KAURI GUM RESERVES.
A question of considerable importance to the gu'mdigging community is involved in the resolution adopted by the Crbwh Lands Board at its meeting yesterday, to advise the Minister to recommend the withdrawal, toy Order-in-Council, of a section of some ten acres of land from the provisions of the Kauri Guih Industry Act, on the ground that "it no longer contains gum." Similar resolutions have been adopted by the Board in the past, and, indeed, not infrequently private individuals seek to induce the Government to lift reserves upon the same plea. The effect of withdrawing an area of land from the operation of the Act is, Of course, to convert it into ordinary Crown land, which can be offered to the public for selection, either en bloc or in small area?. No particular objection can be taken to the lifting of a reserve providing that there be no longer any gum in the land. There, however, lies the whole question. For, if the gum has not ■been exhausted the effect of lifting reserves is to convert public into private gum-fields. The Land Board frequently has to consider applications for areas of land once forming part of the Crown gu-ih reserves, but which have been withdrawn from the purview of the law relating to kauri gum reserves. Yesterday, for instance, -two such applications came before the Board, in each case for considerable areas. It, is only fair to add that both were refused by the Board on the ground that it had been determined to subdivide and offer the land in small areas. Nevertheless, even when offered in that way, these sections, if they still contain gum, will convey into private ownership a valuable asset which the Crown ought not to part with, at any rate in such a manner. Those who assert that the gum in any field is exhausted "Would find it very difficult to substantiate what, at the best, can only be an opinion. Those who possess any personal knowledge of tiie kauri gum industry are well aware that, as a matter of fact, it is impossible to declare positively that any field is exhausted. The mere fact that for a year or two diggers are not attracted to a particular Held, and that nobody is working on it, of itself proves nothing. Years ago, when only best qualities of white gum were eiarketable, many fields were declared to foe exhausted which to-day, when prices have risen enormously, arid anything, even the. veriest dust-, is saleable, are supporting a large number of men, and enabling them not only to make a good living but even to save a good deal of money. If the reserves had been lifted from those fields in years gone by, millions of pounds' worth oi. a most valuable asset would have passed into private hands. When gum is at a given price, it does not pay the digger to seek it beyond a certain depth, because the la:bour of extracting it from lower levels would hot be repaid. ]t is, however, impossible ■to say beyond what level gum will not be! found. It has been prosptcted at much J greater depths thaji it can be economically recovered ironi at the. prices -ruling today. But kauri gum is indispensable for the manufacture of certain grade 3 of varnish, and as it is to be found nowhere else in the world, it follows that. sooner or later prices will reach a level at which it will pay the digger to go deeper for his gum than he does at .present. It is more than probable that on j many of the so-called exhausted fields there are deep layers of good gum which, so far, have not been touched. We know', of one reserve declared to be worked out i twenty-five years ago. So it was then,] because the ruling price for gum did not make the recovery of d-eep gum a re-1 murtprative occupation. Nevertheless, I with the enhanced value of gum in recent-j years, that field has provided a lucrative j living for hundreds, if not thousands, of -men, who have simply extracted the gutn j at lower levels, for these reasons the j Government should only accept siigges- ( tions to 15ft reserves with-the utmost! caution. The industry is one of our) valuable assets, and nothing 'bilt harm ' will result for it by a too «asy compli-l ance with 'ucma'nds, supported with a ■specious pretext, which usually emanate from Interested sources. Following is Captain Edwin's -weather forecast for 24 hours from 9 a.m. this day: "From between north and east and south-east, strong winds to gale; glass fall, rain probable." The City Council has received intimation from the Public Works Department, regarding the Council's decision that licenses for tram cars would not in I future authorise persons to stand On the | platforms. Mr. Blow fUnder-Secretary •for Public Works) stated that the Minister Was Very pleased to hear of this decision. At-a. meeting of Knox College, the new Presbyterian residential college in I •Christchurch, the master reported that ■ there would be 41 students in .residence j during the winter. The Official open- J ing, at which the Governor and Sir '■ Joseph Ward have signified their willingness to be present, will not take place until the end of May, but the college | will be open to students on April 22. On | that day all students will take up their I residence, except medicals, whose ses- ■ sion does not begin until May. j The Birken'head Borough Council held I •a Special statutory meeting on Wednes-j day evening for the purpose of revising | -the' district electors' roll. The names o"I i a 'number of persons Who had Mt tthe ■district, were struck off. The -town clerk ■■ stated that persons who Avere qualified could have their names placed on -the' - eupptamentary, rO ii up to the 13th. April,
In a report to the Works Committee of l| the City -Cornell fheTTraffic Inspector; .. stated that tha only., remedy for the xihIbading of eases in "Queen-street was to ' confine the 'practice "to thei early hours 6t: ' £fie mdniuhg, and thie would bring the' - shopkeepers into conflict ,with the £a- : . bbur tqw&... "The larger shopkeepers were .. 'expeiiiflbus' in unloading, but the smaller ■ ones 'took iheir time. The Traffic In- ■ spectbr was authorised .to act in rriinii arising the complaints referred to as , much as possible. The customary routine businees was transacted' at the. meeting of the Grammar School Board yesterday afternoon. i On the recommendation of the head- • mistress, 'a-John Williamson scholarship was awarded Miss T, .D. Thontpkins, , who Tanked eighth on, fcbe. credit list, -arifl fiist on .the list of the girls' school; and on the recommendation of Mr. Tibbs, -a similar scholarship was granted E. C. Clayton, who had duly qualified. -Notification was received from the Diocesari Pension -Board that the rate of -interest on mortgages had been raised, to 5J per cent. An interesting discussion appears in another column regardi ing opening the Grammar School with prayers. A youth, 18 years of age, named Thomaß McGrath, was committed for trial at Oamaru on a charge of liaving shot three horses and a cow with a pea rifte. Two of the horses died the following day. Witnesses said that the accused admitted the offence, saying he did it to see the animals jump. The fire which joccurred on the premises of Bourke and ecot«hers' general store, , Kerepeehi, on the Piako lands, destroyed the "Building "rind stock, valued'at £1500. The insurances are not known. A thousand pounds of Government money was in the safe, and was -recovered undamaged, though blackened with heat. The money was in hand to pay for Go- ' vernment drainage contracts. The fire is believed to have been due to rats. The Paeroa District High School has, 1 dor the fifth consecutive year, headed the list of Messrs. Collins Bros.' annual writing competition in connection with the new graphic copy book, with 16 prizes. The pupils Of the school were granted a half-holiday in honour of the occasion* Comment was made at a meeting of the Dunedin Harbour Board .yesterday on the grounding of the Huddart-Parker steamer Ulimaroa recently. On Mr. Rattray's motion, it was decided: "That a committee inquire from the Board's officers the conditions under which the accident happened to the Ulimaroa; to Obtain also a copy of the evidence taken at the "preliminary inquiry held in Christchurch, and to report to the Board whether, in the opinion of the committee, further action should be taken in the Board's interests. It was also decided to appoint a committee with power to frame regulations to govern the navigation of Otago Harbour, and to deal with pilot exemption certificates where careless navigation is proved." Owing to an easterly gale which prevailed to-day, the excursion to Kuaotunu lias been postponed till 10 p.m. to-mor-row (Saturday). Big value in trousers from 4/11 pair. Speoial purchase; clearing 25 per cent, to a third off regular prices. At Rushbrook and Bridginan's premises. Open till 9 pan. Sftturdav.—(Ad.)
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