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Our New Zealand Cousins
Chapter XXI


Summary—Importance of the colonies sometimes overlooked at home—Their commercial importance—Fields for capital—Mineral wealth—Farm products—New in­dustries—Field for farmers—Liberal land regulations— Openings for artisans—For labourers—Free institutions —A land of promise for willing workers—Inducements for seekers after health and lovers of the picturesque— The clouds clearing—Returning prosperity—The peace and unity of the Empire.

Brief as had been our sojourn among "our New Zealand cousins," and rapid as had been our journeying through the islands, it will be evident, I think, from what I have recorded in the foregoing chapters, that enormous progress has been made during the last twenty years in all that tends to build up sound national life. The history of New Zealand in its connection with the mother country is, in fact, the history of all the Australian colonies. Too often has their importance been but grudgingly recognized, where it has not in some instances been overlooked altogether by the leaders of thought and political life at home. Of late years, thanks to such true Britons as Professor Seeley and others, ample amends have been made for this whilom neglect. The tendency now is all the other way. With the multiplication and development of im­proved means of communication, the pulsations of colonial life are more quickly and keenly felt at the heart of the empire. Their political importance is no longer ignored; but it is open to some doubt if their commercial importance is as yet adequately recognized. What fields are there not here open for the employment of British capital in exploiting our mineral wealth alone. We hear of millions being sunk in Southern India, Spain, and elsewhere, yet I know myself of gold, silver, copper, tin, anti­mony, bismuth, coal, slate, marble, lead and other deposits in dozens of localities in Australia and New Zealand, all of which would give certain and ample returns to judicious investment. In silver alone, of late years, the application of improved methods has at one jump lifted Australia into the foremost ranks of silver-producing countries. If English capitalists would utilize the services of competent scientific mining engineers, metallurgists and mineralogists; if they would assist their colonial cousins with part of their wealth, to properly pro­spect the country, there might be such a " boom " in mining, as would draw more closely than ever the heart and circumference of the Empire together, and forge fresh bands of solid substantial profits, mutual inter-dependence, and community of material interests between all portions of our race which would quickly result in a very real tangible federation indeed. But not only in minerals do these colonies offer inducements to the capitalist at home. Hundreds of promising industries are retarded for want of the necessary capital. Oil mills, for example, would be an instant success, if the farmer were only assured of a steady market close at hand for his oil crops. Tobacco-growing would increase a hundredfold and would become a lucrative investment, if capital were judiciously expended in putting up the necessary appliances for manufacturing the leaf. Butter, cheese, and bacon factories are even now increasing, but are capable cf indefinite multiplication. In the manu­facture of essences and essential oils, there are splendid openings for investment, and indeed there is scarcely a product of nature used in the arts or sciences that could not be profitably grown and manufactured in these colonies were but the right men imbued with the desire to try them. As a rule the colonial farmer is a poor man. Clearing is expensive; wages, fortunately for the labouring classes, are high; and the facilities for securing land have hitherto been great, so that most settlers have been tempted into purchasing more land than , they could profitably work, with such resources as have been at their command. Now, however, capital might be encouraged to bring the aids of combination, modern machinery, and skilled enter­prise, to the aid of the farmer. In fruit-preserving alone, were the right methods adopted, there are fortunes lying ready to be made, beside which the profits of similar enterprises in old lands would seem petty and mean. As it is, all the available capital in the colonies is profitably invested, and any return under six per cent, is looked on as on the whole rather unsatisfactory.

In fisheries I have suggested boundless poten­tialities ; and indeed nature has been so lavish in her gifts of raw material, that if we could only fairly set moneyed men and men of inventive genius thinking, and induce them to throw in their lot amongst us, we could not fail to benefit by the accession, and they would never have cause to regret their advent.

To farmers with a little capital, who find too circumscribed a sphere for their energies in the old lands, the colonies present an inviting field. Land is yet plentiful and cheap. The returns for faith­ful tillage are bountiful and certain, and there is no end to the variety of products that may be grown. "Corn, and wine, and oil," is no figure of speech as applied to the products of these colonies, but a plain matter-of-fact statement. As regards New Zealand, for instance, the fol­lowing statement illustrates the anxiety and determination of the Government to foster agriculture, and it should not be forgotten that roads and railways are constantly being constructed, and new markets being opened up.

"In order to test the sincerity of the outcry for land by professional political agitators, as well as to prevent the chronic appeals of the labouring classes to the Government through alleged lack of employment, the Minister of Lands has devised a new land scheme. The leading features of it are the setting apart of blocks of land as special settlements—in the first instance in Wellington province, but if successful, the scheme will be extended to other provinces—to be occupied on perpetual leases for a first term of thirty years, and a second term of twenty-one, without any right of acquiring a freehold. Rental is to be based on the capital value of the land, the minimum price being two per cent, per acre, and the maximum area twenty acres to any applicant, who will get it without competition, as priority will be determined by lot. Among the essential conditions are residence, cultivation, and that the land shall not be subdivided or sublet. Government will contribute 20/. towards building the settler's house, and, if land is bush, will give the average price to enable the selector to clear and sow the section in grass. The State will then charge on value of the land five per cent, per year, and on the sum advanced for the improvement the same rate. A start will be made in the middle of June of the present year (1886) to make the initial experiment at Parihaka, and the Govern­ment state the settlements will be located near towns or railways where labour is attainable, and where the land is suitable for small indus­tries."

To active, intelligent artisans, and workers who have no capital but their own stout hearts and strong, willing limbs, these colonies present a field for their enterprise, such as is nowhere else existent at this time upon the earth. We have no room for the intemperate idler, the loafer, or incompetent, chicken-hearted, slovenly shirker. We have enow of these, God wot, already; but there is work out here for every willing, capable, self-respecting man, under circumstances of such material comfort, such increased remuneration, such political freedom, such generous fare and charm of climate, with all the accessories and surroundings of community of speech, race, religion, and home institutions, as are nowhere else procurable in any dependency of the Empire. A little "roughing it" there is certain to be at first. Things will be a little strange to begin with. The streets of colonial cities are not paved with gold, and indeed the towns and cities are in any case not the best fields for the labourer in the colonies, but if a man is willing, adaptable, handy, cheerful, sober, and determined to get on, depend upon it he cannot fail of a success, which is all but impossible of achievement in the crowded and narrow sphere of the labourer's life at home.

To the seeker after health, these colonies offer the fountains of renewed youth. At all times of the year by judiciously changing the locality, you can live in perpetual summer, with an air as balmy and bracing, and perfectly enjoyable, as can fall to the lot of mortals here below.

To the lover of the picturesque, and the seeker after the pure delights that a communion with nature ever yields, I think my pages of description surely afford ample promise that a visit cannot possibly be fraught with disappointment.

The clouds of commercial depression are lifting. The native difficulty seems to be fairly and for ever settled. Politics, let us hope, are becoming purified. The long succession of deficits has at length come to an end. Last year's estimates have shown a surplus of 37,000/. The coming year has an estimated revenue of over four millions, with an anticipated surplus of 42,000/.. This is accompanied by a diminution of the property tax to the amount of 24,000/ The population is increasing satisfactorily. Public works of much importance, and of a reproductive character, are being vigorously prosecuted ; and those already carried out, are year by year becoming increasingly reproductive. The feeling of friendly regard and brotherly affection for the dear old mother country seems only to become accentuated as time rolis on. The signs of returning and permanent prosperity are everywhere apparent. Intellectual and mental life is vigorous ; religion and learning are advancing ; and on all sides, the outlook is hopeful and the signs fortuitous. It is to be hoped indeed that our New Zealand cousins are entering upon a new era of peaceful progress and steady advancement in everything that will tend to build up true national greatness, and help to preserve the unity, the peace, and the dignity of that great Empire of which their southern island home is one of the most beautiful and most fruitful dependencies.


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