THE THAMES-AUCKLAND RAILWAY.
THE formal OPENING,
'A SUCCESSFUL CEREMONY.
RED LETTER DAY FOR THE THAMES.
SPEECH BY THE HON. A. J, CAD MAN,
[IT TELEGRAPH. —OWN REPORTER.]
Thames, Monday. Two evento of great importance for the future of the Thames district, took place to-day, in the opening of the Thames-Auck-land railway, and the starting of the Hauraki deep level pumping plant, llie construction of a railway to connect Ihames with the Waikato, lias been the subject of agitation at the Thames for some 28 years, and as the formal opening of the now completed line fell on the same day as ne starting of the huge pumping plant, in flhirh some £110,000 have been invested in the hope that large returns of gold will be mmght to the surface, it was little wonder that ilie day was observed as a general holiday. ar.d high festival held by the people of the Thames and the surrounding districts, invitations were issued to a large number of o,d t J names residents now residing in other parts of the province, and for the conveyance ot visitors from Auckland, the Northern Company 4 p.s. Wakatere made a special trip to the Ihames, returning after the banquet, winch was 1,10 closing part of the day's proceedings. The ceremony of declaring the railway open was performed by the Hon. A. o. L-adman. Minister for Railways, and member of the House of Representatives for Uhiiiemuri, and in his capacity of Minister "I Alines Mr. Cadman was also called on to make the principal speech at the starting ol the pumping plant. The connection by railway between Thames and the Waikato is regarded with satisfaction at both ends of the line. Increased facilities for travel J" 1, ot course, be afforded, but the railway is looked mi as likely to do much to develop the agricultural resources of the district, and there is a certainty that by bringing Thames "ltd immediate connection with the large coalfields of the Waikato it will do much to cheapen fuel, both for mining and domestic purposes in the Thames district. Tliis, in view of the 'argo gold mining interest of the Illumes, is in itself a . matter of much moment, and if (he Railway Department meet the co'liery owners with reasonable rate there i.; no doubt but the new line will give a gnat impetus to the Thames, heskis proving benefit to the coal mining industry of the Waikato, and eventually a source of profit ( 0 the Department itself. -<XK AT ORAHAMSTOWX STATION. 'iiMuamstawn station, the terminus at the J names pud of the line, was selected a-s the Site of the formal opening, but in order to give an opportunity to those at the I'acroa end of the line and in the district inter\cning, to attend, a train was run. in tlio morning from Thames to Paeroa, and when this train returned at noon the interesting ceremony was performed. Some £0 people from Illumes ipado the double journey on tlio train, leaving for l'aeroa ill the morning, and returning with the visitors from the Paeroa end. At Orahamstown station some, 6000 people awaited the arrival of the train. The station buildings, now almost completed, and ready for the convenience of travellers, were gaily decked with flags, and all over the town there was ai similar display of bunting, and general indications of the suspension of business. The l)i:imcs X.rvals and band, under Captain Potts, and the TTaurtiki Rifles and band, under Lieutenant Radford, were in waiting for the arrival of the train, the bands taking up positions on the line, and the navals and volunteers guarding the permanent way from encroachments by the crowd.
BREAKING THE RIBBON. Almost immediately nil the stroke of twelve a shout arose from the vast assembly that the train was in sight, and as a conscience Mi** Isabella Scot* (siste; of tho Mayor of Thames) and Mrs. T. A. Dunlop of i!io Thames County chairman) took up positions on opposite .sides of the main line, adjacent to the southern end of the sli'tion building, where they held across the line a pieco of bine ribbon. As the train from I'aeroa. which brought a number of visitors from the up-country districts, steamed slowly into the station, the ribbon W'-, broken in twain amidst loud cheering, an 1 the train passing down to the terminus of the line, left a clear view of a second line of carriages drawn tip on one of the side lines opposite the station, in which tt'ero assembled a large gathering of school children. Among those on the platform were the Hon. A. J. Cadman (Minister for Railways). Mr. J. McOowan, M.H.R., His Worship the Mayor (Mr. W. Scott), the county chairman (Mr. T. A. Dunlop), and the members and officers of the Thames Borough and Canity Councils. The following gentlemen from Auckland who were present at. the turning of the first sod of the railwav were also present: Hon. W. McOullough, Major Murray, Messrs. W. .T. Speight, F. E. Bamne, W.Blomleld, R. Parrel!, S. C. Macky, John Brown, T. Browne, James Brown, P. C. Chen], 0. Humphreys. YV. Flicker, J. M. Mennie, J. Thompson, W. J. Napier, W. Wilkinson, M. Casey, J. Scott. P. Bropliy, J. McCabe, A. Myers, J. Lcvdnn, H. Murdoch, Weir, Smart, and R. McDonald Scott. The others present, included :Miss I. Scott and Mrs. T. A. Dunlop. Messrs. J. Greenslade, W. 11. Hcrries. M.H.R.. R. S. Bush. S. M. .1 Lynch. Major Swindlev, James Coutts, Captain Farquliiir, J. Macandrew, John Scott, P. Brophv, C. H. Harris, James Mills (Mayor of Te Aroha), Colonel Eraser, R. R. Ralph (Huntlv), Reckett (Northern Roller Mills). Paean. M. A. Philips (Ralph's Taupiri Coal Mines), S. Sorensen, T. T. Wynne. J. Coutts (Inspector of Mines), J. J. Holland, M.H.R., Biss (District Railway Engineer), and others. Mr. Grant (District Manager of Railways), Mr. Vickerinan (Public Works Department), and Mr. Stewart (Assistant-Engineer), travelled on the train from Pacroa, CONGRATULATIONS. After the train had drawn up opposite the platform, the Mayor of Thames, accompanied by Mr. Cadman'and Mr. McGowa*.stepped into one of the carriages, and addressed the gathering at the station. The Mayor, read the following telegrams of congratulation : — " Heartv congratulations from Kopu on the opening of the railway.— R. P. Gibbons, E. F. 'lizard." From Mr. R. French, a former resident of the Thames:-" Allow me to join in congratulations." From the Mayor of Auckland:— " Regret una hie to be present. On behalf of citizens of Auckland, accept hearty congratulations for prosperity of both districts. From Mr. A. Bach, Mayor of Combridge : —"Regret unable to be present. Accept congratulations and best wishes for future welfare of railway and district." From the Minister for Justice (the Hon. T. Thompson) Hoping you will have a fine day, and successful opening of the rail'll MR. CADMAN DECLARES THE RAILWAY, OPEN. Mr. Cadman, in declaring the railway open, said it was a true saying that all things come to him who waits. The Thames people had waited very patiently fox -JO years for their railway, and it had come at last (Applause.) Necessarily railways were slowly constructed in New Zealand, but in this case they must have broken the record, because for 20 years they had made about a mile and a-half of railway a year. He little thought, when as chairman of the Coromandel County Council, he was invited to the turning o the first sod o,f .the railway, that it would fall to ,''' lot as one of the members for the district, and as a Minister of the Crown, to totally declare the line open for traffic. On such an occasion he thought they should not forcct to place on record their appreciation of the efforts made by Sir Geo. Grey, and Mr Wm. Rowe, in urging the construction oi the line. He was certain that it would have <nven those two men great pleasure to he present and oxpress themselves on such an occasion as the opening of the .ThamesTe Arohs. railway. (Applause.) He could not do better in declaring the railway open tlnn quote one or two sentences from the remarks made by Sir Geo. Grey at the turnins of the first sod. Sir Geo. Grey on that occasion said, "I trust that the work in which we have this day been engaged, may produce all the prosperity and blessing on C place which I believe it is capable of achieving. I hope those who have aided me this da* may live long enough to see ,lr= aood and prosperous town connected with every part of New Zealand by railway.'
Later on Sir Geo. Grey said, " I trust that the railway that has now been inaugurated, may prove J, blessing and convenience to the inhabitants of the Thames, and be the means of turning a large amount of commerce from the interior of the country to what I believe will be one of the greatest ports in New Zealand." There were others who took an important part in the agitation for the railway who must not be forgotten at the opening ceremony. Many who took a leading part in that agitation bad passed away. Others had the pleasure of being present- at the opening ceremony. Among those who had passed away were Hone Nalie, Mr. McMinn, Mr. Alex'. Brodie, Mr. Robt. Graham. Dr. Kilgour, Mr. W. H. Taipara, and Mr. W. Davis. Then it was only right that a mede of praise should be given to one or two other representatives who kept up the agitation later, including Colonel Eraser, who for some time represented Thames, and Mr. McGowan. When he (Mr. Cadman) came to the district the Thames was attached to Coromandel as an electorate. At that time he found two things agitating the public mind, viz., the construction of the railway, and the prospecting of the deep levels, and he now had the satisfaction of seeing both these works almost completed. Had the railway been vigorously proceeded with, when it was first commenced there would no doubt have been a large population in the Thames Valley to-day. Now that they had the railway opened they must not ignore the fact that they had Wailii on the one hand, and the Waikato on the other, whose interests in the line were in a great measure identical with the interests of the Thames, and lie hoped they would find th.it borne out in the future. (Applause.) Unfortunately politics had affected the ThamesArolia line very materially. Tho line lifid had many vicissitudes. He would just give the figures show•in« the money spent on the line by the different Governments. The line was com menced by a Liberal Government in 1878, and had been finished by a Liberal Government in 1898. The Grey Government, which commenced the construction, spent £6420 on the line, and let contracts to the extent of another £11.000. The Hal! Government, which followed, had to pay these contracts, and their expenditure amounted to £23.600. The Whitaker Government spent £3581; the Atkinson Government, £5044; tho Stout - Yogel Government, £16,129; the Atkinson Government, £8556; and the Ballance-Seddon Governments, up to the present date, £96,065. Altogether £159,340 had been expended on the line, and as a little more money would be required to complete it, it might he said that, roughly speaking, the Seddnn-Ballance Governments had spent £100.000. A certain amount of interest had been evidenced at Thames in respect to an extension of the line to Tararu, but he considered it far more important for the town, far more important for the whole district, and far move important. foi the colony, that they should unite and endeavour to have connection with Wailii and Waitekauri., So far, Thames had got along without a railway, and if the line did not pneeed any further for some years Thames would not be rubbed out, but much depended on a connection with Wailii and Waitekauri. If coal had to be carted to Waihi, it. would only bo a- question of time till the gold mines, working on low-grade ore, with expensive fuel, would have to close down. That subject would have to bq dealt with by the representatives of tho district in the next Parliament, because, so far as the present Parliament was concerned, there was little chance of anything further being done in the way of railway construction. He trusted that the new railway Mould bo both the blessing and the convenience that had been predicted for it, and that those who had aided in the work might live long to enjoy a fair share of its benefits. He had pleasure in formally declaring the line open for traffic.
REMARKS BY THE MAYOR. _ The Mayor of Thames expressed satisfaction at seeing so many people present at the oprning of the railway. They were confident that in the future Thames would become a mercantile town as well as a mining town. They had greater natural advantages than any place in the colony. Thev had water power and electrical power, and from their agricultural districts they could bring wheat to Thames, and grind it cheaper than it could be ground in anv other part of the colony. The next step he hoped the Government would take in connection with railways would be a Taranaki-Waikato line. Then nearly the whole of the North Island would be connected by rail. Thames was some 75 miles nearer to Taranaki than Auckland. The railway would be a short one, and he hoped it would soon be completed. (Applause.) Their thanks were due to Mr. Cadman and (lie present Government, for no Government had done so much for Thames as the Seddon Government. As for the pumping plant, he noticed that the name of Mr. Dunlop was often left out in connection with that matter. Mr. Dunlop worked hard in connection with the matter, and lie got- the Government to contribute £25,000. It. was the duty of all Thames residents to accord their thanks to Mr. Dunlop for his efforts.
Three cheers were then given for Mr. Dunlop, who returned thanks.
SPEECH BY MR. McGOWAN.
Mr. McGowan, M.H.R, for Thames, said lie was present at the turning of the first sod the railway, and he was exceedingly glad that the present Government had carried tlio line to completion. At the same time, he maintained that the Government should have had the railway finished three or four years ago. (Applause.) If they had they would have had something to show on their balance-sheets of the returns of the ThamesTe Aroha railway. But when a member approached the Government in order to get the interests of his district furthered, lie was met with the reply that there were so many other railways in the same position that it was impossible to give money to one without giving to the others. However, they had now got their railway opened, and they need not look back 011 the past. He might just read a word or two of what Mr. Cadman said at the turning of the first sod of the railway. At that time Mr. Cadman came to Thames as chairman of Coromaiulel County, and expressed the liopo that he would soon see the line extended to Coromandel direct from Thames. Later on he said he hoped it would not be many years before the Coromandel people would be able to invite the Thames people to assist in a similar work at the end of the peninsula. That was 20 years ago, and they had not got to the end of the peninsula yet; and even when they asked that the railway be taken a irile or so along to Tararu, something stopped the way. He (Mr. McGowan) held that the Government must do one of two tilings for tho district between Thames and Coromandel if they were to be true to their own interests, to the interests of the district, and to the interests of the colony. They must either make a road so that a coach could be run, or take the railway on to Coromaniel. Ho was prepared to give them their choice, but they must do one or the other. They had recently heard of a loan in connection with the formation of railways. Wei", if there was to be a loan, he would not support the loan unless the Coromandel people were to have a share of it. The Government could understand that he would not vote for the loan unless his district had a share of it. In the olden days the fertility of a district gave the measure of the population of that district; but since the introduction of machinery and manufactures, they found large communities existing sometimes where there were no large tracts of land. That was the position of the Thames distiict. They had the gold mining industry, which, in his opinion, was the foremost industrv in the world. What would the Australian colonies have been but for the gold mill ng industry? and what would New Zealand nave been but for the gold mining industry? In addition to that industry, they lad between the Thames and the Waikato, not large tracts of land, but a considerable area of the finest land in New Zealand.' He was prepared to back the land between Thame* and Paeroa against any land in the colo-y. The only trouble was that it was in small areas. He wanted to see that laritjetfled, as portions of it had already been settled bysmall dairy farmers. He knew men who went on the land there without a shil'ing, and who were now absolutely inilependiat. He congratulated the people of Thames on the opening of the line, but at/'-he sa.ue time he wanted Mr. Cadman to know ihat they would keep him to his suggestion with reference to the connection with Coroma u!el either by road or rail. Another thing the district wanted was the continuation of the main roads. Instead of having to go round the coast they should be able to come rylit out at Mercury Bay, The local bodies could not carry out such a work, because the land was unsettled, and' they did not get the rates. In these circumstances the work could be tackled only by the Government,
With reference to the railway, lii-i contention was that the line should go right through to Wailii, and continue on to the East Cort, connecting with Tauranga, and afterwards with Napier and Gisborne. The Auckland line was the main line for the West Coat, and their line should be the main line for the East Coast. (Applause.) CONCLUSION. The children then sang " Our Own N iw Zealand Home," led by the compcsjj, Mr. John Grigg, and the ceremony closed with the singing of " God Save the Que.-n." A train of 14 carriages, heavily laden with children, then left for Puriri, and on their return the children were treated to refreshments, provided by the local committee. The ceremony broke up with hearty ch-ers for all who had taken part in the proceedings. THE BANQUET. MR. CADMAN'S RETIREMENT FROMPOLITICS. A complimentary banquet was tendered in the evening to the Hon, Mr. Cadman and Mr. McGowan, in recognition of the success of their labours in having the railway completed. An excellent repast was served in the Academy of Music by Mr. Woodward, of the Pacific Hotel. Over 100 gentlemen attended. Mr. W. Scott (Mayor of the Thames), presided, and Mr. T. A. Dunlop was vice chairman. The chairman read the following telegram received from the Hon. Mr. Seddon : " Accept my hearty congratulations on the steel band connecting the Thames with Auckland and Waikato. A quarter of a century's wait would have more than exhausted the patience of ot-hei than a mining community, but faith and hope are characteristic of those on the .goldfields, and in this case have brought their reward. Wish you a pleasant and good time. Sorry lam not with you." The Chairman gave the toasts of "The Queen " and of " The Prince and the Princess of Wales," and the health of the Governor was proposed by Mr. Dunlop. "The Army, Navy, and Reserve Forces" was proposed by Mr. Robert Farrell, who urged that the Government should be liberal in their treatment of the volunteers. Major Murray and Captain Baume responded. The Chairman proposed the toast of the evening "The Guests." Mr. Cadman, in responding, said he would be brief, because he believed the people of the colony looked on a yard of road as better than a mile of speech. During his political career he had never cared about attacking opponents, and having now run his last political race, he felt that he was no worse for having adopted such a course. After a long connection with political life, ono felt strongly that in severing his connection with politics he could not do so without a certain amount of pain. He might mention, and it seemed curious for one who was just retiring from politics, that lie bad received invitations to contest three districts outside the district lie represented. In opening the railway and the Big Pump, as ho had done that day, he felt that he had virtually fulfilled any pledges he might have made to the Thames people when he represented them in Parliament, but there were three things he would still like to see accomplished in so far as the Thames goldfields were concerned. One of these things was the railway connection with Wailii, and? another was the further development of the Hot Springs of Te Aroha. During the last year or two the Government had been able to spend a considerable sum of money oni the development of these springs, but he held that they had only spent a tithe of what they ought to spend in developing these pioperties, which were national, and not local. The third matter he was particularly interested in was the question of land for the people of the district, and in that respect ho wished to tell them what had been going on in respect of land quite close to Thames. That took him back to the time Mr. Ballance was alive, about 1891. Ml'. Ballance and lie (Mr. Cadman) had many conversations on this Subject, and they came to the conclusion that the Government should try to obtain the large property known as the Piako Swamp. Accordingly. they had bought up that land, but much of it had to go -through the Land Court, and the Government had met with'much opposition. The schema M". Ballance and he had mapped out was not to do the thing piece-meal, but to clear a vast area, and have it laid out properly by competent engineers, so that they might see what was required in the way of drainago, and have large drains cut in a way" that would be of great benefit to the land. They estimated that about a-quarter of a, million acres would cost about a-quarter of a million pounds sterling, and their idea was to load the land with £1 an acre, and endeavour to settle the people on the land, and then let them form themselves into drainage boards. They would thus have had the opportunity of keeping the drains open easily, and the whole thing would be managed in a- progressive manner. That was the scheme Mr. Ballance and he mapped out, but they all knew that the power of dealing with native lands passed out of his hands. Ho did not say the purchase of these lands then dropped, but probably the Minister who succeeded him in (he Native Lands Department may not- have had the same interest in the district as he had. In dealing with this matter it- was necessary that the Crown should have possession of the whole area of the country, but when the Thames people complained of the slowness of the process of settlement they should remember the difficulties, and remember that the process had been going on quietly for years. Mr. McGowan. M.H.R.. the Hon. W. McCiillough, Mr. Hemes, M.H.R., Mr. J. J. Holland, M.H.R., and others also spoke. Nearly all the speakers expressed regret at Mr. Cadtnan's announcement that lie intended to retire from politics, Oilier toasts were also proposed and responded to.