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NATIONAL HIGHWAY.

WAIKATO RfVER CLAIMS. IMPROVEMENTS DESIRED, MINISTERIAL INSPECTION. [Br TELEGRAM— CORRESPONDENT.] MERCEtt, Thursday. > The trip to Port Waikato, organised by the Waikato River Navigation League, was commenced to-day in beautiful weather, the Minister for Marine, the Hon. T. M. Wijford, and a party totalling atyout 40, proceeding down the river from Cambridge to Mercer. The second part of the trip to tho Waikato Heads and back to Mercer will be accomplished.to-morrow. Mr. Wilford arrived at Cambridge at 10 a.m., and was 'officially welcomod by the Mayor, Mr. E. J. Wilkinson. The Minister, who was accompanied by Messrs. 11 George Allport, Secretary for Marine, G. [T. Murray, disttict engineer for Public ' J Works, Auckland, J. B. Thompson, Gov- ' ernment drainago engineer, J. A. Young, R. P. Bollard, and T. W. Rhodes, mem- . bers of Parliament, was then convoyod by motor to the old wharf landing, embarking on a launch for the first portion of ' the journey to Hamilton. At the latter town the party was transferred to the steamer Freetrader, on which the members wero joined by Mr. J. W. Ellis, Mayor of Hamilton, Mr. G. Parr, vice-president, and members of the league and representatives of several local bodies interested. In introducing the Minister at the out- • set of the trip, Sir. Young remarked that come people contended that the" Government would not be sympathetic to the league's aspirations to improve the navigation of the Waikato River because oftns railways and the competition which might ensue. He did not. ; think, however, any members of the Government considered the river from any point of view other than that of a great national highway, which should be used for the good of the people of the Dominion. Replying, the Minister said that on the present trip he was not looking into the question of the river traffic from any small point of. view. Ho believed it was a national question, and he proposed to look at it from .that point m view. He indicated that he would say nothing definite : as to his views until to-morrow evening, after completing tho trip. Medium In Development of tho' Country. The main object of the league in taking Mr. Wilford down the river is to prove to him its great potentialities as a medium in the development of a tremendous area of country. The league feels that thfs de- ; velopinent is in tho interest of the entire proving, and that the > districts most closely concerned are being kept back owing to the want of adequate means of access and of transport of heavy goods, ft is a comparatively small expenditure in improving the navigation

| of the river in one or two places would | give temporary and immediate relief, besides assuring to those who are now de- ! pendent upon the river as their principal highway a regularity of sen-ice. The port and harbour of Waikato at the heads is navigable to deep-sea vessels. Within the last two years a vessel of 2000 tons, drawing 16ft of water, brought a shipment of bridge material from _ Australia, and landed it into lighters inside the heads, to which also the Northern Steamship Company runs a regular service from Onehunga. At present operating on the river is a local shipping company, and many private boat owners, and the disabilities of navigation are beginning to bo felt seriously. Sometimos it means a delay of 12 to 24' hours to negotiate one or two small stretches of the river between Huntly and Rangiriri. Large quantities of goods, such as oils, general merchandise, farm implements and produce, flax, coal, timber, cream for butter factories, etc., aro at present brought up and down the river to Mercer for the railway, and goods come by the rivor regularly now from Onehunga, right through to Hamilton and Cambridge, being transhipped at the heads-into river craft. The Freetrader, the steamer on which the party is making the trip from Hamilton 'downwards, and which is capable of carrying | 100 tons, makes regular trips right into the interior. There are dozens of smaller trading vessels doing the tame. Upper Beaches of the River. An excellent idea of the possibilities in connection with the first portion of the 90 miles of river, reaching from Cambridge to the heads, was gained by the Minister to-day. The first 17 miles traversed some of the prettiest river scenery to be found in the Dominion. On an average there was a depth of from 20ft to 20ft of water in the though here' and there it was much shallower and, in places, rocks . jutting out from the banks, showed where improvements are neosssary. At Tamahere, whilst approaching the Narrows, a large deposit of ryolite rock, running out into the stream, was pointed out to the Minister,- who was urged to allow his Department to remove this danger to shipping. On approaching Hamilton the river widened, and though the banks were still high, interesting glimpses of the country beyond could be seen. Here, too, waa obtained a good view of the magnificent steel arch oridgo, with a span of 340 ft— the largest single span in the Dominion, being 40ft longer than the Grafton Bridge. After leaving Hamilton two or threo miles were covered in a beautiful, broad stretch of dejp water, where the banks on either side were thick with willows. Then the scene opened out on to some of the most picturesque agricultural country to be seen in the Waikato, while at Horotiu the large freezing works of the Auckland Farmers' Freezing Company were seen on the left bank, giving an idea of what industrial activity may do for the Waikato in the future with the river in a more navigable condition. Four miles further on the town- of Ngaruawahia was reached. t Dozen Navigable Tributaries. On arriving at Mercer, 36i miles from Ngaruawahia, evidences began to show of the use to which the river is put for traffic purposes, numbers of small craft being observed. The first part of this latter portion of to-day's trip as far as Taupiri was on a fine wide stretch of deep water. Past Taupiri the river began to shoal up, and from Huntly to Rangiriri it ran vory 'hallow. In several places here were obstructions in the shape of submerged forests of kauri, puriri, and totara, tho trees constituting a great danger of navigation. From Rangiriri to Churchill also the river was exceptionally shallow, but from the latter point to Mercer that condition was greatly improved. The Minister was much impressed by his inspection of the river. The members of the league, in addition to pointing out to him places where improvements wero needed, showed him that from Cambridge to the heads upwards of a dozen tributaries flow into the Waikato River, all navigable by small boats, and used for that purpose by the eettlers. For instance, the Waipa is navigable from Ngaruawahia for 65 to 60 miles up to a little south of Pirongia. It was stated that at a comparatively small cost it could be rendered navigable for vessels of light draught to aB far as Otorohanga. . Near Taupiri again, the Mangaware River enters the Waikato, and is navigable for 10 or 12 miles into the interior, much timber being brought down by this stream to the Taupiri mills. The width of the navigable channel in the Waikato varies considerably. In some places there 1 is good water from bank to bank, in others only a narrow space contains deep water. Here and there the silting-up process is continually altering the navigable -ways. The whole question which the league seeks to have solved, therefore, is beset with engineering difficulties, but it is confidently urged that none is insurmountable. The party reached Mercer at 7.30 p.m., and subsequently Mr. Wilford received some deputations. '

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Bibliographic details

NATIONAL HIGHWAY., New Zealand Herald, Volume LV, Issue 16799, 15 March 1918

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1,298

NATIONAL HIGHWAY. New Zealand Herald, Volume LV, Issue 16799, 15 March 1918

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