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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 73

General Remarks

General Remarks.

The figures shown in the annual return clearly indicate that the system of village settlements is one to encourage and extend, but it cannot be done successfully without means. I know at the present time many of the village-settlers who are badly off, and require aid to enable them to establish themselves on the land. It is for the want of more generous aid that the progress under this system is comparatively slight in proportion to what it should be.

If village settlements are to be a real benefit to men whose time is not fully employed, some assistance is really necessary to enable them to build their cottages, and, if on bush-lands, a little further help to clear a few acres for cultivation and grazing, and thus assist them to tide over the first few months.

It has been found in the colonies of New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia that it is absolutely essential to make grants by way of loan in order to carry labour-settlements to a successful conclusion.

In New South Wales the amount allowed is as under: £50 for each head of a family who has a family dependent upon him; £40 for a married man without a family; £30 for an unmarried person over the age of twenty-one years, which term is held to include a bachelor, a spinster, a widower, or a widow.

In Victoria the amount was £30 for each settler, but it has recently been increased to £40.

In South Australia the amount of assistance granted by way of loan is £50 to each settler, and there is a probability that in certain cases this amount will be increased.

In England the amount set out by the Colonising Society as being necessary, in their opinion, to carry out the work of land-settlement successfully is £100 per family.

In New Zealand very little money has been advanced during the past few years by way of assisting new village-settlers to permanently settle on the land. A sum of £10 has been granted as a loan in a few cases; but I respectfully submit that the amount is too small to be of any real service.

In order, therefore, that the work of settling the people on the land under Village-settlement Regulations may be pushed forward with much greater vigour than heretofore, I would respectfully recommend that more land, in suitable localities and of good quality, should be open under this system, and that all village-settlers who are approved by the respective Land Boards should be granted the following assistance by way of loan: Towards the erection of a cottage, £20; in bush-lands, further assistance at the rate of £2 per acre up to 10 acres; for felling, burning, and grassing, £20; which means that on plain or open lands the assistance would be £20, and on bush-lands the aid would be £40.

In the case of dwellings the money should not be advanced until a building of at least the value of the loan was on the land; and bush-felling, &c., should only be paid for as the work proceeds, and in proportion to the amount done.

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Arrangements should also be made for the repayment of these advances by instalments after the first four years; a fund would thus be created from which assistance might be granted to new settlers.

In order to guard against loss to the settler through fire, each dwelling-house should be insured in the names of the Minister of Lands and the occupier.

The foregoing remarks deal only with ordinary village-homestead settlements in localities where private employment may be obtained; and although a great deal may be done in this direction to relieve the labour-market, still village settlements will not accomplish all that is necessary. Something more is required to be done for men out of employ, and there are are at least two other ways worthy, I think, of consideration in dealing with the excess of labour.

The first is the establishment of labour-settlements in the vicinity of some large public work, whereby men would find employment for a fortnight or a month on that public work, and employ an equal amount of time in improving their holdings.

I may here be allowed to remark that Mr. Mueller, Commissioner of Crown Lands, Auckland, has recommended the drainage of the Tokatoka Swamp as a highly profitable and thoroughly practicable scheme, which would give employment to a number of men, and at the same time provide permanent settlement. I inspected this land, and reported that I fully indorsed all Mr. Mueller had said. I am pleased to add that this work is now in hand, preparatory to arranging a settlement on this system. Other blocks in the colony might be dealt with in a similar manner.

The second way is the establishment and promotion of labour colonies to give employment and instruction to men who are capable of work, but are without occupation, and lack experience on agricultural or bush lands.

As J am reporting fully on this subject, I need not repeat my remarks, more especially as this report is on the village-homestead settlements of the colony now in existence.

I trust the results of the work as set forth herewith will prove satisfactory; at the same time I feel that very much remains to be done to place the settlements in a sound position, and the settlers in a more prosperous and contented condition. Instead of the settlements being only a partial success, they can be made a genuine and complete success; and, if the recommendations I have made are allowed, they will, I think, in a great measure accomplish this.

I hope, therefore, the proposals will meet your approval, and be favourably considered by the Hon. the Minister of Lands.

I have, &c.,

J. E. March,

The Surveyor-General, Wellington. Superintendent of Settlements.