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[Special to the Stab.]


With reference to the strict orders issued against strangers inspecting fortifications, the • Observer' has taken time by the forelook, and this week publishes sketches of Fort Takapuna, which it declares is grossly bungled, and worse than useless. The article says:—" It is no exaggeration to describe the quarters at Fort Takapuna on Stark Point as a regular 'blackhole'—abUDgledbit of work that ought to be promptly condemned. The building in which a number of men of the permanent force are housed is nothing but huts of underground cells, more damp, unwholesame, and cheerless than any gaol in any civilised country in the world. It is located in a big hole in the ground; is covered by a roof of asphalt; its windows look out upon a narrow, gloomy passage between the walls of the buildings and the surrounding earthworks; and never a ray of sunshine penetrates the foul subterranean atmosphere of the rooms. Is it to be wondered at, in these circumstances, that men are frequently laid up with colds and rheumatics, even in the dry and mild weather which we have been enjoying. What it will be when the heavy rains of winter come may be better imagined than described. It is exposed, and has an opening right in the line of fire from an in trading cruiser; and if one or two shells were landed through that opening, the result would be the complete demolition of the men's quarters. Then, in the event of this fort being used to repel intruders, how is the powder to be kept dry if stored in those damp receptacles? The earthworks are already showing signs of giving way, and altogether Fort Takapuna is as big a blunder as the Stark purchase was."

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