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WORK., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 101, 18 May 1880
For a considerable time past, there has been a bitter wail going up from the colonists, in every part of New Zealand, on account of the tightness of the money market, and the general depression existing in trade circles from one end of the colony to the other. There is no question but this lamentation is justified to an extent, and it is equally true that the distressing cry has been intensified by the exceedingly low prices which the farmers are offered for the product of their harvest—a harvest, the abundance of which did, for a time, create a feeling of gratitude and hopefulness which, up to a certain period, imparted new life to the tillers of the soil. The residents of the townships, also, caught the contagion, and rejoiced with their agricultural brethren, from the patent fact that the prosperity of the farmer meant the prosperity of the merchant and tradesman. But these bright anticipations were dispelled by the inferior prices which ruled in the grain market. The result now is that a forling of despondency rests upon the majority of
the colonists, and the future is looked into with feelings the reverse of pleasurable. The large numbers of working men who have been landed upon our shores—expecting that, instead of seeking work, employers of labor would be waiting to snap them up—have been grievously disappointed. During the height of harvest, when, as a rule, there is “ no complaining in our streets,” there were not a few whose efforts to obtain employment were unavailing. Taking this fact into consideration, along with the knowledge that road-making and works of a like description are being carried on by the Road Boards of the colony only to a very limited extent, the outlook, especially for laboring men, is gloomy in the extreme. And so long as harvesting and roadmaking are the only sources which are looked to for supplying work to the laboring classes, so long will this unsatisfactory state of things exist. The high state of perfection to which machinery necessary for gathering in the harvest has now been brought, reduces manual labor in this branch of industry to a minimum ; and as the money which had been loaned for laying down railways and opening up the country by roads and bridges is now exhausted, any help from local governing bodies will be small indeed. The probablem to be solved —and a serious problem it is—is, what are we to do with our fellow countrymen who, wisely or not. have been induced to emigrate to this country, but have not found it the Elysium it was painted ? Amongst other theories which have been put forth, and which should commend itself to the attention of the working men themselves, is that of disseminating their numbers over the goldfields of the colony. From our telegrams, of a recent date, we were informed that a party of miners, in the vicinity of Hokitika, were earning as much as 355. per week in their search for the precious metal ; not much, to be sure, but when the latter portion of the telegram tels us that in consequence of the fish and game that abound in the locality, 7s : or Bs. a week is all that is necessary to live upon, it is surprising that the surplus population of our towns and cities do not make tracks for such a desirable district. There is not, perhaps, a country on the face of the earth which can boast of having beneath its surface such a quantity and variety of mineral wealth, and the only action now required to place the colony on the pinnacle of prosperity is for these gifts of Nature to be developed, If, instead of spending so much capital in the construction of roads and railways, Government had made use of a percentage of it for the development of the colony’s mineral treasures, by placing parties of men in localities which had been duly reported on by the Government Geologist as being likely to be not only self-supporting, but to return a handsome revenue to the colony’s exchequer, doubtless the colony would not now have felt the hardtimesso much as she has done. As it is, the money which once was at the disposal of Government to have used for this purpose, had they, in their wisdom seen fit so to do, has bpen ex: pended, an 4 if the eppp'er, tin, coal' and other hidden treasures arq to be’ developed it‘‘ will be by' the enterprise of private companies or individuals. Meanwhile we throw out the hint to the unemployed to think qver the advisableness of paying a visit to thpse districts of the colony where if is known fpr a certainty that gold ip payable quantitles exists, and where the sinew, muscle, and industry which many of those now out of work possess, would stand a fair chance of a rich reward.
The Council of the Law Society have passed a resolution of condolence with the late Mr. Maccassey’s family.
WORK., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 101, 18 May 1880
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