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PUBLIC MEETING.

Pursuant to Advertisement, a Public Meeting was held at Mr. Waitt's Store on Saturday last, to take into consideration the best means of inducing the Local Government to erect v lighthouse at the entrance of this harbour. Almost every merchant in the placo was present, as likewise a considerab'o number of settlers.

Captain Rhodes having beon called to the Chair, explained the object of tho meeting, and made a very clear and able statement of the fearful sacrifice both of life and property which had occurred, since the foundation of the settlement, owing to tho culpable neglect of the Local Government, in nothavinglong sinco acceded to the repeated requests of the settlers, and built tho requisite lighthouse. After enumerating the various wrecks which had taken place, Captain Rhodes observed that in every case in which the commander had survived, ho had declared that his vessel would not have been lost, had there been a lighthouse. Capt. Rhodes then alluded to the public meetings which had been held on this subject, more especially after the loss of the Winwick the Elbe, and "the Tyne, and to the utter contempt with which their petitions had been treated by the Government, and expressed his hope that the settlers would bear the past indifference on the part of Government to the best interests of this settlement perpetually in mind, and that they would not cease agitating, until not only a lighthouse had been placed on Pencarrow Head, but also on the Brothers. Capt. Rhodes then referring to the late wreck of the Maria, attended with the sacrifice of twenty-nine persons out of the thirty-one on board, paid a just tribute to the memory of Captain Plank, and reminded the meeting that if they neglected any possible means by which similar catastrophes might in future bo avoided, they could no more than tho Government, be held guiltless. In conclusion, although he, (Captain Rhodes) would not rest his present appeal on any other ground than that of humanity, yet he could not well avoid referring to the importance to. every interest in the place, of making the access to this harbour, and the navigation of Cook's Straits perfectly safe and easy. A lighthouse at at Pencarrow Head would undoubtedly ronder this harbour easy of access, but it was essential, if they wished that Cook's Straits should reap the advanta» ge.s which might fairly be anticipated from the opening of the Canal and Railroad over the Isthmus of Panama, that there

should be another lighthouse on tho BrJthors, or on the main land opposite that rock.

Mr, Robert Hart, after expressing his cordial concurrence in tho object of the meeting, suggested that 'they should show their earnestness by making a subscription, and offered 5 guineas on the part of himself and family. Mr. 11. having ended by moving a resolution to that effect, Mr. Howard Wallace s-iiid, that while he appreciated Mr. Hart's motives ho must strongly object to his proposal, for the revenue collected in this placo was amply sufficient if properly expended, to accomplish both the present objoct, and also many others; and that moreover in a small community like this, it was impossiblo that the requisite sum, say £1500 or £2000, could ever be collected by private subscriptions.

Major Baker, though ready to join his fellow settlers in a subscription for such an all important object, still agreed with Mr. Wallace, that it was the duty of the Executive to provide the requisite funds out of the largo revenue at their, command.

Mr. Kelham in a very able speech defended the New Zealand Company from having been indifferent to the erection of a light house. He read a Despatch from Mr. Somes in 1841 to Lord Stanley, in which Mr. S offered, on the part of the Company, to send out the requisite machinery at an expense of £1500, if the Government would sanction the building of a lighthouse; and thon read Lord Stanley's answer to the effect that he could do nothing in the matter, until he had first communicated with the Local Government. That correspondence had been published, so that whether Lord Stauley had brought the matter officially under its notice or not, the Local Executive must have been fully aware both of tho willingness and desire of the Company to remove and remedy even at so early a stage of this settlement as 1841, the difficulty of access to the entrance of this port. Had the Company been allowed to carry out its desires, he (Mr. X.) need not ask that meeting how many valuable lives would have been preserved to the colony—how great an amount ofproperty would have been saved—still less after reading the despatches need he ask them to whose culpable neglect the recent most melancholy catastrophe must alone bo attributed Whatever other errors and faults may be laid to lhe charge or the Company, most assuredly they cannot be accused either of having failed to perceive the necessity of having ,-a. lighthouse at the entrance to the harbour, of having been unwilling to erect it. As to the proposed subscription, he must protest against thus increasing, under whatever name, their taxes, until they had a constroul over the expenditure of the revenue already raised.

Mr. Clifford dwelt at some length upon the increased importance which would be given to Cook's Straits, by having the two lighthouses suggested by Captain Rhodes—referring more especially to its being the high way between all the Australian colonies and the West coast of America, where such mighty revolutions in commerce, &c, were taking place. Mr. G. Moore also protested against their increasing their burdens by subscribing as out of the present revenue the Government could well afford to give the sum proposed, and intimated his belief that the Government were prepared to make a grant.

Major Baker then moved that a deputation consisting of Messrs. Rhodes, Clifford, Kelham, Fitzherbert, and Featherston, should wait upon the Governor to urge him to take the necessary steps for the immediate erection of two lighthouses. Mr. J. M. Taylor urged that the deputation should embody the statements made and opinions expressed by the present meeting in a Memorial, so that it might be rocordod as their condemnation of the course hitherto pursued by tho Local Government. Mr. Hickson's name having been added to the deputation, and several other gentlemen having addressed the meeting, "all in terms of indignation at the past conduct of the Government, and in energetic protosts against submitting to any further taxation, until they had obtained a control over the present revenue, a vote of thanks was given to the Chairman, and the meeting broke up.

On Monday the deputation were received by Sir George Grey, who informed them that on Saturday the Council had voted the duty arising from the extra shilling a gallon on spirits to the erection of a Light House—and that ho was prepared at once to advance tho sum required—that as soon as tho Council broke up, ho proposed calling upon the Executive Council to take evidence as to the best site, and that no unnecessary delay should tako place. His Excellency further concurred most fully with the opinion ofthe Deputation as to the desirableness of having another Light House on the Brothers—but he feared the expense would be enormous—but said that he would have estimates prepared—would collect all the information respecting the Light Houses in the neighbouring Colonies, more especially respecting tho ono recently erected in Bass' Straits—and that ho would com-

municate at once with the Home Government with the view of twoortainiu.r whether the erection of a Light on ihe brothers would not bo deemed of such national importance, as to induce the Homo Government to undertake it His Excellency also agreed with tho opinion expressed by the Deputation, that it would bo extremely desirable that the maintenance of the proposed Light House should be a charge upon the General Revenue of the Settlement, and not upon the vessels frequenting the port. His Excellency seemed in fact fully alive to the importance of having as few port charges of any kind as possible. In conclusion, his Excellency assured the Deputation that while he would do his utmost to cause the erection of a second Light House as soon as possible, yet that he would at once comraence building a Harbour Light House, either on Pencarrow Head, or on such other site as after examination should be deemed most suitable by parties most conversant with the subject,

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/WI18510730.2.5

Bibliographic details

PUBLIC MEETING., Wellington Independent, Volume VII, Issue 605, 30 July 1851

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1,422

PUBLIC MEETING. Wellington Independent, Volume VII, Issue 605, 30 July 1851

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