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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 50

Home Trade

Home Trade.

Preliminary.—I have now given a sketch of the industries that have hitherto contributed most to the sea-borne commerce of New Zealand. So far my task has been an easy one, for the statistics show plainly their rise and progress as well as the struggle for supremacy between the native and imported products; but it is different with those industries that have not reached the exporting point, there being no such direct means of arriving at their true history or present condition. An idea can however be formed by calculating the amount per head of imports and exports for each class or article at different times. I have had a statement (Appendix No. 1) prepared on this basis, which gives general deductions, and from which results in an particular case can be worked out.

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A few Colonial manufactures are exported, but, with two exceptions, they have not in reality reached the exporting stage, the imports being still greatly in excess. Six items appear in the last statistics, but three only are manufactures in the popular sense, viz., biscuits, soap, and leather. The two former are fairly established as Colonial industries, for there are practically no imports of these articles. Leather has been exported since 1867, and the trade has grown, with few intermissions, to £46,287, the amount for 1882. Against this, however, we in the same year imported £82,315 worth. Of course the imported kinds are quite different from the exported ones; but this shews that there is ample room for an expansion of the industry, particularly as we export £77,000 worth of the raw materials. Leather is practically the only New Zealand manufacture sent to England.

The statement just referred to is divided into ten classes under the conventional headings of—A. Food and Fodder; B. Drinkables, and Materials for making them; C. Clothing and Clothing Materials; D. Household Requisites; E. Luxuries, Literature, and Science; F. Building Requisites; G. Requisites for Settlement and Trade; H. Machinery and Manufacturing Requisites; I. Natural Products. I shall follow this classification in further considering our home trade and throughout the other parts of the lecture.

Food and Fodder.—After the staff of life, in its various forms, the other eatables that we now produce in the Colony are confectioneries and jams. During the last ten years the imports of confectionery have decreased from £19,178 to £10,190. It does not follow that the taste for lollies in the rising generation is dying out, it merely shews that two-thirds of the quantity consumed is made in the country.

The manufacture of jams has only become an page 17 important New Zealand industry within the last three years, consequently we can scarcely judge as to whether it is a success. The imports for 1882 were £22,923 as against £44,614, the average for the three previous years.

In the matter of the necessaries of life generally, food and fodder, our imports per head of the population are now £1 19s 2d, and exports, £2 10s 2¼d. In 1877 the figures were £2 7s 5¼d and £1 0s 9¾d, and in 1867, £5 0s 0d and £0 3s 5¾d.

Drinkables and Materials for Making them.—After food comes drinkables and materials for making them. Under this head our only native manufactures are beer and aerated waters. In 1882 we exported £318 worth of Colonial beer, but we are still far from the exporting stage, for the imports for the same period were £93,417. Notwithstanding that there are 99 breweries and 34 separate malthouses in the Colony, employing about 600 men, and producing about 5,000,000 gallons of beer, the imports nearly keep pace with the increase of population. The average annual consumption of imported beer during the past five years being only 9d. per head less than for the previous five—a curious fact for the Blue Ribbonists.

Taken altogether the materials for making beer have fairly reached the exporting stage, the balance last year having been £23,700 in favour of the local industries. Hops is the only article in which the balance is on the other side the imports last year, being £18,138 as against £11,049, the value of the exports. The position will however soon be reversed, for hop growing is fast becoming an extensive industry in Nelson and Marlborough.

The import trade in aerated waters and cordials seems to be no older than the home manufactures. The statistics show that there are 79 factories, employing page 18 228 hands, that the capital invested is £66,900, and that about 650,000 dozen of the various drinks are produced annually.

Clothing and Clothing Materials.—Next to food the greatest essential of civilized life is clothing, and some of our most successful efforts have been made in providing it for ourselves. In the various industries connected with manufacturing and making up leather and cloth no fewer than 3,400 hands are employed, and the capital invested in plant and buildings is estimated at £294,711.

I have already referred to leather in connection with Colonial manufactures that are exported. In 1881 there were 31 boot factories in operation, employing about 1,300 hands, and producing 280,000 pairs of boots and shoes. As might be expected, this has had a great effect on the imports—in 1882 their value was only 7s 6d per head of the population as against 14s in 1872, and 17s in 1873.

There is no industry in New Zealand of which the colonists are prouder than the woollen manufactures, and they undoubtedly merit the estimation in which they are held, whether as regards the success they have achieved or the excellence of the products. Four mills have been in active operation for some years—three in the vicinity of Dunedin and one at Kaiapoi, near Christchurch. Another is just beginning work at Oamaru, and two are in course of erection, or about to be erected at Ashburton and Wellington. A small carpet factory of seven looms has also been recently established at Woolston, near Christchurch.

The four mills already in full operation work up annually about 2,150,000 pounds of wool, the value of which is £75,000. The cloth produced is worth £150,000, and the value of the clothing into which it is made is £450,000. If these manufactures took only the page 19 place of cloth, the amount of imports excluded by them would be of course £150,000, but if they took the place of ready-made clothing the amount would be the full £450,000. We know that they act in both ways, consequently it will probably be fair to assume that the Colonial manufactures, affect the imports to the extent of about £300,000. Notwithstanding the magnitude of these manufactures the import of clothing and clothing materials generally has not decreased much during the past ten years: it was £4 14s 2d per head of the population in 1882, as against £4 5s 4¼d in 1877, and £5 6s 8¼d in 1872.

Household Requisites.—We now come to household requisites, and, taken as a whole, the import trade is little affected by the home manufactures, the value per head of the imports being practically the same in 1882 as it was in 1872. There is a large increase in furniture, china, and plate, but a considerable reduction in soap, candles, and other articles of daily consumption. About 480 men are employed in the manufacture of furniture throughout the Colony; but this can have little effect on an industry that depends not so much on the necessities of life as on the caprice of fashion and taste.

The manufactures of soap and candles are generally carried on together. As already stated, Colonial soap now commands the market, there being practically no imports except of fancy kinds. The imports of candles in 1872 was £72,930; in 1877, £96,412; and. in 1882, £65,398. It is estimated that £70,000 or £80,000 worth of tallow is used annually in the manufacture of soap and candles, and the products are valued roughly at about £100,000. There were 108 hands employed in these industries in April, 1881, but the number has increased considerably since then.

Luxuries, Literature, and Science.—My next class is Luxuries, Literature, and Science; but I have little to page 20 say on the subject. The manufacture of literature is probably one of the most thriving of Colonial industries; but whether the products are equal in quantity to the imported article I am not able to judge. I do not, however, think that the imports will ever be affected by the home supply.

The manufacture of paper comes under this head. There are two mills in operation, one at the Mataura and the other at Dunedin. Hitherto they have only produced brown and grey wrapping paper; but the Mataura mill is now beginning to make white paper for printing purposes. The paper is manufactured chiefly from native grasses, with the addition of such rags and waste paper as are procurable in the Colony.

The mills have not been sufficiently long at work to materially affect the imports, but the value of paper put on the market last year is estimated at from £6,000 to £8,000.

Building Requisites.—In building requisites the principal Colonial product is timber, which has been already referred to. According to the last returns there are 4,238 hands employed in sawmills and wood factories, nearly a fourth of the manufacturing labour of the Colony. The capital invested in machinery, plant, and buildings, is estimated at £773,628.

After timber comes brick and tile works, stone quarrying, and lime burning, which give employment to about 900 men, and in which £131,000 is invested. In 1881 the number of bricks produced was estimated at 28½ millions.

The drain pipes and stoneware made from the native clays are of particularly good quality, and the manufactures have been a complete success in every way. The attempts made to establish potteries to manufacture the finer classes of earthen and china-ware have not been so successful; but a more satisfactory page 21 result will undoubtedly follow further efforts, the raw material being abundant and the market for the manufactures extensive.

Hydraulic lime, equal to Portland cement for most purposes, is now produced in Auckland by four or five kilns, and getting into general use throughout the North Island. The output of the Mahurangi kiln alone is upwards of 1,000 bushels a-week.

Nelson and Auckland each has haematite paint factories, and there is also a glass works at the latter place. Their products are of excellent quality, but they have not yet come into general use.

Requisites for Settlement and Trade.—The principal Colonial industries under this head are the manufacture of gunpowder and artificial manure, the building of carriages and other vehicles of all kinds, ship and boatbuilding, and the manufacture of agricultural implements.

A mill for the manufacture of blasting powder has lately been established at Owake, Catlin's River. With the exception of saltpetre all the raw materials are found in the country. I understand, however, that there is a difficulty in getting a regular supply of sulphur, which comes from White Island. The charcoal is made chiefly from Hini-hini, a soft wood of little value for any other purpose. The blasting powder made at the Owake mill is of excellent quality. There is, apparently, no difference between it and the imported article.

On account of the fertility of the soil there was little demand for manure of any kind until of late years. The item does not appear in the imports till 1879; but in 1880 £26,941 worth was imported, chiefly bone dust. The local manufacture sprang up immediately, and it is rapidly becoming of some importance. In 1881 there were two chemical works and 17 bone mills in the page 22 Colony, employing about 40 hands; but the chemical works are not exclusively engaged in manufacturing artificial manure; among other things they produce sulphuric acid, which is extensively used in candle making and other manufactures.

The building of carriages and other vehicles has of late years attained considerable proportions, about 400 men being employed in the various establishments throughout the Colony. Vehicles of all kinds are manufactured regularly in large numbers, from mail coaches and private carriages to six-horse waggons and farm carts, and in all the vagaries of shape and style so much affected by colonials. Whether as regards design, workmanship, or price, the New Zealand made vehicle compares favourably with the imported article. In 1882 the value of vehicles of all kinds imported into the Colony was £99,715, exactly £830 above the amount for 1862.

About 140 men are regularly employed in the building of wooden steamers, sailing vessels, and boats. The industry is confined almost entirely to Auckland, where there is an abundant supply of suitable timber. Trading vessels up to 500 or 600 tons are built, and the Auckland yachts have acquired a high reputation all over the Southern Seas.

In the statistics of industries and manufactures for April, 1881, which is the latest available, the number of agricultural implement factories is given as 23, and of machinists and millwrights as 8, the total number of hands employed being 405. The industry must have increased considerably since then, for Messrs. Reid and Gray alone employ upwards of 200 hands all the year round. There is no more successful business in the Colony than the manufacture of agricultural implements and machinery, and this fact has a peculiar significance for those interested in the establishment of manufac- page 23 tures. It shews that industries of this sort find a congenial soil in New Zealand, for the one now under consideration has not been fostered nor encouraged in any way. It has not even had the slight protection of the ordinary Customs' duty, agricultural appliances having all along been duty free.

The local manufactures are by no means confined to the commoner agricultural implements, but embrace high class machinery of the most scientific kind, with the very latest improvements. A peculiarity of this industry is the continual change in the fashion of the articles produced. There is no class of appliances which has of late years undergone more alterations and improvements than those connected with agriculture, and the colonists of New Zealand are always ready to adopt any invention that will save labour or otherwise cheapen the cost of production. The latest improvement in agricultural machinery is generally in full swing at the Antipodes long before it has gained a footing in the Old Country. The success of the local industries is probably due in a great measure to the alacrity with which those engaged in them accept and adopt these improvements. Although the Colonial manufacture of agricultural appliances is so great, it has not kept pace with the spread of agricultural settlement; not including hand tools, we still import £100,000 worth of plant for tilling the soil and gathering in its fruits.

Machinery and Manufacturing Requisites.—The industries just referred to merge naturally into those under the head of Machinery and Manufacturing Requisites, and the only ones not yet considered are the general mechanical and metal trades. According to the statistics of 1881 there are 44 establishments for working metals in the Colony. The capital invested in plant and machinery is £159,662, and the number of hands employed 973. In addition to the ordinary requirements page 24 of trade, settlement, and manufactures, the mechanical industries in New Zealand have received a considerable impetus from gold-mining, for which little machinery is imported.

Looked at from an English point of view our essays in iron ship-building have been insignificant, but as a colonial industry they are well worthy of notice. Eighty-three steamers, of sufficient importance to be put on the register of shipping, have from first to last been built in New Zealand, and, with a few exceptions, their engines were also made in the Colony. Fifty-six have been built in the Province of Auckland—15 of them being iron, 35 wood, and 6 composite. Otago has built 20—16 of them being iron and 4 wood, and the other Provinces 7—5 iron and 2 wood. These steamers are of course very small, compared to those we are now accustomed to travel in. Among the more important are the "Golden Crown," wooden paddle steamer, built in Auckland, 330 tons burden, and, 140 horse-power; the "Macgregor," iron screw steamer, built in Auckland, 256 tons, and 60 horse-power; the "Oreti," iron screw steamer, built in Dunedin, 188 tons, and 50 horse-power; and the "Port Jackson," a steel screw steamer, built in Dunedin, 107 tons, and 50 horse-power.

Eight iron steam dredgers have also been built and engined in Dunedin—the largest being the "Vulcan," 70 horse-power. Dunedin has also acquired a high reputation throughout the Colony for the manufacture of heavy cranes. The 40-ton travelling jib crane at the Oamaru Harbour Works was in its day the largest of the kind in the world.

With the view of giving local industry a fair trial Government lately called for tenders for a large iron bridge, to be manufactured entirely in the Colony. The result has been highly satisfactory. There was good competition in tendering, and a con- page 25 tract has been let at a price very little, if anything, in advance of what the bridge would cost had the ironwork been imported ready made.

In brass and copper works New Zealand seems to have fairly taken the lead of the Australian colonies, all the principal prizes at the Sydney and Melbourne Exhibitions having come to Dunedin. Several large orders for brewery plant and other special manufactures have followed those prizes, and many of the ordinary wares find their way to the Australian market. The local manufacture of lead piping has now complete hold of the home trade, none being imported. A remarkable feature of this trade is the large quantity of small articles manufactured—steam, water, and gas fittings, and the thousand and one metal nick-nacks that seem to constitute the stock and trade of an ironmonger. On making inquiries I find that in every instance the question of importing versus manufacturing has been carefully considered, and nothing is made that it would pay better to import. Among other advantages in making those stock articles is that it enables the manufacturers to keep around them a good supply of skilled workmen.

Natural Products and other Raw Materials.—The principal item under this head not already referred to is coal. A few years back we depended almost entirely on other countries for our coal supply, but since 1878 the native product has greatly exceeded the imports. The total consumption of coals in the Colony for the five years ending 1882 was 2,092,509 tons, out of which 1,378,539 tons were the produce of New Zealand mines.

A small export trade with the Australian Colonies is also springing up; during the five years referred to 30,354 tons have been exported. On account of its superiority for gas purposes, the West Coast coals can even now compete with the Australian ones on their own ground, and the market for page 26 general purposes all over the Southern Seas is only limited by the capacity of the harbours at Westport and Greymouth. In addition to the large expenditure by the Government in opening up coalfields by railways and harbour works, private capital to the amount of £221,150 has been invested in coal-mining plant and machinery. The statistics of 1881 gives 992 as the hands employed in coal-mining throughout the Colony; but the number is now much greater, as the Westport mines were not fully opened out at that time.