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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 76

Final Report

Final Report.



I have the honour to forward herewith my final report on New Zealand hemp and other industries.

In accordance with the instructions contained in your letter of authority, dated the 5th June, 1897, I made an extensive tour of Australia, South Africa, England, Ireland, Scotland, America, Canada, and British Columbia.

The result of my investigations will be found in the report dated the 30th March last, furnished to the Agent-General in London for transmission to the Government, and now supplemented in the accompanying document, which completes sixteen months of very arduous work undertaken by me on behalf of the colony.

page 9

My official investigations of the hemp and kauri-gum industries, together with the general publicity of statistics regarding the exports and imports of New Zealand which I caused to be inserted in all the leading newspapers published in the many cities throughout the world, entailed lengthy correspondence, considerable outlay in postages and telegrams, and other disbursements incidental to the numerous interviews I had with leading business-men.

The continous travelling by land and sea involved me in heavy expense, far beyond my original estimate. Apart from the time and service which I freely gave in proclaiming the many advantages possessed by this colony I find that the cash outlay for bare expenses has exceeded by £750 the small allowance already extended to me.

In further evidence of the completeness of the work carried out by me, I have pleasure in quoting the following extract from Mr. Kennaway's letter, dated the 3rd September, 1898: "I feel sure that the active and energetic manner in which you have endeavoured to advance the interests of the colony has, and will, bear good fruit."

I also beg to subjoin copy of letter of even date herewith just received from Mr. Harold Beauchamp, senior partner in the well-known firm of Messrs. W. M. Bannatyne and Co., of this city:—


Dear Sir,—

As one who did not advocate your appointment as New Zealand Commissioner empowered by the Government to visit various countries and report upon the possibilities that exist in respect to trade in hemp (Phormium tenax) manufactured in this colony—believing no tangible good would accrue from such a mission—I nevertheless cheerfully bear testimony to the extraordinary zeal and energy you displayed in the performance of your duties in England, Scotland, Ireland, the United States, and Canada, in all of which countries I happened to be travelling concurrently with you.

In the numerous and lengthy speeches you delivered (all very fully reported in the newspapers) you did not confine your remarks to hemp, but dealt with the whole of the colony's products, its resources, its field as an investment for capital, and the opportunities that present themselves for an interchange of commodities. In fact, I do not hesitate to say that no one could have been more active or intelligent in advertising New Zealand than yourself.

—I am, &c.,

Harold Beauchamp.

John Holmes

, Esq., City. I have, &c.,

John Holmes.


John McKenzie

, Minister of Lands, Wellington.


New Zealand Hemp.

Supplementing my report of the 30th March last, I have now the honour to place before you the results of my further investigations throughout Scotland, Ireland, America, Canada, and British Columbia.

Visiting Edinburgh early in July, I called upon several rope and twine dealers. The leading manufacturers are established at Leith. The Roperie Company (Limited), of that city, suggested the advisableness of regular grading, classification, and the establishment of a standard weight for each bale. I subsequently visited Dundee, and while there I inspected various jute and other mills, and, in discussion with many of the proprietors, suggested the use of New Zealand hemp as warps for carpets. A few of the manufacturers expressed the opinion that tow might be utilised for this purpose, and promised to make experiments therewith.

The rope- and cordage-makers of Dundee complained of the variation in the quality of our fibre, which I was assured would have continued in demand had there been any reasonable standard maintained by the millers in the colony. As a consequence, the rope-makers turned their attention page 10 to other fibres the quality of which was more uniform. Through the special kindness of Mr. James Williams, of Messrs. William Williams and Sons, distillers, of Aberdeen, I had favourable opportunities of supplying the larger importers and exporters of the Granite City with the fullest information concerning New Zealand trade generally.

Woolsacks, Cornsacks, and Gunny-bags.

I had several pleasant interviews with Mr. N. Lockhart, of Edinburgh, who referred at some length to the experiments made about twenty-eight years ago in the successful manufacture at Dundee of woolpacks, grain-bags, coal-bags, canvas, hammocking, damask, sheeting, towelling, gaskin, sail-twine and yarn, all of which were made from New Zealand hemp. In response to my request, Mr. Lockhart wrote me the following letter, which I feel sure will be read with great interest:—

Ettrick Tower, Spylaw Road, Edinburgh,

Dear Sir,—

Re New Zealand Phormium Tenax.

Referring to our conversation of to-day, I beg to state that about twenty-eight years ago the New Zealand Government appointed a Commission to proceed to the different centres of flax industries. They visited several of the most important ones, and also consulted the Chamber of Commerce of Dundee, who reported to them that Phormium tenax was unfit for textile fabrics, and only suitable for rope and twine, and there the matter dropped.

Notwithstanding this unfavourable report, I was convinced in my own mind that Phormium tenax could be utilised for textile fabrics, and wrote to the late Dr. Featherston, Agent-General of New Zealand, who sent me 15 bales of Native-dressed fibre. The same were distributed amongst the following spinners and manufacturers—namely, Messrs. Edwards and Co.; Small and Boase, of Dundee; Findlayson and Bousfield, of Johnston; Forbes, of Arbroath; and N. and N. Lockhart, of Kirkcaldy, who successfully manufactured the following articles: Woolpacks, grain-bags, coal-bags, canvas, hammocking, damask, sheeting, towelling, gaskin, sale-twine and yarn, from 2¼lb. to 301b. per spindle; also stuff for two dresses for Lady Ferguson, wife of Sir James Ferguson, Governor of New Zealand. The warp was silk and cotton, the weft Phormium tenax. The above articles were exhibited at the Dundee Albert Institute, and afterwards transferred to the Colonial Institute, London, where they are still to be seen.

I may mention that Sir John Leng, William Martin (chairman of the Dundee Chamber of Commerce), and other gentlemen interested in the flax industry, expressed their surprise and satisfaction that such progress had been made in the utilising of Phormium tenax.

The yield of New Zealand flax is 80 per cent, of line and 15 per cent. tow. The tow is more valuable than line for spinning purposes. The yield of one leaf of New Zealand flax is from 1 oz. to 5 oz.

I believe I am correct in stating that your importations of Dundee and Calcutta goods amount to £200,000 annually, and that of Australia double, and that you export annually about 3,000 tons of flax. Why not manufacture these articles yourselves, which will benefit your country generally?

Should you require any more information in connection with this matter I shall be only too pleased to assist you.

I am, &c.,

John Holmes

, Esq., Edinburgh.

Ninian Lockhart.

At Glasgow I called upon the leading rope-makers, whose large mills are situated some distance from the city. I regret to say that there seems to be a strong prejudice against the use of New Zealand hemp, owing to some previous unsatisfactory experience in the purchase of our fibre, which upon examination proved to be very inferior, and below the standard purchased. Notwithstanding my assurance that the general preparation of hemp had much improved during the last few years, I could not induce the manufacturers to promise any orders, although they admitted that for many purposes New Zealand hemp of good quality was just as useful as manila, and had the advantage of being cheaper.


I visited the Belfast Rope-works, but I regret to say that I had not an opportunity of meeting the manager, Mr. Smiles, to whom, however, I page 11 subsequently wrote asking for information. His reply is attached hereto. To the Lord Mayor of this enterprising city, as well as to Mr. S. McCausland, seed-merchant, and many other gentlemen, I owe my acknowledgements for valuable assistance and many acts of kindness.

Neither Dublin nor Cork had any rope-and cordage-factories of any magnitude. To the Lord Mayor of Dublin—Sir Reginald Guinness, Bart.—Sir John Power and Son, and to Mr. Alfred Barnard, of Glenalmond, South Norwood, who was visiting Ireland at the time, I am indebted for valuable information and great kindness.

New York.

During my visit to New York I called upon the Mayor of the city Mr. Van Wyck, who advised the leading newspapers of the object of my mission. He also took some trouble to acquaint manufacturers, engineers, and merchants, several of whom called upon me to obtain information as to the trade of New Zealand.

Many inventors exhibited the keenest interest in obtaining from me the terms and conditions of the bonuses of £1,750 and £250 respectively offered by the New Zealand Government in connection with a better preparation of Phormium tenax. As evidence of the special interest displayed by many engineers, chemists, and inventors, I select a few out of the many letters addressed to me relating to hemp. From these you will gather that there are quite a number willing to devote their time, money, and skill in evolving a process that would be worthy of the Government prizes of £2,000.


This beautiful city was reached on Saturday evening, the 24th September. Armed with your kind letter of introduction, I called upon Mr. Wilson, Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, who expressed great pleasure on hearing of the general prosperity of New Zealand. In answer to my inquiries as to the results of the department's progress in the cultivation of various fibre plants, I was astonished to learn that the experimental operations were discontinued in Washington, but the Department of Agriculture were assisting in similar operations in California.

From the printed reports kindly furnished by Mr. Wilson I find that Phormium tenax has been grown in California for several years, and thrives in many localities; in some cases its green leaves are used instead of rope for tying vines. This, however, is of limited extent, and, so far-as I could understand, the cultivation of the plant is on a very restricted scale.

Among other uses to which New Zealand dressed fibre has been put, Mr. Charles Richard Dodge, in reporting, on the 9th February, 1893, to the United States Department of Agriculture, states, "The New Zealand flax fibre has been used in the construction of the 'staff' or outer covering of the principal World's Fair Buildings at Chicago. It is used to toughen and hold together the plaster and other materials which, when combined, form this building material."

The cultivation in America of Phormium tenax is not likely to develop into any commercial value, and no competition in that direction need be considered.

Kentucky Hemp.

Several unsuccessful attempts have been made to revive the cultivation of Kentucky hemp. About forty years ago nearly 75,000 tons were produced. This has steadily diminished, until, in 1895, something under 5,000 tons were raised.

page 12

Manila and Sisal Fibres.

It was difficult to obtain any reliable figures as to the lowest cost at which these fibres can be profitably produced, but it is instructive to peruse Mr. Stuart's report to the Bahamian Government, which is contained it Report No. 5 of the United States Department of Agriculture. Referring to sisal, it reads as follows: "The yield of fibre per acre is from 1,000lb. to 1,470 lb. per annum. The number of plants usually set out in an acts is 750, giving an average of 33 leaves for each plant, and from 50lb. to 70 lb. of clean fibre for each 1,000 leaves. Making an average calculation of 650 plants to the acre, 33 leaves from each plant, yielding 60lb. of fibre, to the 1,000 leaves, the return would be as follows: 33 × 650 = 21,450 leaves, yielding 60 × 21 450/1000 = 1,287 lb. clean fibre per annum."

In view of the small percentage of clean fibre obtained from the sisal-plant, and the length of time occupied in its preparation, together with the heavy outlay for machinery and plant, I see no reason why New Zealand hemp should not be able to successfully compete with sisal in supplying the requirements of binder-twine and cordage manufacturers. Notwithstanding the fact that both fibres were occasionally sold at very low figures, it was contended that producers must net the following figures, c.i.f., London: Fair current manila, £23 per ton; sisal, £16 per ton: and if these figures were maintained no large supply could be depended on. Like our own hemp, the increased production depends largely upon the improved prices obtained therefor.

I also found that, although the supply of the two fibres had increased during the past ten years, the extension of trade in the manufacture of rope, cordage, and binder-twine had kept pace with the supply.

Relative Strength of Fibres.

To Messrs. Frost Brothers, rope-manufacturers and yarn-spinners, of London, I am indebted for the following tabulated statement, showing the relative strength of five different fibres:—

Tests of the following Fibers, Fifty Yams of each Fibre, all spun 25-thread, and by the same Machinery, showing the Average of each Ten Yarns.

Manila. Italian. New Zealand. Sisal. Europe.
225 210 155 115 87
284 180 160 130 92
285 165 178 136 162
185 245 140 150 142
230 232 121 105 115
245 225 155 110 80
260 320 130 117 80
200 210 143 150 152
215 288 143 135 155
220 228 102 116 150
2,349 2,303 1,427 1,264 1,215
234* 230* 142* 126* 121*page 13
265 125 130 119 117
300 247 161 140 130
210 228 120 75 90
308 175 105 110 140
246 222 179 130 113
292 240 155 170 160
170 190 168 106 186
266 227 150 117 130
165 262 184 125 122
296 280 125 70 135
2,518 2,196 1,477 1,162 1,323
251* 219* 147* 116* 132*
280 295 160 135 70
180 205 144 155 140
232 185 147 100 129
162 202 156 105 120
165 220 98 148 142
245 238 134 112 150
215 150 120 182 117
310 255 162 83 80
230 260 152 147 98
282 205 158 166 112
2,301 2,215 1,431 1,333 1,158
230* 221* 143* 133* 115*
280 187 147 106 143
245 220 150 120 144
280 165 128 161 116
290 205 140 113 157
200 268 165 147 112
230 147 125 178 100
290 288 130 126 116
255 238 134 135 112
212 255 165 130 88
231 222 120 170 121
2,513 2,205 1,404 1,386 1,209
251* 220* 140* 138* 120*
290 160 142 95 120
300 255 146 180 115
250 166 161 140 177
270 265 138 150 140
310 260 90 70 100
320 165 146 130 135
195 218 157 150 134
210 260 161 120 98
260 155 146 100 130
210 240 140 120 90
2,615 2,144 1,427 1,255 1,239
261* 214* 142* 125* 123*
page 14


Manila. Italian. New Zealand. Sisal. Europe.
10 yarns 2,349 2,303 1,427 1,264 1,215
10 yarns 2,518 2,196 1,477 1,162 1,323
10 yarns 2,301 2,215 1,431 1,333 1,158
10 yarns 2,513 2,205 1,404 1,386 1,209
10 yarns 2,615 2,144 1,427 1,255 1,239
12,296 11,063 7,166 6,400 6,144
Av. per yarn 245 221 143 128 122

President McKinley.

At the special invitation of Mr. Wilson, Secretary to the Department of Agriculture, I had the distinguished honour of being presented to the President of the United States of America. Mr. McKinley was gracious enough to extend to me a warm welcome, as the representative of a British colony. He expressed the hope that the result of my visit would lead to a more extended trade between the United States and New Zealand, and added that the colony has shown great enterprise in sending a Trade Commissioner round the world to disseminate and gather useful and valuable information.


I arrived in this city on the 30th September, and soon after called upon the Mayor, Mr. Josiah Quincy, to whom I am indebted for many acts of kindness during my stay in the city.

I also paid a visit to the Plymouth Cordage Company, and interviewed Mr. E. D. Yer Planck, a large broker in the trade. He has written me as follows, viz.:—

Boston, Mass.,

Dear Sir,—

I take the liberty of addressing you in regard to New Zealand hemp, and outlining my views as to the measures I think producers should take to make the hemp a permanently saleable article in the fibre markets of America.

We have suffered from irregular quality; and, while allowances have been made for imperfections, such allowances do not reimburse manufacturers when, owing to the great distance of the place of production, they cannot replace poor parcels of hemp with good quality in time for their needs.

New Zealand hemp will never replace manila for cordage purposes, as the strength of the latter will always be in its favour; but it might easily take a better position in twice manufactures, where only a certain strength is required, and in doing so it might easily offset or replace a large quantity of sisal hemp.

In making twine the chief object is to obtain a free-running clean fibre. Sisal is particularly so, and New Zealand fibre must be the same. New Zealand fibre will always be at some disadvantage over sisal owing to the great distance of the producing country, and, to offset this and other objections to New Zealand fibre, I think the following are the main points to be observed: First, a uniform, reliable, and responsible grading of the hemp, so that buyers can always count upon getting what they buy; second, the production in large quantities of a hemp of good colour, free from straw, and perfectly free from tow.

The above points, if rigidly observed by the manufacturers of hemp, would produce confidence in this country, and allow the manufacturers to go to the trouble and expense of introducing and establishing brands of rope and twine for which they could always be certain of having a reliable and abundant supply of raw material.

New Zealand is now a secondary fibre, used only when other fibres are scarce and high. It has always disappeared when sisal and manila were low. It should be able to remain in the markets at any and all prices. To-day, when all fibres are high, is the time for New Zealand producers to step forward and, with a superior grade of hemp, command attention. The world is now using about all the sisal and manila produced in page 15 normal times, resulting in high prices. The war has shut off a large part of the manila production, and the time is most opportune for New Zealand to again enter the American market. It depends upon the New Zealand hemp-grower whether or not his product is to again disappear entirely from the market with the return of low prices for sisal and manila.

In working New Zealand hemp tow is the greatest objection. The method of decortication, as described by you, seems to me to be one that would create tow. The fibre is too soft to warrant the scutching process as applied to manila hemp in our mills, and we must therefore look to the producer to make the scutching here unnecessary.

Trusting the above will be of some service to you in your efforts,

I am, &c., Mr.

John Holmes

, Government Commissioner of New Zealand, Montreal, Canada.

E. D. Ver Planck.

I also received the following letter from him:—

Boston, Mass.,

Dear Sir,—

Your favour of the 10th instant at hand.

The imports of manila into America last year were about 457,000 bales. Of sisal there were imported, during 1898, 439,000 bales, and exported 11,000, leaving a balance in this country of 427,000 bales.

During last summer I think about 83/94,000 tons of binder-twine were made.

I trust the above is what you want. The answer to your letter has been delayed owing to my absence in New York.

I am, &c., Mr.

John Holmes


E. D. Ver Planck.

Government Commissioner of New Zealand, Montreal, Canada.

This information is most valuable. Read in conjunction with the other opinions expressed by competent authorities, it clearly demonstrates the necessity for the compulsory grading of our hemp.

Bonuses of £1,750 and £250.

Many machinists and engineers called upon me to obtain full particulars of the conditions set forth in the Gazette notice, and information in regard to the export of fibre, value thereof, area under hemp, average yield per annum, and generally all the information I could supply.

General Imports and Exports.

Many gentlemen sought information concerning our exports in kauri-gum, hemp, rabbit-skins, and other produce, while a much larger number invited me to supply figures as to the volume of our general imports.


Arriving at Montreal on the 7th October, I waited upon his Worship the Mayor, and visited several manufacturers, brokers, and shippers. I also met a large number of the leading business-men at the Board of Trade, and discussed with them the general prospects of commerce with New Zealand.

Many manufacturers expressed a wish to ship their goods to New Zealand. With this object in view I supplied the names of the principal importers of their respective manufactures throughout the colony. I was assured that Canada was able to compete with other manufacturing countries in the supply of cotton goods, boots and shoes, all classes of printing paper, office furniture, agricultural implements, lumber of all kinds, doors, sashes, &c.; while from British Columbia canned and frozen salmon would form an increasing export to this colony.

New Zealand Hemp.

In company with Mr. J. A. Kohol, resident partner of Messrs. B. S. Thompson and Co., general merchants, of Montreal, I waited upon the Cordage Company of that city. The manager received us very graciously, and he expressed the hope that the result of my visit would remove the prejudice that existed against the purchase of New Zealand hemp. He frankly admitted that our fibre was very suitable for many purposes, espe- page 16 cially for binder-twine. I was gratified to hear from such an excellent authority that New Zealand could always rely upon a regular outlet for its fibre at market rates, providing that a continuity of a reliable article could be assured. He also gave me to understand that rope-and cordage-makers throughout America and Canada were for many reasons desirous of buying New Zealand hemp, not the least important being that a fuller supply of Phormium tenax enabled manufacturers to control the prices of sisal, while at the same time it assisted them in fixing contracts with vendors of binder-twine, thereby insuring the full employment of their own mills.

Upon my suggestion that he should send a trial order to the colony, he replied that his previous experience of some seven years ago was so unsatisfactory that he did not care to venture until he could be positively assured that supplies equal to the sample I submitted could be guaranteed. Notwithstanding the fact that New Zealand hemp had just been offered at 5¾ cents per pound, c.i.f., as against sisal at 8 cents per pound, he would not again venture to order our fibre until he was positively assured that a uniform quality would be supplied.

Rates of Freight.

I am personally indebted to Mr. P. G. Shaughenessy, vice-president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, for special facilities extended to me in the furtherance of my mission.

Attached hereto is a copy of a letter, dated the 12th October, from the Freight Traffic Manager, covering a memorandum of goods exported, and the rates of freight thereon. I also attach a summarised memorandum of the freights per "Warrimoo," which exhibits the steady development of the trade since the inauguration of the Vancouver service.

Our Exports to Canada.

My investigation on this subject led me to the conclusion that there was a good outlet for kauri-gum, New Zealand hemp, wool, woollen goods, butter, frozen mutton and lamb, and preserved meats of all kinds.

British Columbia.

At the special invitation of Mr. G. A. Kirk, President of the Board of Trade at Victoria, B.C., I addressed a full attendance of members at the quarterly meeting of that institution. I set forth certain facts and figures concerning the imports and exports of New Zealand. At the conclusion of my address a long discussion followed, with the result that several merchants promised definite orders for New Zealand produce. The Chairman was good enough to convey to me a special vote of thanks from the members of the Board, as per letter attached.

The several interviews I had with many of the merchants and brokers, both here and at Vancouver, demonstrated the fact that there was an excellent market for New Zealand binder-twine, kauri-gum, tinned meats, frozen meat, butter, seed oats, cocksfoot, and other grass-seeds.

Frozen Meat.

With reference to the outlet for frozen meat, I would specially direct attention to the advantages New South Wales shippers enjoy over consignors from this colony.

The preferential tariff recently adopted by Canada gives 25 per cent, reduction on the present duty of 35 per cent, in favour of New South Wales exports. This is a heavy handicap on New Zealand produce, and some agreement might with advantage be effected by which this embargo could be removed.

page 17

The superior quality of New Zealand frozen meat is generally admitted, and buyers are willing to purchase regular shipments of crossbred mutton and lamb, also ox-tongues and sheeps' kidneys.

One wholesale butcher at Vancouver offered to take ten thousand carcases of frozen mutton and lamb in five months, deliverable in shipments of two thousand each, providing the prices, c.i.f., Vancouver, duty paid, did not exceed 3½d. per pound for mutton (carcases weighing 55 lb. to 60 lb. each); lamb, 5d. per pound (carcases weighing about 30 lb. to 35 lb. each).


As a result of several long conferences, I found that there was a fair market for first-quality butter, providing the cost did not exceed 10d. to 10½d., c.i.f., Vancouver. The trade prefers high colour, and a little more salt in the butter than is to be found in shipments which now find their way to British Columbia from New South Wales.

Canadian-Australian Steamship Line.

The establishment of the Canadian-Australian Steamship Company has been of incalculable benefit in working up reciprocal and increasing trade between Canada and the Australasian Colonies, in which New Zealand is participating.

My attention was directed to the limited cold-storage capacity on the steamers "Miowera," "Aorangi," and "Warrimoo," now in the trade. This I represented to the company at Vancouver, and I was informed that instructions had already been given to increase the cold-storage on the "Aorangi" from 2,500 to 7,000 carcases. It is also confidently expected that a better class of steamers will soon replace the present fleet.

Cold-storage on Shore.

The present limited cold-storage accommodation at Vancouver can easily be increased when required. I was credibly informed that a comprehensive scheme is at present under consideration for the erection of large cold-stores throughout the country, which will include Vancouver, Victoria, and several inland cities and towns.

Exports from British Columbia.

These comprise canned salmon, lumber, and frozen salmon. Some experimental shipments will soon be made of frozen salmon to Australia and New Zealand.


I attach copies of a number of letters from the Board of Trade, merchants, brokers, and others who communicated with me during my recent visit to British Columbia.

Montreal Imports and Exports.

The subjoined statistics for the year ending the 31st December, 1896, supplied to me by the Board of Trade at Montreal, exhibit the volume of trade for that port:—
Merchandise entered for consumption at Montreal— Dollars.
Total dutiable 23,496,365
Free 10,089,164
Coin and bullion 5,006,948
Grand total 38,592,477
page 18
Prime goods, imported 10,089,164
Coin and bullion 5,006,948
Total free goods 15,096,112
Goods exported from Montreal during year 1896—
Total 42,047,574
Bullion—gold in bars, block, or ingots 82,622
Coin—Gold 6,952,397
Silver 78,666
Grand total 49,161,259

Improved Preparation of Hemp.

Feeling assured that an improved system of preparation would not only reduce the cost, but would materially add to the value of the fibre, I took special pains to make widely known the conditions of the bonuses of £1,750 and £250 respectively. For this extended circulation, and man; other advantages, I am indebted to the leading newspapers published in all the cities visited by me. I attach hereto a copy of the Gazette notice, No. 478, and I respectfully suggest that the time should be further extended, to enable many chemists, machinists, engineers, and inventors to prosecute their experiments, thereby insuring for the colony the investigations of a wider range of skilled persons. I am encouraged to make this recommendation from the fact that the greatest enthusiasm prevailed among those who sought information from me.

Dr. Gomess, of the Rhea Fibre Treatment Company (Limited), of London, upon examination of the samples I exhibited, pronounced the fibre to be useful for many purposes beyond that of rope, cordage, or binder-twine. His first experiments with the plant were conducted under many disadvantages, but he promised to make a complete test, in the belief that there was a great future for the hemp. His special interest in the Rhea Fibre Company (Limited) occupied all his time, and, although I made repeated efforts to induce him to proceed with his experiments, I could not prevail. Just at the time when he decided to proceed with the work he was, unfortunately, laid up with a severe illness. He has, however, promised to make a complete test.

Several gentlemen throughout England, as well as many in America and Canada, promised to give the subject every attention. Experiments are now being conducted by very competent men, in the hope that they will be able to discover a new process for the better treatment of the raw material.

Boards of Trade.

At the invitation of several Chambers of Commerce, Boards of Trade, and Corporations of the leading cities of Britain, America, and Canada, I had the distinguished privilege of addressing large meetings connected with these several institutions, where I briefly set forth the many advantages of New Zealand, particularly referring to the colony as a place—(1) for the safe investment of capital; (2) as a country suitable for enterprising farmers and agriculturists; (3) as a land of climatic excellence and great natural beauty; and (4) as a country of large natural resources and unrivalled productiveness. The discussions which followed these various meetings led to many inquiries as to the extent of our exports and imports, many manufacturers desiring particulars in regard to the value of the special lines in which they were interested. Were it not for the very valuable information contained in the Registrar-General's Year-book—a supply of which I always carried for distribution—I doubt very much if I page 19 could have answered a tithe of the questions submitted for my replies. And here let me add that a wider distribution of these valuable statistics would materially assist in advertising the colony, and well repay the outlay.

Extension of Trade with Canada.

To this subject I have referred in another part of this report. I would now respectfully point to the advantages to this colony that must necessarily follow by closer trade relations with that vast dominion. With additional shipping facilities, new markets will open up for frozen mutton and lamb, preserved meats, grass-seeds, barley, butter, hemp, hides, and wool; while at the same time New Zealand importers would get the benefit of cheaper lines of goods now manufactured in Canada. With the present existing arrangements and tariff treaties New South Wales receives the benefit of 25 per cent, reduction on existing duties. Strenuous efforts are being made by exporters in our sister-colony to capture the trade which is now being developed in Vancouver and Victoria (B.C.).

While thanking many manufacturers, brokers, and merchants for the valuable assistance extended to me during my investigations in Europe, America, and Canada, I would specially refer to the letters of Messrs. W F. Malcolm and Co., one of the best-known fibre-brokers in London. This firm spent a considerable time in discussing with me the fibre industry generally, and they have placed on record some valuable suggestions, which, if acted upon, would, in my opinion, insure for our product an increasing demand.

The several letters also attached from various merchants, manufacturers, and brokers in Britain, America, and Canada confirm the views expressed by Messrs. W. F. Malcolm and Co.

Other New Zealand Produce.

The systematic publicity I caused to be made with regard to New-Zealand products generally led to many written and personal inquiries by importers of frozen meats, butter, cheese, tallow, grass-seeds, kaurigum, &c. To all such inquirers I gave the very fullest information, and I am persuaded that I have interested many new importers who have never hitherto traded with the colony.

General Remarks.

After carefully considering all the evidence collected in my extended tour of Europe, America, Canada, and British Columbia, I am convinced that no permanent market for our hemp can be relied upon until compulsory grading is adopted throughout the colony. The disadvantage arising from the want of such a system cannot be overstated. All manufacturers to whom I spoke were unanimous upon this point, and strongly emphasized their objection to the existing modus operandi by stating that they would not renew their orders for New Zealand hemp until they were assured of the continued supply of a standard article of uniform quality. For my own part, I never could appreciate the objection to compulsory trading. By its adoption millers, merchants, brokers, and consumers would be benefited. It would at once check negligent preparation, give protection to the careful miller, and, above all, secure the confidence and approval of the purchasers—a desideratum of immense advantage in building up a safe and profitable export trade. Such a system should not only provide for the classification of quality into A, B, C, or D grades, but should, in my opinion, include instructions as to the best method of baling.

Objections were frequently made about the ever-varying size of bales and hanks, especially as to the twist in the latter. The heavy pressing page 20 and subsequent hydraulic dumping gives the fibre a permanent set involving extra expense in opening out the hanks before hackling is commenced by cordage-manufacturers. The uniform weight of each bale would, as in the case of manila, save considerable cost in receiving delivery, storage, and weighing. Manila hemp is universally accepted as eight bales to the ton, each bale weighing 2½ cwt., packed in what is known as piculs, two of which comprise a bale. The Ludlow Manufacturing Company, of Boston, not only recommends a grading system, but points out the advantage of a special size of package, such as is adopted by shippers of jute, which is packed in bales 4 ft. long by 20 in. by 18 in. The measurement of a ton of New Zealand hemp varies considerably sometimes averaging on a shipment about 110 ft. undumped, while that of manila runs about 100 ft. The freight to the United States is equal to about £1 10s. to £1 15s. per ton. We are to-day paying the following rates on New Zealand hemp shipped to London: Steamer—£3 10s. per ton, 10 per cent, primage; sailer—£3 per ton, 5 per cent, primage. An extra £1 per ton is charged on through freights to Boston and New York.

Newspaper Reviews.

A perusal of the accompanying newspaper cuttings will, I am sure, demonstrate the fact that I have utilised all the assistance extended to me throughout my tour. The varied experience gained has enabled me to make suggestions for the promotion of the colony's welfare in regard to the many natural resources of New Zealand.

London Office.

I cannot conclude this report without placing on record my appreciation of the valuable assistance rendered to me by the Hon. William Pember Reeves, who was ever ready and willing to assist me in my investigations.

After many months' residence in London, I am able to bear testimony to the care and zeal displayed by Mr. Kennaway and his obliging anil efficient staff in the interests of the colony, and I am satisfied that few colonists fully appreciate the exceptionally good work ably carried on at the Agent-General's office.


It will, I am sure, be a matter of satisfaction to you to learn that New Zealand produce is daily growing in favour throughout Great Britain, and that the colony is everywhere well spoken of.

While at Edinburgh I had the privilege and pleasure of being invited by the Lord Provost to accompany some members of the Corporation and the officers of the Austrian man-of-war "Don" to inspect the historical scenes of interest of that charming city. Some of the gentlemen forming this party volunteered the information that, as members of a financial institution, they had just accepted a large loan proposal from New Zealand. Moreover, they had for many years sent regular sums of money for investment in mortgage securities, with which they were well satisfied. Notwithstanding their long and varied experience, they had never lost one penny in this colony. Another gentleman expressed the hope that the time was not far distant when greater latitude would be given to trustees in Britain to enable them to invest their funds in New Zealand securities.

With a full appreciation of the honour conferred upon me, and a lively recognition of the important work intrusted to my care, I entered on my official duties in a spirit of zeal and earnestness to enable me to place before you the very fullest information from every reliable source obtainable. While pursuing my investigations I had ever before me the respon page 21 sibility of being in the service of 750,000 people, and I venture to hope that the Government of the country will recognise that I have contributed something towards the development and extension of the commerce and resources of this great and growing colony.

I have, &c.,

John Holmes.

The Hon. J. McKenzie, Minister of Lands, Wellington.


Office of the Ludlow Manufacturing Co.,

Dear Sir

133, Essex Street, Boston,

In reference to your inquiries as regards proper mode of marketing New Zealand hemp, I would recommend bales of about 300 lb. weight, and, if possible, put up in about the size of jute-bales—to wit, 4 ft. long by 20 in. by 18 in. All bales to be of uniform standard weight and size, approximating the above weights and measurements.

As regards colour, it would be best to keep as far as possible the colour of the best manila hemp.

We should be happy to give you any further advice if you can put any further questions to us.

We also recommend that you see the managers of the Plymouth Cordage Company, 5, Chatham Row, Boston, as they are the largest spinners of cordage hemps in America.

Yours, &c.,

Charles W. Hubbard

, Treasurer. Mr.

John Holmes.

The Belfast Rope work Company (Limited), Belfast,

Dear Sir,—

We are in receipt of your favour of the 12th instant, and our managing director, Mr. Smiles, also regrets that he had not the pleasure of meeting you. Mr. Smiles's son is at present in New Zealand with our representative.

With regard to the purchase of New Zealand hemp, we are at all times open to purchase this fibre if the price is right.

Respecting your remarks as to "the several advantages to be gained by the colony in the general adoption of a grading system for all hemp," we really can say nothing, but the prices which will be paid for New Zealand hemp will no doubt, in the long run, be whatever the hemp is worth.

The question of a standard bale is of no importance so far as we are concerned.

With regard to the samples which you sent to us of unscutched hemp, we could hardly form an opinion as to whether this would be worth within £2 10s. per ton of scutched hemp without first working a few-tons.

If you wish to see Mr. Smiles at any time, all that is necessary is to make an appointment, and he will arrange to be at the office to meet you. If, however, he should happen to be in the works it would probably take a considerable time to find him.

Yours, &c.,

W. J. Hollinworth

, For the company.

P.S.—We may mention that we were honoured with a visit from the Premier of New Zealand—the Hon. Richard J. Seddon—when he was in Ireland some little time ago.

John Holmes

, Esq., Grand Central Hotel, Belfast.
page 22
—Dec., 1897. March, 1898. May, 1898. Aug., 1898. Nov., 1898. Canned salmon cases 350 190 549 Domestic cotton bales 8 20 17 22 Bicycles cases 34 27 5 13 166 Fresh fish " 3 2 4 Paper " 16 "6 43 23 91 Newspaper rolls 90 48 216 359 110 " bales ... 3 116 102 Agricultural implements ... pkgs. 1,016 60 63 34 Drugs ... ... cases 64 67 64 7 7 Buggies ... ... ... ... 4 5 Machinery ... ... pkgs. 164 25 29 Sundries ... ... ... ... 12 1 6 3 6 Bananas ... ... ... bnchs. 4,783 3,610 3,722 2,832 1,913 " ... ... ... cases 979 325 3,292 300 1,446 Pines ... ... ... " 186 ... ... 749 Typewriters ... ... " 15 24 ... 5 ... Beer ... ... ... barrels 20 ... ... ... Advertising matter ... pkgs. 7 6 ... ... Cocoanuts ... ... sacks 55 11 ... ... ... Canned fruits ... ... cases ... 260 ... ... 485 Dried " ... ... " ... 67 ... ... 100 Churns ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 24 Electric supplies ... ... cases ... ... ... ... 6 Castings ... ... ... ... ... 1 ... ... 14 Shades ... ... ... cases ... 2 ... ... ... Lathes ... ... ... ... ... 2 ... ... ... Phonographs ... ... cases ... 77 ... ... ... Boots and shoes ... ... " ... ... ... 12 4 Spars ... ... ... ... ... ... 2 ... ... Lamp goods ... ... cases ... ... ... 2 15 Hardware ... ... " ... ... ... 1 141 Burners ... ... ... " ... ... ... 3 ... Bent wood ... ... pkgs. ... ... ... 9 ... Cotton prints ... ... bales ... ... ... 22 ... Organs ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 1 ... Coffee ... ... ... cases ... ... ... ... 22 Cotton duck ... ... bales ... ... ... ... 6 Granophones ... ... cases ... ... ... ... 8 Books ... ... " ... ... ... ... 10 Whiskey ... ... " ... ... ... ... 25 Evaporated apples ... " ... ... ... ... 100 Pipes and fittings ... ... pkgs. ... ... ... ... 72 Kumatos ... ... sacks ... ... ... ... 26 Fanning-mills ... ... pkgs. ... ... ... ... 54 Stamped ware ... ... cases ... ... ... ... 18 Granadeltas ... ... " ... ... ... ... 13 Mummy apples ... ... " ... ... ... ... 10

Statement of Cargo ex "Warrimoo," landed at Wellington, New Zealand.

F. E. Bellmaine

, Purser.
page 23
British Columbia Board of Trade, Board of Trade Buildings,

My Dear Sir,—

Victoria, B.C.,

The members of the British Columbia Board of Trade, in quarterly general meeting assembled this afternoon, were agreeably entertained and much enlightened by your very able representation of the natural resources of New Zealand and development of same.

Your remarks upon the gum and hemp industries were a revelation, but of particular interest to this Board was your reference to New Zealand as a market for British Columbia lumber and fish. In other lines, too, there appears a good market for the products of this province. New Zealand butter is not unknown here, and shipments of Australasian frozen meat have been received.

At the conclusion of your address this Board unanimously adopted a very hearty vote of thanks, which I have now much pleasure m tendering you.

Trusting that your voyage to New Zealand will be a very pleasant one, and that we may have the pleasure of seeing you again,

I am, &c.,

G. A. Kirk

, President.

John Holmes

, Esq., Victoria, B.C.

[Extract from New Zealand. Gazette, 7th Nov., 1895.]

Bonuses for Encouragement of New Zealand Hemp (Phormium tenax) Industry.—notice No. 430.

Department of Agriculture, Wellington,

Bonus No. 1.

A Bonus of £1,750 is offered for a machine or process for dressing New Zealand hemp (Phormium tenax) which shall be an improvement on the machines or processes now in use, and which shall, after trial, be found to materially reduce the cost of production, improve the product, or increase the quantity of dressed fibre.

The following are the conditions:—
1.All applications for the bonus must be sent addressed to the Hon. the Minister for Agriculture, Wellington, and must reach him not later than the 31st March, 1897. Each application must be accompanied by a description of the machine or process, particularly stating improvements on present machines or processes, and also the cost at which the machine or process can be supplied.
2.The applicants must be prepared to submit their machines or processes to examination at such time and place as the Government may direct.
3.The Government shall appoint a committee of three or more experts, to whom all applications shall be submitted. Such committee shall, after perusal, state what machines or processes they deem worthy of consideration, and may inspect the same at any place within the colony; and, having so inspected the whole or any of them, may direct that the whole or any of them be brought for further trial to such place as they may think fit.

The cost of bringing the machines or appliances on to the ground, from within the colony, supplying the necessary shafting, motive-power, and buildings, to be defrayed by the Government. If any machine sent from beyond the colony is awarded the bonus or part thereof, then the cost of bringing such machine shall be borne by the Government.

The following shall be the basis of the test:—

page 24

The committee shall supply a sufficient and equal quantity of green hemp to each machine or process as a test.

The committee shall take into consideration—
  • The time occupied by each machine or process in the operation;
  • The cost of labour and time required after the fibre has left the machine or process before it is ready for baling;
  • The percentage of dressed fibre and tow produced by each machine or process;
  • The cost of producing the same;
  • The cost of the machine, and the simplicity and durability of the working parts.
On completion of the tests the committee shall furnish a report to the Minister on all the machines or processes which they have examined or tested, and shall state,—
(1.)The machine or process which they consider on the whole the most efficient and economic.
(2.)Whether they consider that any machine or process tested so materially reduces the cost of production, or improves the product, as to be worthy of the whole bonus or of a part only.
(3.)Whether, in the event of no one machine or process being entitled to the whole bonus, they deem any machine or process] worthy of a part of the bonus, and, if so, how much.

Bonus No. 2.

A bonus of £250 is offered for a process of utilising the waste products of the hemp.

The first three conditions of Bonus No. 1 to apply to this also.

The committee shall supply a sufficient and equal quantity of the waste products to each process as a test.

On completion of the tests the committee shall report to the Minister I and shall give the following particulars of each process: (a.) The nature of the article made. (b.) The quantity produced, and the cost of production. (c.) The value of the product, (d.) Whether any of the processes are of sufficient importance to warrant the Minister in giving (1) the whole, or (2) any part, of the bonus; (3) if a part only, how much.

John McKenzie

, Minister for Agriculture.

[Note.—Date of application for bonus has been extended to 31st March, 1900.]

[As a result of Mr. Holmes's mission, keen interest appears to have been aroused, and numerous inquiries for particulars of conditions under which the bonus is offered, and as to the hemp trade, have been received from many parts of the world.]

By Authority: John Mackay, Government Printer, Wellington.—1899.


* Average.