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To the Editor of the Colonist., The Colonist, Volume XXVIII, Issue 4529, 9 September 1886
To the Editor of the Colonist.
Sir,—Being away from Nelsen at the time the argument was going on in your papers in reLrence to the Rainbow Accommodation House, I was very much surprised to see that my name was dragged into the matter without my permission.
Now, Sir, I am quite sensible that it is not my place to report upen the outlying accommodation, houses, but when my name is made use of without my authority, it behoves me to take up my pen, and I feel fully justified in giving a full and true account of my experience in the neighborhood of the Rainbow and Tarndale, which has extended over six years.
I bad a contract in April, 1881, in the Wairaa Gorge, but at that time no one was keeping the Rainbow Accommodation House for travellers. In 18821 had another contract, and still no one was keeping the said house. At the end of that year Mr George Wright took the house under some kind of starvation conditions, and he kept it until July, 1885. During Mr Wright's time I had two small contracts in the Wairau Gorge, so I had the opportuaity of forming a good idea how the Accommodation House was eondueted, and is my opinion it was net worthy tke name of a place of accommodation. In Deoember, 1885,1 had occasion to again visit the house in question, but found it was once more empty, and there was no accommodatien at all for travellers.
In March, 1886,1 again visited the locality, when I found a man named Fitzpatrick keeping the Rainbow House, and according to the landlord's own account he had taken it under some kind of peculiar conditions.
Let me now desoribe the house and its accommodation. The bouse is a low, one storey building, built of day. It contains several rooms, but partly owing to a low thatch verandah running along the front of the house, the room travellers generally use as a sitting room is in winter as dark and dismal a one as the human eye has erer beheld. In fact, in winter it has taken me on some days some time to recoguise objects in the room, owing to the prevailing darkaess. The roof of the houie is in such a condition that it rama in, and tba place is very damp and sot fit for use. In 1881 tha house wanted retbatching, but en April 15 th this year that rcueh needed work had not been done, and the building looked as if it was mouldering back to 4ust. All around the north and east end of the house iti s oompletely undermined with rat holes, but lately a few skirting boards have been put on which hide these unsightly hole 3 from view. I have heard the rafters of the house mako a aracking aoi*e when snow hae been lying on the roof, and I should noS be surprised to hear of it's coming down some winter's day and smothering its oaeupants. On May 21st, a letter appeared in your paper accusing Mr John Kerr of making slanderous statements respecting the Rainbow Accommodation House, Mr Kerr may haro got a little mixed up between the two places, Tarnctale and Rainbow, but it is tha opinion, I am sure, of those who kusw thß districtjthat Mr Kerr degerved^reat credit for what he has said. In ray opinion, which is by no means a single one, the charges at Tarndale aro outside of all reason. Mr Korr has nothing to apoligise for what he stated. « I The same letter says that J. Brough and party expressed themselves satisfied with both aecommodatiou and food. How any man could mako such a statement as this without our permission or signatures thereto, is h mystery to me. Now for the truth. On our way up to the Wairau Gorge in March last, «ye halted at the Rainbow House, but I was the only one of the party wh» stayed* in the house far the night. The rest of my party spread out their blankets and slept with the dogs and calves, also finding their own,food. On our way down frsia the Wairau Gorge in April last, we again, halted for the night at the Rainbow House. I again stayed in the house, but my patty once more preferred", to sleep in the eutshed among the dogs and calves; and they found their own fool, so that if they were well satisfied it was with their ewn food, and not with anything they had at the Raiabow House. I can safely say with truth that the only remark I made was that the bedroom was much cleaner and in better order than when I was last ia it. I think I had ample room for saying this, for.in-Decembey.lßßs, I could get no accommodation, and had to put up with no supper and no breakfast. On that-occa-sion, ;it being. col 3 and windy, I crept into the room known as the travellers bedroom, and having no blankets I passed the night among soma clamp tussock grass. The place was inf sted with ruts and vermin, and the smell- was abominable. It has been my lot to see men iv seme awful plights during my time in the Wairau Gorge, what with.no accommodation -at Ihe Rainbow and none at
old Tarndale, and men getting lost through no one being at those places. It has been something alarming to see the state some of the travellers have been in on their arrival at my■■•cflinp/ come through' riot finding' the Tarndale station, which was removed some years ago about five miles away from th.i old Amuri road, away into a very isolated place ku.osyn as Cat Gully, where very few travellers can find it except they are well acquainted
with tlie district, as there is no defined track or snow poles to give sights in inowy weather. The road diverts Away from the old Amuri track near where old Tarndale used to stand, But the track is very hard to; see, as it winds over some low;'ridges arid through tussock grass and other alpine .vegetation. At this season of the year the road is very often obliterated with snow so that there is nothing whatever to guide travellers to new Tarndale. Old Tarndale is completely mouldered back to dust, and where the house once stood ia now covered over with snow or tassook grass, bo there is no accommodation here for either man or beast, or guide or poit to direct the weary traveller to shelter.
Again at the Rainbow, when it was deserted «nd forlorn, ttiere was not even a guide post to^ direct travellers where to ford the river, consequently a great number of them lost i their way, going south after leaving the Eainbow and following the river to the forks where the Wairau and Bainbw junction, and thea strangers invariably take up the wrong branch as it has the appearance of the wider opening. Leoking up the Wairau branch there does not appear, to a stranger, to be an opening or pass through the Ragl&n mountain chain, consequently many, to my knowledge, lose their way up the Rainbow. ; I have seen one>man return from the head of the Eainbow almost cloathless, bootless, and reduced almost to a skeleton. Moa hunters or anatomists in search of bones, searching. the head waters of the Wairau; would I fancy find mora human bones than moas'.
There is also a novelty posted up outsida of the door at the Rainbow such aa' I have not seen elsewhere in my travels. It is something to this effect:—•" Travellers 2s per meal: swagmen pay in advance." Now, sir, I can assure you if a man goes out in search of work so far away as.over the Tarndale hills, he cannot be called a lazy man, as he has to drag a swag 20. to 30 miles over a rough country, and up to an altitude of 3232 feet. If he has, not the money to pay for a feed, he well deserves one, and the owner of the Rainbow Reserve could well afford to give him one. as it is well known that the Reserve contains 1600. acres, and some of the hills are well grassed, and the natare and properties of the soil on the flats and low lands are good, and capable of carryiug twenty families. I question very much whether anyone knows better than I do how many traveller* pass through the Wairau Gorge in winter' or summer, and if the ov/ner of the -Rainbow Reserve fed every man that passed, -free of churge it would not cost him over £10 a ye r. I invariably fod most of thorn when llitre was no one at the Rainbow. The idea of charging men in search of work 2s a maal is eutside of all reason, but if Mr Fitzpatrick charged 10s per meal it would not pay, the travellers bein^ so few that way now. The owner of the Rainbow Reserve ought to live there, and if he does not think it worth his while, let seme one else have it that does. It ia impossible for aayone to live there by kecpiiig an accommodation house.
I have not the slightest doubt that Mr Fitzpatrick, if he had ono thousand acres, would build a very good house aud accommodate all travellers well, but a man has not the slightest chaace to rear a family undsr present conditions. It seems that he is there to do the work and take the responsibility, while the real owner of the iiainbow reserve is liviug along shores and bills of lower elevation enjoying the comforts and pleasures, ■and looking after the profits, whilst the occupant of the Rainbow House is trying to get a living at an altitude of nearly 3000 feet, surrounded by hungry frowning mountains, and at this season of the year by dreary vast snowfields, cold bleak biting winds often bringing along blinding sleet and snow to a place where children grow up wild and their mothers pine away through heing decoyed into such dreary isolation.
In conclusion, Mr .Editor, whosever business it is to look after and report upon these remote houses, it is fully time thai such officer paid a visit to such places, any in ihs disguisa of a s>vagsman looking for work ; ho would then most likely see what he should see, and I hope he would have the heart to write out and let the public know what they should know. I did one time bring these outlying accommodation houses under the notice of one of our city representatives, and although I have seen he has been airing his eloquence on some very trumpsry things, but never on this subject.
Yours, &0., Jonathan Brough.
To the Editor of the Colonist., The Colonist, Volume XXVIII, Issue 4529, 9 September 1886
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