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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 45


New Zealand during the past few years has attracted considerable attention in the United Kingdom, Europe, and America. Persons who in former times would have hardly condescended to notice the insignificant "boot" lying in a remote corner of the Map of the World as if it had been kicked off by Atlas and cast aside as useless, have of late taken the trouble to make a closer inspection of the insignificant-looking strip of land and water at the antipodes. They have at length discovered that there is good leather in the leg and foot of the Titan's boot. Even the upper classes are beginning to entertain an idea that the boot is likely to last for a long time, and many of them on this account are giving it their sole attention. New Zealand consists of two Islands termed the North and South Islands, and a small island at the southern extremity called Stewart Island. There are also a number of small isles dependant on the colony. The South Island, often called the Middle Island, is divided from the North Island by Cook's Strait. New Zealand is a very mountainous country, and in the North Island the mountains occupy one tenth of the surface. Tongariro (6,500 feet), an occasionally active volcano; Reuapehu (9,100 feet), and Mount Egmont (8,300 feet), extinct volcanoes, are the most prominent elevations. The South Island has a number of magnificent mountains. We will treat of these further on in this work.

The advance which this Colony has made on the path of progress during the past 20 years is something wonderful. The quick transition from comparative obscurity and poverty to world-wide recognition and unbounded wealth, which has taken place during that period, affords a pleasurable study to the political economist. And when we page 9 remember that it is only 110 years since that intrepid sailor, James Cook, first set foot on our shores, we cannot but feel astonished and gratified with the present state of our adopted country. On the 8th October, 1769, Captain Cook effected a landing at Poverty Bay, and from that date the history of British New Zealand commences. It is not our province now to trace the history of the country and its native race anterior to Cook's landing. So many books have been written on the Maori race and their probable origin that to enlarge on such a subject in a work of this character would be a superfluous task. Nearly every reader must be acquainted with the fact that the pioneers of this noble race of savages, came over from Hawaiiki to New Zealand sometime about the commencement of the 15th century. Our object in this brief article is to give a condensed account of the progress of the country under the rule of the European, and we will proceed to do so in as concise a manner as possible. It was not until 1814 that the Colony began to be settled by the white population. About that time the Church Missionary Society established a Mission at the Bay of Islands under the auspices of the Rev. Samuel Marsden, Colonial Chaplain to the Government, of New South Wales. Later on the attention of some of the leading merchants of Sydney was attracted to New Zealand, and a number of commercial agencies were instituted by them. The Missionaries established the first printing press in the country, and numbers of Bibles were translated into Maori and distributed among the Natives. Irregular colonization prevailed up to the year 1837 when Lord Durham, as the representative of the New Zealand Land Company, proposed to the Government that it should be invested with powers to colonize the Country. The preliminary expedition of the Company, under the leadership of Colonel William Wakefield, arrived in August, 1839, and selected Port Nicholson, in Cook's Strait, for their first settlement. The Company afterwards established settlements at New Plymouth, Nelson, and in connection with the Free Church of Scotland it took part in the settlement of Otago in 1848. The Province of Auckland was established by Captain Hobson in 1840, and Canterbury was founded in 1850 by a Church of page 10 England Company under the auspices of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Although the Colony was going ahead in a slow but steady manner, it was not until the discovery of gold in Otago, in 1861, that it attracted much attention. This great event marks an important epoch in the history of the Colony, for it was the means of bringing thousands of enterprising men from the other Colonies to our shores. The discovery of gold gave a marvellous impetus to trade and commerce, and from that time to the present the Colony has continued to prosper. The inauguration of the Public Works Scheme by Mr. (now Sir) Julius Vogel, marks another milestone on the road of advancement, and New Zealand owes that distinguished statesman a debt of gratitude for the active part taken by him in the development of the resources of the country.

The form of Government is almost similiar to that of the Australian Colonies. Executive power is vested in a Governor appointed by the Imperial Government. There are two legislative chambers, the Legislative Council, and the House of Representatives. The former consists of 49 members nominated by the Governor for life, and the latter has 88 members elected by the people for the term of five years. This branch of the legislature is likely to be remodelled ere long, as a new Electoral Bill has been a subject of discussion for sometime past. Up to 1876 the Colony was divided into nine provinces; but in that year a central form of government was established, and the country was divided into provincial districts, counties and road-boards.

Although statistics in a work of this kind may be considered "dry reading," we cannot resist the temptation of quoting figures in order to fully illustrate the growing importance and prosperity of the Colony. The extracts are from Dr. Hector's able Hand-Book of New Zealand, recently issued by the Government.