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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 62

The New Zealand of To-Day

page 19

The New Zealand of To-Day.

One of the most cheering signs of the times in which we live is the fact that Old England is taking a particular interest in her Colonies, and that schemes of emigration, settlement, responsible self-government, and colonial federation are being formed and promoted by many good and true men carrying weight and influence amongst us.

The working-man is now "reading-up" the Colonies (aided by the excellent Emigration Bureau) and making himself better acquainted with our vast Transatlantic and Antipodean estates. The colonial-born all over the world call Britain "home," thus showing some domestic tie to the old country; and those of us who may be contemplating emigration ought to reciprocate that noble sentiment to the extent of preferring to live under the British flag rather than under the American or any foreign flag, all other things being equal.

After a dozen years of travel and residence abroad, during which I have been round the world, and have lived in the United States and then in New Zealand, I am convinced that Great Britain can maintain her ascendancy as "mistress of the seas" and her command of the world's markets only by a closer union or partnership, at first political and defensive, then commercial and fiscal, with those vigorous young nations which even now own a vaster extent of the Earth than was ever embraced by the greatest empires of antiquity. If we bear in mind that sparsely-peopled Canada and Australia are each almost as large as the United States, that the half-million square miles of South Africa hold less than three million people, and that New Zealand, small as it looks on the map, is but one-sixth less in area than our own islands, yet has but the population of Liverpool—we must conclude that surely there is plenty of room within our empire for the ever-growing surplus of our crowded millions.

Now, I hold that Colonial Federation is a necessary prelude to that grand idea of Imperial Federation which may be realised sooner than some of us dream of. Australian or Australasian federation is now coming almost within sight, since New Zealand has abandoned her attitude of reserve towards the movement, and has deputed two excellent representatives—Sir George Grey and Captain Russell—to take part in the Federal Convention at Sydney.

[Since this address was written the Convention has been held with great success and enthusiasm—" one people, one page 20 destiny," having been the prevailing sentiment. Most important resolutions were passed, for which see the London daily papers of March 3 to 14, greatly accelerating union among the colonies of Australasia.]

Imperial Federation would soon come within the sphere of practical politics if the following concessions, amongst others, were granted: The Agents-General of the self-governing colonies to have ex-officio seats in the House of Lords, and to be received at court on the footing of ambassadors; the Secretary for the Colonies to be always an ex-governor of considerable colonial experience; one member at least of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council to be a colonial ex-Chief Justice; in the Church, colonial ordinations to be recognised as equal to those at home; and more inducements to be held out to the colonial-born to join both army and navy, whether as officers or as privates.

The new mail route across the North American continent, viâ the Canadian Pacific, to Australia, the Fijis, and New Zealand, will do much to promote the union of the Colonies, besides providing a safe access to the East in the time of war, should the Suez route be blocked. The tendency of the age is towards confederation, not disintegration, among the nations of the Caucasian race. Never let the narrow-minded economists persuade you, my fellow-countrymen, that our Colonies are but a source of embarrassment and expense to the old country. Quite the contrary is the case. In spite of "protective" tariffs (necessary to them for revenue), England absorbs more than two-thirds of all their trade; they provide an outlet for our surplus population, for the investment of capital, and for travel and exploration, bringing health and enjoyment to many; they afford valuable coaling and recruiting stations for our navy and commercial marine; they are loyal to our sovereign, and, as far as New Zealand is concerned, they are British to the backbone. The Colonies are a source of moral, physical, and political strength to us; and if wise and timely concessions are made by our statesmen and Legislature to reasonable colonial demands, as expressed by the Federal Conventions, the mistakes of the eighteenth will not be repeated in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and our children will see a Dominion of Australasia stretching out one hand across the Pacific to the Dominion of Canada, and the other across the Indian Ocean to a United British South Africa, thus encircling the globe with that grand old flag—

"The flag that braved a thousand years
The battle and the breeze."

Now to-night, with the help of a selection of views of its scenery and volcanic wonders, I shall try to interest you in the far-distant colony of New Zealand, and I hope that in the end I page 21 may even be able to infect my audience with some of my own exuberant enthusiasm for that grand country. Any advice I may incidentally give to the emigrant, invalid visitor, or tourist, must be considered as disinterested, seeing that, having completely "sold up" in order to settle at home in my native city of Liverpool, I do not now possess a foot of land nor a share in any company out there. My admiration for New Zealand is but a fitting tribute of gratitude to the climate which so completely restored my health; for the novel, pathetic, quaint, and varied phases of life I there met with; for the kindness and hospitality I and my family received during our nine years' sojourn; and for the many warm, true, and life-long friendships we there formed. It was with these feelings in my heart towards the colony that, after my return home, I endeavoured to set forth the claims of New Zealand as a world-sanatorium, and also as a desirable place of settlement for the emigrant, in a compact but comprehensive illustrated Handbook (published by Sampson Low and Co.), entitled "New Zealand for the Emigrant, Invalid, and Tourist," a synopsis of which is printed upon the small hand-maps kindly supplied this evening by the Council of this Society. In this work I have collected and condensed, not only the observations, experience, and conclusions of my own life in New Zealand—where I mixed freely, as a doctor naturally should do, with "all sorts and conditions of men," from the Governor down to the poorest emigrant—but also all the general information that the reader who stays at home would naturally expect to find in a Handbook about the colony. Each chapter completes its own subject, and a copious index (my own labour) enables anyone to find the precise information he wants, quickly. I have been abundantly satisfied with the kind reception the book has met with from reviewers, both at home and in New Zealand; and more especially am I pleased with the gratifying encomium pronounced upon it by Sir Andrew Clarke, Bart., who is our leading medical authority upon " Change of Climate."