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DAKOTA AND NEW ZEALAND.

A CONTRAST IN COLONISATION. [From TiiE 'Auckland Herald.'] The history of Dakota, still only treated as a Territory, and not yet admitted to tho Union as a State, wonderfully illustrates tho difference between the American and NewZealand systems of settlement. Except a range of hills in one corner, which yield gold and silver, the whole territory, larger than New Zealand, is a moderately-watered plain. The people have to depend on artesian wells, which are indispensable to every settler away from a river. The climate is rigorous in winter, but pleasant at other seasons, though the dreaded " blizzard " often carries destruction in its train. Cereals are the chief, and almost the only produce in this region, which promises to become a vast exporter of corn to other parts of the Union, and to foreign countries. Thirty years ago its population was less than 5,000, who wero in faco of hostile, troublesome, and powerful Indian tribep. Settlement languished, and j in 1870, when our own Public Works policy began, the population of Dakota was only 14,000. Last year it oxceeded 650,000, being thu9 in excess of our own. Its production of wheat has risen from nothing in 1860 to 62A million bushels in ISBB. Tho facilities for wheat-growing are exceptional, the grain being sown in spring and threshed from the stook as soon a3 reaped. Thus, with a minimum of cost and time, the crops are gathered on tho field, and sent straight to the stores in Chicago for shipment to the Eastern States or to Europe. To tho wheat crop, which has assumed such striking proportions, must be added tho crops of maize, amounting to 24J million bu&hcls more. Cattle and horses have increased in proportion, but Bheep are comparatively few. Tho imports from Great Britain into the Territory are estimated at 34 million pounds sterling, and to Great Britain nearly all tho surplus wheat and maize io exported. The soil of the plains, it should be added, i 3 a rich black mould from 2ft to 4ft deep, requiring no manure hitherto, and growing heavy crops of maizo and wheat. This of course cannot last. At present the farmer has abundant land, and can give it occasional rest, but the rapid increase of population will alter these conditions before many years are past. The dryness of the climate at certain seasons and the facilities and security thus secured in harvesting are, however, permanent advantages to this territory as a wheat-growing country ; they are inherent, and cannot be lost.

The advantages possessed in these respects by Dakota are plain. Once that railroads began to penetrate it rapid settlement from the teeming populntion of Europe and from tho populous Eastern States of Amsrica was Burc. Still, as a new country to bo settled, its need for roads and works and other purposes of Government must have been at least as great as those of Canterbury, which ic eeeuis much to resemble in physical character, though at least a dozen times its siz?. Hero the question with which wo started comes on. The whole public debt of the Territory of Dakota in 18S8 was but two hundred thousand pounds The bonds were issued, and readily negotiated at 4J per cent,, and the money was used to build twelve colleges in different parts of tho territory, together with a hospital and agricultural and mining schools. For every other purpose the people paid by direct taxation, and wero content to advance as the returns from this taxation increased. Nor have they been obliged to starve any necessary public institution. Four thousand public school buildings have been built V>y local effort and local taxation. Many aro rough, but all are adequate to the purpose for which they wero raised, and are in keeping with the circumstances and life of the people around them. The expenditure on education for 1887 was three hundred and twenty-six thousand pounds. Four thousand three hundred and thirty-three miles of railway traverse the territory in various directions, but with that neither the territory nor the General Government had anything to do beyond giving subsidies in land, with very stringent conditions of settlement attached. It would be very interesting ond useful to ascertain, more exactly, how these results have been obtained at a cost so wonderfully in contrast with the cost of settlement in our own favored country. Does tho difference He in our mode of dciliDg with land, in the adoption of the Wakefield theory which threw upon the Government that sold the land the responsibility of providing settlers with roads, bridges, schools, and immigrants aa laborers ? Does it lie in the expansion of local government, which is carried by Americans to an extent far beyond that among any other English-speaking people ? We are disposed to attribute it to both these causes. Our system has led the settler to rely upon the Government, and has artificially and prematurely raised the standard of living throughout the country. The American system leads the settler to rely more upon himself, and docs not excito tho district to expenditure beyond its natural and healthy needs. That the two systems differ most widely in result is apparent from the contrast between the position of Dakota, with a population of 650,000 persons, 4,333 miles of railway, 4,000 school buildings, and a public debt of only L 200.000, and our own position in tho same respects—a smaller population, 1,700 miles of railway, less than 1,100 schools. Apart from railways, we, with a population not qui to equal to Dakota, havo expended many millions. At least fifteen to sixteen millions derived from land sales and rents havo passed through our hands. Wo hove in addition iuctirred a heavy public debt for roads, buildings, water-races, and a variety of purposes for which the Dakota people have paid by taxation as they went. No doubt our roads would bo found more numerous and better, and our public buildings finer. But that is, after all, a poor consolation. Better if we had waited, as they have done, till the revenue that could bo raised enabled U9 to pay for conveniences and comforts as we went. It costs Now Zealand now more to pay annual interest than would bo required to carry on public ivorks vigorously throughout tho country. A correspondent adds a note to the foregoing : —You ask the cause of tho extraordinary difference between New Zealand and Dakota. I will give it to you. You will find it in that portion of Dakota's Constitution Act which says: ■* No Legislature shall have power to borrow money for internal improvements." Dakota, in common with almost every State in the Union, declares against Governmental borrowing for roads, wharves, bridges, railways, and other internal improvements. The secret of New Zealand's inferior position lies in that enactment. In Dakota the State Treasurers and other high officials aro plain Mr So-and-so, with L-00 por year while in office, and when they go out of office—which is generally every four years—they go back to their farms and work like their hired help. In New Zealand they got LI,OOO to L 1,500 per annum, and are made Sir William, Sir John, Sir Frederick, Sir Harry, Sir Maurice. These honors, of course, must bo kept up, but the means are liarcl to get in private life. They therefore stick like barnacles to office ; their very existence lies in the direction of borrowing, dividing, and squandering public moneys. It is nothing to them what the result may be—the mass will bear the burden. Then we have numerous Crown Ministers and high officials, a huge Parliament and Upper House of pensioners, and a Governor at LB.OOO per annum. Of course we do not in anywise compare with the plain hardworking folks of Dakota.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18890826.2.27

Bibliographic details

DAKOTA AND NEW ZEALAND., Issue 7995, 26 August 1889

Word Count
1,294

DAKOTA AND NEW ZEALAND. Issue 7995, 26 August 1889

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