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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 30

VII. Prospects for Colonists

VII. Prospects for Colonists.

This leads me to remark that large quantities of land are being opened up for settlement by the Government. Several portions of that recently acquired tract of country in the Forty-mile Bush, already alluded to, have been reserved for special settlements. The regulations in connection with these have not yet been published, but most probably the gist of them will be that grants of land at a low rate per acre will be given on a system of deferred payments. Roads and railways are surveyed through the district, and thus a great deal of work, which will be paid for at an average rate of 5s. 6d. per day, can be had in the immediate neighbourhood. But indeed this is true of most parts of New Zealand, so that none, to whatever province they go, need fear any want of well-paid work; for a large portion of the Government loan (amounting to £1,000,000) has been allocated for such work.

The best thing generally for immigrants to do, especially for such as have no money and no definite trade, is to engage in such work, or to take situations as ploughmen, shepherds, overseers. And then, after working a very few years in this way, they will have saved enough money to make a good start in farming. Even if men have a little money when they arrive, it is generally unwise to take up land at once. Their capital can be placed at 8 or 10 per cent, on mortgage for twelve months, or put in the bank at 5 per cent. During this time they can look about them and gather some colonial experience, meanwhile doing any page 21 honest work that may come in their way. For there, as elsewhere, anything is better than idleness, through which money may be lost, or slovenly habits contracted.

Large capitalists have more at their command, and can either permanently invest their money at 10 per cent., or get land and hire labour, and, to some extent, experience. But wisdom and caution are quite necessary in their case also, in entering on investments of any kind in a new country.

The class of immigrants who are most benefited by going to such a colony as New Zealand are the small farmers who do their own work with little or no hired labour. In this country many of them must have great difficulties to contend with, and it is hard to see how, considering the high rents they have to pay, from the competition for farms and the ever-increasing expenses of farming, they can squeeze out an existence from the oft unfertile soil, which few of them have the means of enriching by artificial manures and improved methods of husbandry. And if they have large families, how difficult it is to educate them and to launch them out into the world! With a little variation, the same things are true of ploughmen, many of whom are, for the greater part of the year, entirely separated from their families, because on many farms no cottages are provided. At first, indeed, they would have a good deal to contend with in a new country, and labour and toil are necessary there as they are here. The tree must be planted before you gather the ripe fruit. But just as trees grow much more quickly there than in this country, so a pleasant home and a profitable farm may be had much sooner there than here. The truth is, that any snher, industrious man, with God's blessing on his labours, may create himself such a home in New Zealand, but he must be sober and industrious. Of course he will do it much sooner if he can take £200 or £300 with him, and act prudently when he goes there, avoiding dishonest men and dishonest ways, and not rushing hastily into a thing before he well knows what he is about. If he be a family man, he will find his sons and daughters helpful to him. He can keep them more or less about him, which he can hardly do in Britain. But indeed, from the immense disproportion between the sexes, he will not likely keep his girls long under his roof. Very soon they will marry, and get homes of their own. Before this, they could, if they chose, take situations at wages of from 8s. to 12s. a-week, being found in everything except clothing. It is worthy of note that women are never employed in any out-door labour in New Zealand, as they not unfrequently are in many parts of this country.

The following is part of a letter which the writer of this tract had from a girl who went out in the Halcione last year:—"We had a very nice voyage out. . . . We had plenty of rough weather, but not a storm. Our captain was very kind to us; he page 22 not only made everything comfortable, but did all he could to amuse us. . . . We landed at Wellington in eighty-five days, which was considered a very quick passage. . . . When we landed at Napier we found everything very comfortable for us. We were kindly received by all who had anything to do with us. . . . We only stayed one night in the Barracks, * when we all got situations, some in town and some up-country. Most of the girls I have seen since, and they are all liking their places well. . . . I think there is nothing to hinder any one who does what is right to get on here very well. . . . I may say, before I close, that I like Napier very much indeed. I was surprised at the beauty of the country when I landed I beg to thank you for sending me out here, and hope that God will enable me to do my duty, so that you will not regret sending me out." The following extract is from the Report of Mr Colin Allan, agent of the Dunedin Labour Exchange:—"It will be seen from the return that farm-servants and female domestic servants are the classes most in demand in the province. . . . The most constant and urgent requests come from the country districts for good household servants and dairymaids, and any number of females competent to fill these situations could be absorbed at wages ranging from £30 to £45 per annum." This, which is said of the province of Otago, might be said of almost every part of New Zealand.

For the investment of capital which one may create for himself or take with him to New Zealand, if he does not choose to buy land or increase any business in which he may be engaged, there are various ways in which he may attain his end. He may lend money on mortgage, at 8 to 10 per cent., with as much safety as he may in this country at 4 or 5. There are various banking companies, insurance offices, navigation companies, &c., which may also be considered safe investments, and gold-mining companies, which are of course attended with more risk. Some may think that so high a rate of interest involves great risk. But it is not so. The truth is, that the resources of the colony are very great, while the resources of the colonists, whereby they can take any advantage of those resources, are generally not great, and money being thus scarce, yet necessary, sells dear like any other commodity. The three principal banking-companies paid 15 per cent, in 1869, while the other two paid respectively 6 and 10. There are about one hundred and thirty joint-stock companies, of various kinds. Post-offices are very numerous, and, for so limited a population as that of New Zealand, do a very large business. Nearly a hundred of them have saving-banks attached to them (receipts during first three years, beginning with February 1867, about page 23 £550,000), which are most useful in all new countries where the regular banking companies have their offices in towns, which may be far distant. And yet many a little township has its bank far sooner than its church. The North and South Islands, which are separated by forty miles of sea, have been for some time connected by a submarine telegraph, and now the telegraph wire is extended over a great part of the colony. Nearly 2000 miles have been erected, and the revenue cannot now be much less than £50,000 per annum.

* Immigration Barracks.