New Zealand Colonist. TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 1842.
New Zealand Colonist and Port Nicholson Advertiser, Volume I, Issue 33, 22 November 1842, Page 2
New Zealand Colon ist. TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 1842.
We learn, by the recent accounts from Nelson, that there is a great temporary want of employment, and that a very large proportion of the population is at present employed upon public works under the Company's Agent there. This is a result at which we can feel no surprise ; but we trust that its occurrence .vfill stimulate to ftnewed exertions for the purpose of enabling us to produce some article of export, the manufacture of which will ''furnish employment for- our labouring population, and attract capital to the Colony. It is stated, that some of the settlers at that place, are directing their attention to the preparation of flax. But it appears that there is a mystery preserved with regard to the mode of preparation, of the same character as has been manifested in our own settlement ; and which is injurious to the community, without being even in the slightest degree beneficial to the individual. If the New Zealand flax were an article whose value depended upon monopoly, then we could understand and pardon the efforts which have been made by those who imagine that they have succeeded in discovering a successful mode of preparing it for the market, to secure to themselves the benefit of ihe discovery. In such a case, any one might be expected to guard with jealousy a sqcret which would be valuable to himself, and the disclosure of which would be attended with, little benefit to the community. But so far from this being the case, it may be affirmed, that the price of New Zealand flax would be greater if a thousand tons could be prepared than if the quantity brought into the market amounted only to one hundred tons. Nor is there any conceivable amount that could be procured for exportation within the next twenty years, which would have any perceptible effect in lowering the price. Instead of competition proving injurious, it would in reality be an advantage, or rather no competition could arise. There would be a system of co-operation under which all parties would be engaged in the work of production, all interested in devising means for improving the process of manufacture, and for perfecting the machinery, and all alike benefittcd by any improvement that might be suggested.
We make these icmarks, because we have very little doubt, that had all the various methods which have suggested themselves to the minds of the different pnrtics whose attention has been directed to the subject been made public, there would have been, before this time, some machines invented as near to perfection as any machine could be made, before a practical application had disclosed its inevitable defects, and pointed out the manner of their removal. The difficulties which one person experiences, when he attempts in solitude to frame a plan, might be easily remedied by a fresh mind brought to bear upon the subject ; and every one, probably, would furnish useful practical hints, of which all might avail themselves. Had this been done, it is probable, that at this time> we might have had a large number of those who are employed, with but little advantage to themselves or the^omiriunity, actively engaged in producing an article of export "of the very utmost value. We should imagine, that if fundft are requisite for the purpose of experiment, there could be no difficulty in obtaining them from the merchants of the place, who must be deeply interested in the success of any effort to render this indigenous product marketable, and we can have but little doubt that the Company also would contribute something in aid. We do not, however, suppose that any assistance could really be required. If a feasible plan is suggested, there would be ample funds furnished to give it a fair trial.
In another column will be found a letter from a " Working Man," protesting against the introduction of the " Raupo House" Act ; conceiving it to bear peculiarly hard upon all those who are obliged to subsist by the labour of their hands. We cannot agree with our correspondent in all the facts stated in his letter ; but we are quite willing to allow that the Colony suffers, and will continue to suffer, considerably, from the disinclination to face the bush manifested by most landholders out here. In many instances, this disinclination arises from circumstances over which they haye 1 no control — the want of roads. We are at issue ~ with the " Working Man" upon this point, i We do not look upon 'the cry for roads as a bugbear ; but, on the contrary, consider the ' vital interests of the Colony affected by this want. Had the Company's Surveying Staff been more effective in the first instance, and the surveys followed immediately by making roads through every district, our Correspondent would have had little reason to complain of some of our landholders keeping pettifogging stores. Without sufficient capital to maintain themselves in idleness ; yet with enough to commence, immediately on disembarking, with the clearing a portion of their land, if it been surveyed, and a road to it ; many sectionists were unavoidably driven into the keeping of stores. Their capital is now diverted into other than the legitimate channel ; and even., if they wished to give up their stores, we believe they would find great difficulty in doing so. 1 To those who have newly arrived, and whose capital is consequently at liberty, we would earnestly recommend to devote their energies to the clearing of land ; roads are now being formed in two or three districts, and there, will be no excuse for them, whatever the early Colonists may have had.
On Thursday evening last a general alarm was prevalent in consequence of a fire that was raging in the bush at the back of Wellington Terrace, said to have been cansed by the natives while cutting firewood for the use of the inhabitants. We would advise the authorities to caution them not to leave the fire in a careless way, as the igniteablc state of the bush and underwood at this time of the year, and the high winds that continually blow, may cause it to spread far and wide. We can likewise mention two other instances of alarm that occurred last week, viz : — one at Major Baker's, and the other at Mr. Macbeth's. Fortunately, they were both extinguished without much damage. At an early hour yesterday morning, the palings surrounding a house, situate near the bush where the fire was raging the other night, were discovered to be on fire, which is supposed to have arisen from some embers that have blown from the bush.
On Friday mid-day the long boat of the Magnet was upset soon after leaving the shore, owing to the quantity of canvas, and the boisterous state of the wind at the time. Three sailors were immersed in the water, but we are glad to add, that no lives were lost. The boat was afterwards raised and brought on shore.