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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 48

Complimentary Dinner

Complimentary Dinner.

On Tuesday a complimentary dinner was given at Messrs Ford and Newton's rooms, to the promoters of the recent Local Industries Exhibition. More than 100 gentlemen sat down to a repast which did credit to the caterer, Mr J. W. Morton. The rooms were well lighted, and the tables and walls suitably ornamented.

The chair was occupied by his Worship the Mayor, supported on his right by Mr R. Allan, President of the Local Industries Association, and on his left by the Hon H. B. Gresson, The vice-chair was occupied by Mr John Ollivier, supported by Messrs 8. C. Farr and W. R. Mitchell.

After the dinner had been disposed of,

The Chairman proposed the usual loyal toasts, which were duly honoured.

Mr H. E. Alport proposed "The Members of the General Assembly," and expressed a hope that they would do their work properly.

The toast was duly drunk.

Mr J. Ollivier, whose rising was the signal for prolonged applause, had been astounded at being called upon to respond to the toast. What connection was there between the General Assembly and himself? He was glad to drink their health, but how could he respond to the toast seeing that that General Assembly had that day sent him among the dead men. On Monday morning he would have to take his billy to the soup page 29 kitchen. (Laughter.) He must in the course of things have a supreme contempt for such an assembly. (Laughter.) The General Assembly might turn him upside down if they liked, but he would come up right side uppermost. (Laughter.) After all there were some good men in the Assembly. When the time came, let them send him up to the Assembly, and he would stick to the Province of Canterbury, which had set an example the Assembly would show wisdom in following. There were representatives already at Wellington who were willing enough to follow this example, but there were wheels within wheels. He trusted that the time would corns when Canterbury principles would rule in the Assembly. Those principles were comprised in the phrase, "Justice to all men." (Applause.) Though he had nothing at all to do with the Assembly, he had much pleasure in acknowledging the toast. (Applause.)

Mr R. Allan proposed—"His Worship the Mayor and the City Councillors." (Applause.) The Council had a large amount of work to do, and deserved credit for the way they did it. His Worship had occupied the chair in the Council for two years with credit to himself and satisfaction to the citizens. (Applause.) The Council compared favourably with previous Councils, and had they raised the trifle of £200,000 or £300,000, would have left their footprints on the sands of time. (Applause.)

The toast was drunk with enthusiasm. His Worship the Major responded. The duties of the Council were very onerous, and were becoming more so every year, The Mayor must be prepared to sacrifice himself for the benefit of the citizens. He was proud of his Councillors, and in their name and his own thanked the company for the manner in which they had received the toast. (Applause)

The Chairman proposed "The promoters of the Local Industries Exhibition." This was the toast of the evening. (Applause.) He had never before felt how unable he was to do justice to a toast. It had been thought that the opportunity should not be allowed to pass without, honour being done to the Committee. Considering the short time and limited space at their disposal their success showed what could be done by a few energetic men. It reminded him of the mythic springing of Minerva from the head of Jove. It was wonderful to see what had been done in this Exhibition, which had brought manufacturers and consumers together, and would serve as a starting point for the future. At the next Exhibition, which he believed would not be far off in time, no doubt great progress would be shown. He had token part in the first New Zealand Exhibition 13 years ago, and must say that the recent one here was more interesting. He had heard numerous observations from visitors to the effect that they would for the future patronise local articles. (Applause.) As the Hon Mr Gresson was to follow with another toast going over much the same ground, he would not further trench upon the company's time.

The toast was drunk with musical honours, and "one cheer more for Mr Allan."

Mr Allan, who was greeted with loud and long continued applause of a most enthusiastic character, responded. He felt deeply the great honour which had been shown the Committee. It was an acknowledgment that their steps had been directed towards a good object. The Committee had been actuated solely by a sincere desire to help forward the cause they had been desirous of helping. Their friends had laughed at them for having Local Industries on the brain. (Laughter.) But their success had been most gratifying. It was equally gratifying to see many gentlemen who differed from the Association assembled there. It showed that there was a disposition to give fair play. He might call attention to the opportunities which could be afforded by merchants and others to local industries. He might mention one firm, whose names he would not give, but who, the moment they found a local industry established, ceased ordering from Home, and did what they could to foster the local effort. As to the Committee, they had worked together most harmoniously, quietly and unostentatiously. They had only one failing, and that was too much modesty. The great compliment paid them that night had somewhat shocked that modesty. (Laughter.) In twelve or eighteen months' time it was hoped that another Exhibition would be held. He trusted that when it took place all would be able to look back with pleasure to the Exhibition now just past. (Applause.)

The Hon H. B. Gresson, who was loudly applauded, proposed—"The Exhibitors." He was not surprised at the manner in which the last toast bad been received. It would have been strange had it been otherwise, but he must claim a great part of the merit of the Exhibition for the exhibitors. (Applause.) page 30 Wise as was the plan devised, and energetic as were the efforts of the Committee, the Exhibition would not have been a success without the exhibitors. A difficulty in their way was the commercial depression deeply affecting local industries. Despite of this, it now had been seen how spiritedly the exhibitors had seconded the efforts the Committee. (Applause.) For himself he had always believed in a great future for New Zealand, but on entering the Exhibition he had been amazed and bewildered by the amount of the exhibits and their quality. (Applause.) At first sight all appeared to be confusion, but on examination it was seen that everything had been displayed to the best advantage. The credit of this might partly be given to the promoters, but he desired those whom he might call his clients (laughter), not to be forgotten. He would mention one or two natural productions in the Exhibition, and the local industries springing from them. The first were the minerals connected with the pottery works—fire clay, sands, chalk, coal, and other things were most striking, and not the less so on account of their being found in close proximity to one another. The results were shown by the exhibits, beautiful and useful, of four firms. (Applause.) Another exhibit which was most striking for its beauty and variety was the collection of native woods. These were shown in furniture, in articles of turnery, &c. The gowai, for instance, had been shown to be superior to hickory for wheel spokes. He would not detain the company further than to say that it had come before the Commissioners that in superior articles the Colony could compete with Home, being beaten only in slop and shoddy work. (Applause.) He hoped the day for the use of shoddy was far distant. (Hear.) It only remained for him to allude to the good done by the exhibitors to the Colony at large. He felt proud of the compliment paid to him by having the toast entrusted to him. Feeble as his advocacy was, he felt content that the cause of local industry did not require even his poor advocacy. (Applause.) The resources of the Colony, with the indomitable industry transplanted from the Old Country, were destined to make this Colony the happy home of thousands yet unborn. (Applause.) He coupled the toast with the names of Messrs Isaac Wilson, Austin and Kirk and F. Jenkins. (Applause) The toast was enthusiastically drunk.

Mr Kirk felt that speaking was a different thing from working. On behalf of the exhibitors, he could say that they had worked with heart and soul, and were glad to find that they had achieved so satisfactory a result. The firms connected with the industry he represented employed some 400 hands, many of them married men. (Applause.) Almost all industries shown at the Exhibition had representatives present. Otago would endeavour to emulate Canterbury; and if it did, Canterbury must endeavour to out-do Otago. He returned sincere thanks for the manner in which the toast had been received.

Mr F. Jenkins returned thanks, He was a bashful man, and hoped they would excuse him from making a speech. (Applause)

Mr Tate, of Messrs Burt and Co., of Dunedin, was loudly called for, but desired to be excused.

Mr Alport had visited Messrs Burt's factory, and found to his surprise that they employed 100 men, and that their productions were equal to the best at Home. (Applause.)

Mr John Anderson, who was loudly applauded, proposed—"The Commercial Agricultural and Pastoral interests of Now Zealand." The Committee, though showing a want of judgment in entrusting the toast to him had redeemed their credit by associating with the toast the name of Mr Stead. (Applause).

The toast was duly drunk.

Mr G. G. Stead, who was loudly applauded, responded. He reminded the company of the fact that 56 largo vessels, of 54,500 tons register and 80,000 tons burden, had within the last six months taken 44,000 bales of wool, and 2,500,000 bushels of wheat to the United Kingdom. This was sufficient to show the enterprise of the commercial men of Canterbury. For the agricultural men he could say that in 1879 they had cultivated 318,000 acres of land, and raised 7¼ millions bushels of grain. Last year 384,000 acres had been cultivated, and had given 12¼ million bushels of grain, showing an increase of 70 per cent, in twelve months in the yield, and 25 per cent, increase in acreage. Wool-growers would be better pleased with the result of their shipments than with anything he could say. He thanked the company for the manner in which they had received the toast. (Applause.)

Several other toasts were also drunk.

This concluded a very pleasant evening, itself a fitting conclusion to what has proved a most successful enterprise from first to last—the Christchurch Industrial Exhibition.