The Ashburton Guardian, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 14, 1880. New Zealand Exhibition.
One of the greatest events that has taken place in the Southern Hemisphere during the last ten years is the opening of the Melbourne Exhibition. Many years ago the late Prince Consort took an active part in the inauguration of the exhibition movement, and to its influence may be traced much of the progress that has been made in arts, science, and manufacture. Every country of consequence in the industrial world followed in the train of England, and held its exhibition, and these exhibitions became to the world a sort of object lesson, the teachings of which have benefitted every nation that cared to take a place in the procession of progress. These exhibitions spread knowledge to a far greater and more useful extent than any other agency can possibly do, and the result is that, while for a time England was the “ world’s work-shop,” and netted as such almost the whole manufacturing trade of creation, that abnormal state of things has been revolutionised, and she now finds herself struggling, not very successfully, for the mastery, and entering into competition with America and the leading Continental nations for the premier position as the world’s industrial centre. She is not now what she was once in the matter of manufacture ; or rather though we would be the last to allow that even in one iota her right hand has lost her cunning or her left hand her skill, her compters have not been idle, and the “ world’s work-shop ” is no longer one establishment hammering away on a “ tight little island ” in the North Sea, hut a multiplicity _ of establishments, the greatest of which doubtless is in the New Land that was peopled from the shores of that same island, whose people speak England’s language, and owe their success doubtless to the qualities they inherited from their fathers of the sea-girt land. America was not long in taking up the parable of England, and her exhibitions have-been regularly recurring, spreading technical knowledge, and letting loose the springs of industry, and developing the almost exhaustless resources of that splendid continent. To the exhibitions alone no one will think of attributing America’s rapid forward strides, for without the elements of success inherent in herself, no exhibition under the sun would have made her what she is. But it cannot be denied that the lessons her people learned at England’s shows, and those her own exhibitions taught—-
showing to herself her own progress made and giving an impetus to further improvement—were powerful agencies in aiding her. Victoria and New South Wales are following the example of their mother and sister countries, and are making efforts to place before the world a knowledge of their natural wealth, and the vast progress they have made in the short period they have been in existence as colonies. Their exhibitions have doubtless been costly, but their benefit to the trade and commerce of the colonies will be incalculable. It is astonishing how little of the southern colonies is known either by Englishmen and Americans, and amusing instances of ignorance even of Australasian geography on the part of men holding positions at Home that would entitle them to some respect as well-informed people, are ever occurring. We have sent home immigration agents who have been, to use “ Captain ” Barry’s phrase “ a crackin’ up of the colony,” but we shall reap but little practical benefit from those “crackins up ” unless capitalists have something more to rely upon than the not always judicious or even accurate statements of paid agents. An international exhibition held in New Zealand would, we contend, supply this information, if the colony could see its way, say within the next two or three years to hold it. Less advantage was taken of the Sydney Exhibition by this colony than it might have done, and even the Melbourne Exhibition has not been utilised to its full extent. One held on our own ground would put us on our mettle, we would do our utmost to make it a complete panorama of what our colony is worth, showing all its wealth and its great resources yet undeveloped, and we could not fail to be visited by capitalists who are ever on the outlook for fresh fields for investment. The Local Industries Associations are doubtless doing good work-in their way, and we fancy an international exhibition ought to be the culuminating point of their labors. The subject is no new one, it has been mooted before, and in a degree the idea of an exhibition has been worked out, for the Industrial Exhibition at Christchurch was an unqualified success. We hope all the Chambers of Commerce in the colony will urge Parliament to move in the direction of bringing off an international exhibition that will do us credit. Regarding the usefulness of the Christchurch exhibition, the Local Industries Commission said “ They desired, before entering on details, to express their high sense of the value of the exhibition as a means of commending local industries strongly to the notice of the public, encouraging those who are engaged in them to persevere with renewed energy in their various pursuits, and demonstrating to others the advantages to be derived from the application of labor, ingenuity, and capital to developing those resources which Nature has so abundantly provided in New Zealand.”
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