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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 62

No. 2. President's Address — Delivered Before the Canterbury Chamber of Commerce, August 1889

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No. 2. President's Address

Delivered Before the Canterbury Chamber of Commerce, August 1889.

The President, Mr. A. Kaye, said—

Gentlemen,—In rising to move the adoption of the annual report and balance-sheet, I realise that the events of the past year have fully borne out the hopeful and well-grounded anticipations which specially characterised the address of my predecessor in office, and which made at the time such a favourable impression on the public. Owing probably to the desire of demonstrating that our returning prosperity was an indisputable fact, greater attention and more publicity have, in the interim, been given to statistical returns, rendering it somewhat difficult to bring before you fresh figures and views that will be of use and interest; still the importance of the subject must be my excuse for possible tediousness while I seek to prove that the colony has made steady and decided progress, and emerged from that depression which has clogged the wheels of her trade for so long.


The wonderful increase that has taken place in the volume of our exports has been one of the most noticeable features of the year ending 30th June, and is worthy of more than passing notice. The following table will indicate clearly the steady progression in the values of the total exports from New Zealand over the corresponding quarters of 1887-8:—
1888. 1887.
£ £
Quarter ending 30th September 1,302,057 1,118,739
Quarter ending 3181 December 2,055,328 1,686,736
1889. 1888.
Quarter ending 31st March 3,117,734 2,983,630
Quarter ending 30th June 2,214,249 1,426,250
8,989,368 7,215,415
Equalling a net increase of 1,773,953l. on the year, and nearly 2,000,000l. over the records of any year previous to 1888, and this gratifying result is not merely in the increased value of our products and manufactures, but is largely due to increased production, as will be seen from the following comparison table of some of the principal articles exported for the period under consideration:—
To end of June 1888-June 1889. 1887-1888. Increase.
Article. Quantity. Value. Quantity. Value. Quantity. Value.
£ £ £
Wool lbs. 91,947,776 3,628,682 90,218,135 3,326,280 4,699,641 302,402
Wheat bushels 3,570,205 646,977 691,453 102,577 2,878,752 544,400
Oats bushels 3,076,973 382,083 2,596,087 224,919 480,886 157,164
Barley bushels 349,199 61,030 75,462 14,220 273,737 16,810
Flour, bran, and sharps tons 24,103 160,681 11,051 42,607 13,052 118,074
Frozen meat cwts. 616,416 736,116 462,947 494,802 153,469 241,314
Preserved meats Salted beef cwts. 67,497 122,380 57,694 97,841 9,803 24,539
Tallow tons 7,989 157,697 6,685 120,152 1,304 37,545
Potatoes tons 14,061 50,764 15,224 29,071 .. 21,693
Butter cwts. 32,910 141,904 25,483 85,728 7,427 56,178
Hops cwts. 3,322 19,241 2,407 9,581 915 9,660
Flax tons 8,651 181,481 2,405 42,506 6,246 138,975
Coal tons 84,057 82,575 52,926 49,821 31,131 32,754
Timber—sawn and hewn feet 45,417,227 183,224 36,090,551 146,345 9,326,676 36,879
Leather cwts. 11,359 52,473 9,605 32,223 1,754 9,967

If we further analyse these figures, we are at once struck with the extraordinary expansion of the trade in the following exports:—Wool, grain, flax, and frozen meat, which I propose to deal with seriatim.


Some apprehension has been felt that, owing to disastrous snowstorms in the spring of the last year, more severely experienced in the Mackenzie country, and increased attention which our fanners have given to cropping, the returns for the present year (i.e., ending June) would show less favourably than usual, but the contrary is the case, as the increase of 4,699,041 lbs. in weight, and of 302,402l. in value, abundantly testify, to which must be added the 4,079,563 lbs. consumed in New Zealand mills, an increase of 100 per cent, on previous returns.

The incentive to breed crossbred sheep to meet the demands of the frozen mutton trade has happily resulted in the growers finding their page 11 returns augmented, owing to the enhanced value of this class of wool in the markets of the world.

Our pastures being eminently suited to the raising of crossbreds, New Zealand wool growers have a decided advantage over our Australian neighbours. This is shown conclusively in a comparison of shipments to London from Victoria with those from New Zealand, for three years taken at random, since the commencement of the frozen meat industry:—
1881. 1885. 1888.
Total wool from Victoria 353,400 311,200 352,600 Bales.
Total wool from New Zealand 183,200 237,400 265,800 Bales.
Total crossbred wool from Victoria 93,500 75,000 54,200 Bales.
Total crossbred wool from New Zealand 91,500 127,000 171,000 Bales.

The steady advance on the one hand, and equally steady decline on the other, is most marked, and buyers from America, Europe, and Australia, in their eagerness to overtake the increasing demand for this particular class of wool, have noted the change, and by their attendance at our local sales have materially helped to improve values.

The advantage is not likely to be a transient one, as, according to the Australasian, by a recent ruling of the United States Customs authorities as regards the classification of worsted goods, it has been decided that worsted goods will be hereafter classified as woollens, and pay duty on the higher scale, though worsted yarns will continue to come in at the old rate. The natural effect will be to stimulate the demand for very fine crossbred wools, which should be very satisfactory news to New Zealand growers.

It may not be out of place here to note that the requirements of the United States are likely to become enormous, and in view of the well-authenticated facts that the wool production there has about reached its maximum, that the consumption per head in the States is the largest in the world, their requirements for wool being more than is now being produced in the whole of Australasia in two years, it follows that that country's probable necessities are of the deepest moment in the consideration of our wool trade. So far the wool imported into the States for the enormous carpet trade has consisted chiefly of East Indian and Russian varieties, but inquiries have reached both Melbourne and New Zealand markets as to the possibilities of buyers being able to effect purchases of the rough, coarse crossbred wools carpet manufacturers require. Members will at once see what an important factor this is in the consideration of the increased cultivation of crossbred sheep; not only do they make the most profitable "freezers," but their wool is likely to find a ready outlet at remunerative prices.


The sanguine predictions enunciated a year since, as to the speedy and decided improvement in the values of our cereals, have been more than amply verified, due to a singular combination of circumstances. The disastrous weather experienced in England being followed by an equally unfortunate season in Australia, but from exactly opposite causes, provided us with profitable markets for some months. For a time it looked as though our colony must be the only granary from which Australia would naturally draw her supplies, and for a short period shipments were effected to Sydney at increasingly advancing prices, but it was our misfortune to exceed the level of rates at which Californian, as well as Indian, holders of wheat could operate to advantage; notwithstanding this, the colony secured a steady and continuous benefit from the circumstances that caused the outside markets to advance, as the remarkable increase in the volume of wheat exports during each quarter as compared with the quarters of 1887-8 will show:—
Quarters Ending. 1888-1889. 1887-1888. Increase.
Bushels. Value. Bushels Value. Bushels. Value.
£ £ £
Sept. 761,023 110,318 59,292 10,807 701,736 99,511
Dec. 968,681 186,554 53,899 8,858 914,782 177,696
March 656,819 104,059 119,006 19,288 437,813 84,771
June 1,283,677 246,046 459,256 63,624 824,421 182,422
Totals 3,570,205 646,977 691,453 102,577 2,878,752 544,400

Thus it will be seen possible markets have been steadily taken advantage of with very beneficial results. It is very interesting to note the proportion of wheat exported to the United Kingdom and Australia respectively as compared with last year.

Year ending June. United Kingdom. Australia.
Bushels. Value. Bushels. Value.
£ £
1888-9 1,935,300 334,441 1,483,288 285,350
1887-8 407,435 74,614 82,093 11,346
Increase 1,527,865 259,827 1,401,195 274,004

Showing a wonderful expansion in this trade, especially to Australia, as, while the ratio of increase to the United Kingdom has advanced nearly 4¾ times, the increase to Australia exceeds 18½ times; or, if we take the value, we find about the same proportionate advance as in the quantity sent away to the United Kingdom, but to Australia the value exported is fully 25 times more than went forward in 1887-8. This latter feature is undoubtedly highly satisfactory, seeing that it must be to our advantage to cultivate the nearer markets of the sister colonies as often affording the best prices with the quickest returns.

It is generally admitted that the United States have about reached the maximum limit of the quantity of wheat they will annually have available for export to foreign countries; hence with the increasing population of Australia, the comparatively contracted areas in which wheat growing can be prosecuted to payable advantage,; considered with the uncertainties and variableness of its climate, we may reasonably look for frequent periods when we shall have large outlets in that direction, at prices more payable than will pro- page 12 bably be found in Europe. That New Zealand is in a very superior position to meet such demands through the productiveness of her soil, is shown in the average yield of wheat per acre in the Australasian colonies for the years ending 31st March, 1874-1889.

1874. 1875. 1876 1877 1878 1879. 1880. 1881. 1882. 1883. 1884 1885. 1886. 1887. 1888. 1889. Mean. New South Wales .. 13.43 12.87 14.66 16.43 13.84 14.74 15.48 14.69 15.35 16.35 15.00 15.52 10.45 17.37 12.06 4.76 13.93 Victoria .. .. .. 13.58 14.57 15.49 13.15 12.41 8.76 13.29 9.95 9.40 9.03 14.10 9.62 8.99 11.49 10.81 7.10 11.35 South Australia .. 7.87 11.75 11.95 5.40 7.76 7.15 9.78 9.96 4.57 4.21 7.94 7.53 7.53 7.53 9.75 *3.85 7.78 Queenslnd .. .. ..————10.63 13.56 8.11 20.40 8.41 13.89 4.34 16.17 5.11 3.12 22.10 0.89 10.56 Western Australia .. 13.44 12.00 11.00 12.00 11.00 9.97 14.94 14.94 7.00 11.00 13.00 13.00 11.50 12.25 9.80 10.50 11.71 Tasmania .. .. .. 16.17 18.51 16.38 19.30 18.12 16.10 23.22 14.99 18.88 20.74 17.74 19.30 17.32 17.91 16.67 20.16 18.31 New Zealand .. .. 25.61 28.15 31.51 28-63 26-30 22.94 28.16 25.07 22.69 26.28 26.02 25.43 24.40 24.89 26.37 24.22 26.04 *Estimated.

Average Yield of Wheat per Acre for the Years Ended 31st March, 1874-31st March, 1889 (Inclusive).

The statistics just issued by Mr. Hayter, the Victorian Government Statist, Verify a statement made in this Chamber six months since, that the total gross produce of the white crops of the whole of Australia for 1888-9 would not reach the record of our little colony for the same period, as Mr. Hayter's own figures prove:—
Colonies. Wheat. Oats. Barley. Totals.
bushels. bushels. bushels. bushels.
Victoria 8,647,709 7,803,800 1,131,427 12,582,936
N. S. Wales 1,450,503 109,931 36,760 1,597,194
Queensland 8,263 3,626 7,432 19,321
S. Australia 6,187,000 43,584 109,979 6,340,563
W. Australia 322,730 41,852 73,630 438,221
Total for Australia 16,616,214 3,002,793 1,359,228 20,978,235
New Zealand 8,770,246 10,977,065 1,402.537 21,149,848
Balance in favour of New Zealand 171,613
In this connection it is interesting to note the mean average produce per acre of oats, barley, and potatoes in the Australasian colonics from 1873 to 1887:—
Victoria. New South Wales. Queensland. South Austraia. Western Australia. Tasmanli. New Zealand.
bushl. bushl. bushl. bushl. bushl. busbl. bushl.
Oats 21.20 20.70 13.11 12.93 15.94 25.72 91.98
Barley 20.00 20.25 19.50 12.59 14.96 24.26 27.31
tons tons tons tons tons tons tons
Potatoes 3.46 2.83 2.73 3.38 2.77 3.70 5.13

The fact is observed in the "Victorian Year Book" that "the average produce of wheat, oats, barley, and potatoes, is much the highest in New Zealand," and were we to add the mean for 1888-9 we should still further distance our friendly competitors. 'Twere easy to multiply figures on the wonderful productiveness of New Zealand soil, but enough has surely been said for this occasion to show the unique position New Zealand ' occupies amongst these great grain communities of Australasia. And this position should be especially pleasing to us, seeing that out of the total area in cereals throughout the colony for the past year of 793,866 acres, 402,307 acres belong to Canterbury province. One of the most striking features of the year under review has been the excellent quality of the grain marketed, which should go a long way towards overcoming the prejudice that exists in some quarters against New Zealand production. Thanks to our system of farming, we ship our grain much cleaner than is the case with shipments from Australia, or almost any part of the world; but we shall never obtain that perfection which will meet with the views of our foreign consumers, until we grade our numerous varieties into standard qualities. At the outset this would probably mean increased cost to growers, but it would undoubtedly pay in the end by the enhanced values that our recognised standards would secure. Too much stress cannot be laid on this question of quality, as we hear of really medium wheats being often offered in other markets as prime New Zealand milling, which must work out detrimentally to our best interests.


The efforts of colonists sixteen years ago to establish this industry having resulted in much serious loss and disappointment, the manufacture was abandoned by all but a few enthusiasts, and shipments fell off to slender proportions. As the public attention has been much directed to the improvement of this industry, a table of the exports since 1872 may be instructive:—
Year. Tons. Value. Year. Tons. Value
£ £
1873 6454 143,799 1881 1307 26.285
1874 2039 37,690 1882 2039 41,955
1875 639 11,742 1883 2013 36,761
1876 897 18,285 1884 1624 24,500
1877 1053 18,826 1885 1063 16,316
1878 623 10,666 1886 1112 15,922
1879 445 7,874 1887 1595 25,094
1880 894 15,617 1888 4279 76,919

A new impetus was given to this trade by the scarcity of Manila hemp in the European and American markets, and consequent advance in the prices. This was quickly followed by large orders received in New Zealand from the United States, for binder-twine purposes. These have page 13 gone on increasing, so that the exports for the first half of the current year are larger than any whole year since 1883, viz. 6,025 tons, of the value of 132,821l., and there is every reason to believe that the demand will strengthen as the quality becomes better known and appreciated. Since the adoption of twine for binding up has become so general, considerable trade has been done in the colony in the manufacture of fibre into twine, resulting so favourably that it seems hardly reasonable to continue to import twine that can be as well made here.

Frozen meat.

This trade has continued to develope in a most satisfactory and pleasing way, and to fully respond to the most sanguine expectations of those who, at the initiation of the industry, had the courage of their opinions to take vigorous and ably-conceived measures to push the enterprise in face of considerable opposition and scepticism, as the following table of yearly exports eloquently proves:—
Year ending 31st Dec. Frozen Mutton (including Lamb). Frozen Beef (included with Sheep).
Cwt. Value. Cwt. Value.
£ £
1882 15,244 19,339
1883 86,994 116,106 937 2,155
1884 252,422 342,476 1,644 2,605
1885 286,961 359,618 9,169 13,678
1886 336,404 413,713 9,391 12,843
1887 395,022 444,747 6,630 10,195
1888 507,360 573,196 44.612 54,914

Considerable attention has naturally been directed in ascertaining to what extent this heavy drain on our flocks has affected their numerical strength. From the sheep returns for the whole colony, which are not available till fully a year after the date to which they are compiled, we find the total number of sheep given on 31st May, 1888, as 15,042,198, as against 15,155,626, showing a decrease of 113,428 sheep. This decrease can be accounted for by the larger area devoted to crops, and to the severe culling which was practised throughout the colony owing to the dry summer of 1888, but chiefly to the largely increased export during that year.

The following are the latest sheep returns brought down to 31st May, 1889, for North Canterbury, i.e., Amuri, Cheviot, Ashley, Selwyn, Akaroa and Ashburton counties; and also South Canterbury, i.e., Geraldine, Waimate and Mackenzie counties:—
North Canterbury. South Canterbury.
Merinos 1,780,550 834,282
Other breeds 1,147,285 832,460
May 31st, 1889 2,927,835 1,666,742
May 31st, 1888 2,899,675 1,696,821
Increase 28,160 Decrease 30,079
Total Number in Canterbury.
May 31st, 1889 4,594,577
May 31st, 1888 4,596,496
Net decrease 1,919

It will be observed that there is a decrease in the flocks south of the Rangitata. This is mainly due to the heavy losses occasioned by the severe snowstorm of last spring. The pleasing side of these returns lies in the fact that North Canterbury flocks have not suffered by the weather, nor from the demand for "freezers," for we are proud of the position that North Canterbury crossbred mutton occupies to-day in the London market as being par excellence the choicest and most palatable of any frozen meat imported into the Old Country from any part of the world, and it is therefore a matter of congratulation that we have not as yet overstrained this important source of supply; and it is to be hoped that North Canterbury will long retain its premier position, which can only be done by a strict and observant oversight on the part of those who have the selection of the sheep for the slaughter pens, so that none go forward but what are in the pink of condition. The exports of frozen meat for the colony for the first six months of the present year are 312,941 cwt., of the value of 342,398l., "and satisfactory as the increase is, it would have been far greater but for the calamitous fire at the Belfast Freezing Works in December last, which, taking a low estimate, has probably diminished the number of carcases exported by fully 100,000. Taking into account the exceptional prices which have ruled in London, this possibly represents a loss of profit of 50,000l. to the district. Though the loss is so great, the accident has resulted in far more commodious and capacious stores, as well as extra engine power, being erected, with a possible annual working capacity of nearly 400,000 carcases. As a further outcome, large works have been erected on the South line of railway at Islington, with a present working capacity of 200,000 carcases, but with accommodation for 600,000 carcases per annum, provided additional steam power be supplied; therefore the measures taken by the shipping companies to provide extra carrying capacity are well timed, so that the immediate future of this thriving industry has been thoughtfully and wisely provided for. The boom that occurred in the Home market in May-June, due to the sudden contraction of Continental supplies and the sharp advance in prices, and speedy clearance of all stocks held, indicate that the barrier of prejudice against meat frozen is gradually and surely being broken down. The long-wished-for time has come that sales are able to be mode on a cost, freight, and insurance basis, whereby growers' and shippers' actual liability for loss, when once the meat is aboard and insured, ceases. Already large transactions have been completed on this basis. These facts tend to show the day is not far distant—nay, may we not say has arrived?—when this valuable commodity will be recognised as a very important factor in the meat supplies of the Old Country, as witness the reported sudden leap in prices, owing to the stoppage of supplies through the London docks strike. Time will not permit me to more than briefly refer to one or two more of the many other products which have all conduced to make up such a grand list of exports, bearing out what was well said in a leader in the Argus last year, "that the immediate prosperity of New Zealand will not be from her rich coal beds nor from her goldfields, but from

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