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CHILD LABOUR IN DAIRYING DISTRICTS
An enquiry - some interesting results
- Evening Post 4th February 1911
Auckland this day,
An enquiry, which has produced some interesting results, has been undertaken by the Country
Teachers' Association in regard to the use and abuse of child labour throughout the province. Circulars were sent out to the
teachers of country schools asking how long children were employed in farm work (morning and night), how many hours' sleep
they had, and what distances they had to come to school, and what satisfaction they gave as scholars? A considerable
number of circulars have been filled in and returned, and from these it is apparent that child labour is employed chiefly
for milking cows. Several cases of which seen to involve distinct hardships on children are given.
"Physically and Generally Dwarfed"
Circulars have been furnished from so many schools showing that the pupils were employed
morning and night in the milking shed, that it seems fairly well established that child labour is employed to some extent
in the dairy industries almost right through the province. The return furnished by a teacher in the Upper Thames district
showed that twelve boys were milking in the aggregate eighty six cows in the morning and eighty nine at night - an average
of over fourteen cows per day. One boy of nine was milking eight cows night and morning, and walking two miles to school,
and the teacher remarked of him that he was physically and generally dwarfed.
A boy of fifteen milked thirteen cows night and morning, and the teacher said of him that he was dull and undeveloped in every
way, also that his attendance was irregular. A boy of nine milked twelve cows daily and walked three miles to school, and
the teacher observed that he was generally worn out.
A teacher in the Kaipara district mentioned
the case of a boy of thirteen who milked fifteen cows a day, and always appeared
to be "fagged". In a school north of Auckland twenty-two pupils milked in
the aggregate of over twelve cows per child per child daily. The aggregate
time occupied in farm work was 115 hours per day, a little over five hours per
child. The hours of sleep ranged from about 8 or 8.30 pm to 4 or 4.30 pm.
As the milking machine is generally looked upon as minimising the use of child
labour, it is curious to note that one boy said he was employed six or seven
hours a day looking after the machines.
Many Girls Kept Busy
Of the twenty two pupils mentioned, only one
was a girl, but the teacher remarked that many girls had such duties as feeding
calves and washing milking utensils allotted to them. The children he
said, appeared inert, and have no elasticity, even for play. He had some
difficulty in keeping them awake.
In another school north of Auckland there was
a pupil of twelve years there was a pupil of twelve years who milked twenty two
cows a day, and went three miles to school, while a boy of ten was milking
fourteen cows a day. In this school eight pupils were milking 120 cows a
day - an average of fifteen a head.
A Remarkable Case
There must be something remarkable about a boy
of fourteen who milked twenty eight cows daily, and slept only from 8.30pm to 4
a.m., attended school regularly, and is described as sturdy and intelligent.
The committee which made enquiries into the
matter observes in its report that moderate home duties are beneficial rather
than harmful to the young, and there can be no objection to the limited
employment of children in dairying. It as with the abuse of child labour
the committee quarrels, and with the curtailing of the hours of sleep necessary
for the proper physical and mental development of the child.
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