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THE GUMDIGGERS' CONFERENCE.

The British gumdiggers in the North ot Auckland cannot be accused of apathy in so "far'as the conservation of their own interests and the general improvement of the kauri gum industry are concerned. An important conference, attended by tne Secretary for Labour, and Mr. John Stallworthy, M.P., was held in Waipu in 1907 to discuss-an extensive order paper bearing upon the industry, and at that conference a number of important resolutions were passed. Last year the Prime Minister visited the gumfields of the North, accompanied by Mr. Tregear, and Mr. d. Stallworthy, M.P., and as a result of that visit, Mr. J. Graham Gow, Trades Commissioner was sent to the North to inquire into the market requirements of this important industry. During the last • session of Parliament Mr. Stallworthy, in more than one lengthy speech, drew attention to the urgent necessities of the diggers themselves. And now, prior to the next Parliamentary session, yet another conference, at which both Mr. Tregear and Mr. Gow are present, is taking place in Auckland.

We do not quite know why the Press is excluded from conferences of this nature, called for the purpose of discussing questions of. considerable importance to the Dominion as a whole, and of first-rate importance to this province in particular. We should have supposed "that the more publicity given to the argutments which can be advanced in support <of the legitimate demands of gum-diggers" the better it would be. The diggers themselves are the first to complain that public opinion is uneducated in regard to this question. They are also responsible for a course of action eminently calculated to perpetuate that ignorance. However, no doubt they know their- own business .best.. From the report of the proceedings at the present conference supplied to the Press and published elsewhere in this issue, it will be seen that the question of the alien digger has occupied a considerable share of attention. The importance which this question assumes in the minds of British diggers is evident in a multitude of ways. Thus, one of the resolutions adopted by the Conference declares that " In view of the ease with which aliens acquire papers of naturalisation, this Conference is of opinion that unless the Government promise to control the output of the kauri gum reserves, the drainage of swamps is inimical to the kauri gum industry." Just recently we drew attention to the great caution which should be exercised by the Government in lifting reserves from fields alleged to be exhausted, on account of the deeper layers of gum which almost certainly exist untouched. But it is perfectly obvious_ that these deeper layers will not be obtainable, in so far as the swamps are concerned, unless tho latter are drained. If the swamps are not drained, the reserves will sooner or later have to be lifted, and a valuable public asset sacrificed, 'because in these days of growing population we cannot afford to let large areas of land lie idle. The diggers are fully alive to that fact, and thereiore, if they deem tiie alien question of sufficient importance to justify the resolution we have quoted, it must be a very important question indeed.

These aliens, as most people are aware, are Austrlans, or, rather, Dalmatians, who have beeu attracted to the giunfields by the success achieved by their fellow-countrymen. They frequently apply for papers of naturalisation in order to enjoy the privileges reserved to British diggers, the chief of which is to dig on the Government reserves. Moreover, the British digger only pays five shillings a year license fee, whereas, for much more restricted rights, the alien has to pay twenty shillings. The Official Year Book for" 1008 shows that during 1907 the number of Austrians whoarrived in New Zealand was 179. Prom the same source it appears that in the same year 100 male Austrians, out of a total number of 282 foreigners applying, received papers of naturalisation, whilst in the last twenty-five years the total number of Austrians naturalised was only 775, so that the rate at which Austrians are seeking naturalisation in this country is increasing rapidly, the annual average being. only 31 approximately. At the last census the returns showed that there *were . 2,212 persons residing in New Zealand who were born in Austria-Hungary, so that it is obvious that there are large numbers of Austrians who may yet seek naturalisation. It will be seen that the Conference has adopted a whole series of resolutions bearing upon this question, the effect of which, if agreed.to..by the Government, would be to inalie it' much more difficult than it is at present for aliens to become naturalised and obtain the privileges of British diggers. A good deal of sympathy may be felt for the diggers in their endeavour to prevent the fields being flooded with alien labour. They do not object to naturalisation being granted to any respectable foreigner who seeks it in good faith and genuinely desires to settle down and rear a family in New Zealand. But they do with much force object to the granting of what may be termed ad hoc naturalisation, sought solely for financial advantage by aliens who have no stake in the country, no real intention of remaining here, and who, so soon as they i have made their pile, will clear out, and return to their native country. With the other matters dealt with by the Conference we have no space to deal in detail. The question of lifting reserves ive discussed recently. Nobody will quarrel with the natural desire that a definite Minister of the Crown should be made responsible for the administration of the Kauri Gum Industry Act. In the interests of efficient administration that should have been done long ago. The proposal that the Government should inquire into the method of subletting the collection of license fees is a good one. It is certain that at the preIsent time the various local bodies are -not doing their duty by the industry. They look upon th'e fees as a source .of revenue, but do not show any signs of being conscious of any responsibilities. The administration of the Act is altogether too lax. In conclusion, the diggers deserve commendation for the energetic way in which they are trying to help themselves. Virtue rarely goes unrewarded, and there . are indications that they have already succeeded in en- [ gaging the active attention of the Gov- ; eminent.

-Sir Philip "Brbcklehurst and" Slessra ' L. A, Macintosh and Douglas Mawsoh, o| the British,. Antarctic expedition, accompanied by Dr. Bell and Mr Colin Fraser of -tho Geological Survey Department, intended to ascend to thc top of Ngauruhq« '■■'■ .■ to ascertain the fullest extent of the "ire. 'Wb cent eruptions, and expected to return to" - c Waiouru to-day. The members of the Antarctic expedition proceed to Auckland via Taupo, Dr. Bell and Mr Fraser returning to Wellington. Nga'uruhoe is still active, and a sharp shock of earthquake was felt at 7.15 p.m. on Thursday last. — -\ 1

Mr. P. A. Yailcjs scheme of travelling : ; scholarships for .young Englishmen as-' a complement of the Rhodes scholarship { scheme has stimulated Hie "Standard of § Empire" to publish a series of articles.;; and letters, dealing with this truly Im.g perial idea. Mr, J. D. Symon has contri--'' buted a cotyile .of articles, in the conraei of which he says: "Oxford's oppqrtulu-; ' ties are unique, and she : ought, norcStti leave the work wholly to the Rhodes'--■ scholars.. They cau do much, hut she can reinforce them. They cannot to£u§§ ally bring the mountain to Mohammed |i she must send Mohammed to thc mduhtain. For it is time that the university founded, or got some benefactor to found.' for her, the Imperial Travelling Sellout-1 ships. . . The. only -logical complef ment to the Rhodes scholarships is a-.'".' foundation that • will enable the best' Greats men and the best History men to visit the British Dominions beyond the seas, in order to study their govern-1 ments, cities, educational systems, industries, agriculture and national resources." Mr. Vaile's scheme, however (our London correspondent writes), is on a bigger scale than this. He is not at all keen on restricting the travel scholarships to Oxford men. "Let the best men get |them," he says, "ho matter what part of the United Kingdom they have" been educated in."

A new use is to be niado of rabbit skins, which are now being tanned; by means of a rubberised process in. use at j a factory at Bcrmondsey (writes ourlion-/ don correspondent). The fur is taken,oS| and the skin subjected to certain treat-i' ment which gives the leather a wonder-'1 fully durable character. The skin, whenS treated, cannot be torn, and become* toughened and hardened to such a degre|3 that as a leather it will be capable 61 ffl many uses not hitherto thought of. fitfli syndicate promoting tho business in .Lou?:;; don are said to be making inquiry {ia Australasia in order tc see if it is pot-' sible to obtain more skins than are now sent in the regular course of traded 'V»7 the home markets. Samples ised rabbit skins turned out by. the fae> : tory in question are now to b? geen ia the city, and a considerable quantity of. the treated leather has been distributed amongst the trade for testing purposes.' Most satisfactory accountffEhave ieen r*. ceived by the ssoidicate holding the §£|| tents of the leather. A company wiir.bj".* floated to work thc enterprise early,'in' March. The rubberised process can be" applied to any kind of skin, and the resulting "leather? has many, of the qualities of rubber. r ■ ,

Our Whangarei correspondent sends additional particulars.-of- the suicide of an Austrian gumdigger named Marini Marijan, a single man living; alone at Kaitara. The shocking discovery TvaS made by a butchery Mr. H. Reeve, who called to receive the deceased* usual order. . Gettiag nb answer to Ju» knocking, he pushed.the door open, an 4 ■was horrified to see 3farijan Iviug ojt the floor with hir throat cut from eat to ear, and a razor by. liis side. Constable Boag proceeded to. Kaitara to mafe'arrangements for th£ interment, of the body, which had been dead some days, and to take charge of deceased's effects. An inquest was held to-day by Mt. Killen, coroner. The eVidence showdd that deceased had' beeS despondent for some time "past, but .had refused all offers of assistance. Diath had occurred .about five days previous to the discovery. A verdict of suicida was returned. r • "-'••'.

At £t. Sepulchre's Church, Khyber Pass-road, last night the brass tablet erected-, to the memory of the late Arakdeacon Dudley, first vicar of the parish, was unveiled. The tablet, which is directly below the window placed-there - in memory of the deceased ecclesiastic, was dedicated by the Bishop of Auckland. "In a sermon Bishop Neligan eulogised the late archdeacon, who had worked '.so long and well in the parish. The .inscription on the tablet is:—"This window was erected by the parishioners of the Chiircß of the Holy Sepulchre to the glory' of God and the memory of their best vicar, Benjamin Thornton Dudley, D.D.", Arclideacon of Auckland, who served in the parish faithfully for 36 years. Born 30th November, 1838; died 24th April, ,jSOi. ' Blessed are the pure in heart, ior.tiej, j shall see God.' " ''.•'■ '

At a meeting of the Auckland.Headmasters' Association, held on Friday; April 2, Mr. Jos. Wooller (Ellerslie) was. chosen president; ill. Carter (Napierstreet), vicerpresident; Mr. Metge (Newton), auditor; and Jlr. G. W, Murray, (Model Country School), hon. secretary' and treasurer. A hearty vote of thanks was given to. Mr. Whitaker, the retiring president, and many good wishes tendered to Mr. Wooller, his successor. A new regulation has come into force with respect to the declarations for old age pensions. Hitherto it has been necessary to get these witnessed by a Justice of the Peace, but- how- tlie sfgnatare of a constable will be sufficient. In cases of persons who were bedridden it was a tax upon n J.P. to get him to go to.the house aiTd witness the'declart-. tion. Now it will be enough ii a T> a ? s " ing constable is called iii. [' ' " f§ We direct public attention,' to an apology published elsewhere, and sighed by Clement for sending to" this jiournal on Saturday a false.notice of marriage purporting to have tiiken place between Mr. Arthur McCoWatt and Mis* M. A. Dunn. It is desirable lo p(?mt 6ut tc persons who are disposed to commit this .reprehensible offence that they thereby render themselves liable to A penalty of £30 or one month's imprisonment under the provisions of the "False Notice of Birth, Marriage and [ Death Act, 1884." .;':' . ..- The Auckland Stock' Exchange will M closed for the Easter vacation from Thursday evening, the Sth of April, until. I the morning of Thursday, the 15th of

April: . '• . . : ■ iM On Saturday night a squabble took place in the main street of Dargaville between several .Maoris, and a fight ensuing, one was knocked over and sustained a fractured arm. Yon never have headache? How f(Wtunafe! Some' of your friends are less lucky no doubt. Do them a service—tell, them Steams' Headache Cure stops thepain 1/- a box. , .;,■; The Hat HbuSe. Hundreds of dozens of men's hard and soft felt hats, caps and straws, in our selection. Geo. Fowlds. —(Ad.) m

The Busy Boy's block. We have sonM new ideas in tit-bits of clothing forth*, lad's. Everything the boy needs. G«V i'owlds. —.(AjLJi

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THE GUMDIGGERS' CONFERENCE. Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 81, 5 April 1909

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