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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 62



This cause, under the leadership of my veteran friend and neighbour, Sir William Fox, in former years three times Premier of the colony, has gained greatly of late years in New Zealand. Local option is now in force over the whole colony, and I have myself witnessed the great improvement in the streets of Auckland, and the marked decrease in police offences since ten o'clock week-night and entire Sunday closing were adopted. As a striking proof of the increased sobriety of the citizens of this type of a New Zealand city, let me tell you the remarkable and gratifying fact that on the day after the general parliamentary election of November, 1890, there was not a single person brought up before the magistrates for intoxication. Life and limb are better protected, and property safer from thieves, than in many countries of much older settlement. Householders lock their doors and leave home for a day, two days, or even longer, and return to find everything safe and untouched. This trustful conduct would scarcely do in any English town. If a stranger dies in the colony without relations or friends, his effects are promptly and carefully taken charge of by the public trustee, who executes the will, if there is one, or, if the deceased died intestate, distributes the property to any persons who can prove their right of inheritance in any part of the world, the Government deducting merely five per cent for the expense.

The working man in New Zealand has abundant leisure for the cultivation of his garden-patch and the improvement of his page 34 mind. As a rule, he owns his own house and allotment. Mechanics' Institutes and Free Public Libraries abound in the colony, even in the smallest towns. The ideal of the Chartist—

Eight hours' work, eight hours' play,
Eight hours' sleep, and eight bob a day—

is even exceeded, for in some handicrafts the wages are nine and ten shillings a day. But it is to be remembered that just as "high interest" means "doubtful security," so "high wages "means "inconstant employment." There arises a break in the demand for a certain class of labour; and a man may have to leave wife, family, and home, and travel 500 or 600 miles to find a new job, or may have to journey to Australia to procure employment. The fares by sea are far too high, compared with our Atlantic fares, because of the monopoly of inter-colonial trade by the Union S.S. Co. Trades unions are powerful in the Australasian colonies, but somehow or other the employers generally triumph in the end by vigorous and intelligent cooperation. New Zealand offers a welcome, like the parent country, to all foreigners who conform to the laws. The children of Israel, concerning whom there is so much stir just now, are in good positions everywhere. But New Zealand, following the lead of her neighbours, draws the line at the Chinaman, upon whom she levies a tax of £10 when he enters the colony. This tax does not prevent the influx of Celestials, and market gardening, laundry work, and the mining of certain poor districts (unremunerative to the European), are falling into their hands. But New Zealand ought not to be crowded with foreigners, whether Eastern or Western. This grand country is better adapted to the constitution, habits, and pursuits of Britons than any other Southern Pacific possession, and it is its glorious destiny, I hope and trust, to become the happy home of millions of our own race.