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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 7, Issue 8 (February 1, 1933)

Financial Depression in the ‘Sixties

Financial Depression in the ‘Sixties.

There had been hard times in Canterbury. In his address to the Provincial Council on 11th August, 1864, the Superintendent (Mr. Samuel Bealey) referred to the financial depression then prevailing, and in 1866, 1867 and 1868, the then Superintendent (Mr. Moorhouse) also mentioned the depression, and his regret that there was no alleviation of the position. In addressing the Council on the 8th October, 1869, Mr. W. Rolleston gave a survey of the conditions and expressed a hope for improvement. His address (in part) was as follows:—

“In opening the last ordinary session of the present Provincial Government, though it is not my privilege to be able to congratulate you upon a return of that progressive prosperity which marked the early growth of the Province; I feel that the present is an occasion when, amidst all the difficulties which surround us, we cannot but look hopefully to the future. When the present Council first met, the financial I depression which has since weighed so heavily upon us, had set in; not only in this, but in all the Australian colonies. Its severity in our case was enhanced by a variety of causes. The discovery of goldfields in the neighbouring provinces had roused expectations and induced a speculative spirit which caused the reaction to be more painfully felt. To the difficulties of a widespread commercial crisis were superadded those pf a native war involving large and extravagant expenditure, the provision for which has hitherto mainly devolved upon the people of this Island, and during the past two years our position has been rendered worse by the fall in value of one pf the staple productions of the country. Yet it is impossible amidst all this not to recognise that the foundations of a prosperous future are being more firmly laid, and that under the influence of a temporary paralysis of commerce men have been led to turn their heavily taxed energies to new industries and new and cheaper methods of production, which must ultimately swell the value of our exports.”

This is in reference to the fall in the price of wool, and to the preparation of fibre from New Zealand flax, the establishment of meat canning works, and the expansion of the grain-growing industry.