The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Vertas et Prævalebit. TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 1890. ABSENTEE LANDOWNERS.
During the present session a return has been laid upon the table of the House of Kepresentatives, giving the number of estates ovc 2000 acres m extent, and over £10,000 m value, owned by absentees. The return shows that there are 51 persons vho reside permanently abroad, who own 1,027,399 acres of land m this colony of a total value of £1,635,280. The land referred to is scattered all over the colony, and is comprised m blocks ranging from 2000 to nearly 100,000 acres. Two persons own 60,190 acres, valued at £135,000, m Maryborough, while another absentee owns 99,465 acres at EastTaupo, valued at £22,132. These two instances are instructive, as showing the great variation m land values that obtains m the colony — speaking highly m favour of land values m the Marlborough district of the South Island, and anything but encouragingly of land values at East Taupo m the North Islands, where road, railway, and bridge construction has been impeded owing to differences with the original native owners of the soil. Indeed, a critical examination of the return on this basis shows that land m the South Island, either from better means of access or natural richness commands a much higher valuation than land m the North Island. The return, however, only deals with lands owned by absentees, and what may apply to these estates may not apply to the lands as a whole; but the figures are instructive as far as they go, and should serve to make South Island settlers more contented with their lot than they seem to be, judging from the fact that recently numbers have sold out from these parts for the purpose of taking up land m the North Island. The return, however, has a more important aspect than a comparison of values of land m the North with land m the South. It shows that land to the value of over one million and a half is owned by fifty-one absentees ; but it does not show, what what would be really most instructive of all, viz., the amount of taxation which these big absentee holders pay the Government of a colony from whence they draw large incomes. Without this information the return is practically useless, as it affords no means of showing to landowners m the colony whether it is better to invest m landed estate, m New Zealand and reside m the colony, or buy up the land and reside abroad] and thus escape a large share of the burthen of taxation. As a means of providing this comparison it would be advisable if some member next session were to ask for a return giving the amount of taxation paid upon fifty large or small estates held by persons resident m the colony, and the taxation paid by fifty absentee holders of estates of similar value.