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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 79

The First Census

The First Census.

If we try to picture the state of the district as it was then, we are helped by the first almanac issued with this paper on January 2nd, 1858. We are told that "The District is at present a portion of the Province of Wellington, out the mass of its inhabitants strongly desire a separate political existence. The district in round numbers contains 3,000,000 acres, of which it is said one fifth is available for agricultural purposes, and of winch about 1,200,000 acres have been acquired from the native owners. It is estimated that about 700,000 acres are at present occupied is sheep runs or pastures. Large tracts of valuable land available for agricultural purposes and near the port are still held by the native owners, and may be expected in due time to pass into the hands of the Government. The climate is considered the finest in New Zealand. The result of the cen- page 51 nus taken in last March was as follows :—Souls 982, acres fenced 1458, horses 382. cattle 3081. sheep 130,668. The export of wool last year was as nearly as can be ascertained 900 bales, containing 300,0001b, which at the rating price of this staple commodity may be valued at considerably more than £20,000. The outlet of the district—the town of Napier—is rapidly progressing, houses springing up in all directions, and its population receiving almost daily additions."

In 1858 the township of Napier had made some progress. In a letter to the "Herald" in May of that year Mr Colenso says:—"I take my stand at the Royal Hotel, the southern terminus of Carlyle-street, the principal thoroughfare. Thence to the Land Office at the northern end is about a mile. Upon this street I count on the one side 11, and on the other five houses. From the Land Office I proceed over the second great thoroughfare, Shakespeare Gully, or to the Pilot's house at the extreme anchorage, a distance of upwards of another mile, and here I find a much less number of houses." And Mr Colenso proceeds to discuss the necessity of making the streets of the township; already laid off. The Lund Office established on the present Government Lawn determined the centre of the town. Stores began to appear in the vicinity. But che uncertainty as to the best locality for business purposes was well illustrated by the fact that a year or so later, when the first bank was opened in Napier by the Union Bank of Australia under Mr Brathwaite, its offices were situated at the corner of the Shakespeare road at the junction of Clyde and Fitzroy roads. The Magistrate, Mr Curling, held his court in the Royal Hotel, no other building being available, and there also Mr C. R. D. Ward held the page 52 half-yearly meetings of the Sessions of the Peace Court. The gaol was in charge of Mr H. Groom, of the police force. The prison itself was hut a frail structure, in Dr. Hitching's gully, as it was then called—and it is said that sometimes when the gaoler was away the inmates would break out and find their way to the public-house, where they would join Mr Groom in a drink before being haled hack to the lock-up. The prisoners, at times, accompanied by their gaoler, would go down to the Royal and indulge in cards of an evening. It is even said that a notice was stuck up warning all prisoners that they would be locked out for the night. Dr. Hitchings, the native surgeon, was another prominent townsman in those days, and was in 1858 elected the first Coroner of the district, Mr Colenso opposing him.