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A STRANGER'S VIEW OF AUCKLAND., New Zealand Herald, Volume VIII, Issue 2261, 25 April 1871
A STRANGER'S VIEW OF AUCKLAND.
The Oiago Daily Times has been publishing a scries of letters from a " special correspondent," descriptive of the provinces of r e'.v I Zealand, through which the writer eeems to have been making a tour. His account of Auckland, based on impressions gathered from the observations possible during a flying visit is very good, and is perhaps the fairest description of the capital of the North that we havo seen from any southern pen. Many are the lessons to be learned from a knowledge of our blemishes, patent as they are to tho eyes of a stranger. Concerning Queen-street the correspondent says:—" The number of persons in tho street struck me as greater than in Dunedin, aud as far as pedestrians went there was much more bustle there than here. 'L'he amount of wheeled traffic in Dunedin, however, is very much greaier, especially ill the matter of cabs. The Auckland cabs, indeed, were a mystery to me. During the whole period of my visit I only saw two of them with "fares," who in both instances were old women. Nevertheless the cabs stand in the street all day long, their drivers, like Micuwber, waiting for something to turn up. As a rule the shops in Queenstreet are not so good as those in Princesstreet, Dunedin, though there are exceptions. The footpaths are simply abominable, being for the most part composed of scoria, which very much resembles cinders. The dust arising from the?e footpaths is perfectly blinding, and oculists ought to drive a good trade in Auckland. A few hours after rain has fallen it is as bad as ever. But dust, is not the only plague in Auck'.and. Mosquitoes abound, and fully keep up their ancient [ reputation for bloodthirstiness. In the matter of smells, also, Auckland is without a rival | among New Zealand, towns. At the foot of Queen-street, as I have already said, is tho Queen's vrhnrf, which is tho chief lounge of tho large loafing population of the town. At the shore-end of the town is situated the ' Maori market, whieli I may briefly describe I as a largo pigstye. The eimile was strictly accurate at the time I first saw it, as several pigs were grubbing about among tho decayed fruit, vegetables, aud other garbage with which the market was filled. Rouud the sides a small portion has been covered in, and hero luxuriated a number of Maoris, of all ages and both sexes, in various stages of dirt, tattooing, and idleness. Nearly all, with the exception of the children, were smoking short pipes, aud they kept up that incessant gabble of which the ' noblo savage' alone is capable. Leaning over the fence outside were a number of other Maoris, halfcastes, and Europeans, many of whom conversed at the pitch of their voices with some 1 man and brother' inside. Dirt and squalidity generally characterised the market, and I left it with a quick step and au offended nose. " Auckland cannot boast of much in the way of public buildings. The Bank of New' Zealand and the Onion Bank of Australia are exceptions to this rule, and an imposing looking structure for the Ne:r Zealand Insurance Company was fust approaching completion. The Supreme Court, though a grand looking building, has a roof like a sieve, and jurors and counsel, when it rains, flud themselves involuntarily trying the cold water cure. There is not a single handsome Church m Auckland, and of the Government offices, both General aud Provincial, the less said the better. The Provincial Government offices are located in a private house, which has been adapted in some measure for public purposes. The staff of clerks, moreover, is not very large. In the Treasury, for instance, there are only tlireee The room is dark and dismal, and even thhandle is off the door inside. Out of Queen' street the shops are poor and few ; but' hotels, though certainly poor, are exceedingly numeous. The number of ehabilly dressed people, and raoged, apparently uncared for, children, is much greater than in Dunedin, and many of the streets bear the stamp of poverty and want upon them. In the suburbs, however, many fine houses are to be fouud, and much greater pride is taken in the gardens than in "VV ellington. "Decidedly one of the greatest attractions of Auckland is the domain, which is prettily laid out in walks. Her© also are the gardens of the Acclimatisation Society, and it is doing them no more than justice to say that they are the finest gardens of the kind in New Zealand. Skirting a portion of the domain runs Auckland's folly—the Drury railway. There it runs, on massive Btouo buttresses, into Mechanics' Bay, looking for all the world, as was aptly remarked to me, as if it was a shoot for rubbish. Like Golden Square, it leads from nowhere to nowhere. Much of it is overgrown with brushwood, and its whole appearance is anything but a cheerful one. " The best view to be bad of Auckland is from the. top of Mount Eden. The view is a truly magnificent one and, is perhaps, unequalled in New Zealand. " The Museum in Auckland is the most wretched abortion of the kind it has ever been my lot to visit. It is situated in a building just one remove better than the rag and boue store in which the contents of the Otaao Museum remained while that institution was in chrysalis state. The whole aspect of the place is mean and dingy. There are a few cases of minerals, one or two of birds, some Maori relics, and Fijian curiosities, two or three early New Zealand newspapers, a Hauhau flag, and some bones. That is about the sum of the contents of the Museum, which is a disgrace to a city like Auckland. " One of the most characteristic features of Auckland is the amount of tnlk about shares in mining companies. On all sides one is dinned with ' shop' about ' All Nations,' 'Caledonians,' 'Long Drives,' &c., &e., tlieir present prices and future prospects, the former being always represented as very low and the latter as very high. A stranger is immediately pounced upon by a set of harpies, who endeavour to perpetrate some swindle upon him. I did not escape their notice, but ridet vacuus coram lotronc viator, so having nothing to lose I did not lose it, and was able to amuse myself with watching thsee attempts to entrap any one who seemed to have anything out of which he could be done." " The 1 correspondent' then goes on to give some account of the Thames. He sayß:— ' The sail from Auckland to the Thames, on a fine day, is n delightful one, the water being smooth and the scenery beautiful. Tho trip may now be made with great comfort by the steamer Golden Crown, which was built at Auckland for the shareholders of the Golden Crown Company, at a cost of some £16,000 or £17,000. She is built on the model of the famous lona, on the Clyde, and is fitted up in a manner which leaves nothing to be desired. The distance from Auckland to Grahumstomn is 48 miles, and the run is made in hours. Tho engines of the Golden Crown, however, are never worked up to their full power, as the vibration would be destructive to a vessel of so slight a construction.' " " Grahamstown, like all new mining towns, I is in a pretty rough state still, especially in the matter of roads. The mud was something to see. Iu plaoes it is a foot in depth, but that, I was told, is nothing to what it is in winter time. On the whole, however, and considering that it is only about three years old, Grahamstown is remarkably civilised. Shortland, which is, virtually, a continuation of Grahamstown, has not nearly so thriving an appearance. Many of the shops are closed and deserted, and the others appear to be merely dragging out a miserable existence. I was told, however, that a demand was springing up in Shortland for dwelling-houses, for which there is no space in Grahamstown. Hotels, of course, abound at the Thames, but the amount of drinking that takes place is, nevertheless, much smaller than in most mining communities, a result due in some measure, no doubt, to the comparatively low rates of wages paid. The best occupation at the Thumes, judging from what I saw, is that of policeman. The ' bobbies' seem to lead a very jolly life, and are to be seen, even in the morning, standing at an hotel bar drinking their beer and smoking their pipes like inferior mortals. All classes, however, with the exception of the aforesaid Shortland shopkeepers, seem to be doing well, and the field look* decidedly healthy. All unite iu depre-
eating tho unhealthy state of matters that prevailed during the great rush, and in hoping that it may not recur. They have at length learned to value steady, though comparatively quiet, progress, and this augurs well for the future of the field.''
A STRANGER'S VIEW OF AUCKLAND., New Zealand Herald, Volume VIII, Issue 2261, 25 April 1871
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