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Marlborough Land District.

The following extracts are taken from the Report of the Department of Lands and Survey for 1903, and refer to the Marlborough District The transactions during the year were 56, and dealt with an area of 221,217 acres; the area under lease on 31st March, 1903, was 1,237,404 acres; and the revenue during the year amounted 10/20,594 5s gd. Land for Future Settlement.—There is not much land now remaining for future settlement in this district. The principal areas to be opened during the ensuing year are two pastoral runs (114,424 acres) on the Birch Hill Block, one small grazing-run of 16,020 acres in Patriarch district, the Kaiuma Block of 2,392 acres, 2,466 acres near Waikakabo, 985 acres near Cullensville, and one small grazing-run of 3,385 acres on the North Bank Estate. Mr Buckhurst, Crown Lands Ranger, reports as follows: Blind River Settlement.—Area, 5,507 acres; opened for selection in 1895. This estate is distributed amongst nineteen tenants, with holdings varying from 100 to 935 acres, all of whom have complied with the improvement conditions, the estimated value of the work effected being /5.771. The number of dwellinghouses has been reduced by two, through the grouping of some of the sections last year, There are sixty-nine souls residing in the seventeen houses, The stock on the estate consists of 6,500 sheep, 50 head of cattle, 33 horses, and a few pigs. Last lambing season gave only - moderate results, the cold snaps of south-east weather was severe on the young iambs; still 75 per cent, termed a bad average. Cropping was not done to any large extent: 186 acres were in grain, and 150 acres in roots, including onions—for which the land is especially adapted. Lucerne was successfully grown on 4° acres, and will become more general in future. The dams made for the conservation of water proved of considerable value during the dry season, and more are being constructed. This settlement feels the benefit of the Pictori-—Seddon Railway: fat sheep and lambs can be sent to Picton and arrive in prime condition the same day. The settlers continue to pay most attention to the raising and fattening of sheep, cropping being only a secondary consideration. This estate—the success of which for some time was doubtful—may now be considered to have crossed the border-line, and has a prospect of being declared and classed as a successful venture. Omaka Settlement.—Area, 3,898 acres; opened for selection in 1896. There are thirteen tenants on this estate, holding areas varying from 157 to 640 acres. The value of improvements effected by the occupiers is estimated at £4.792. Four lessees ware defaulters, having failed to come up to the required amount for the sixth year of occupation ; but these will probably comply during the current year. All are fulfilling the residential conditions, The crops this year were light, but good market prices for what was harvested compensated a little. Wheat was grown on 276 acres (an average result of 13 bushels per acre), oats on 263 acres, barley on 129 acres, rye on 27 acres, and roots on 131 acres; carrots and onions were grown in small quantities of good quality. The stock consists of 3,100 sheep, 30 head of cattle, 37 horses, and a few pigs. The lambing resulted in about 90 per cent. With one exception all the settlers appear to be doing moderately well. The population now consists of forty-seven souls, living in twelve dwellinghouses. There is a school, which is well attended; good roads to every section, also to the market-town, where every product grown finds ready sale. Richmond Brook Settlement, consisting of 51669 acres, was opened for selection in 1899. It is occupied by eleven selectors, nine of whom reside, who, with thair families, make up a population of twentyeight souls. The improvements effected at the time of inspection were valued at /4,036. being /a,626 in excess of the amount demanded by law. Nine dwellinghouses have been erected of a substantial character; also stables, sheds, and the usual buildings which are necessary to make up a homestead in working-order. The stock owned by the tenants consists of 6,000 sheep, 40 horses, and 30 head of cattle'. Grain was successfully grown on 140 acres, and roots on 150 acres, and 300 acres were laid down in grass. The satisfactory average of 90 per cent, of lambs was obtained, most of which found their way to the Picton Freezing-works. This settlement also feels the benefit of the railway to Seddon, and the stock can be sent away in one day in lieu of four in the past. The roads are all in good order, and, providing present prices are maintained, the settlers snould be soon in a healthy prosperous condition. Starborough Settlement, opened for selection in 1899, comprises fifty-seven holdings, of an aggregate area of 34,770 acres, and the Township of Seddon. The past year has been, in spite of unseasonable weather experienced in the spring and early summer, a fairly prosperous one for the farmers. The primitive dwellings on the estate have given place to houses of a permament and imposing character, and the homesteads are assuming a cosy and prosperous appearance, with the embellishment of pretty gardens and plantations, giving the settlement the look of maturity. The estimated value of improvements effected, including the Township of Seddon, is £27,7x0 —far beyond the requirements of the Act. There is not one defaulter in this respect, and only two for residential conditions. The settlers' stock consists of 36,000 sheep, 226 head of cattle, 200 horses, and about 100 pigs. From this and the neighbouring estates. Blind River and Richmond Brook, 26,000 fat sheep and lambs have been Sent away, nearly all to Picton. There was not a large area in crop: 270 acres were in wheat, which would average a little over 20 bushels per acre; 759 acres in barley, which will return about 25 bushels per acre—this crop was light, but mostly a good bright sample which will find its way to the malt-houses north and south; 790 acres were in oats, grown chiefly for chaff; and 1,671 acres in roots—rape, mangolds, turnips, and potatoes; a tew onions were grown, and also carrots for home consumption. One settler showed me his returns for wool, it averaged BJd per pound in London; the rest will be quite as good in quality, and should come near a similar return. The population on the estate is now 253 souls, occupying sixty-four dwellings. The opening of the railway has given quite a bustling appearance to the township, as the trains have been taxed to their utmost carrying away stock, grain, chaff, and flax. The local sheep rales are well attended, and really good prices—equal to those obtained in larger centres—are given by buyers, who come from considerable distances to attend. The flocks have very much improved in quality and value. During the earlier days the settlers, for financial reasons, stocked up with old sheep, and now the breeding-stock will compare favourably with any of the much older sheep districts, both in the class of wool produced and the quality of mutton, which one of the largest buyers informed me was excellent. The present position of the settlement may be gauged by the fact that in every transaction involving a transfer a respectable sum of money by way of premium is paid by the incoming lessee. Waipapa Settlement. Opened for• selection ta 190 a. Purchased to secure

homestead-sites and low country to work the extensive area of high land belonging to the Crown at the feck; and now divided into five small grazing-runs, all of which are occupied. Two were taken up in 1901. one in 1902, and the remaining two this year. No new dwellings have been built, tenants renovating and making use of the old buildings erected by previous owners. Improvements to the value of £854 were required to comply with conditions on three of the runs; the value of the work effected is estimated at /i,687. One was a defaulter for a very small amount, who will comply in a month or two. Eighteen souls are residing. On the river flats very fine crops of turnips and oats were grown on land which two years ago grew nothing but rushes. Approximately 7,000 sheep are grazing on this estate, and a few cattle and horses. I regret to say that the rabbits were numerous. Puhipuhi Settlement,—Open for selection in 1897; consists of 320 acres in two separate sections. Secured to complete two larger holdings of ordinary Crown lands. Improvements to the value of £2lO have been effected thereon, and the occupiers in each case are in a fair way to make a success of their holdings. North Bank Settlement.—This estate was only opened for selection on the Ist March, 1903. It comprises 12.813 acres, divided into four holdings under lease in perpetuity, two small grazing-runs (one only occupied), and two temporary: grazing licenses. Selectors have not yet bad lime to effect improvements. Any report now would probably mislead. Lease in Perpetuity and Occupation with Right of Purchase —There are 254 holdings. In the northern portion, including the Sounds, and in South Marlborough the Crown tenants under these tenures are progressing every year. In the Sounds the introduction of oil-launches and the advent of telephone communication have improved the state of living and afford a considerable deal of comfort not before enjoyed, whilst in the south portion road facilities have gradually clinched the settlers to their land. Comfortable homesteads now are found where iiot long since one would have been considered a dreamer if he bad foretold ot their presence in a few years. There have been a considerable number of transfers, but I think in each case the Crown has secured quite as good if not a better tenant. In moving about amongst the settlers I could not but notice an air. of contentment and a desire on the part of the lessees to make the most of their sections, clearing and fencing as far as their present means would allow. I regret to say that these remarks do not apply to the north bank of the Wairau, most of these tenants were away (their families on the sections), working as carters, shepherds, etc., and progress there is not so apparent. The estimated value of improvements effected during the past year is £9.395. nearly all having complied with the improvement conditions. . There have not been any forfeitures or surrenders from this class of selectors this year (1902-03) The settlers depend mainly on sheep-rearing and wool, with a little dairying and cropping.

Timber Industry.—There are twelve sawmills in operation in the land district, employing on an average 150 men, and cutting approximately 600,000 superficial feet of timber per month, a considerable portion of which is exported from Marlborough to Nelson and North Canterbury. The timber which is chiefly used consists of rimu, matai, kahikatea, totara, and black, red, and brown birch for railway-sleepers. I am glad to be able to report that forest fires have not been prevalent this summer. Mr J. Rutland, Crown Lands Ranger, reports on the eleven sawmills in his portion of the district as follows

Including the County of Sounds, there are at present eleven sawmills in this portion of the land district, eight of which are at work, two closed, and one just completed but not yet started. In 1900 Messrs Harvey Bros.' sawmill. Clova Bay, was the only mill at work within the County of Sounds. This mill is closed, preparatory to its removal to a new site. Three of the eight-mills at work are in the Sounds. Mr Tugoald Bratli's mill, Crail Bay, is chiefly employed catting railway sleepers. The total number of sleepers produced last year was 9,106, of which 7,056 were taken by the Government, the remainder being sold as posts. In addition to these, Mr Bratli turned out 20,200 feet of mixed timber—rimu. white-pine, and birch.. The mill employs nine men. including the proprietor. Mr C. Putman's mill, Resolution Inlet, only started within the last twelve months, was also employed cutting railway sleepers. The averageoutput when I visited Resolution Bay in February last was 150 sleepers per week. The mill employs five men, including the proprietor. Messrs Pugh Bros.' mill. Nydia Bay, cuts mixed timber for Picton market, where the firm has a timber yard. The total output for the year ending the n't March was 160,000 feet. The average number of men employed during the year was six, but the firm has at present nine men working at the mill.

The mill about to be opened, above referred to. is on Messrs Beech Bros.' land, at the bead of Kenepura. This, with Messrs Harvey Bros.' mill, will bring the total number up to five. This revival of the timber industry shows what has beeo lost through the destruction of the timber along the shores of the Sounds.

Mr Cates. Long Valley. Kahuna: Messrs Smart Bros., Wakamarioa; and Messrs Nees and McLean. Kai Valley, are still steadily cutting for the Wairau market. Mr Cates’ mill employs ten hands, including the proprietor, the average output being about 10,000 superficial feet per week. Messrs Smart’s mill employs nine bands, including the proprietors; the total output for the year ending the ist March was 387,933 feet. This timber is taken to Blenheim by a traction engine, which seems to work well, and so far has not been the source of any trouble on the roads. Messrs Nees and McLean's mill employs eight men, and cots on an average 15,000 feet per week. Three waegons are employed taking the timber to Blenheim. During the last twelve months another mill has been started in the Kai Valley by Mr Robertson, timber merchant, of Nelson. The mill employs ten men. and cuts 100.000 feet of timber per month, all of which is taken overland to Nelson.

Messrs Brownlee and Co.'s Urge mill is still mainly catting for the southern market, the bulk of the timber going to Canterbury. The total output of the mill for the twelve months ending the 28th Eebrnary last was 3,142,947 superficial feet. The total number of men employed in the bush, in laying and repairing tramways, and in the mill is fifty-eight Owing to a serious accident to the machinery the mill was stopped for about two months, bringing the year's output proportionately down. Messrs Brownlee and Co. informed me that the average price of timber at present on their wharf is 7s per 100 superficial feet. This is an advance of is on the price in 1900. C. W Adams, Commissioner of Crown Lands.

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Bibliographic details

Marlborough Land District., Pelorus Guardian and Miners' Advocate, Volume 17, Issue 90, 17 November 1903

Word Count

Marlborough Land District. Pelorus Guardian and Miners' Advocate, Volume 17, Issue 90, 17 November 1903

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