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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 83

New Zealand Industrial Schools

page 17

New Zealand Industrial Schools.

The children maintained in the eleven Industrial Schools and Orphanages in New Zealand may be divided into two classes: (1) Children committed to proclaimed Industrial Schools under the provisions of "The Industrial Schools' Act, 1882;" and (2) orphan and destitute children who are not so committed. The latter class comprises children admitted on the order of a Government relieving officer, and for whose maintenance a capitation payment is made by Government; and children admitted by the local managers at their own instance, and in respect of whom payment from the public revenue is not always made.

Three hundred and fifty-seven children were admitted to the schools in 1883; of this number 320 were committed, and thirty-seven noncommitted. About one-third of the children were Roman Catholic. There were 887 boys and 638 girls belonging to the schools on the 1st of January, 1884.

They are accounted for as follows:—
Boys. Girls.
603 399 In the Schools.
65 39 At Service (on license.)
113 85 With Friends (on license.)
96 114 Boarded with Foster Parents.
11 1 Absent without Leave.

In many instances the parents or friends of committed children make earnest application to have them restored to their custody. After careful inquiry it is often found necessary, for the sake of the children, to refuse such applications, but not unfrequently they are granted for what are deemed sufficient reasons. In such cases the children are licensed as prescribed by the Act, but they remain under the guardianship of the manager of the school, and can be recalled at any time, if necessary, by order of the Minister. The parents or others to whom the children are thus intrusted, knowing this, are put upon their good behaviour, and are usually exceedingly careful to avoid such a course of conduct as would lead to the forfeiture of the custody of the children. It thus happens that the committal of a child to an industrial school sometimes proves beneficial to the parents as well as to the child.

Under the repealed Act the children were released from the control of the school on the expiry of their several terms of committal; by the Act of 1882 all are committed for detention in the school till they attain the age of fifteen years, but they continue under the legal guardianship of the manager till the age of twenty-one years is reached, unless previously discharged by warrant of the Governor. This provision is of page 18 great advantage to those who need protection from their own depraved and worthless parents. Nearly all those over fifteen years who are still under the legal guardianship of the several managers are in service or with friends; a few are on the staff in some of the institutions. As the industrial schools are the only homes that a number of these young people can properly go to when not in service, a few are almost at all times in the institutions, in some cases between the leaving of one situation and the entering on another, and in some instances owing to sickness or incapacity for service. The number over fifteen years that belonged to the schools at the end of 1883 was 133. They may be classified as follows:—
Males. Females. Total.
In service 31 17 48
With friends 23 11 34
On the school staffs 1 7 8
Waiting for situations, incapacitated through sickness, &c. 14 20 34
Missing 8 1 9
77 56 133

The Industrial Schools' Act provides that the earnings of the children when at service shall be placed in the Post Office Savings Bank, after defraying the cost of clothing and other necessaries. The repayment of these moneys, with accumulated interest, is contingent on good conduct. The boys usually receive theirs on reaching manhood, and showing that the money will be satisfactorily expended by them. The girls' money is usually paid to them on their marriage with the approval of the manager. Last year two brothers received £91 1s. 8d. and £29 17s. 10d. respectively, or £120 between them. They were committed in 1872 for seven years, their father being dead and their mother a drunkard. In addition to the amount in the bank, they had accumulated other moneys and a good stock of cattle. The stock of the elder brother began in 1874 with three heifers, two of which were presents from his mistress, and a third from a friend of his employer who had become interested in the boy. The brothers having jointly taken a farm of two hundred acres in a well-settled district, and, being good practical workmen and of highly respectable character, there is every reason to expect that their under-taking will prove a successful one. Two young women, who had conducted themselves with great propriety for a number of years, recently received their money from the savings bank on being married: in one case the amount received was £13 14s., in the other about £5.

The amount of payments made by parents on account of the maintenance of their children in 1883 was £1,335 16s. 7d., which in proportion to the page 19 number of inmates on the 1st of January, 1884, was about fifty percent, more than was collected from parents in England and Wales.

With the sanction of the Hon. the Defence Minister, the officer in charge of every police-station is appointed a person to take all necessary proceedings in the Courts of Law to recover maintenance money from the parents of committed children. When applications are made by parents or friends for the custody of children, the members of the police force in almost every case supply reliable information concerning the character of the applicants, and advise the department or the managers of the schools as to the propriety or otherwise of granting the application. When a child (not a foster-child) is placed out at service or with friends, the officer in charge of the police district in which the child is to reside is notified of the fact, with a view to his maintaining a friendly watch over such child. Thus almost all the children belonging to the industrial schools who are not in residence or boarded with foster-parents are under (not surveillance in the ordinary sense, but) the kindly and watchful eye of one or other of the members of the police force, and any circumstances of an unsatisfactory nature regarding the conduct of the children or their treatment by their employers or friends are reported as soon as possible to the master of the schools to which they severally belong. There is consequently a large amount of correspondence between the members of the two departments, as well as numerous demands upon the services of the members of the police force, who have ever shown the utmost willingness to render all the assistance in their power.

The Clerks of Resident Magistrates' Courts have been appointed receivers of maintenance money owing by parents.

The system of boarding out appears to be very successfully managed.