The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 45
The Rise and Progress of New Zealand
The Rise and Progress of New Zealand.
ew 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.
Census Results, 1878.
The colony of New Zealand was founded in 1839. Since that period eight censuses have been taken. While page 11 seven years elapsed between the first and second census, the succeeding enumerations were taken at intervals of about three years.
The following table exhibits the population, exclusive of the aborigines, when each census was taken:—
The Maori population numbers about 42,000, only 2,000 of which are settled in the South or Middle Island.
The following are some of the principal towns with their population in 1878. As the population of Dunedin, Christchurch and Auckland, cannot fairly be estimated without taking the suburbs into account, these have also been included. *
Names and Population of Principal Cities, Including Suburbs.
The Customs revenue, in 1878, amounted to £1,344,941, against £1,224,906 in 1877, being an increase of £120,035, or 9.80 per cent. The following figures show the comparative amounts realised by this branch of the revenue during the years 1866 to 1878, inclusive:—
Imports and Exports.
|Period.||Imports.||Exports, the Produce of the Colony.|
|1841-1845, average for 4 years||139,000||33,000|
|1845-1849 average for 5 years||193,000||77,000|
|1853-1855 average for 3 years||766,000||330,000|
|1856-1860 average for 5 years||1,188,000||438,000|
|1861-1865 average for 5 years||5,352,000||2,718,000|
|1866-1870 average for 5 years||5,168,000||4,335,000|
|1871-1875 average for 5 years||6,367,000||5,276,000|
|1876-1877 average for 2 years||6,939,000||5,783,000|
The great bound exhibited in the above table, as taking place in the quinquennial period 1861-5, was caused by the gold discoveries. The first considerable export of this metal occurred in 1861, the value being £752,657, increasing in the following year to £1,591,389; and the year subsequent, 1863, to £2,431,723. A more than corresponding large increase intthe imports took place in the same period, due to the great influx of miners and immigrants from all parts of the world.
The above statistics speak for themselves, and need no comment of ours to endorse them. We might devote a large number of pages to the production of evidence in support of our thesis—that New Zealand is the most page 13 flourishing of all the Colonies—but we will content ourselves with the evidence of one more witness, and then dismiss this portion of our work. At a banquet given to Judge Bathgate, in Dunedin, previous to his departure on a visit to the old country, that gentleman, in the course of an eloquent speech made the following remarks:
"I am talking to educated and intelligent men, that are able to weigh thoroughly every word that I shall say. Now, there are three facts I think of very great importance. You will have noticed in the letter I read the question, Is the climate healthy? Well, I should like to see the man that would stand up before me and say anything against the climate we live in.—(Cheers.) I can give you the opinion based upon my own experience. It is this: that a man may live in Britain, and transact business, but our atmosphere is such that instead of merely living in New Zealand, we enjoy life. The principal fact I mean to lay down is of the healthiness of our climate. I need not quote Dr. Thomson, who has shown from the records of the military stations in New Zealand that it is the healthiest station all over the world—far more healthy than Britain. Our death-rate to the 1000 is, I think, 12 and a fraction, while in Britain it is 22. Then, upon the other side, the birth-rate is 115, while in the old country it is only 36; so that we not only live longer, but we multiply and increase at a much higher rate. Then, as to the fertility of the fields, I quite believe there are doubters amongst us. I know it is the same now as in the time of the Apostles—' and some doubted.' There is always some cast of mind that cannot help doubting. It is its instinct, its idiosyncrasy. Now I will give you facts as to the fertility of our fields. Their fertility is something of which many of you have not the slightest idea. New Zealand as a grain growing country is the premier country of the world. I will give you the statistics to establish that—the comparative statement of the average yield of wheat per acre in the different countries specified—compiled from the official sources:—New Zealand, 31.5; Holland, 28.4; Great Britain, 27.5; Belgium, 20.3; Central Europe, 17; Tasmania, 16.4; Queensland, 16.4; Victoria, 15.5; California. 15; Egypt, 15; New South page 14 Wales, 14.7; France, 13; United States, 12.2; South Australia, 12 (I think this is overstated; it ought to be 8.7); Canada, 11; Natal, 10.8; Russia, 5.5. Now that is only one aspect showing the remarkable fertility of the soil of this Island, but it also shows you how commerce can be developed into large proportions and maintained and increased, because if we are far away from Home the large yield more than compensates by double for the distance we have to send our grain."
Of course in a work of this nature it is impossible to give more than a very brief outline of the Colony, its wealth, its commerce, its resources and its prospects. Those who desire to gain minute information respecting all the statistical details connected with New Zealand, should peruse Dr. Hector's Hand-Book of New Zealand. In that ably compiled publication will be found a perfect mine of useful and important knowledge, and the learned compiler deserves the best thanks of the colonists for his valuable work.
From the foregoing observations the intending tourist who never before has had the good fortune to visit this Colony, will be in a position to glean a fairly accurate idea of the country to which we cordially invite him.
* In our sketches of the principal cities and towns, which appear further on in the book, we have merely given a rough calculation of the population of each centre. These tables give the exact numbers.