Notes on New Zealand.
A Journey to New Zealand, accomplished without accident or adventure, affords but meagre material for a book of travel; but having just returned from a stay of three months in that great colony, during which I travelled, wherever possible, by land, from Auckland, in the north, to Invercargill and Riverton, in the south, I may be able to give some accurate information, and remove some erroneous impressions about the character and resources of the country.
There are many ways of getting to New Zealand. The direct steamers accomplish the voyage in six weeks, and will take the traveller, with every comfort, from London to one of the New Zealand ports. This is, perhaps, the easiest route, but as it is rather monotonous, many will prefer to do as I did—travel by the United States, crossing the Pacific from San Francisco to Auckland. Accompanied by my wife, I left Liverpool on September 25, 1886, in the Cunard steamship Etruria, and arrived in New York on the morning of October 3.
I need not describe a journey across the American continent. The great cities are well known, and the great plains left on my mind only the impression of dreary monotony. California is a beautiful country, but I cannot understand how anyone can make the great plains their home unless driven to do so by dire necessity. The inhabitants seem to be very much of my opinion, for their houses and fields show no effort at beauty or adornment. They may be good farms, but they are not homesteads.
We sailed from San Francisco on October 24, in the steamship Alameda, an American-built and American-owned steamer. She carried us safely over 6,000 miles of ocean, and we experienced great kindness from the captain, officers, and crew; but her accommodation is not suited for the trade in which she is now employed, and her cook might with advantage pay a visit to the School of Cookery.
We spent a pleasant day at Honolulu, and called at Tutuilla, one of the Samoan group of islands; beyond that, the voyage was without incident, and we were all glad when we sighted the Great Barrier island at the entrance of the Hauraki Gulf, at the head of page 500 which Auckland stands. We steamed up the gulf by moonlight, and landed at Auckland at midnight on November 13.
It was with great interest that we first surveyed a New Zealand city. When we went out the next morning we noticed with some surprise that, with a few exceptions, the buildings are all constructed of wood. Timber is abundant, stone there is none readily available. Bricks do not seem to be easily procured. The country is volcanic, the soil is of volcanic origin, small volcanic hills surround the town, and rear their heads as islands in the bay; earthquakes occasionally occur. The wooden buildings are, therefore, easily accounted for, but they appear strange to an English eye. When this first feeling of strangeness had worn off I could not help noticing the general air of prosperity in the place and the efforts which have been made to make it look like "Home."
Everyone in New Zealand speaks of England as "Home"; even those who were born in the colony, and have never visited the old country.
Oaks, elms, and chesnuts are replacing the native trees. The May was in full flower, so was the gorse and the briar-rose. The gardens were bright with English flowers, the only difference being that geraniums, and other delicate plants, which, with us, require care in the winter, there stand out in the gardens all the year round. Cricket and lawn tennis are played vigorously in the summer, and a pack of hounds affords sport over a stone-wall country in the winter. It is a piece of England transported to a more genial climate.
The people also are English; they speak without accent. The gentlemen live in the same way as we do at home, only with fewer servants, and, as a rule, smaller houses. The poor do not exist: labourers and artizans earn from 6s. a day upwards, live in detached houses with small gardens, which are very frequently their own property; dress well, eat meat three times a day, and get their children's schooling for nothing. I only saw one man in Auckland who looked poor, and he was drunk.
My friends introduced me at the club, and I there had an opportunity of meeting the principal men in the town, and learning from them what they thought of the prospects of the place. There was only one opinion as to the future, namely, that Auckland and the district it commands, must go ahead; and I am bound to say that there was only one opinion as to the present, namely, that things were very bad. Depression was on everyone's lips, and I set myself to find out what it meant.
Who was depressed? What was depressed? The people did not, as a rule, look depressed. As I have said, they were all well-dressed, well fed, and well housed. The town did not look de- page 501 pressed; trade seemed active; the shops were well stocked, and people seemed to buy and sell freely. There was money to spare for pleasure; thoroughbred yearlings sold for 200 guineas apiece. The streets were well kept and clean; the harbour did not look depressed. It was crowded with shipping. Who, then, was depressed, and why?
Land speculators were depressed. Large tracts of land had been bought a few years ago on speculation, sometimes with money borrowed at high rates of interest, and the price of land had fallen.
The speculator had made a bad bargain, and the mortgagee did not like the look of his investment. The land is there, and will sell some day; but in the meantime interest has to be paid, and the land does not produce enough, in its present state, to pay it. No wonder that borrower and lender were both depressed, and cried aloud how much depression hurt them. The timber industry was depressed. Not because there is not a good trade to be done, but because four companies have started to do a trade which is only big enough for two; and, with a view to securing the best of it for themselves, they have entered into a rivalry in the purchase of Kauri forests, whereby they have absorbed too much of their available cash, and in some cases credit. As population grows, the trade will be enough for all; but that day is not yet, and in the meantime interest has to be paid, and there is no surplus for dividends—a state of affairs very depressing to the shareholders. The trade in Kauri gum is an important industry in Auckland. When I was there business in gum was dull, and prices were low, leaving but a small margin for profit. I hear that prices have since risen, so I hope this cause of depression has passed away.
I arrived at the conclusion that the people of Auckland had some cause for their depression, but that a rise in the price of land, and a little activity in the building trade, would do much to remove it; and that the worst which was likely to happen was some loss and inconvenience to individuals, painful enough to the sufferers, but not really touching the resources of the city and neighbourhood.
From Auckland we went to Ohinemutu, in the midst of the volcanic region. The journey, and the place have been described by Mr. Froude and others, so I will enter into no particulars. I must say, however, that the destruction of timber along the coach road which so forcibly impressed Mr. Froude with a sense of waste, appeared to me an absolute necessity if the road was to be made at all, and it is also certain that the timber destroyed could not have been taken to any market at a remunerative price. None of the logs are Kauri. There is no Kauri within fifty miles.page 502
Ohinemutu is a wonderful place, and the head-quarters for those who wish to see the volcanic region. I fear that much of its prosperity will have disappeared with the terraces, though the medicinal baths in the neighbourhood may partly compensate for this loss.
We visited Wairoa, which used to be a beautiful village, and the starting-place for the terrace expedition; now a scene of utter desolation. Made "Tapu" by the natives, it remains a dreary desert of mud and ruins. Church and hotels, native huts (wharres) and English homes, all destroyed. The bush levelled by the storm of mud and wind, and no sign of animal or vegetable life remaining. But with the exception of the possible loss of tourist traffic the injury done to the resources of New Zealand is nothing. The country round Mount Tarawera never was of any commercial value. The land nearer to the sea-coast was covered with a light sprinkling of dust and mud, which caused a loss of sheep and cattle, but has resulted in increased fertility, and therefore increased value to the land.
From Ohinemutu we drove to Napier, about 180 miles. The road passes, in part of its course, over the great Taupo plains, a desert of pummice. The rest of the route is through country which either is, or may be made, good pastoral land. Much of it is still in the hands of the Maories. Napier is a picturesque town situated on a promontory which is almost an island, being connected with the mainland by a long spit of beach. It is the outlet for the rich district of Hawkes' Bay, and seems a prosperous town. A breakwater has been commenced here which, when completed, is expected to increase the trade of the town. The security for the bond-holders is good enough, but whether the money would not have been better expended on improving the railway communication with Wellington seems to me an open question.
After a few days stay in Napier we crossed to the south-west coast of the North Island, by rail and coach through the Manawatu Gorge, and then through Taranaki from Hawera to New Plymouth.
A more beautiful place for a home it is hard to conceive. The land was only taken over from the Maories a few years ago, and the district was quite recently agitated by the Maori leader Te Whiti; but already the bush has been to a great extent cleared. Prosperous homesteads line the road. The cattle are feeding in well-fenced paddocks on grass only to be equalled in an English grazing country. Perennial streams flow at short intervals from the snow-covered cone of Mount Egmont, which rises some 9,000 feet clear from the plain; on the other hand the sea-coast; the meadow-land reaching to the edge of the shore. The outlets for this rich district are Hawera, on the railway to Wellington, and page 503 New Plymouth, where the breakwater is so far completed that moderate-sized steamers can lie alongside and load cattle; it is hoped that the works now in progress will enable cattle, cheese, and butter to be shipped to Sydney with regularity. If this can be done, the prosperity of the district will be much enhanced. In any case the fine land, and genial climate, with abundance of water, must make it a rich farming country. From New Plymouth we travelled to Wellington, part of our journey being over the recently-finished Wellington and Manawatu Railway. The Wellington climate is proverbial. It is said that a Wellington man may always be known by his putting his hand to his hat when he comes to the corner of a street. I am afraid my Wellington friends will never forgive me, but truth compels me to say that the wind does blow at Wellington in a way I never experienced elsewhere. Wellington is not, however, an unpleasant place to stay in. The harbour is magnificent, and the trade done at its wharves large. I saw twenty steamers at the wharf at the same time, among them being the Rimutaka and Ruapehu, two of the fine boats of the New Zealand Shipping Company, which run direct to London. Wellington being the seat of Government, there is a great deal of pleasant society there. I had an opportunity of meeting some of New Zealand's foremost statesmen, and seeing the men who are now guiding the destinies of the Colony. I shall have something to say on the subject of the Government and institutions of New Zealand; it is no part of my programme to say anything about individuals. The opening of the Wellington and Manawatu Railway should have an important influence on the prospects of Wellington. The town is shut in by a high range of hills. The railway crosses these hills, and opens up direct communication with Palmerston, and other districts which are gradually being settled by a good class of farmers. The voyage from Wellington to Christchurch is often a disagreeable one, Cook's Straits being the home of the winds. Thanks to the courtesy of the Directors of the New Zealand Shipping Company we travelled comfortably in their ocean-going boat, the Aorangi; sailing at 4 A.M., we landed at Lyttleton in time for a late dinner at Christchurch.
We arrived at Christchurch on December 15th. The next day was kept as a holiday to celebrate the founding of the settlement in 1851.
The change worked in thirty-five years is almost incredible. In 1851 the first settlers landed in Lyttleton harbour, and had to cross the high range of the Port hills on foot to reach their new home. When they got there the prospect must have been discouraging. They saw before them a vast plain bounded by sea and mountains. Treeless, covered with tussock grass, looking page 504 brown and poor. The small stream of the Avon wound then, as now, through the place marked out for the township by the pioneers.
Now a tunnel pierces the hills. The railway takes the traveller in about twenty minutes from the harbour, busy with its wharves and shipping, to a well-laid-out town. Shops and hotels (every public-house is an hotel in New Zealand), clubs and churches, banks and warehouses all show active life. Houses with well-kept gardens surround the town. The treeless plain is so thickly planted that an American is said to have asked why they had built the town in the bush. The cathedral, designed by Sir Gilbert Scott, is unfinished, but beautiful. The Provincial Hall is an architectural gem. The school is one of the best in the southern hemisphere. The Avon is spanned by numerous bridges (I believe Christchurch has more bridges than London) and shaded by willows.
The public gardens are beautiful, and large parks afford space for cricket, football, and other games. There is a racecourse, but that is a necessity for every village in Australasia. A railway connects Christchurch with Dunedin, and branch lines run to different points on the plain. A woollen manufactory turns out first-rate work at Kaiapoi close by, while meat-freezing, agricultural implement making, and railway-carriage works afford scope for a manufacturing population. Some 50,000 people live in Christchurch and its suburbs, and have surrounded themselves with all that is necessary for the business and elegancies of life. All this has been done in thirty-five years. Truly if the Government and people of New Zealand have borrowed much they have something to show for the money, and they have improved the lender's security by hard and judicious work.
We visited a sheep station to the north of Christchurch, where the owner was shearing 85,000 sheep fed on 75,000 acres of unimproved native grass. No doubt the productive power of the land might be increased, but the owner is past the prime of life, and leaves to younger men the task of making three blades of English grass grow where one blade of native grass grows now. He has done hard work in his clay, and has turned the wilderness into a garden in the immediate neighbourhood of his beautiful home.
We also visited a great agricultural farm. Our host cultivates 15,000 acres, much of which has been reclaimed from impenetrable marsh. Now the home of the marsh-fowl carries magnificent crops. He had 5,000 acres of wheat and oats besides root crops, sheep, cattle and horses. Dairy farming was conducted on a large scale, and all carried on with energy and skill; let us hope, also, with financial success. Every modern appliance is in use. The cream sepa- page 505 rator, and churn worked by water power, make splendid butter, and make it economically. Reapers and binders are used for harvesting. The ditches are dug, and the hedges clipped by machinery. My friend, and his son just back from Cambridge, are not idle, and have earned the thanks of their countrymen. One hundred men are employed on the farm, and among them put £4,000 per annum into the savings bank.
The surroundings of Timaru and Oarmaru in the south of Canterbury remind one of an English county. The country is more hilly than the neighbourhood of Christchurch, and is well settled, and cultivated. They each have their breakwater, more or less effective; in my opinion they would have been wiser if they had kept their money and shipped their produce at Lyttleton. They think otherwise, however, and I daresay they know their own business best. They have done much good work in a few years, and may be forgiven if they have been over-ambitious. If their breakwaters are an extravagance, they both can and will pay the bill.
Oarmaru is a place of pretentious buildings, accounted for by an abundance of suitable and very white stone in the neighbourhood. The town has not yet grown up to its palaces. The railway to Dunedin runs in its whole course near the sea-coast. There is a division of opinion as to whether the route selected was the best. Not having seen the alternative route, I can express no opinion on this point. The steamers of the Union Steamship Company must be formidable competitors with the present road, but it carries a large passenger traffic.
We stayed one day only at Dunedin on our road to Invercargill and Riverton, returning for a longer visit after our journey to the south. Invercargill is the centre of a good district, but has a forsaken appearance. The streets are laid out on a scale out of all proportion to the present population; the consequence is that the place looks deserted. The population is small; the surrounding country held in great part by large landowners, who are suffering from the low price of wool, and the heavy rate they have to pay on their mortgages. The district ought to be prosperous, but is not.
At Riverton, twenty-five miles away, the exactly opposite conditions exist. The land is held by small farmers, and here as elsewhere in New Zealand small farmers make a good living and something more. The harbour is only suited for the smallest class of coasting vessels, and the trade is not large; but no one talks of depression at Riverton, as far as I could learn.
We returned in due course to Dunedin, a prosperous trading town. The harbour is fine. The largest steamers can go at all page 506 times to Port Chalmers, and a channel has been dredged to enable them to go to Dunedin itself. I am not engineer enough to say whether the money has been well spent or not; the Harbour Board and citizens of Dunedin have no doubt about it.
Dunedin is another instance of rapid growth. Founded about the same time as Christchurch, it has grown into a large city, with fine solid buildings and an active trade. The climate resembles the climate of Scotland with a milder winter, and a large number of the inhabitants are Scotch. With a few exceptions manufacturing industries have not hitherto prospered at Dunedin, and it is the centre to which gravitates so much of the trade of the Southern parts of New Zealand that the prevailing feeling is certain to be strongly echoed there. The people are, however, confident in their future, and I believe with reason. The trade of Otago and Southland must increase, and pass in great measure through Dunedin.
From Dunedin we returned to Christchurch and crossed the island to Hokitika on the West Coast: a wonderful drive introducing us to a wonderful country.
Crossing the highly-cultivated Canterbury plain by rail, we drove by coach from Springfield, the present terminus, over the range of mountains which runs from north to south through the middle island. Hilly pastoral country extends for some distance, then bush-covered hills with high snow-covered mountains and glaciers in the distance. Passing over the watershed at Arthur's Pass, we drove through the Otira gorge into the Western bush, dense with ferns and creepers. The district is the Switzerland of Australasia, only needing facilities of communication and good hotels to make it a popular holiday resort: both, I hope, soon to be provided.
On the West Coast we were in a new world.
We travelled through the district from Hokitika to Nelson. A fine wide valley, green and fertile, extends for miles. Settlement is progressing rapidly, and settlement by small farmers. There is magnificent useful timber, much of it, alas! being cut down and burnt to clear the land; when communication with the outer world is established by railway, to be a valuable article of commerce. The mountains on either hand are intersected by valleys, up many of which roads have been made, and settlement begun. The district is well watered—too well. The rainfall is very great. Fine streams and mineral wealth abound. Grain will not ripen in that moist climate, but with that exception there seems to be everything the heart of man can wish.
The talk is of mining, chiefly of gold. The Chinaman washes out his few ounces. Alluvial diggings are being carried on on a page 507 large scale by the fluming process. At Reefton the quartz reefs are being worked, and in some cases paying well.
Coal is being worked at Greymouth and Westport. The West-port coal is one of the best steam coals in the world. The Grey-mouth coal is so good that it is being used in some of the Australian gas-works in spits of the difficulties of Greymouth harbour bar. Copper and iron had been found near Nelson, and indications of tin. In how large quantities this wealth of minerals exists no one can tell. The bush is so dense that a man cannot penetrate it without a hatchet. Coal is known to exist in many places where it cannot be worked at a profit till some means is found of taking it away. Gold is found in every stream. A reef, believed to be a good one, was found only a few months ago within a day's coach drive of Nelson. Already local companies have been formed to work it. An hotel is building, and a township will soon spring up on the spot.
Much money has been spent at Hokitika, Greymouth, and Westport in trying to make good harbours out of mountain torrents, at present with but indifferent success. Some people advocate a harbour at Port Elizabeth, a few miles north of Greymouth. The Government officials do not favour the idea—in any case a harbour at that place is an affair for the "dim and distant future." Dim and distant futures come rapidly sometimes in New Zealand, as in politics.
The present hopes of the West Coast are all centred in the Mid-land Railway, which is to bring the corn of Canterbury, and take in exchange the minerals of Westland and Nelson. The railway is begun, and people are impatient for its completion.
Our visit to New Zealand ended at Nelson—generally spoken of as "Sleepy Hollow"—a pleasant town, with a soft, rather enervating climate, backed by a small, but rich, agricultural district, abounding in fruit: a pleasant resting-place after a fortnight's hard travelling. Nelson, too, hopes much from the Midland Railway, which will make its harbour the direct means of communication between Auckland and the West Coast, which will probably be the manufacturing district of New Zealand.
From Nelson we crossed the straits once more to Wellington, and took ship for Sydney, rejoicing in our start homewards, but leaving New Zealand with the words "au revoir" on our lips. I should be sorry to think that I should never see New Zealand again.
I may seem to some to write of New Zealand in a tone of exaggeration. I certainly have not exaggerated the impression made upon my own mind. It is hard to avoid enthusiasm when speaking, or writing of such a country.page 508
The old country is overcrowded. Is not the remedy to be found in the transfer of men and women who have neither regular work, nor hope, to this new land, where labour is wanted, and space is ample for all? England suffers from a surplus of population; New Zealand wants people. A temperate climate, a fertile soil, and an easy passage invite the colonist. There is no burning heat and drought, as in Australia; nor bitter cold, as in Canada.
But who shall go? Not the man who can make pins' heads and do nothing else; they make no pins, as yet, in New Zealand. Not the loafer; there is no room for him there; his proper place in the scale of creation has not yet been ascertained. The idle young gentleman, whose idea of life is sport, and who would scorn to work with his own hands, will find himself at a discount. There is not much opening for the clerk, unless he is sure of an appointment on landing. The clerk who goes to an opening, and uses his opportunities well, will find his position improved.
The men who are wanted are farmers, not too old to learn, who can take some capital and skill with them. If they have in addition a few stout sons and daughters, so much the better. Working men are wanted who are not afraid to rough it a bit at first; who will leave their families in the towns till they are settled; and with their swags on their backs seek work in the country, take the first that offers, and do it. They will not long be unemployed. The only capital they need is a stout heart and strong hands. The handy man who can dig, plough, drive, or do a bit of bush-carpentering is a treasure there.
The wages are good, but the standard of work is high, and the labourer must not be afraid of making his back ache, or of rough sleeping accommodation. He will get plenty to eat as compensation. Rest of all, he will be able to save money, and, in time, own his small freehold and be independent.
My readers will begin to ask whether there are no drawbacks. Not many; but there are some. To the educated man, society is small in quantity, and interests apt to be too exclusively local. The newspapers deal ably with local affairs, but seem to regard contemporary history outside New Zealand with something approaching to contempt. The English and European telegrams are meagre, and often inaccurate. The suspension of Sir Pope Hennessy from his place as Governor of Mauritius was announced as the suspension of Hennessy and Co. One could not help thinking that the teetotal movement had seriously affected the demand for brandy. The Government is undoubtedly too expensive; the members of the House of Representatives, with their £200 per session, the numerous ministers, and expensive machinery, seem to the stranger page 509 a costly luxury. A few policeman with walking-sticks, and two or three men of business to look after the finances, would do all New Zealand requires, and do it better. All this elaborate and costly machinery is the sacrifice annually demanded by the great god Demos.
And the result is not good. Sir Henry Maine, in his essay on the "Nature of Democracy," says, "Of all the forms of Government, Democracy is the most difficult." In New Zealand the Government is a pure democracy, and it gives a very apt illustration of this saying. Every man has a vote. Sir Julius Vogel is reported to be about to propose to extend the franchise to women. Parties are divided into the ins and the outs, not by any intelligible difference of opinion. Foreign politics there are none. What is the result? Every man tries to use Parliament for his own interest. No man has a chance of being returned as a Member unless he will pledge himself to further local interests. No Minister has a chance of retaining his place unless he can secure the votes of Members by helping them to attain their local objects. And all these local interests to be thus advanced may be summed up in the words: expenditure in the district of public money. This is the whole secret of New Zealand's financial position.
The objects may be, very often are, desirable; but the process by which they are attained can only be characterized by the disagreeable word corruption.
Let me tell a story to illustrate the process:
It was proposed to get up a memorial in the House approving of a step taken by an English Minister. A Member who had a Bill for a local work before the House was asked to sign it. He declined at first, but afterwards did so, on the promise that the promoters would vote for his Bill if he did. He entirely disapproved of the memorial, but he signed it to pass his Bill—which he lost, by-the-bye, and serve him right. I have the story on the boat possible authority, that of the Member himself, who added, "I never did a thing in my life of which I was more ashamed."
Sir Henry Maine quotes Alexander Hamilton, the American statesman, as saying, in conversation with a friend, "That when corruption comes to an end the British Constitution would fall to pieces." When corruption of this sort comes to an end (as it must do now from the difficulty of the New Zealand Government borbowing any more at present), what will become of the New Zealand Constitution? I believe it will survive, and be the better for the trial. The people are as fine, straightforward a set of English men and women as can be found anywhere; and when they find that they have to depend upon themselves alone they will do it, page 510 and fight through any temporary difficulty which may arise. The sooner they face the facts, and set to work to meet them, the better.
The educational system is comprehensive, but very costly. Each district has every temptation to extravagance, and no inducement to be economical. The Government pays, and the money is spent in the neighbourhood. The more is spent, the better the people like it, forgetting that the same process going on all over the country makes the cost per child over £4 per head, and leads to financial embarrassment. Why should not the people who use the schools pay school fees? They are well able to do so, and it is generally admitted that people value most what they pay for. And why should not the inducement to economy be given by charging part of the cost on the local rates?
While on the subject of New Zealand finance, it is only fair to remember two things: one, that New Zealand is handicapped, as compared with the Australian Colonies, by a war expenditure. The amount has been variously estimated, but the expenditure was absolutely necessary if New Zealand was to become a home for Englishmen, and the amount, whatever it may have been, is burdensome on a community not yet fifty years old.
The second, that if New Zealand has borrowed unwisely, English capitalists must have lent unwisely. All the blame must not be laid on the shoulders of the borrower.
But has New Zealand borrowed unwisely?
Roughly speaking, there are three classes of New Zealand borrrowing—Government loans, Municipal and Harbour Board loans, and private borrowing.
I believe that the interest on the Government loans is as certain to be paid as the interest on consols, but none the less do I think that loans have followed one another with undue rapidity. Much of the money has been well spent on roads, railways, and other public works directly or indirectly profitable.
New Zealand rivers are peculiar; they cover immense shingle-beds, at all times dangerous to ford, in flood impassable. Till these streams had been bridged progress in New Zealand was impossible. They have been bridged in the worst cases, and the bridging has cost money.
The railways were a necessity, those in the South Island pay about 4 per cent, on the outlay.
A public works policy is a legitimate policy in a new country, but it must be kept clear from corrupt political influences. I would not put a stop absolutely on New Zealand borrowing, but I would suggest that the Bank of England, or whoever is responsible for issuing any fresh loans, should see that the money is allotted page 511 to really useful works before they publish the prospectus; that the works to which the money is to be applied should be clearly stated in the prospectus; and that the Government and New Zealand Parliament are pledged to expend the money on these works and for no other purpose.
Municipal and Harbour Board loans are of very varying quality. I am not going to advertise the merits of any of them, but it is obvious that a harbour with great natural advantages must in-crease its trade, and may fairly rank among the first-class commercial enterprises of the world. The same may be said of loans to be expended by municipalities or public companies on supplying gas and water, or paving streets in well-established cities. The small towns and harbours less advantageously situated must satisfy the lender that they have good security to offer.
Private borrowing is large, and the cause of much of the trouble in New Zealand. If the lenders, who are generally great joint-stock companies, cannot take care of themselves, I am afraid nothing I can say will help them.
The population of New South Wales is a million, and one-third of the whole is collected in Sydney and the neighbourhood. One-third of the population of Victoria is collected in Melbourne. In New Zealand there are four large towns, Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, but no large city. In the future this will very probably be an advantage to New Zealand. Now, it is to her disadvantage. The four towns are jealous, and apt to decry one another. If public money is spent at Dunedin, Auckland thinks she ought to have an equal slice of the cake. A public work, or an industrial company started at Christchurch must be rivalled at Wellington. Wellington is the seat of Government, but there is no capital, and the influence of the educated classes and of the press is frittered away in comparatively small communities.
Sydney and Melbourne are magnificent cities, and a good advertisement of their respective countries. New Zealand has no such advertisement.
One word more on New Zealand politics. It seems as if every crude theory was taken up on the authority of some magazine article, and foisted upon the country as a supreme effort of enlightened statesmanship.
Female suffrage in a country where there must be few women householders; nationalization of land where the one thing wanted is to induce capitalists to buy and improve the land; artificial settlement of men without capital on lands which take capital to bring them into cultivation! Why cannot they let it alone? I suppose because hon. members must talk about something to earn their £200 per session, and they have nothing else to talk about.page 512
Sir George Grey once brought the whole weight of his eloquence and authority to bear to try and exclude matches containing phosphorous from the country, and drew touching pictures of the lingering agonies of poisoned children. The leaders of both parties are tampering with protection, not realising that the only result must be to take the people from the land where they are wanted, to put them in the towns where they are not wanted.
To sum up my impressions of New Zealand, it is a country which cannot be beaten as a home for Englishmen. It must increase in prosperity; the progress of the next fifty years should surpass a hundred-fold the progress of the past. The depression from which she is suffering is in the main agricultural depression, from which her varied resources will enable her to recover more rapidly than less favoured regions. The Government is not all that one could desire, but the common sense of an educated well-to-do people will do much to rectify what is amiss. The borrowing has been too rapid in the past, and the check just administered will do no harm. The partnership between English capital and New Zealand enterprise is a legitimate one, but the capitalist partner must do his share, and see that the working partner uses the firm's money wisely.
I can only, in conclusion, echo the words which appear as a trophy at every New Zealand public gathering: "Forward, New Zealand."
E. Brodie Hoare.