The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 8 (December 1, 1929)
Taranaki in the ‘Sixties — Interesting Railway History
Taranaki in the ‘Sixties
Interesting Railway History
The following letter, extracted from historical papers recently handed to the Editor of the “New Zealand Railways Magazine,” throws an interesting light on early Taranaki history and on the first proposals to construct a railway between New Plymouth and Wellington. This section was completed in 1886.
To the Hon. the Colonial Secretary, Auckland. Taranaki, 13th August, 1864.
Sir,—I have the honour to lay before you, and to offer as a suggestion, my simple opinion as to the construction of a railroad through the Province of Taranaki. Sooner or later we may presume that the rebels of this province will be conquered, and the question will then be, how are they to be held in such subjection as to prevent future aggression?
I have long given consideration to the civilising and colonising of this province. We have no harbours of refuge, our maritime expenses are great, and the making of a metalled road, constructed at great cost and indefinitely prolonged as to its completion, is, I fear, a slow process of populating a district. The expenses of military tenure for holding a large country with a scattered population, for an indefinite time will, I am satisfied, greatly exceed its advantages; and metalled roads, without the accompaniment of harbours adjacent thereto, will place the outlying districts in a very disadvantageous state, obliging them to purchase all articles of import at an advance of 20 per cent., and to sell their produce at a similar reduction on the average prices, thus necessarily retarding their progress in civilisation as in countries similarly situated.
The time of adjustment must come, when every province must pay its just share of the cost of the war, but I regret to say that this province will be unable to meet its liabilities in that respect while in its present position as to land and finance.
I now come to the question of a railroad, and I believe that one on the broad gauge principle, to carry a locomotive of 20 tons, may be constructed (including surveys and rolling stock) for the sum of £5,000 per mile, and that 179,200 acres of rebel land will make the railroad complete, say from Mokau to Patea, 105 miles. By way of illustration, let me suppose the survey finished and the contract let at £5,000 per mile. A block of land may be surveyed in the centre of the province containing 40 square miles, 10 miles long by 4 miles wide, equal to 25,600 acres. In the centre of this block let a township be laid out, consisting of 600 acres, with a frontage of one mile by a depth of half a mile on each side of the railroad, less 40 acres to be for sale, with an upset price of £3 for the rural land and an average price of £50 per acre for the township, the page 41 amount realised would be £105,000. At the end of every 15 miles other similar settlements may be formed, giving a result as follows:—
Seven Settlements, 15 miles apart, containing 25,000 acres at £3.
Seven Settlements, 51 miles apart, “township,” containing 600 acres at £50.
|Amounts to, Rural land||525,000|
|Amounts to, “Township” land||210,000|
|105 miles Railroad at £5,000 per mile||525,000|
|Leaving a balance of||£210,000|
The North Island East Coast Railway.
(Rly. Publicity photo.)
On 6th Nov. some 300 residents of Napier and towns en route joined the first excursion train to run over the newly constructed portion of the East Coast Railway. Our illustration shews the excursionists at the present terminus of the line (Putorino) listening to an address by the General Manager of Railways, Mr. H. H. Sterling.
In conclusion, I would observe that, should the present Government construct this great work, it will lay the foundation stone of New Zealand and make it, in the words of a great Statesman, “The Britain of the South,” and should my proposition be thought worthy of consideration I shall be prepared to answer any question that may be required of me.—I have, etc.,
W. Bayley, New Plymouth.