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GUM RESERVES.

A PROTEST AGAINST ALIENATION. Mr. W. H. Phillip3, Whangarei, writes: — Speaking as one who has had fifteen years' experience on the North Auckland gumnelda, I have much pleasure in thanklag you for your very able article of Friday iaat in relation to this important matter. The fact, is, the Government and t-he general public do not realise as clearly as could be wished bhe extent and value of the gum industry and its potentialities for the future. Whilst it is perfectly true that the surface gum has to a great extent become exhausted, making it extremely difficult for second-rate men to obtain a livelihood, it 19 undoubtedly the fact that those who are ..able to go down deep—say, from 10 to 20 feet —are doing bet.ter than ever, partly owing to the enhanced prices; and, of course, this is exactly .how it should be, and I mako no doubt that in the future matters will adjust themselves so that those who go in for "deep sinking" will find their reward in better prices all round for their gum, as well as increased quantities in output. 'Looking at this matter from a purely geological point of view, there cannot be the least doubt but that the kauri forests which have been in existence for untold thousands of years, and have enriched the North Auckland gum lands with their precious deposits, have followed the same course as the other great forests of past ages, which, together with their vast accumulation of vegetable growth of all sorts, have gone to make our present invaluable coalfields; indeed, gum is often found in considerable quantities intermixed with the coal—a fact well known to all coal miners in the north. It is quite evident that, those who are so eager to cut up the reserves are anxious to do so solely that they may exploit thorn for their own private benefit, and I sincerely trust, the gumdiggers, through their union and otherwise, will make a firm and determined stand against anything of the sort being done. When we do know that men who are able to go down deep after gum succeed in getting it., and that this is a rule tnat applies, without exception, to all the guinfields, we may be well assured that the supply is very far from being exhausted; 'indeed, most experienced diggers are of opinion that, so far from such being the case, it is very probable there is more in the ground has ever yet been taken out. This may at first sight seem a little too optimistic; j but a little reflection will suffice to I make it plain that there are "very good reasons for this favourable view. The vanished kauri forests of past ages were no doubt of much greater -extent and the trees of much larger size than those at present in existence, and it stands to reason, therefore, that the gum deposits must have been of corresponding volume, and covered a larger area than the more recent and surface gum. In this connection I may throw out as a hint ihat it may be possible to discover some of this precious commodity on some lower level in the form of amber, which I am given to understand is only gum in a petrified state. Amber is certainly found in payable quantities in the older countries of Europe, and there is at least a possibility of a like discovery being made out here. Gumdiggers have not hitherto had the encouragement their hard-working lives entitle -them to, considering the immense sum of money the result of thedr labour has brought to swell the wealth of the Dominion. The number of hands employed in the industry also is far greateV than in that of any other occupation in New Zealand, and they have, therefore, every right to look to our legislators to guard and protect their interests in the best posgible manner.

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GUM RESERVES. Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 77, 31 March 1909

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