Story: The New Zealanders

Anthony Trollope’s Australia and New Zealand, 1873

Anthony Trollope’s Australia and New Zealand, 1873

The observations of foreign visitors provided a mirror for New Zealanders. One prominent visitor in the 19th century was the English novelist Anthony Trollope, who wrote an amusing account of his journey through both islands. In this extract he comments on how New Zealanders boast of themselves as a superior form of English, and on their propensity for getting drunk:

But in New Zealand the assurance is altogether of a different nature. The New Zealander among John Bulls is the most John-Bullish. He admits the supremacy of England to every place in the world, only he is more English than any Englishman at home. He tells you that he has the same climate,—only somewhat improved; that he grows the same produce,—only with somewhat heavier crops; that he has the same beautiful scenery at his doors;—only somewhat grander in its nature and more diversified in its details; that he follows the same pursuits and after the same fashion,—but with less of misery, less of want, and a more general participation in the gifts which God has given to the country. He reminds you that at Otago, in the south, the mean temperature is the same as at London, whereas at Auckland, in the north, he has just that improvement necessary to furnish the most perfect climate in the world. The mean temperature of the coldest month at London is 37°, which is only five degrees above freezing, whereas at Auckland it is 51°, which enables growth to continue throughout the whole year. Of the hottest month the mean temperature at Auckland is only 68°, which,—says the Aucklander,—neither hinders a European from working, nor debilitates his constitution. All good things have been given to this happy land, and, when the Maori has melted, here will be the navel of the earth. I know nothing to allege against the assurance. It is a land very happy in its climate;—very happy in its promises. The poor Maori who is now the source of all Auckland poetry, must first melt; and then, if her coal-fields can be made productive,—for she has coal-fields,—and if the iron which is washed to her shore among the sands of the sea, can be wrought into steel, I see no reason why Auckland should not rival London. I must specially observe one point as to which the New Zealand colonist imitates his brethren and ancestors at home,—and far surpasses his Australian rival. He is very fond of getting drunk. And I would also observe to the New Zealander generally, as I have done to other colonists, that if he would blow his trumpet somewhat less loudly, the music would gain in its effect upon the world at large.

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Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
Reference: Anthony Trollope, Australia and New Zealand. Melbourne: George Robertson, 1873, p. 632.

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How to cite this page:

Jock Phillips, 'The New Zealanders - Better Britons', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/document/1915/anthony-trollopes-australia-and-new-zealand-1873 (accessed 19 November 2018)

Story by Jock Phillips, published 8 Feb 2005, updated 20 May 2015