WAIUKU AND AWAROA CANAL.
To the Editor of the Daily Southern Cross. Sir,— To set A.O.s mind perfeotly at rest on the above subject, and also to snow that gentleman, as well as the public generally, that I am not iv the habit of writing without having sufficient data before me, I will request your permission, Mr. Editor, to give the following extract of precisely the engineering report which I presume A. C. requires :—: — "Superintendent's Office, Auckland, July 6, 1855. ''The following report upon the means of establishing a permanent communication between the Manukau Harbour and Waikato river is published for general information. (Signed) "W. Bjrown, " Superintendent. " * Auckland, June 28, 1855. " 'Sir, — In accordance with your Honor's instructions of the Ist May last, enclosing a resolution of the Provincial Council, we proceeded to Waiukuon the 4th ultimo for the purpose of surveying the Awaroa, aud in? specciog the portage between the Manukau harbour and Waikato river. Waiuku is a village sileon the southern extremity of the Manukau, and is also a terminus of the existing thoroughfare between it and the Waikato. On our arrival here we were much surprised to observe the amount of business created by the transit through it of merchandise and produce to and from the southern districts, and we became consequently more impressed with the importance of apermanent communication between those waters than we had previously been from report only. As all the goods we saw in process of delivery or shipment at Waiuku either had been, or would be, conveyed by Awaroa, we conceived a very favourable opinion of its volume and capacity, and had little doubt the stream would be found susceptible of improvement at a small cost; but on subsequently commencing our Burvey at the principal landing-place, we were disappointed to find, not the river we sought, but a mere brook, of » foot deep and some nine feet wide, quite disproportionate to anything we expected. The navigable portions of the creek run through the centre of a very extensive swamp, covered partly with raupo, and partly with thick kahikatea bush. The highest point to which canoes usually ascend is Purapur», situated one and a half miles from Waiuku. From this place to its entrance into the kahikatea. swamp, distance 120 chains, the course of the stream is exceedingly tortuous j the average width is about 8 feet, and the depth of water varies from 9 inches to 3£ feet, 'ihe progress of canoes is much impeded here by fallen timber, evidently the remains of an old forest ; but to obviate this difficulty natives are in the habit of constructing dams of mud, flax,' and brushwood , which afforJ. a temporary passage, but at the same time tend materially to destroy the existence of the channel, such as it is. When a canoe reaches a shallow part of the river, a dam, as above described, is thrown aorosn it ; and when by thii
means the water level has been raised from six inches to a foot, a passage is opened and the canoe propelled throngh it, with all possible haste, the materials removed being thrown into the stream, which, on account of its increased rapidity at this part, generally carries away most of the remaining substances that had been used to confine it. Fully-loaded canoes do not enter the upper part of the Awaroa, but either discharge half their cargo at the termination of the kabiltatea (where the influence of the tide ceases), or employ " kaupapas" to lighter it up to Purapur*. The lower portion of the stream winds a crooked course through the bush before mentioned. Its average width is about 12 feet, with a depth of water varying from one to six feet. The bottom is a continuous network of fallen timber, to which constant additions are being made from the dense bush abounding on its banks. Dams are also employed here, and the navigation, notwithstanding _ the perceptible influence of the tides, and the additional width of the creek, is both difficult and tedious. The bends of the creek throughout its whole length are so acute that an ordinary canoe rounds them with difficulty, and so numerous as to be barely capable of profitable diminution by cutting. The banks of the adjacent swamps consist of some two feet of vegetable matter, resting on layers of sand and decomposed pumice, forming together a_ composition very unfavourable to the construction of durable works. In closing our description of the Awaroa, it may be well to explain how so insignificant a watercourse became of sufficient importance to attract the attention of the Provincial Legislature, with a view to its extension. " ' Previous to the present year this section of the country was known to lew. It belonged to natives, and Europeans had no direct interest in it. Facile communication, after the fashion of its owners, was sought exclusively by water, for they had no beasts of burden, knew nothing of the advantages of a road beyond a footpath, and were, in short, utterly ignorant that any medium existed between conveying goods in a canoe and on their own shoulders. The Awaroa was, therefore, the lhae of communication best adapted to their primitive means of transport; and, as aborigines were then and are now the sole carriers between Waiulcn and the Southern districts, the high road which they frequented was the only one thought about. Hence it became obvious that, being being bad, something shovild be done towards its improvement. The extension of that communication was, therefore, manifestly not contemplated by the Government because satisfied that it was the best line as compared with any other; but because it happened to be the only one in existence, and for that reason the only one which could come under their cognisance for such purpose. Your Honor will perceive from what we have already stated that the Awaroa is but badly adapted to the purposes of trade now, and would be wholly unsuited to the increased demands which the opening up of the Southern countiy would impose on it hereafter. Beserving our remarks on the means that might be taken to accelerate traffic temporarily, and divesting it of any importance that a mere priority of public notice may have conferred, we first proceed to consider how the creek might be best formed into a permanent communication of the extent and utility demanded by the important interests thereby sought to be combined. The character of the swamps through which the Awaroa flows is such as to preclude the possibility of forming a habitable terminus on any part of it, most of the marsh being very little above high water in summer, and considerably below it in winter. As goods cannot be landed in the swamp, they would require to be carried by water to the present landing-place at the head of the creek, and this could only be effected by constructing a canal capable of admitting steamers employed on the Waikato. Such a work i would be a formidable and an expensive undertaking, evenunderthemostfavowrablecircumstances, but the Awaroa valley is so destitute of the materials necessary to the construction and maintenance of a canal that to excavate a channel large enough to admit a steamer fifteen feet beam, to protect its sides, and to erect upon it the necessary locks and other adjuncts, would cost upwards of £100,000. An undertaking of this magnitude could not be accomplished in less than four years, and when finished would be defective in the first elements of utility, for it could confer no looal advantages on the unarable swamps through which it would pass, and, being on the southern boundary of the Waiuku block, its situation would be such as to bestow the least poss.ble benefit on the greatest number of purchasers. Taking into consideration the vast cost and great length of time necessary to complete a canal, also its disadvantageous position and Jocal imperfections, we determined, before lecommending anythiug of the kind, to ratisfy ourselves that no other communication could be established offering equal advantages for less money. Disappointed in fiuding the Awaroa so badly suited to our purposes, we proceeded along the eastern margin of the Waiuku block, in quest of a more eligible locality. In the whole distance we observed only two spots possessing the recommendations necessary for mercantile depfits, and, having examined these, we returned to Waiuku. We next traversed the country between the Manukau and Waikato in almost every direction, with a view of determining the best connecting lines between it and the two spots already referred to on the latter; but, a considerable portion of the intervening space being covered with timber, we found this a more tedious, and indeed a more arduous duty than we at first supposed. We beg to report two practicable ljn.es for a tramway, either of them capable of being constructed at a moderate cost. [Then follow follow details qt these; and on the compwative merits of fche three lines the report states :— ] We have already described the Awaroa swamp, and need hardly add that, being unarable, proximity to a road or canal would invest it with no agricultural value. There would therefore remain only 3,200 acres, the property of private individuals, capable of "deriving advantages from any work under this head. Length of panal, six miles ; length of tramway in continuation, one<and-a-half miles ; cost of canal, £185,000, cost of one-and-a-half miles qi tramroad in continuation included. (Signed) "' W. Mason, " 'D. Simpson, " ' P. O'Kapferty.' " Thus I have redeemed vfry pledge, and have don all that I presume A,C. pould wish for. I Jiav furnished him with an engineering report from three gentlemen who furnished it at the request of the Provincial Council jn 1855. I shajl at any time be most happy to allow my friend A.C., or any other person interested in the subject, to peruse #he whole report, as I presume our desire is the same — to obtain the best mode of developing the resources of the entire country at the least passible cost. — I am, &c, J. Cjrispe. Mauku, January 21, 1867.
Permanent link to this item
WAIUKU AND AWAROA CANAL., Daily Southern Cross, Volume XXIII, Issue 2972, 2 February 1867
WAIUKU AND AWAROA CANAL. Daily Southern Cross, Volume XXIII, Issue 2972, 2 February 1867
Using This Item
See our copyright guide for information on how you may use this title.