The Ashburton Guardian Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. TUESDAY, MAY 6, 1890. THE KERMADECS.
The proverb that " far fields are fair fields" and its equivalent " distant pastures are always green," has received a recent illustration in the case of the j Kermadecs, which, being the most distant appanage of the colony, were, upon being opened for settlement, painted'in most attractive colors as quite a little paradise. Gazing at the promised land through rose-tinted spectacles, quite a considerable number of people set out from Auckland to locate them-, selves in the favored spot, and .for a time reports came to hand of their i delighted realisation of their f 6ml anticipations until lots of people began to wish that Sunday Island were only large enough to contain us all. But suddenly a total change has come.'over the spirit of the dream, and a few day,s ago the Hinenioa brought back to the Northern City some thirteen of -the Kespadec settlers, with their families in the case of those who had any families to bring, and the returned emigrants have delivered themselves of i a very doleful tale. They report 1 that the soil is poor and disappointingly unproductive, and that such crops as they raised, during their short stay on Sunday Island, were de^stroyed by rats and caterpillars. In fact, they^ay that, but for the kindly assistance of Mr ■ Bell, the original settler at the Kermadecs, and , the timely.arrival of ihe\ Hinemoa,-, they would actually have lrieen in .want of food for themselves and their families. If all their statements are to be' ac•ceptedas accurate, .then ' undoubtedly the Kermadecs are a delusion and a snare, but before we decide that, this is really so, let us see what is to be said per contra. Well, then, it appears that these statements are challenged by Mr Stratford, another settler on Snnday Island, who is at present lux Auckland, and.intends returning to the Kermadecs by the first opportunity. Mr Stratford strongly dissents from the statements of the disappointed settlers. He admits that the land in Denham ■ Bay is not' so good as elsewhere in Sunday Island, but declares that it is sufficiently good to maintain in comfort 200 people. He himself is a settler on the island and intends to remain there, and gives it as his opinion that the sensible settlers who remain behind,, and .who mean business, will never regret cjoing so. As to those who have left he: says that some of them went to the island without furnishing themselves with the six months provisions required . and which practical men knew would be necessary in founding the . settlement: Others, he says, " did not really set about in earnest the cultivation of the land. They arrived too late for the last planting season,, and have come back without giving a trial of the next season—m fact, the place has had no real test or trial at all, and, in his opinion, only one bona fide settler has returned. Had the original batch of settlers arrived in time for the planting season, the crops would have been secured or harvested before tho hybernating season of the rats was over, and they had commenced their ■ depredations. Through the want of foresight and provision of some of the settlers, they have had to fall back upon Mr Hovell and others, who have besn giving their stores to these people for the most of #he -time up to their departure from the island." To this several of the returned settlers reply that all but one of those who left by the Wainui for the Kermade^s in December had six months provisions with them, and that as to the rats, even on Mr Bell's property, where owing to the northerly aspect the crops ripen earlier than at Denham Bay the rats make their appearance before the crops are ripe, though they are not so troublesome on that part of tho island at at Denham Bay. And to show the comfort in which even the fortunate^Mr Bell lives they add that his staple articles of food are kumaras, bananas, mutton birds, goats' flesh and maize meal. And as to Mr Hovell they say that, he would have come ay/ay with the Hinemoa, but for the delicate state of Mrs Hovell's health,' and they wind up by declaring that they would'nt wish their worst enemy to go to the island which they have abandoned. Where there is so wide conflict of testimony it is difficult to ' decide what is the precise truth of the case, but we think it is a fair dedugtionf rom the evidence pro and con, that while the Kermadecs are not such an exceptionally di?%litful location as some persons had enthusiastically imagined, they like all other countries and places have their advantages as well as disadvantages, and are capable of, affording a comfortable home"to a considerable number of the right class of settlers.