WF\T THE REVALUATION COMMISSION E US SAW THiiiiE. (From The Times.) The town of Pongaroa is still in its swaddling clothes. These consist of two accommodation houses within a couple of chains of each ether, a store and post office, an abbreviated schoolhouse built on the extension principle, and a public hall on the eve of completion. The town is situated where the two main roads of the district—the Makuri-East Coast or Aohauga road and the Alfredton"Weber road—intersect each other. The soil is of no great depth and rather poor in quality. Tho site of the township is a natural clearing, through which the Pongaroa river runs, but we cannot speak highly of the water, for it is of the colour of weak tea blended with black lead. Manuka scrub in full blossom forms the immediate surroundings. _ The best and most conspicuous residence in this part is that of Mr W. Burling. It it built ona hillandsurrounded by an extensive area of good grazing country. On Wednesday we visited Wolffs camn, on the Alfredton-Weber road, nine'miles north of Pongaroa. A deal of the intervening country is heavily timbered. The road cuttings disclose various varieties of papa, and have a remarkable appearance as they come in view. The loose and consolidated papa lies ic layers of uniform thickness, and the layers assume all kinds of shapes, wavy, straight and various angles, giving the cuttings quite a pictorial aspect. To the left of the road in one place is a fine stretch of lovely bush, which ought to be preserved. It is on a steep face, and the laud, when cleared, will be almost worthless. The fine scenery, however,is doomed. Although tho road is fit for a light vehicle at present, it is evident that in winter, or after heavy rain, the journey could beat be prosecuted in a cauoe. Every season heavy slips have to be reckoned with, and we were not surprised to learn that the road had been made " over and over again." ■Mr Wolff is camped at the junction of the Akiteo river and Makukupura stream. There is nothing terrible about the latter to warrant the awful name. A fine substantial bridge, ninety fent in length, with a span in the centre of fifty feet, has been made across it, and the approaches are being filled in with roc'', and soil carried in trucks from the hillside. The camp is quite an important institution. It is the headquarters of a gang of roadmakers, and contains a number of very useful buildings. Mr Wolff, who appears to be a practical and capable man, has a considerable area, to inspect regularly, and his books are so kept that the earnings of each road gang can be ascertained at a glance. Attached to the office is a store and magazine, while on the hillside across the road are the men's quarters and stables. The vegetable garden is typical of the navvies. It is a picture of robust vigor. Across the stream with the unpronounceable name, and along the banks of the river, are a number of very snug homesteads, attached io which tire good-sized gardens. Everything here is luxuriant. The river flats are not to be beaten, and the soil on the hillside is of first-class quality. On the opposite side of the Akiteo is the Pahiatua No. 8 Settlement, undergoing conversion from bush to grass. Overhead Mount Wolff looks down silently, but approvingly. Wolff's Camp should be the site of a creamery or dairy factory. Already, thanks to Mrs Moore, there are plenty of milk and butter, but the aspiring young navvies, whom the Government takes a delight in " sacking " periodically because they don't get married, complain bitterly of the absence of dairy maids. In the afternoon we visited some of the village and farm homestead sections outside of Pongaroa. Tracks to give access to these have been made from the main line of road. The first settler we encountered appeared to be strong, vigorous, and no novice at his work. H? had built a good residence for his fami'y, made a garden and effected a good lot of clearing. " I've had lots of experience in the bush," he said, " I ought to know good soil when I see it, but I have been taken in with this land." " What is wrong with it'?'' we asked"lt looks right enough. Before it is turned up it will deceive most people. But the subsoil is not porous ; the water cannot escape; and in winter it run 3 off and in summer it bakes." Then he continued—- " Two hundred acres are not enough. It won't carry more than a sheep to the acre, and with wool at 5d a pound that won't pay. I can make more money bullock-driving, and for a very little I'd sling this up." Another settler, a neighbor, told us virtually the same story. The land was poor. To make it support a family fairly it must be held in larger areas. We travelled for several miles along this track, and found a large area of most unpromising country. The soil looked as if it had passed through a furnace and most of the fertility had been burnt out of it. Rubbish appeared to grow better •.. than grass. Its best product, apparently, is tbe timber it contains. PoDgaroa and its surroundings are on the whole disappointing. There are undoubtedly some, areas of fair pastoral country, but the average quality of the soil will not bear comparison with that of the Awarua district. On Thursday. ±2nd, we proceed-' ed To Rakanui ami Alfredton. A good deal of ilie road over the soft papa is corduroyed with split timbor wide enough for a horse track, but not sufficiently wide for wheels. A portion has been dressed with burnt papa. The kiln , is alongside the road ready for use. j
There is no doubt that this material will answer well enough for road making if it is not too costly. Between Pongaroa and Waterfall, —fifteen miles—the land improves and some of the settlers who have sections of one hundred to two hundred acres appear to be highly satisfied with their prospects. There are quite a number of families living on their sections here. At Rakanui, although there isan abundance of level or undulating country, the villagers have been i treated as if they were goatsplaced on the hills—where they must have a difficulty in remaining. The village "store might be mistaken for., a cottage, and it had its blinds down ; but the post office opposite* revealed an active postmistress on the verandah making things lively for the Christmas spiders. The only roadman we noticed attending'to about twenty miles of road was the renowned Archie Stroak, who has evidently a heavy task in hand if he is going to keep all the water-tables open. On their way up the^Tiraumoa Valley the Commissioners wore hospitably entertained by Mr and Mrs Holmes Warren, and in the j evening they found all the comforts of a first-class residence at the Alfredton Hotel. On the following day (Friday), the Commissioners were able to return to their homes, well satisfied with the information they had obtained, as the result of a fortnight's tour among the new settled. After the holidays, they will resume their inspection, visiting the Christchurch, and probably some of the other homestead blocks in the neighborhood of Mount Cerberus, after which they Avill take Mount Baker and the Wainuioru district.
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Pongaroa., Woodville Examiner, Volume XVII, Issue 2906, 11 January 1899
Pongaroa. Woodville Examiner, Volume XVII, Issue 2906, 11 January 1899
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