Timaru Herald, 23 August 1883, Page 3
GOVERNMENT ENQUIRY INTO THE UNEMPLOYED AGITATION.
An enquiry was held in the Town Clerk's office yesterday forenoon as to the grounds for the recent agitation on the part of some unemployed persons in Timaru for Government assistance to leave the place, the basis of the enquiry being a petition, bearing about thirty signatures, that had been sent to the Member for Timaru at Wellington, praying him to induce Government to send a steamer to Timaru for the deportation of the unemployed to the North Island. Mr March, Government Immigration Officer, conducted the enquiry, His Worship the Mayor being present part of the time. The evidence given by the men who had signed the petition was as follows
A. C. Packman: I am a carpenter, and have a wife and five children. I arrived at Port Lyttelton in 1864 as an unassisted immigrant. I have got my tools. I did well at first, but lost by speculations. I have been offered work in Auckland if I can get there.
Mr March: Very few men have been in the colony so long and have not done well. I may say that I have not the remotest idea of advising the Government to send anyone to the North Island.
Packman: I have been to the North Island and returned three months ago. I have had only two week's work since. I would take £2 per week if I could get it constant.
A. Tindall: I am a laborer, but cannot plough. I arrived at Port Chalmers as a Government immigrant in 1875. I stayed there a fortnight, and then came here. I found plenty of work the first two years, since then I have been a deal out of work. I am married, and my wife can cook.
Mr March: There is plenty of demand for married couples, and you ought not to be out of work.
E. Wells: I am a ship carpenter, and have some of my tools. I came from Melbourne, and have been in Timaru 14 years. I have six children, the eldest being 13 years of age. I am willing to take any wages going; but I can only do light work as I have suffered from rheumatic fever. I have been out of work two months.
Alfred White: I am a carpenter, with a wife and eight children. I came here eight years ago from Melbourne. My eldest child is 14½ years old. I have done but four months' work this your, and this is the tenth week I have been seeking employment. I have no property, and I belong to no Friendly Society. I wish to go to Auckland, as I have heard there is plenty of work there. Mr March The same thing happened some time, ago with regard to Sydney. People heard there was work there, and wont over, and now many of them would be only too glad to get back again. I must try and find work here for you, it will be no use your going to Auckland. I suppose you are willing to turn your hand to anything, and will not stick out for high wages.
White: I am willing to do anything I can, and would take any reasonable wages.
Richard Hunt: I am a laborer with two children. I came to Timaru as a Government immigrant cloven or twelve years ago. I have been earning 8s and 9s a day all the time. I belong to no Friendly Society, and I have no property, neither have I saved anything. I would take 6s a day rather than starve. I have no friends in the North Island, and I don't care what part I go to. There is nothing to do here at all.
Isaac Hill: I am a laborer, with a wife and two children, aged 16 and 13 the eldest works at homo as a dressmaker. I came to the colony thirty years ago, in the ship British Crown. I can work as an engine driver, and would be glad to get £2 per week constant. I should like to go to Wellington.
Mr March: You had better try and earn some money then, as you are not likely to be sent there. I am not aware that there is more work there than here.
Hill: I am aware of it I have received letters to that effect.
Mr March nave you got the letters
Hill: No. I have not got them.
J. McClatchie: I am a laborer with six children, the eldest being eleven years old. I came to Port Lyttelton as a Government immigrant. I have been two months out of work, and have only made £2 in that time. I should be glad to work for 5s a day. I belong to no Friendly Society, us I should not have been able to keep up the
payments. I have never been in the North Island. I signed the petition with the object of getting work. I have no certainty of work m the North Island. All I want is work.
Henry Fleming: I am a blacksmith, and have a wife and six children. The eldest is 20, and the two next 16 and 13 years of age. The two eldest are at work. I came to Timaru by the Lancashire Witch. I belong to no Friendly Society. A large family and sickness have kept me back. I have an interest in a small property. I am willing to turn my hand to anything. When in work I earn 10s and 11ss a day. I have been out of work ten weeks, and have earned very little during that time. My wife's health is not good.
Mr March: You are the only blacksmith who complains of being out of work, and probably you will find employment when it becomes known.
Henry Lambert: I am a married laborer, with four children. Their ages are 20, 17, 15 and 13, and they are all out at work, earning altogether £2 5s per week. They are all boys, and are living in situations. My age is 63.
Mr March: They ought to say father, you have worked long enough its our turn now to assist you.
Lambert: I should like to go to the North Island mid take them too.
Mr March: What take them from good situations
Lambert: I have only had fourteen days work since last April. I go out cooking with harvest camps. I have been here eleven years, and have been twice married. My own children are all married in Australia. These are my wife's family. I would take 6s a day if offered me.
Albert Mason: I am a brickmaker. I arrived at Port Chalmers as a Government immigrant nine years ago. I have been here five years. I have five children, the
two eldest are 15 and 13, and are both out at service. I have been out of work a long time. The reason I signed the petition is that I am told there is plenty of work in the North Island. I have never been there. I want as good wages as I can get.
John Beere: I am a laborer with a wife and six children. The three eldest are girls aged 19, 16 and 13. I came out in the Rakaia as a Government immigrant. I have no property. I want to got away myself and leave my family here.
Mr March: I will try and find you work here.
John Kirby: I came out in the Rakaia as a Government immigrant. I have four children; the eldest is 6 years old. I have been m Timaru nearly seven years. I am a laborer, and have only worked six weeks out of four months. I cam 9s a day but have not saved anything. I am not a member of any Friendly Society, and have
been a Good Templar all the time. I would work for 6s 6d a day if constant work was offered me. I signed the petition. Somebody went round with it. I do not know his name.
Mr March: You seem to be an ablebodied man, and my advice to you is, Go and look for work, and take any reasonable wages you can get. Do not stick out for the highest.
James Wheeler: I am a married laborer, and have one child eight months old. I came out in the Waitangi, as a Government immigrant. I have been out of work twelve months, off and on. I have looked for work all over the district, and have not found it. I got 9s a day at my last job. I do not belong to a Friendly Society. I would take 7s a day for constant employment.
C. Peel: I am a married man, with four children, the eldest of whom is eleven years old. I have been nine years in Timaru, and am a painter by trade. I earn 10s a day, but for the last seven years I have only averaged two days and a half a week. I last worked for Mr Murdoch. I have no friends in the North Island, and could not be worse off there than here. Some of my mates are in work at Auckland.
Mr March: I cannot see the slightest prospect of your going there, unless on your own account. I will see if anything can be done here for you.
Peel: I do not care what I do, and I would take 4s or 5s a day.
Mr March: In that case you are bound to get on if you are a steady man.
W. J. Gracie: I am a native of Auckland, and am a baker by trade. My parents reside there, and my brother has sent me word that there is plenty of work there. I have tried many things, and am quite willing to work. I have worked as a carpenter rather than be idle. I am married, and my eldest child is 19 months old. Things are in a terrible state here, and there is nothing but starvation ahead. I am willing to do anything, and I do not drink.
Mr March: I cannot recommend Government to send you to the North Island, but I will recommend you to some one and endeavor to get work for you.
R. Gee I am a painter, and have been in Timaru about eighteen months. I paid my passage out in the Glenmark some years ago, and I spent six or seven years digging. I had more money when I went to the diggings than when I left them. I was injured while digging by a stone. I did not sign the petition. I was told my name was on it, but do not know who put it there. I have not averaged £1 per week the last eighteen months. I have worked for Mr Sullivan. It is no fun going to the shops and asking for work unless it is known that some large job is in hand. I know nothing of the North Island, but have been told there is plenty of work to be had there.
James Barns: I am a cabinet-maker. I came to Lyttelton seven years ago as a Government immigrant in the Rangitikei. I have three children the eldest is 35, the next 20, and the youngest 17. The youngest one pays me 17s a week for his keep; the eldest is married. I have no property. I have tried to make it little money by making articles and putting them in sales, but they have sold for less than they cost me. I have worked for Mr Fyfe.
Mr March: I will make enquiries into your case, and will see you again.
Thomas Wood: I am a bricklayer. I have one child, 10 years of age. I paid my passage out to Port Chalmers nine years ago. I have been five years in Timaru. I have earned 12s a day when in work. I am a month out of work now. I have no property and do not belong to any Friendly Society. I would take current rate of wages.
This closed the evidence of the petitioners, and at this stage Mr Packman, who was recalled, said there were amend men outside who would like to see Mr March, whose names were not on the list.
Mr March: Did you take the list round for signatures
Packman: Yes I and others took it round.
Mr March: The man Gee says he does not know how his name came to be on list he never put it there. Do you know anything about it?
Packman: I do not know how it got on the list. Wells took it round as well as I.
Wells, recalled by Mr March: I went round with the list. I wrote Gee's name and his wife put a cross to it. He told me he wanted to get away, but he was out when I called. I signed two other names the same way.
Mr March: Thank you. I merely wished to ascertain how his name came to be on the list without his knowledge.
Eleven men whose names were not on the list then interviewed. Mr March and gave evidence similar to that given by the other men, most of them having the idea that work was plentiful in the North Island, not naming any particular locality while others appeared anxious merely to get away from Timaru.
Mr March informed them that he would probably be in Auckland in a fortnight, and he would then ascertain if there was any special demand for carpenters or bricklayers, and if so he would report to the Government. He had no knowledge of any great demand for labor there however. At the same time he might inform them that he had not the slightest intention of recommending Government to send a steamer here to take them to the North Island. Mr March also stated that he had applications for five good laborers at 5s to 6s per day, and Mr Lough, Town Clerk, had kindly consented to receive and attend to any applications forwarded by employers of labor.