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ABOUT FIJI.

It is "not often we hear very much about that youngest qf British Colonies —Fiji; and New Zealanders would, ■wje think, be all the better of it if they were better acquainted with the position and prospects, the capabilities and requirements, of that interesting group of islands. Under, these circumstances we make no apology for putting together, for the perusal of our readers, a feAy facts for w-hioh we are indebted to a reportj which appears in a recent issue of the' " New Zealand Times," of an interview between, a. representative of that journal ajid lsx J^enry Care, of the firm of Cave and Co., Levaka, who has been visiting the Empire City of New Zealand on his way to Europe. Mr Cave, who has been for some time the Chairman of the Levuka Chamber of Commerce, and is accredited by it to the London Chamber, the Imperial Institute, and other bodies, is obviously a firsts class authority; and figures' hereafter quoted, and .which were' given by that gentleman,' may therefore safely be accepted as reliable.'' From these we learn that, in 18S8, the total imports were £183,222; . and the exports £376,978, showing an increase over 1837 in the total volume of £91,048. In 1881, hqweyw, the total imports were valued at £276,040,' and in 1884 they increased to £303,329.' The export of beehe-de-mer in 1888 was 62 tons, which was three times the export of 1885, but less than that in the two int.6rn}tjdjate years, Tlje, goffese, industry appears, to h4ye almost died out, for the export in 1888 was only 8^ cwt as against 210,2041bs in'lßß3. Mr Cave is certain, however, that coffee growing will sooner or later become an important industry'again, " provided that reliance can l^e. pjac^c} pft an actual fostering sympathy ,|r,om the Government in place of former professions of goodwill to, the planter, with an actual undermining of n].s adventure by the imposition of hani'sin/*, co.stly, and hnpossiblo regulations."' The cotton export lias also dwindled down \cty much, the pii<.-« of lahor and oMior expense; ;iit(?n<lnnt on production having boon 100 hirgo. The growth of tho greenh'uit trade, however, appears to have been so largo as to almost compensate

for other shortcomings. In 1888 the export of bananas, had reached 517,666 bunches from 73,583 in 1884, and Mr Cave is hopeful that it will increase still more largely with better shipping facilities. The sugar industry also' shows remarkable progeess. The production is 1875 was 96 tons, and in 1888 it had run up to 16,916 tons!' Of other commodities, the exports in 1888 were as follows:—Copra, 3440 tons; maize, 34,248 tons; molasses, 79,497 gallons; peanuts, 546 tons; and dessicated cocoanuts, 8 tons 13, cwt. The tea industry, which has cately been started, promises to become a large ohej' the soil and climate being well adopted to the growth of the plant, and. although, as in the case of all fresh growths, the taste for Fiji tea is an acquired one, a demand for it is rapidly springing up. Mr Cave is of opinion that the trade with New Zealand is certainly capable of increase. For example, the export of bananas to New Zealand does not (he thinks) exceed 5000 bunches a month, as against' between 30,000 and 40,000 bunches sent monthly to Sydney. Better shipping facilities are needed between Fiji and New Zealand, and, especially for the fruit trade, a faster service. The imports from New' Zealand are butter, flour, and biscuits (in which the colony does a considerable,trade with Auckland), and preserved meats, in the supply of which the Gear Company of Wellington takes a prominent position. But Fiji is not nearly so good a customer of New Zealand as she is capable of being made, the exchange in values of commodities being at present heavily against us. Thus, while Fijian exports to New Zealand had risen from £48,000 in 1885 to £178,000 in 1888 —that is to say, had quadrupled —the imports from New Zealand remained almost stationary, the figures being in 1885, £37,874; 1888, £38,863. The position is very different as between Fijiyand New South Wales, the imports to Fiji from that colony having been in 1885, £128,436, and in 1888, £114,182; and the exports from Fiji to New South Wales in 1885, £182,740, and in 1888, £54,173. There certainly would appear to be (as Mr Cave,says), a want of energy on ' the part of New . Zealand merchants indicated in these widely differing figures, and we cannot help thinking that the devoting of a little more attention to Fiji as a market for some of our New Zealand products would be well repaid by the results in a considerable expansion of our export trade' to that colony. ...

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18900419.2.9

Bibliographic details

ABOUT FIJI., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2405, 19 April 1890

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787

ABOUT FIJI. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2405, 19 April 1890

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