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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 48


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Committee of Management:—Mr Robert Allan, Chairman; Mr W. W. Charters, Honorary Secretary and Treasurer; Messrs E. H. Banks and J. A. Bird, Professor Bickerton, Messrs N. K. Cherrill, G. Coleman, T. W. Draper, and R. W. England Professor Von Haast, Messrs J. Holmes, Howland, Hulbert, C. Hull, J. P. Jameson, F. Jenkins, A. Kirk, H. B. Kirk, W. Moor, J. L. Scott, W. S. Smith, and it. H. Wood.

The poet laureate of England, in his dedication to the "Idylls of the King," indicates in a graceful manner the incalculable benefit secured to the whole civilised world, when "Albert, the good" became the

"Far-sighted summoner of War and Waste

To fruitful strifes and rivalries of peace."

The Great Exhibit ion of 1851 was the dawn of a new era—the grand initiation of a long series of Exhibitions, in connection with art, science and manufacture, in various countries; and year by year there has been a growing re-cognition of the true value of such gatherings. By their aid, nations as well as individuals have been enabled to compare results, and to ascertain their several positions in the march of progress. By their aid, also, when they are carried out in a modified form, a Colony can show what has been accomplished by the strong, indomitable will, that turns to stepping stones all hindrances. There is, in connection with our Industrial Exhibition, no need to compare small things with great. The same principles underlie all such efforts, and the present gathering in the Cathedral City is intended simply as an index, whereby we may the more readily read our own history. There is, perhaps, one feature in connection with such displays, which has to be allowed for in forming a correct estimate of the general progress made. That feature is, that everything is in exhibition trim; that there have been special manufactures for the occasion, and with a higher degree of finish than would be perceptible in the ordinary course. But it is a somewhat curious fact, that in the Christchurch Industrial Exhibition this condition of things cannot possibly obtain, save in a modified degree. From the inception of the gathering, to its completion, the time has been far too short to admit of the production of specialities; and as a matter of fact there are instances in which, exhibitors have had to borrow for the occasion articles which they had made and sold sometime previously. It will be remembered that the date for the Exhibition was materially changed, in order that the Committee might be enabled to embody in the display the goods which were about to be forwarded to Melbourne. These things form but a comparatively small portion of the imposing collection, and of the Exhibition as a whole it may therefore be said, that it constitutes a fair representation of our every-day work, further, it can be claimed that the Christchurch Industrial Exhibition is of a practical nature. It originated from a suggestion made by Mr W. W. Charters, to the effect that the Association for Fostering and Protecting Local Industries and Productions, was about completing the first year of its existence, and that a fitting mode of celebrating the anniversary would be to have some sort of display of local productions. Practical men saw at once that the idea was a good one, and that it might advantageously be enlarged upon. Their first desire being to help forward the local industries, one of the best possible ways of doing so would be to make the people practically acquainted with what was being done in their midst. Theoretically, the public knew already that woollen goods, hats, boots and shoes, nails, all sorts of articles in wood and in iron were being made here; but this notwithstanding, their recognition was largely page 8 of that dubious character which awards no honour, no merit, to an immediate and everyday work. It would be well, then—it was argued—that interest and even enthusiasm should be awakened, by showing some of the processes conceived by thinking brains, and carried on by dexterous hands. This meant that machinery in motion—always an attraction—should constitute one of the features of the local Exhibition. It also meant a large amount of detail work for somebody. Visitors will recognise the fact that the needed work was spiritedly undertaken, and that the results afford such an amount of practical instruction, presented in such an interesting manner, as must leave an indelible impression on the minds of the rising generation. Even the Committee of Management, although they had formed a somewhat ambitious conception, had no idea of the wide-spread interest that would be developed. They at first intended to include only Christ church exhibits, but applications came in thick and fast, some of them from Dunedin, Auckland, and other places, and the Committee resolved that—so far as space would permit—they would welcome all comers. Bearing in mind that there had been no inviting of outside contributions, it will be seen that, with a longer period of preparation and a more general announcement of the intended Exhibition, the collection would have assumed gigantic proportions, and there would have been no place in which the display could Lave been made. With less than 200 exhibitors, the largest building in the city proved too small, and at last a sub-committee had to perform the unenviable task of cutting down nearly all the applications for space. This work seems to have been done with the strictest impartiality.

The short time available for preparation precluded the possibility of making the Exhibition a competitive one, or even of awarding certificates of merit. For this first local Exhibition, public opinion is to be the reward of the contributors, with the subsequent impetus which it is hoped may be given to the various industries. On a future occasion, the Committee, profiting by the experience now gained, will no doubt be able to carry out still more complete arrangements, and to secure a more thorough classification of exhibits than has been possible in the hurry and bustle of the past few days.

The general arrangements of the Exhibition are as follows:—On entering the in-closure, and passing the inner barricade, the visitor at once sees some of the exhibits, the out-of-door items including vehicles, a windmill pump, &c. Conifers have sprung up, as if by magic, at the entrance to the building, which is in the centre of the western side. The spacious verandah is closely covered in, and is utilised as a place in which to show carriages. A portion at one end is fitted up as a refreshment room and luncheon bar. Entering the large hall, the scene is a brilliant and imposing one. The north end may be termed the top of the room. In the centre is an admirably fitted refreshment bar for ladies, wherein Mr Morton dispenses tea, coffee, &c. Above the bar is the band platform. On the left is the grand display of locally made art furniture sent in by Mr A. J. White, and on the right is a similar collection shown by Messrs King and Co. Turning along the right is the hatter's stand of Mr Hulbert, wherein two skilled workmen are showing the various stages of the manufacture; and next them, Mr Proctor, optician, is giving practical lessons in connection with the production of lenses. Then comes clothing, as produced by the New Zealand Clothing Company; and the adjoining display is that made by the proprietors of the Lyttelton Times, to illustrate the progress made in artistic printing, engraving, photo-lithography, &c. The next stands are those of Messrs Dunn Brothers, tinsmiths, and of Mr Atkinson, range maker. The great trophy of woodware extending from floor to roof, has been built up by Mr Jenkins; and the remainder of this side of the hall is occupied by Messrs A. and T. Burt, of Dunedin, who make a really wonderful show of articles in brass and copper, gasaliers, pumps, lead and composite piping, &c. The South end of the building is filled in with a aeries of collections representing some of the mineral wealth of the Colony, and some of the results of that wealth, the various items also tending to show that there are workmen employed here who have a clear conception of art forms. On the western side-there are pictures innumerable, examples of engraving, photography, electroplating and electrotyping, letter-press printing, taxidermy, cabinet and carpentry work, masonry, &c. In the body of the hall, the three huge tables, extending almost the entire length, are crowded with exhibits of all kinds, the more valuable contributions being for the most part on the central stand. Just in the centre of the hall is the splendid hexagonal stand shown by Messrs King and Co., and containing. page 9 samples of grain. The machinery in motion is all grouped in the gun room, to which there are two approaches. This place is extremely well lighted, and it constitutes the great attraction of the Exhibition.

At a few minutes past noon, the Railway band, which had been performing within the enclosure, ascended to the high platform in the interior. The lower and temporary platform was occupied by His Worship the Mayor of Christchurch and the members of the City Council; and the President and members of the Committee of Management.

The President said—Mr Mayor, Ladies, and Gentlemen,—Before the Exhibition is formally opened, I have been requested by the Committee, of which I have the honour to be Chairman, to deliver a few remarks as to the origin and objects of this Exhibition. It is now about eight years ago since an exhibition was held in this same building, prior to the despatch of the exhibits for Vienna. No doubt many of you will remember that occasion. It was opened by His Excellency the Governor, at that time Sir George Bowen, and was an undoubted success, and great hopes were entertained that the industries of New Zealand were about to occupy a more prominent position than in the past. The population of the Colony was then 259,000, to-day it is nearly 500,000, and during the eight years that have elapsed, the debt of the Colony has been increased from £10,000,000 to £28,000,000. It might naturally be supposed that with this large increase of population and the immense turns of borrowed money, our industries would have received a great impulse, and that the hopes that had been entertained would have had a fair chance of being realised; but I regret to say that such is not the case, for there is no disguising the fact that our industries and the development of our material resources have not made that progress that we had a right to expect. Agriculture has indeed made rapid strides. Bub notwithstanding this fact, and all the borrowed money, we do not find the Colony in that prosperous state that we could wish. Why is this? I am firmly of opinion that one great reason is to be found in the fact that we have neglected our industries. For eight years we have lived in too great a hurry; we have not had time to use our own materials. It has appeared to be so much easier to import. We have been trying to make money too easily as a nation of importers and land jobbers. We have imported often inferior timber for our railway and rolling stock, white we have been burning our own, and this same principle has been carried on in other ways, and in a sense we have grasped at the shadow and lost the substance. The peculiar position of New Zealand renders it most important that we should in the future do more of our own work and utilise more of our natural resources. For some years past, apart from the importations for Government purposes, our imports have largely exceeded our exports, and seeing that we have a large amount to pay for interest, it is a most serious position for a young country that has not the stored wealth of an older country to draw upon to cover this deficiency. But the depression of the past two years has not by any means been an unmixed evil. It has directed public attention to the necessity of looking more to those matters that we had neglected, and this brings me to the origin of this Exhibition. About a year ago an Association was formed here, called the Association for the Fostering and Encouragement of Native Industries and Productions. Similar Associations were formed in Dunedin, Wellington and Auckland, and consisted of many of those directly interested in manufacturing, and many who had no direct interest. We frankly confess, although it is a "red rag" to some people, that part of their duty was to obtain such a revision of the Customs tariff as would be more favourable to local industry. They sought to have the duties removed from raw materials required by manufacturers and not produced within the Colony, and also the imposition of increased duties on articles that the Colony could reasonably manufacture. I do not intend to weary you with any questions of Free Trade and Protection, and will merely state that the present tariff is, in many respects, more favourable to manufacturing, and I have no doubt will tend to give a substantial impulse to manufacturing in the next few years to the profit of the whole Colony; but the duties of the Association did not by any means end in the tariff question. They have been useful in colic cling and disseminating information on various subjects, and in many other ways; and one of the ways in which they thought they could prove of service was in the inauguration of an Industrial Exhibition. They called to their aid the services of two or three well known gentlemen who are always ready at a moment's notice to give a helping hand in any useful work, and hence the cause of the display to-day. And page 10 In this matter we think we can fairly claim the sympathies of all classes; and the objects to be attained are manifest. In the first place it creates a wholesome rivalry between exhibitors, and thus tends to improvement; and on another occasion (and I hope there will be other occasions) this rivalry can be increased by giving awards, a matter that we had not time to take up this year. In the meantime it may suggest to the capitalist or the citizen some new opening. It also serves as a means of education; and lastly, and by no means the least, it is a capital advertisement for manufacturers, and brings the public at large into direct contact with our productions, and this tends to remove prejudice, for there is such a thing as prejudice, even in the matter of local industries. It is not so long ago that it was considered quite impossible to use native coal on our railways, but that prejudice has now been overcome, and with the result of saving many thousands a year to the Colony and with a good profit to the railways. It is to be hoped that this removal of prejudice will extend to other industries. I stated just now that our industries had not made that progress that we had a right to expect, but it must not be supposed that they have made no progress, for the very contrary is the case, and I alluded more to volume of business that they had had the opportunity of accomplishing than to their ability to turn out really first-class articles; and, in support of this, we refer you to the many beautiful articles of furniture, cabinet work, and wood ware of various kinds represented here to-day, and venture to hope that we shall use more of our timber for these purposes, and import less of the rubbishing furniture that has been poured into this market during the past five years. And while on the matter of timber, I may mention that I have noticed recently in two of the leading American journals, matter drawing attention to the beautiful articles in the New Zealand woods. We refer you to the splendid samples of woollen goods, clothing, &c., from the Kaiapoi mills, also from the Mosgiel. We draw your attention to the splendid samples of pottery, native coal, metal goods, carriage work, and many other lines; all a credit to the Colony. Eight years ago great hopes were centred in flax, and I am very sorry to say these hopes cost some people large sums of money. To-day we have it here represented only by rope twine, but I yet think there is a future for flax, and within the past few months two mills have been started in buildings in the vicinity of Christchurch, for the conversion of flax into pulp for paper-making, an article I believe there is an almost unlimited demand for in Europe and Australia. And we have an article represented here to-day that I think has never before figured at an Exhibition in New Zealand, viz., petroleum from Gisborne. The people at Gisborne sent a delegate with samples to the Sydney Exhibition, and it has led to the formation of a company for working the oil mills, and I hope they will prove successful. Years ago the term "Colonial" applied to an article, meant something rough and ready, but it is not so now, and this, we think, you will ascertain to-day; and as a matter of fact it really means something good, for it is generally in competition with imported shoddy that a colonial manufacturer fails, and if the public will only recognise the fact, there is a bad time in store for shoddy, but, if not, and they will have shoddy, then I suppose our manufactures will have to go on improving till they even reach that undesirable point. The prosperity of this country depends on its people, for it teems with natural wealth and advantages, and its brightest future can be summed up in two words—Economy and Industry, and if we can to-day move it but one step in that direction, we shall feel that our labours have nob been in vain. On behalf of the Committee, Mr Mayor, I have much pleasure in asking you to formally open this Exhibition.

Mr Allan was loudly cheered.

The Mayor of Christchurch, who on this occasion wore his chain of office, said:—Mr President, ladies, and Gentlemen—When I was asked by the President and members of the Committee to take a part in this opening ceremony, I consented to do so with very great pleasure, because it is the duty of any one holding an official position, to give all the support and countenance which that position is supposed to give to an undertaking of this kind. I am sure you will all agree with mo that the beet thanks of this community are due to the President and Committee for the great energy and enterprise which they have displayed in getting together so large an Exhibition as this in so short a time. Those who were here seven years ago, and who recollect the Exhibition of that time, however great that Exhibition was, for a young country like this, cannot help being struck at the very great progress that has been made in manufactures and local produce generally. I page 11 think it speaks well, and proves that our manufacturers and producers are alive to the fact that they must be prepared to produce as good articles here as manufacturers and producers can elsewhere. Whether we consider the quality of our wools, the excellence of our coal, limestone, cereals, building material, our beautiful woods for cabinet ware, and other natural productions, it appears to me that we have everything necessary for man's use in oven a high state of civilisation. I may state that exhibitions of this kind are productive of great good inasmuch as they bring to our knowledge the resources of our country. They tend to stimulate healthy competition between manufacturers and producers; and, what is even more beneficial in my opinion, rouse us to place greater reliance in ourselves. If this Exhibition shall, in the smallest degree, tend to bring about a greater knowledge of our resources, and open up a larger consumption of local manufactures; and if it causes our manufacturers to exercise greater energy and enterprise, and thereby provide labour for our surplus population, I consider it will have done great good, and have served the object which the promoters of this gathering had in view; and it will not have been in vain. Ladies and gentlemen,—With those few remarks I have very much pleasure in declaring this Exhibition publicly open. (Cheers.)

The band—"God Save the Queen."

Three hearty cheers were then given, and the opening ceremonial thus terminated.

In proceeding to notice in detail some of the vast number of items included in the collection, it will be convenient to follow, so far as possible, the order of the "Catalogue of Exhibits" issued to visitors. It was only at the last moment that it was decided to publish some sort of classified list, and in the too great hurry of preparation, the compiler has been erratic, and—at times—intensely funny.