There has been much talk in your columns recently of our colonists being the "scum" of English society. This is far from the truth, albeit there are usually a few bad eggs in any company.
In his book, The Farthest Promised Land — English Villagers, New Zealand Immigrants of the 1870s, Victoria University Press 1981, the late Professor Rollo Arnold observed that English villages are typically round — as is Castle Combe — or long, eg. Long Melford, Long Stretton.
In the former, the squire would keep an eye on everything, the villagers pulling their forelocks and saying "Mornin', Squire." Residents of the latter, further from his strict eye, were of a more independent turn of mind and generally more enterprising, particularly those at the far ends of the long village street.
It is from just such long villages, indeed from their outskirts, that our typical early settlers came. Consider then the layout of many a small New Zealand town, straggling along its main street, and the explanation for it is obvious.
While, as to be expected, most of our settlers came from England, there were also considerable numbers from Scotland and Ireland, and in my own case, also from the Channel Islands, all seeking to better their positions. It is thanks to their enterprise and hard work that New Zealand has become today's prosperous nation.
The few shirkers who added a bit of colour were typically remittance men, sons of the English aristocracy. Often the worse for drink or the gambling tables, they depended on remittances from home, told that these would cease for ever should they show themselves on their family doorsteps again.
That is the story.