Southland and its Resources
Southland Times Co., Limited Publishers Invercargill, N.Z.
Southland & its Resources,
Read at a meeting of the Southland Institute, on 18th September, 1883; together with comments by members.
A meeting of the Southland Institute took place on Tuesday evening, the 18th September, in the Supreme Court buildings, Invercargill, the President, Mr J. T. Thomson, F.R.G.S.. in the chair. Amongst these present, besides several ladies, were the Revs. P. W. Fairclough and T. O'Callaghan, Drs Closs, Galbraith, and Wardale, and Messrs G. Bailey, T. 15. Bennett, W. E. Bews, H. Cars well, R. F. Cuthbertson, T. Denniston, G. Froggatt, J. Garmson, J. B. Greig, W. S. Hamilton, W. Handyside, J. E. Hannah, J. Harvey, F.R.G.S., J. Johnston, J. H. Kerr, J. Kingsland (Mayor), R. Macleod, J. Man-son, J. T. Martin, R. H. Rattray, W. R. Robertson, Watson Shennan, John Thomson, W. Todd, G. Trew, and G. Webber, and others.
The President stated that the object of the meeting was to hear a paper by Mr W. B. Scandrett on "Southland and its Resources."
Mr Scandrett, who was well received, said—
The Southland district, commencing at; a point on the south-east coast of the South Island of New Zealand known as Chasland's Mistake, and which lies about half-way between the mouth of the Mataura and Clutha rivers, stretches northwards to Lake Wakatipu. Its natural western boundary is somewhat west of the River Waiau, although the western boundary of the County of Southland extends only to the Waimatuku and Oreti rivers. The natural features of this large district vary considerably, the extreme north and west being mountainous, whilst the southern portion comprises undulating country, plains and forest.
Southland comprises the sub-districts of Toi-Tois and Waimak Valley, with its township of Fortrose; Wyndham, Eden-dale, and Tuturau, with the township of Mataura; Waikaka, Chatton, Otama, and Knapdale, with the townships of Gore and Gordon; the Hokonuis, Waimea Plains, Waikaia, Nokomai, and Athol districts. In the central district is the valley of the Oreti, including Mararoa, Dipton, Winton, and Waianiwa; whilst to the west lie Otautau, the Waiau country, Longwood, Orepuki, and the old township of River-ton.
The whole district is well watered, the Mataura, with its numerous tributaries running nearly parallel with the eastern boundary, from as far north as Lake Wakatipu. In the centre of the district the Oreti, with the many minor streams adding to the volume of water it daily carries to the sea, and on the west the important Aparima and Waiau rivers, with the many water-courses which flow into them effectually preventing the necessity for irrigation in that portion of the country.
The climate of Southland is undoubtedly healthy and invigorating, approximating to that of the south of England, with a much milder winter, and altogether without the fogs which so often overcloud all parts of Britain.
This immense stretch of country, approaching in extent to five million acres, was, comparatively late in the history of the colonisation of Now Zealand, occupied by those pioneers of civilisation, the squatters or runholders. The soil of the district is particularly well adapted for raising rich and nutritive grasses for feeding sheep and cattle, the hills especially page 2 forming dry and healthy runs in summer time, on which stock thrive and increase in the most satisfactory manner. The laws of the colony in the early days permitted tracts of land from ten thousand acres upwards to be taken up as runs for grazing cattle and sheep. Amongst the earliest settlers in the Southland district who still follow that vocation, although they have changed the tenure of their holdings from leaseholds into freeholds, are—Mr Alexander McNab, of Knapdale; Dr Menzies, of Dunalister; Capt. Francis Wallace Mackenzie, the present M.H.R. for the Mataura district; Messrs Peter and David McKellar, Captain Stevens, and others. Other settlers who may be classed as pioneers still reside in the district, and amongst these may be mentioned Mr John MacGibbon, the senior partner of the firm of Messrs John MacGibbon and Sons, who was occupied twenty-five years ago in ferrying the traveller across the Mataura river, and who still lives in the locality of his old occupation to this day.
The squatters or runholdors devoted themselves almost exclusively to raising stock and producing wool, and for years the only exports consisted of the last named staple; and the wealth which wool annually brought into the country in those days, assisted the progress of the infant settlement in a manner that can be appreciated best when we look over the statistics of exports and the census returns for the same period showing the population of Southland.
As population increased in the colony, it became desirable to subdivide the runs into areas suitable for farms, and, as may have been anticipated, the lands on the banks of the Mataura river were eagerly sought after by intending settlers. It seems singular that these who desired to buy land thereabouts had to enquire into and study different sets of land laws, there being a different set for each side of the Mataura river. If land was required on the east bank, away one had to ride to Dunedin to lodge an application and conform to the law as it then stood, whilst if another person required a section on the west bank of the river he had to proceed to Invercargill. This anomaly, so far as application for land on the east bank of the river is concerned (and that is only about thirty miles from Invercargill), still exists, although fortunately for the best interests of the colony there is now only one land law, and this is so comprehensive that a settler can easily decide what system and regulations under it will suit him best. There can be little doubt, however, that the Waste Lands Board of Southland should be empowered to deal with all lands within the Southland County, instead of intending buyers or settlers being compelled to proceed over 100 miles to Dunedin to lodge their applications, and wait on the Otago Land Board to grant them.
Early in the history of Southland nearly the whole of the available land for many miles on the western bank of the Mataura river was purchased by a large company of Home capitalists, now known as the New Zealand and Australian Land Company, who brought into cultivation or laid down in English grass many thousands of acres of land. That this company promoted the prosperity of the men who were our first settlers by affording them ample and remunerative employment cannot be doubted, and is generally acknowledged. For many years past however, those persons who have had the welfare of the country at heart have greatly regretted to see the vast tract of fertile, pastoral, and agricultural land stretching from the Mataura Bridge south, ward and westward past Edendale carrying comparatively no population. During the past two or three years the company who own these splendid estates have subdivided and sold nearly the whole of their Southland holdings, and consequently we are likely soon to see smiling farm homesteads, alive with young New Zealanders, where heretofore cattle or sheep have grazed in luxurious plenty, and it will be readily admitted that such tracts of country are better fitted to maintain by the aid of improved agriculture, as we hope to see them contain, a large population of men and women.
The New Zealand Agricultural Company, who own the large tract of country between Gore and Lumsden, are entitled to commendation for the efforts they are making in the settlement of their splendid freehold property.
The hindrance to the rapid advance of the Southland district in the past arose, as it does now, more from the sparseness of the population than from any other cause. The early efforts of the Provincial Government of Southland to promote the settlement and prosperity of the district were, I believe, honorably conceived, and this, although mistakes may have been made [unclear: is] adopting experimental undertakings, such as the wooden railway to the Makarewa, and possibly, at such an early period, the Invercargill-Bluff railway, instead of husbanding the means of the province until its financial resources were more fully de- page 3 veloped: or perhaps better still, of improving, with the funds available, the Port of Invercargill. Still these were points upon which a divergence of opinion would almost at any time inevitably arise. The Bluff-Invercargill railway is doubtless necessary for the ocean-borne traffic, and is a work that sooner or later would have been constructed; still, if half the amount expended at that time, on that undertaking, had been expended in improving the waterway from Foveaux Straits to Puni Creek, the ships which now discharge at the Bluff wharves would be unloading off Tay street or by the railway station, whilst the Bluff-lnvercargill line would certainly have been constructed under the Colonial Public Works Policy.
The resources of the Southland district are indeed manifold, and its future importance can scarcely be over estimated. For many years to come no doubt its agricultural and pastoral interests will be those chiefly promoted, for, although manufacturing industries will arise, yet this southern portion of New Zealand presents a field for agricultural and pastoral pursuits, cither separately or combined, unequalled in the colonies. I was recently shown an estimate which well illustrated the kind of farming that does pay and that should be successfully followed in many, if not all, parts of the Southland district. This estimate was based on the sale of wheat at 3s 9d per bushel, oats at 2s per bushels, fat cattle at 20s per 100lbs, and wethers at 12s each; and it would probably satisfy any intending settler, with capital varying from L1000 to L5000, that mixed farming offered ft safe and increasing return for the investment. Moreover, there is a greater certainty about mixed farming in Southland than in any other part of New Zealand as shown by the published statistics, for sheep are always saleable, and the annual returns from wool certain; whilst as to the production of grain, Southland yields on an average 29 bushels of wheat to the acre, to Auckland, Taranaki, Wellington, and Marlborongh's 18 bushels, Canterbury's 22 and Hawkes Bay's 25 bushels.
In oats, Southland produces 30 bushels to the acre, to Auckland, Taranaki, and Nelson's 18 bushels, Wellington, Hawkes Bay, and Marlborough's 20, and Canterbury's 24 bushels.
In barley. Southland produces 26 bushels to Auckland's 17, and Canterbury's 20 bushels.
Over a long series of years, 11 bushels per acre has been a high average yield of wheat in Australia, but in a moderately favorable season a Southland farmer may fairly expect to realise fully 40 bushels per acre, if his farm is in good condition. It is thus seen that Southland is one of the best agricultural districts in New Zealand, and compares favorably with any of the Australian colonies.
The man who will in time become the average colonist can settle down in many parts of the Southland district on land known as agricultural deferred payment blocks, and if he has saved two or three hundred pounds, as working men may do in the course of five or six years, and is still steady and industrious, there is a very fair future before him. Having secured his land, he will proceed to erect a house for his family, a stockyard for his cattle, with milking shed for his cows: he can fence a small area for a paddock, plant a few acres of potatoes for domestic use, and for sale, saw some turnips for winter feed for his cattle, and [unclear: whilst] these are growing he can find work with the neighboring settlers, some of whom will want fencing, ditching, or ploughing done. As years roll on he will be fairly established, and almost independent, and will become an employer of labor himself, and others can take up land on similar terms, and do as he has done.
Next to the cultivation of the soil, the extensive forests of Southland may be classed as one of the best resources of the district. Within a radius of thirty miles of Invercargill can be counted fully thirty sawmills, employing, on an average, thirty men, as many of the hands are married; and, assuming, as the statistics of the colony permit, that each of these married men has with his wife and family, an average on the whole of four souls depending on him, we can conclude that the forests by the sawmills alone are maintaining a population bordering on, if not exceeding four thousand persons. But the advantage which the possession of forests gives to a district where settlement is proceeding, cannot be assessed alone by the men employed at the sawmills, for the settler is able to purchase the timber for his house at a moderate price, and fencing is reduced to a rate which would make the heart of a settler on the Canterbury plains, or in the treeless districts of Central Otago, leap with joy. The sawmills, too, furnish freight for our railways, and for numerous coasting vessels, whilst no inconsiderable quantity of sawn timber is sent by the intercolonial steamers to Australia.
Bark for Tanning Leather
Is an industry which is developing largely from the possession of forests: one firm alone, Messrs J. Kingsland and Co., of this town, exporting to the northern tanneries hundreds of tons of red pine or rimu and karamai (birch) bark for tanning leather, exclusive of the large quantity which is used in our local tanneries—and Messrs Kingsland and Co. use over 150 tons themselves per annum. Some better system of collecting the bark is required, and it might be worth the consideration of the Waste Lands Board whether sawmillers should not be compelled to cut the bark off the red pine trees, and utilise or sell it instead of allowing it to be burnt on the slabs which usually form the first cut of the circular saw.
The possession and increase of our herds of cattle allows (neat to be sold to consumers at such a price as to place beef on every man's table. This, of course, encourages a large consumption, and the cattle utilised for food provide hides for leather of a quality and size which has already caused the Southland tanned hides to bring the highest market rates; and there is practically no limit to the extension of this important industry, for over 10,000 green bides are annually exported from the South Island to Britain: the anneries not being sufficiently numerous to manufacture leather from the hides available in the colony.
The system of exporting meat by the freezing process to Britain, the great market of the world, will be a means of utilizing the resources of the Southland district which till recently could not have been anticipated. It opens out a prospect of a certain market for fat stock, especially sheep, that will be both steady and permanent. It is doubtless true that the trade and the machinery at present employed are only in their infant stage, and that very great improvements will be made in many details both in connection with the economical working of the machinery on the voyage, and in the arrangements for distributing the meat amongst consumers throughout Britain. But the principle of freezing meat and maintaining it fresh and sweet for human consumption has been tested and proved, and, as the trade is developed, the risks of loss by imperfect machinery or unsuitable ships will be greatly diminished. To the sheep farmer the system offers a guarantee that his surplus stock will find a ready market at a price which should induce him to maintain his flocks at the highest carrying capacity of his land.
Will play an important part in the future of New Zealand, and the whole of the Southland district will share in the prosperity which must follow the systematic working of our coal measures. A cheap and economic fuel is a necessity in profitably working many industries. The coal measures at the Nightcaps are the only mines in Southland that are efficiently worked. In the Government returns for the year 1882 it is shown that 6730 tons was the output for that year. The coal is classed under the head of hydrous, and it is a pitch coal; its structure is compact, has a smooth fracture, does not desiccate on exposure, nor is it absorbent of water, and it burns freely. This mine could probably be wrought very economically if the proprietors were to adopt Messrs Sebastian, Smith, and Moore's system of coal getting by compressed lime. I will explain it. "Cartridges are employed consisting of nearly pure lime, 2½ inches diameter, which, by hydraulic pressure, are reduced from 7 inches to 4½ inches in length, the density being thus nearly doubled; when slaked in an unconfined space, these occupy about five times their original bulk. The shot holes are drilled by means of a light boring machine. The cartridges are then enclosed by tamping in the same way as powder, and they are slaked by moans of a small force-pump. The time occupied in drilling a hole three feet deep is 10 to 30 minutes, according to the hardness of the coal. On the removal of the sprags, which are left in, the coal falls clean from the roof in large masses ready for loading, practically making no small. The following are among the principal advantages claimed for this system. There is no smoke or noxious smell of any kind. The roof is not shaken by this process; no vacuum is created, as is the case with a blown-out shot; and the coals in falling produce much less dust, thereby reducing the danger which is generally admitted to arise from the air of a mine being heavily charged with small particles of coal. Skilled labor is unnecessary, and the coal can be got with much less exertion to the collier than by wedging. After pumping the water into the charged holes the men need not discontinue working, as ii the case with gunpowder, for, simply moving away from the face of the coal while the sprags are being taken out, all risk of injury from falls is avoided." A comparative result of coal-getting by the above system, and by labor at fifty different col- page 5 Iieries, was as follows:—Men working 320 hon is in the ordinary way of wedging brought out 628 tons. By using the lime patent, men working 219 hours brought out 768 tons.
It is worthy of extensive record that the engines on the Southland section of the New Zealand railways are driven with Nightcaps coal.
But not alone at Nightcaps will the district have wealth brought from the hidden treasures underground, for extensive coal measures await development at Orepuki, which is not a greater distance from Invercargill than the Nightcaps, and in addition to the coal, which appears to be of the same character, class, and quality, extensive be is of shale overlie the coal measures. These have been more or less tested, and are found to produce an excellent lubricating oil and a good light burning oil, whilst the shale will he without doubt extensively used for gas making purposes, as it will raise the standard of gas for illumination to a high degree of excellence. For some time past the engineer of the Municipal Gasworks has been experimenting with Southland coal, with the object of using it, either solely or partly, with Greymouth coal for the production of gas, and he appears confident that it can be economically employed for that purpose; and as the railway will be completed to within a short distance of the coal seam there within the ensuing twelve months, a supply of Orepuki coal will be then available for local consumption. Whilst noting all these favorable points in regard to local coal, I wish to guard myself from being suspected of being interested in any local company, by pointing out that, however good these coals are, for local consumption, we shall not he in a position to export them coast wise, as the price obtainable outside of the district would not be sufficient to enable them to compete with Newcastle, or West Coast coals, when railway and ship's freight were added. The production and consumption will therefore entirely depend on the requirements of the Southland district. But local coal should effectually, by reason of the price it ought to be sold at, prevent imported coal finding a market in Southland.
Must now be classed as one of the resources of the Southland district, seeing that the brown wrapping paper is chiefly made from the native tussock grass. The paper manufactory at the Mataura Falls is well worth the attention of visitors to Southland: the several processes which the raw materials undergo until the pulp is ready to enter the machines and the paper is drawn off the cylinders ready for use, are most interesting. The Company who own these works are now beginning to reap the reward of the patience and outlay that has been necessary to carry on this industry to its present success. They had great difficulties to overcome, caused perhaps principally by not procuring at the outset the newest and most approved machinery. In any future undertaking where machinery is required, the promoters should not fail to obtain the very best plant available and introduce skilled workmen for the undertaking.
Will doubtless, within a reasonably short time, become a popular branch of local industry. Suggestions have been made by Mr J. T. Martin and other promiuent citizens that a joint stock company should be formed to manufacture woollen goods, and recently a representative committee was appointed in Invercargill to consider what steps should be taken to give effect to the suggestions. These gentlemen, although favorably disposed to the undertaking, reported that the present time was somewhat inopportune for the formation of a joint stock company. When the present stringency of the money market has passed away, and this season's wool exported, another good harvest gathered, and the export of frozen meat further developed, it ought to bring about that desirable consummation; this promising industry should be again brought into prominence. I have lengthy notes as to the best kinds of wool, machinery, buildings, and plant required for this industry, but I have laid them by, as this paper appeared to be extending to a limit that might overtax the patience of the Institute to listen to.
At Waimea Plains, Mataura, Castle Rock, Dipton, Waiau, and Limstone Plains, of excellent quality, is known to exist. Several circumstences have combined to delay working these deposits, except for buildings in the several localities. But business enterprise will in due course ensure these quarries being efficiently and profitably worked. Mr Blair, Engineer in Chief of the South Island, in a report, says that the granular limestone found in Southland exists in a broad zone extending across the country from the Mataura to the Waiau. It belongs to the same class as the famous Oamaru stone, but is much harder and heavier, and will absorb only one third the quantity of water that the page 8 Island oyster is highly esteemed in Melbourne, and with suitable welled crafts there is no reason why we should not in time have a largo and profitable trade with Australia.
Then again there are the fish with which the rivers and lakes of this district are being stocked. I recently tasted a splendid river trout which turned the scale before it was cooked at 7 lbs, and from the accounts given by residents in several parts of the district a few years will so increase the supply of trout that they will become available for daily consumption.
has been successfully followed as an industry in the Southland district for many years. No extensive finds of rich nuggets have been made, but at Orepuki, Longwood, Round Hill, Nokomai, and Waikaia, miners systematically prosecute a search for the precious metal. Each of these localities contains what is known as "wages ground;" men can always earn on an average fifteen shillings and more a day. On the beach between Bluff harbor and Mataura river one or two parties of six men have been working for the past two years, and there are miles of beach open to working men to follow that class of occupation. The party dig the beach up and wash the material excavated, saving the gold, and when one patch of beach becomes exhausted they remove a little further off; after a strong south-east wind and swell the beach is levelled by the deposits from the sea, and the locality can again be washed up; and the process appears likely to last for many years.
It may be of interest to those who have expended time and money on the quartz reefs at Longwood to know that Professor Hutton thus speaks of the country west of Riverton:—"Gold in small quantities is found throughout this formation, but the Longwood range is the only place in which it occurs to any considerable extent. The gold of the Orepuki district must have come out of these rocks, as it is found up the valley of the Waimeamea, a small river rising in the Longwood; ranges."
The district has other resources or industries, which as time passes and capital accumulates, will be developed, and foremost amongst these, both at Riverton, Invercargill, and Stewart Island, shipbuilding will be found, especially for vessels suitable for the coasting trade. Several schooners have been built in the New River. At Stewart Island, where timber; for all parts of a vessel is plentiful, a larger number have been constructed, one or two being of considerable size.
Abounds on Stewart Island, particularly between Half Moon Bay and Patersons Inlet, and is asserted to be of superior quality. A parcel was sent some years ago to Melbourne, and the assayers for the Victorian Government, and the Oriental Bank, after smelting and manufacturing [unclear: a] steel bar from it, reported that it was not only superior to the Taranaki sand, but contained a sufficient quantity of gold to pay the expense of smelting. In view of the success lately achieved at Auckland in smelting the Manukau ironsand, our local deposits may become of great importance.
Pottery, Glass, Etc.
Professor Hutton, in his valuable work on the geology of Otago and Southland, states that" an excellent deposit of clay is found in Stewart Island which would be suitable for superior porcelain ware, Veins of 'potash felspar' also have been found, and in sufficient quantity for use; and the large percentage of alkali it contains makes the stone an excellent flux for glazing pottery." The same writer points out that the establishment of glass works is an undertaking that could hardly fail to be remunerative, the material being available at our doors.
It is a satisfactory feature to note, that the local manufactures of specialties, which the district requires in an increasing ratio, have not been overlooked. All kinds of compositions for destroying insect life on sheep have been imported into New Zealand, but there is a fair prospect now that the two local establishments, and the only two in the colony, for the manufacture of an improved composition for destroying scab and other insects on sheep will be not only extensively used in South-land, but will be largely exported to other parts of the colony. Indeed, I am in-formed that these sheep dips are already being used amongst sheep farmers north-wards as far as Hawkes Bay.
I think it is scarcely sufficiently known the great advance industrial occupations have made during the past few years in several of the larger towns of the colony. There is no reason why industrial enterprise should not succeed equally well in Invercargill, especially industries in which timber is used. At the Melbourne Exhibition in 1881 the specimens of drawing-room, bedroom, and office furniture, made page 9 of New Zealand red pine, totara, and silver birch attracted great attention, and were worthy of competition with the best European made exhibits. Machine-made household appliances and utensils, such as doors, tubs, buckets, ovens, grates, pumps, bells, rope, brushware, and other domestic requisites, were largely exhibited, and the manufacture of these in Invercargill will doubtless, in time, increase to at least the requirements of the district.
Are important industries, and those who have inspected the first-class steam engines, machinery, manufacturing plant, and other iron work, which the Invercargill workshop have made, will not need to be told that in this branch of trade, Invercargill workmen can hold at least their own with any other district.
There is an opening, I regret to say, for business enterprise to experienced furriers, in utilising some of the immense number of rabbit skins now annually exported, for there will be always a large number available every year whatever measure may be adopted to rid the colony from the rabbit pest. I have heard it said that the rabbits were rather an advantage to the colony than otherwise, in consequence of the employment they gave to men to assist in their destruction. But those who think so entirely overlook the fact that these men are not producers at all, that their labor is so much extra cost in the production of sheep and wool, which would have been produced without that labor to the great advantage and saving of the colony, and that their employment in other industries, whether in tilling the soil or in working on our extensive forests, would have assisted the extra productions, which is the only means by which the colony can attain to greatness.
I have not yet exhausted the catalogue of articles that can be produced from the raw materials which nature has abundantly Messed this colony with, but I fear to frespass further on your time under this head.
Of the Southland district will aid its development in a marked degree. Its; present chief port, Bluff Harbor is universally known as one of the finest ports of the colony, and freights are insured to that harbor at the same rates as to the other first-class ports of New Zealand. Invercargill has, however, another harbor—the port of Invercargill. In the early records of Southland it is shown that many vessels used to enter and discharge their cargoes in this port, but on the opening of the railway between Invercargill and the Bluff, the trade was diverted into that channel and the New River Harbor was allowed to fall into disuse. Its harbor staff was depleted and every effort made to concentrate trade at the Bluff. How the Invercargill merchants permitted this policy to be adopted is unaccountable. During the past few years a feeling has almost universally forced itself upon the inhabitants of the district that the waterway connecting Invercargill with the ocean ought to be utilised, that a great loss is annually borne by the community in the cost of freights from the Bluff to Invercargill and Invercargill to the Bluff, which need not, and ought not, to be submitted to. These opinions fortunately exist in the governing body of the New River Harbor, and the first steps are now being taken for improving the channel so that vessels prosecuting the intercolonial trade should load and discharge at Invercargill, and save at least seventeen miles of railway carriage. This is an important matter to the whole district, and especially to the farmers, as a great portion of the grain exported is shipped to the neighboring colonies, and the cost of carriage between Invercargill and the Bluff is a direct loss to them. In imports the loss is distributed over the whole community. It is not too much to expect, therefore, that united action by the whole community will eventually cause the port of Invercargill to be so improved that ocean going vessels will belying alongside our wharves within sight of the principal streets of Invercargill.
Is essentially necessary to enable the great resources of the Southland district to be fully developed; not an introduction of working men only, although a very large number of our best settlers and many of our public men originally worked for wages. A recent writer on New Zealand, referring to self-made men, says—"Perhaps Invercargill is more remarkable for this class of men than any other town in New Zealand, where three-fourths of the merchant class are self-made men. All honor to the industry and perseverance of such citizens. They have the pith and stamina of prosperous communities, and if they will continue to exert their influence in the direction they have hitherto done they will not only sustain the trade of Otago in its present prominent position, but increase it to the extent of their own requirements, a point which New Zealand has not yet reached." The real working page 10 man, whatever his occupation may be, will assuredly succeed in the end, but if any large number of immigrants were introduced a risk would arise from the possibility of flooding the labor market. A continuous stream of immigration on the nominated system, and the dissemination of information throughout the United Kingdom, especially in the agricultural counties, of the price of land in New Zealand, the facilities for reaching any part of the colony by steam or rail, the advantages offered by our system of State schools and High Schools for the education of children and youth, the average yield of crops and the average market price of grain and live stock, would tend to induce people to make this colony their home, and thus aid in developing its resources.
Agricultural and Pastoral Societies
Have already assisted the progress of the Southland district by inspiring a healthy spirit of emulation. The several exhibitions, whether they have been at Gore, Wyndham, Riverton, or Invercargill, have brought together so many excellent exhibits that farmers and settlers generally have been astonished on finding how many others had stock or implements superior to their owe. This information has a beneficial influence, and excites a healthy rivalry, which is advantageous to the community.
The Newspapers of New Zealand
Have assisted the rapid development which we can see the colony is making more perhaps than any other institution. Every important centre now has its daily or weekly newspaper, and it would well repay every resident in those centres to bear a tax to support the local organ of public opinion. It chronicles and gives importance to every movement which has for its object the welfare of the district: every important industry is promoted, inventions or improvements made public, and the wants of the district made known. It provides a medium for inducing competition by making known the requirements or wants of the residents, it leads or guides public opinion, criticises the doings of its public and governing bodies, supports or restrains the action of public men, and is really the indispensable institution of a community.
I have said that when the present commercial depression shall have passed away, steps might be successfully taken to commence a joint stock company for the manufacture of woollen goods. These monetary depressions come periodically, although not at equal intervals. That they are caused very much by speculative transactions, commercial and territorial, cannot be doubted. On the whole, although inconvenient, they are useful; for the Anglo-Saxon race, especially when transferred [unclear: too] new country, are enterprising and progressive. The same hope of success that inspires men to achieve greatness, induces them to venture a good deal off the beaten track and too freely to discount the future. But these depressions compel men to take stock of their position, and to strike a balance the temporary check inducing cautious and sounder action. The future prospects of Southland are indeed bright. It is a district teeming with unfound wealth, with a climate temperate, invigorating and healthy. With land available for and awaiting the plough, it needs nothing but stout hearts and willing hands. A steady and constant stream of men and women can find in Southland the means of obtaining a comfortable livelihood, whatever their state may be, with the almost certain prospect of gaining before old age [unclear: has] been reached, a moderate independence, and with the knowledge that they are assisting to build up in this South Pacific indeed a Greater Britain.
Mr Scandrett having resumed his seat amidst applause,
The President said it was now open to any member to discuss the valuable and interesting paper which they had just heard.
Mr Hanan remarked that in his opinion Mr Scandrett had spoken more favorably of the Nightcaps coal than its merits deserved. He had experimented with it, and found that it would not give enough heat to fuse iron. It was principally useful for domestic purposes. The coal was of recent formation, and had been upheaved before it had matured into the anthracits coal used for smelting iron. As to the timber supply, he supposed that Seaward Bush would only last some years longer, and then where would we look for more? There were about thirty sawmills at work within a certain radius, and the timber would soon be exhausted. Like the Prodigal Son, we were spending our fortune without providing for the future. In time we would have to fall back on the Longwood Ranges, and then [unclear: Rivertoa] would go ahead, and Invercargill in a measure be depressed, as the timber would be shipped from the former place.
Mr Carswell said that Mr Scandrett was to be congratulated on the subject he had chosen. It was scarcely to be expected that he should agree with all that had been advanced, but it had been made plain to page 11 everyone present that in the words of a writer who had been quoted it was not a question of what the settlers could do, but rather what might they not do, so varied were the resources of the land in which they lived. Under these circumstances there was room for surprise that they had not been more prosperous, and, in his opinion, one reason for that was because they bad not depended sufficiently on their own resources.
Mr Bailey also joined in congratulating Mr Scandrett on the lucid manner in which he had dealt with the subject. He did not intend to traverse any of the statements made, but there were many points that Mr Scandrett could not be expected to find room for in a paper. Here was one that might be worthy of consideration. The establishment of the industries and the development of the resources mentioned would require a great deal of capital and united effort. There were in the district a large number of small settlers, especially under the deferred payment system. The Laud Board had lately rather encouraged the taking up of five-acre allotments, and the question might be asked—What were settlers of that kind to do? In many cases their holdings were ton far from town to enable them to undertake daily work in it; the areas were not sufficient for successful farming, and were also too numerous to admit of market gardening being carried on. What opening was there for them? He thought that if the matter were considered there were many valuable industries which they might take up. There was bee keeping for example. Honey at Home was worth from 3d to 14d per lb, according to quality. This year it was a drug in the local market, and could have been bought in quantity for 3d per lb. The reason was that there was too much for local consumption, and yet not enough to export. If a large quantity were produced it would bring a higher price, because it would be bought for export. The same remark would apply to beeswax, which was worth three times as much in the Home market as it was here. Another thing was the growing of herbs. America exported to all parts of the world an immense quantity of herbs and medicinal roots and barks, all grown on small holdings. The climate of Southland was well suited for such an industry, and there were many sheltered localities in the district that could be utilised in the way mentioned. A good deal might be done in the way of encouraging such an industry by the formation of a society, which could introduce seeds into the district and furnish them to small holders. By that means the subject would be brought before the public.
Mr Donniston, after referring to the able way in which Mr Scandrett had treated a very important subject, said that with Mr Carswell, who had anticipated him on that point, he would ask—How was it that, with such a district, they were not better off than they were? That matter required elucidation, and might perhaps be dealt with in another paper.
Mr Kingsland, who was equally well pleased with the paper, thought that they had more reason to congratulate themselves on being as well off as they were, rather than to feel dissatisfied at net being more prosperous. After giving interesting particulars about the value of some New Zealand barks for tanning purposes, Mr Kingsland said that Mr Hanan had somewhat under-valued the coal products of the district. He had only looked at them from one point of view. The experiments now being made by the Gas Engineer gave the following results:—A ton of Nightcaps coal gave 7000 feet of 16-candle gas at a cost of 20s per ton delivered at the works. A ton of Newcastle yielded 9000 feet of 15-candIe gas at a cost of 34s. So far, results were in favor of the Nightcaps coal for gas-making, provided the cost of purifying could be kept down to the price of Newcastle coal. In the case of the Nightcaps coal, however, there was no residual product in the shape of coal tar, which was worth 3s per ton, nor was there any coke. The coal gave a standard of light slightly above the London standard; 16-candle gas was the standard there, and the Nightcaps coal gave 16 seven-tenths. From West Coast coal they obtained 19-candle gas, but that, as would be seen, was a much higher standard than they had in London. For gas-making alone it might, therefore, be anticipated that the Nightcaps coal would, in the end, be of value.
Mr J. T. Martin said he was surprised at the quantity of information the paper contained. He hoped that before long energetic steps would be taken to establish a woollen factory. It would find employment for the youth of both sexes. The number of persons employed by the Kaia-poi Factory, including the clothing department, was fully 500, and the establishment of similar industries here would be a lasting benefit to the district.
The Chairman said that in 1841 Mr Tuckett, Chief Surveyor of the New Zealand Land Company, was sent to Southland to report upon its applicability for page 12 settling the Free Church settlers. He reported that the place was utterly unfit for habitation—that it was, in fact, a mere bog. That was a great mistake, and it was astounding that a man in his position should have made it. In consequence of it the Free Church settlers were not sent here, but to Dunedin. Had they come here, he believed Invercargill would have now been a town of 60,000 inhabitants, with its shipping near the railway station. Why they had not been so prosperous in the past was, in his opinion, due to the fact that Southland was not formed into a Province under the first Constitution.
Mr Scandrett, in replying, expressed his gratification at the manner in which his paper had been received. The question had been asked—Why are we not more prosperous? His reply was, firstly—That the present depression was not local, but general; and, secondly, we want more people. By and bye they might hope to have more influence as a district. At present large centres exerted more influence than small ones, to the detriment of the latter. For example, the people of Southland, after years of agitation, had only succeeded in getting a little under L5000 towards the construction of the Seaward Bush Railway, which would be of great benefit to the district. In Dunedin recently an outcry was made because there was some risk to carts in crossing the railway line to get on to one of the wharves. The result was that tenders were almost immediately called for the construction of a bridge over a street, at a cost of L25,000, whereas a caretaker would have been all that was necessary, and the money could have been laid out on reproductive work In the same way Bluff Harbor was at first ignored in the proposal to subsidise direct steamships to the colony. But time would work a reformation, and Southland would yet exert its proper influence in the councils of the State.
Printed by the Southland Times Co., Limited, Esk street, Inveroargill.