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 68


This district was founded as a special settlement under the auspices of what was called the "Canterbury Association." The first settlers arrived in 1841, under conditions that gave the enterprise for some time the aspect of an isolated colony. As the first settlers of Otago were essentially Scottish, so the first ones of Canterbury were [unclear: sentially] English. But, with improved means of communication and the multiplication of interests and employments, Canterbury, like Otago, has become cosmopolitan. The population of Canterbury is now about 124,000, of which 41,205 reside in the chief town, Christchurch, and suburbs. There are 454 miles of railway; and a throughly efficient telegraph service extends to every point of any importance There are in the district 206 separate state schools with a total of 25,091 children on the rolls. Of the settlers in this, as indeed in almost every other part of the Colony, it may be said in truth that they enjoy an average degree of prosperity and general comfort, equal to if not above that which is the lot of any other community in the world. In Canterbury, enterprise and capital are more exclusively devoted to agricultural and pastoral interests than is the case elsewhere in the Colony. It may be fairly said that Canterbury is the "cornfield" of New Zealand. In no other part of it is there such a large area so suitable for and so easy of tillage. The extent of the Canterbury plains proper is about 3,000,000 acres. The ares of open land under 2,000 feet above sea-level is actually [unclear: 06.690] acres. The extent of open land above 2,000 feet above [unclear: -level] is 4,494,207 acres. The total area between the boundaries of the Hurunui and the Waitaki is 8,693,027 acres; and of this, 6,375,569 acres are classed as agricultural and pastoral.

The productive capacity of these lands is best illustrated by statistics showing that on the 31st May last there were 4,594,577 sheep in Canterbury, while the Agricultural figures for this district are as fellows:— Wheat. Oats. Barley. Potatoes. Acres Bushels Average Yield. Acres Bushels Average Yield. Acres Bushels Average Yield. Acres Tons Average Yield. tons image not readable image not readable 1,770,363 30.78 72,522 2,888,683 39.83 16,820 620,699 36.90 3,140 17,895 5.70 image not readable image not readable 3,621,320 20.83 128,384 3,237,462 25.21 17,062 371,009 21.74 4,613 26,766 6.80 image not readable image not readable 5,047,883 21.29 102,370 2,540,591 24.82 17,728 347,075 19.57 5,930 31,508 5.31 image not readable image not readable 4,450,667 24.43 129,133 4,157,766 32.20 19,450 557,443 28.66 5,893 37,717 6.40 image not readable image not readable 5,976,443 25.15 122,941 3,639,354 29.60 11,310 307,193 27.16 6,153 36,357 5.90 image not readable image not readable 5,531,560 22.86 133,810 3,631,294 27.11 18,677 532,150 28.49 6,619 26,226 5.47

page 4

And it should be borne in mind that these figures take no account the large numbers of cattle, pigs, and horses.

Year wheat. arley. oats. Acreage. Total Yield. Yield per Acre. Acreage. Total Yield. Yield per Acre. Average. Total Yield. b. b. 1876 57,500 1,770,363 30¾ 16,820 620,699 37 72,522 2,888,683 1877 92,417 2,707,625 29 1/3 16,047 505,700 31½ 70,032 2,106,890 1878 147,197 3,399,353 23 1/10 13,757 335,733 24½ 86,728 2,396,483 1879 173,895 3,621,820 20 4/5 17,062 371,009 21¾ 128,384 3,237,462 1880 270,198 7,610,012 28 57,484 1,751,432 30 330,208 12,062,607 1881 324,933 8,147,705 28.9 46,877 1,221,241 26.0 215,023 6,891,731 1882 365,715 8,297,890 22.25 29,808 664,093 22.14 243,387 6,924,848 1883 390,818 10,270,623 26.28 28,146 737,163 26.19 319,858 10.520,158 1881 377,706 9,827,136 26 32,907 964,456 29.15 262,954 9,231,339 1885 270,043 6,866,777 25 39,703 1,205,906 30.18 354,794 12.360,449 1886 173,891 4,242,285 24.24 39,703 1,205,906 30.18 329,488 8,603,701 1887 253,025 6,297,683 24.53 21,539 558,606 25.46 387,228 11,973,295 1888 357,359 9,424,059 26.22 27,912 760,874 27.30 330,474 10,512,119 1889 362,153 8,770,246 24.22 45,027 1,402,537 31.14 367,225 10,977,056 Mean average for the 14 years of Wheat, 25.2 bushels per acre.

Table I.—the Average Yield of Grain Per Acre, and the Total Years During the Last 14 Years, for Whole of N.Z., have been as Follows.

The value of agricultural land on the Canterbury Plains ranges from £3 10s., to £30 per acre; while the average value of such land, reckoned within easy distance of a railway, may be taken as £8 per acre. The land is in general firmly held; and there are still many large block of freehold of excellent quality, in the possession of one individual People in Australia and elsewhere have not unfrequently [unclear: expre] their surprise at the prices at which our farming land is held. But [unclear: the] surprise disappears when one becomes acquainted with the combined advantages of soil and climate which Canterbury enjoys. Here the land is like the mill that grinds every day of the year. There [unclear: is] month in which the farmer may not sow something. This is true to a large extent of the whole of New Zealand. But in [unclear: Canterbury] presented the happy medium between the wetter and colder [unclear: climate] Southern Otago, and the hotter and drier one of the North Island Canterbury is the only district that is so far able to produce fat sheep for freezing, in equal numbers all the year round. This [unclear: becom] practicable by the suitableness of the climate for growing and maturing turnips as well as grasses.

page 5

The Canterbury plains present exceptional facilities for irrigation. They have a regular fall of about thirty feet per mile towards the [unclear: and] the great rivers run west to east directly with the fall. These may he tapped at almost any point, and their water conducted [unclear: to] the land lying at a lower level. These conditions have been taken advantage of so far as to lead the water for the purpose of watering stock, &c., and the many miles of water-races over the country supply nearly every farm. This supply has undoubtedly [unclear: eased] the stock carrying capacity of many districts, but, under [unclear: gation] proper, the country would present a very different aspect. This however, is a prospect of the future, as the grading of lands [unclear: irrigation] purposes is a costly operation, even under such [unclear: excepcually] favourable circumstances as are obtained here,

Partial irrigation, or the watering of grass lands may be more [unclear: ly] carried out, and good results have been obtained at the [unclear: bburton] experimental irrigation farms, and at that of the School of [unclear: griculture] at Lincoln.

The length of water-races of various sizes already constructed and [unclear: area] of land served thereby are as follows, viz.:—
Miles Area served (acres)
In Selwyn County 987 say 500,000
In Ashburton County 870 say 500,000
Totals 1857 1,000,000

To learn how the farming land of Canterbury acquires its great [unclear: suetive] value, it is only necessary to compare the conditions of [unclear: ate] with those of less favoured countries. In the United States [unclear: d] Canada, the land will be found sealed up by frost for about five [unclear: ths] of the year, while in Australia all vegetation withers for long [unclear: ods] under a scorching sun. It is easy to show that in Canterbury [unclear: average] profit per acre to the farmer is as great as the value of the [unclear: bole] average yield per acre in South Australia and Victoria. For simple, in Canterbury, land of the value of £10 per acre, produces on [unclear: average] 28 bushels per acre, at 3s., equal to £4 4s. Therefore taking [unclear: rest] or rent at 14s., and charges at 34s., the net profit is 36s. per [unclear: which] represents the whole value of the average yield per acre in [unclear: th], Australia, namely of 9 bushels at 4s, equal to £1 16s. To give [unclear: ther] actual case: a light land farm five miles from a railway station [unclear: t] year produced 20 bushels of wheat per acre which was raised and page 6 delivered at a cost of 1s. 6d. per bushel including every charge except interest or rent. The market value of this land is about £4 per acre. These cases show that grain growing in Canterbury is still a very profitable business with average seasons and the price about 3s. per bushel for wheat. It has to be remembered that a dry season will come occasionally, and in such case the product of the light land would be very small. But when a farmer has an average of 25 bushels wheat per acre, for six consecutive years, as is the case of Canterbury for the last six years, he must be an improvident man if he cannot afford to go for one year without a crop. The risks incidental to grain growing here are probably much the same in extent as in England. The greatest fear of the Canterbury farmer arises from North-west winds, more or less prevalent in the end of summer and autumn. But the danger of having grain shaken out by wind is much less since improved harvesting machinery has become available.