Development of Industry
This abortive attempt to establish industry was a recognition of the need to widen the basis of the region's economy. 26·58 per cent of the labour force are engaged in primary industries (cf., New Zealand, 16·05), and 1791 per cent are engaged in manufacturing industries (cf., New Zealand, 26·04). In the secondary sector, food-processing industries constitute the principal source of employment, with the sawmills, joiners, boxmakers, and the vehicle repair and associated industries taking second and third places. In the period April 1953 to April 1961 the numbers engaged in manufacturing increased by 14·8 per cent, compared with the national average of 24·14 per cent, and the total labour force increased by only 7·45 per cent, compared with the national figure of 18·42 per cent. These figures, and others which are available, lead to the conclusion that the Nelson area has fallen behind the industrial development of New Zealand as a whole, but an investigation of alternative or additional industries is not encouraging. The most favoured scheme at present is the establishment of a pulp and paper industry based upon the 68,000 acres of exotic forests in Waimea county, and certainly the increasing shortage of timber supplies in the Wellington Province ought to provide the Nelson timber-milling industry with a favourable market. A 35-per-cent increase in the region's population is forecast by 1981. During the past 50 years the region has been intermittently one of out migration and in migration. Whether it will be able to sustain the projected increase depends largely on the success obtained in diversifying its economy.
In a New Zealand context the Nelson region stands out because of its specialised cropping areas. Nevertheless, its economy is a simple one based largely upon agricultural or pastoral pursuits, which provide the basis for most of its industrial activities, added to which mining, quarrying, and forestry make some minor contribution. Despite the emphasis upon primary activities the population is overwhelmingly concentrated in one centre, the principal functions being tertiary, rather than secondary. That there is further scope for increased agricultural production is unquestioned, but the factors strongly influencing these prospects are not to be found within the region but arise externally and are associated largely with market prospects. Thus, while there is a need to create jobs for the growing population, the disadvantages of Nelson's isolation will weigh heavily against the area in its attempt to attract new industries.
by Samuel Harvey Franklin, B.COM.GEOG., M.A.(BIRMINGHAM), Senior Lecturer, Geography Department, Victoria University of Wellington.
- The Moutere Gravels – Waimea County Nelson, Nelson Catchment Board (1952)
- N.Z. Journal of Agriculture, Vol. 91, Jul 1958, “Land Development in the Nelson District”, Scott, R. H.
- N.Z. Geographer, Vol. 6, Oct 1950, “The Takaka Valley – North-west Nelson”, Rose, A. J.