TURNING THE FIRST SOD OF THE THAMES RAILWAY.
(from our ow correspondent.) Grahamstown, Dec. 21. The Hinemoa is off Tararu. The Ruby, steamer, has gone to receive the visitors and bring them on shore. The landing will take place at 2 o'clock, when about twenty-five carriages will convey the visitors and local bodies to the place for turning the first sod of the railway between Shortland and Grahamstown. Five hundred children are assembled on a stage near the spot to sing the local anthem " My Own New Zealand Home," and, after the ceremony, the banquet will be held in the Volunteer Hall, which is neatly decorated for the occasion. Later. The Hinemoa»made a capital passage of four hours. Passengers from Auckland— Sir George Grey, Mr. Mitchell, Captain
Wilson (late Harbormaster at the Cape, now enjoying the Cape Government's pension, and travelling in New Zealand with a view of settling, and a very old friend of Sir George Grey), Messrs. Peacock (Mayor of Auckland), Phillips (Town Clerk), Melton (Mayor of Parnell), Waddell and Fleming. On arrival off Tararu, a paddle steamer came off with Messrs. M'Cullough (Mayor), Brodie (County Chairman), Davis (Chairman of the Harbor Board). On arrival at the Government goods wharves, Sir George Grey and party were enthusiastically welcomed by a large concourse of residents, amongst whom were Messrs. Eowe, M.H.R., B. Graham, Speight, Weeble, Spencer, Bagnall, J. Brown (Ohinemuri), F. C. Dean, and Town Clerk. Sir George Grey, on landing, was warmly cheered, and the procession moved up the wharf headed by the Thames Scottish Volunteers, the band playing military airs in excellent time. The wharf and flagstaffs of the principal business places and dwelling houses were gaily decorated with bunting, and the Artillery fired a salute in good time. On arrival at Mary-street, Dr. Kilgour presented an address, to which Sir George Grey replied as follows : —" Dr. Kilgour, and gentlemen,—l will only say that it is with great delight I find the inhabitants of the Thames here to witness the opening of this railway, and it is with great satisfaction and pleasure that I render you my assistance in giving it a start." About 2000 persons assembled at the reception ground. Sir | George then turned the sod in the orthodox manner, the band playing a spirited air. Addressing the assemblage, he said—" I trust that the railway which is now inaugurated may prove a blessing and convenience to the inhabitants of the Thames, and may be the means of turning a large commerce from the interior of the country to what I believe will be one of the great ports of New Zealand. I thank you all for having allowed me an opportunity of assisting at the commencement of so great and noble an undertaking. Mr. Peacock (Mayor or Auckland), Mr. Melton (Mayor of Parnell), and Mr. M'Minn, M.H.R., also spoke congratulating the district on the event. The school children sang a spirited song, "My own New Zealand home," after which Sir George expressed his thanks to them. A photograph was taken of the group, and after a short drive, an adjournment was made to the banquet.