TURNING OE THE EIRST SOD BY HIS HONOR THE SUPERINTENDENT. [FROM: OT7B SPECIAL BEPORTF.II.] Ngaecawaiiia, Saturday Evening. An event of considerable interest and importance to the settlers in the Waikato, and to the people of the Province generally, took place here to-day under tho most favourable circumstances. I refer to the turning of the first sod of the branch of the Waikato rail way from Mercer to Ngaruawahia, which will extend for a distance of about forty miles, and open up to trade and commerce a moat valuuble tract of country. His Honor tho Superintendent, J. Williamson, Esq., was invited by the General Government to perform the initiatory ceremonial —which is, in itself, conclusive evidence cf the desire evinced by the General Government to seek 'he co-operation of the Profhicial authorities in the carrying out of such public under, takings. It is well known that the scheme of
public wo'-ks and immigration has not hitherto been carried on in this Province with that energy and zeal which its inhabitants had a right to expect. The cause of this apparent apathy and indifference was generally understood to be the absence of co-peration between the late Provincial authorities ana the Colonial Government. Recent proceedings of both Governments shew that the fault was not attributable to the General Government, for no sootier has a change taken place in the Provincial Government than united action ia observable. This is as it should be, and it is to bo hoped that tho undertaking so auspiciously commenced thi3 day will be the beginning of a career of prosperity for this Province. His Honor the Superintendent arrived here last night.. He was accompanied by P. Dignan, E?q. ; J. Sheehan, Esq , Provincial Secretary; G. M. Reed, Esq., Provincial Treasurer; Major Cooper ; C. O'Neill, Esq., M.H.R. ; D. M. I .iie, Esq., M.H.R. ; Thomas Macffarie, Esq. ; and W. Mitchell, Esq., Clerk of the Provincial Executive. Your readers are aware that the construction of this branch of railway will be carried on by the General Government; and during tho last few days a body of "Engineer Militia" have been enrolled by Major Cooper, to work upon the line. Thero aro about 130 men already en • rolled and prepared to begin operations. Mr. Breen, Resident Engineer, has charge of the works. About 60 men, known as the Auckland Corps No. 2, are stationed at Rangiriri, under the command of Captain Howell, and the No. 1 Company (from the Thames), numbering 70 men, under tho command of Capt. Rowe, are stationed at Taupari. Tho men seem to havo been carefully selected, and are well suited, from their previous occupations, for the work in which they will be engaged.
From an early hour this morning active preparations wero being mado for tho inaugural ceremony which was fixed to take place at twclvo o'clock, noon. Tho town assumed an unusually gay and holiday aspect. Flags were displayed over the principal buildings. The ceremony took place in the township of Iloroliu, on the opposite side of tho river. Tho residents of Ngaruawahia turned out in large numbers to witness tho proceedings. •Vbout two hundred Europeans were present, and the native race was well represented. Tho attendance of settlers from tho Upper Wuikato would have been more numerous had it not been for" tho shortness of tho notice given, the unfavourable state of the weather, and the fact that they are engaged in harvest operations. The scene of the ceremonial was indicated by a spacious marquee, over which floated tho Royal Standard. A platform was here erected for those invited to take part in the proceedings, and the ladies, of whom there wero a goodly number present. Tho preparations, which were of a satisfactory character, were carried out under tho superintendence of tho Hon. Dr. Pollen, and James Maekay, jun., Esq. Among thoso present wo observed His Honor tho Superintendent, tho Hon. Dr. Pollen, Colonel Lyon, Major Cooper, Major Hair, Major Jackson, Major Hay, Captain Runciman, Captain Steele, Captain Brackoubury j Messrs. W. N. Searancke, R.M., S. T. Seddon, J.P., R. W. Hammond, J.P., P. Dignan, J. Sheehan, Gr. M. Reod, C. O'Neill, D. M. Buckie, T. Macflarlane, W. Hay (Pukakura), W. M. Hay, — Gavin (Wellington), Hume (Bank of New Zealand), W. MitciieJl, — Hunt (Ngaruawahia Mills), Marshall, Breon (Resident Engineer), Clarke (District Engineer), E. T. Brisaendcn, Jones, Holloway, John Runcimen, &c., &c. The principal native chiefs present wero: Major Wircmu Te Wheoro, SubInspector Hori Eukutui, Iribia To Kauae, Rewiti Waikato, Karaka N»ahiwi, Anuaru Patene, Hakiriwhi To Purowa, Paora te Ahuru, and Rev. Wiremu Patene. As His Honor tho Superintendent and party approached tho spot where tho ceremony was to take place, tho natives assembled, led by the chiefs, sang a song of wolcomo which it is only customary to givo when receiving distinguished visitors from a distance. Shortly after twelve o'clock, the proceedings were commenced by Major Jaokaon, M.5.R., being : called upon to preside. The Hon. Dr. Pollen, on advancing to the front of the platform, was greeted with vociI feroue and continued cheers. He said:—
Ladies and gentlemen,—Wo are met to-day to celebrate the commencement of a vary important work—important not only for the district of Waikato, but important for tho colony of New Zealand, a3 forming a part of a scheme of works which is intended to connect the North with tlie South. His Honor the Superintendent of the province has been good enough to come this long distance for tho purpose of being present at tlio ceremony, and with bis own hands assisting in the beginning of that work by turning tho first sod. (Hear, hear.) You know that in tho last session of the General Assembly provision was made for tho expenditure upon this work of making the line of railway from Mercer to Ngaruawahia, a sum, I think of £118,000 or £120,000 —I am not quite certain aB to the figures—-waa voted for that purpose. It became a question for the consideration of tho Government in what way this work should be carried on, — whether in the manner in which thcpAuckland and Drury railway is being carried on just now—by contract —or whether it should bo done by men employed as daily labourers. Tho experience which, I think, the people of Auckland has had of the manner in which tho works on tho Aucklond and Drury railway line havo beon carried on, is not entirely of a satisfactory character. (Hear, hear.) I think, and I am not Bpeaking now as condemning the thing in any official capacity, but simply speaking my own views as a simple citizen, expressing opinions which I have heard enunciated by very many others, that a great more energy might have been shewn in carrying on the works of that line, and a great deal uioro expedition also might have been used in bringing it to a conclusion. That being so, it was determined to try the experiment which is now about to be tried, of carrying on this work by hired labour, the Government themselves in that case taking tho position of tho contractors. We found that there would bo no difficulty in obtaining tlio necessary amount of labour. I was surprised myself at the rapidity with which the list of volunteers for this work was filled. It was filled up indeed so rapidly that the usual time was haraly allowed to tho Government for making tho formal, and, so to say, social preparations for tho inauguration of a work of this kind. We found that we liad a couple of hundred men on pay upon our hands, and that it was necessary to employ them immediately upon tho works, and so wo have been rather more hurried in tho commencement of our undertaking than under other circumstances we should havo beon. This will account very much for tho stato of unpreparedness in which we find ourselves today, and also, I hope, will excuse the apparent want of hospitality and tho absence of tho usual festivities which properly distinguish occasions of lliis kind. I can only offer you a very hearty welcome to such entertainment as we can give you, and I am quite sure that, in consideration of the importance of the work about to bo commenced to-day, our shortcomings in that direction will not bo very hardly dealt with. (Hear, hear.) I have a word to say about the organisation which will be apparent amongst the workmen upon this contract. The Government, in dealing with a number of men, is necessarily and properly in adifferent position from an individual dealing with a number of men, and it was thought better —and will be found, I havo no doubt, very much better— that amongßt the workmen to be engaged on this work there should bo some kind of organisation—some authority established which can only be established and maintained under tho semblance of military authority, which enrolment in the militia gives. With that view the men who are io be employed on these works havo been enrolled in the militia ; they are armed as militiamen, but their work is in no sense of a military character. They know and will prove I am satisfied by their industry and attention to their work that they are workmen and not soldiers in any sense. (Hear, hear, and cheers). It has been said that this work was got up in a manner secretly. Well, I am myself personally responsible for whatever has been done, and all ttat I can say about it is that I have made no secret at all of the procedure —that every person who choso to enquiro or ask a question of me wob frankly informed of the whole purpose of tho arrangement. There could be no possible end for concealment and certainly there was no purpose on my part to conceal anything. Tho whole thing, as everyone knows connected with it, was done in a very great hurry; done so much more rapidly than I expected that I am agreeably surprised that, within a week from tho inception of the affair, we are in a posiLion to commence tho work here. (Cheors.) Upon the general question of railroad#, gentlemen, I havo very little to say. Tho whole question is settled. The policy of tho country is railroads and immigration, and it is most gratifying to me to bo able to announce to-day, and to be certified in that announcement by tho presence of His Honor the Superintendent and his Executive, that in that respect, so far as the Province of Auckland is concerned, we shall now and'henceforth havo the hearty concurrence of the Provincial Executive in tho prosecution of public works and in the still more important work of immigration and the settlement of immigrants upon the lands of tho Province. That is the real and most important work of Government upon this occasion, and that work, without the hearty and complete concurrence of tho provincial authorities, cannot be successfully carried out by any Government, lam glad to say that wo have now secured tho general concurrence of tho provinces, and there is reason for congratulation upon our part, and I think upon tho part of the public gonerally, that wo have at longth secured tho hearty concurrence of tlio Government of this Province. (Cheers.) The question of immigration is one of tho very last importance. It did not, lam sorry to Bay —it did not at first appear to impress those persons who are interested in tho success of that policy with the weight which it necessarily deserves. But they have come— now—not now, but very Boon after that to understand its importance. Tho Prime Minister of tho Colony, Mr. Vogel, has himself taken that department into his spccial charge ; and, knojfing, as I do, the interest which ho has taken in it, and the energy and ability which ho brings to any work of that kind to which he sets his mind, I am quite satisfied that whatover is possible to bo dono will be dono by him for tho furtherance of immigration, with tho assistance of the Governments of tho various provinces and of this Province—for the settlement of immigrants upon the land immediately after they arrive. Ho will be here in Auckland in tho course of another month or so, and I thiuk he will show then that, representing as ho does the whole interests of the Colony, he is not unmindful of tho special demands -which are made upon him by the fact of his representing a constituency in tho Province of Auckland. He has, I am advised, some projects which, with the concurrence of tho Superintendent, ho proposes to carry out for tho settlement of Hawke's Bay land, and lauds in the Tauranga district, and lauds in other places. And lam pleased to find —and I am quite suro ho will himself be delighted to find when ho comes— that he will be met with an anxious desire to co-operate with him in tho.work which ho has in view. (Hear.) I think that I need not longer detain the meeting by remarks which arc Bimply preliminary to the business of the day, but I will call upon his Honor tho Superintendent to commence the work of miking tho railway from Ngaruawahia to Mercer. (Great cheering.)
His Honoe the SurEiutiTEiTDENT, on coming forward to address the assemblage, was received with re pouted and hearty cheers. He sfcid— Dr. Pollen, Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, I havo been invited by the Hon. the Colonial Secretary, Dr. Pollen, my old frier-.d, to como liore to-day to tako part in an undertaking which I believo to bo of the highest importance to the commercial advantage of Auckland and the peace and security of its present inhabitants as well as of those whom we hope to see amongst us not very long heneo. It is an undertaking, which, although now actively held in hand by the General Government, was long ago contemplated by the provincial authorities of Auckland. When coal was first discovered at Drury, the Provincial Council believed that that discovery would lead to very important results, and
it -was then that they, out of their limited finances; sot apart a sum of money, which was placed at my own disposal as Superintendent, and which I then used to make u trial survey of the line from Auckland- to Drury. The old members of the Provincial Council who are here may recollect that there was a willingness—a unanimous consent to that undertaking. Then it was merely designated the Auckland and I Drury Railway. Surveyors were sent out; a line was struck across tho country; but, gentlemen, as we have progressed in settlement and in importance in those districts, even although that Auckland and Drury railway has not yet been completed, it has become desirablo that we should extend that railway lo Mercer ; and now gentlemen, we ore here to-day, advancing another etago in this march of progress. We are here to-day to commence a work which wo trust will convey tho advantages of the railway into the hoart of the Waikato country. X trust—and I am hopeful of it —that before long we shall advanco another stage, and that that stage will carry us right up to tho borders of Taranaki, and that from thence wo shall approach that centre of New Zealand, which is known at Wellington- as the seat of Q-overnment. (Cheers.) Gentlemen, if I thought that this work would lead to unhappy consequences, disasters, or disturbances between the native inhabitants and ourselves, I should, for one, hesitate to encourage tho undertaking; but I feel assured that as the inhabitants —I mean the native inhabitants of this part of the Waikato—aro disposed to assist us in this good work now, so tho natives farther on—in tho Delta, and highor up tho country—will be prepared to assist us in conferring upon them the advantages whioh this civilising operation will be sure to bring to them and to their children. (Hear, bear.) I atn proud to-day in having been called upon to take a part in this proceeding. Gentlemen, it is not manymonths ago since I visited this district, and I assured you then what was not mere electioneering stumping and promise—I assured you then that it was my desire to see this work carried up to tho Waikato; —and I have to thank tho General Government this day for having permittod me to take thiß prominent part on this occasion, which indicates the fulfilment of my own desires—my own honest and conscientious desires expressed on that occasion. (Cheers.) For, gentlemen, I can assure you now, on this the first time that I have had an opportunity of addressing you after my election, that whether you had chosen mo or not to bo placed at tho head of the Province of Auckland, I should not have related one whit in my desire to see this work carried out, and, whether as a private citizen or a public ofßcor, I should have endeavoured to haro securcd this great desideratum for you ; for, gontlemen, on publio arounds, apart from your immediate advantage, and on colonial grounds, no greater, no more important work could be undertaken by the people of the Colony than tho opening up of these districts to commerce and to civilisation. (Cheers.) I trust that tho work we are about to begin will have the effect of stimulating the settlers who are here now, and of encouraging many others to como here and take up their abode amongst you — that, instead of seeing people coming here and going away from these districts daunted and alarmed, we shall have security that we shall possess the advantage of permanent settlement conferred upon us by this groat undertaking. (Cheers.) And is it not so in all other countries wherever opportunities for Bpeedy transit of goods and merchandise have been given to the peoplo, that it has more than anything else attached them to their own country. Many of the Amorican Stales aro now dependent for moans and opportunity pf reaching the seaport townß upon tho railways that have been constructed throughout that country; and look what these things, this machinery of railways have done for Kngland, and for Ireland, and for Scotland. The benefits and advantages which wo have left behind us why should we not enjoy hore ? and tho results which havo been seen to flow from them there why should they not ilow to us hero P Should we wait for centuries to copy the example of our fathers at home ? No, gontlemen j there is a desire, and I am proud of it qb a colonist, to emulate the homo country in carrying immediately along with us hand in hand the great civilising powers that wo have loft behind us. X,ook at our Colony now ! —from end to end almost approachable in minutes of time by tho telegraph wires. By tho telegraph wires wo are brought into communication with ouch other from the one end of tho Colony, and I hope shortly to the other end of it. Wo havo also steamers running along our coasts. I am old enough a settler to recollect that when tho first steamboat was established on tho West Coast, there was a hesitation on tho part of some of the old settlers of Auckland to believe in it, or in the advantages of it. But, • entlomen, look what has grown out of it. Along tho coasts tho settlers aro becoming accustomed to tho benefits of it; and I gay that any Government that would attempt to deprive tho scattered settlements of this country of that advantage, would meet with a very sorry account of theruseives at tho next general election. We must keep pace with our people at home ; wo must bring to our own doors the advantages which they are enjoying, if we hope that tho people of England will como out and take up their abode among us. We want railways, wo want telegraph communication, wo wish to point to our coaßtal steamboat services, we want education, and all those othor advantages to bo ablo to shew to them that there are here boforo them intelligent and thoughtful men placed over tho affairs of thi3 country. Gentlemen, I shall say no more to you, but I can toll you that when I first visited this district, thirteen years ago, to attend a great meeting of tho Maori inhabitants on the llat opposite, X little thought that within such a brief space of time I should be called upon to take part in tho great work which wo aro about to commence thiß day. I need not say any moro to you, for you aro not ignorant of tho advantages of this work. General and Provincial Governments are weak wiLhout tho co-operation and tho assistance of tho people, and wo trust to you for that co-opera-tion and assistance. When I say thus much, I would wish fo be permitted to say something to tho representative! of tho Maori peopio who are hero now. X see my old friend, one of tho most loyal chiefs in Now Zealand hero, Mr. William BarLon. Ho has, throughout tho difficulties and troubles that havo ovortaken us in this country, maintained his loyal allegiance and faithful services to her Majesty tho Queen. I asU you, gentlemen, to allow me to address theso Maori peoplo now, and through them, to address the Maori inhabitants who havo been for a long time our neighbours in tho upper districts as well, and I would ask my friend Mr. Mackay to interpret what I say to them. I was glad to find, on coming up hero to-day, that there were a number of my old Maori friends to bid mo welcomo. I did not accept that welcomo merely for myself. I desired that it should bo given not to mo and my friends only, but to tho work which wo aro about to commence to-day. I say then to the chiefs here present,—Salutations to you ; greetings to you ; congratulations to you, upon tho commencement of this great work. Wo aro about to forsake the old paths, tho narrow tracks of tho country, which existed when the Europeans came here. Wo aro about to abandon theso old war paths and war tracks for the paths of peaco and of commerce and of usefulness. Foolishness was at tho bottom of tho proceedings of tho Maoris as well as of the Europeans in tho old times ; but now wisdom is devising ways of pleasantness and paths of peace for us all, which wo may enjoy as good neighbours, conferring mutually advantages upon you as well as upon your European neighbours. I trust no Maori in the country will consider that in undertaking and carrying out those works thoro is any other motive actuating the Europeans than that of peaco and a desiro for a reconciliation with you. (Cheers.) Why should there bo any lurking of suspicion in the I mind of any Maori, from ho who is called the King downwards, with regard to these movements ? Why should they consider that 'we intend evil towards them by bringing to their doors the means of conveying the produce of their labour and industry to the market towns? Have not your old men
who have passed away borne testimony to our j good will towards you ? Have we not expressed our sympathy when suoh monas old ■ Wereroa, of Wangaroa, in the North, died ? I was present myself on the occasion when all the European settlers in the country, who had been friendly with him, assembled at his burial. And then we had Tamati Waka None. Go to the Bay of Islands, and you ' will see there a beautiful monument erected by command of Her Majesty the Queen, and of her Governor, uncovered by Sir George Bowen before ho left, indicating their good will towards him, and in commemoration of the services which ho had rendered to the Europeans. And then wo had Patuone, his brother, whose death was also recently commemorated by the Government, and a monument erected to his memory indicative of our great respect for him also. Then wo come up to your own district, and we can point you from this spot to the tomb erected to the great Potatau—tho man who was first elected by the Maoris here to be their king—the greatest chief here, regarded by the Europeans and our G vernor of tho day sb the friend of Europeans; and we Bhewed to the Maori peoplo that we were well disposed towards him too. We can point to these things as evidonce of our good will towards you. We have received great friendship from those old chiefs, and good service done by them, which the Queen of England has appreciated, and which we, as your immediate neighbours, must havo appreciated, and do so still thoroughly recognise. And the work which we are about to commence to-day ia another proof of our desire to afford you the opportunities of participating with ub in those great advantages whioh we desire for ourselves. If wo did not xthiuk so, if we did not heartily believe that advantages would thus be conferred upon you as well as upon us —if my friends hero, members of the Government of Auckland, considered that thoy were about to take part in anything that would load to a breach of the peace of the country, and to cause disturbance amongst us, we should not be here to-day. (Hear, hear.) And in undertaking my share of it here now, I wish the whole of the Maoris to understand that I believe in my heart that I am about taking part in that which will confer lasting advantages upon you and your children and your children's children. (Cheers.) And, gentlemen, Europeans and Natives, I shall now proceed, in tho namo of the Queen, to turn the first sod of the Waikat.) railway ; and I ask you to unite with me in doing this w irk—to Bay with mo that, in the name of Her Majesty, wo will commence this work; and as soon as I have done my share in it, I shall then ask you to give three hearty cheers for tho Queen, and three hearty cheers for the prosperity of the Waikato and for tho prosperity of the Colony. (Loud and continuous oheering.)
His Honob the Supeeiktendeht then proceeded, amid tho acclamations of those assembled, to turn the first sod of the railway, which he did in the proper navvy stylo. Having " tipped off" tho sod from tho barrow at tho end of the plank, and returned, Hio Honor said, "Ladies and gentlemen, on these sods are the well-known emblems representing the three great nationalities to which we belong—England, Ireland, and Scotland. (Loud cheers.) His Honor then called for " three cheors for the Queen," which were heartily givon. A similar round of choers were given for " Success to the Waikato," also for " The Governor, as representing.New Zealand," " His Honor the Superintendent," "Tho Hon. Dr. Pollen," and *' Tho Ladies." This terminated the interesting ceremony, connected with which thero was no attempt at display. There was, however, an earnestness and a heartiness evinced in the proceedings by both Europeans and Maorics, which shewed that they alike took a deep interest in the success of the scheme, which was so satisfactorily inaugurated. At the close of tho ceremonial, those present partook of a sumptuous collation, wines, &c., provided by the liberality of the Hon. Dr. Pollen, after which tho largo concourse of persons gradually dispersed. In the evening the Hon. Dr. Pollen entertained his Honor the Superintendent and his Executive, together with n large number of tho Waikato settlers, at dinner in tho Delta Hotel. Covers were laid for fifty gentlemen, and tho Btylo in which tho repast was prepared ond served up by host Harris and his assistants reflected crelit upon the establishment. The Hon. Dr. Pollen presided, and James Mackay, Esq., occupied tlio vice chair. After the cloth was reuiovod, the usual introductory toasts were given and loyally responded to. Mr. Sheehan proposed "The health of the Hon. the Colonial Secretary, Dr. Pollen." In doing so, he regretted that the Colonial Government had not seen their way to tho expenditure of a fow pounds to give greater publicity and importance to the business of tho day. It must bo ro-assuring to all present to see two such old and tried political friends as the Colonial Secretary and the Superintendent occupying tho respective positions which they did. It was a guarantee of co operation on the part of the two Governments, and of justice to tho Province in the expenditure of the public works loan.—Dr. Pollen briefly replied. He was pleased at tho s'lußion which had beon made to tho old political friendship of tho Superintendent and himself. He trusted they would continue to work together as harmoniously us of old. —Mr. Mackay proposed " 1 heheulth of His Honor the Superintendent," and said the settlors of the Waikato were glad to seo His Honor and his Exccutivo present at tho turning of tho first sod of the Waikato railway.— His Honor tho Superintendent roplied, and proposed " The health of tlio Hon. the Premier." —Mr. Sheehan proposed, " Success to the Mercer and Waikato Hail way," coupling with tlio toast tho namo of Mnjor Jackson, M.H.R. Major Jackson returned thanks, and said that tho Waikato settlors wero greatly indebted to the Government for their prompt action in connection with tho extension of the line. Ho concluded by proposing ct The health of Mr. James Mackay,' and said that gentleman had dono an immense amount of good for tho district, and his prosence was an assurance to the settlers that their lives and property would not bo endangered.—Mr. Mackay replied, and then proposed, " Tho Members of tho Provincial Executive," to which Messrs. Sheehan, Dignan, and Reed responded. — Mujor Hay proposed, "The health of their Native guests."—The toast was proposed in tho Maori language, atid was interpreted to the Europeans by Mr. Mackay.— Major Wiremu to Wheoro, Mr. Irihia te Kauae, and Mr. Anuaru replied in speeches of a very sensible and friendly character. They all expressed the hope that the King and his peoplo would shortly come back to their allegiance.— The " Press" was then given by Captain Brackenbury, find suitably acknowledged.— The company tlieu sang " Auld Lang Syne" and tho Nalional Anthem. In the former the Natives took part, joining hands with tho European?, and otherwise evincing a most lively interest. Tho parly broko up at ten o'clock, after spending a very pleusant evening, and bringing to an appropriate termination tho day's proceedings. I may here mention that there is some talk amongßt tho settlers of gettiug up a large banquet to celebrate the commencement of the work. Sunday.
Tho Hon. Dr. Pollen, his Honor the Superintendent and party, left at an early hour this morning for Auckland.