PUBLIC MEETING ON THE ROAD QUESTION.
A public meeting was held at Mr. Loudon's Accommodation House, in tho MDtueka YaUey, on Saturday evening, the 23rd iostant, for the purpose of taking into consideration the propriety of addressing the Superintendent, to sanction a sum of money being placed upon' the Estimates for the. formation of a good dray ro.td into Motueka Valley from Fox-Hill.
Major Cooke was voted into the chair, and introduced the subject as follows:—Gentlemen, we aro all, I believe, pretty well aware of the object which has brought us together this evening, viz., the urgent requirement of a good and safe dray road into the valley. For this purpose, a petition to the Superintendent should be submitted. Hh Honor, we all know, professes to be " the labouring man's friend," and as we are all farming and «• labouring, men" here, I confidently expect, that we shall not be disappointed in obtaining .such a road as is needed, for we are quite as well entitled to receive the assistance of Government as those portions of the province which are already profiting by good roads. The? round-about way which has to be traversed fromjFox-Hill to reach our homes, with the difficulty of the track, let alone the wear and tear of bullocks and drays, and the danger of the precipitous descent into Norm's Gully, are facts 100 patent to us all to need discussion. 110-se tr« ks wo require not; they are but sops and nothing more. Land in the valley ia purchased, and freeholders are-beginning to settle; houses aro appearing ; nnd, without doubt, when our absentees set up their t-taffs here, we shall form no mean or uniniluental ommunity—tilling our lands, and adding to the revenue. But without the support o/Government, wo are powerless to.heln ourselves to the extent of our need. Our representatives in Council will, I trust, lend us a friendly word in support of our views, and on their best advocacy we may surely rely. It is not only their dutjy, let us hope that it will be their pleasure, for we knowthat "A fellow feeling makes us wondrous kind." We also know that very large sums have been freely expended by Government in other parts of tho province; Hitherto this valley has been quite neglected, passed over, ignored. Our interests should be attended lo as well as others, and it is folly for us to rest content with nothing being done for our welfare out of the general treasuiy which should as generously disburse to small as to large districts ; so let our "sma'l" though not "still voice" ba heard, for our unquestionable right to equal consideration. T will not detain yon longer. Having placed the subject before you. it will, I trust be. freely canvassed. Mr Oliver now addressed the meeting . It is with much satisfaction that 1 observe so many here this evening, at this (he first public meeting ever held in our di-triot, and whicli is the more fnrprining considering the scitfered nature of our population, and in tlie teeth of the-, great rush to the Pelorus gold•ield. which has taken away many of our number. I
■■' • •■■ tsduiessa few words to you on the sutiject whiou has c died us together, for I am fully persuaded that a road into Motueka Valley is of the most vital importance-to tho su.-cess and prosparity of tho district in which we live. Everyone here must find that the difficulties attendant on early settlement in r new district, are aggravated in a tenfold degree from our being isolated from the rest of the province, without a road. Twenty-two years ago, when the fi-st settlers landed on "the Nelson beach, it wouid have been almost as ea-y and as Bafe to have driven a dr iy over those rangesas at present. For what has been done to improve the track we use from a state of. nature ? Why, some forty chains in length of bush culling was made through the Birch Bush, at the outbreak of the Wangapeka diggings, which is all that has been dono by our local Government to open up this largo and important portion of the province. Ido not wish to drag in tho Government, or to go into political questions, further than that I feel we arc lb.- -.'• ,i;.,.-> of misrule and mismanagement. Last year me Provincial Council had a very large surplus at the disposal of its votes, no mean portion of which was contributed hy this district itself; indeed, I myself, paid- £1,400 into tho treasury for the putcluso of laud at Wangapeka. But, showing itse f unfitted to exercise higher or more important functions lhan those co ninonly alloted to a small tengli.-di parish, terrified at the magnitude of the surplus with winch it was called upon to deal, this precious Council of ours, seemingly only intent on getting rid of the money as quickly as possible, was not content witb voting seventeen thousand pounds in a'ittnp, which they 'placed at the discretion of the Government for West Coast roads, and which was afterwards supplemented by'votes of several thousand pounds more for the same oljjct—yet not content with this summary mode of getting 1 id of public money, must needs tack on £B,OUO more for bridges at Waimea we^tand Motueka; and this was done at- the instigation of the Government, for it was those persons administering our local affairs who placed ' those absurd projects on the estimates, with a viewl suppose of raiainjj political capital, and of getting votes at Motueka and Waimea-west. 1 tried hard to divert a little rid into this district, from that groat river of gold which rushed on past us, bank high, io bury itself so suddenly an I so completely in the almost unknow and inhospitable region which is on the other side of the great range < f mountains, the western .boundary of our district. . I,spoke to Messrs. Saunders, and Baigent, and strongly impressed on: them the evil plight in which their constituents have found themselves, in being completely cut off from the rest of the piovince ; in having, virtually, ho road to connect them with the settled districts. But, although we have three members, who I suppose fancy they represent us, not a whisper, was heard in tho Council on our behalf ? No ; our ju.-t claims were passed by with silent contempt. Unless a reform takes place in the principles which dictate the administration of affairs, 1 very much fear wo may be subjected to a repetition of the same neglect. I consider it tho height of injustice that the general funds of the province should be subjected to such charges as the Town Police rate, or the maintenance ani keeping in repair of the Waimea roads. • It is a beggarly system which permits the wealthy and lung-settled di*tricts to monopolise tbe revenue, to the exclusion of the out-settlers battling with the wilderness, struggling to reclaim and cultivate the waste lands of the country. You, iv settling here, arc conferring no small boon on the province at laige; by your industry, by the sweat of your brows, you are opaning up and adding to tbis province a district containing more agricultural land than the whole of tbe Waimeas' and that of a more fertile character. I am sure that 'anyone- who goes about this district, must be supri»ed at the large amount of land fit for settlement and occupation, lying in its piain and lateral valleys. My opinion of our Constitution, as far as local government is concerned, after an experience of more than four ye irs of iis woikiny; in Nelson, is that it has turned out a signal failure. The Provincial Council has degenerated into an arena devoted to an, unseemly scramble over the revenue. The members sei;m to think that they go there, not to legislate for the publio good, not to devise and pass measures for the we faro of the whole country, but to lay hold of the. largest share of the public funds to save the ' ratepayers of their own district; and so perverted is the opinion of the people on this point, that he becomes the in-ist popular who knows how to dip his hand for that ' purpi.se the deepest into th 3 publio purse. The very absence of the voad which has called this meeting together to night, placed ia justa-positioni with tho wild extravagance lavished. Qatfv* W^Qo^i&Qiti
to nivmii.d tv- ' .ol ci iiiiti iiMiv on a set of mnqteiir* playing nt Parliament, and playing at governing. It is a lame excuse, whichis so oft en alleged, that they were driven into West Coast expenditure by public clamour. Why, if a few Nelson merchants and shopkeepers were importunate, can that be called a Government at all which not how lo direct, to guide, to moderate, to restrain ? I cannot grant that the reports of their own surveyors and engineers aro competent to hold before any' Government, a shield impervious to censure. While no man has more respect than myself for tho honesty and integrity of tlio public servants of this Province, yet I do not think that, any man can, in fairness, be expected to report upon the efficiency of work of his own planning and constructing, or which has been planned and constructed by the Government to which ho belongs. If any private individual were to put up a building or a fence, T don't think he would ask tho man who put it up ' to report to him if it were complete 1 according fo contract I think ho would take a very different course. The end is a splendid surplus lost, and the annihilation of the purchase money of an immense estate which has vanished, leaving scarce a trace of its ever having existed, In-yond some bridle and walking tracks far away in the depths of the West Coast wilderness. The other side_ of this gloomy and disheartening picture, affords indeed a cheerful and striking contrast. Suppose that those persons admini-tering our local government had been actuated by a sincere and earnest desire to open tho country, to foster and encourage settlers and settlement ; suppose that £3,000 or £4,000—a tenth of the or £40,000 expended at the West Coast, had been laid out in making a road into this valley; at any rate the nearest lo Nelson of all the out-districts would have been opened up, a large amount of available land would have been brought into the market, and a useful and most necessary public work would have been completed by the local government, reflecting a lasting credit, and affording some good standing ground to repel the storm of indignation justly incurred by reckless improvidence ending in disastrous failure. It is my firm opinion that the addition of this district, containing nearly half-a-million acres, of which at the least fifty thousand acres are fit for agriculture and settlement, to the insignificant portion of the area of the Province of Nelson which isbeneficially occupied, would contribute not meanly to its prosperity, its wealth, aud its resources. The locnl Governments of tho North Island have expended large sums of mone}in buying native lands, and have opened them with roads, with the object of peopling the country and founding new settlements; but here, large tracts of the waste lands—the people's estate—are suffered by tho local government to lie idle and neglected, for want of some nine miles of cart road. The argument of a settled population, added to the fact of the largo amount of available land in this district, would seem to any man of common sense unanswerable, but lest a deaf ear should be turned to those arguments by the persons to whom they must be submitted, I am j^lad to tell you we are not yet come to the end ot our tether: it is a patent fact that the land owners of this, district have paid upwards often thousand pounds into the Treasury in the purchase of their lands; and surely we may with justice claim that a per centago at least should be expended on a road to enable us to gain access to those lands, by the local Government whom these large contributions have sustained. And what has been done for us, in repair of the miserable and almost impassable track, which, though endangering life and property, we ate compelled to use at present ? Some ten pounds was spent many years ago, and I think forty pounds was the amount of .Mr. Gnnkiogei's contract for cutting the treos on each side of tho track through the Birch Bush, at the outbreak of the Wangapeka diggings. Tliere are certainly the two bridle, tracks by Pigeon Valley and Dove Dale; to gratify whose whim or caprice they were formed, I do not know, but I know that I protested against them, and I said they would be of no use to this district, and simply a waste of public money. What is the result? Does anyone use those bridle tracks ? Why I am tod that a fine voting crop of. bush is growing up over tho roadways, which are also fast becoming encumbered with logs and fallen timber; and, indeed, I should suppose that as many travellers would never use those tracks a3 tiny have cost pounds sterling in their construction. 1 now come to the consideration of the three lines of access into ftlotueka Valley, namely the line hy Hay's Gully, the old road by Norris's Gully, nnd the nesv lino by Pretty Bridge. To consider the fir.-t of these by Kay's Gully, would only bo throwing a 'ay the tune of the meeting, for the oircuit made by it so materially increases the distan c, that it can be hardly said to come into compctiton with tlie other two lines, unless they be completely put out, of course, as being impracticable for a good cart road—l mean such a road as would enable a team of 4 bullocks to draw a ton at any time The lino by Pretty Bridge, appears to me the best, as it shortens the distance from Nelson by six miles to all the settlers on the other side of the Motueka river, Biggs's Valley, tho whole of tho Tadmor Valley, and jriltho YVangpeka district, making a difference also of two or three miles in favour of the Motupipi settlers on this side ; but the strongest argument in favour of Pretty bridge, should that line turn out as good and easy for a cart road as I hope, is tho fact, that it is inevitable for the great south road to Wairau, Canterbury, and the West Coast to go by Pretty Bridge, and thence ascend the valley of Motupiko. The track to the Wairau used at present,after leaving Foxhill,opens no country whatever available for settlement, going over and amongst blocko of the poorest and most worthless fern hills. On the contrary, the road by Pretty Bridge would be probably easier and less expensive to make, would open this fine district already partially occupied with settled population, and would traverse strips and blocks ot good agricultural land tit for settlement, along nearly its whole length from Foxhill to the Nine Mile Bush. During tho. last year and more past, I havo had interview after interview with, I have written letter on letter to, the Superintendent ; J have clone all in my power to impress upon his Honour tbe necessity and justice of forming a cart-road mo this valley. At least a bridle road by Pretty Bridge lus been commenced, which, however, will not cost the Government more than £G5, as tho contractors take half-payment in land. It is high time for this district to assert its weight in the political scale, and I earnestly hope that the settlers here will sink minor differences, and go together on great public questions which affect us all alike,if our members persist in continuing unconscious of our existence ; indeed, Mr. Baigent is tho only one of them who takes any interest in our affairs, or who even, perhaps is aware that there is such a place in the world. If our just claims for a road, in return for our large contribution to the land revenue, are systematically ignored, I say plainly tho time has arrived to put forth our strength, and as soon a* opportunity oilers, to use our best endeavours to return for Waimea-south such members as may more duly estimate the duties of representatives of the people. I propose this resolution: —
" That this meeting is of opinion, that tho absence of a cart-road into Motueka Valley from Fox Hill retards the progress of this settlement, seriously imped es the beneficial occupation of the country discourages tho settlers and inflicts great injury on tho' prospects of the whole of this largo and important portion of the province. The meeting therefore resolves, that a memorial he presented to tho Superintendent, in ordortocaUhis attention to this matter and to enforce on his notice that the landowner* and inhabi lants of Motueka Valley, Tadmore, and Wangapeka districts, having contributed largely to the land revenue for many ynars past, now demand from the Local Government the formation of a cartroad to connect them with the settled districts and tne Port of Nelson, and request his Honour to place on the Estimates to be laid before the Council at its approaching session, a sum adequate to that purpose." Mr. Alexander Dkumsiokd seconded tho resolution, which was carded unanimously
Proposed hy Mr. Louden, seconded hy Mr. G. Bioas and carried unanimously— " That tho Chairman he requested to communicate the foregoing resolution to theieprcsontatives of this district in the Provincial Council, in order that they may give tho matter their support and advocacy." ■ Some conversation now took place when Mr. J. Ekyvktt asked, " Wli^t was the distance from Foxlull into the valley l.y the Pretty-Bridge route ?'- To which Mr.Biaos replied," That he had passed several times by it, had chained it, and that the di-tanoe was as near as possible, nine miles, and that, with engineering skill, that distance could he much, shortened." The meeting thou eejparatecU
THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE ON MR. DOMETT'S MILITARY SETTLERS SCHEME. The Gazette of April 23rd, contains tho following despatch, from the Colonial Minister:— Downing-strcet, I 26th November, 1863. Sir, —I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your despatch, (No. 109) of the 29th August, transmitting a memorandum from your responsible advisers, containing the details of a plan which they have formed for the introduction into the Northern Island of a large body of settlers, to whom it is' proposed to assign land on a species of military tenure in tho Waikato, and hereafter probably in the Taranaki districts. You also enclose a copy of your reply, authorizing tho immediate raising of 2,000 men for active service, pending the meeting of the General Assembly, together with copies of the conditions under which they are to be enrolled. I do not disapprove of tho principle of this measure. I think that auy body of natives which takes up arms against her Majesty on such grounds as theso. which are alleged by the Waikatos, may properly be punished by a confiscation of a large part of their common property. I think that the lands thus acquired may properly bo employed iv meeting the expenses of carrying on the war, nor do I see any objection to using them as the sites for military settlements, which, moreover, must soon lose their distinctive character,-since it is probable that the natives of these districts, unlike those in the Cape Colony and Kaffraria, will soon become an unimportant minority of the inhabitants. But while I acquiesce generally in the principles which you have adopted, I must add that the application of these principles is a matter of great danger aud delicacy, for which the Colonial Government must remain responsible. It will be evidently very difficult to control within wise and just limits that eagerness for the acquisition of land whicli the announcement of an extended confiscation is likely to stimulate among old and new settlers, and which, if uncontrolled, may lead to great injustice and oppression. Still more evidently is it possible thnt the natives who still remain friendly to the Government may view this measure, not as a punishment for rebellion and murder, but as a new and flagrant 2>roof of the determination of the colonists'to possess themselves of land at all risks to themselves and at any cost, and as thus furnishing the true explanation of the past and present policy of the Government. Such belief would obviously tend to make the Maoris desperate, and aid the efforts of the King party to effect a general rising throughout the Northern Island. Your Ministiy do not notice this danger in their memorandum, but they cannot have been blind to it, and I do not doubt (though you do not so iuform me) that they feel their power to control the application of the principle which they have introduced, and have taken sufficient means to persuade the Maoris in general that the property of innocent persons and tribes will be strictly respected, and that a different measure of severity will be administered to those who have taken a lead in the war and those who, though in somo degree accessories to what has passed, have, as far as circumstances would allow, favored the cause of order. Whether due caution has been used in these respects is a question of which the Home Government can only judge by the result. Ancl I must not disguise from you that if this important determination of your Government should have the effect of extending, and intensifying tho spirit of disaffection, and of? thus enlarging the sphere or prolonging the period of military operations, these consequences will be viewed by her Majesty's Government with the gravest concern and reprehension.—l have, Sec, Newcastle. Governor Sir George Grey, X.C.8., Sec
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