In June 1853 Edward Gibbon Wakefield organised a meeting in Wellington. On the agenda was a scheme to bring in Chinese to work in occupations where labour was scarce, but strong opposition later forced Wakefield to abandon his plan. The minutes of the meeting (below) indicate that there was initially enthusiastic support for the idea.
‘The subject of opening a direct communication with China for the purposes of commerce and the introduction of Chinese labour into this colony, was fully considered, and its importance to all classes acknowledged; when the following gentlemen, –
And Mr Bowler,
declared their readiness to enter practically into the undertaking, in such a manner as to afford a guarantee to persons desirous of obtaining labourers, that such labourers should be secured provided a guarantee were given by applicants for servants that the cost of passage for the same would be paid on their arrival in the colony: and it was resolved,
1st That in order to settle the particulars of a plan for carrying the object into effect without delay, the above-named gentlemen will meet on Tuesday next at Captain Rhodes’s office, at 12 o’clock.
2ndly That the following gentlemen from Canterbury, –- Mr E. Jerningham Wakefield, Mr R. H. Rhodes, Mr Torlesse, and Mr Crosbie Ward, together with Mr Raymond and Mr Edward Gibbon Wakefield, be present on the occasion.’
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