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Pages 1 to 20

Pages 1 to 20

Pages 1 to 20

Pages 1 to 20

D.—l.

1937. NEW ZEALAND.

PUBLIC WORKS STATEMENT (BY THE HON. R. SEMPLE, MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS).

Mr. Speaker,— As indicated in my Statement to Parliament last year, a policy of expansion of public works lias been followed by the Government wherever it was possible to obtain sufficient economic value to justify the work undertaken. It is the endeavour of the Department to carry out public works to a standard commensurate with their importance, and particularly is this so with works which have a substantial economic value, but from the very fact that certain works will only reach their full value in the future it is the policy of the Department to maintain the same high standard with these works. I have travelled with and spoken to many visitors from overseas, including Ministers of the Crown from other British Dominions, and all have expressed their surprise at the advanced state of our roading-system in this country, and this can truthfully be said also of other works under the control of the Public Works Department. I have made it my duty to visit all important works that were in progress during the year. I have spoken to the workmen wherever I have gone and impressed upon them the fact that the Government expects them to give a fair day's work for the wages they are receiving. lam prepared to admit that on many works the men are earning high wages, but I am satisfied that, wherever work is carried out on the co-operative contract system, the State is getting good value for its expenditure. The men on every class of construction have improved wonderfully in skill and in output of work during the year, and now they are an army of men the nation can be proud of. I have not, however, contented myself with consideration only for the earnings of the men. I have also given a great deal of thought to the social side of their welfare. Social amenities in the way of entertainment-halls, libraries, canteens, &c., have been provided. Apart from the help I have received from the Department's engineers, I wish to place on record the great assistance I have received from the New Zealand Workers' Union and the Y.M.C.A. in these matters. The agreement made with the New Zealand Workers' Union, to which I referred in my last year's Statement, has resulted in practically all disputes about work

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and working conditions being settled locally. The comparatively few disputes referred to me have been settled expeditiously, with the co-operation of the union officials in Wellington, and the interests of the Government as well as the men have been equitably conserved. Where workmen have ceased work in an unconstitutional manner the matter has been promptly and effectively dealt with. It must be remembered, and I hope appreciated, that my Department was faced with the difficulty of organizing a team of workmen from the army of unemployed in this country. Many of them had had their capacity for work destroyed during the depression years, while hundreds of other younger men had never learnt to work. In spite of these difficulties wonderful progress has been made. An instance showing how it was possible to train men to special work within a short time was the erection' of the Mohaka Viaduct on the East Coast Main Trunk Railway in record time, and considerably below the estimated cost. The erectors on this work were young men trained on the job. They were paid high wages as an encouragement to work, and they more than earned the increased rate of pay. This is just an example of what is occurring all over the Dominion on public works. Improved accommodation for workmen has now been provided everywhere ; married men have well-built three-room accommodation, and all camps are well provided with adequate drainage schemes and water-supplies. The Y.M.C.A. is providing recreation and amusement in all large camps. It is doing this work well, and is of great assistance to the Department's staff. In order to make living conditions more attractive in the isolated places where most of the camps are, I have arranged for the Y.M.C.A. to sell radio sets on very easy terms to the workmen. The Department takes no direct action in the matter, but allows the Y.M.C.A. to obtain quotations for the sets through the Radio Traders' Federation and sell to the workmen under a hire-purchase system. As an appendix to this Statement, honourable members will find a copy of the agreement between the National Council of the Y.M.C.A. and myself covering the whole procedure. I gave an indication in last year's Statement that the policy of the Department would be to a large extent to expedite and lessen the cost of public works by the use of machinery. This has been done, and a sum of approximately £500,000 has been spent on modern plant for our works. This expenditure appears large, but the Department had no equipment to start with. When I tell honourable members that the Department has nearly twelve hundred works in hand requiring some type of plant, the disadvantages under which it was working can be realized. I have not endeavoured to replace men by machinery where it cannot be shown that a substantial saving will result, but rather to preserve the balance between speed and economy. There are many classes of work which can be carried out almost as economically by manual labour, supplemented by a small amount of mechanical plant, as they can be entirely by machinery, and in order not to increase the number of unemployed at the present time I have adhered to the former procedure even though some sacrifice has been made to. speed in completing the work. In other classes of work again the use of manual labour would be distinctly uneconomical, and only machinery is justifiable if the work is to be done at all. An example of this class of work is the formation of flying-fields for aerodromes. As an instance, the estimate to form an aerodrome at Nelson under the old system of utilizing the unemployed on relief work was £172,000. By machinery the work was estimated to cost £36,000, and a contract was actually let for this amount.

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Under the manual methods of work on the aerodromes completed within the last few years the cost has been something like £600,000, whereas by the use of modern excavating plant entirely they should have been completed for approximately £200,000. There are practically no construction works, 'of course, that do not obtain some benefit from the use of mechanical plant, but many can be done quite economically with a small quantity of plant to supplement hand labour, and where this can be done the Department has been asked to follow this method in the meantime. Many instances of considerable saving in cost of construction can be supplied to honourable members, and indications of some of these savings are given elsewhere in this Statement. As stated above, the Department has spent fairly large amounts in the purchase of machinery, but, notwithstanding this, it has been able to increase the number of men employed from 13,696 when the present Government took office to a maximum of 20,10*0 during last summer, and the number now employed is approximately 19,000. In travelling about New Zealand it has been apparent to me that the Department's men are employed on works that will help to restore the country to a full measure of prosperity. It has also been apparent that there is room for extension in some directions. While lam convinced that we are catching up rapidly on our main-highway and railway systems, I feel sure that more could be done towards the metalling of our backblocks roads. I have asked the Engineer-in-Chief to prepare a five-year plan for metalling these roads, and an estimated cost of completely metalling all roads used for the transporting of our primary products. Side by side with this programme there must, of course, be a continued improvement in main highways to keep pace with the growing traffic from these country roads, lor this reason, and because of the ever-increasing motor-vehicle traffic, and the apparent inability of local authorities to cope with it, 4,000 miles of highways were last year taken over by the Main Highways Board and made State Highways. During the transition period arising from the foregoing circumstances, it became apparent that a small section of local-body opinion was still antagonistic towards the changes introduced. Complaints were made, in some cases publicly, that since the change-over the condition of State highways had noticeably deteriorated. In not a few instances anonymous criticism was directed against the Government's policy, but it was evident that this type of opposition was engendered in order to imply that conditions were quite different from the actual state of affairs. Investigations which were made in a number of particular cases showed that the complaints were exaggerated, and generally related to lengths of highway which were in process of reconstruction. It is usually recognized that while a road is being improved some inconvenience and delay must be expected, and this state of affairs is unavoidable because any disturbance of a road surface, necessitated by widening, regrading, realignment, or drainage operations, temporarily produces uncomfortable travelling-conditions, but this does not justify hasty criticism. Perhaps the most reliable judgment as to road conditions is to be found in the opinions expressed by bodies specially organized to watch the interests of the motoring public. These bodies have indicated that the general conditions of State highways are being materially improved, and have given their approbation to the change in policy. I am confident, however, that before very long, when the more extensive works now in hand are completed, and the departmental maintenance organizations are fully developed, the present unreasonable criticisms will totally disappear. This year a sum of £1,150,000 will be provided from the Consolidated Fund for expenditure on maintenance of public works and services. The expenditure from Main Highways revenue will be £2,572,000; from the Electric Supply Account £745,000 ; whilst £567,500 will be made available from general revenue. Of the total expenditure under my control out of the Public Works Fund and other

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accounts of £9,799,000, a sum of £3,884,500 will therefore be provided from revenue, representing approximately 40 per cent. The diagram below gives the annual public-works expenditure from loan-money since 1872. It is interesting to note that for last year expenditure from this source does not reach the peak year of 1931, though the total expenditure from loan-money is returning to a normal and reasonable figure.

The proposed expenditure from loan-moneys on public works for 1937-38, as indicated in the Public Works estimates, is as 'follows : —- (1) Construction and improvement of lines of communication — Railways — £ £ Construction of new lines . . 1,108,000 Improvements and additions to opened lines . . 2,203,457 — 3,311,457 Highways and settlement roads — Construction and improvement of highways . . 1,906,000 Construction and improvement of roads .. 966,000 —— 2,872,000 Harbour-works and lighthouses . . 35,000 Telegraphs and telephones .. .. 750,000 6,968,457 (2) Land-development— Land-improvement . . . . 156,500 Irrigation .. .. .. 105,000 Swamp-land drainage . . .. 23,000 Settlement of unemployed workers 300,000 Native land settlement .. 250,000 Dairy industry loans . . . . 30,000 - 864,500

Annual Public Works Expenditure (loan Money)

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(3) Development of electric power: £ £ Hydro - electric supply development .. .. .. .. 700,000 (4) Public buildings — Schools . . .. .. 550,000 Postal buildings .. .. 365,000 Mental Hospital buildings .. 160,000 Air Defence buildings .. .. 210,000 Other buildings (departmental, Justice, Police, Health, Agriculture, &c.) .. .. 404,000 1,689,000 (5) Development of tourist resorts .. .. 39,000 (6) Departmental supervision .. .. 180,000 £10,440,957 The greatest item of expenditure this year will be on main highways. This is £4,165,200, of which £1,906,000 will be from loan-money. It was desirable in the interests of the whole community that as many men as possible should be placed in full employment after long years of unemployment. Improvement of main highways to meet the demands and safety of increasing traffic offered a ready and justifiable means for the purpose of returning men to full-time useful employment. The undue loss of life and the number of personal injuries arising from road traffic made it necessary to render main highways safer for all classes of road-user. There is ample scope for activity in this direction, and my efforts to prevent daily tragic happenings on our public thoroughfares will not be relaxed until everything possible has been done to provide that standard of construction and maintenance on main highways which will ensure safety for everybody. In my last Statement I referred to an extensive programme for the elimination of dangerous railway level-crossings, and to the desire of the Government to expedite this work. Notwithstanding the difficulties encountered in finding the best solutions to the problems arising from widely varying conditions, I am gratified to be able to say that very satisfactory progress, as indicated later in my Statement, has been made. A large amount of money is being expended in many ways upon the improvement of main highways, but a tremendous amount of beneficial work is being done, and I feel sure that the results are being appreciated by the people as a whole. I wish to take this opportunity of expressing my deep appreciation of the good work that is being done by the Main Highways Board, and the valuable assistance it is giving to the Government. A vote of £1,108,000 is asked for this year for the prosecution of the Government's railway-construction programme. Particularly good progress has been made on railway works with the modern excavation plant now in use. A total of 2,800 men is now engaged on railway-construction. The Napier-Putorino section of the East Coast Main Trunk Railway, which was damaged badly by the 1931 earthquake, has been completed and handed over to the Railways Department ahead of the anticipated time. Goods traffic is now running to Wairoa from Putorino over the section of line still retained by the Public Works Department. Owing to delays in delivery of steel and other materials the completion of this, as well as many other works, is being unduly delayed. The formation work on the line from Wairoa to Gisborne is well ahead, but the tunnels are the deciding factor in the completion of the line. There was some delay in obtaining plant for the tunnels owing to slow deliveries from England, but all plant is now installed. There are nearly four miles of tunnel to be constructed.

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On the South Island Main Trunk and Westport-Inangahua Railways particularly good progress is being made. Tunnelling on the former railway is again the key to the rate of progress, but all this work is now well equipped with modern tunnelling plant. A sum of £966,000 is proposed for expenditure on roads other than main highways for the current year. As I have said, I should like to extend a policy of completing metalled roads to all primary producers throughout the country. I have very definite ideas concerning the improvement of settlement roads, and I wish to make it clear that I do not intend these roads to be built to the standard of our main roads. The traffic they are asked to carry does not warrant this. I am decidedly of the opinion, however, that, before they are metalled, alignment and curvature should be laid out so that these roads can be progressively improved as the traffic increases. It is essential that once a road has been built to serve any district, it should be regularly and properly maintained. Too frequently a good road has been allowed to go back, and almost disappear through neglect. I look to local authorities to do their part in the upkeep of improved rural roads upon which the Government spends money. It has not yet been found possible to make any very drastic alteration in the existing procedure in relation to hydro-electric development. During my visit to Australia, and at other times, I have given considerable attention to this important feature of the Government's activities, and as opportunity offers I hope to be able to effect improvements in the general organization of the electricity-supply business. As indicated in my Statement of last year, work on a proposed development at Waikaremoana was stopped, and detailed investigations are being made on alternative proposals in this locality. Following on the acquisition by the Government of the electrical works of the Southland Electric-power Board, arrangements have been made with other local authorities by which their local generating-works have either been taken over by the Government, or by which the local works have been closed down or retained merely as standby plants whilst the whole of the local power requirements are being supplied from the State system. The various State hydro-electric schemes continue to show an improving financial position, and with increasing demands the position should still further improve. The revenue of the Electric Supply Account has grown to £1,216,468 this year, and a continued increase is anticipated. Last year it was anticipated that a greatly accelerated programme of erection of public buildings would take place, but owing to scarcity of skilled labour and structural steel it has not been possible to maintain the rate of progress expected. These factors have already proved a source of considerable delay in the building programme. The Department is now in a position to call tenders for public buildings to the amount of £250,000, but is awaiting the investigation into the whole question of the order of precedence in building. With the increase in commercial air services and the requirements of air defence, the Department has been exceedingly busy during the year on the construction of aerodromes and the preparation of plans for air defence. As will be seen under the section of this Statement headed " Aerodromes," there has been rapid progress in air services, and the building of a cliain of emergency landinggrounds necessary to render these services safe has received particular attention during the year. The money for aerodrome-construction is now provided from the Consolidated Fund, with a considerable amount of assistance from Employment Relief Funds. It is hoped to make even more progress on aerodromes during the coming year, and a sum of £320,000 is being provided from revenue for this purpose. Irrigation, which in the past has been mostly confined to the arid regions of Central Otago, is now making good, progress on the plains of Canterbury. One scheme there is completed, and two others are in course of construction. Investigations into the possibilities of this class of public work are still being

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exhaustively pursued. lam still convinced that this is one of the best classes of work from which the country will benefit. Among the problems facing the Dominion is that of river-control and rivermaintenance, and I have given a good deal of thought and attention to this. Major works of river-control and flood protection have to be largely justified on economic grounds. Works of this class have been carried out in the past by the State and also by local authorities, the provision of finance generally being adjusted to the needs of each case. The matter of river-maintenance and the prevention of deterioration of streamchannels, and of destruction of valuable land, is a more difficult problem, in that existing legislation regards such work as largely a local responsibility. The Department has had this matter under careful examination, and a comprehensive statement on the problem has been prepared. In my opinion, the time has arrived when the State should, to a much greater extent, assume the direction of this class of work. Work would, be done in collaboration with a local authority, or with the settlers of the area affected, and finance would have to be arranged to suit each particular case. One difficulty in respect to this class of work is the large number of small local authorities in any particular area dealing with river and drainage matters, and the question of merging these is one that must receive the serious attention of the Government. The whole question of river-control and river-maintenance policy is now under review by Cabinet. I can anticipate next year's Public Works Statement with the information that the Government has just authorized the immediate putting-in-hand of river-improvement and willow-removal works in the Waipa Basin of the Waikato River, and in the Hoteo Valley in Rodney County. Both these works are major ones, and the need for them has been apparent for some time. The use of mechanical plant, modified as I have already stated by a consideration for employment of men, has been extended during the year. With the exception of that still needed for the new State highways and for renewals, most of the plant immediately required has now been purchased. Works of a special nature will, of course, still necessitate the use of suitably designed plant, and some provision for this will be made. Since I presented my last Statement, more than sufficient time has elapsed to enable me to say with confidence that the Engineer-in-Chief of the Public Works Department and his staff have made wonderful progress with the Government's programme of public works. Severely handicapped for want of trained staff, by lack of materials, by scarcity of up-to-date plant and skilled workmen, it is remarkable that in so short a time such an efficient organization as the Public Works Department now is should have been created, and as Minister in Charge I am proud of what has been done. I am grateful to the Department's officers for the energy and willingness they have displayed in carrying out the Government's intentions with regard to public works. FINANCE. The payments and receipts for the year 1936-37, and accumulated totals, in connection with the Public Works Fund and other associated votes and accounts are shown in the tabulation below. The gross expenditure amounted to £12,261,215, of which £2,009,881 was expended by other Government Departments ; the recoveries in reduction of expenditure amounted to £2,288,639, of which £846,300 was recovered by other Departments ; the net expenditure totalled £9,972,576, of which £1,163,581 was expended by other Departments. In addition the Department collected £1,199,589 from sales of electricity and from other forms of revenue.

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VIII

Expenditure, 1936—37. Total Net ™ f TT , i Expenditure to Class of Work. , 31st Maroh? Gross. Recoveries. ! Net. 1937. I 1 j Expenditure, Public Works Fund. Railways-— £ £ £ £ New construction .. .. •• •• 628,629 41,64:7 586,982 39,256,966 Improvements and additions to open lines .. 492,515 60,403 432,112 18,344,000 Roads . •• •• 996,676 82,956 913,720 23,899.855* Public buildings 734,550 19,609 714,941 12,781,9881 Lighthouses, harbour-works, and harbour defences .. .. 5,183 3,884 1,299 1,323,345 Tourist and health resorts .. .. .. •• 17,460 67.1 16,789 733,925 Telegraph extension .. .. 379,227 146,714 232,513 11,988,430 Departmental 346,612 208,843 137,769 3,211,990 Irrigation, water-supply, and drainage .. .. •• 186,717 175,655 11,062 1,314,241 Lands-improVement .. .. .. .. •• 232,072 169,399 62,673 980,343 Swamp land drainage .. .. .. .. •• 33,210 8,245 24,965 80,881 Settlement of unemployed workers .. .. .. 305,621 213,605 92,016 756,502 Native-land settlement .. .. .. .. •• 521,960 409,642 112,318 466,866 Dairy industry loans .. .. .. .. •• 30,510 .. 30,510 41,260 Cost and discount, raising loans, &c. .. .. .. •• •• •• 3,828,307 Closed accounts (for more detail see Table 1) .. .. •• •• 8,134,458 Totals, General Purposes Account .. .. 4,910,942 1,541,273 3,369,669 127,143,357§ Electric Supply Account (previously Aid to Water-power Works Account) — Construction (expenditure as per accounts in Table 5) .. 2,031,477 • .. 2,031,477JJ 15,143,961JJ Working-expenses (expenditure as per accounts in Table 5) 229,962 .. 229,962 Waihou and Ohinemuri Rivers Improvement Account .. .. •• •• 709,740[| Totals, Public Works Fund 7,172,381 1,541,273 5,631,108 142,997,058 Expenditure, other Votes and Accounts. Main Highways Account — Annual appropriation — Construction, reconstruction, and improvement .. 1,413,385 35,630 7,373,352** Maintenance, repair, and renewal .. .. .. 1,054,890 45,687 1,009,203^ Administration, plant, and miscellaneous expenditure .. 196,776 14,420 182,356^| Interest, fees, and loan redemptions .. .. .. 250,868 .. 250,8681f Permanent appropriation (rate subsidies, interest on transfer from Public Works Fund. &c.) .. .. .. 484,052 .. 484,052 Consolidated Fund — Maintenance, public buildings, roads, &c.ff .. .. 210,144 20,164 189,980 Aerodromes and landing-grounds .. .. .. 218,686 9,567 209,119 Plant, material, and miscellaneous services .. 945,814 621,898 323,916 Closed accounts (for details see Public Works Statement, 1933) .. .. •• 18,955,387 Employment Promotion Fund (expenditure by Public Works Department): Amounts not included above .. .. 314,219 .. 314,219 Totals, Other votes and accounts .. .. 5,088,834 747,366 4,341,468 26,328,739 Grand total of expenditure, Public Works Fund and other votes and accounts for the year ended 31st March, 1937 .. 12,261,215 2,288,639 9,972,576 Capital expenditure to date .. .. .. •• 169,325,797 - „ 7 , Recoveries, Class of Work. 1936—37. Receipts§§, Public Works Department. Ordinary Revenue Account — £ Irrigation (receipts for year) .. .. .. .. •• •• •• 19,683 Miscellaneous receipts for year .. .. .. . ■ •• •• •• 11,449 Electric Supply Account (sales of energy, miscellaneous receipts, &c.) : Receipts for year .. 1,150,247 Main Highways Account (repayment of advances, &c., and interest) : Receipts for year .. 18,210 Total receipts .. .. .. •• •• 1,199,589 * Includes £4,500 expended under section 16, subsection (1), Native Land Amendment and Native Land Claims Adjustment Act, 1923. t Excludes expenditure on Workers' Dwellings totalling £319,918 transferred to State Advances Account; includes £60,032 expended under Reserves and other Lands Disposal Act, 1936, section 32. % Includes £4,863 expended under Finance Act, 1932 (No. 2), section 6. § Does not include expenditure under Ellesmere Land Drainage Act, 1905, or £1,226,000 transferred to and included in Main Highways Construction Fund. || Excludes interest and loan charges, f For annual income and expenditure accounts, see Appendix E. ** As per accounts in Appendix E. ft Excludes transfers to Public Works Fund votes (£451,976). {J Includes £1,649,458 assets taken over from Southland Power Board. §§ Excludes motor-spirits tax, registration fees, &c., collected by other Departments.

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Summary.

Of the net payments totalling £9,972,576 shown above, £6,778,901 may be regarded as expended from loan-moneys and £3,193,675 as expended from annual taxation. In diagrammatic form the ratio which the various classes bear to the whole is shown below. It should be noted that the figures are gross —that is, before deducting recoveries, which include subsidies from the Employment Promotion Fund, contributions from the Consolidated Fund, and similar amounts which, if deducted, would detract from the true portrayal of activities.

In regard to the ways and means of tlie General Purposes Account of the Public Works Fund the position is as under : — £ £ Balance available, Ist April, 1936 .. .. .. 1,902,651 Add funds received during the year — Finance Act, 1934 (No. 3), section 2 3,444,919 Finance Act, 1931 (No. 4), section 2 4,710 Miscellaneous .. .. .. 135,898 — 3,585,527 5,488,178 Deduct expenditure during 1936-37 — Under annual appropriations .. 3,309,637 Under permanent appropriations .. 60,515 — 3,370,152 Balance available, 31st March, 1937 .. £2,118,026 The estimated net expenditure under the General Purposes Account for the current financial year, 1937-38, is £7,834,957, and arrangements are being made with the Minister of Finance to provide the necessary funds. This is the amount shown on the Public Works estimates, which also show an estimated net expenditure of £1,370,000 from the Electric Supply Account and £4,478,000 from, the Main Highways Account, a total for all these accounts of £13,682,957.

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Public Works Other T , . Department. Departments. lotal. £ £ £ Gross expenditure .. .. .. .. 10,251,334 2,009,881 12,261,215 Recoveries and receipts .. .. .. .. 2,641,928 846,300 3,488,228

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MAIN HIGHWAYS. I have already mentioned the progress which is being made in the direction of improving the standard of main highways throughout the Dominion, and this applies not only to the actual reconstruction and realignment, but also to maintenance. The past financial year was a record year of activity since the mainhighways system was introduced some thirteen years ago. In my Statement last year I made reference to what I considered to be a disadvantage in the methods of administration, arising from the divided control of main arterial routes. Legislation was approved by the House which made provision for the principal trunk roads to be controlled by the national roading authority. Subsequently approximately 4,000 miles of State highways were placed under the direct control of the Main Highways Board. In anticipation of the introduction of this change, tentative arrangements had been made in certain directions, and it was possible for the Board to take over some arterial highways immediately after the end of October, 1936. However, owing to lack of plant for maintenance purposes, it was found necessary for some local authorities to continue operations until departmental equipment could, be obtained. During the financial year just past, the amount of traffic on main highways showed further increase. The consumption of motor-spirits was very much greater than for any previous year, and, in addition, the registrations of motor-vehicles reached peak figures since the advent of this form of transport. If any further justification for major improvements to our highways were needed, it is surely to be found in these factors, which are a true index of traffic densities. The activities of the Main Highways Board for the period now under review are more particularly described in its annual report appended to this Statement. The report shows that the total receipts from revenue exceeded £2,300,000, which is a record to date, and that the total expenditure from the Main Highways Account for the year ended 31st March, 1937, on actual works as distinct from loan and special charges, amounted to £2,400,000, which is almost £800,000 more than was expended on similar works during the previous year. Nearly £1,400,000 was spent last year on reconstruction and improvements, including the elimination of level railway crossings, £900,000 on maintenance, and £106,000 on the replacement of bridges. In addition to the foregoing, interest and loan charges accounted for £307,516, while general rate subsidies, which are paid from the Main Highways Account, totalled £195,000. The programme carried through last year involved the borrowing of £853,500 for main-highways purposes. Since the amalgamation of the Revenue and Construction Funds under the Main Highways Account, true maintenance-costs have been recorded, and the expenditure during the past financial year amounted to an average of £90-5 per mile. It is not possible to compare this average with previous years by reason of the fact that expenditure under the Revenue Fund was not dissected to show maintenance-costs separately from other work charged to the same Fund. In future, however, the trend of maintenance-costs will be readily ascertainable. In order to provide finance for the current year's activities, it is proposed to allocate approximately £1,200,000 for maintenance purposes and £2,600,000 for improvements and reconstruction. Of this latter sum, it is anticipated that £500,000 will be absorbed in the elimination of dangerous railway-level crossings. A further sum of approximately £230,000 is being proposed for expenditure this year on the replacement of highway bridges. This class of work is being carried out as expeditiously as circumstances permit, but progress is dependent on engineering investigations and designing. It is not practicable to standardize plans for the reason that each site presents singular physical and technical features and requires special consideration. During the year ended 31st March, 1937, 9,575 ft. of bridging was completed and a further 15,000 ft. is at present in process of construction. As the arterial highways are reconstructed to modern width and curvature, it is the policy to pave those sections which are heavily trafficked. The last

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paving-season was characterized by unfavourable conditions due to the prevailing wet weather, but, notwithstanding adverse circumstances, 254 miles of dustless surfacing were completed, as compared with 277 miles during the preceding year. At 31st March, 1937, the total length of paved highways was 2,127 miles, which is 17-6 per cent, of the whole main-highways system. Since the inauguration of the State highways system, the Board has concentrated on the arterial routes, and in the early future it is anticipated that a number of metalled sections will be paved, thereby providing continuous paving throughout substantial lengths. Satisfactory progress has been made with the major programme initiated by the Government last year for the elimination of railway level-crossings, and, although completed projects number only fifteen, work is in progress and contracts have been already arranged for a further sixty-seven. Detailed proposals for an additional sixty-four schemes are completed or in hand preparatory to the commencement of work. Each locality has presented its peculiar technical problems, in some cases of a very complex nature, but the results to date are extremely gratifying. The removal of this source of danger from our highways will undoubtedly result in the prevention of many accidents which certainly would occur if open crossings on highways carrying a large volume of traffic were allowed to remain. It must be borne in mind that a feature of railway-crossing accidents is the loss of life and every crossing eliminated means the removal of a potential deathtrap. The extent to which main-highways operations are financed by the State is shown by the fact that during the past year approximately 94 per cent, of the cost of improvements and renewals was paid from the Main Highways Account, compared with 6 per cent, contributed by local authorities. With regard to maintenance 82 per cent, was provided from public funds and 18 per cent." by local authorities. It is reasonable to point out that the administration of a relatively small proportion of public moneys by local authorities warrants the Government exercising a measure of control over the work carried out on a basis more in keeping with the degree of financial responsibility which it assumes. The continued co-operation of local bodies will be welcomed, as it is appreciated that they can assist materially in the maintenance and development of the Dominion's roading-system by carrying out the functions entrusted to them. Honourable members are aware of the special campaign which has been initiated for the promotion of safer travelling-conditions for all classes of road-user. In my efforts to reduce the undue loss of life and the alarming number of accidents resulting in severe personal injury, I have obtained the considered opinions and recommendations of representative citizens as to the most desirable and practical means of remedying unsatisfactory conditions. It became evident that, in the interests of public safety, there was a good deal of scope for improving main highways so as to minimize the risk of accident. I am confident that, in certain directions, a higher average standard of driving can be obtained if suitable measures are provided for the warning and protection of motor-drivers. With this objective I have conferred with the Main Highways Board on matters arising from the suggestions made to me by the New Zealand Road Safety Council. Arrangements are in hand for the Board to devote particular attention to centre-line marking of pavements so as to conveniently divide traffic. The adequate super-elevation of curves is being carried out progressively, and already improvements have been made in this direction. In order to indicate the existence of bends, especially to night drivers, warningposts and white-painted fences are being provided, while bridges are also being painted in such a way as to readily arrest the attention of a driver. In many localities hilly country is traversed by tortuous roads, and a commencement has been made with the erection of protective fencing. This will not only serve to prevent mishaps, but will also afford a greater measure of security to those who are more or less unaccustomed to hilly conditions. I can say that the Main Highways Board is fully alive to the possibilities for making our main highways safer, and will continue improvement works in furtherance of the present policy.

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RAILWAYS. When last year's Statement was presented to the House a commencement had been made with the Government's programme of railway-construction, but preliminary work only had been done on the Napier-Gisborne line, the South Island Main Trunk, and the Westport - Inangahua connection in preparation of a vigorous programme. During the year excellent progress has been made on all these works. Napier-Gisborne Railway .—On the Napier-G-isborne line a total of 1,300 men was employed. The damage done to the previously completed section of the line between J Napier and Putorino by the Napier earthquake was restored. The Mohaka Viaduct was completed, thus enabling a rail connection to be made to Wairoa. The Railway Department now operates a service from Napier to Putorino, while the Public Works Department controls a train service from Putorino to Wairoa. Although the sections are separately controlled, goods are railed at through rates. This service is already providing a muchneeded facility, and the extent to which it is being availed of indicates the need that existed for rail connection in that locality. North of Waikokopu, which is already linked with Wairoa by an existing line, work is proceeding expeditiously at all points on to Gisborne. An excellent showing has been made on this work since construction was resumed last year, and operations have advanced to an interesting stage. The length to be constructed is 34 miles. The general plan of construction aims at the earliest possible completion of the major tunnels and those bridges which would hold up progress if left until reached by the permanent rails. The large tunnels occur in the middle section of the route, while the bridges are mainly on the end sections. Earthwork is not a deciding factor in the date of completion. Although uncommonly heavy in the middle section, and for a length of one mile along the Waikokopu Bluffs, work was opened up on a great number of faces when the tunnel service roads were completed in the early stages of construction. At only a few points are the individual cuttings and fillings of such dimensions as to need special methods to expedite progress, and in each case the job is being well handled by up-to-date Diesel-powered machinery, which reduces years to months in the construction schedule. The construction of service roads under the general plan mentioned above made possible the prosecution of work along the whole length between Gisborne and Waikokopu. Shortly after resumption of activities 1,000 men were systematically placed throughout the whole length of the line. Owing to difficulty in obtaining delivery of tunnelling plant ordered from Britain there was some delay in getting the larger tunnels into full swing, but this is now mainly overcome, and the underground work is moving ahead in a convincing manner, with eight separate tunnelling parties working at different points. The erection of camps has been completed for the whole line. They are situated so that very little moving will need to be done until construction enters its final stages of platelaying and ballasting. The great majority of the men are housed in eleven more or less concentrated camps. At nine of these camps well-equipped cookhouses have been provided. At the other two the work is reserved for married men provided with living-quarters for their wives and families. Three schools and eight Y.M.C.A. buildings have been provided. At each of the latter there is a resident Y.M.C.A. secretary, who, in addition to the usual Association activities, conducts a post-office and savings-bank if the locality has no such facilities. The latter is a particularly useful side of the Association's work. The names of the Y.M.C.A.-operated post-offices, commencing from the Gisborne end, are—Bartletts, Torries Road, Wharekakaho, Tikiwhata, Paritu, Kaingapipi, and Kopuawhara. The electric-power line brought in to serve the tunnels was availed of to provide light and power to all the main camps. Electric energy is supplied to occupants of living-quarters at Power Board rates.

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General particulars of work under various headings are as follows : — Fencing : 'Thirty-two and a half per cent, of the total length of 56§ miles has been completed. Much of the remainder is being left until the high batter slopes of cuttings and embankments have become consolidated. Culverts: These vary in size from large reinforced-concrete ones of 80 square feet cross-sectional area down to l-ft.-diameter pipes. The total length of all culverts installed is 4,044 ft., representing roughly 85 per cent, of the larger and more expensive types and about 55 per cent, of the smaller pipe culvert class. Most of the culverts remaining to be laid will not be needed until the work is further advanced. They can be installed more economically in the later stages of construction. Water Drives : At a number of earth fillings the steep contours of the ground rendered ordinary culvert-construction impracticable and water drives were installed. These are small-bore tunnels in solid earth or rock through which the stream is diverted to a safe outfall away from the base of the filling. Nearly all of these are big enough to allow two or more persons of average height to walk through abreast in an upright position. They vary in size from 110 square feet to 24 square feet inside cross-sectional area, and run up to 200 yards in length. They have all been completed, the total length being 3,927 ft., or roughly three-quarters of a mile. Earthwork: Of the total estimated quantity of 1,371,288 cubic yards, 944,588 cubic yards, or over 68 per cent., has been completed. A large proportion of this is hard sandstone or papa rock. With only 32 per cent, remaining, many of the cuttings and fillings are completed or approaching completion. The most spectacular earthwork job is a short high bluff on the Waikokopu Cliffs, which is being benched back for safety purposes to a height of 180 ft. Also there are fillings of 102 ft., 92 ft., and 103 ft. depth respectively in the central hill section. The first of these fillings is practically completed. The other two are commencing to rise from their broad bases. To protect the low fillings along the Waikokopu Cliffs, sections of substantial concrete sea-wall have been found necessary. The total length required is 1,490 ft. Of this, 1,100 lineal feet, or 73-7 per cent., is completed. Tunnels : The three major tunnels are named Waiau-Tikiwhata, Coast, and Waikoura. They are 3,278 yd., 1,016 yd., and 1,544 yd. long respectively. There are also ten small tunnels totalling 1,015 yd. in length. The small tunnels present no outstanding problems as far as can be judged at present, and they should be completed under ordinary New Zealand methods well before the time the rails are due to be laid through them. Already one tunnel of 96f yd. has been fully excavated and concrete-lined, and five others, totalling 590 yd. in length, have been holed through with 10 ft. by 8 ft. bottom headings. The Waiau-Tikiwhata and Waikoura tunnels were of such length as to be governing factors in the progress of the whole railway-works and special consideration had to be given to the question of expediting their rate of construction. Fortunately the sandstone at both ends of each tunnel was found to be sound enough to enable the adoption of a system new to railway tunnels in this country. This consists of the excavation of the full tunnel with the upper arched portion carried only a very short distance ahead as a working bench without any advance headings. It makes for considerably greater speed in good ground, as the tunnellers have much more room in which to work, and explosives can be employed to greater advantage. The timbering used in this system is cut in segments to fit the arch, and is much lighter to handle than the heavy bars used in the usual bottom-heading method. To obtain the maximum advantage of the full-tunnel-bench method it was decided to use electrically operated scrapers and slides for loading the spoil on to trucks, which will be hauled away by electric-battery locomotives. Three of the four faces of these two tunnels have now been carried in under the new system for several chains, and work is proceeding so smoothly that very fast driving is indicated when the scraper units go into action in the

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near future. The fourth face, at the south end of Waikoura tunnel, was delayed nnt.il a heavy approach cutting could be completed, but tunnelling is expected to start inside a few weeks. A further gain in the rate of tunnelling is confidently expected as far as the concrete lining is concerned. Special pumps have been imported which will pump the concrete directly into place in the footings, walls, and arches at a very much faster rate than it could be placed by the old laborious hand-shovelling process, or even by the compressed-air-operated concrete-gun method employed in the Tawa Flat tunnels. The 46 ch. Coast tunnel situated between the two longer ones passes through some weaker rock formations. For this reason, and also because all possible spoil is needed for a filling at one end, a 10 ft. by 8 ft. bottom heading is being driven right through. Already 16 ch. have been driven, and the whole tunnel should be completed by the more conservative method before schedule date. All tunnels are well lit with electric light, ventilated by adequate powerdriven fans, and provided with air-compressing plant and machine drills for rock-drilling. Bridges : Altogether there are twenty-two bridges to be built. Work has been much impeded by the scarcity of steel. Only two are of more than medium dimensions. One is a crossing of the Kopuawhara 7 miles from Waikokopu, which is 500 ft. long and 125 ft. high. So uncertain is the position regarding steel-supplies that the adoption of a reinforced-concrete-arch design is being seriously considered in place of the original all-steel-viaduct, proposal. The other major structure is the Waipaoa River bridge 5 miles from Gisborne. This consists of steel spans on reinforced-concrete pile piers, the total length being 720 ft. Good progress has been made with the pierconstruction, over 60 per cent, of the pile-driving being finished, as well as one-third of the piers. Steel for the spans, however, is an uncertain factor here also, and it is possible that completion of the bridge structure will be held up pending its arrival. A notable feature in connection with this bridge is the use for the first time, in New Zealand of a tetrahedral concrete-block apron for protecting one of the river-banks from erosion. As far as can be judged from the moderate flood tests to which it has been subjected so far, it is giving highly successful results. On four small bridges between this point and Gisborne pier construction has been finished, while construction of bridges south of the Waipaoa River has been commenced. Platelaying: The laying of permanent rails has been commenced on a small scale from Gisborne in order to provide access to a storage-site for bulk materials at Matawhero Station Yard situated 3 miles out. Platelaying, however, will not be able to advance very far from Gisborne until completion of the Waipaoa River bridge in the early part of next year. Similarly at the Waikokopu end non-arrival of steel for bridges threatens eventually to delay platelaying, but this would not in any case be piit in hand for about six months, pending completion and consolidation of earthwork on the W aikokopu Bluffs Section. t South Island Alain Trunk Railway— The average number of men employed on this work during the period was 900. When work was closed down in October, 1931, the railheads were at. Wharanui on the north end and Parnassus on the south end, and the length of the uncompleted section was 76 m. 28 ch. Formation work was in hand on the north end between. Wharanui at 56 m. and the Ohau Bluff at approximately 85 m., and on the south end from Parnassus at 44 m. to Claverley at 59 m., a total distance for both ends of approximately 44 miles, while platelaying and

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ballasting were partially completed for 14 miles of the easy country at the north end. It should be explained, in order to make the chainages and distances mentioned understandable, that the original surveys were carried out from either end, and therefore the chainages carry on. from Wharanui on the north end to the Kahautara River going south, while on the south end they run from Parnassus to the Kahautara River going north. Consequently, while the Kahautara River is at 108 m. 48 ch. on the northern chainage, it is also at 73 m. 40 ch. on the southern. The work involved in the construction of this line at the date instructions were received to proceed was, therefore, the completion of formation, bridging tunnelling, platelaymg, and ballasting over a length of 30 miles which had practically only been scratched, and in addition the complete construction of 33 miles of line through heavy country in which the survey itself had not been finalized. i ' mentl '°. n there are twenty tunnels to pierce of an aggregate length of some 3 miles ; that there are a large number of bridges to construct li S 'r, e,S i some of them over very large and turbulent rivers, such as the Hapuka and the Clarence ; that owing to the location of the line' alone a rocky and precipitous coast it is necessary to provide in many places for extensive sea-walls and protective works; and that, in order to accommodate the railway and main highway on the narrow coastal strip, it has been necessary over a considerable length to completely relocate and deviate the mam highway, it can be realized that this is a work of considerable magnitude. Almost the whole of the accommodation which had been provided when work was previously in hand had been disposed of, and the plant and machinery had been sold or transferred to other works. On account of the magnitude of the work it was decided to divide it into two sections, each under the control of an experienced construction engineer and staff. Instructions were issued to resume work at the beginning of July 1936 and withm three months employment had been given to 700 men (which was considerably m excess of the total number employed when work was closed down in 1931) accommodation had been provided and plant and material were starting to arrive an engineering staff had been built up, and the general organization was well in hand.' The natural configuration of the country and the location of the principal works resulted m the decision to make the Kahautara River the dividing-line between the northern and southern sections. The housing of the men and their families presented a problem on account of the shortage of buildmg-materials, but as far as the south end was concerned the accommodation lying unoccupied at the Waitaki Hydro-electric Power Station was available for transfer and filled a gap in the building programme, while timber and other supplies were being assembled. By the end of 1936 the main difficulties m regard to accommodation had been overcome. At the north end large timber-supplies were ordered direct from the West Coast, and a large force of carpenters was employed at both ends, the building of accommodation being pushed on very vigorously. lii order to employ the maximum number of men at the earliest possible date all efforts were concentrated on providing single accommodation first of all. and when the works were fully manned married accommodation was erected. There are now approximately 1,000 men employed, and these are distributed twenty-three camps. Of these men, approximately 400 have been provided with married accommodation, and the remainder are in single quarters. The various camps have been very completely equipped, roading, watersupplies, and sanitary services having been built, while a number of schools in accordance with the Education Department's standard have been erected and started. At the principal camps Diesel-engined electric-generating equipment has been provided, and the camps wired for electric light and power.

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The great majority of the camps are ideally situated along this very beautiful and picturesque coast, and the general surroundings and climatic conditions are excellent. First-class facilities for recreation have also been provided, four large and several smaller Y.M.C.A. huts having been erected. The large huts have reading-rooms, billiard-room, social hall, canteen, and picture equipment, and, judging by the enthusiasm shown by the in the use of these places of recreation, their erection appears to be well justified and augers well for the future co-operative effort on this undertaking. Headquarters were originally established at Wharanui and Parnassus respectively, but as the work progressed they have been shifted to Oaro in the south and Aniseed in the north; these two points are_ suitably situated to control southern and northern sections right up to completion. At the beginning of the job a considerable amount of clearing up was necessary at both ends to put the original formation work in order after the lapse of six years, but by the end of October, 1936, most of the cuttings had been cleared out and excavation work commenced in earnest. At the northern end on the Clarence Section, from 56 m. 6 ch. to 76 m. 5 eh. a great deal of marram-grass planting and sand reclamation has been carried out, and the formation, with the exception of the Blue Slip, has now been completed to the Clarence Bridge. As soon as the work was authorized a start was made to clear up this section, the track and rails were uncovered, burnt sleepers replaced, culverts cleared, and washouts repaired. Temporary bridges were reconditioned to carry the rolling-stock, ballast-pits were reopened, service lines laid, and ballasting put in hand, and, rails and fastenings having arrived, the completion of platelaying is now in hand. The bridge over the Clarence River constitutes one of the major structures on this end of the line, and its early completion is essential to enable platelaying and ballasting to proceed expeditiously south of it and keep m step with the remainder of the construction programme. Plans of this bridge, which consists of twelve 120 ft. steel spans on concrete caissons were pushed on urgently, and a contract was let for the construction and sinking of the piers. The steel has been ordered for the superstructure, and arrangements have been made for its fabrication in the Railwav Workshops. The Woodside Creek Bridge, at 56 m. 50 ch., and Wairnia Creek Bridge, at 59 m. 72 ch., are well in hand. The Blue Slip, at 61 m., which is a moving hillside of pug over f m. long and 10 ch. to 30 ch. wide, has always been considered a problem, but the excavation' here is proceeding steadily, and although it is anticipated that between 250,000 and 500,000 cubic yards will require removal before the slip is stabilized there appears to be every prospect that the measures now being taken will be successful. On the Kaikoura Section, from 76 m. 6 ch. to 103 m. 48 ch., formation is in hand over a length of 15m., and 4m. have been completed since construction recommenced. The majority of the work on this section is veiy heavy indeed, consisting of large rock cuttings and tunnels. Deviations of the Main South Road are numerous on this section ; 66 ch. have been completed and a further 3 J m. is well in hand. Culverting is well in hand on the first 15 m. of this section, 1,000 lineal feet of culverts of various sizes having been completed since construction recommenced. There are three tunnels on this section, but before they could be put in hand the necessary machines and equipment had to be obtained from overseas and erected A very complete and up-to-date set of plant and equipment, has been provided for these tunnels. Power for the work is Diesel-generated, as no standard electric supply is available, and the necessary power-house with air-compressing plant, ventilating-fans, electric light, &c., has been provided,

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All drilling is being carried out with machine drills, and the most modern type of scraper equipment for removing the spoil has been provided. Work is carried on by the top-heading or bench system, Canadian type of timbering being employed, and collapsible steel profiling is used for the concrete lining, the concrete itself being placed and conveyed pneumatically. The haulage of spoil will be handled by a new type of Diesel-engined locomotive which is specially adapted for underground work. Excavation work has only been commenced recently, but the following progress has been made :—■ ' No. 1. Okiwi Bay, at 82 m. 42 ch. : The top bench is being excavated. No. 2. —Ohau, at 84 m. 40 ch. : The north portal and 6 ft. of lining have been completed, and driving for the next length has been commenced. No. 3—Half-moon Bay, at 85 m. 72 ch. : The south portal and 33 ft. of lining have been completed in the open, and driving of the first length underground has been commenced. On the general formation work mechanical excavators are being largely used, and their use has resulted in the work being speeded up very considerably. It was originally proposed to locate the Kaikoura Station some distance from the centre of the town in order to obtain the best alignment, and the shortest possible distance between the terminal points of the line, but it was later decided on account of traffic considerations that the Kaikoura Railway-station should be located near the centre of the Kaikoura Township, and this portion of the line has been resurveyed to give effect to this. At the southern end work has been concentrated mainly on the section between Parnassus and the Oaro River, and the cuttings between 54 m. and 62 m. are now about 50 per cent, completed. Road access has been opened from Oaro, at 67 m. 30 ch. to the north end of the Amuri Bluff tunnel at 62 m. 68 ch. by means of a track along the sea-coast. The most spectacular work on this section has been the excavation of the Hawkswood Cutting at 48 m. 30 ch. A start was made dismantling and re-erecting the l j cubic yards Ruston steam drag-line, which was put into operation digging a gullet 30 ft. deep and about 60 ft. to 70 ft. wide at the top in October, 1936, and an 8 cubic yard carryall and caterpillar tractor was provided to rehandle and spread the material clear of the final batter lines. Two J cubic yard Diesel shovels were started at the south end on successive levels below the steam drag-line excavation from the south end, and a second steam drag-line was put into operation in February, 1937. The first steam drag-line having by this time excavated the gullet mentioned above over the whole length of the cutting, both machines were then started widening the upper level. A third £ cubic yard Diesel shovel was then started at the north end of the cutting, working south. Later the south end second lift shovel was converted to work as a drag-line, and, after digging a bench for the steam drag-line on the right batter to work from, was moved to pull the batters down for the north end shovel to load to the trucks. All machines were working three shifts, material being led to bank by trucks and steam locomotives, and rehandling of spoil from the steam drag-lines by the 8 yd. carryall and tractor and Angledozer and tractor. The best four-weekly output for all machines was 43,780 cubic yards. Of the 291,439 cubic yards left in the cuttings when the works closed in 1931, approximately 248,000 cubic yards had been excavated by the end of June, 1937. At the same time as earthwork was proceeding and the formation work was advancing from Parnassus, the building of bridges to cross the gaps in this formation was also in hand. The two chief bridges in the first 10 m. —-at Leader River, 44 m. 65 ch., and Conway River, 50 m. 50 ch.—are strangely of the same length, 724 ft., and each have sixteen spans of 45 ft., with plate girders on concrete piers founded on piles in the case of the Leader Bridge and on solid papa in the case of the Conway. At the Leader River the piers have been completed and a start has been made placing the girders. At the Conway River there are three piers yet to complete.

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Construction of culverts and water drives was well advanced in 1931, but the work lias been continued and the greater part of it has been completed. Three water drives, aggregating 300 ft. in length, six pipe culverts of a total length of 240 ft., and a 4 ft. arch culvert 72 ft. long make up the completed work. Tunnelling is the controlling feature of the south end, as there are 2| m. to pierce in fifteen tunnels. A certain amount of plant is on the job for the purpose, and a start has been made with the first tunnel, at 61 m. 26 ch., where 100 ft. of bottom heading has been driven, while at the Amuri Bluff tunnel, 62 m. 27 ch. to 62 m. 66 ch., which is the longest tunnel on the length, everything is in readiness for a start from the northern end. The driving of this tunnel controls the time for completion of this end of the railway, and everything has been done to expedite its commencement. Unfortunately, unlike all other tunnels on this section, it is a long way from a formed road, and before anything could be done access roads had to be formed to both ends. At the northern end this amounted to m. and at the southern end 1J m. While the Amuri Bluff tunnel is being driven it is expected that all the other tunnels, together with bridge and culvert work on the whole length, can be completed. Similar equipment is being provided for the tunnel work on this length, as previously described for the north end. Sea protection forms quite a large part of the work along the coast from Oaro, 65 m., north to the Kahautara River, 73 m. 40 ch. There are numerous road deviations necessitated by the location of the railway, and in many of these places banks encroach on the sea a considerable distance. It is estimated that nearly 100,000 cubic yards of heavy stone up to about 6 tons and more in weight will be required for building the outside of or facing fillings. A start has been made quarrying stone at 67 m. 70 ch., and a steam crane, with two heavy-duty lorries, is engaged in getting out stone. At a later date, when the line is laid, it may be necessary to provide larger stone than 5 to 6 tons to protect the toes of the fillings in the more exposed positions, but in the meantime the stone now being quarried enables the banks to be pushed out with little chance of serious damage. The extension of the rail-head from Parnassus has awaited the completion of the Leader River Bridge and the arrival of new permanent way. By the time rails are received we will be in a position to commence platelaying and progress for nearly 12 m. during the present year, bringing the rail-head to the Hundalee Station, 55 m. 60 ch., which is at the point where the main highway crosses the Conway River. North of the Oaro, work has been concentrated on opening up approach cuttings to tunnel portals and six of these are in hand at present. Westport-Inangahua Railway.—The maximum number of men employed on this work during the period was 400. Construction work is now in full swing. It was necessary firstly to concentrate on the provision of accommodation for the workmen, and, coincident with this, machinery and materials for the construction work were assembled. The nature of the material in the tortuous Buller Gorge being largely solid rock, a number of latest-pattern air-compressors with their complementary rockdrills and air tools were imported and were placed in work as received. Two excavators, usable either as power shovels or drag-lines, have been installed, and are doing excellent work in localities where large quantities of spoil are to be shifted. These give saving in cost of the work while speeding up completion of the early required lengths. The machines are a smaller type than some used in other parts of the country, this being necessary because they have to be slung across the Buller River on wire-rope cableways. A large quantity of material for construction purposes has to be transported by these same cableways, some of which are equipped with powerful transporter winches. A feature of the job is the number of large bridges along the route, the largest of these being the Buller River Bridge close to Inangahua Junction. This work involves sinking of concrete cylinders deep into the river-bed, and, to assist this, besides providing a means for the launching of the

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long steel girders, a Duplex cableway plant is installed. This cableway was previously used most successfully for erecting some of the huge steel viaducts on the Napier-Wairoa Railway. Its use on the Buller River will minimize the risk of loss by floods, as far less staging will be required. For cylinder-sinking the latest pattern electrically operated air-locks will be used. For the other bridges it is proposed to embark on reinforced-concrete structures instead of the more commonly used concrete piers and steel girders. This type of construction for high railway bridges is new to New Zealand and has required close investigation, but a saving in cost is anticipated, besides giving a structure on which maintenance is reduced to a minimum. A feature of this construction will be the use of special vibrating equipment, which has been imported to enable high-strength concrete to be produced for these special structures. The country through which this railway is being constructed is in the main stable, but there are one or two slip problems likely to present considerable difficulty. The comfort of the workmen has not been overlooked. Neat camps for single and married men have been provided along the route. The largest of these at Tiroroa has a large recreation-hall managed by the Y.M.C.A., while each camp and the hall at this point is supplied with electric light from the Department's own Diesel-driven generator. Hot and cold showers are installed at the camps. Other facilities for the men are being provided, particularly at Inangahua Junction, where the Buller Bridge works will be in progress for a considerable time. RAILWAYS : IMPROVEMENTS AND ADDITIONS TO OPEN LINES. The net expenditure out of the Public Works Fund under the above heading for the year ended 31st March, 1937, was £432,112. This amount was expended on the various works shown in the following statement — £ Wellington new station and yard .. .. .. 218,833 Wellington - Tawa Flat deviation .. .. .. 10,761 Welhngton-Johnsonville electrification .. .. 27,264 Wellington-Paekakariki electrification .. .. 73,545 Christchurch new station .. .. .. .. 10,534 Papakura-Horotiu duplication .. .. .. 19,749 Plimmerton-Paekakariki duplication . . . . 6,677 Turakina-Okoia deviation . . . . . . . . 31,157 Grade easements . . . . . . . . . . 21,677 Rail-car sheds .. .. .. .. .. 10,312 Minor works .. .. .. .. 1,603 £432,112 The Wellington new station building was nearing completion at the end of the financial year, and was officially opened on 19th June, 1937. Work on the Tawa FJat deviation was completed early in the financial year. The work of electrifying the suburban sections at Wellington was proceeded with. On the Wellington-Paekakariki section good progress was made with bonding of rails and erection of overhead gear, the transmission-line was completed, and equipment was installed at the various sub-stations as it arrived. During the year work was commenced on the Wellington-Johnsonville section. The erection of poles was practically completed, and good progress made with bonding and overhead erection, while the work of equipping sub-stations was proceeding. The amount shown against the Christchurch new station is the initial expenditure, and is for the purchase of land.

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Work was commenced during the year on the duplication of the PapakuraHorotiu and Plimmerton-Paekakariki sections .of the main line. Work on the Turakina-Okoia deviation was commenced just prior to the 1936-37 financial year. This deviation will shorten the existing line by 3J m., and will provide improved grades and curvature. It leaves the existing railway at the northern end of the Turakina Station Yard, crosses the Turakina and Wangaehu Rivers and the Wangaehu Valley, and rejoins the existing line m. on the For dell side of the Okoia Station. Camps have been erected, and carpenters', fitting, and blacksmiths' shops have been established at Fordell. Three wells to supply water to the various camps have been sunk, service roads to both portals of the Turakina and Fordell tunnels have been formed and metalled, together with access roads to the camps. A total of 3m. of earthwork has been completed, and the approaches to the Fordell tunnel, a short tunnel at 5 m., and the southern end of the Turakina tunnel are well in hand. Five miles of permanent fencing have been completed and 518 lineal feet of culverts placed. An average number of 219 men was employed during the period. HYDRO-ELECTRIC DEVELOPMENT. Construction work in this branch of the Department's activities has been mainly concentrated on completion of the extension for two 21,000 kilowatt units at Arapuni, and on extensions of transmission-lines to North Auckland and to Westland. As indicated in my report of last year, there has been considerable activity in gold-mining in Westland and the demand for power has increased enormously. The local supply authority, the Grey Electric-power Board, has found it impossible to meet all demands made upon it. To cope with this position the transmission-line from Lake Coleridge is being extended to the West Coast, but some difficulty is being experienced in maintaining deliveries of poles. To meet the urgent demand, the Diesel generating-station of 5,760 kw. previously located in Lyttelton has been transferred to the West Coast, and is being installed at Dobson. The. Government has also made arrangements to purchase the local hydro-generating plant belonging to the Grey Electric-power Board, and this will be taken over and operated under Government control when the Dobson Diesel plant is ready for operation, and the Government can assume responsibility for the whole supply of power in bulk to this area. Another important event in the electrical section was the purchase of the whole of the generating-works and reticulation of the Southland Electric-power Board. I indicated in my previous report that negotiations to this end were in hand. Before deciding on this step a referendum of ratepayers in the Southland area was taken to see if the change of control from Board to Government was favoured locally. As the result was overwhelmingly in favour of acquisition by the Government, the works were taken over early in October, and have since been operated under Government control. Until such time as this system can be connected to the general Government system by means of a transmission-line between Dunedin and Gore, it has not been possible to do a great deal to stimulate the business in the area, as it would not be possible to supply any great increase in power-demand. There is, however, already an indication that there will be a considerable increase as soon as extra power is available, and the whole organization and basis of charges is being reviewed with a view to generally increasing and improving the supply in the area. In addition to the direct purchases of the works of the Southland and Grey Electric-power Boards mentioned above, arrangements. have also been made during the year with Palmerston North, Taumarunui, and Whakatane by which local plants in those areas will be closed down so that additional power can be taken from the Government system.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/parliamentary/AJHR1937-I.2.2.3.1

Bibliographic details

D-01 PUBLIC WORKS STATEMENT (BY THE HON. R. SEMPLE, MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS)., Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1 January 1937

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11,797

D-01 PUBLIC WORKS STATEMENT (BY THE HON. R. SEMPLE, MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS). Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1 January 1937

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