On 15 August 1884 a Dunedin entrepreneur stated that ostriches could earn New Zealand more than gold.
In urging the Government to back his scheme to import 100 ostriches from Capetown South Africa, Mr W Darling said that ostrich feathers were earning South Africa one billion sterling per annum, some 100,000 pounds more than gold. Some interesting facts on ostriches are included in the correspondence. The birds, one person warned, were “rather dangerous to deal with” and “their stupidity causes great loss.” A case in point was a male bird which, “in a fit of anger, kicked his foot off against a fence.” Sadly the New Zealand Government didn’t act quickly enough to secure these wealth-giving albeit violent birds. South Africa implemented an export duty of 100 pounds per bird which put an end to the matter. The Department of Internal Affairs chose not to respond to Darling’s reproachful letter about the lost opportunity.
Shown here is Darling’s letter urging Government to get behind his ostrich importing scheme.
ACGO 8333 IA1 506/[E30]
For updates on our On This Day series and news from Archives New Zealand, follow us on Twitter www.twitter.com/ArchivesNZ
Material supplied by Archives New Zealand.