The Ashburton Guardian Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. TUESDAY, JUNE 17, 1890. LOSS OF POPULATION.
New Zealand is losing population rapidly. During the past few years there has been a constant outflow— intermittent, but none the less sure. Last month 1850 persons left bur shores for other fields more enticing, and there were only 990 arrivals. Aproportion of those who have left, as well ;is a, proportion of those who arrived, represent the regular going and coming of population between the several colonies and the Home Country; but, as a colony, it would be sheer folly on the part of New Zealand to shut her eyes to the ugly fact that the majority who leave her shores do so with the intention of permanently severing their connection with us. What is the cjiu.so of this exodus 1 Js it be-caii!-(i Mnv Zeal.-uul lands jut not E'ii-tilf, because the climate is unhealthy, l)cc."»s(j there is nothing in the colony to make id uUr.'ictive as ;i permanent homo suitable for all tiie requirements of nineteenth century civilisation? Certainly not! On nil hands New Zealand if. acknowledged to buone of the most fertile countries under thesun. The climate is unsurpassed, and, although only* jiffcy years of settlement can be boasted of, our educational, social, and commercial institutions arc little behind those of older countries, and in many particulars are distinctly in advance. What, th(»n, is wrong, and who is at fault, that capital and labor alike forsake our shores as though the colony had become plague-stricken ? Common sense can only suggest one reply to such a query, and that is that the colony lias been shamefully misgoverned—that its welfare has been sacrificed to serve the intcresis of a class of land monopolists whose earth liungeil is insatiable. .A statesmanlike conception of a Public Works Scheme was entered upon in the early days witU tho intention of providing
for the requirements of a teeming population of the Anglo-Saxon race. Roads, railways, bridges, schools were scattered from one end of the land to the other, and at the present moment the country is really well opened up. But the settlers are few. Railways and roads run for miles along the borders of vast estates in the hands of single individuals and loan and agency companies ; and only here and there can a batch of small settlers be met with. The object of the Public Works Scheme was to carry settlement into the country, but it has not been done. Those who have had the spending of borrowed millions have opened up the country, but at the same time have bought up the land in large blocks wherever facilities for carriage of wool or grain was provided, so that country capable, of providing for the wants of hundreds of industrious families now lies in the hands of the few. A sparse settlement of the country necessarily means a small population in the towns, and- would-be settlers, unable to obtain land, are compelled to go elsewhere, and tradespeople and artisans are following them. That appears to be the reason why people are leaving New Zealand. But, as all the good land has not yet been sold or bartered away by the State, it may be asked: Why not profit by the bitter experience of the past, and adopt stringent measures in the future to provide for close settlement of the land by the people 1 To this only one reply can be given: The present Government is so completely hemmed in by supporters whose interests lie in the direction of large holdings that it is powerless to adopt any other policy than to allow those who have already more than ■ enough, to acquire more. In the settlement of America wiser counsels prevailed. The laborer was placed on an equality with the capitalist, and the land was given away to -those who would cultivate it. Every man who was willing to work could get land whereon to settle, and the outcome has been one of the most successful efforts known to mankind of transforming a wilderness into a garden of cultivation. No such advantages are to be had in New Zealand. Labour without capital is of no use in this colony, and even labour and small capital combined cannot succeed in making headway, the gambling process by which the public estate is doled out preventing men willing to settle from getting upon the land. Dummyism and misrepresentation have been the curse of New Zealand in the past, and .unless colonists bestir themselves will be its curse in the future. No wonder population is leaving pur shores with such a history as this to look to ; but should our present serious drainage of population result in arousing the people to the urgent necessity for pushing on settlement—even if the public estate is given away to bona tide settlers— our present misfortune may prove to bo the best thing that has ever happened to the colony.