Page:Canterbury Papers.djvu/17

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9

CAPABILITIES OF NEW ZEALAND FOR COLONIZATION,

WITH SPECIAL NOTICES OF THE CANTERBURY DISTRICT.

A COMPLETE investigation of all the natural qualities and commercial resources of New Zealand is not an object aimed at by the Association in preparing these pages. These have been the subjects of frequent investigation by committees of both houses of Parliament, and by numberless travellers and residents there, of every variety of interests, professions, and opinions; and all persons who contemplate becoming colonists in New Zealand will, of course, consult a great number of authorities before they take that important step.

Inasmuch, however, as few of the poor, whom the Association will assist in conveying to this settlement, will have access to any other sources of information than these pages for their benefit principally, the preliminary remarks, and the extracts which accompany them, have been printed; but the concluding pages, explaining briefly the economical features of the plan of colonization which the Association will carry out, will be of interest to all intending purchasers of land, and other colonists of the upper classes.

Fertility and Climate.

The excellence of the climate of New Zealand, and its adaptation to the constitution of British colonists, and to the culture of European field and garden plants, are fully established by the unanimous testimony of all persons who have visited the country: it is sufficient for our present purpose to publish the following paragraphs bearing on the subject, extracted from the vast number of books and parliamentary reports which have reference to it:—

New Zealand being situate within the temperate zone, although nearer to the equator than Great Britain, possesses, from its peculiar geographical position, especially from its being insular, and also from the nature of its surface, a climate so modified as to resemble that of England more nearly than that of any other country I am acquainted with. It is moderate in every respect: the range of its temperature throughout the year, and during the day, being very inconsiderable. — Dr. Dieffenbach's Travels in New Zealand. Murray. 1843. Vol. i., p. 173.

The great quantity of moisture accounts for the vegetation being so vigorous, even in those places where only a thin layer of vegetable earth covers the rocks. Sandy places, which in any other country would be quite barren, are covered with herbage in New Zealand; and the hills, which in lithological and geological formation resemble those of Devonshire, may, in the course of time, be converted into pastures, at least equalling those on the hilly portion of that county. Everywhere, also, trees and shrubs grow to the margin of the sea, and suffer no harm, even from the salt spray. — Ibid., p. 177.

The temperature which, from its latitude, we should expect New Zealand to possess, is extensively modified by all the circumstances I have mentioned. The first of these is the narrow shape of both islands, which gives a very extensive coast line, into the numberless harbours and inlets of which the sea enters. It is most humid, as well as most equable, on the coasts, where also vegetation is fresher than in any other portion of the islands. There is no great heat in summer; no severe cold in winter. Sometimes, indeed, in the winter nights, the thermometer sinks to freezing point, and the stagnant waters in the interior are covered with a thin crust of ice; but during the day it is very rare that the temperature is below 40 deg. — Ibid., p. 179.