The Ashburton Guardian, COUNTY AGRICULTURAL & SPORTING RECORDER TUESDAY, JULY 27, 1880.
There is not a little talk just now over the want of colonial enterprise in the establishment of manufactories for working up the raw material, for many industries, produced in Hew Zealand. It is one of the reproaches of the colony that, notwithstanding the quantity and varied character of her products, the extensive resources she has in soil, mineral deposits, timber, etc., she is almost wholly dependent on the importer for everything she uses. In the article of clothing, for instance, the market is stocked with goods made in England, in spite of the fact that Hew Zealand supplies no mean proportion of the wool from which these goods are manufactured. Several of her provinces are known to have plenty of mineral* that might be extensively used here, but as yet Hew Zealand iron has only a name, and every tool used by her workmen has to be brought across the sea. Hever in her history has she been so well supplied with oats, and some statisticians say she has as much of that commodity on hand as will supply her own wants for two years. Yet enterprise seems to be wanting to turn it in any quantity into oatmeal. We produce hides largely, yet out leather manufactures are insignificant—and this in face of the knowledge that a numerous body of men are unemployed, hundreds of them possessing the skill that is required for working at many of those trades for which we could supply raw material, and which now supply us with the articles wa import for our daily use. In a recent issue a correspondent called attention the suitableness of Hew Zealand both in soil and climate for the production of flax —bearing out what had already been said on the subject by Mr. Murphy, at a recent meeting in Christchurch, and suggesting the article of European flax as a product of Hew Zealand that would command a remunerative price in the English market. Some days ago we were presented with a bar of excellent soap that had been made in Ashburton by a gentleman residing here. It was a good sample both for color, durability, and detergent properties, and he assured us that with proper appliances it could be made and sold in Ashburton at a fair profit. All these facts point out ways in which much of our now waste labor could be utilised. The handsome dividend given by the Kaiapoi Woollen Factory shows that there is plenty of room and inducement for the development of woollen weaving in the colony, and points to this industry as a suitable one to be prosecuted in such a county as Ashburton, where wool could be obtained straight from the shearing sheds, and where we know plenty of the proper kind of labor could be procured without sending to the centres of the woollen industry at Home. We feel certain, also, that the manufacture of leather only wants a sufficient investment of capital to make it a paying speculation, for here the raw material could be obtained at very low prices. Regarding the manufacture of soap, we do not know that, beyond local supply, and, perhaps, Christchurch and Timaru, any very extensive market would open up for the article ; but even those limited outlets for the industry would be worth taking advantage of, and tallow would be at almost unlimited command. There are really plenty of industries that could be made local ones, the chief wants appearing to be capital and enterprise. Wa have heard it suggested that the Agricultural and Pastoral Association should take the matter of local industries in hand, and do what it can to establish and foster them. We would be glad to see that body move in the matter, but we are afraid it has quite enough to do to attend to the interests of agriculture. We would prefer to see companies formed of practical and energetic men, and industries started under their auspices. It was a company of local men that gave us our gasworks, why not another company give us a wool-mill, another a tannery, another a soap boiling establishment ? Mints of money are not absolutely required to make a beginning, and if some of those gentlemen who seem to be in earnest in advocating the cultivation of local industry were to take the initiative, we doubt not something might be done. At least, information might be obtained that would be useful for guidance as to what success may be hoped for.
It is, of course, an easy thing to write in the strain we have done, because the want of manufacturing industries is patent to every eye ; it is quite another thing to act in the matter cf their institution, and not being experts in any of the industries at which we have hinted, we cannot very well advise ; but there can be no harm whatever, when we hear the industry subject talked of at every street corner, in urging the ventilation of the question, and the taking of steps to ascertain what prospects would lie before any enterprising enough to take a progressive step.