501b bags. 1 he figures used in this section are expressed in tonnes ( ’000 kilograms) converted
from the original figures: from tons to get tonnes, m u ltip ly by 1.016 kilograms. A 501b bag is eq u ivalen t to 22.68 kilograms.
F i g u r e 4 -3 : K u m a r a e x p o r ts , 1930-1972. Sources: N Z P P A-3 for 1930-1932 a n d 1945-1972, and
N Z P P A-6 for 1933-1944.
k u m a r a t r a d e to a ride he had had on a rollerc oaster: ” you spend an h o u r w a itin g for t h e ride, ten m in u te s enjoying t h e ride, and a life-time g e ttin g over th e experience” .
T h e A d m in is tr a tio n tried various w ays to stab ilise k u m a r a p ro d u c tio n . In 1952 it a s su m e d responsibility for k u m a r a m a rk e tin g , a ta sk formerly u n d e r ta k e n by local t r a d e r s . In th e early 1960s it in tro d u ce d t h e discing schem e to ease p la n tin g and e n c o u rag e p e r m a n e n t c u ltiv a tio n . In 1968 it o p e r a t e d a price sta b ilis a tio n fund which g u a r a n t e e d th e k u m a r a grow er a m in im u m price for his p ro d u c t. None of these a t t e m p t s a t s ta b ility were successful, largely because th e m a jo r p roblem s facing th e k u m a r a t r a d e w ere p roblem s in th e New Z ea lan d m a rk e t.
Unlike th e Niue b a n a n a a n d p assio n fru it, t h e Niue k u m a r a was in direct c o m p e titio n w ith a New Z ea lan d -g ro w n p r o d u c t, th e p o t a t o (S o l a n u m t u b e r o s u m). In m o s t years p o t a t o p ro d u c tio n in New Zealand was sufficient to m eet t h e local t u b e r d e m a n d , a n d th ere were only occasional years w hen supply was i n a d e q u a te . In these y ea rs, th e ’b o o m 1 yea rs in F ig u re 4.3, th e d e m a n d a n d price for Niue k u m a r a w a s high. T h e yea rs 1951-1953 are illu stra tiv e . T h e price of k u m a r a in 1951 was only Id. per lb. A p o t a t o sh o rta g e in July 1952, however, had t h e effect of increasing th e k u m a r a price to 8d. per lb, and in th e following year, as New Z ealand experienced a severe s h o r t a g e of p o t a t o e s , t h e price of Niue k u m a r a increased twofold.
problems in particular stand out: the relatively poor retu rns of k u m ara growing and the k u m a ra infestation of the 1960s. Niueans recall the average smallholder farmer produced five 501b bags of ku m ara in a six m onth season. In 1958, a ku m ara farmer would therefore have earned £5.8s.6d. for his six m o n th effort.'* In c o n tra st, based on d a ta contained in W right and van W esterndorp (1965:65), the same farmer would have needed to work only about three weeks on salary, two weeks on casual labouring and a week on copra manufacturing; and a year on b a n a n a growing. K u m a ra production in 1958 therefore came a poor fourth behind salaried work, casual labouring work, and copra m anufacturing; b u t ahead of ban ana production.
In the 1960s ku m ara production was badly affected firstly by black rot
[Ceratocystis fim b r ia ta and Botryodiplodia) and secondly by k u m ara weevils (Cylas f o r m ic a r i u s). Black rot first appeared in 1962. It was not easily detected before packing and usually developed onboard ship, only to be revealed during unloading. A high proportion of the ku m ara crop was rejected as a result. In 1964, for example, 512 ou t of 547 bags in one consignment were destroyed on arrival in New Zealand. The k u m a ra weevil was discovered in 1966. E xp ort of ku m aras was subsequently restricted to the Christchurch m arket where kum ara was not grown commercially. In Niue,- only those farmers whose produce was free of weevils were allowed to continue exporting. Although these difficulties were eventually overcome they did considerable harm to the image of the Niue kum ara in New Zealand and they necessitated a greater effort on the part of the Niuean farmer in the face of increasingly uncertain returns.
4.1.2 P u b li c f in a n c e tr e n d s
The d om inant budgetary policy adopted by the New Zealand A dm inistration in Niue during the first half of this century was one of aiming a t a balance between local revenue and expenditure. The outcome was widely fluctuating values of revenues and expenditures, although these remained in relative balance (Figure 4.4). Annual expenditures generally exceeded local revenues and evidence from the Annual Reports indicate this occurred as a result of a fairly consistent over-estimation by the A dm inistration of exports and from a consequent over-estimation of revenue from exports.
Figure 4.4 shows surpluses in only nine years since 1907.^ In general, these abnorm alities occurred because of three main factors. Firstly, there was a much lower level of capital expenditure th an usual in 1909 and 1910. Secondly, there were