Archiver > NEW-ZEALAND > 2008-03 > 1204437375

From: "Olwyn Whitehouse" <>
Subject: [NZ] But what manner of men make suitable colonists? by JohnBradshaw, 1883
Date: Sat, 1 Mar 2008 23:56:15 -0600

Who was John Bradshaw? He landed at Lyttelton.

"New-Zealand as It Is". by John Bradshaw, J.P. 1883.
But what manner of men make suitable colonists?
In the colony, life for the most part resolves itself into working upward
from small beginnings, it will be more consistent to begin with the
labourer, and, step by step, arrive at the employer of labour. We have
already alluded to that class of men called " swaggers," some of the most
worthless of whom we have compared to the idle casuals of the English
workhouse. Of these nothing more need be said. They are the waifs and strays
of society, to be found in every country and in every clime. Their
proportion to the population of New Zealand is no greater than it is
elsewhere. But the better part of our peripatetic labourers, that which
prefers a roving life, yet is at the same time willing to work, deserves
more particular mention. Often do you hear one say, "I've done with drink;
I've had enough of that;" or, "I think I shall settle down now; I'm getting
tired of knocking about." But the cheque once more in hand, the self-same
man in a few days is reduced to his normal condition-of being without a
penny in his pocket. And yet these men are not drunkards in the ordinary
sense of the word ; they cannot fairly be called slaves to drink. What they
do is done more in the spirit of good-fellowship, or from the love of
excitement, than from the love of liquor. They are often good fellows in
their way; kind and liberal to each other; and only their own enemies. The
steady man has migrated from some country side which has furnished his sole
experience of life. His ideas are contracted, his knowledge of the world
nil. But these "swaggers" have been in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America.

Enough has been said to show the class of men who form the migratory working
population of the colony. It is not probable that any will be induced to
become one of the number from a perusal of this volume. Yet who knows ? Men
of this sort seem as it were to fall from the skies, and to be recruited by
a natural destiny. Most probably they are largely composed of deserters from
ships, or of thorough born and bred colonial wanderers. The steady station
or farm hand comes from an altogether different stock. These no more mix
with the " swagger " than oil with water. The shepherd is most probably from
the Highlands of Scotland, sprung from an industrious, God-fearing ancestry,
and carrying into his new country a similar tone, shorn though it be,
through wider contact with the world, of some of its primitive superstition
and native narrow-mindedness. The ordinary English shepherd, well up as he
may be in his work, would, as yet, find some difficulty in securing a
situation. His habits and movements would be thought too slow. The man who
is wanted here, is one who can ride up hill and down dale, taking note as he
goes along of what may require his immediate attention.

As a rule, the English shepherd would be out of his element. The farm hands
from Scotland, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, and possibly from
some of the western counties, are most suited of all English labourers for
this colony. Those from the clays of Kent and Sussex, from Hampshire or
Wiltshire, or any of the true types of the unqualified yokel, are, with but
few exceptions, too slow in their movements. They have been accustomed to
drive four horses in a string, with a single-furrow plough and a boy to
help; here they would have to manage three horses abreast and a
double-furrow plough, and-they can't do it. They are always tinkering,
instead of getting on. At present the best men consist of those coming from
the above-named counties, with a small proportion from the north of Ireland.
Men from the south of Ireland may generally be seen following the
contractor's plough, or, at the best; shearing, and working at piece-work on
their own account. They are not generally much sought after for permanent
situations. Men with thews and sinews of their own can generally earn good
wages, say from six shillings per diem upwards. Perhaps to-day the present
rate maybe seven shillings; but to earn this, real work must be done. A man
at this wage will soon drop out of a gang if his capacity for work does not
come up to the fixed standard of the contractor. Yet, with work offering at
six shillings a day, men were to be found during the past year on strike.
They paraded the streets, with ' watches inside and chains outside their
waistcoats ; in some instances with rings on their fingers ; in most, clad
in a good suit of broadcloth. They sought to raise a cry in favour of the "
unemployed." In their opinion, a man was unemployed who could not get eight
shillings a day. It is hardly necessary to say that the Ministers at
Wellington, to whom they applied for a relief of their grievances, did not
see it; that the public did not see it; and that but little sympathy was
evoked in their favour, even among the industrious of the working classes.

Carpenters, stonemasons, and brick-setters receive a handsome wage, varying
from eight to fourteen shillings a-day, according to the supply of labour,
and the necessities of trade. But when considering these high wages, it must
be remembered that the men take certain risk. They are not always paid down
weekly, as at home; and owing to the contractors being, in many instances,
men of straw, they are sometimes fortunate if able to secure a fair dividend
on the balance owing for -work done. There are depressions in trade in New
Zealand as elsewhere, when labour is in poor demand and full supply. But
take one time with another, the steady mechanic, artisan, or day-labourer,
will do as well. The bank or mercantile clerk, the shop-keeper's assistant,
and men fitted for similar positions, had better stay at home, unless coming
out under, positive engagement. They would find the pay to be no higher, and
the difficulty of securing employment perhaps greater. The shop-keeper
prefers an assistant who knows the wants of his customers, and already
understands the run of the trade. He might probably prefer one who had been
in some rival establishment, and who could possibly give him a hint as to
what was being done in other stores. Numerous young fellows, the sons of
well-known clerks or business-men, are waiting the chance of a vacancy
turning up among the junior stools in the merchant's counting-house; and it
is the same in the banks. If an advertisement appears in the daily papers,
perhaps thirty or forty applications are the immediate result, and for
junior clerkships the probability is that the lowest tender will be
accepted, provided satisfactory references are forthcoming. These conditions
do not offer much temptation to the emigrant. But if New Zealand be
unsuitable for the clerk or shop-keeper's assistant, what can be said in its
favour on behalf of those pampered beings usually known as domestic servants
? We can see them now. Breakfast, with meat, at eight; lunch, with beer and
cheese, at eleven; dinner, with beer, at one; tea at four or five; the whole
to conclude with supper and beer at nine. Then the free tap running, when
the carriage of some neighbour turns into the stable-yard. The more of them
that there were, the less each one did. The tyranny of those domestics their
incessant bickerings and constant fits of indigestion! We do not advise them
to come to the colonies; but at the same time it might do them good to leave
still- room and hall, and take a short trip across the seas. Their digestion
would improve, and their tempers be less readily moved. But not theirs all
the fault; they are but the victims and the outcome of a too luxurious

Whatever value the higher class of domestics put upon their services at
home, they would not have much " show " in the colony. It is not the
ornamental, but the useful material which is wanted. Possibly a cook worth
50L. at home, would not here get more than 40l. and for this she "would have
to wash up, peel potatoes, and do the whole work of the kitchen. She would
most probably have to do her own and the family's washing. A cook, if she
would so far condescend, might prove useful; but imagination fails us when
endeavouring to devise what could be found wherewith to utilize the portly
butler, or John Thomas, although the latter might stand six foot in his
stockings. What is wanted, is a good supply of " maids of all work,"-low
creatures, people at home may think, but here eminently useful. We want
women able to roast and boil, able to wash and get up linen; and willing,
above all, to learn their multifarious duties. Their value would range at
from 40l. for the old and experienced hand to 20L for the beginner. Such
wages may seem high, but the cost of necessaries is cheap. The difference in
the cost of servants at home and in the colony appears to be, that at home
most of the money expended upon servants goes to the butcher, the brewer,
and other trades people, and but comparatively little in wages; in the
colony, the sum expended for keep is far less, whilst that which goes to the
servant is far more. Already in New Zealand we can find the prosperous
tradesman and his reverse. They are but the human machines by whose
assistance the capitalist matures his plans. The new arrival must
necessarily, in process of time, be merged into one or other of the two
categories. On the one hand can be seen a gradually increasing population,
and some firms undoubtedly prosperous; on the other, a spirit of cooperation
gradually taking root, both amongst producers and consumers, with many a
tradesman struggling for existence. Ever since the formation of the colony,
the principle has been long-dated bills, with high prices and long credits
as a necessary consequence. To-day the tendency is, and will be for the
future, towards small profits and quick returns. For the new comer to create
a cash business would be a difficult matter; but unless he possesses
sufficient capital to buy on short terms and sell for cash, or at all events
on monthly payments, we should feel very doubtful as to the result. The
difficulty in the colony, up to the present, has been to get cash.

New Zealand undoubtedly offers great advantages to the tenant farmer, but it
may be doubted whether it will obtain many emigrants from this class. The
farmer is a man more or less wedded to his country side, certainly to his
traditions and methods of cultivation. He will trust to chance rather than
face the patent conclusion to be derived from the present and the past. He
fails to see, or at all events for a long period did fail to see, that his
present difficulties do not arise solely from bad harvests, but that foreign
competition and extravagant rentals form important factors in the result;
that freights have gradually become cheaper both by sea and land; and that a
smaller capital expended in other countries can produce a greater percentage
than a larger one when employed at home; that the genius of man, by
constructing bridges where were formerly impassable rivers, by building
vessels with a maximum of speed and a minimum of outlay, and by turning
unproductive wastes into fruitful farms, has by these means, and many more
than these, helped to work against him, and still will work. It has been
found, both by landlord and tenant, that land, which had for long years been
looked upon as a safe investment, was in the end to prove like other
property, of uncertain value and subject to change. Oh, but land always has
been and always will be a good investment." And a good investment it will be
once more, but not until a different relation exists between landlord and
tenant, nor until the business of cultivation ceases to be paid for as a
luxury, and re- assumes its true commercial value as compared with land in
other countries. Fancy and residential properties may sustain an artificial
value, but purely agricultural land must find its true level. Farmers will
probably remain by the ship as long as possible.

The magnificent climate, with the more liberal tone of public feeling
existing in the colony of New Zealand, are alone great temptations to leave
this land of clouds and hereditary prejudices. Yet I believe very few will
be found to follow my example, the general complaint amongst farmers being,
' It is too late; our capital is gone now, and farming is not worth
following in any part of the world, to induce us to try again at the bottom
rung of the ladder.' To cadets of good families, without means, New Zealand
offers but little chance of success. These had much better stay at home. But
young men of this class with about 5000l. can generally do well. It is
hardly to be expected that they can succeed so well with so small a capital
as the experienced farmer. Possibly more mistakes will be made at first, and
heavier losses encountered. Very few can expect to make much the first year
or two after commencing business in a new country ; but on the other hand,
farming, as at present necessary, may easily be picked up; its refinements
can be left to future experience.

Life in New Zealand possesses great charms to young men of the better
classes, but the colony is above all things suited to a man in the position
of one with whom we were once slightly acquainted. He was passionately fond
of the country, and country pursuits. His income amounted to about 1000l. or
1200L a year. He was married, and during the preceding ten years his wife
had presented him with a healthy and blooming boy, as every Christmas came.
She had done this up to the termination of our casual acquaintance, so that
it is difficult to form an estimate of what the present total may be.
Possessing just sufficient income for the present, his position would become
worse when the education of his sons commenced, or when they had to be
started in life. In New Zealand he would find education both good and cheap,
and the fortune which he could command would place him in a most comfortable

Perhaps colonial life is more suited to men who have seen something of the
world than to the entirely young. These colonies are far away, pleasant in
themselves, but far removed from all that has made life dear before. The
young are apt to regret the merry days of boyhood and early manhood-the only
experience of life which they possess. They are apt to pine for amusements
and excitements of which they have but barely tasted, and know only by
hearsay. The older man, who has already learned that " all is not gold that
glitters," is more likely to settle down in a new home and find contentment.
A healthy life with hard work, and plenty of it, will usually be the
settler's lot.

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