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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 62

Co-operative Settlement

Co-operative Settlement.

The advantage of forming co-operative associations is, that a whole block of land—not more than 11,000 or less than 1,000 acres—can be at once taken up, whereas in the case of individual applications, if there is more than one application for any particular lot, the allotment is made by ballot. The number of persons forming an association must not be less than twenty-five. I would here offer the suggestion that these regulations for associated settlement provide a means under which people from this country can take up land most advantageously. Individuals often hesitate to face unaided the uncertainties attaching to a new life, and more often their experience is insufficient to justify the new departure; whereas an aggregation of twenty-five men form a detachment which, if care is taken in their selection, will ensure the presence of experience, judgment, and some capital. Many a father, who would hesitate page 20 to trust his son alone, would give two or three hundred pounds to form one of twenty-five, amongst whom would be found men of sound judgment and experience. A band of twenty-five men would form also quite a colony, and however remote their block of land might be from centres of civilisation, they would be a little community in themselves. If the association were formed of married men with families they would be at once entitled to demand a Government school, at which the children get free education. It is often an advantage that such settlements should be in remote districts, for there is generally work to be done in the neighbourhood in the form of making roads, which provides the settlers with the means of earning a little money during the first two years while the land is being brought into profit. There is always plenty of land in the hands of private owners who are willing to sell and lease, so that if a settler chooses to acquire land from private individuals rather than from the Crown he will have no difficulty in doing so. In many cases it is better for a man with a little capital and experience to take land from private owners rather than from the Crown, as he has a larger field to choose from, and by acquiring an improved farm he gets an immediate return, instead of having to wait until the rough Crown land is rendered productive.

There is a good demand in the Colony for land suitable for varied farming, but there is also an indication that those who hold large properties are anxious to place them in the market.

The price of land offered for sale by private owners varies according to locality and quality. In country districts fair agricultural land can be bought at from 5l. to 8l. per acre, land of prime quality reaching higher figures. In the neighbourhood of the large towns the price of land is much higher.

Enough has been said, I think, to show that New Zealand is no place for clerks, and soft-handed men unfit for hard manual labour, or for men without capital and training in any walk of life, who are often sent out to the colonies because they have failed at home. Such as these invariably go from bad here to worse in the Colonies. There is a demand for good female domestic servants, and high wages are obtainable, but the Government having ceased to contribute towards the cost of passage money, they must pay their own passage.