HASTINGS ITS PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE.
AS the well-greased hub is to the wheel so is Hastings to a very great area of sunny Hawke's Bay. There |s the nostalgia of prosperity in tho Very air one breathes and smells, that says very clearly: here is no stagnation, no looking back, no vain regrets, but steady enlivening, exhiliarating progress, and bright optimism is subtly manifested on every hand. Take a iriew from any convenient altitude in tho widespread town, and one sees Jong, ivhite, well-made roads, radiating nortli, south, east, and west, through tho prosperous countryside, disappearing anto thin white threads through the igroen velvoty farm lands which are producing some of tho most vital muniijtions of war—viz., mutou, butter, (cheese—for the feeding of our soldiers Ijand tho millions of good British folk 'depending on them, and wool which llielps to make our valiant fighters the fbestrclothcd of all the belligerents. What, of course, is the dominant need jef the present critical time in the history of the Empire, but beforo the dread ogre War showed its head, the products from the district, over increasing as larger areas are thrown into cultivation, played an important role in bringing prosperity to New Zealand. jMillions of pounds sterling have been garnered from the Hawke's Bay downs, and the circulation of such money far and wide must havo hsid a fartherreaching effect on the progress of the ■Dominion than may at a superficial jthought be conceded. In the centre of this veritable garden is Hastings, .the bright, busy, bustling, wide-awake town through which streams "the flood Df many waters," leaving at least a proportion of its golden sediment m the hands of the business men, shopkeepers, and tradespeople of the towu and district. . There is perhaps only one "fly in the amber" in this district, and that is the fact that the progress of settlement, satisfactory as it may be considered as far as Hastings itself is concerned, is retarded bv the land being-held m such large blocks. There has been a Utile cutting up in some parts, but tbero re/nains the unalterable fact that there are farms of between 50,000 and FO.OOO acres in the district, sacred to shcepi that could be brought into profit by closer settlement, land of a quality that would support the population of the district a hundred times over. In the meantime King Wool is ..the popular god of the district, and 'while the war is on must be a very (affable monarch indeed to have dealings with. The time may come when many broad acres will be comfortably dotted with smiling homes, but that ' time is not yet. At present as far as the eve can reach the fair domain is dotted, but the dots we sheep graduating toward the shearing-shed and meat works. Hastings can claim one of the finest municipal theatres in Now Zealand. It was erected in 1915-16, and opened in (October, 1916, since when it has been an constant use. The council was fortunate in securing the services as archl■i«ct of Mr. Henry E. White, of Sydney, Wellington, and Auckland, and .the result is a theatre that would comtammd attention in any city in the fowld. It is the first theatre to be designed externally in the Spanish mission style, a. smooth, chrohte-coloured finish, broken here and there with ■characteristic windows (each of which folds a box of scarlet geraniums), and [overtopped by far-projecting eaves, that We, with th£ r«»6 of the root, heavily Ailed with da* »ed Satmish tiles. The We&ign is. at once simple, yet storking, fold is nicely ih accord with the sun- j BIW olimate of the place. The interKor- is as chaste and simple in design few it is efficient for every theatrioal jprpose. The lines of vision are perWtA, the acoustics excellent, the scats Comfortable, and the stage is large ienough to accommodate the most elabkpiie productions. There are eight loses, and seating accommodation for BrfOO'people. The Municipal Theatre tally <ost between £15,000 and £16,000, B .nd is the cheapest and best in Australasia. . Between lettkigs to . touring feqmpanies, the council runs its own t" ture shows, always reserving Satury evening as its own special perquisite.. Mayors of Hastings Tha following is a. complete Hsfc of the Mayors of Hastings from the inpeption of the borough to the present cea-r;:— R. Weßwood 1886*87 Geo. Ellis 1887-90 W. F. Burnett 1890-94 G.'i. Fitzroy 1804-99 W. Y. Dennett - 1899-06 T. J. Thompson 1906-Ofl ,T. ,\. Miller -. 1909-11 ,r. Garnett 191M3 Win. Hart 1913-17 H. Lan Simson 1017 Mr. Percy E,. Purser (formerly of the Lower Hufci) is now Town Clerk of Hastings, and in that capacity is one ■ of tho assets of the place. Shrinhago of Hastings. In.lßol Hastings embraced an area nf 5740 acres; in 1909 it had decreased to 4270 acres, and in .1910 it shrunk still further to an area of 2001 acres, at which it still stands. The reason for this shrinkage in area is not hard to explain. As "a- town in an agricultural and pastoral district reaches out for all the municipal luxuries of » ritv, those people on the outskirts, who are not so .susceptible to such improvements, find that they «.re being askod to pay more rates tlinii adjoining properties that are included m the .Jlawko's Bay county, awl so they move v /;o bo cut away from the borough awl Jim absorbed in the county. Whilst $vis kind of movement cannot be prevented, it is rogrettahle, as it loads 'the burden on to tho few, and nooesenrily makes for increased cost of living wbhin the boundaries of tho fcteough.