THE SETTLEMENT OF THE LAND.
About seventy persons attended a meeting held at the Coffee Palace on Saturday evening, for the purpose of promoting a landsettlement Bcheme on a co-operative basis. Sir Robert Stout occupied the chair. Mr Stokes said it was his duty to read a prospectus, which had been previously drawn up by himself and others interested in the scheme of forming a Co-operative Land Settlement Company, with a capital of L 20,000 in LI shares, of which but one-half was offered for subscription, to be called up as follows:—One shilling per share on application, "6d per share on allotment, and 3d per share at intervals of not less than one month. The prospectus contained the following clauses: —"The company is projected for the purpose of acquiring land suitable for dairy and other farming purposes, with the object of placing settlers thereon who will, by easy payments, become the freeholders of their own allotments (if the lands so acquired be freehold). It will be the business of the company, as circumstances permit and opportunity offers, to acquire, either by purchase or otherwise, Government or private lands, which either with or without labor being expended thereon may be made suitable for farming purposes. Settlers will be required to occupy their allotments personally or by substitute within a certain time to be decided on by the directors. The directors will be empowered to advance to settlers such, sum or sums as miy be from time to time' necessary for the purpose of stocking the place or improving the same. Until such time as the allotments shall have beoome the freehold property of the settlers, the whole producs of the farms shall be disposed of through the recognised agencies of the company. Settlers shall be credited with the full amount realised for their produce, subject to deductions for expenses and interest only. The company shall provide a store in which all necessaries will be provided for the use of settlers at a nominal percentage over cost price. The directors Bhall be empowered to erect all buildings for tlio purpose of carrying on the business of the settlement, and shall also be empowered to purchase for the general use of the settlement implements and machinery, for the use of which a small charge shall bo made. In the event of Government land being acquired, each settler will be responsible to the Government direct for the payment of his seotion, unless other arrangements can be made between'the Government and the company. Should private first-class land be acquired, the directors will survey and pick out for a township site that, portion of the property most suitable for the purpose, and then proceed to get the remainder of the block or blocks surveyed and cut up into farm sections of not less than fifty acres or more 'than 200 acres. No settler will be allowed to hold more than one farm and one township section. The directors shall not definitely acquire the land for the carrying out of this settlement scheme until (1) at least 3,500 shares in the company shall have been taken up, and (2) a general meeting of the shareholders shall have been called to consider the proposed site." The Chairman said he would like, before they were asked to deal with what was proposed that evening, to say one or two words upon ibe important subject of land settlement. Various had been the steps taken by the Government of which he was at that time a member to promote the settlement of the land under special settlement conditions; and the settlers at Masterton, who had taken up land on the conditibns set forth in the Government regulations, had been exceed" ingly successful, although the land taken up by them was heavy bush land, which cost from L2 to L2 10s an acre to clear.— (Hear,) The speaker detailed the progress of land settlement in connection with the endeavors of Government to obtain a proper and complete settlement of the land, and went on to say that if Government chose to make regulations in compliance with the regulations of the Land Act there might be a modification of the settlement scheme by which people here desirous of settling on fche
land might take up land on conditions somewhat similar to those under which settlers took up land in the Wellington district. He was given to understand that a great number of people here desired to obtain land under some sort of cooperative scheme which would allow full play to individual exertion, and also furnish individual reward for individual toil. Of course, it would be necessary in a co-operative land settlement scheme that the land should be obtained at a reasonable price.—(Hear, hear.) If the land cost a heavy price at first some of the settlers would in consequence be burdened with a load of debt, which neither themselves nor their children would ever be free from. He had urged some of thosu who had talked about this co-operative scheme to try and obtain land from the Crown under special settlement conditions. Now, unfortunately, so much of the State lands had been bartered away in this colony that there was little left for settlement under such a scheme as this. There were, however, still some hundreds of thousands of acreß available for settlement, and if the State could see its way to encourage such a scheme as was proposed thet evening to initiate, it would be very beneficial to the country. There might be many men in the community not able to go on the land themselves—men who would not make good farmers—but who might have lads growing up who would be able to go on the land. He did not know of any finer life for young people to look forward to than a settler's life.—(Hear, hear.) It had its trials and troubles, and there might not be a great monetary reward; But he believed it was a healthy life and a happy life, and if we wanted our race kept strong physically, and especially morally, we would have to look more to the country than to the towns. (Hear, hear.) Many a man would like to see bis son obtain a farm, and if he obtained it free from all mortgages, he might not have a large living, but he would always have a secure living if he was fairly moderate in his requirements, and, of course, energetic in his work. Farming life, he considered, like every other form of industry, required special training and aptitude, and many farmers in New Zealand had failed for the want of these. It was not to be expected that a man could be a successful farmer if he knew nothing about farming until he went on the land. He felt sure that if there had been more of this co-operation done in the past, settlers would have been attracted to the soil more; but he was afraid that many of our young men were not looking to the laud for settlement.—(Hear.) He did not say they were to blame for that. Perhaps they had more opportunities in town ; and perhaps they had not the means to begin farm life nor the training, and their fathers had not been able to help them. He, however, firmly believed this: that our civilisation, by its migration and huge factory system and people crowding into towns, was going in the wrong direction. He did not know whether we could stem this, but if we could attract our young men to farming and show them that it was just as good a life as a town life, we would have done some good for our race and some good for our colony.—(Hear, hear.) Although the town had its pleasures there were pleasures in Nature and in a country life such as no city or town could give.—(Loud applause.) Mr H. K. Wilkinson said if the company had power to secure private land it was a matter that might lead it into serious difficulty. He thought it would be better if the company had only power to deal with the Government land, and he would prefer, for his own part, that the land should be obtained under the perpetual lease system. He thought they should discourage any attempt on the part of people to try to get land into their own hands.
The Chairman said the company would have to be very cautious as to the purchase of private lands. He did not think that should be done until the shareholders were called together and they had agreed to it. He might say that he did not think they would get any sympathy from the present Minister of Lands in regard to the special settlement scheme, but he hoped they would be able to move Parliament in the matter. He knew that the highest aim of the Minister of Lands was to get the Crown land surveyed and sold. Mr Bolt moved—"That this meeting approve of the plan of settlement set forth in the prospectus just read, and now take steps to form a company to carry out the scheme." He did not see why the Government should have any objection to a scheme of this sort, because it appeared to him that it was essentially a working man's movement. It seemed strange to him that while combinations had done so much in so many Rphcres of labor there had been few combinations for the practical settlement of the land.—(Hear, hear.) Here was a scheme to all intents and purposes that might be worked out by working men themselves. It was not intended that all should be settlers; but those who were not bona fide occupiers of the soil should not get any benefit from the settlement, but simply a rate of interest. In this way capital would be confined to its legitimate use, and any profits there were would go entirely to the settlers. A great deal of preliminary work that would have to be done could be far better done by a company than by an individual settler. The company would provide all necessary stores at what they would cost them, living would be made as cheap as possible, and the produce of the soil would be sold at the highest possible price. He thought they should have at least 4,000 or 5,000 acres of good agricultural land, and an equal area of pastoral country. The whole of the pastoral country proposed in the prospectus, along with onefifth of the agricultural land, should be the property of the settlers, and vested in the company on their behalf, and the settlers should get the whole of the profits accruing from the company's ground. Mr Stokes seconded the motion, and pointed out that the sole object of the promoters of the scheme was toenable men to get farms and houses of their own. There were hundreds of people who would go farming if they could, but they were not in a position to do so ; and this scheme would enable them to carry out their wishes, The idea of the promoters was to have a dairy district if they could possibly get it, for it was a prevalent opinion that butter and cheese were going to be the chief commodities produced in New Zealand. Mr W. Hutchison sdd he w.ts not going to opposo the motion, but he thought that the prospectus ought to bo less definite than the one laid before the meeting, which gave far too much power to the directors. He was entirely at one with the principle of co-operation, bat he would not subscribe to a prospectus such as had been read. It looked as if the company was being got up for the benefit of certain parties themselves, instead of for the benefit of the shareholders. He thought all should have the same areas of land as nearly as possible. He did not believe in big men and little men, and was not going to be one to perpetuate anything like that.—(Applause.) It seemed to him that if the company purchased any land they must purchase it from some private individual. Now, there was really no good land about Dunedin, and he did not know where they could get it. On a previous occasion, when he and some friends were thinking of forming a society of the kind now proposed, he asked Mr M'Kerrow if he could point out any land of the kind required in Otago or Southland, The only land, however, which he could point out was on the Otago Central Railway line, and there were objections to that. The Chairman did not agree with Mr M'Kerrow. Ho believed there were fine blocks ol land to be obtained in the Waikawa district.
Mr Hctohison thought Parliament should be urged to find land for the company, and had no doubt that they could be invoked to do so, and that they would do it readily. Mr W. Thompson said he wished to disabuse the minds of all that the promoters had any selfish motives in bringing this scheme before the meeting that night. Speaking for himself, he had no axe to grind, and the other promoters of the scheme were praotical men who also had no selfish object in view. The Chaibmak said the prospectus had been drawn up by Messrs Biroh, Stokes, Bolt, and Thompson, and they thought that they should have definite proposals to bring forward in order that they might be discussed. The prospectus was not binding in its present form; it only laid down a plan of settlement, Regarding the powera of
directors, that would have to be fixed by memorandum and articles of association. The chairman ~..inted out that, in connection with the statement made about all having the same area of land, all men had not the same means, and what would be sufficient for one would not be sufficient for another. A man with a family would perhaps want 200 acres and another man only fifty. Upon Mr Mantz's suggestion the word "principle" was inserted in the motion instead of the word " plan," and the motion was carried ncm. din. Mr Hutchison moved ment be petitioned to see that the special conditions of the Land Act, 1885, be given effect to." Mr Rankin seconded the motion, which was carried unanimously. The Chairman promised to get a petition prepared, and a committee consisting of Messrs Birch, Stokes, Bolt, Thompson (original promoters), Mantz, Milne, and Hutchison was appointed to get the same signed and forwarded to Wellington. _ Those who promised at the meeting to take up shares in the company were : —Sir Robert Stout, 100 ; W. Thompson, 500 for himself and 100 for a friend; W. M. Bolt, 100 ; D. Wishart, 100 ; Mantz, 100; Stokes, 100; Birch, 200 ; Johnston, 200; H. K. Wilkinson, 100; Wright Brothers, 200; Poole, 50; Milne, 50; Oddie, 50 ;H. Watt, 50 ; and others 80 ;—total, 2,080.
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THE SETTLEMENT OF THE LAND., Evening Star, Issue 7947, 1 July 1889
THE SETTLEMENT OF THE LAND. Evening Star, Issue 7947, 1 July 1889
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