Old Time Echoes.
REMINISCENCES LAND LEGISLATION.
(By Andrew Kinross)
For many years Invercargill wa very depressed, and landed property low in value. The rents of tworoomed houses for .which I got 16s .weekly when first built fell to 2s weekly, and sometimes tenants left without paying any rent. Four houses and land which cost me about £7OO I sold for £2OO, less commit ion, in 1873. Many have profited greatly from unearned increment, but 1 have always sold my landed property for less than it cost me, so that now I am worth less money than I was when I came to Southland 43 greors ago.
During the 1874 session of the Provincial Council of Otago 14 blocks of land, containing 17,725 acres, in Southland were set apart for settlement on deferred payments. During the 1875 session five blocks of land containing 30,000 acres in Southland were set apart for settlement on deferred payments, being the maximum area for one year allowed by the Act. On the 19th June, 1875, the Provincial Council of Otago met for the last time, although the members were not then aware of that fact. When Provincial Councils and Provincial Governments were first created they were ruled by Conservatives, as few farmers or other working men could become members. Just as they were becoming Liberal and Democratic, the Conservatives, with the aid of Sir Julius Vogel, by systematic bribery, succeeded in abolishing the Provinces, although abolition was strongly opposed by Sir George Grey, Sir Maurice O'Rourke and other Liberals.
With the abolition of the Provincial Council of Otago my career as a legislator came to an end. However, the system of deferred payments, which I was instrumental in introducing, has been more successful in Southland, than in any other land district in New Zealand, the amount paid by the selectors to the general Government being £245,772 19s 4d, the total number being 1321. Although I never succeeded in becoming a member of the House of Representatives. I am still of opinion that I have done more to promote settlement. in Southland than any other person. As a candidate I have been unfortunate. For the Provincial Council trict of Southland retained the protwico ; for the Provincial Council of Otago I lost once and won once ; for the House of Representatives, for Mat aura District, I lost twice ; and lor Awarua District I lost twice. The first Colonial Hand Act was passed in 1877, the Hon. Mr Donald Reid being Minister of Lands. This Act provided that rural land for cash or deferred payment should go to auction when more than one application was received on the same day ; the price of deferred payment land to be one half more than for cash. In Appendix Iv the Hand District of Southland retained the pro: visions previously existing. In 1884, in an Amendment Act, Hon. Mr Rolleston introduced the perpetual lease system. In 1865 the Hon. Mr Ballancc’s Actj was passed. In this Act, the price of deferred payment land was reduced to one-fourth more than cash land. The system of tender was substituted for auction. In Appendix II provise ions existing in Southland were retained. The Act created farm settlements. village homesteads, etc. In 1887 the Hon. Mr Richardson’s 'Amendment Act was passed. It provided that applicants should have the option ,of taking an allotment lot cash, or deferred payment, or on perpetual lease. The auction and tender systems for rural lands were abolished, and the ballot substituted. The price of second-class land was reduced to 10s an acre. The boundaries of the Southland Land District were extended across the east bank of the Mataura River and across the .west bank of Waiau River.
In 1899 a Re-valuation Act was passed. It provided that persons who had acquired deferred payment on perpetual lea.se lands, by public auction, or public tender, might a P~ ply to land boards to have their allotments re-valued.
The late Mr Mussen, Crown lands ranger, and I were appointed to revalue in Southland. We re-valued 375 deferred payment and 84 perpetual lease allotments. All our revaluations were agreed to by Hon. Mr Richardson, Minister of Lands. In 1892, the Hon. Mr McKenzie’s (afterwards Sir John) Act was pass-
ed. By it the deferred payment and perpetual lease systems were abolished. Applicants had the option of purchasing for cash, of selecting on occupation with right of purchase, or : on lease in perpetuity. Clause 148 provides : —“No Crown grant shall issue to any purchaser of cash land under this part of this Act, until the Board shall be satisfied that such purchaser has, at any time, within seven years from the data of his purchase, expended in substantial improvements of a permanent character on the land, a sum equivalent to twenty shillings per acre on first class lands and ten shillings per acre on second-class lands.’’ Thus Hon. Mr McKenzie, in 1892, carried a part of the provisions that I fought for in 1884. I have always been in advance of the times, and I think I always shall be. By the Act of 1892 the' minimum price of second-class land was reduced to ss.
In 1903, Hon. Mr Duncan passed “The Bush and Swamp Crown Lands Settlement Act, 1903,’’ which provides- that for a certain term, selectors shall be free from payments of rents and rates. I have referred only to the main provisions of Crown Lands Acts and their Amendments. I make to reference to Land for Settlement Acts and Amendments, as I consider tenants under these Acts are different to tenants who reclaim Crown lands from their natural istate. (To be Continued).
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Old Time Echoes., Southern Cross, Volume 14, Issue 48, 26 January 1907
Old Time Echoes. Southern Cross, Volume 14, Issue 48, 26 January 1907
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