DEPRESSION in New Zealand has been, in a manner of speaking, only relative as compared to conditions in most of the rest of the world. That is to say, until 1930 the British Empire's oldest Dominion had known a prosperity which had maintained the standard of living at a high and rarely-varying level. During the past four years this standard has been lowered very materially, but not to the point of destitution or any widespread distress.
New Zealand is, politically and socially, somewhat apart from the world and well content to remain so. But its economic well-being depends almost entirely upon the disposition of its primary products abroad, particularly to the home country. Those products are wool, frozen or chilled meat, and butter and cheese. As these bring high or low prices, so does New Zealand prosper or want. There is hardly any other country in the world so dependent upon its primary products -- the products, broadly speaking, of the soil.
When times are bad, people wear less wool and more cotton or other substitutes, they eat less butter and more margarine, use less of the milk from the cow and more of that from the tin can. Four years or more of these tendencies have hit New Zealand very hard indeed. A year ago you could have bought out half the sheep ranchers of the Dominion had you offered them a dollar each for their animals, and you could buy in the meat-markets the highest grade of lamb and mutton chops for ten cents a pound or even less. You could live on the best of all kinds of meat cheaper than upon bread and cheese in most other lands. Even now there are a score of restaurants in both Wellington and Auckland where the regular charge for a table d'hôte meal is a single shilling, and that includes soup, an ample portion of either beef, mutton or spring lamb, fresh vegetables and dessert.
But that is no good
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