THE RAETIHI-PARAPARA ROAD.
To ihe Editor
Sir, —I have read with interest your reports of the revived efforts of the Chamber of Commerce to obtain the completion of the above-named road. I notice it is also proposed to amend the name by affixing "Wangamui" to It. There can be Mo objection to thai; all the same. I think it will be called the Raetihi-Parapara Road when the names of the present agitators are &" fading memory. Mv principal reason for writing is, howegpi?, to give to newcoine a brief history of the efforts to obtain this road, and how it came by its present name. It is now about twelve years since I first settled in! the Waimarino, close to Raetihi —but there ..was no Raetihi then. 'The township reserve was there^-standing bush —and was called M.akotuku. It was, however, afterwards called Raeflihi, to .comply with the wishes of the Post Office Department ; and the surrounding country had all been reserved for selection by farm: homestead associations. The road, or rather bridle tra-ck, from Wanganui was via. Field's Track to Karioi. 65 miles. Thence fro:n Karioi to ftaetihi, nearly 20 miles, total distance over 80 miles. On-looKmy over a plan of the locality, and scaling it, T notioed that if a road could bo carried through direct from Raetihi to Parapara, on Field's Track, the distance from Raelihi to Wanganui could be reduced to about. 60 miles instead of over 80 miles. When I assured myself that this route was practicable, I wrote my first letter to the "Rangitikoi Advocate," tusking the members of. the farm hopestiead associations to assist jne iiK trying to obtain tin's outlet. Mr Downes, a leader in the associations, replied, suggesting that th© internal roads be first completed. I wag also in couir municatiori with Mr Ballance about this road, when, unfortunately, he passed away. The Waimarino being then part of the Wanganui constituency, on his announced candidature I communicated with Mr Willis, and inj reply he promised faithfully that if elected he would, do his utmost to objbahi the road. I theu said that in the face of that promise the Waimarino would give him a block vote. Before the election no never even visited Raetihi, and on the faith of that promise he got a block vote. Nevertheless, before I am done I will prove up to the hilt that he has never yet, by either word or deed, mada a serious attempt to obtain the road. Some time, after his first session in Parliament, he visited Raetihi anld delivered an address. You can imagine my surprise and* disappointment, when he informed us that the Government refused to make the road on the grounds that if made it would enhance the value of the native lands abutting on it. And further, sir, tie approved and justified the Government in this paltry excuse and. miserable evasion, and -does so to this day. In ngitating for this road mi your columns, I have time and again pointed out the ab.surdity of this -contention, seeing that the Government held the pre-emptive or exrfuslve right to purchase all native land and so the right to fix the price of it. And I will further sh<w that the question of enhancing the value of «ative lands has never troubled them, or Mr Willis either, vh#n they wanted to make roads in other pai'te of that district. Take., for instance, the Pipiriki-Karioi Road —the road that feeds the river steamers. The first ten miles of that road i* exclusively through native lands, and when: the road was made the houses a* Pipiriki were built on the roadside because there was- none othe~ thon native land to build tho houses on. At Mangaeturoa there is native land abutting on thia road, also at Raetihi, Ohakune, Karioi, and right on. Now, did the Government or Mr Willis- over object to jtaaking this roas because.' it would enhance the value of the native land abutting on it They did not; en the contrary, Mr Willis urged it on. and further tried his best to make the Waimarino settlers believe that it was the best road for them. He wanted this road for his Wanganui friends, but not the Parapara Road. And yet', in the fact of all this, he has now the "effrontery to stand up end say that he
always -wanted the Parapara Road. When eight or nine years ago I was agitating for the Parapara Road, I submitted. the following propositions in favour of it, which I will now put briefly—(l) That, after freighting merchandise 60 miles by steamer at the rate of £2 10s per ton, the settlers were obliged to cart it 18 miles farther by road to Raetihi; (2) the 18 miles would reduce the distance by 18 miles on the Parapara Road; (3) that in commencing fjettlement, settlers could better spare the time to come into Wanganui by road and cart their own merchandise or produce than pay steamer freight. And you will remember, .sir, when I came out of the bush, and spoke in Wanganui, I pointed' out that the day would come when Wanganui would want the road. In those days Messrs Caiman, Spurdle, Williams, Keesing, and the other gentlemen who are now taking a promotoent part in this matter were all residents in Wanganui. I now ask them: Did "hey come forward then to help th settlers* to obtain this road? You know, sir, that they did not. Instead, some of them flouted the settlers, and, backed up by the "Wanganui Herald," they jeered at me. I never objected to that, but I do object to them now accusing the settlers of short-sightedness, whereas, by comparison, they are the Rip Van Winkles of Wanganui. For ten years thewj gentlemen have had the question of opening this road before them, and during all that time the State has had the pre-emptive right of ownership of the land. It belonged to the State at its own price. And during these ten years these gentlemen have neglected their duty to Wanganui in nob urging the completion of this road. Now, however, when the State has handed back its privi- j lege to the owners, and is allowing them to dispose of it in another way. these gen- j tlemen step forward and ask the State ' make a road through it, thereby enhancing the value to the native owners?. In plain English, while tha Government held the exclusive right of purchase over this native land ait their own price they could have safely made a road through it. But now that they liave lifted the pre-emptive right and handed the land over to the Maori Councils, a road through it •will enhance the value to the native owners, and the lessees will have to pay for it. In the face of this, those prominent Liberals of Wanganui charge the Waimarino settlers with short-sightedness! Even to this day in Parliament!, their representative, Mr Wiliis, is complaining because the Government has not out up some settlors' land of a few hundred acres in the neighbourhood of Wanganui, while for years, right under his nose, there have been*9o,ooo acres held under a double-barrelled monopoly. The Government would not buy, and the natives could not sell to anyone el?e. And the result for Wanganui' is: No roads, and not the progress there should have been. As (unless there is a reply) this is probab'.y the last letter I will write about the Para, para Road, I would ask you, sir, to kindly find space for it. I should not have written but sweral have asked me why L have nob attended the meetings, and my reply was that the principal persons who are now agitating for this road did not want me there, arid your; readers will gather the reasons from this letter. I always have, however, and do feel grateful to the "Chronicle" for the opening they gave me in thosa days.—l am, etc., J. W. McLARISN. Waverley, August 3, 1903.
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Wanganui Chronicle, Wanganui Chronicle, Volume XXXXVII, Issue 12013, 5 August 1903
THE RAETIHI-PARAPARA ROAD. Wanganui Chronicle, Volume XXXXVII, Issue 12013, 5 August 1903
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