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The Long White Cloud by William Pember Reeves

Part 5 out of 6

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House had been viewed in the most easy-going fashion. Vogel in his
earlier years had adopted the ballot, and had set up a State Life
Insurance Department, which has been successfully managed, and has now
about ten millions assured in it. More interesting and valuable still
was his establishment of the office of Public Trustee. So well has the
experiment worked, that it may be said as a plain truth that in New
Zealand, the best possible Trustee, the one least subject to accidents
of fortune, and most exempt from the errors which beset man's honesty
and judgment, has been found by experience to be the State. The Public
Trust Office of the Colony worked at first in a humble way, chiefly in
taking charge of small intestate estates. Experience, however, showed
its advantages so clearly, that it has now property approaching two
millions' worth in its care. Any owner of property, whether he be
resident in the Colony or not, wishing to create a trust, may use the
Public Trustee, subject, of course, to that officer's consent. Any one
who desires so to do may appoint him the executor of his will. Any one
about to leave, or who has left the Colony, may make him his attorney.
The Public Trustee may step in and take charge, not only of intestate
estates, but of an inheritance where no executor has been named under
the will, or where those named will not act. He manages and protects
the property of lunatics. Where private trust estates become the cause
of disputes and quarrels, between trustees and beneficiaries, the
parties thereto may relieve themselves by handing over their burden to
the public office. The Public Trustee never dies, never goes out of
his mind, never leaves the Colony, never becomes disqualified, and
never becomes that extremely disagreeable and unpleasant person--a
trustee whom you do not trust. In addition to his other manifold
duties he holds and administers very large areas of land reserved for
the use of certain Maori tribes. These he leases to working settlers,
paying over the rents to the Maori beneficiaries. Naturally, the class
which has the most cause to be grateful to the Public Trust Office
is that composed of widows and orphans and other unbusinesslike
inheritors of small properties, persons whose little inheritances are
so often mismanaged by private trustees or wasted in law costs.

Another reform carried out by Vogel had been the adoption of the
Torrens system of land transfer. Henceforth under the Land Transfer
Law, Government officers did nearly all the conveyancing business of
the Colony. Land titles were investigated, registered, and guaranteed,
and sales and mortgages then became as simple and almost as cheap as
the transfer of a parcel of shares in a company.

Even earlier the legislature had done a creditable thing in being the
first in the Empire to abolish the scandal of public executions.

1877 may be accounted the birth year of more militant and systematic

Grey's platform speeches in the summer of 1876-77 brought home the new
Radicalism to the feelings of the mass of the electors, and to the
number, then considerable, who were not electors. For the first time
one of the Colony's leaders appealed to the mass of the colonists
with a policy distinctly and deliberately democratic. The result was
awakening. Then and subsequently Grey advocated triennial parliaments,
one man one vote, a land tax, and a land policy based upon the leasing
of land rather than its sale, and particularly upon a restriction of
the area which any one man might acquire. The definite views of the
Radicals bore fruit at once in the session of 1877. It was necessary
to establish a national system of education to replace the useful, but
ill-jointed work done peacemeal by the Provinces. A bill--and not a
bad bill--was introduced by Mr. Charles Bowen, a gentleman honourably
connected with the founding of education in Canterbury. This measure
the Radicals took hold of and turned it into the free, secular,
compulsory system of primary school-teaching of which the Colony
is to-day justly proud, and under which the State educates
thirteen-fourteenths of the children of the Colony. Now, in 1898, out
of an estimated population of about 780,000 all told, some 150,000 are
at school or college. Of children between ten and fifteen years of
age the proportion unable to read is but o.68. The annual average of
attendance is much higher in New Zealand than in any of the Australian
Colonies. The primary school system is excellent on its literary, not
so excellent on its technical side. Nearly three-fourths of the Roman
Catholic children do not take advantage of it. Their parents prefer to
support the schools of their church, though without State aid of any
kind. These, and a proportion of the children of the wealthier, are
the only exceptions to the general use made of the public schools. It
is not likely that any change, either in the direction of teaching
religion in these, or granting money to church schools, will be made.
Each political party in turn is only too eager to charge the other
with tampering with the National system--a sin, the bare hint of which
is like suspicion of witchcraft or heresy in the Middle Ages.

Grey gained office in 1877, but with a majority too small to enable
him to carry his measures. Ballance, his treasurer, did indeed carry
a tax upon land values. But its chief result at the time was to
alarm and exasperate owners of land, and to league them against the
Radicals, who after a not very brilliant experience of office without
power fell in 1879. Thereafter, so utterly had Grey's angry followers
lost faith in his generalship, that they deposed him--a humiliation
which it could be wished they had seen their way to forego, or he to
forgive. Yet he was, it must be confessed, a very trying leader. His
cloudy eloquence would not do for human nature's daily food. His
opponents, Atkinson and Hall, had not a tithe of his emotional power,
but their facts and figures riddled his fine speeches. Stout and
Ballance, lieutenants of talent and character, became estranged from
him; others of his friends were enough to have damned any government.
The leader of a colonial party must have certain qualities which Sir
George Grey did not possess. He may dispense with eloquence, but must
be a debater; whether able or not able to rouse public meetings,
he must know how to conduct wearisome and complicated business by
discussion; he must not only have a grasp of great principles, but
readiness to devote himself to the mastery of uninteresting minds and
unappetizing details; above all, he must be generous and considerate
to lieutenants who have their own views and their own followers, and
who expect to have their full share of credit and influence. In one
word, he should be what Ballance was and Grey was not. Nevertheless,
one of Grey's courage, talent, and prestige was not likely to fail to
leave his mark upon the politics of the country; nor did he. Though he
failed to pass the reforms just mentioned, he had the satisfaction of
seeing them adopted and carried into law, some by his opponents, some
by his friends. Only one of his pet proposals seems to have been
altogether lost sight of, his oft-repeated demand that the Governor of
the Colony should be elected by the people.

The Grey Ministry had committed what in a Colonial Cabinet is the one
unpardonable crime--it had encountered a commercial depression, with
its concomitant, a shrunken revenue. When Hall and Atkinson succeeded
Grey with a mission to abolish the land-tax, they had at once to
impose a different but more severe burden. They also reduced--for a
time--the cost of the public departments by the rough-and-ready method
of knocking ten per cent. off all salaries and wages paid by the
treasury, a method which, applied as it was at first equally to low
and high, had the unpopularity as well as the simplicity of the
poll-tax. That retrenchment and fresh taxation were unpleasant
necessities, and that Hall and Atkinson more than once tackled the
disagreeable task of applying them, remains true and to their credit.

Between 1880 and 1890 the colonists were for the most part resolutely
at work adapting themselves to the new order of things--to lower
prices and slower progress. They increased their output of wool and
coal--the latter a compensation for the falling-off of the gold. They
found in frozen meat an export larger and more profitable than wheat.
Later on they began, with marked success, to organize co-operative
dairy factories and send cheese and butter to England. Public affairs
during the decade resolved themselves chiefly into a series of
expedients for filling the treasury and carrying on the work of land
settlement. Borrowing went on, but more and more slowly. Times did not
soon get better.

In 1885 and 1886 the industrial outlook was perhaps at its worst. In
1887, Atkinson and Whitaker, coming again into power, with Hall as
adviser, administered a second dose of taxation-cum-retrenchment. They
cut down the salaries of the Governor and the ministers, and the size
and pay of the elected chamber. They made efforts, more equitable this
time, to reduce the cost of the public departments. They stiffened
the property-tax, and for the second time raised the Customs Duties,
giving them a distinctly Protectionist complexion. The broad result
was the achievement of financial equilibrium. For ten years there have
been no deficits in New Zealand. Apart from retrenchment, Atkinson had
to rely upon the Opposition in forcing his financial measures through
against the Free Traders amongst his own following. This strained his
party. Moreover, in forming his cabinet in 1887 he had not picked some
of his colleagues well. In particular, the absence of Mr. Rolleston's
experience and knowledge from the House and the government weakened
him. Mr. Rolleston has his limitations, and his friends did the enemy
a service when, after his return to public life in 1891, they tried to
make a guerilla chief out of a scrupulous administrator. But he was
a capable and not illiberal minister of lands, and his value at that
post to his party may be gauged by what they suffered when they had
to do without him. The lands administration of the Atkinson cabinet
became unpopular, and the discontent therewith found a forcible
exponent in an Otago farmer, Mr. John McKenzie, a gigantic Gael, in
grim earnest in the cause of close settlement, and whose plain-spoken
exposures of monopoly and "dummyism" not only woke up the Radicals,
but went home to the smaller settlers far and wide. It may be that
these things hastened the breaking-down of Sir Harry Atkinson's health
in 1890. At any rate fail it did, unhappily. His colleague, Sir
Frederick Whitaker, was ageing palpably. Nor did Sir John Hall's
health allow him to take office.


_By permission of_ Messrs. SAMPSON LOW]

With their _tres Magi_ thus disabled, the Conservative party began to
lose ground. More than one cause, no doubt, explains how it was that
up to 1891 the Liberals hardly ever had a command of Parliament equal
to their hold upon the country. But the abilities of the three men
just named had, I believe, a great share in holding them in check. Sir
John Hall's devotion to work, grasp of detail, and shrewd judgment
were proverbial. He was the most businesslike critic of a bill in
committee the House of Representatives ever had, and was all the more
effective in politics for his studiously conciliatory manner. Astute
and wary, Sir Frederick Whitaker was oftener felt than seen. But with
more directness than Whitaker, and more fighting force than Hall, it
was Atkinson who, from 1875 to his physical collapse in 1890, was
the mainstay of his party. He carried through the abolition of the
Provinces; he twice reorganized the finances; he was the protagonist
of his side in their battles with Grey, Ballance, and Stout, and they
could not easily have had a better. This chief of Grey's opponents was
as unlike him in demeanour and disposition as one man can well be
to another. The two seemed to have nothing in common, except
inexhaustible courage. Grey had been trained in the theory of war,
and any part he took therein was as leader. Atkinson had picked up a
practical knowledge of bush-fighting by exchanging hard knocks with
the Maoris as a captain of militia. Grey was all courtesy; the other
almost oddly tart and abrupt. Grey's oratory consisted of high-pitched
appeals to great principles, which were sometimes eloquent, sometimes
empty. His antagonist regarded Parliament as a place for the
transaction of public business. When he had anything to say, he
said it plainly; when he had a statement to make, he made it, and
straightway went on to the next matter. His scorn of the graces of
speech did not prevent him from being a punishing debater. Theories
he had--of a quasi-socialistic kind. But his life was passed in
confronting hard facts. Outside the House he was a working colonist;
inside it a practical politician. The only glory he sought was "the
glory of going on," and of helping the Colony to go on. When, with
tragic suddenness, he died in harness, in the Legislative Council in
1892, there was not alone sincere sorrow among the circle of friends
and allies who knew his sterling character, but, inasmuch as however
hard he had hit in debate it had never been below the belt, his
opponents joined in regretting that so brave and faithful a public
servant had not been spared to enjoy the rest he had well earned.


_By permission of_ Messrs. SAMPSON LOW.]

What kind of an assembly, it may be asked, is the New Zealand
Parliament which Atkinson's force of character enabled him to lead so
long, and which has borne undivided rule over the Colony since 1876?
The best answer can be found in the story of the Colony, for the
General Assembly, at all events, has never been a _faineant_ ruler.
It has done wrong as well as right, but it has always done something.
After the various false starts before referred to, it has, since
getting fairly to work in 1856, completed forty-three years of talk,
toil, legislation and obstruction. It may fairly be claimed that its
life has been interesting, laborious and not dishonourable. It has
exactly doubled in size since Governor Wynyard's day. Old settlers say
that it has not doubled in ability. But old settlers, with all their
virtues, are incorrigible _laudatores temporis acti_. The industry
of the members, the difficulties they had to cope with in the last
generation, and the number and variety and novelty of the questions
they have essayed to solve in this, are undoubted. Their work must, of
course, be tested by time. Much of it has already borne good fruit,
and any that does manifest harm is not likely to cumber the earth
long. If laws in colonies are more quickly passed, they are also more
easy to amend than in older countries.

The Lower House of a Colonial Parliament resembles, in most ways,
the London County Council more than the House of Commons. But in New
Zealand members have always been paid--their salary is now L240 a
year. Farmers and professional men make up the largest element. The
Labour members have never numbered more than half a dozen. At present
there are five in each House. In the more important debates speeches
are now limited to an hour, otherwise to half an hour. The length of
speeches in committee must not exceed ten minutes. About twenty per
cent. of the speaking is good; most of it is made with little or no
preparation, and suffers--together with its hearers--accordingly.
Bores are never shouted or coughed down--the House is too small, and
nearly all the members are on friendly terms with each other. Until
the adoption of the time limit business was in daily danger of being
arrested by speeches of phenomenal length and dreariness. Anthony
Trollope, who listened to a debate at Wellington in 1872, thought
the New Zealand parliamentary bores the worst he had known. The
discussions in Committee are often admirably businesslike, except when
there is obstruction, as there frequently is. As elsewhere, special
committees do much work and get little thanks therefor. As compared
with the House of Commons, the debates would seem to lack dignity; as
compared with the proceedings of the Sydney Parliament, they would
have appeared models of decorum, at any rate until quite recently. No
New Zealand debater would be held great in England, but seven or eight
would be called distinctly good. The House supports a strong Speaker,
but is disposed to bully weakness in the chair.

For the last thirty years the Maori race has returned four members
to the House. They usually speak through an interpreter. In spite of
that, when discussing native questions they often show themselves
fluent and even eloquent. Outside local and private bills, nearly all
important legislation is conducted by Government. Private members
often profess to put this down to the jealousy and tyranny of
Ministers, but the truth is that Parliament, as a whole, has always
been intolerant of private members' bills. There is no direct personal
corruption. If the House were as free from small-minded jealousy and
disloyalty as it is from bribery and idleness, it would be a very
noble assembly. In character, the politicians have been at least equal
to the average of their fellow-colonists. But party ties are much
looser than in England. Members will sometimes support Governments for
what they can get for their districts, or leave them because they
have not been given a portfolio. Attempts to form a third party are
incessant but unsuccessful. Ministries, if not strangled at the
birth--as was the "Clean Shirt" Cabinet--usually last for three years.
Since August, 1884, there have virtually been but two changes of the
party in power. Reconstructions owing to death or retirement of a
Premier have now and then added to the number of apparently new
Cabinets. Of the seven or eight Ministers who make up a Cabinet, four
or five are usually able and overworked men. The stress of New Zealand
public life has told on many of her statesmen. Beside Governor Hobson,
McLean, Featherston, Crosbie Ward, Atkinson and Ballance died in
harness, and Hall had to save his life by resigning. Most of the
Colony's leaders have lived and died poor men. Parliaments are
triennial, and about one-third of the constituencies are pretty
certain to return new members at a general election. All the elections
take place on one day, and if a member--even the leader of a
party--loses his seat, he may be cut out for years. This is a
misfortune, as experience is a quality of which the House is apt to
run short. Block votes frequently prevent elections from being fought
on the practical questions of the hour. The contests are inexpensive,
and there is very little of the cynical blackmailing of candidates and
open subsidising by members which jar so unpleasantly on the observer
of English constituencies. Indeed, cynicism is by no means a fault of
New Zealand political life. The most marked failings are, perhaps, the
savagely personal character of some of its conflicts, and a general
over-strained earnestness and lack of sense of proportion or humour.
Newspapers and speeches teem with denunciations which might have been
in place if hurled at the corruption of Walpole, the bureaucracy of
Prussia, the finance of the _Ancien Regime_, or the treatment of
native races by the Spanish conquerors of the New World. Nor is
bitterness confined to wild language in or out of parliament. The
terrible saying of Gibbon Wakefield, fifty years ago, that in Colonial
politics "every one strikes at his opponent's heart," has still
unhappily some truth in it. The man who would serve New Zealand in any
more brilliant fashion than by silent voting or anonymous writing must
tread a path set with the thorns of malice, and be satisfied to find a
few friends loyal and a few foes chivalrous.

Chapter XXI


"Now who shall arbitrate?
Ten men love what I hate,
Shun what I follow, slight what I receive;
Ten who in ears and eyes
Match me; we all surmise,
They this thing, and I that; whom shall my soul believe?"

During the ten years beginning in 1879 New Zealand finance was little
more than a series of attempts to avert deficits. In their endeavours
to raise the revenue required for interest payments on the still
swelling public debt, and the inevitably growing departmental
expenditure, various treasurers turned to the Customs. In raising
money by duties they received support both from those who wished to
protect local industries and from those who wished to postpone the
putting of heavy taxation upon land. Sir Harry Atkinson, the treasurer
who carried the chief protectionist duties, used to disclaim being
either a protectionist or a free-trader. The net result of various
conflicts has been a tariff which is protectionist, but not highly
protectionist. The duties levied on New Zealand imports represent
twenty-four per cent. of the declared value of the goods. But the
highest duties, those on spirits, wine, beer, sugar, tea, and tobacco,
are not intentionally protectionist; they are simply revenue duties,
though that on beer has undoubtedly helped large and profitable
colonial breweries to be established. English free-traders accept as
an axiom that Customs duties cannot produce increased revenue and at
the same time stimulate local manufactures. Nevertheless, under the
kind of compromise by which duties of fifteen, twenty, and twenty-five
per cent. are levied on so many articles, it does come about that the
colonial treasurer gets his revenue while, sheltered by the fiscal
hedge, certain colonial manufactures steadily grow up. The factories
of the Colony now employ some 40,000 hands, and their annual output
is estimated at ten millions sterling. Much of this would, of course,
have come had the Colony's ports been free; but the factories engaged
in the woollen, printing, clothing, iron and steel, tanning, boot,
furniture, brewing, jam-making, and brick and tile-making industries
owe their existence in the main to the duties. Nor would it be fair to
regard the Colony's protection as simply a gigantic job managed by the
more or less debasing influence of powerful companies and firms. It
was adopted before such influences and interests were. It could not
have come about, still less could it last, were there not an honest
and widespread belief that without duties the variety of industries
needful to make a civilized and prosperous nation could not be
attained in young countries where nascent enterprises are almost
certain to be undercut and undersold by the giant capitalists and
cheaper labour of the old world. Such a belief may conceivably be
an economic mistake, but those who hold it need not be thought mere
directors or tools of selfish and corrupt rings. The Colony will not
adopt Free Trade unless a change comes over the public mind, of which
there is yet no sign; but it is not likely to go further on the road
towards McKinleyism. Its protection, such as it is, was the outcome
of compromises, stands frankly as a compromise, and is likely for the
present to remain as that.

So long as the Provinces lasted the General Assembly had little or
nothing to do with land laws. When, after abolition, the management of
the public estate came into the hands of the central authority, the
regulations affecting it were a bewildering host. Some fifty-four
statutes and ordinances had to be repealed. Nor could uniformity be
substituted at once, inasmuch as land was occupied under a dozen
different systems in as many different provincial districts. Only very
gradually could these be assimilated, and it was not until the year
1892 that one land act could be said to contain the law on the
subject, and to be equally applicable to all New Zealand. In the
meantime the statute-books of 1877, 1878, 1883, 1885 and 1887 bore
elaborate evidence of the complexity of the agrarian question, and the
importance attached to it. On it more than on any other difference
party divisions were based. Over it feelings were stirred up which
were not merely personal, local, or sectional. It became, and over an
average of years remained, the matter of chief moment in the Colony's
politics. Finance, liquor reform, labour acts, franchise extension may
take first place in this or that session, but the land question, in
one or other of its branches, is always second. The discussions on it
roused an enduring interest in Parliament given to no other subject.
The Minister of Lands ranks with the Premier and the Treasurer as one
of the leaders in every Cabinet. Well may he do so. Many millions of
acres and many thousands of tenants are comprised in the Crown leases
alone. Outside these come the constant land sales, the purchases from
the Maori tribes, and in recent years the buying back of estates from
private owners, and the settlement thereof. These form most, though
not all, of the business of the Minister of Lands, his officers, and
the administrative district boards attached to his department. If
there were no land question in New Zealand, there might be no Liberal
Party. It was the transfer of the land from the Provinces to the
central Parliament in 1876 which chiefly helped Grey and his
lieutenants to get together a democratic following.



Slowly but surely the undying agrarian controversy passed with the
Colony's progress into new stages. In the early days we have seen the
battle between the "sufficient price" of Gibbon Wakefield and the
cheap land of Grey, the good and evil wrought by the former, the wide
and lasting mischief brought about by the latter. By 1876 price had
ceased to be the main point at issue. It was agreed on all hands that
town and suburban lands parted with by the Crown should be sold by
auction at fairly high upset prices; and that rural agricultural land
should be divided into classes--first, second, and third--and should
not be sold by auction, but applied for by would-be occupants prepared
to pay from L2 to 10s. an acre, according to quality. More and more
the land laws of the Colony were altered so as to favour occupation by
small farmers, who were not compelled to purchase their land for cash,
but permitted to remain State tenants at low rentals, or allowed to
buy the freehold by gradual instalments, termed deferred payments.
Even the great pastoral leaseholds were to some extent sub-divided as
the leases fell in. The efforts of the land reformers were for many
years devoted to limiting the acreage which any one person could
buy or lease, and to ensuring that any person acquiring land should
himself live thereon, and should use and improve it, and not leave it
lying idle until the spread of population enabled him to sell it at
a profit to some monopolist or, more often, some genuine farmer. As
early as 1856 Otago had set the example of insisting on an outlay
of 30s. an acre in improvement by each purchaser of public land.
Gradually the limiting laws were made more and more stringent, and
were partly applied even to pastoral leases. Now, in 1898, no person
can select more than 640 acres of first-class or 2,000 acres of
second-class land, including any land he is already holding. In other
words, no considerable landowner can legally acquire public land.
Pastoral "runs"--_i.e._, grazing leases--must not be larger than such
as will carry 20,000 sheep or 4,000 cattle, and no one can hold more
than one run. The attempts often ingeniously made to evade these
restrictions by getting land in the names of relatives, servants,
or agents are called "dummyism," and may be punished by
imprisonment--never inflicted--by fines, and by forfeiture of the land

[Footnote 1: Many a good story is founded on the adventures of
land-buyers in their endeavours to evade the spirit and obey the
letter of land regulations. In 1891 a rhymester wrote in doggerel
somewhat as follows of the experiences of a selector who "took up" a
piece of Crown land--

"On a certain sort of tenure, which his fancy much preferred,
That convenient kind of payment which is known as the 'deferred.'

"Now the laws in wise New Zealand with regard to buying land,
Which at divers times and places have been variously planned,
Form a code that's something fearful, something wonderful and grand.

"You may get a thousand acres, and you haven't got to pay
Aught but just a small deposit in a friendly sort of way.

"But you mustn't own a freehold, and you mustn't have a run,
And you mustn't be a kinsman of a squatter owning one;

"But must build a habitation and contentedly reside,
And must satisfy the Land Board that you pass the night inside.

"For if any rash selector on his section isn't found
He is straightway doomed to forfeit all his title to the ground."]

The political battles over the land laws of New Zealand during
the sixteen years since 1882 have not, however, centred round the
limitation of the right of purchase, or insistence on improvements,
so much as round the respective advantages of freehold and perpetual
leasehold, and round the compulsory repurchase of private land for
settlement. Roughly speaking, the political party which has taken the
name of Liberal has urged on the adoption of the perpetual lease as
the main or sole tenure under which State lands should in the future
be acquired. As a rule the party which the Liberals call Conservative
has advocated that would-be settlers should be allowed to choose their
tenure for themselves, and to be leaseholders or freeholders as they
please. Then there have arisen, too, important questions affecting the
perpetual lease itself. Should the perpetual leaseholders retain the
right of converting at any time their leasehold into a freehold by
paying down the cash value of their farm, or should the State always
retain the fee simple? Next, if the State should retain this, ought
there to be periodical revisions of the rent, so as to reserve the
unearned increment for the public? Fierce have been the debates and
curious the compromises arrived at concerning these debatable points.
The broad result has been that the sale of the freehold of Crown
lands, though not entirely prohibited, has been much discouraged, and
that the usual tenure given now is a lease for 999 years at a rent
of four per cent. on the prairie value of the land at the time of
leasing. As this tenure virtually hands over the unearned increment to
the lessee, it is regarded by the advanced land reformers with mixed
feelings. From their point of view, however, it has the advantage of
enabling men with small capital to take up land without expending
their money in a cash purchase. Inasmuch, too, as transfers of a lease
can only be made with the assent of the State Land Board for the
district--which assent will only be given in case the transfer is to a
_bona fide_ occupier not already a landowner--land monopoly is checked
and occupancy for use assured. Meanwhile there is plenty of genuine
settlement; every year sees many hundred fresh homes made and tracts
reclaimed from the wilderness.



Quite as keen has been the fighting over the principle of State
repurchase of private lands with or without the owner's consent. It
was a favourite project of Sir George Grey's; but it did not become
law until he had left public life, when it was carried by the most
successful and determined of the Liberal Ministers of Lands, John
McKenzie, who has administered it in a way which bids fair to leave an
enduring mark on the face of the Colony. Under this law L700,000 has
been spent in buying-forty-nine estates, or portions of estates, for
close settlement. The area bought is 187,000 acres. A few of these
have, at the time of writing, not yet been thrown open for settlement;
on the rest 2,252 human beings are already living. They pay a rent
equal to 5.2 per cent. on the cost of the land to the Government. Even
taking into account interest on the purchase money of land not yet
taken up, a margin remains in favour of the Treasury. Nearly 700 new
houses and L100,000 worth of improvements testify to the genuine
nature of the occupation. As a rule there is no difficulty in buying
by friendly arrangement between Government and proprietor. The latter
is commonly as ready to sell as the former to buy. The price is
usually settled by bargaining of longer or shorter duration. Twice
negotiations have failed, and the matter has been laid before the
Supreme Court, which has statutory power to fix the price when the
parties fail to agree. It must be remembered that as a rule large
holdings of land mean something quite different in New Zealand from
anything they signify to the English mind. In England a great estate
is peopled by a more or less numerous tenantry. In New Zealand it is,
as a rule, not peopled at all. Sheep roam over its grassy leagues,
cared for by a manager and a few shepherds. Natural and proper as this
may be on the wilder hills and poorer soils, it is easy to see how
unnatural and intolerable it appears in fertile and accessible
districts. In 1891 there were nearly twelve and a half million acres
held in freehold. Of these rather more than seven millions were in the
hands of 584 owners, none of whom held less than five thousand acres.
In spite of land-laws, land-tax, and time, out of thirty-four million
acres of land occupied under various tenures, twenty-one millions are
held in areas of more than five thousand acres.

Much the largest of the estates purchased by the Government came into
their hands in an odd way, and not under the Act just described. The
Cheviot property was an excellent example of what the old cheap-land
regulations led to. It was a fine tract of 84,000 acres of land, on
which up to 1893 some forty human beings and about 60,000 sheep were
to be found. Hilly but not mountainous, grassy, fertile, and lying
against the sea-shore, it was exactly suited for fairly close
settlement. Under the provisions of the land-tax presently to be
described, a landowner who thinks the assessors have over-valued his
property may call upon the Government to buy it at his own lower
valuation. A difference of L50,000 between the estimate of the
trustees who held the Cheviot estate and that of the official valuers
caused the former to give the Government of the day the choice between
reducing the assessment or buying the estate. Mr. McKenzie, however,
was just the man to pick up the gauntlet thus thrown down. He had the
Cheviot bought, cut up, and opened by roads. A portion was sold,
but most leased; and within a year of purchase a thriving yeomanry,
numbering nearly nine hundred souls and owning 74,000 sheep, 1,500
cattle, and 500 horses, were at work in the erstwhile empty tract.
Four prosperous years have since added to their numbers, and the rent
they pay more than recoups the Treasury for the interest on its outlay
in the purchase and settlement.

In 1886, John Ballance, then Minister of Lands, made a courageous
endeavour to place a number of workmen out of employment on the soil
in what were known as village settlements. In various parts of the
Colony blocks of Crown land were taken and divided into allotments of
from twenty to fifty acres. These were let to the village settlers on
perpetual lease at a rental equal to five per cent. on the prairie
value of the land. Once in a generation there was to be a revision
of the rental. The settlers, many of whom were quite destitute, were
helped at first not only by two years' postponement of their rent, but
by small advances to each to enable them to buy seed, tools, food,
and building material. Ballance was fiercely attacked in 1887 for his
experiment, and his opponents triumphantly pointed to the collapse
of certain of his settlements. Others, however, turned out to be
successes, and by last accounts the village settlers and their
families now number nearly five thousand human beings, occupying
35,000 acres in allotments of an average size of twenty-four acres.
Most of them divide their time between tilling their land and working
for wages as shearers, harvesters, or occasionally mechanics. Some
L27,000 has been lent them, of which they still owe about L24,000.
As against this the Government has been paid L27,000 in rent and
interest, and the improvements made by the settlers on their
allotments are valued at about L110,000, and form very good security
for their debts to the Treasury. Of late years Mr. McKenzie has been
aiding the poorer class of would-be farmers by employing them at wages
to clear the land of which they afterwards become tenants. The money
paid them is, of course, added to the capital value of the land.

For the last five years Liquor has disputed with Land the chief place
in the public interest. It has introduced an element of picturesque
enthusiasm and, here and there, a passion of hatred rarely seen before
in New Zealand politics. It brought division into the Liberal Party
in 1893, at the moment when the Progressive movement seemed to have
reached its high-water mark, and the feeling it roused was found
typified in the curious five years' duel between Mr. Seddon and Sir
Robert Stout, which began in 1893 and ended only with Sir Robert's
retirement at the beginning of the present year. It has strangely
complicated New Zealand politics, is still doing so, and is the key to
much political manoeuvring with which it might seem to have nothing
whatever to do.

For many years total abstainers in New Zealand have grown in numbers.
Though for the last thirty years drinking and drunkenness have been on
the decline among all classes of colonists, and though New Zealanders
have for a long time consumed much less alcohol per head than Britons
do, that has not checked the growth of an agitation for total
prohibition, which has absorbed within itself probably the larger,
certainly the more active, section of temperance reformers.[1] In 1882
a mild form of local option went on to the statute-book, while the
granting of licenses was handed over to boards elected by ratepayers.
For the next ten years no marked result roused attention. Then, almost
suddenly, the Prohibition movement was seen to be advancing by leaps
and bounds. Two clergymen, the Rev. Leonard Isitt and the Rev.
Edward Walker, were respectively the voice and the hand of the
Prohibitionists. As a speaker Mr. Isitt would perhaps be the better
for a less liberal use of the bludgeon, but his remarkable energy and
force on the platform, and his bold and thorough sincerity, made him
a power in the land. Mr. Walker had much to do with securing tangible
results for the force which Mr. Isitt's harangues aroused, and in
which the Liberal Party was to a large extent enrolled. In 1893 the
temperance leaders thought themselves strong enough to make sweeping
demands of Parliament. Ballance, the Liberal Premier, had just died;
his party was by many believed to be disorganized. In Sir Robert
Stout, the Brougham of New Zealand public life, the Prohibitionists
had a spokesman of boundless energy and uncommon hitting power in
debate. He tabled a Bill briefly embodying their complete demands, and
it was read a second time. Old parliamentary hands knew full well that
the introduction of so controversial and absorbing a measure in the
last session before a General Election meant the sacrifice for that
year, at least, of most of the policy bills on labour, land, and
other matters. But, whether it would or would not have been better to
postpone Licensing Reform to a Parliament elected to deal with it, as
matters came to stand, there was no choice. The Ministry tried to deal
with the question on progressive, yet not unreasonable, lines. A Local
Option Bill was passed, therefore, and nearly every other important
policy measure, except the Female Franchise Bill, went by the
board--blocked or killed in one Chamber or the other. The hurried
Government licensing measure of 1893 had of course to be expanded and
amended in 1895 and 1896. Now, though it has failed to satisfy the
more thorough-going Prohibitionists, it embraces a complete and
elaborate system of local option. Except under certain extraordinary
conditions, the existing number of licenses cannot be increased.
The licensing districts are coterminous with the Parliamentary
electorates. The triennial licensing poll takes place on the same day
as the General Election, thus ensuring a full vote. Every adult male
and female resident may vote: (1) to retain all existing licenses; or
(2) to reduce the number of licenses, and (3) to abolish all licenses
within the district. To carry No. 3 a majority of three to two is
requisite. No compensation is granted to any licensed house thus
closed. Two local option polls have been held under this law. The
first resulted in the closing of some seventy houses and the carrying
of a total prohibition of retail liquor sales in the district of
Clutha. Limited Prohibition has been the law in Clutha for some four
years. The accounts of the results thereof conflict very sharply. In
the writer's opinion--given with no great confidence--the consumption
of beer and wine there has been greatly reduced, that of spirits not
very greatly. There is much less open drunkenness. In certain spots
there is sly grog-selling with its concomitants of expense, stealthy
drinking, and perjury. The second general Licensing Poll was held in
December, 1896. Then for the first time it was taken on the same day
as the Parliamentary elections. In consequence the Prohibitionist
vote nearly doubled. But the Moderate vote more than trebled, and the
attacking abstainers were repulsed all along the line, though they, on
their side, defeated an attempt to recapture Clutha.

[Footnote 1: In 1884 the consumption of liquor among New Zealanders
per head was--beer, 8.769 gallons; wine, 0.272 gallons; spirits, 0.999
gallons. The proportions had fallen in 1895 to 7.421 gallons of beer,
0.135 of wine, and 0.629 of spirits.]

The Prohibitionists are now disposed, it is believed, to make the
fullest use in future of their right to vote for the reduction of the
number of licensed houses. They still, however, object to the presence
of the Reduction clause in the Act, and unite with the publicans in
the wish to restrict the alternatives at the Local Option polls to
two--total Prohibition and the maintenance of all existing licensed
houses. They have also decided to oppose having the Licensing Poll on
General Election day. Strongest of all is their objection to the three
to two majority required to carry total and immediate Prohibition.
These form the line of cleavage between them and a great many who
share their detestation of the abuses of the liquor traffic.


Chapter XXII


"For I remember stopping by the way
To watch a potter thumping his wet clay."

In 1890 a new force came into the political field--organized labour.
The growth of the cities and of factories in them, the decline of the
alluvial and more easily worked gold-fields, and the occupation of the
more fertile and accessible lands, all gradually tended to reproduce
in the new country old-world industrial conditions. Even the sweating
system could be found at work in holes and corners. There need be no
surprise, therefore, that the labour problem, when engaging so much
of the attention of the civilized world, demanded notice even in New
Zealand. There was nothing novel there in the notion of extending the
functions of the State in the hope of benefiting the community of
the less fortunate classes of it. Already in 1890, the State was the
largest landowner and receiver of rents, and the largest employer of
labour. It owned nearly all the railways and all the telegraphs just
as it now owns and manages the cheap, popular, and useful system of
telephones. It entirely controlled and supported the hospitals and
lunatic asylums, which it managed humanely and well. It also, by means
of local boards and institutions, controlled the whole charitable aid
of the country--a system of outdoor relief in some respects open
to criticism. It was the largest trustee, managed the largest life
insurance business, did nearly all the conveyancing, and educated more
than nine-tenths of the children.

It will thus be seen that the large number of interesting experiments
sanctioned by the New Zealand Parliament since 1890 involved few new
departures or startling changes of principle. The constitution was
democratic: it has simply been made more democratic. The functions
of the State were wide; they have been made yet wider. The uncommon
feature of the last eight years has been not so much the nature as the
number and degree of the changes effected and the trials made by the
Liberal-Labour fusion which gained power under Mr. Ballance at the
close of 1890 and still retains office. The precise cause of their
victory was the wave of socialistic, agrarian, and labour feeling
which swept over the English-speaking world at the time, and which
reached New Zealand.

[Illustration: THE HON. JOHN BALLANCE]

The oft-repeated assertion that the Australasian maritime strike of
August, 1890, was not only coincident with the forming of Labour
Parties in various colonies, but was itself the chief cause thereof,
is not true Colonial Labour Parties have, no doubt, been influenced
by two noted strikes, themselves divided by the width of the world. I
mean the English dockers' strike and our own maritime strike. But
the great Thames strike may be said rather to have given a fillip to
Colonial Trades Unionism, apart from politics altogether, than to have
created any Party. As for the other conflict, though the utter rout
of the colonial maritime strikers in 1890 undoubtedly sent Trades
Unionists to the ballot-box sore and with a keen desire to redress the
balance by gaining political successes, it was not the sole or the
chief cause of their taking to politics. Before it took place New
Zealand politicians knew the Labour organizations were coming into
their field. The question was what they would do. The Opposition of
1889-90, though not without Conservative elements--the remnants of
a former coalition--was mainly Radical. It had always supported Sir
George Grey in his efforts to widen the franchise, efforts which in
1889 were finally crowned by the gain of one-man-one-vote. And in 1889
it choose as its head, John Ballance, perhaps the only man who could
head with success a Liberal-Labour fusion. A journalist, but the son
of a North Irish farmer, he knew country life on its working side. His
views on the land question were not therefore mere theories, but part
of his life and belief. Though not a single-taxer, he advocated
State tenancy, as opposed to freehold, and his extension of village
settlements had made him amongst New Zealand workmen a popular Lands
Minister. Experience had made him a prudent financier, a humane temper
made him a friend of the Maori. His views on constitutional reform
were advanced, on liquor and education reactionary. In Labour
questions apart from land settlement he took no special part. He was
an excellent debater and a kindly, courteous, considerate chief. In
Ballance and his followers in 1890 New Zealand Labour Organizations
found a ready-made political Party from which they had much to hope.
With it, therefore, they threw in their lot. The result showed the
power the agrarian feeling of Unionism and of one-man-one-vote. In New
Zealand, all the elections for the House of Representatives take place
on one day. In 1890 the day was the 5th December. On the 6th it was
clear enough that Ballance would be the Colony's next Premier. His
defeated opponents made a short delay, in order to commit the huge
tactical mistake of getting the Governor to make seven additions to
the Upper House. Then they yielded, and on 24th January, 1891, he took

Within his cabinet, he had the staunchest of lieutenants in Mr. John
McKenzie aforesaid, whose burly strength combined with that of Mr.
Seddon, now Premier, to supply the physical fighting force lacking in
their chief. Mr. Cadman, another colleague, was an administrator of
exceptional assiduity. But none of these had held office before,
and outside his cabinet Ballance had to consolidate a party made up
largely of raw material. Amongst it was a novel and hardly calculable
element, the Labour Members. At the elections, however, no attempt
had been made to reserve the Labour vote for candidates belonging
exclusively to Trades Unions, or who were workmen. Of some score of
Members who owed their return chiefly to the Labour vote, and who had
accepted the chief points of the Labour policy, six only were working
mechanics. Moreover, though the six were new to Parliament, several of
their closest allies had been there before, and were old members of
the Ballance Party. Not only, therefore, was a distinct Labour Party
not formed, but there was no attempt to form one. For the rest, any
feeling of nervous curiosity with which the artisan parliamentarians
were at first regarded soon wore off. They were without exception men
of character, intelligence, and common-sense. They behaved as though
their only ambition was to be sensible Members of Parliament. As such,
they were soon classed, and lookers-on were only occasionally reminded
that they held a special brief.

Anything like a detailed history of the struggles which followed would
be out of place here. Nor is it possible yet to sum up the results of
changes, none of which are eight years old. A mere enumeration of them
would take some space: a succinct description would require a fairly
thick pamphlet. Some were carried after hot debate; some after very
little. Some were resolutely contested in the popular chamber, and
were assented to rather easily in the Upper House; others went through
the Lower House without much difficulty, but failed again and again to
run the gauntlet of the nominated chamber. The voting of some was on
strict party lines: in other instances leading Opposition Members like
Captain Russell frankly accepted the principle of measures. Some were
closely canvassed in the newspapers and country; others were hardly
examined outside Parliament. But, roughly speaking, the chief
experiments of the last eight years not already dealt with many
be divided into three sections. These relate to (1) Finance; (2)
Constitutional Reform; (3) Labour. One of the first and--to a New
Zealander's eyes--boldest strokes delivered was against the Property
Tax. This, the chief direct tax of the Colony, was an annual impost of
1d. in the L on the capital value of every citizen's possessions, less
his debts and an exemption of L500. Its friends claimed for this tax
that it was no respecter of persons, but was simple, even-handed, and
efficient. The last it certainly was, bringing as it did into the
Treasury annually about as many thousands as there are days in the
year. But inasmuch as different kinds of property are by no means
equally profitable, and therefore the ability of owners to pay is by
no means equal, the simplicity of the Property Tax was not by many
thought equity. The shopkeeper, taxed on unsaleable stock, the
manufacturer paying on plant and buildings as much in good years as in
bad, bethought them that under an Income Tax they would at any rate
escape in bad seasons when their income might be less or nothing.
The comfortable professional man or well-paid business manager paid
nothing on their substantial and regular incomes. The working-farmer
settling in the desert felt that for every pound's worth of
improvements made by muscle and money he would have to account to the
tax-collector at the next assessment. Nevertheless the Conservative
politicians rallied round the doomed tax. It was a good machine for
raising indispensable revenue. Moreover, it did not select any class
of property-owners or any description of property for special burdens.
This suited the landowners, who dreaded a Land Tax, for might not a
Land Tax contain the germ of that nightmare of the larger colonial
landowner--the Single Tax? It suited also the wealthy, who feared
graduated taxation, and the lawyers, doctors, agents, and managing
directors, whose incomes it did not touch. So when in the autumn the
rumour went round that the Ballance Ministry meant to abolish the
Property Tax and bring forward Bills embodying a Progressive Land Tax,
and Progressive Income Tax, the proposal was thought to represent the
audacity of impudence or desperation. When the rumour proved true, it
was predicted that the farmers throughout the length and breath of the
country would rise in wrath and terror, scared by the very name of
Land Tax. Nevertheless Parliament passed the Bills, with the addition
of a light Absentee Tax. The smaller farmers, at any rate, took the
appeals of the Property Taxers with apathy, suspecting that under a
tax on bare land values they would pay less than under a Property Tax
which fell on land, improvements, and live stock as well. Since
1891, therefore, progression or graduation has been in New Zealand a
cardinal principle of direct taxation.

Land pays no Income Tax, and landowners who have less than L500 worth
of bare land value pay no Land Tax. This complete exemption of the
very small land owners forms an almost insuperable barrier to the
progress of singletaxers. On all land over L500 value 1d. in the L is
paid. The mortgaged farmer deducts the amount of his mortgage from the
value of his farm and pays only on the remainder. The money-lender
pays 1d. in the L on the mortgage, which for this purpose is treated
as land. An additional graduated tax begins on holdings worth, L5,000.
At that stage it is an eighth of a penny. By progressive steps it
rises until, on estates assessed at L210,000, it is 2d. Thus under the
graduated and simple Land Tax together, the holders of the largest
areas pay 3d. in the L, whilst the peasant farmers whose acres are
worth less than L500 pay nothing. The owner who pays graduated tax
pays upon the whole land value of his estate with no deduction for
mortgage. The Graduated Tax brings in about L80,000 a year; the 1d.
Land Tax about L200,000; the Income Tax about L70,000. The assessment
and collection cause no difficulty. South Australia had a Land Tax
before New Zealand; New South Wales has imposed one since. Both differ
from New Zealand's.

Income earners pay on nothing up to L300 a year. Between L300 and
L1,300 the tax is 6d. all round; over L1,300 it rises to a shilling.
Joint-stock companies pay a shilling on all income.

Another law authorizes local governing bodies to levy their rates on
bare land values. Three times the Bill passed the Lower House, only to
be rejected in the Upper. It became law in 1896. The adoption of the
principle permitted by it is hedged about by various restrictions but
some fourteen local bodies have voted in favour thereof.

The unexampled and, till 1895, continuous fall of prices in the
European markets made it hard for colonial producers to make both ends
meet. The cultivator found his land depreciated because, though he
grew more than before, he got less for it. As the volume of produce
swelled, so the return for it sank as by some fatal compensation. To
pay the old rates of interest is for the mortgaged farmer, therefore,
an impossibility. Various schemes for using the credit of the State to
reduce current rates of interest have been before the public in more
than one colony. The scheme of the New Zealand Government is contained
in the Advances to Settlers Act, 1894. Under it a State Board may lend
Government money on leasehold and freehold security, but not on urban
or suburban land, unless occupied for farming or market-gardening.
The loan may amount to three-fifths of the value of the security when
freehold, and one-half when leasehold. The rate of interest charged
is 5 per cent., but the borrower pays at the rate of 6 per cent. in
half-yearly instalments, the extra 1 per cent. being by way of gradual
repayment of the principal. Mortgagees must in this way repay the
principal in 73 half-yearly instalments, provided they care to remain
indebted so long. If able to wipe off their debts sooner, they can do
so. The Act came into force in October, 1894. Machinery for carrying
it out was quickly set up; applications for loans came in freely, and
about a million has been lent, though the State Board, in its anxiety
to avoid bad security, has shown a proper spirit of caution.

With one exception, the constitutional changes of the eight years may
be dismissed in a very few words. The Upper Chamber, or Legislative
Council of New Zealand, is nominative and not elective, nor is there
any fixed limit to its numbers. Liable, thus, to be diluted by Liberal
nominees, it is not so strong an obstacle to the popular will as are
the Elective Councils of certain Australian Colonies. Prior to 1891,
however, the nominations in New Zealand were for life. This was
objected to for two reasons. A Councillor, who at the age of sixty
might be a valuable adviser, might twelve years later be but
the shadow of his former self. Moreover, experience showed that
Conservatism was apt to strengthen in the nominated legislator's mind
with advancing years. So a seven years' tenure has been substituted
for life tenure. Then, again, in 1891 the Liberal majority in the
Colony was scarcely represented in the Council at all. In important
divisions, Government measures passed by decisive majorities in the
popular Chamber could only muster two, three, four, or five supporters
in the Council. This not only meant that a hostile majority could
reject and amend as it pleased, but that measures were not even fairly
debated in the Upper House. Only one side was heard. In 1892 the
Ballance Ministry, therefore, asked the Governor to call twelve fresh
Councillors. His Excellency demurred to the number. As there was about
to be a change of Governors the matter stood over. The new Governor
proved as unwilling as his predecessor. Ballance held that in this
matter, as in others, the constitutional course was for the Governor
to take the advice of his Ministers. His Excellency thought otherwise.
By mutual consent the matter was referred to the Colonial Office,
where Lord Ripon decided in favour of the Premier. Twelve new
Councillors were nominated. Though this submission to the arbitration
of the Colonial Office was attacked not only by colonial Conservatives
but by Sir George Grey, it was highly approved of both by the Lower
House and the mass of the electors, and was regarded as one of
Ballance's most important successes.

Another he did not live to see achieved. His Electoral Bill, wrecked
twice in the Council, was only passed some months after his death.
Under it the one-man-one-vote was carried to its complete issue by the
clause providing for one man one registration; that is to say, that
no voter could register on more than one roll. Consequently
property-owners were not only cut down to one vote in one district at
a general election, but were prevented from voting in another district
at a by-election. The right to vote by letter was extended from seamen
to shearers. But much the greatest extension of the franchise was
the giving it to women. This was a curious example of a remarkable
constitutional change carried by a Parliament at the election of
which the question had scarcely been discussed. Labour, Land, and
Progressive Taxation had been so entirely the ascendant questions at
the General Election of 1890, that it came as a surprise to most to
learn next year that the House of Representatives was in favour of
women's suffrage. Even then it was not generally supposed that the
question would be settled. Sir John Hall, however, its consistent
friend, brought it up in the House, and Ballance, an equally earnest
supporter, at once accepted it. After that, the only doubts as to its
becoming law sprang from the attitude of the Legislative Council,
and from the scruples of certain persons who thought that so great a
change should be definitely submitted to the constituencies. Feeling
was both strengthened and exacerbated by the enthusiasm of the
Prohibition lodges, some of whose members at the same time demanded
that the Government should pass the measure, and emphatically
assured every one that its passing would forthwith bring about the
Government's downfall and damnation. There is no doubt that many of
the Ministry's opponents believed this, and that to their mistake was
due the escape of the Bill in the Council. It was passed on the eve of
the General Elections by the narrowest possible majority. The rush
of the women on to the rolls; the interest taken by them in the
elections; the peaceable and orderly character of the contests; and
the Liberal majority returned at two successive General Elections are
all matters of New Zealand history.

Most of the women voters show as yet no disposition to follow the
clergy in assailing the national system of free, secular, and
compulsory education. They clearly favour temperance reform, but are
by no means unanimous for total prohibition. On the whole, the most
marked feature of their use of the franchise is their tendency to
agree with their menkind. Families, as a rule, vote together, and the
women of any class or section are swayed by its interests, prejudices,
or ideals to just about the same extent as the males thereof. Thus,
the friends and relatives of merchants and professional men, large
landowners, or employers of labour, usually vote on one side; factory
girls, domestic servants, wives of labourers, miners, artisans, or
small farmers, on the other. Schoolmistresses are as decidedly for
secular education as are schoolmasters. It is too soon to pronounce
yet with anything like confidence on the results of this great
experiment. We have yet to see whether female interest in politics
will intensify or fade. At present, perhaps, the right of every adult
woman to vote is more remarkable for what it has not brought about
than for what it has. It has not broken up existing parties, unsexed
women, or made them quarrel with their husbands, or neglect their
households. It has not interfered with marriage, or society, or the
fashion of dress. The ladies are not clamouring to be admitted to
Parliament. They do less platform-speaking than Englishwomen do,
though many of them study public affairs--about which, to say truth,
they have much to learn. Observers outside the Colony need not suppose
that New Zealand women are in the least degree either "wild," or
"new," or belong to any shrieking sisterhood. Though one or two have
entered learned professions, most of them are engaged in domestic
duties. Those who go out into the world do so to work unassumingly
as school teachers, factory hands, or household servants. As school
teachers they are usually efficient, as domestic servants civil and
hard-working, as factory hands neat, industrious, and moral. It is
true that they are, without exception, educated to the extent of
having had at least good primary school teaching. But though they
read--clean, healthy English books--this, so far from making them
inclined to favour frantic or immoral social experiments, should have,
one may hope, just the opposite effect. Far from being a spectacled,
angular, hysterical, uncomfortable race, perpetually demanding
extravagant changes in shrill tones, they are, at least, as
distinguished for womanly modesty, grace, and affection, as
Englishwomen in any other part of the Empire.

There are some who connect the appearance of women in the political
arena with the recent passing of an Infants' Life Protection Act, the
raising of the age of consent to fifteen, the admission of women to
the Bar, the appointment of female inspectors to lunatic asylums,
factories, and other institutions, improvements in the laws dealing
with Adoption of Children and Industrial Schools, a severe law against
the keepers of houses of ill-fame, and with the new liquor laws and
the Prohibitionist movement which is so prominent a feature of New
Zealand public life.

A handy volume issued by the Government printer contains most of
the Labour Laws of New Zealand. They are now twenty-six in number,
comprising Acts, amending Acts, and portions of Acts. Their aim is not
the abolition of the wages system, but, as far as may be to make that
system fair and tolerable, and in protecting the labourer to protect
the fair employer. Some twenty of these laws have been passed during
the last seven years. Of these an Employers' Liability Act resembles
Mr. Asquith's ill-fated Bill. Worked in conjunction with a law for
the inspection of machinery and a thorough-going system of factory
inspection, it has lessened accidents without leading to litigation.
It neither permits contracting-out nor allows employers to escape
liability by means of letting out contracts.

A Truck Act declares the right of every wage-earner to be paid
promptly, in full, in the current coin of the realm, and to be allowed
to spend wages as they choose. Two more enactments deal with the
earnings of the workmen of contractors and sub-contractors, make them
a first charge on all contract money, give workers employed on works
of construction a lien thereon, and compel a contractor's employer to
hold back at least one-fourth of the contract money for a month after
the completion of a contract, unless he shall be satisfied that all
workmen concerned have been paid in full. A Wages Attachment Act
limits without entirely abolishing a creditor's right to obtain orders
of court attaching forthcoming earnings.

The Factories Act of 1894, slightly extended by an amending Act in
1896, consolidates and improves upon no less than four previous
measures, two of which had been passed by the Ballance Government. As
compared with similar European and American laws, it may fairly claim
to be advanced and minute. Under its pivot clause all workshops, where
two or more persons are occupied, are declared to be factories, must
register, pay an annual fee, and submit to inspection at any hour of
the night or day. A master and servant working together count as two
hands. Inspectors have absolute power to demand such cubic space,
ventilation, and sanitary arrangements generally as they may consider
needful to preserve life and health. The factory age is fourteen;
there are no half-timers; and, after a struggle, the Upper House was
induced to pass a clause enforcing an education test before any child
under fifteen should be allowed to go to factory work. This is but
logical in a country wherein primary education is not only free, but
compulsory. Children under sixteen must be certified by an inspector
to be physically fit for factory life. Women and children under
eighteen may not work before 7.45 a.m. or after 6 p.m., nor more than
forty-eight hours per week. Whether time-workers or piece-workers,
they are equally entitled to the half-holiday after 1 p.m. on
Saturday. In the case of time-workers, this half-holiday is to be
granted without deduction of wages. The rates of pay and hours of
work in factories have to be publicly notified and returned to the
inspectors. Overtime may be permitted by inspectors on twenty-eight
days a year, but overtime pay must be not less than 6d. an hour extra.
The factory-owners who send work out have to make complete returns
thereof. All clothing made outside factories for sale is to be
ticketed "tenement made," and any person removing the ticket before
sale may be fined. No home work may be sublet. A peculiar feature in
the Act relates to the board and lodging provided on sheep stations
for the nomadic bands of shearers who traverse colonies, going from
wool-shed to wool-shed during the shearing season. The huts in which
these men live are placed under the factory inspectors, who have power
to call upon station-owners to make them decent and comfortable. The
Act has clauses insisting on the provision of a separate dining-room
for women workers, of fire-escapes, and protection against dangerous
machinery. Girls under fifteen may not work as type-setters; young
persons of both sexes are shut out of certain dangerous trades; women
may not work in factories within a month after their confinement.
Such are the leading features of the Factories Act. It is strictly
enforced, and has not in any way checked the growth of manufactures in
the colony.

The laws which regulate retail shops do not aim at securing what is
known as early closing. A weekly half-holiday for all, employer and
employed alike; a fifty-four hours' working week for women and young
persons; seats for shop girls, and liberty to use them; sanitary
inspection of shops. These were the objects of those who framed the
acts, and these have been attained. Under a special section merchants'
offices must close at 5 o'clock p.m. during two-thirds of each month.
On the weekly half-holiday shops in towns must be closed at 1 o'clock,
but each town chooses its own day for closing. Nearly all choose
Wednesday or Thursday, so as not to interfere with the Saturday
market-day of the farmers. Much feeling was stirred up by the passing
of this Act, but it has since entirely died away.

Until 1894 the legal position of Trade Unionists in New Zealand was
much less enviable than that of their brethren in England. The English
Act of 1875 repealing the old Labour Conspiracy law and modifying the
common law doctrine relating thereto, had never been enacted in New
Zealand. The Intimidation law (6 George IV.) was still in force
throughout Australasia; the common law doctrine relating thereto had
not been in any way softened. Within the last few years Australian
Trade Unionists had found the old English law unexpectedly hunted up
for the purpose of putting them into gaol. Three short clauses and a
schedule, passed in 1894, swept from the Statute-Book and the common
law of New Zealand all laws and doctrines specially relating to
conspiracy among members of Trades Unions who in future will only be
amenable to such conspiracy laws as affect all citizens.

In New Zealand most domestic servants and many farm hands and
gardeners are engaged through Servants' Registry Offices. A law,
passed in 1895, provides for the inspection of these, and regulates
the fees charged therein. Office-keepers have to be of good character;
have to register and take out a license; have to keep books and
records which are officially inspected. They are not allowed to keep
lodging-houses or to have any interest in such houses.

To certain students the most interesting and novel of the New Zealand
labour laws is that which endeavours to settle labour disputes between
employers and Trade Unions by means of public arbitration instead
of the old-world methods of the strike and the lock-out. Under this
statute, which was passed in 1894, the Trade Unions of the Colony have
been given the right to become corporate bodies able to sue and be
sued. In each industrial locality a Board of Conciliation is set up,
composed equally of representatives of employers and workmen, with an
impartial chairman. Disputes between Trade Unions and employers--the
Act deals with no others--are referred first of all to these Boards.
The exclusion of disputes between individuals, or between unorganized
workmen and their masters, is grounded on the belief that such
disputes are apt to be neither stubborn nor mischievous enough to
call for State interference; moreover, how could an award be enforced
against a handful of roving workmen, a mere nebulous cluster of units?
At the request of any party to an industrial dispute the District
Board can call all other parties before it, and can hear, examine, and
recommend. It is armed with complete powers for taking evidence and
compelling attendance. Its award, however, is not enforceable at law,
but is merely in the nature of friendly advice. Should all or any of
the parties refuse to accept it, an appeal lies to the Central Court
of Arbitration, composed of a judge of the Supreme Court sitting with
two assessors representing capital and labour respectively. The trio
are appointed for three years, and in default of crime or insanity can
only be removed by statute. Their court may not be appealed from, and
their procedure is not fettered by precedent. No disputant may employ
counsel unless all agree to do so. The decisions of this Court are
binding in law, and may be enforced by pains and penalties. The
arbitration law has been in active operation for about three years,
during which time some thirty-five Labour disputes have been
successfully settled. As a rule, the decisions of the Local
Conciliation Boards are not accepted. Either some of the parties
refuse to concur, or some of the recommendations are objected to by
all those on one side or the other. In nearly all cases the awards of
the Arbitration Court have been quietly submitted to. In three minor
cases proceedings have been taken for penalties. Twice these have been
dismissed on technical grounds. In the third instance a small penalty
was imposed. All the important Labour disputes of the last three years
have been brought before the tribunals set up under the Act. The only
strike which has occurred and has attracted any attention during
this period was by certain unorganized bricklayers working for the
government. As the Act applied to neither side an attempt was made to
settle the dispute by voluntary arbitration. Some of the men, however,
refused to accept the arbitrators' award, and lost their work. But of
strikes by Trades Unions there have been none, and there should be
none so long as the Act can be made to work.

As to the kind of questions arbitrated upon, they comprise most of the
hard nuts familiar to students of the Labour problem. Among them are
hours of labour, holidays, the amount of day wages, the price to
be paid for piece-work, the proportion of apprentices to skilled
artizans, the facilities to be allowed to Trade Union officials
for interviews with members, the refusal of Unionists to work with
non-Union men, and the pressure exerted by employees to induce workmen
to join private benefit societies. A New Zealand employer, it may be
mentioned, cannot take himself outside the Act of discharging his
Union hands, or even by gradually ceasing to engage Union men, and
then pleading that he has none left in his employ. A Union, whose
members are at variance with certain employers in a trade, may bring
all the local employees engaged in that trade into court, so that the
same award may be binding on the whole trade in the district.

Most of the references have been anything but trivial affairs,
either as to the numbers of workmen concerned, or the value of the
industries, or importance of the points in dispute. It is wrong to
suppose that the operation of the Act is confined to industries
protected by high customs duties, or to workers in factories. It may
be applied wherever workers are members of legally constituted bodies,
set up either under the Trade Union Act, or under the Arbitration
Statute itself. Unions who want to make use of it, register under
it; and some eighty have already done so. Trade Unions who do not
specially register may nevertheless be brought before the Arbitration
Court by the employers of their members. So far the Act has met with
a remarkable measure of success. The Trade Unions are enthusiastic
believers in it,--rather too enthusiastic, indeed, for they have shown
a tendency to make too frequent a use of it. Some of their officials,
too, would do well to be more brief and businesslike in the conduct
of cases. On the other hand, employers in most of the localities have
made a serious mistake in refusing to elect representatives for the
local Conciliation Boards, and thus forcing the Government to nominate
members. This has weakened the Boards, has hindered them from having
the conciliatory character they ought to have, and has led in part
to the frequent appeals to the Central Court of which the employers
themselves complain. The lawyers claim to have discovered that the
penalty clauses of the Act are badly drafted, and some of them assert
that unless these are amended, they will be able to drive a coach
and six through the statute. No doubt technical amendments will
be required from time to time. What is still more requisite is an
understanding between the more reasonable leaders on both sides of
industry, by which arrangements may be made for the more effectual and
informal use of the Conciliation Boards. Meanwhile it savours of the
absurd to talk and write--as certain fault-finders have done--as
though every arbitration under the Act were a disturbance of industry
as ruinous as a prolonged strike. Other critics have not stickled to
assert that it has mischievously affected the volume of the Colony's
industries, a statement which is simply untrue. It is the reviving
prosperity of the Colony during the last three years which has led the
Trade Unions to make so much use of the Act. In place of striking on
a rising market, as they do in other countries, they have gone to
arbitration. Public opinion in New Zealand has never been one-sided on
the question. It has all along been prepared to give this important
experiment a fair trial, and is quite ready to have incidental
difficulties cured by reasonable amendment.

The Shipping and Seamen's Act, 1894, and the amending Acts of the two
following years, mitigate the old-fashioned severity of punishments
for refusal of duty, assaults on the high seas, and other nautical
offences. The forecastle and the accommodation thereof become subject
to the _fiat_ of the Government inspector, as are factories on shore.
Regular payment of wages is stipulated for, overcrowding amongst
passengers is forbidden. Complete powers are given to the marine
authorities to enforce not only a full equipment of life-boats and
life-saving appliances, but boat-drill. Deck loading is restricted,
and the Plimsoll mark insisted on. But the portion of the Act which
gave rise to the intensest opposition was the proviso by which all
sailing vessels are obliged to carry a certain complement of able
seamen and ordinary seamen, according to their tonnage, while steamers
must carry a given number of able seamen, ordinary seamen, firemen,
trimmers, and greasers, according to their horse-power. Foreign
vessels, while engaging in the New Zealand coasting-trade, have to pay
their crews the rate of wages current on the coast. Parliament was
warned that the passing of this Act would paralyze the trade of
the Colony, but passed it was--with certain not unreasonable
amendments--and trade goes on precisely as before.

In 1891, moreover, the colonial laws relating to mining generally,
and to coal-mining especially, were consolidated and amended. An
interesting feature in the New Zealand Coal Mines' Act is the
provision by which mine-owners have to contribute to a fund for the
relief of miners or the families of miners in cases where men are
injured or killed at work. Every quarter the owners have to pay a
halfpenny per ton on the output, if it be bituminous coal; and a
farthing a ton, if it be lignite. Payment is made into the nearest
Post Office Savings Bank and goes to the credit of an account called
"The Coal Miners' Relief Fund." From 1891 mineral rights are reserved
in lands thereafter alienated by the Crown.

Most of the Labour laws are watched and administered by the Department
of Labour, a branch of the public service created in 1891. It costs
but L7,000 or L8,000 a year, much of which is recouped by factory
fees and other receipts. It also keeps labour statistics, acts as
a servants' registry office, and by publishing information, and by
shifting them from congested districts, endeavours to keep down the
numbers of the unemployed. In this, though it is but a palliative, it
has done useful and humane work, aided--so far as the circulation of
labour goes--by the State-owned railways.


RIGHT HON. R.J. SEDDON (_Premier_) MAHUTA (_The Maori "King"_)

Photo by_ BEATTIE & SANDERSON, Auckland.]

From what has gone before, readers will readily understand that the
New Zealand Government has usually in its employ several thousand
labourers engaged in road-making, bridge-building, draining, and in
erecting and repairing public buildings. To avoid the faults of both
the ordinary contract and the day-wage system, a plan, clumsily called
The Co-operative Contract System, has been adopted by the present
Premier, Mr. Seddon. The work is cut up into small sections, the
workmen group themselves in little parties of from four to eight men,
and each party is offered a section at a fair price estimated by the
Government's engineers. Material, when wanted, is furnished by the
Government, and the tax-payer thus escapes the frauds and adulteration
of old contract days. The result of the system in practice is that
where workmen are of, at any rate, average industry and capacity, they
make good, sometimes excellent, wages. In effect they are groups of
piece-workers, whose relation with each other is that of partners.
Each band elects a trustee, with whom the Government officials deal.
They are to a large extent their own masters, and work without being
driven by the contractor's foreman. They are not encouraged to work
more than eight hours a day; but as what they get depends on what they
do, they do not dawdle during those hours, and if one man in a group
should prove a loafer, his comrades, who have to suffer for his
laziness, soon get rid of him. The tendency is for first-class men
to join together, and for second-class men to similarly arrange
themselves. Sometimes, of course, the officers, in making estimates
of the price to be paid for work, make mistakes, and men will earn
extravagantly high wages, or get very poor returns. But as the
sections are small, this does not last for long, and the balance is
redressed. After some years' experience, it seems fairly proved that
the average of earnings is not extravagant, and that the taxpayer
loses nothing by the arrangement as compared with the old contract
system, while the change is highly popular with workmen throughout the

Those who know anything of politics anywhere, will not need to be told
that the changes and experiments here sketched have been viewed with
suspicion, alarm, contempt, or anger, by a large class of wealthy and
influential New Zealanders. It is but fair that, in a sketch like
this, some emphasis should be laid upon their dissent and protests.
Into the personal attacks of which very much of their criticism
has consisted this is not the place to enter. A summary of the
Conservative view of the progressive work ought, however, to have a
place. Disqualified as I might be thought to be from attempting it, I
prefer to make use of an account written and published in 1896 by an
English barrister, who, in the years 1894-95, spent many months in the
Colony studying with attention its politics and public temper. As his
social acquaintanceships lay chiefly among the Conservatives, he had
no difficulty in getting frank expressions of their views. In the
following sentences he sums up the more moderate and impersonal of
these, as he heard and analysed them:--

"... It must not be supposed that the Conservatives of
New Zealand, any more than those of the mother country, are
apologists for 'sweating.' Indeed, as Mr. Reeves himself has
acknowledged, the labour legislation with which he is associated
was inaugurated by the Government's predecessors, and in carrying
his Bills he had the cordial support of Captain Russell, the
leader of the Opposition. At the same time it is urged that this
protective legislation has been carried to an unreasonable extent,
and people allege, no doubt with a certain amount of exaggeration,
that they feel themselves regulated in all the relations of life. The
measure which has created the most irritation seems to be the
Shop Assistants Act. Employers say that Mr. Reeves has made
every man 'a walking lawsuit,' and that they are chary of having one
about their premises. Moreover, this constant succession of labour
laws, and the language of some of their supporters, have created, so
they say, in the minds of the working classes the impression that the
squatters, manufacturers, and the classes with which they associate,
are tyrants and oppressors, and their lives are embittered by the
feeling that they are regarded as enemies of the people. Further,
they say that the administrative action of the Government tends
to keep up the price of labour, that the price of labour is unreasonably
high, and that this fact, coupled with the necessity of keeping
all the provisions of the labour laws in mind, and the spirit which
they have generated, makes them disinclined to employ labour in
the improvement of their lands. As to the Government's land
policy, while it is admitted that small settlers are desirable, it is
not admitted that large properties are necessarily a curse. What
is resented more fiercely than anything else is the fact that they
are liable to have their own properties appropriated at the
arbitrary will of the Minister of lands, and though the Government
promises to work the law reasonably, neither this nor any other of
their declarations is regarded with confidence. It is asserted that
the Government is flooding the country with incompetent settlers,
who imagine that anyone can get a living out of the land; that the
resumed properties have been purchased and cut up in such a way
that a cry for a reduction of rents will soon become inevitable, and
that the Cheap Money Scheme has created a class of debtors,
who, in conceivable circumstances, might be able to apply
effectual political pressure for the reduction of their interest. In
point of fact they do not share the Progressist idea, that much can
be done by legislation to ameliorate the condition of the masses of
the population, nor do they see that in a country like New Zealand,
where labour is dear, food cheap, and the climate mild and
equable, their condition need necessarily be so deplorable. They
still cherish the old theories of individualism. The humanitarian
ideals of Mr. Reeves, not being idealists, they regard with little
interest. What they see is the Government of their Colony, which
they had been accustomed to control, in the hands of men whose
characters they despise or detest, and the House of Representatives,
which was once the most dignified and distinguished
assembly in the Colonies, now become (in their circle at any rate)
a byword of reproach--full of men who vote themselves for a three
months' session salaries which many of them would be unable to
earn in any other walk of life."

Despite the Socialistic tendency of the Acts thus denounced, it must
not be thought that there is any strong party of deliberate State
Socialists in the Colony at all corresponding to the following of
Bebel and Liebknecht in Germany, or even the Independent Labour Party
in England. There is not. The reforms and experiments which show
themselves so many in the later chapters of the story of New Zealand
have in all cases been examined and taken on their merits, and not
otherwise. They are the outcome of a belief which, though much
more boldly trusted and acted upon by the Progressives than by the
Conservatives, is not now the monopoly of one political party. The
leaders of the rival parties, the robust Mr. Seddon and the kindly
Captain Russell, both admit one main principle. It is that a young
democratic country, still almost free from extremes of wealth and
poverty, from class hatreds and fears and the barriers these create,
supplies an unequalled field for safe and rational experiment in the
hope of preventing and shutting out some of the worst social evils and
miseries which afflict great nations alike in the old world and the

To sum up the experiments themselves, it may be said that the Colony
has now reached the stage when the State, without being in any way
a monopolist, is a large and active competitor in many fields of
industry. Where it does not compete it often regulates. This very
competition must of course expose it to the most severe tests and
trials. Further progress will chiefly depend on the measure of success
with which it stands these, and on the consequent willingness or
unwillingness of public opinion to make trial of further novelties.

Chapter XXIII


"No hungry generations tread thee down."

Some 785,000 whites, browns, and yellows are now living in New
Zealand. Of these the browns are made up of about 37,000 Maoris and
5,800 half-castes. The Maoris seem slowly decreasing, the half-castes
increasing rather rapidly. 315,000 sheep, 30,000 cattle, many horses,
and much land, a little of which they cultivate, some of which they
let, support them comfortably enough. The yellows, some 3,500 Chinese,
are a true alien element. They do not marry--78 European and 14
Chinese wives are all they have, at any rate in the Colony. They are
not met in social intercourse or industrial partnership by any class
of colonists, but work apart as gold-diggers, market-gardeners,
and small shop-keepers, and are the same inscrutable, industrious,
insanitary race of gamblers and opium-smokers in New Zealand as
elsewhere. At one time they were twice as numerous. Then a poll-tax
of L10 was levied on all new-comers. Still, a few score came in every
year, paying the tax, or having it paid for them; and about as many
went home to China, usually with L200 or more about them. In 1895 the
tax was raised to L50, and this seems likely to bring the end quickly.
Despised, disliked, dwindling, the Chinese are bound soon to disappear
from the colony.

Of the 740,000 whites, more than half have been born in the country,
and many are the children, and a few even the grandchildren, of New
Zealand-born parents. An insular race is therefore in process of
forming. What are its characteristics? As the Scotch would say--what
like is it? Does it give any signs of qualities, physical or mental,
tending to distinguish it from Britons, Australians, or North
Americans? The answer is not easy. Nothing is more tempting, and at
the same time more risky, than to thus generalize and speculate too
soon. As was said at the outset, New Zealand has taken an almost
perverse delight in upsetting expectations. Nevertheless, certain
points are worth noting which may, at any rate, help readers to draw
conclusions of their own.

The New Zealanders are a British race in a sense in which the
inhabitants of the British Islands scarcely are. That is to say, they
consist of English, Scotch, and Irish, living together, meeting daily,
intermarrying, and having children whose blood with each generation
becomes more completely blended and mingled. The Celtic element is
larger than in England or in the Scottish lowlands. As against this
there is a certain, though small, infusion of Scandinavian and German
blood; very little indeed of any other foreign race. The Scotch muster
strongest in the south and the Irish in the mining districts. In
proportion to their numbers the Scotch are more prominent than other
races in politics, commerce, finance, sheep farming, and the work of
education. Among the seventy European members of the New Zealand House
of Representatives there is seldom more than one Smith, Brown, or
Jones, and hardly ever a single Robinson; but the usual number of
McKenzies is three. The Irish do not crowd into the towns, or attempt
to capture the municipal machinery, as in America, nor are they a
source of political unrest or corruption. Their Church's antagonism to
the National Education system has excluded many able Catholics from
public life. The Scandinavians and Germans very seldom figure there.
Some 1,700 Jews live in the towns, and seem more numerous and
prominent in the north than in the south. They belong to the
middle class; many are wealthy. These are often charitable and
public-spirited, and active in municipal rather than in parliamentary


Photo by Beattie & Sanderson, Auckland.]

Among the Churches the Church of England claims 40 per cent. of the
people; the Presbyterians 23 per cent.; other Protestants, chiefly
Methodists, 17 per cent.; and Catholics 14. Methodists seem increasing
rather faster than any other denomination. Though the National School
system is secular, it is not anti-Christian. 11,000 persons teach
105,000 children in Sunday-schools. In the census returns about
two per cent. of the population object or neglect to specify their
religion; only about one per cent. style themselves as definitely
outside the Christian camp.

The average density of population throughout the Colony's 104,000
square miles is somewhat less than eight to the mile. Two-thirds of
the New Zealanders live in the country, in villages, or in towns
of less than 5,000 inhabitants. Even the larger towns cover, taken
together, about seventy square miles of ground--not very cramping
limits for a quarter of a million of people. Nor is there overcrowding
in houses; less than five persons to a house is the proportion. There
are very few spots in the towns where trees, flower gardens, and grass
are not close at hand, and even orchards and fields not far away. The
dwelling-houses, almost all of wood, seldom more than two storeys
high, commonly show by their shady verandahs and veiling creepers that
the New Zealand sun is warmer than the English. Bright, windy, and
full of the salt of the ocean, the air is perhaps the wholesomest on
earth, and the Island race naturally shows its influence. Bronzed
faces display on every side the power of sun and wind. Pallor is rare;
so also is the more delicate pink and white of certain English skins.
The rainier, softer skies of the western coasts have their result in
smoother skins and better complexions on that side of the Islands than
in the drier east. On the warm shores of Auckland there are signs of
a more slightly-built breed, but not in the interior, which almost
everywhere rises quickly into hill or plateau. Athletic records show
that the North Islanders hold their own well enough against Southern
rivals. More heavily built as a rule than the Australians, the New
Zealanders have darker hair and thicker eyebrows than is common with
the Anglo-Saxon of Northern England and Scotland. Tall and robust, the
men do not carry themselves as straight as the nations which have been
through the hands of the drill-sergeant. The women--who are still
somewhat less numerous than the males--are as tall, but not usually
as slight, as those of the English upper classes. To sum up, the
New Zealand race shows no sign of beating the best British, or
of producing an average equal to that best; but its average is
undoubtedly better than the general British average. The puny myriads
of the manufacturing towns have no counterpart in the Colony, and, if
humanitarian laws can prevent it, never should. The birth-rate and
death-rate are both strikingly low: the latter, 9.14 per 1,000, is the
lowest in the world. The birth-rate has fallen from 37.95 in 1881 to
25.96 in 1897. The yearly number of births has in effect remained the
same for sixteen years, though the population has grown thirty
per cent. larger in the period. The gain by immigration is still
appreciable, though not large.

Their speech is that of communities who are seldom utterly illiterate,
and as seldom scholarly. I have listened in vain for any national
twang, drawl, or peculiar intonation. The young people, perhaps, speak
rather faster than English of the same age, that is all. On the other
hand, anything like picturesque, expressive language within the limits
of grammar is rarely found. Many good words in daily use in rural
England have been dropped in the Colony. Brook, village, moor,
heath, forest, dale, copse, meadow, glade are among them. Young New
Zealanders know what these mean because they find them in books, but
would no more think of employing them in speaking than of using "inn,"
"tavern," or "ale," when they can say "hotel," "public-house," or
"beer." Their place is taken by slang. Yet if a nation is known by its
slang, the New Zealanders must be held disposed to borrow rather
than to originate, for theirs is almost wholly a mixture of English,
American, and Australian. Most of the mining terms come from
California; most of the pastoral from Australia, though "flat" and
"creek" are, of course, American. "Ranche" and "gulch" have not
crossed the Pacific; their place is taken by "run" and "gulley." On
the other hand, "lagoon" has replaced the English "pond," except in
the case of artificial water. Pasture is "feed," herd and flock alike
become "mob." "Country" is used as a synonym for grazing; "good
country" means simply good grazing land. A man tramping in search of
work is a "swagman" or "swagger," from the "swag" or roll of blankets
he carries on his back. Very few words have been adopted from the
vigorous and expressive Maori. The convenient "mana," which covers
prestige, authority, and personal magnetism; "whare," a rough hut;
"taihoa," equivalent to the Mexican _manana_; and "ka pai," "'tis
good," are exceptions. The South Island colonists mispronounce their
beautiful Maori place-names murderously. Even in the North Island the
average bushman will speak of the pukatea tree as "bucketeer," and
not to call the poro-poro shrub "bull-a-bull" would be considered
affectation. There is or was in the archives of the Taranaki Farmers'
Club a patriotic song which rises to the notable lines--

"And as for food, the land is full
Of that delicious bull-a-bull!"

In Canterbury you would be stared at if you called Timaru anything but
"Timmeroo." In Otago Lake Wakatipu becomes anything, from "Wokkertip"
to "Wackatipoo"; and I have heard a cultured man speak of Puke-tapu as

The intellectual average is good. Thanks in great part to Gibbon
Wakefield's much-abused Company, New Zealand was fortunate in the
mental calibre of her pioneer settlers, and in their determined
efforts to save their children from degenerating into loutish,
half-educated provincials. Looking around in the Colony at the sons
of these pioneers, one finds them on all sides doing useful and
honourable work. They make upright civil servants, conscientious
clergymen, schoolmasters, lawyers, and journalists, pushing agents,
resourceful engineers, steady-going and often prosperous farmers,
and strong, quick, intelligent labourers. Of the "self-reverence,
self-knowledge, self-control" needful to make a sound race they have
an encouraging share. Of artistic, poetic, or scientific talent, of
wit, originality, or inventiveness, there is yet but little sign. In
writing they show facility often, distinction never; in speech fluency
and force of argument, and even, sometimes, lucidity, but not a flash
of the loftier eloquence. Nor has the time yet arrived for Young New
Zealand to secure the chief prizes of its own community--such posts
and distinctions as go commonly to men fairly advanced in years. No
native of the country has yet been its Prime Minister or sat amongst
its supreme court judges or bishops. A few colonial-born have held
subordinate Cabinet positions, but the dozen leading Members of
Parliament are just now all British-born. So are the leading doctors,
engineers, university professors, and preachers; the leading barrister
is a Shetlander. Two or three, and two or three only, of the
first-class positions in the civil service are filled by natives. On
the whole, Young New Zealand is, as yet, better known by collective
usefulness than by individual distinction.

The grazing of sheep and cattle, dairying, agriculture, and mining for
coal and gold, are the chief occupations. 47,000 holdings are under
cultivation. The manufactures grow steadily, and already employ 40,000
hands. A few figures will give some notion of the industrial and
commercial position. The number of the sheep is a little under
20,000,000; of cattle, 1,150,000; of horses, 250,000. The output of
the factories and workshops is between L10,000,000 and L11,000,000
sterling a year; the output of gold, about L1,000,000; that of coal,
about 900,000 tons. The export of wool is valued at L4,250,000. Among
the exports for 1897 were: 2,700,000 frozen sheep and lambs; 66,000
cwt. cheese, and 71,000 cwt butter; L433,000 worth of kauri gum;
L427,000 worth of grain. The exports and imports of the Colony for
the year 1897 were a little over L10,000,000 and L8,000,000 sterling
respectively. It would appear that, taking a series of years, about
three-quarters of the Colony's trade has been with the mother-country,
and nearly all the remainder with other parts of the Empire. The
public debt is about L44,000,000; the revenue, L5,000,000. The State
owns 2,061 miles of railway.


Photo by BEATTIE & SANDERSON, Auckland.]

Socially the colonists are what might be expected from their
environment. Without an aristocracy, without anything that can be
called a plutocracy, without a solitary millionaire, New Zealand is
also virtually without that hopeless thing, the hereditary pauper
and begetter of paupers. It may be doubted whether she has a dozen
citizens with more than L10,000 a year apiece. On the other hand, the
average of wealth and income is among the highest in the world.

Education is universal. The lectures of the professors of the State
University--which is an examining body, with five affiliated colleges
in five different towns--are well attended by students of both sexes.
The examiners are English; the degrees may be taken by either sex
indifferently. Not two per cent. of the Colony's children go to the
secondary schools, though they are good and cheap. It is her primary
education that is the strength and pride of New Zealand. It is that
which makes the list of crimes light. Criminals and paupers are less
often produced than let in from the outside. The regulations relating
to the exclusion of the physically or mentally tainted are far too
lax, and will bring their own punishment. The colonists, honestly
anxious that their country shall in days to come show a fine and happy
race, are strangely blind to the laws of heredity. They carelessly
admit those whose children to the third and fourth generation must be
a degrading influence. On the other hand, the Colony gains greatly by
the regular and deliberate importation of English experts. Every year
a small but important number of these are engaged and brought out.
They vary from bishops and professors to skilled artizans and
drill-instructors; but whatever they are, their quality is good, and
they usually make New Zealand the home of their families.

With wealth diffused, and caste barriers unknown, a New Zealander,
when meeting a stranger, does not feel called upon to act as though in
dread of finding in the latter a sponge, toady, or swindler. Nor has
the colonist to consider how the making of chance acquaintances may
affect his own social standing. In his own small world his social
standing is a settled thing, and cannot be injured otherwise than by
his own folly or misconduct. Moreover, most of the Islanders are, or
have been, brought face to face with the solitude of nature, and many
of all classes have travelled. These things make them more sociable,
self-confident, and unsuspicious than the middle classes of older
countries. Such hospitality as they can show is to them a duty, a
custom, and a pleasure.

The Islanders are almost as fond of horses and athletics as their
Australian cousins. They are not nearly such good cricketers, but
play football better, are often good yachtsmen, and hold their own
in rowing, running, jumping, and throwing weights. Fox-hunting is a
forbidden luxury, as the fox may not be imported. But they have some
packs of harriers, and ride to them in a way which would not be
despised in the grass counties at Home. There are fair polo teams too.
They are just as fond of angling and shooting as the race elsewhere.
Capital trout-fishing, some good deer-shooting, and a fine supply of
rabbits, hares, and wild ducks help to console the sportsman for the
scarcity of dangerous game. As might be expected in an educated people
passionately fond of out-door exercises, well fed and clothed, and
with sun and sea air for tonics, drink is not their national vice.
Gambling, especially over horse races, has more claim to that bad
eminence. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why the land rings with
denunciations of drink, while comparatively little has until quite
lately been said against gambling.

Of colonial art there is not much to be said. Sculpture is represented
by an occasional statue brought from England. Architecture in its
higher form is an unknown quantity. Painting is beginning to struggle
towards the light, chiefly in the form of water-colour drawings.
Political satire finds expression in cartoons, for the most part
of that crude sort which depicts public men as horrific ogres and
malformed monsters of appalling disproportions. Music, reading, and
flower gardening are the three chief refining pastimes. The number
and size of the musical societies is worthy of note. So are the
booksellers' shops and free libraries. The books are the same as you
see in London shops. There is no colonial literature. As for flowers,
New Zealanders promise to be as fond of them as the Japanese. There is
a newspaper of some description in the Islands to about every 1,500
adults. Every locality may thus count upon every item of its local
news appearing in print. The Colonists who support this system may be
assumed to get what they want, though, of course, under it quality is
to some extent sacrificed to number. As a class the newspapers are
honest, decent, and energetic as purveyors of news. Every now and then
public opinion declares itself on one side, though the better known
newspapers are on the other. But on the average their influence is not
slight. There is no one leading journal. Of the four or five larger
morning newspapers, the _Otago Daily Times_ shows perhaps the most
practical knowledge of politics and grasp of public business. It is
partisan, but not ferociously so, except in dealing with some pet
aversion, like the present Minister of Lands. You may read in it,
too, now and then, what is a rarity indeed in colonial journalism--a
paragraph written in a spirit of pure, good-natured fun.

The working classes are better, the others more carelessly, dressed
than in England. The workpeople are at the same time more nomadic
and thriftier. Amongst the middle classes, industrious as they are,
unusual thrift is rare. Their hospitality and kindliness do not
prevent them from being hard bargainers in business.

Compared with the races from which they have sprung, the Islanders
seem at once less conventional, less on their guard, and more
neighbourly and sympathetic in minor matters. In politics they are
fonder of change and experiment, more venturesome, more empirical,
law-abiding, but readier to make and alter laws. Hypercritical and
eaten up by local and personal jealousies in public life, they are
less loyal to parties and leaders, and less capable of permanent
organization for a variety of objects. They can band themselves
together to work for one reform, but for the higher and more complex
organization which seeks to obtain a general advance along the line of
progress by honourable co-operation and wise compromise, they show no
great aptitude. In politics their pride is that they are practical,
and, indeed, they are perhaps less ready than Europeans to deify
theories and catchwords. They are just as suspicious of wit and humour
in public men, and just as prone to mistake dulness for solidity. To
their credit may be set down a useful impatience of grime, gloom,
injustice, and public discomfort and bungling.

In social life they are more sober and more moral, yet more
indifferent to the opinion of any society or set. Not that they run
after mere eccentrics; they have a wholesome reserve of contempt for
such. British in their dislike to take advice, their humbler position
among the nations makes them more ready to study and learn from
foreign example. Though there is no division into two races as in
London, it would be absurd to pretend that social distinctions are
unknown. Each town with its rural district has its own "society." The
best that can be said for this institution is that it is not, as a
rule, dictated to by mere money. It is made up of people with incomes
mostly ranging from L500 to L2,000, with a sprinkling of bachelors of
even more modest means. Ladies and gentlemen too poor to entertain
others will nevertheless be asked everywhere if they have either
brightness or intellect, or have won creditable positions. You see
little social arrogance, no attempt at display. Picnics, garden
parties, and outings in boats and yachts are amongst the pleasanter
functions. A yacht in New Zealand means a cutter able to sail well,
but quite without any luxury in her fittings. The indoor gatherings
are smaller, more kindly, less formal, less glittering copies of
similar affairs in the mother country.

Brilliant talkers there are none. But any London visitor who might
imagine that he was about to find himself in a company of clownish
provincials would be much mistaken. A very large proportion of
colonists have travelled and even lived in more lands than one. They
have encountered vicissitudes and seen much that is odd and varied in
nature and human nature. In consequence they are often pleasant
and interesting talkers, refreshingly free from mannerism or

They both gain and lose by being without a leisured class; it narrows
their horizon, but saves them from a vast deal of hysterical nonsense,
social mischief and blatant self-advertising. Though great readers of
English newspapers and magazines, and much influenced thereby in their
social, ethical, and literary views, their interest in English and
European politics is not very keen. A cherished article of their faith
is that Russia is England's irreconcileable foe, and that war between
the two is certain. Both their geographical isolation and their
constitution debar them from having any foreign policy. In this they
contentedly acquiesce. Loyal to the mother country, resolved not to be
absorbed in Australia, they are torpid concerning Imperial Federation.
Their own local and general politics absorb any interest and leisure
not claimed by business and pastimes. Their isolation is, no doubt,
partly the cause of this. It takes their steamers from four to six
days to reach Australia, and nearly as long to travel from one end
of their own land to the other. Most of them can hardly hope to see
Europe, or even Asia or America, or any civilized race but their own.
This is perhaps the greatest of their disadvantages. Speedier passage
across the oceans which divide them from the rest of the human race
must always be in the forefront of their aims as a nation.

Industrious, moral, strong, it is far too soon to complain of this
race because it has not in half a century produced a genius from
amongst its scanty numbers. Its mission has not been to do that, but
to lay the foundations of a true civilization in two wild and lonely,
though beautiful, islands. This has been a work calling for solid
rather than brilliant qualities--for a people morally and physically
sound and wholesome, and gifted with "grit" and concentration. There
is such a thing as collective ability. The men who will carve statues,
paint pictures, and write books will come, no doubt, in good time. The
business of the pioneer generations has been to turn a bloodstained or
silent wilderness into a busy and interesting, a happy, if not yet a
splendid, state.


Books about New Zealand are numerous enough. A critic need not be
fastidious to regret that most of them are not better written, useful
and interesting as they are in the mass. Every sort of information
about the country is to be got from them, but not always with pleasure
or ease. To get it you must do a good deal of the curst hard reading
which comes from easy writing. And even then, for the most part, it is
left to your own imaginative power to see--

"The beauty, and the wonder, and the power,
The shapes of things, their colours, lights, and shades,
Changes, surprises."

The undoubted and agreeable exceptions, too, require in you some
knowledge of the Islands, if they are to be enjoyed. How is that
knowledge to be obtained? A hard-headed student with a hearty appetite
for facts might, of course, start with F.J. Moss's careful and
accurate school history and the latest Government Year Book in his
hand, and would soon be well on his way. Those who like easier paths
to knowledge may try Edward Wakefield's "New Zealand After Fifty
Years," or Gisborne's "Colony of New Zealand." When one comes to
periods, districts, or special subjects, the choice is much wider.

To begin at the beginning; "Tasman's Log" is little but dry bones; of
Cook and Crozet I have written elsewhere. Of the writers who tell of
Alsatian days, none is worth naming in the same breath with Maning.
Personally I like Polack and Savage the best of them, despite the
lumbering pretentiousness and doubtful veracity of the former. Earle
and Major Cruise are more truthful than readable--conditions which
are exactly reversed in the case of Rutherford. If, as is said, Lord
Brougham helped to write Rutherford's narrative, he did his work
very well; but after the exposure of its "facts" by Archdeacon W.L.
Williams, it can only be read as the yarn of a runaway sailor, who had
reasons for not telling the whole truth, and a capacity and knowledge
of local colour which would have made him a capital romance-writer,
had he been an educated man. As a picture of the times, Rutherford's
story in the "Library of Entertaining Knowledge" will always, however,
be worth reading.

The missionaries have not been as fortunate in their chroniclers as
they deserve. The tumid cant of Nicholas is grotesque enough to
be more amusing than the tract-and-water style of Yate and Barret
Marshall, or the childishness of Richard Taylor. Much better in every
way are Buller's (Wesleyan) "Forty Years In New Zealand," and Tucker's
"Life and Episcopate of George Augustus Selwyn."

Among the descriptions of the country as it was when the colonists
found it, Edward Shortland's account of the whalers and Maoris of
the South Island, Jerningham Wakefield's of the founding of the New
Zealand Company's settlements, Dieffenbach's travels, and Bidwill's
unpretending little pamphlet telling of his tramp to the volcanoes and
hot lakes in 1842, seem to me at once to tell most and be easiest to

On the Maoris, their myths, legends, origin, manners, and customs,
William Colenso is admittedly the chief living authority. For
his views it is necessary to go to pamphlets, and to search the
Transactions of the New Zealand Institute, where much other good
material will also reward the seeker. To John White's ill-jointed
but invaluable compilation "The Ancient History of the Maori," every
student henceforth will have to turn. The selections therein from the
papers of Stack on the South Island Maoris, from Travers' "Life of Te
Rauparaha," and Wilson's "Story of Te Waharoa," are less stony than
the more genealogical portions. Sir George Grey's collection of
the historical and legendary traditions of the race has not been
superseded. Messrs. Percy Smith and Edward Tregear edit the valuable
journal of the Polynesian Association; the former has made a special
study of the origin and wanderings of the Maori race, the latter has
produced the Comparative Maori-Polynesian Dictionary. General Robley
has written the book on Maori tattooing; Mr. Hamilton is bringing out
in parts what promises to be a very complete and worthily illustrated
account of Maori art.

As narratives of the first twenty years of the Colony two books
stand out from among many: Thomson's "Story of New Zealand," and
Attorney--General Swainson's "New Zealand and its Colonization." It
would not be easy to find a completer contrast than the gossipy style
of the chatty army medico and the dry, official manner of the precise
lawyer, formerly and for upwards of fifteen years Her Majesty's
Attorney-General for New Zealand, as he is at pains to tell you on his
title-page. But Swainson's is the fairest and most careful account of
the time from the official, philo-Maori and anti-Company side, and may
be taken as a safe antidote to Jerningham Wakefield, Sir W.T. Power,
Hursthouse, and others. A comparison with Rusden, when the two are on
the same ground, shows Swainson to be the better writer all round. Of
Rusden's "History of New Zealand" no one doubts the honest intent. The
author, believing the Maori to be a noble, valiant, and persecuted
race, befriended by the missionaries and those who took missionary
advice, and robbed and cheated by almost all others, says so in three
long, vehement, sincere, but not fascinating volumes, largely composed
of extracts from public papers and speeches. Sweeping condemnation of
the Public Works policy, of Radical reforms, and recent Socialistic
experiments, complete his tale. The volumes have their use, but are
not a history of New Zealand.

Of early days in the pastoral provinces we get contemporary sketches
by Samuel Butler, L.J. Kennaway, Lady Barker, and Archdeacon Paul.
Butler's is the best done picture of the country, Kennaway's the
exactest of the settlers' every-day rough-and-tumble haps and mishaps,
and Lady Barker's the brightest. One of the volumes of General Mundy's
"Our Antipodes" gives a nice, light sketch of things as they were in
the North Island in the first years of Governor Grey. Dr. Hocken's
recent book has at once become the recognised authority on the first
years of Otago, and also has interesting chapters on the South Island
before settlement. Fitzgerald's selections from Godley's writings and
speeches is made more valuable by the excellent biographical sketch
with which it opens. Dr. Richard Garnett's admirable "Life of Gibbon
Wakefield" is the event of this year's literature from the point of
view of New Zealanders.

Of the books on the Eleven Years' War from 1860 to 1871, Sir William
Fox's easily carries away the palm for vigour of purpose and
performance. Sir William was in hot indignation when he wrote it, and
some of his warmth glows in its pages. It is a pity that he only
dealt with the years 1863-65. Generals Carey and Alexander supply the
narrative of the doings of the regulars; Lieutenant Gudgeon that of
the militia's achievements. General Carey handles the pen well enough;
not so his gallant brother-soldier. Of Gudgeon's two books I much
prefer the Reminiscences, which on the whole tell more about the war
than any other volume one can name. Sir John Gorst describes the King
Movement and his own experiences in the King's country. Swainson takes
up his parable against the Waitara purchase.

Gisborne's "Rulers and Statesmen of New Zealand," though not a
connected history, is written with such undoubted fairness and
personal knowledge, and in so workmanlike, albeit good--natured, a
way, as to have a permanent interest. Most of the many portraits which
are reproduced in its pages are correct likenesses, but it is the pen
pictures which give the book its value.

Of volumes by travellers who devote more or less space to New Zealand,
the most noteworthy are Dilke's brilliant "Greater Britain," the
volumes of Anthony Trollope, and Michael Davitt, and Froude's
thoughtful, interesting, but curiously inaccurate "Oceana." Mennell's
serviceable "Dictionary of Australasian Biography" gives useful
details concerning the pioneer colonists.

Scientific students may be referred to the Works of Hooker and
Dieffenbach, to Von Haast's "Geology of Canterbury and Westland,"
Kirk's "New Zealand Forest Flora," Sir Walter Buller's "Birds of New
Zealand," Hudson's "New Zealand Entomology," and to the papers of
Hector, Hutton and Thompson.

Dr. Murray Moore has written, and written well, for those who may wish
to use the country as a health resort.

Mountaineers and lovers of scenery should read Green's "High Alps of
New Zealand," and T. Mackenzie's papers on West Coast Exploration.
Mannering Fitzgerald and Harper are writers on the same topic.
Murray's guide book will, of course, be the tourist's main stay.
Delisle Hay's Brighter Britain deals in lively fashion with a
settler's life in the bush north of Auckland and in the Thames
goldfields. Reid and Preshaw have written of the Westland
gold-seekers; Pyke of the Otago diggings. Domett's "Ranolf and Amohia"
is not only the solitary New Zealand poem which has achieved any sort
of distinction, but is also an interesting picture of Maori life and

The Official Year-Book is a mass of well-arranged information, and the
economic enquirer may be further referred to Cumin's "Index of the
Laws of New Zealand," and to the numerous separate annual reports of
the Government offices and departments. Historical students must,
of course, dive pretty deeply into the parliamentary debates and
appendices to the journals of the House of Representatives, into the
bulky reports and correspondence relating to New Zealand published in
London by the Imperial authorities, and into the files of the larger
newspapers The weekly newspapers of the Colony are especially well
worth consulting. For the rest, Collier's New Zealand Bibliography
(Wellington), and the library catalogues of the N.Z. Parliament and of
the Royal Colonial Institute, London, are the best lists of the books
and pamphlets on New Zealand.

[Illustration: Map showing

Book of the day: