April 19, 2019 - The History of New Zealand through a Libertarian Anarchist lens. Please enjoy the ideas and let me know what you think.

1864: Fitzgerald’s Picnic Party

April 5, 2019


Opening the Road to the Gold

This April 1864 expedition (dubbed ‘The Picnic Party‘) is one example of Canterbury Superintendent James Fitzgerald throwing himself personally into solving problems. A safe reliable way had to be found between Christchurch and the new West Coast gold fields least Greymouth or Hokitika reap the metropolitan power and prosperity which properly belonged to their own eastern territory. Perish the thought of that!

“We do not attach much importance to amateur exploration in a case of this kind…” – The Lyttelton Times, April 1864¹

The Lyttleton newspaper, of course, had nothing complimentary to say towards their competition in the Canterbury newspaper business. For, as well as being Superintendent of Canterbury (which at this time ran from the Pacific to the Tasman coast) Mr Fitzgerald was the founding editor of The Press.

The Expedition

In short, Fitz promptly put his own survey party together of 6 men…

The Provincial Council gave him £100 towards this adventure…this survey group, known as the ‘Picnic Party’ rumbled into the Alps not on foot by via two Cobb & Co coaches, taking on rocks the size of armchairs!  Also too, not ones to camp out if it could be avoided, they spent nights at farmhouses..on 10th April 1864, a rock fall ended the adventures of the Picnic Party, with an injured surveyor forcing them to return to Christchurch.- ref. DISCO

Thus in terms of actual success, the expedition did not live up to its own publicity. Libertarians must also look the matter of using stolen tax money to fund the adventure to appreciate the pro-active spirit of this pioneering culture we are descended from.

Proactive James Fitzgerald

Fitz was an “ADHD-level” impulsive bugger. He reminds me of Toad from ‘Wind in the Willows’. Trying his hand at many different things as the need arose, from architecture to farming to publishing to politics, and so on. Fitz was the epitome of a first-hand problem-solver in an age of first-hand problem solving. In 2019, our era, our people react to problems impersonally and seek institutions such as government to solve our problems. We might spend a decade sending remits and complaints that the government doesn’t install a new footpath or fix a pothole; Fitzgerald would simply act.

Fitz was the epitome of a first-hand problem-solver in an age of first-hand problem solving.

In a colony that’s a useful guy to have around. In 2017 people like him are stuck in a classroom, in a chair, perhaps medicated with Ritalin. They torture and scare you for twenty-odd years then they expect you to pick a career…

I really do think that grown-ups today who are true descendants of colonist bloodline in the culture we have now are taught to think there is something wrong with them. With no civilisation to build, no Christian Missionary work to do, no hospitals or schools to found, where is the outlet for the kind of human they are born to be? Better distract yourself with junk, toke on a joint, or perhaps suicide- all of which are common to the heirs of colonial men and women.

1 Can’t find this quote in Papers Past; It comes from Roberts (2014)

Ref. Arthur’s Pass No Picnic; DISCO

Image ref. Fitz, cropped; DISCO

Image ref. Pass through the alps; AHNZ Archive, 2008

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