The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 62
I have already mentioned the vast trade in frozen meat, to which I must now more particularly refer. About ten years ago it was deemed by many quite an impossibility that meat could be killed at the antipodes, brought 12,000 miles, and delivered in British markets in prime condition. The New Zealand farmer was at his wit's end to know how to realise a fair value for his surplus sheep, and for many years the only apparent outlets, after supplying local requirements, were the canning or boiling down establishments. The former, however, used a very limited quantity, and neither would pay more than a very minimum price, so that there was no satisfactory return to the squatter.
Upwards of ten years ago Mr. Haslam propounded his scheme of refrigerating, stating that it was possible by means of his process to send 10,000 carcases in one ship in good order, and deliver them at Leadenhall Market. This was received by some with ridicule, by others with suspicion, and by most as merely visionary. However, in the year 1882 the first shipments of frozen meat were made from New Zealand, and the value of the export for that year was only £19,339. The first shipments proving successful, year by year the trade has expanded and progressed by leaps and bounds, till now, by the returns of the last year available (1890), the value of this export was £1,087,617, representing the carcases of 1,330,176 sheep, 279,741 lambs, and parts of carcases of bullocks weighing 98,234cwt. To accomplish these results large oceangoing steamers of great power and speed have been specially built and adapted to the trade, and owing to great improvements in the process of refrigeration their carrying capacity has been extended beyond the bound at first stated, one of the latest ships being capable of con- page 30 veying no less than 80,000 carcases. What better evidence could be adduced as to the great resources of the colony than such facts as these? Perhaps it may be said, "Well, you New Zealanders are killing the goose that lays the golden eggs." My reply is that notwithstanding the supply of our own population, who, I may-remark, are great meat-eaters, most tables being supplied two or three times daily with fresh meat, and the enormous export already referred to, our own flocks of sheep had increased by 700,000 sheep in the last year named. It is not for me to estimate what may be attained in this vast trade in the near future, but when we can show such results for a period of less than ten years what limit may not be reached in the next decade? The natural results of such markets as have been opened up to the colony has been to stimulate the occupation and clearing of forest and indigenous growth, and the laying down of grasses. And I may say there is here a wide field open for anyone possessing the stock in trade necessary, viz., capital or labour, or better still some of both (stout hearts and willing hands are indispensable), to go forth and subdue the soil till "the wilderness and "solitary place shall be glad for them, and the desert shall "rejoice and blossom as the rose."