Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 62



Important as are the agricultural and grazing products, yet the future of the colony is intimately bound up with mining interests. The mineral resources are very great. In the past these have had a most important influence on the development and progress of the colony. Gold to the value of 46,425,629l. was obtained prior to the 31st December, 1890. The gold produce in 1890 was of the value of 773,438l, and for the year ending December 1891 the returns show an export of 251,161 ozs. of gold, valued at 1,007,172l. In the earlier years gold was obtained from alluvial diggings, but at the present time largely from gold-bearing quartz, which is distributed widely through several parts of the colony, and thus there is a much better prospect for the permanency of this industry than was afforded by the alluvial diggings. The amount of silver extracted to the page 12 end of 1890 only amounted to 134.997l., but recent discoveries of ore give promise of large production in the future. No iron ores are at present worked, although almost every known variety of iron ore has been discovered in the country, the workings being limited to the black sands which occur plentifully on the coasts, the best known deposits being at Taranaki.

Several companies have been formed both in England and the colony to manufacture steel direct from this ironsand. They have not, however, succeeded; but a partial success was attained by smelting in furnaces bricks formed of the ore with calcareous clay and carbonaceous matter, and recently the sand has been treated by a continuous process that produces puddled blooms. It remains to be proved, however, if it can be profitably treated in large quantities by this or any other process. Of other minerals the product to the same date amounts to 8,969,020l., of which Kauri-gum yielded 5,394,687l., and coal, with coke, 3,362,3632.

The following gives the production of precious metals and minerals during the year 1890:—
oz. £
Gold 193,193 773,438
Silver 32,637 6.162
Antimony ore 515 11,121
Manganese ore 482 1,004
Hæmatite ore 5
Mixed minerals 19 273
Coal 635,481 349,936
Coke 2,218 3,334
Kauri-gum 7,438 378,503

The approximate total output of the coal mines to the 31st December, 1890, amounted to 6,456,674 tons. Extensive coal-fields exist in the colony, coal being found in various parts, and mines are worked in the provincial districts of Auckland, Nelson, Canterbury, and Otago. The abundant coal supply, added to the good water supply and temperate climate, render New Zealand suitable in every way to become the manufacturing centre of the Pacific. It will be noted from the table of industries given later in this paper that a considerable manufacturing trade is growing up in the colony.

The bituminous coal is of a very superior kind, being equal to, if not better than, the best descriptions used in any part of the world. It is especially valuable for the manufacture of gas, and is eagerly sought for gas works and iron foundries, even at an advance of 10 to 20 per cent, on the price of any other coal. Engineers of local steamers esteem it 20 per cent, better than the best New South Wales coal for steam page 13 purposes. The valuable character of this coal for steam purposes was shown when H.M.S. Calliope was, on account of using it, enabled to weather the hurricane at Samoa, which was so disastrous to vessels of other nations, and escape to sea. Sir James Hector has recently estimated the various coal-fields in the colony to contain, on the whole, 444,000,000 tons; but the incompleteness of the surveys necessarily makes the estimate a very rough, and probably very insufficient one.

Petroleum oils of good quality have been found at the Sugarloaves rocks, a short distance from the mainland near New Plymouth, at Waipaoa, near Poverty Bay, and at Manutahi, Waiapu, East Cape. The attempts made at Waipaoa to secure oil in marketable quantities have been so far unsuccessful, and it is still uncertain whether better results will be obtained from the borings now in operation at the Sugarloaves, Taranaki.

Kauri Gum.

Kauri Gum is an important article of export. It consists of the dried and solidified sap of the Kauri tree, a species of pine which does not exist in any other part of the world. The gum is found generally in places which have been in former times covered with pine trees, but which are now bare of forest growth. The gum is used largely in the manufacture of varnish, and the finest quality is also worked up for ornamental purposes much in the same manner as amber. The gum is used largely in the United States as well as in this country. The export for the year 1890 was 7438 tons, valued at 378,563l Gum digging employs a large number of people, and in the Auckland province it has become a standing industry.


The New Zealand fungus, known to commerce, is found on decayed timber. The export for 1890 was 8105 cwt. valued at 12,823l. The article is chiefly sent to China, where it is said to be used as a dye in the manufacture of silk, and also for making a kind of soup, for which dish it is much prized on account of its gelatinous properties and rich flavour.

There are some mineral products not enumerated in the list given which exist in the colony, some in ascertained considerable quantities—e.g. iron, copper, chrome, lead and zinc ores. The purest form of marble is found in many localities in the middle island, also a great variety of excellent limestones suitable for building and other purposes.

page 14


The following table proves that the colony is able to supply from her own factories many of the wants of the people. It shows
Nature of Industry. Number of each kind. Number of hands employed. Amount paid in wages. Estimated value of land, buildings, machinery, and plant. Estimated value of produce and manufactures in 1890.
£ £ £
Printing, &c., establishments 142 2,569 214,185 341,683 354,559
For machines, tools, and implements 43 556 46,887 76,783 148,364
Coach-building and painting 108 678 52,601 96,225 139,660
Tanning, fellmongering, and wool scouring 104 1,196 92,442 153,592 1,026,349
Ship- and boat-building 37 145 10,831 10,172 35,847
Sail and oilskin factories 32 124 6,335 16,799 31,083
Furniture factories 94 585 42,743 96,543 131,314
Chemical works 8 55 5,754 23,766 41,568
Woollen mills 8 1,175 79,040 259,955 279,175
Clothing factories 19 1,290 52,754 59,735 166,579
Hat and cap factories 16 112 6,276 26,005 21,628
Boot and shoe factories 47 1,943 124,990 82,137 403,736
Rope- and twine-works 24 222 13,658 36,086 76,711
Flax-mills 177 3,204 116,168 146,792 234,266
Meat-preserving, freezing, and boiling-down works 43 1,568 138,459 476,151 1,464,659
Bacon-curing establishments 33 84 6,696 14,180 83,435
Cheese and butter factories 74 269 14,928 100,453 150,957
Grain-mills 129 499 52,384 391,828 991,812
Biscuit factories 22 331 17,199 48,960 127,147
Fruit-preserving and jammaking works 15 117 4,742 10,042 27,255
Breweries 102 476 54,825 236,825 66,764
Malthouses 27 87 7,875 42,442 80,341
Aerated-water factories 112 261 17,021 73,147 91,691
Coffee- and spice-works 17 81 6,562 30,850 64,024
Soap- and candle-works 19 209 21,391 74,443 155,714
Saw-mills 243 3,266 271,814 500,272 832,959
Chaff-cutting establishments 63 205 7,330 36,300 41,455
Gas-works 27 249 31,700 730,490 178,947
Brick-, tile-, and pottery-works 106 494 25,190 119,780 56,830
Iron and brass foundries 68 1,727 152,687 262,042 390,943
Spuoting and ridging works 12 100 7,981 29,670 33,140
Gold- and quartz-mining-works 135 1,971 183,582 241,715 278,893
Hydraulic gold - mining and gold-dredging 74 495 32,904 154,270 73,713
Collieries 95 1,655 173,538 155,671 279,777
Other industries 295 1,881 117,415 671,172 860,851
Totals 2,570 29,880 2,209,859 5,826,976 9,422,146
page 15 the number of the principal manufacturing industries at the end of 1890, the number of hands employed, the amount of wages paid to them, the estimated value of capital invested in land, buildings, machinery, and plant, and the value of the products or manufactures in that year.

New Zealand Hemp.

New Zealand Hemp (Phormium tenax) is the manufactured product of New Zealand flax, as it is locally called, and is a valuable fibrous plant indigenous to the colony. The decennial table shows that the export has grown to large dimensions. The flax plant grows freely and re-grows quickly after the leaf is cut. The fibre is largely used both in this country and in the United States for the making of rope binder twine and for other purposes. The best quality is almost equal to Manila and superior to Sisal. The low prices ruling for Manila and Sisal have prevented the industry making the rapid growth that was looked for, but with the introduction of improved machinery, enabling the fibre to be prepared at a reduced cost, or should the supply of Manila fall off, the export would assume large dimensions. In the early days flax prepared by the Maoris in a special manner, involving much labour, had a very large commercial value, but not sufficient to pay for the labour. This shows, however, that the fibre can be worked up to a great pitch of perfection.

There are now 177 mills in the colony, and during the year 1890 the exports were valued at 381,789l.


The timber trade of New Zealand has steadily increased. The forests are so extensive, and contain such a variety of valuable woods, that they must prove of enormous value in the near future. the kauri tree has the highest commercial value. The wood is very hard and takes a high polish, and is used for furniture making and ship-building. There are valuable woods, known as kahikatea, totara, puriri, rimu, rata, maire, and many others. The exports of timber for 1890 amounted to the value of 181,689l., and trade is now being opened up with Australia and also with this country. The Midland Railway Company of New Zealand, an English company formed for the making of a line of railway in the colony, has a most valuable concession of splendid timber lands, and is taking active steps to promote a large export trade.

page 16


Some thirty years back New Zealand was an important whaling centre, but the decrease in the value of whalebone and the discovery of lubricating oils which have taken the place of whale oil, has caused the fisheries to decline. The coast-line of New Zealand is over 5000 miles in length, and the supply of edible fish is abundant. Little has been done, so far, to develop the fishing industry, but in the opinion of those most competent to judge, this industry will grow to very large dimensions.

During the last two years a trade in oysters and fresh fish has been opened up with Australia, and the large quantity and great variety of edible fish on the New Zealand coast only require the necessary skill and capital to enable a large export trade to be developed.