Historic, Economic and Social Development in New Zealand
- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 6 Nov 1947, p. 93-102
- Thorn, The Hon. James, Speaker
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- An event in New Zealand's history which associates with the people of Canada. Edward Gibbon Wakefield's role as a staff member for the Earl of Durham while in Canada after the 1837 rebellion. Wakefield's subsequent role in the New Zealand Land Company, which organized and dispatched from England the first group of immigrants who succeeded in establishing themselves in New Zealand in 1840. Wakefield and the Treaty of "Waitangi" by which act New Zealand became formally part of the British Empire. Subsequent events, war between the Maoris and the British, hostilities until 1870. New Zealand and responsible government. The role of both the Earl of Durham and Edward Gibbon Wakefield in establishing responsible government in New Zealand. Inspiration from the "Durham Report" which had led to the institution of responsible government in Canada. Canada and New Zealand, bound by intimate political ties and by statesmanlike personalities. A detailed description of the development of New Zealand follows, discussed under the following headings: Political and Educational Achievement; Social Security; Industry and Commerce; Trade with Canada; and Conclusion. Statistics and figures are included. Concluding remarks include comments on whether mankind has learnt very much from the two world wars it has suffered. The speaker's certainty of two things: that the unity, strength, democratic traditions and way of life of the British Commonwealth are examples that can serve the civilization of the world, and that if we really do want peace, the United Nations must be given power and vitality by active, informed and resolute public opinion. The part played by Peter Fraser, Prime Minister of New Zealand, in the initiation of the United Nations. Seeking a potent alternative to the courses that lead to war. Strengthening the ties between Canada and New Zealand.
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- 6 Nov 1947
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HISTORIC, ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT IN NEW ZEALAND
AN ADDRESS BY THE HON. JAMES THORN,
High Commissioner for the Dominion of New Zealand to Canada.
Chairman: The President, Mr. Tracy E. Lloyd.
Thursday, November 6, 1947
HONOURED GUESTS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN
It is my privilege and pleasure to introduce to the Empire Club of Canada the Hon. James Thorn, High Commissioner for the Dominion of New Zealand to Canada and a representative at the United Nations Assembly, Lake Success, New York.
Our guest of honour was born in Christchurch, New Zealand, and as a lad of seventeen was in the South African war in the Third New Zealand Contingent (Canterbury Rough Riders).
Our guest is a pioneer of the Labour Movement in New Zealand, having formed the Independent Labour Party over forty years ago and in 1931 was elected National Secretary of the Labour Party, holding this office until he was elected a member of parliament for Thames in 1935.
Mr. Thorn led the New Zealand delegation to the International Labour Organization Conference in Geneva in 1938, was Chairman of the New Zealand Sea Fishery Commission and Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on population in 1946 and since 1935 has been a member of the Maori Affairs and Public Accounts Committees of the House of Representatives and Deputy Chairman of the Tourist Development Committee. In 1943 he was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Prime Minister and in May of this year was appointed High Commissioner to Canada.
We are very happy indeed to welcome the Hon. James Thorn, who will now address us on the subject
"Historic, Economic and Social Development in New Zealand".
When I accepted the appointment as New Zealand High Commissioner to Canada, and realized that I would have to address Canadian audiences, I wondered whether I could come across any event in New Zealand's history which would associate us in any way with the people of this country. I found several, but today I will content myself with a reference to one which is of some importance because of personalities connected with it who deserve to be remembered.
If you visit Wellington, the Capital City of New Zealand, you will find that the principal street in the business area is called 'Lambton Quay'. And thereby hangs a tale! In 1837 there was a rebellion in Canada. There was bloodshed and men were killed. When it collapsed the British Government sent here as the Governor of Canada, the first Earl of Durham. The Earl acted with great leniency towards the rebels, and it was he, who in 1839, presented to Queen Victoria's Government, the famous Durham Report, which led to the institution of responsible government in Canada. The family name of the Earl was John George Lambton.
On the staff of the Earl of Durham while he was in Canada was a man who became very prominent in New Zealand history. He was Edward Gibbon Wakefield. The Earl of Durham's Governorship in Canada was very short, and when he returned to Great Britain towards the end of 1837, he and Wakefield, and a few others, formed the New Zealand Land Company--an action that was certainly a great landmark in our history. This Company organized and dispatched from England, the first group of immigrants who succeeded in establishing themselves in New Zealand. They landed towards the end of January, 1840, in the port where Wellington now is, and when the town developed it was natural that its main thoroughfare should receive the name of the statesman who was so keenly interested in the colonization of the new land, of which afterwards it became the Capital.
WAKEFIELD AND THE TREATY Or "WAITANGI"
The ideas of Edward Gibbon Wakefield have provided material for controversy in New Zealand for many years, but his work as an active spirit in the New Zealand Land Company was certainly one of the decisive factors that caused the British Government at the time to move for the incorporation of New Zealand within the British political system.
When the New Zealand Land Company was in the initial stages of its operations, the British Government was coming under the influence of advice given it by Church of England and Methodist missionaries in New Zealand that to protect the Maoris from ruthless exploitation by the Europeans who were already there and others likely to come, the British system of law and order should somehow be introduced. With this in mind the Government did not regard the Company very favourably, and in fact it was so hostile that the Company's first ship to New Zealand sailed from England in defiance of it. The Government's immediate reaction was to instruct a British naval officer, Captain William Hobson, to proceed to New Zealand for the purpose of negotiating a treaty with the Maori's which would establish Queen Victoria's sovereign authority over New Zealand territory.
Captain Hobson arrived at the Bay of Islands at the beginning of February, 1840. He met the Maori chiefs on February 5th and explained to them the proposals he had in mind. The next clay he and the Maori chiefs signed the document known as the 'Treaty of Waitangi', by which act New Zealand became formally part of the British Empire.
The treaty expressed a sincere concern for the welfare of the Maoris, but, to make a long story short, that part of it which dealt with land transactions led to tragic misunderstandings. War broke out between the Maoris and the British in the North Island and in the South, and hostilities of a very serious character marked practically the whole of the decade between 1860 and 1870.
The point I am making here is that not until 1870 did New Zealand enjoy an opportunity of development undisturbed by War within its own territory, so that virtually all the facilities and amenities of civilization you will see there when you pay us a visit, have been created since that year, and that by a population in which the adults exceeded one million for the first time in the Census taken in 1945.
NEW ZEALAND AND RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT
Now before I proceed, may I make another brief reference to an historical event in which both the Earl of Durham and Edward Gibbon Wakefield exercised a fruitful influence?
The British Government passed the New Zealand Constitution Act in 1852, but when the first session of New Zealand's first Parliament opened on May 24th, 1854, it was found almost immediately that the Constitution did not provide for responsible Government.
Edward Gibbon Wakefield was a member of the House, and en June 2nd, he moved a resolution asking that there be accomplished without delay "the establishment of Ministerial responsibility in the conduct of Legislative and Executive Proceedings by the Governor"--and it is an historical fact that the public opinion in New Zealand that supported Wakefield, and in deference to which the British Government agreed to concede responsible government, derived its inspiration largely from the "Durham Report" on the same matter as it affected Canada. So you will see that our two countries, in their early history particularly, were bound by intimate political ties and by statesmanlike personalities.
POLITICAL AND EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT
It will be noted from what I have just said that from its earliest days under white occupation, New Zealand has been guided by democratic principles, and any study of its history will show that, from the beginning, the best of its people have been animated, by the idea that good citizenship, sustained industry and prosperity largely depend on the widest political freedom and a good education, together with just and humane economic conditions.
A few facts will indicate part of our achievement. New Zealand's population is slightly more than 1,750,000, 104,000 of whom are Maoris.
In 1879 adult male suffrage was enacted and in 1893 our women were enfranchised. In 1867, legislation was passed giving the Maori's separate parliamentary representation. Today every man and woman over 21, including the Maoris, has the right to vote in the Parliamentary elections. The Maoris elect four of their race to a House of 80 Representatives, and one of their Members of Parliament is a member of the Cabinet. Politically speaking, therefore, democracy has a 100% application in New Zealand.
As to our educational system, the principle on which New Zealand has been working is that educational facilities should be free from the Kindergarten to the University, and with some qualifications as to accrediting and examinations, this aim has now virtually been reached. Although there are some private schools, mainly run by religious institutions, at least nine out of every ten children attend the State Schools, which are of the primary, post primary, technical and university character, The State Education System is free, secular, and compulsory, and has been so from the year of its introduction.
Roughly 250,000 children attend our primary schools, and as each of them is an asset to the State, the Education and Health Departments look after their health as well as care for their minds. They all receive a pint of milk daily, or where circumstances make this difficult, other milk products, and in the apple season an apple a day to each school child is provided at the public expense. In addition, a free dental service, staffed by hundreds of dental nurses trained by the Government f or the purpose, is supplied, and last year 168,500 children in 2,203 schools received dental attention in clinics attached to the schools. All these services are, of course, enjoyed by the Maori children.
The Government recently announced its intention to extend the dental service to adolescents up to 19 years of age as a benefit paid for from the Social Security Fund, and this has been approved by the organization of the dentists in private practice.
Now that I have mentioned Social Security, you may be interested if I say this about it: Its aim is to prevent in New Zealand the poverty that can result from the hazards of life and any weakness in our economy, and its effect has been to turn our Dominion into a Friendly Society with a compulsory membership that covers the entire population.
The Social Security, Fund is raised by a tax of 7 1/2 % on wages, salaries and all other forms of income. The money so provided is subsidized from the consolidated fund, with the result that this year approximately £45,000,000 will be available to pay for the benefits set out in the legislation.
These benefits are of a dual character-those paid in money, such as universal super-annuation, and benefits for old age, chronic invalidity, widowhood, miners' phthisis, family allowances, sickness, and unemployment:--and those received as free maternity treatment, free medical attention in the public hospitals, next to free attention by the medical practitioners in private practice, and free medicines. The fact is that the Social Security Act is the most popular piece of legislation passed by any New Zealand Government, no political party is opposed to it, and the cost can be borne without financial inconvenience so long as our industries by sustained and intelligent work can maintain and increase our present national income (£320,000,000 last year).
INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE
Now a short reference to our Industry and Commerce: as to .our export trade our primary industries are of the highest importance, being essential to our economic progress and the maintenance of our standard of, life. In this respect they are the greatest of oar industries, but it would be wrong to deduce from this that New Zealand is a purely agricultural and pastoral country.
During the past ten or eleven years particularly, our secondary and manufacturing industries have made a rapid development and without them it would be physically impossible to succeed with the full employment policy to which the Government is pledged and to which we are bound by the Charter of the United Nations.
Since 1935 the number of our factories has increased by 23% to the 6,500 that were operating in New Zealand last year. In these factories last year 141,000 workers were employed as against 86,000 in 1935. The value of the output has more than doubled-last year it was £ 160,000,000 and the aggregate of the wages and salaries paid has been nearly trebled. It cannot be questioned that much more progress would have been made had there not been serious limitations on the availability of labour and of raw materials.
As far as our agricultural and pastoral industries are concerned they have the advantage of a mild and temperate climate, but even so their very great achievement would not have been possible had our farmers generally not been competent and enlightened.
I dislike mentioning figures in a case like this, but I hope these won't interfere with the digestive process
The total area of New Zealand is 66,390,000 acres, of which 43,000,000 are occupied. Of the occupied area 20,000,000 is tinder pasture, crops, plantations and orchards.
Some of the animal statistics are as follows
Cattle--4,628,000 of which approximately 2,000,000 are dairy cows.
Last year (1946) our farmers produced
Here is some interesting information:
New Zealand last year exported to Great Britain nearly as much buttter as Australia and Denmark combined; we sent to Britain 230.000 cwts. of cheese more than did Canada and Australia put together; and we also sent as much meat to the people of Britain as was exported from both Canada and Australia.
This year we hope to export to Britain 100,000 tons of butter, 100,000 tons of cheese, and over 350,000 tons of meat. To put it shortly, New Zealand is the largest exporter of cheese, mutton and lamb in the world; one of the chief exporters of butter; and the third largest exporter of wool.
In the total of our exports and of our imports (exports $320,000,000, imports $230,000,000 in 1946). New Zealand is per capita of its population the greatest trading nation on the earth, so that although we are a small country, we can speak continentally when it comes to buying and selling in the world market.
Not a bad achievement in a country where the adult population is just slightly more than a million!
TRADE WITH CANADA
This brings me to a matter in which you will be all acutely interested, that is the trade between New Zealand and Canada. Much as we would like to increase it there have been difficulties. I am dealing now with the difficulty that existed before Britain recently refused to convert sterling into dollars. In the past nine years, New Zealand has exported to Canada goods to the value of £21,634,000 and imported from Canada commodities valued at £43,837,000. In this period New Zealand's adverse balance of trade with Canada has amounted to £22,203,000. (At 4 dollars to the pound nearly $90,000,000.)
In 1946 the position was
New Zealand Exports to Canada . . . . . . . . . . £2,689,000 New Zealand Imports to Canada . . . . . . . . . . £4,656,000 Adverse Trading Balance--for New Zealand £1,967,000 or supposing our pound stood at $4, an adverse balance against New Zealand of about $8,000,000.
Now the balance can only be paid for with dollars, and the only place from which New Zealand can get dollars is the British dollar pool. If, therefore, New Zealand has to be restrained in purchasing from Canada, it may be because of a feeling that Great Britain needs the dollars more than we do.
Apparently New Zealand is very much in the same trading position with Canada, as Canada is with the United States, and I have, therefore, no doubt that New Zealanders will be keenly interested in the steps Canada will take to solve this somewhat difficult problem.
May I in conclusion, turn from this business of money-making and the accumulation of wealth to refer to something of even greater concern to us all as individuals. We are living in a world where mundane considerations like these might become meaningless overnight.
Men can build a great city and put into it generations of work, genius and loving care, but an atomic bomb may be dropped on it, and in a flash it may be shattered, along with the men, women and children who gave it life.
I have wondered lately whether mankind has learnt very much from the two tragedies, the two world wars it has suffered within our generation, but I personally am certain of two things: One is that the unity, strength, democratic traditions and way of life of the British Commonwealth are examples that can serve the civilization of the world, and another is that if we really do want peace, the United Nations must be given power and vitality by active, informed and resolute public opinion. We believe this in New Zealand. As you know at San Francisco, our Prime Minister, Peter Fraser, played an outstanding role in the initiation of the United Nations. His reason was very simple. He knew, as we all do, that with the atomic bomb and worse in the offing, a potent alternative to the courses that lead to war must be found, or trade and industry declarations against fear and want, Atlantic Charters and so forth may easily become myths, and men be too broken and terrified and ruined even to feel cynical about them.
Well, let Canada, your great land, and New Zealand, in any case join hands across the seas, strengthen the ties of sympathy and understanding, and so far as opportunity serves us, work to make our world truly one world in which men can co-operate in peace and be sure that their industry, their genius, their science and arts will bring to them all the good and happy life.