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III

The bank failures created a state of depression which I felt would check Australia's progress for years. I determined to go to New Zealand to see what things were like there.

There was not much of interest on board the Waihora during the five or six days' voyage between Sydney and Auckland. There was the ever-changing sky, the moving waste of waters and the sea birds that escorted us most of the way; but the weather was rough, many on board were too ill to move about, and, in any case, the journey was not long enough for passengers to become friendly. There was an irrepressible German who sang stirring patriotic songs in his own language. His example unfortunately inspired a big, strong-looking major in the English Army, on a year's furlough from Hong-Kong, to distinguish himself by singing with a banjo accompaniment catchy soldier


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songs, and a couple of Rudyard Kipling's imperialistic ballads.

Before leaving Sydney I had picked up in a bookshop a copy of Richardson's “Clarissa Harlowe.” It strangely contrasted with my surroundings, but notwithstanding that—perhaps because of it—I became absorbed in the quaint old-fashioned production. I lived for the time in the period when men wore knee-breeches, shoes with sparkling buckles, three-cornered hats, swords and pigtails, fought duels and took snuff.

One morning we passed North Cape, a high, stern, wind-swept and wave-washed promontory, the most northern point of New Zealand. To this place the ancient Maori chiefs were brought when dying, in order that they might take their leave of this world from there. Then down the coast, passing the entrance to the Bay of Islands, we steamed all day, and rocky and barren the land looked, broken as it was into innumerable islands, bays and headlands.

These waters teem with fish. Whale fishing with nets was carried on near the coast. At certain periods “shoals” pass very close to the shore, sometimes almost grazing the rocks. To catch them, nets are placed with one end attached to the shore, and the other fastened to an anchor, the whole being kept by the aid of sinkers and floaters in the position of a huge tennis net. There are also narrow passages between islands and the mainland blocked by nets.

New Zealand is truly a wonderland of the South—a land of volcanoes, geysers and earthquakes, of snow-capped mountains, of ferns and mosses, kauri pines and kauri gums and greenstone, and the home of a noble Pacific race that has been victorious in many


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stubbornly contested battles with well-armed, well-trained and well-disciplined British soldiers. It may be that Macaulay was not far wrong, and that it will be thickly populated and prosperous when some traveller from there, “in the midst of a vast solitude, takes his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul's.”

During the months I spent in New Zealand at least one shower fell every day. I was told the weather was normal. My recollections of New Zealand are, however, of a beautiful country. I saw more skylarks singing in the sky at one time than ever I noted in the British Isles. The luxuriant foliage, the abundance of the flax plant, and the lilies everywhere growing wild appealed to me. I heard much of the Maoris, saw in the museum their grotesque carvings and a huge war canoe. I was told about the moa, the extinct giant bird of New Zealand, and how since the introduction of sheep, kea-parrots had developed the habit of eating their way with their long beaks through the wool and into the poor animals' entrails for the fat about the kidneys. I also had impressed on me that New Zealand has no marsupials or large native quadrupeds, but more especially that it was like Ireland in having no snakes.

Craters of extinct volcanoes are common. There are more than sixty points of eruption within a ten-mile radius of Auckland. It cannot be many centuries since these outbreaks took place, and similar occurrences may again occur. Vesuvius and Etna awoke to activity after slumbering for ages. As against the probability of this occurring at Auckland, I have heard it contended that there is a safety valve to the disturbing elements


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in the shape of an active volcano district some distance to the south of Auckland, where geysers abound and where there was an outbreak in 1886 which destroyed the famous pink and white terraces and killed more than one hundred persons.

A visitor finds some difficulty in pronouncing the place-names. There are many commonplace titles such as Birkenhead, Epsom and Thames, but there are also the characteristic Maori names. For instance, imagine a new arrival inquiring his way to Kaukapaka, Ngabauranga or Kibikibi!

I spent days amongst the excellent collection of books presented to the city of Auckland by that splendid imperial statesman, Sir George Grey. Besides containing copies of the standard works of the literature of all ages and countries, it had in addition some very valuable rarities. There was an original treaty concluded by Richard Cromwell; a copy of the “Early Years of Prince Consort,” presented by Queen Victoria to Sir George Grey; a first edition, dated 1590, of Spenser's “Faerie Queene”; several early editions of Shakespeare's plays; and an illuminated manuscript copy in Greek of the Gospels, and other literary treasures.

Grey's career reads like a romance. As a young Army officer he explored many parts of Western Australia; he was Governor of Cape Colony and later of New Zealand, and after that he was Premier of New Zealand. At the time of my visit he had been for many years living on an island near Auckland that he had purchased, and where he occupied himself planting trees, gardening and collecting books. The last four years of his life were spent in England, where he died.

Happily, New Zealand is not cursed like most of the


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Australian states with the evil policy of centralisation, a policy that has resulted in a huge proportion of the people living in the capitals. It is particularly undesirable that in new countries the majority should become city dwellers instead of residing in rural districts and opening up the land's undeveloped resources. If Parliament meets in the most populous centre, the consequence is that, apart from the capital's strong voting power, its influence on legislation is considerable. The environment of the members cannot fail to be of importance, and the tendency of legislation must be more favourable in such a case to the capital than to the back country. Auckland, though the most populous city in New Zealand, is not the capital. The Parliament Houses and Government offices were established in 1864 in Wellington, which occupies a central position on the strait which separates the North and South Islands. In 1933 the percentage of the population in the capital as compared with the rest of the country was 9.50, whilst in New South Wales it was 47.46, in Western Australia it was 47.56, in South Australia 53.76, and in Victoria 54.58. In Australia centralisation exists to a greater extent than anywhere else in the world.

Unfortunately there was in New Zealand a narrow-minded opposition to immigration.

“I hardly think there is room for them here.”

This is a remark that was made to me by a well-meaning and well-educated New Zealander on my informing him, a few days after my arrival at Auckland from Australia, that the steamer by which I had travelled was crowded with both saloon and steerage passengers, including a goodly number of manual


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labourers and clerical workers desirous of obtaining employment. Advanced as New Zealand legislators and the country's political views were in some respects, they were short-sighted in other directions. They call their country “The Britain of the Southern Pacific.” It occupies a position that is analogous to and possesses perhaps even more advantages than the British Isles. It is but slightly smaller, has a better climate and probably as good coal, and is most likely superior in other mineral resources. For all this, New Zealand, when compared with the older nation, seemed to me small and insignificant indeed. And why? Because one country had then but 630,000 inhabitants while the other had nearly 40,000,000. And yet the newer country with its unoccupied tracts of rich agricultural lands lying idle or almost idle, with its mines that needed working, its forests to be cleared and swamps to be drained, had, mirabile dictu, hardly any room for more people!

This applies equally to Australia. In each case it is said that care must be taken that the country can absorb immigrants and that the existing standard of living must be maintained. During the forty-two years subsequent to the visit to New Zealand to which I have referred, the population of each country has more than doubled, but to-day (1935) the density of New Zealand's population, as indicated by the number of persons a square mile, is 14.8, and of Australia 2.2. The density of Japan and its dependencies is 362.8, and of Great Britain 492.9. Furthermore, Japan, with a population of 100,000,000, is increasing at the rate of 1,500,000 a year. Are not these figures highly significant?

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