the small schools, rather than that the children should go untaught.

The same fact of the scattered and isolated position of the small farmers tells against their interests in numerous other ways, as, for instance, in largely increasing the cost of hauling their grain to market, and an increased cost and difficulty in getting threshing machines and other machinery on to the farms when required. Again, their being so scattered is an insuperable obstacle to the establishment of co-operative cheese or butter factories, now so generally in use in the States, where the small farms are numerous and in close contiguity to each other. And, I believe, that the establishment of these cheese and butter factories here would be the only means of starting an export trade in those lines of produce with any hope of permanent success.

No doubt, also, the subsidies to County Councils, Road Boards, Municipalities, and other local bodies, will be abolished altogether, whilst, at the same time, the burden of maintaining the hospitals, and the payment of charitable aid, will be thrown upon those bodies, who will consequently be under the necessity of raising special rates for those purposes. Probably, also, should the Ministry consider their position sufficiently strong, they will re-impose the tea and sugar duties, as lately recommended by sundry speakers representing the interests of capitalists, and thus still further relieve the great land- page 79 owners at the expense of the struggling heads of large families, poor widows, whose sole luxury is their cup of tea, and others of the feeble order who can least bear additional burdens. It is all very well for the Hall Ministry and their organs to make a great parade of the large reductions effected in the Civil Service; but you must remember, sir, that the saving to the colony is more apparent than real; for instance, in discharging an official with, say £400 a year, you deprive the district in which he was employed of the expenditure of that £400 amongst the tradesmen, small farmers, and other members of the community; for it is notorious that the Civil servants, like country clergymen at home, have mostly large families, and have to live fully up to their incomes; thus the money is still kept in circulation in the colony. On the other hand, if you relieve one of the leviathan estate owners of taxation to the amount of £400 a year, you simply increase the chances of his spending that amount in travelling abroad, or in sending members of his family to live in England. A word here with regard to the Land Tax, the great argument used against which was that it checked the flow of capital into the country for investment. I would remark that it was only deterrent in the case of capitalists seeking to buy large estates—a class we are most undoubtedly better without; whereas, the Property Tax deters the man of small capital, seeking a place to settle on with a view to farming, or a town property in which to start a new industry; and this is the very class we are admittedly most urgently in need of at this time.

Sir, I think most people (at any rate in the towns) of New Zealand are beginning to ask each other what they have gained by entrusting the reins of power during the last two years to the nominees of the great landowning interest; they are beginning to see that the "good times" which were promised them seem just as far off as ever, and many of our most industrious and thrifty men, both in town and country, are beginning to say to each other, that unless some change soon occurs in the Policy of the Government, they will have to "clear out" of New Zealand before money gets so scarce as to prevent their leaving at all. During the last two years, many scores of industrious men in South Canterbury, as well as in nearly every other part of the colony, have seen the savings of years, (in some cases almost a lifetime), melt away from their grasp through no fault of their own, and they are beginning to conclude that there is, and has been, something radically wrong about the Government system of the Colony, which from good soil, fine climate, extensive sea-board, fine harbours, rich gold diggings, and other favourable circumstances, ought to have been, if properly governed, so flourishing. What that something is, I have endeavoured to point out in this paper, viz., that the Government of the colony has never really honestly fostered a system of actual settlement, as is done in America. Yet, if any one is bold enough to say as much in public or to write to a newspaper expressing such views, as the Rev. John Foster of Oamaru recently did, he is at once page 80 abused, and hooted down on all sides as a maligner of his adopted country, and is, so to speak, socially outlawed for daring in this so called free country to express his real opinions. I have read the Rev. John Foster's letter carefully, and consider that, making due allowances for his hastiness of judgment on some points, as a new arrival in the colony, the statements in his letter came in many particulars remarkably near the truth. The letter bears internal evidence of having been conscientiously written as a warning to persons amongst his old associates, and who might be contemplating immigration to New Zealand, that their hopes and expectations might be grievously disappointed if they came. I have no doubt whatever that hundreds, aye thousands of other private letters from persons who have arrived in the colony during the last two or three years, have had much the same tenor, though they have not found their way into print. I say, sir, that immigrants can truly complain that they have been cruelly misled (whether by Sir Julius Vogel or his subordinate agents, who have written guide-books to New Zealand is immaterial), when they were told that there were millions of acres of good land in the colony only awaiting settlement, as thousands have been led to believe. The fact is, as I have shown from the Report of the Chief Commissioner of Crown Lands, there is no good Government Land left, and it is most reprehensible to induce men to come out here by making such false statements. It is also most unfair on the part of some of our journals to brand unfortunate "new chums" as loafers, because they find on arrival here that it is impossible to get any Government Land upon which they can make a living, and almost equally impossible to get work at once of a kind to which they have been accustomed in the old country, if indeed they are fortunate to get work of any kind whatever.

What can be more significant than the fact that considerable numbers of steerage passengers are returning to England in the wool ships, no less than thirty having recently sailed in one vessel; surely this is a sign of there being something wrong in a young country with less than half a million inhabitants; for men would not encounter the discomforts of a steerage passage a second time, if they saw a reasonable hope of doing any good out here. All attempts made to conceal the real state of stagnation and depression under which the colony suffers, are futile, where returns and statistics are so frequently made public, and it would be far better for our writers, to face the difficulty, instead of glossing it over, and endeavour to discover to what causes we owe that state which we all deplore amongst ourselves. Have not the pages of the Bankruptcy Gazette, ever since March, 1879, shown that there have been more failures in New Zealand, in proportion to its population, than probably ever occurred in any civilised community before (except, perhaps, in Ireland, in 1847)? Have not the columns of our newspapers been filled, and are they not so still, with advertisements of the sale of freeholds, by order of the mortgagees, and of farmers' plant and live stock, under distraint for page 81 rent and under bills of sale? Is it not notorious that the only people who have thriven in business, during the past two years, are the lawyers and the auctioneers? Can it be denied that scores of fanners were compelled to take less for their grain last year, owing to the pressure of creditors, than would cover the bare expenses of growing it, leaving rent, interest, and their own expenses of living, out of the question? Is it not true that thousands of men were out of work for weeks, aye, for months, last winter, whilst a portion of the last largo loan was still unexpended? Can we ignore the fact of soup kitchens having been established in Christchurch, and other largo towns, for the relief of the destitute? Why, even in December (the middle of summer) we read of 375 receiving relief in Wellington alone. In the newspapers, of December 1st, the fact was recorded that 200 of the unemployed were then working on the "relief works" of the Canterbury railways; and at Waimate thirty-five unemployed men, with their families, were put on by the County Council to deepen a creek, to keep them going till harvest should set in. Do we not hear from all directions, that "swaggers," looking for work, were never so numerous before? In one case, no less than fifty came to a sheep station, on the Rangitata, on one evening—and all this in the height of what is called the "busy season." If this be the case now, what look-out is there for next winter, when most of the public works will be stopped for want of funds? The reserved funds of the County Councils and Road Boards are fast runuing out, owing to the stoppage of the subsidies, and then where will the married men in our small townships look for employment? You must bear in mind that, so far from the cultivation of the land increasing, it is actually diminishing, as many of the largo landed proprietors, and some of the smaller owners, are laying down permanent pasture for grazing, and intend to crop no more, at least unless prices given for grain should improve materially.

There is no doubt that the Government will be compelled to find work of some kind or other for large bodies of men, during the coming winter, whether they have funds available or not, as the men have been induced to come to this country by the statement that work was always to be had; and it is certain that when men congregate in largo numbers, in a state of destitution, there is no possibility of resisting their demand to be fed and provided for, unless the Government are prepared to face riots and excesses of all kinds, for men will simply not starve quietly, whoever is to blame for their destitution. Yet you have the Timaru Herald, and other Conservative papers, laying the blame of the hard times on the ignorance or want of enterprise of the farmers, on the improvidence of the working men, on the alleged extravagance of the late Ministry of Sir George Grey; in short, on anything except what I believe to be the true cause, or at least one of the principal causes, viz., the monopoly of nearly all of the best land of the colony in the hands of comparatively few holders. Every San page 82 Francisco mail brings accounts of the increasing prosperity of the United States, so much so, that the new President set apart a day of general thanksgiving for the unexampled prosperity of the country; and we read that the national debt is being paid off at the rate of £3,000,000 a mouth, so that it will all be cleared off in ten years time. I am convinced, sir, that unless means can be devised shortly for throwing open, for actual settlement, the lands of the colony, both the remaining Government land, where of any use, and some of the large freehold estates, we shall witness numbers of our best men leaving our shores for the States, where, it is known, there are millions of acres of fertile prairie lands still open for settlement, on terms so easy as almost to amount to a gift of the soil to the hard-working small farmer. Then, when it is too late, we shall begin to acknowledge the realisation of Mr. Stafford's prophecy, that if we introduced immigrants, without reserving land for them to settle on, we should have "nothing but a hungry, discontented, semi-pauperised people, who, instead of being a source of wealth, will be a great source of injury and injustice to those already in the country."

We have been told, by the Timaru Herald and other papers of the Conservative party, that drawing attention to the plain truth, in the way I have done, is "setting class against class," this, sir, is a cant phrase, which has been made the most of in abusing Sir George Grey, who has made bitter enemies by his fearless advocacy of the cause of the poor man; but disinterested people are beginning to see that those who would keep large tracts of the land in the condition of unpeopled solitudes, for the pasturing of their flocks and herds, or who would raze to the ground all the cockatoos' cottages, rather than be annoyed by humble neighbours, are, in reality, the men who are setting "class against class," and raising up, in this new country, a feeling of bitterness and irritation which, unless allayed by wise legislation, will assuredly lead, sooner or later, to all the evils under which Ireland is suffering at the present momemt. Again, another charge brought against Sir George Grey was, that his Land Tax, and other measures, were "class legislation," why, sir, the whole history of the colony, from the day on which the first depasturing licenses were issued, has been "class legislation" with a vengeance, legislation which has aimed steadily at the building up of great estates for those who were fortunate enough to be hero during the first few years of the settlement of the colony, or who have arrived here, of late years, with large capital; but, legislation which has done its lest to obstruct and frustrate the settlement of a large population, on the lands of the colony, in every possible way.

I feel convinced, sir, that when once this question of the settlement of the land is studied, and thoroughly understood by the people of the large towns of New Zealand, they will insist on a radical change being made in the incidence of taxation, they will see that their own prosperity, and the future prospects of their children, have been wrecked, page 83 through the eager greed and reckless ambition of a comparative handful of wealthy men; and they will, by excluding, as far as possible, from the House of Representatives, all men identified with those great proprietors, take the only means of insuring that the burdens which have been incurred, in creating public works for the advantage of the few, shall be placed on the shoulders of those who derived the benefit, instead of on the shoulders of the many who have in no way participated in that benefit. Then, and not till then, shall we be able to look forward to fixing our homes permanently in this colony, and to teaching our children sentiments of patriotic love for the land in which they have been born.

I have had occasion to mention the name of Sir George Grey, a statesman who has been more misrepresented and vilified, both by the Conservative journals and by the representatives of vested interests, than any other in New Zealand. Sir, I will read you the opinion of Sir George Grey's character given recently in the columns of the Sydney Mail, which, though a Conservative paper, is not blinded by hatred or self-interest, and is therefore honest enough to give a fair criticism. It says—"From Sir George Grey's politics we are often compelled to dissent, but the mans devotion to New Zealand is supreme and unquestionable. History will rank him with patriots, not with adventurers. He may be grievously wrong in some of his views, but, in the eyes of posterity, the love he bears to the colony in which he has spent the strength of his life, will cover a multitude of mistakes." This is a generous criticism, vigorously expressed, and which I, for one, cordially endorse; though doubtless he has at times allowed his zeal for the welfare of the masses of the people to outrun his discretion; and he would probably have been able to achieve a greater measure of reform if he had attempted far less at once, and educated, so to speak, the people up to his level gradually. I believe that the time will come when the great bulk of the people of New Zealand will look back with feelings of love and reverence to the name of Sir George Grey, who in his old age fought their battle almost single-handed, with an indomitable pluck and an earnest self-sacrifice worthy of all honour; abused and insulted though he has been, by those who would have, if possible, crushed out the liberties of the people of New Zealand for ever, and built up an oligarchy worse than the feudal system of old; inasmuch as it would have been based on the power of wealth alone, where consequently sordid meanness or grasping avarice would have usurped the leading positions in the State, instead of being based, as in feudal times, on the obligation of fighting side by side in defence of their country, under which system chivalry and patriotism were the characteristics of those who took the leading positions in the State.

Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen, I have to apologise for having detained you so long; but, having spent the best years of my life in Now Zealand, I have a heartfelt interest in the welfare and prosperity of our adopted country. I have taken some trouble to put my views page 84 at length before you, feeling that the subject is one which, unless gone into fully and exhaustively, had better be left alone altogether. Should any of our members be able to bring forward arguments in debate, tending to prove that the monopoly of the land is not so detrimental to the true interests of the colony as it appears to me to be, or that I have in this paper underrated the resources of the country, and that our burdens are not likely to prove so crushing to us all as I have been led believe, I shall be only too happy to be convinced by their arguments. In the meantime, I can only express a hope that we may all live to see the whole of the good land of the colony thickly settled upon by an industrious and contented population, and then, and not till then, shall we be able to acknowledge the benefit derivable from our railways, roads, bridges, and other monuments of Sir Julius Vogel's Public Works Policy of 1870.

May each one of us live to see that time, and the consequent prosperity of the land which has been hopefully, if somewhat ambitiously, called "the Britain of the South."

decorative feature