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SUNDAY ISLAND.

~*~ - : A FRAUDULENT PARADISE;

Some time ago the information was telegraphed from Wellington that Mr H. K. Hovell, one of .those who went to try to form a settlement on Sunday Island, one of the Kennad.ec group (a ftw Timaru people were among the party) had lodged a petition against the Government for £850 by way of compensation for the loss and suffering he had been put to through trusting to a too flowery description of the capabilities of Sunday Island by a Government officer, Mr Percy Smith. The Public Petitions Committee, to whom his claim was referred for consideration, reported against it. The evidence given before the Committee by Captain Fairchild is interesting. He stated that when he brought thirteen of the settlers a^ay m the Hinernoa he leflj thirteen, m a very bad state as regards provisions—they had only2cwfc of flour among them. "Bub it serves them right; it is their ■ own fault." Besides the flour they had 15,000 mutton-birds. The prospect of living on mutton-birds was not very inviting, but there was no fear of their starving before the Government steamer returns m November. They could communicate with Mr Bell, who promised to give them kumaras and potatoes. Then there was one place where they could fish off the rocks, bub it was a very stormy place, and there were other birds on the island besides mutton-birds. Mr Bell grows bananas, but they are very poor ones compared with those of Fiji ; and he has the only bit of decent land on the island. The island elsewhere is a pumice-stone bed, where it is impossible for a man to live any longer than while he consumes the food he takes with him. "The hillsides are not bare but they are too steep ; you can only pull yourself up and lower yourself by catching hold of the trees. If the trees were off the island it would be impossible to walk over it. It is the most hilly piece of ground that I have seen. But Denham Bay is like a table. Orange trees and pines grow on the island, but as soon as they grow big and the roots strike into the pumice, the trees begin to die. There are orange trees there ten years old, and they have not borne fruit yet. Mr Bell's piece is the only bit of ground fit to live on ; and when Bell's family gets bigger he will want more. He has moved two or three times to get a piece of land. He was nearly starved when he first went there, and he would have starved m any other part of the island than where he is. It is simply a pumice-stone bed, except the little piece that Bell is on. Mr Percy Smith m his report says that there is a level flab of about a mile and threequarters at Denham Bay; that about one-third of that has been cleared by the inhabitants. This was done by a man with two Samoan wires who went there some thirty years before. They worked the ground, and did manage to grow a few potatoes, but of a very small class. That was the only kind of cultivation. But no white man could live there. These Samoan women, I'believe, managed to get a few potatoes and kumaras of a very poor kind out of the ground. The place is covered with a sort of weed, which even as a weed does not appear to groAV very well. No one, I think could live there except on the ground which Bell has. Denham Bay is worse than useless. I took a shovel and went all over it. I dug up samples of the gound, and brought them with me when I was coming away. The whole of it was pumice-stone ; it is worse than the sea- beach. I brought the samples to Auckland and showed them to the people who wanted to go there. Bufc they said that Fairchild was evidently trying to get the whole of the sections of the land for himself. I told them I did not want them to abandon their intention altogether, but that they should not take their wives and families with them. . But m they all rushed, and now they are there they say they will make the Government pay. One fellow said he would stop there till he died, that he might have his action against the Government."

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18900919.2.10

Bibliographic details

SUNDAY ISLAND., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2522, 19 September 1890

Word Count
744

SUNDAY ISLAND. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2522, 19 September 1890

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