1902 Encyclopedia > Dunedin

New Zealand

DUNEDIN, a city in New Zealand, in 45° 52' 12" S. lat. and 170° 32' 37" E. long., at the head of Otago har-bour, an arm of the sea on the east coast of the South Island. It is the capital of the late province and present provincial district of Otago, and was founded as the chief town of the Otago settlement by settlers sent out under the auspices of the Lay Association of the Free Church of Scotland in 1848. The discovery of large quantities of gold in Otago in 1861 and the following years, and the great increase in the production of wool, have made Dunedina very flourish-ing place. The city is beautifully situated in an amphi-theatre of hills. The streets, nearly all paved and kerbed, have been made at considerable expense and trouble,—some being carried through swamps and others through cuttings and along embankments. The cost of permanent improve-ments during the last fifteen years has been about £300,000. The town is supplied with pure water, and (since 1862) with gas from works belonging to the corpora-tion. Dunedin is the seat of a judge of the supreme court, and of a resident minister, who is a member of the Colonial Executive; and it also has a Waste Lands Board, a body constituted for the purpose of administering the public estate of the provincial district. The city contains some fine buildings, especially two handsome Presbyterian churches, constructed of white stone from Oamaru. The so-called university of Otago, now affiliated with the university of New Zealand, which alone has the power to grant degrees, possesses chairs of classics, mathematics, mental and moral philosophy, as well as lectureships on botany, mineralogy, law, and modern languages. A museum (well built of con-crete) contains an excellent collection of New Zealand flora and fauna, including some fine skeletons of the Dinornis. There is also a scientific body called the Otago Institute, affiliated with the New Zealand Institute. There are three good libraries—one at the supreme court, a second at the university, and a larger one at the Athenaeum—six banks, and several large mercantile houses. The people are mostly of Scotch origin, with a considerable intermixture of immigrants from England, Ireland, the British colonies, and Germany. All classes are prosperous : except among the extremely limited criminal class, poverty rarely occurs, and absolute pauperism is quite unknown.

Otago harbour, by which the city is approached from the sea, is an inlet about 18 miles long. There is about 22 feet of water on the bar at low tide. Half way up to Dunedin is Port Chalmers, a fine anchorage for the largest vessels, where, owing to the presence of precipitous hills, the land was found too limited in area for a large city. From this point the water grows shallower as it approaches Dunedin. Until lately no vessels drawing more than 10 feet could pass up; but by two years dredging the channel has been made available for steamers drawing 13 or 14 feet, and this depth is gradually being in-creased. The Harbour Board has authority to raise £250,000 by bonds, of which ¿£129,400 has been raised, but board is £14,500, which is rapidly increasing, as it arises from a munificent landed endowment. A large part of this money is available for works. The harbour was until lately the terminus of a line of large mail steamers running monthly to San Francisco via Auckland and Honolulu, but it is now found more convenient to use smaller steamers for the coastal section. It is, however, still the terminus of a Line of fine vessels running at intervals of about ten days to Melbourne, and carrying the monthly mail for Suez and England. There is also direct steam communication with Sydney and Hobart Town, and communication via Auckland with Fiji. All the coasting steamers and many sailing vessels are owned in Dunedin. In 1876, besides the San Francisco boats, 69 vessels, varying from 250 to 1800 tons, entered the port from places beyond the seas other than Australasia. The greater number of these arrive in the early part of the summer, and load with wool for London. The customs revenue collected in 1876 amounted to £362,335. The municipal debt amounts to £328,000, and the revenue (raised by rates, rents, water and gas works, &c.) to £47,500. The population of the city in the begin-ning of 1877 was about 22,500, and that of the suburbs about 9000, while other towns within a circuit of a few miles bring it up to 35,000.

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