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Rushden Echo, 5th April 1912
Letter from Mr. H. Fisher
Rushden Emigrant in New Zealand – Interesting Details

Mr. H. Fisher, formerly of Ealing-terrace, Rushden, a member of the Rushden W.E.A., the Cycle Parade Committee, and other organisations, who is now residing in New Zealand, sends us the following interesting letter:-

After a voyage that lasted 47 days I landed in Wellington in the best of health and as brown as a Maori. I was met at the wharf by a number of relatives and friends. After resting awhile I proceeded to make inquiries as to what work there was to be had in my trade, and I succeeded in finding employment the next day after my arrival, at the Government railway shop at Petone, seven miles out of Wellington. Nearly all the houses in Wellington are built in the hills on what they call stilts. Wellington is a fine city. All the places are built of wood, with the exception of the Post Office, Town Hall, Harbour Board Offices, and the Bank of New Zealand. Wellington is notes as having the largest wooden building in the world—that is Parliament House—but unfortunately the greater part has been destroyed by fire, and they are having another built.

My opinion of the country in general is that it is not advisable for tradesmen of any description coming out here unless they have someone at the back of them to push them along, as all tradesmen have to obtain certificates before they are allowed to start work. In particular, engine drivers, whether stationary, traction, threshing, or railway, have to get their certificates; also electricians, wire men, or men to look after the switch boards. Plasterers and carpenters, bricklayers and mason have to belong to their respective Unions, and the pay attached to all trades here is just enough to live on, but far in advance of the old country, as there is more freedom, and the boss—if you can call him such—is no better than the man that works after the day is over. The hours generally are 44 to 48 per week, and no man gets less than 1s. per hour, but 1s. per hour in Wellington is not sufficient, as the rents are very heavy. A five-roomed house will command 17s. per week, and there would not be enough ground attached at the back to swing the proverbial cat round.

Up in Masterton, where I am at present, the conditions are far different. You can get in this district a house for 8s. per week, containing three rooms downstairs and two up, a large kitchen with washing tubs and copper, and bathroom, with enough ground attached to keep poultry and grow enough vegetable for one’s own use; the rates of pay are just the same as in the city; they work in this district 46 hours per week, and no man gets less than 1s per hour.

The advice I would give to intending emigrants to this part is to bring all kinds of brushes, china, bed linen; in fact, all things that you could get into boxes. The things that tend to make a home bright are very expensive here—for instance, small ornaments of all sorts. In my opinion, a man that can get to an agricultural district and follow his trade or go labouring at 1s. per hour is far better off here than in the old Country, but for the first 12 months or so all would have to be prepared to rough it.

One would have to possess in capital from £1,000 to £4,000 to start farming, as good agricultural land out here is very dear. Land that has been cleared will command £29 per acre, and you would only get that by taking it by the hundreds, not one hundred but several. There are several advertised at the present time, 1,400 acres at £27 per acre, £700 cash and the remainder at arranged terms. The man with no capital stands little chance of obtaining a farm, but he could start poutry farming on three to four acres, which can be obtained at £35 per acre. At certain periods there is land put up in sections for sale, and if you are lucky you may be able to purchase one at about £75, and there is just enough to build a house and make a decent garden.

I might say that the “Rushden Echo” is very welcome out here, as it just reminds me of the old spot where I have spent some happy hours.

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