NEW ZEALAND FORESTS.
Professor Kirk has prepared a voluminous report
on the forests of the Colony and the state of the timber
trade, which he has forwarded to the Minister of Lands.
The report deals with each provincial district separately,
but the forests of East Cape and the southern districts of
the North Island have yet to be treated of. The following
are portions of the report:—
the southland timber industry.
In Southland there are
still 312,467 acres of virgin forest out of 345,197 reserved by the
Crown. It will thus be seen that the area already denuded by sawmillers
is 32,730 acres. There are thirty-six sawmills in operation, employing
about. 700 men, the average weekly expenditure for wages being 1200/.,
or about 65,000/. per annum ; the total output being estimated at
24,000,000 superficial feet of inch thickness per annum. The Southland
timber trade is certainly in a depressed state at this time, caused by
over-production, though the rapid development of Southland trade has
closed mills in Catlin River, annihilated the coastal timber export of
Westland, and greatly restricted that of Marlborough and Nelson. The
timber converted in Otago district does not amount to more than
one-fourth of the annual output of Southland, so that Southland
practically supplies the markets of the southern portion of the Colony
from Invercargill to Ash- burton with red and white pine, and exports
cargoes to Queen Charlotte Sound, the Wairarapa, and the Manawatu. The
quantity of timber shipped from Southland ports coastwise during the
year ending 31st March, 1885, was 1,659,038 superficial feet; to foreign
countries, 1,107,674 feet. There can be no doubt that the foreign trade
is capable of considerable expansion. The total area of forest land
granted for sawmill leases during the three years ending 30th September,
1885, is 5901 acres, so that, including the mills working on private
land, over 200 acres of forests are denuded yearly in Southland alone.
the otago forests.
Otago has an area of 13,759,000 acres Crown
lands, but the Professor thinks the area of really
good forest will fall below 1,000,000 acres. From a
return prepared by the Commissioner of Crown Lands for
Otago, I find that eleven sawmills are in operation in
the district, while two others are returned as not
working. The total number of men employed is stated to
be 101, and the annual output slightly exceeds
7,600,000 superficial feet. Although six mills are stated to be
worked by engines of six-horse power only, the number of
men may safely be increased to 160, and will then contrast
poorly with 700 men and boys employed in the Southland
sawmills. Licenses in Otago are granted for sections of 100
acres, at the rate of 1 /. ij. per acre, payable in three annual
instalments. Licenses are granted to split and cut firewood,
fencing, &c.,on sections 200 feet square, on payment of 2/. io.y.
per annum. The total receipts from both sources amount to
rather more than 500/. per annum.
timber industry in canterbury.
The proportion of forest land in the
Government district of Canterbury is less than in any
other part of the Colony, large portions of the
districts being absolutely divested of trees except
where small plantations have been made by settlers.
The district has an area of 8,693,000 acres, of which 374,350
acres are considered to be more or less clothed with forest,
but as the chief forest areas are situated in mountainous
country, the quantity of timber available for the purposes of
sawmills is extremely small. No timber is being cut in
State forests in Canterbury under license at the present
time. The land is sold at 2/. per acre, including timber.
Twenty-one sawmills are in operation, and the average output
of each is less than 500,000 feet per annum, the total not
exceeding 9,893,000 superficial feet.
The area of Westland is
estimated at 3,045,000 acres, of which 1,897.558 acres are covered with
splendid forest still in the hands of the Crown, in addition to 632,519
acres of lowland scrub or inferior forest. At the present time most of
the mills are not working more than one-third time, and some even less.
The actual output at the present time scarcely exceeds three million
superficial feet, while the number of men employed is 291, conversion
being restricted to sufficient to meet local demands, the coastal trade
having completely passed away. The freehold may be acquired in Westland
for \l. per acre, including the timber. Licenses to cut timber are
granted for one year on payment of a fee of 5/., or 1 os. per month, but
no definite limitations are made with regard to area. Practically, the
licensee has liberty to cut wherever he pleases within the boundary
described in this license, no supervision being attempted.
nelson forest lands.
The area of the provincial district of
Nelson is estimated at 7,000,000 acres, the forest
lands still in the hands of the Crown comprising an
area estimated approximately at 3,290,000 acres ; but
this quantity includes good mountain forest, scrub,
and patches of timber in gullies, &c., so that it is
extremely difficult to form an approximate estimate of the
average of timber available for profitable conversion. In all
probability it will not exceed 1,000,000 acres. Twenty-two
sawmills are in operation in the district, and afford employment
to 130 men and boys. The total output is stated at
5,360,000 superficial feet.
the timber interests of marlborough.
Marlborough has 2,560,000 acres, one-fifth
of which is covered with forests of varying quality.
Fourteen sawmills are in operation in the district,
and afford employment to 175 men and boys. The annual
output is estimated at 8,606,340 superficial feet.
Sawmills were established in this district in the very
early days, a large supply of good timber growing in
situations of easy access, and the facilities for
shipping coastwise have proved an irresistible inducement.
It is therefore no great matter for surprise that most of the
forests near the sea have been practically worked out.
the auckland timber industry.
The provincial district
of Auckland comprises 17,000,000 acres, and includes the most valuable
forests in the Colony. The area covered by forest is estimated by the
chief surveyor to contain 7,200,000 acres, of which about 1,606,350
acres— including the reserves—are still held by the Crown. A remarkable
feature of the forests of the Northern District is that while they
possess timber-trees not found in any other part of the Colony, they
comprise as well all the kinds found in the other provincial districts.
The kauri is by far the most valuable timber-tree in the Colony. For
good continuous kauri forest, 20,000 superficial feet per acre would be
a rather low average, but much of the land classed as kauri forest may
have only one or two trees per acre—equivalent, say, from 3000 to 5000
The following approximate estimate has been
prepared by Mr. S. P. Smith, chief surveyor :—Kauri
forest in the hands of the Government, 36,470 acres;
owned by Europeans, 58,200 acres; owned by natives,
43,800;—total, 138,470 acres. Mr. Smith states his
belief that a considerable proportion of the kauri forest still in the
hands of the natives is subject to rights of Europeans
to cut timber therefrom, and adds : " In making up
this estimate I exclude forests in which the timber,
as far as my knowledge goes, is scattered and not
likely to pay for working at present, and take only
that which is fairly accessible."
Referring to the timber industry of
Auckland, Professor Kirk says that the return drawn up
by the Registrar-General states the number of sawmills
to be 43, of which eight are worked by water-power.
The annual output is stated to be 48,631,206
superficial feet, and the number of persons employed 1443
men and 35 women. These are very much below the proper
numbers. The total value of timber exported from Auckland
is returned at 135,952/., or more than five times as much as
all the rest of the Colony put together. The Auckland sawmills
must be classed amongst the best in the world. The
largest are considered to be unequalled in the southern hemisphere. In
one or two cases employment is given to nearly 500 men
and boys, and the annual output of each is stated to
exceed 8,500,000 feet per annum. At the present time there
are numerous mills with an output of 5,000,000 feet and
upwards. One mill, with an annual output of 500,000 feet, is
stated to have sufficient timber to last for over 30 years, but
this is an exceptional case. With possibly two exceptions,
all large mills have sufficient standing kauri to keep
them going for the next 12 or 15 years, at least, at the present
the extinction of the kauri.
Professor Kirk concludes his report, as
follows:—"Estimating the total extent of available kauri forest at
200,000 acres, and placing the average yield at the
high rate of 15,000 superficial feet per acre for all
classes, the present demand will exhaust the supply in
26 years, making no allowance for natural increase of
local requirements. If, however, the demand expands in
the same ratio that it has shown during the last 10
years, the consumption in 1895 will be upwards of
240,000,000 superficial feet per annum, and the kauri will
be practically worked out within 15 years from the present
date. Under these circumstances, the best interests of
Auckland and the Colony at large demand the strict conservation
of all available kauri forests. The progress and welfare of northern
districts have been largely due to her magnificent
forest resources, and their conservation will prove an
important factor in the permanence of her prosperity.
The utilization of the ordinary timbers should be encouraged,
and it should be an axiom with the settlers not to use kauri
when red or white pine can be made to answer the purpose.
Any steps tending to postpone the period of exhaustion will
be of the greatest benefit to Auckland, as they would allow
a longer period for the growth of kauri timber to take
place within the restricted limit in which replacement is
possible. Should this warning be unheeded, a large displacement
of labour will result, and the prosperity of the North
will be greatly retarded.
from the Sydney Daily Press relating to the recent
eruption of Mount Tarawera.
Sydney Morning Herald^ Friday, June nth,
Intelligence was received here early this morning from
Rotorua, stating that a terrible volcanic disturbance had taken
place at Mount Tarawera. The residents of Rotorua passed
a fearful night. The earth had been in a continual state of
quaking since midnight. At ten minutes past two this
morning the first heavy shock of earthquake occurred. It
was accompanied by a fearful subterranean roar, which
caused the greatest alarm to the residents, who immediately
ran out of their houses. A grand yet terrible sight met their
gaze. Mount Tarawera, which is in close proximity to
Rotomahana, suddenly became an active volcano, and from
the summit of the mountain immense volumes of flame
belched forth to a great height. Streams of lava ran down
the sides of the mountain.
The eruption appears to have extended itself
to several places southward.
Dense masses *of ashes came pouring down in
the neighbourhood of the settlement at Rotorua at 4
a.m., accompanied by a suffocating smell, which rose
from the lower regions of the earth. An immense black
cloud of ashes hung like a pall over the country for
miles round, extending in a line from Taheka to
At 3 a.m., a terrific
report aroused the sleeping inhabitants of Taupo. An immense glare of a
pillar-shaped light was observed to the N.N.E., and a great black cloud
hung over this pillar. It was concave on the underside and convex on the
upper, whilst meteors shot out from the cloud in every direction,
shedding unearthly bluish lights all around. Loud reports, accompanied
by very heavy shocks of earthquake, followed in quick succession. The
earthquakes continued till 6 a.m., when daylight dimly appeared, but the
clouds of ashes which hung over the country rendered the light almost
invisible. The trembling inhabitants thought that the end of the world
had come. Two hitherto extinct volcanoes, Ruawhia and Tarawera, threw an
immense column of flame and smoke into the heavens. Molten lava and hot
mud ran in all directions, while huge rocks and masses of fire went up
and around everywhere.
June 12 th, 1886.
Refugees from Wairoa describe the eruption
of Okaro, one of the peaks of Mount Tarawera, as a
magnificent, but terrible sight. It is estimated an
area of country sixty miles in extent has been either
under volcanic eruption, or affected by the upheavals.
The scene at Wairoa is described by several
eye-witnesses as being one of terrible grandeur, and
equal to that represented in Martin's celebrated picture ofthe
Last Day. Shocks of earthquake continued almost incessant for
three hours, but after that the quakings somewhat subsided.
Latest intelligence from Rotorua states that
at a quarter to eight to-night, Ruawaku, one of the
craters of Mount Tarawera, was still belching forth a
huge column of steam and smoke. The whole mountain is
almost completely hidden from view by the dense clouds
of smoke. One man, who caught a momentary glimpse of
the mountain, says that it has been raised by from 200
to 300 feet. Lake Rotomahana has become less, and is
now one mass of boiling water. Nobody has yet been
able to penetrate as far as the famous ,Pink Terraces.
It is a matter of dispute as to what state they are
now in. An attempt will be made to examine the
neighbourhood of the terraces to-morrow.
Tuesday, June 22nd, 1886.
June 12.—We left Tauranga at half-past six,
the wind sharp and bracing and the ground covered with
hoar frost and the pools with ice. All over the
surface of the land, as far as the eye could reach,
lay a coating of volcanic dust, which was stirred up
into clouds by every puff of wind. As we ascended the
hill towards'Oropi bush this coating became thinner,
diminishing from an even deposit of about a quarter of an
inch to the bare covering of the ground. Vegetation
everywhere is coated with this earthy matter, although it is
not so deep as to prevent the cattle from obtaining food.
The atmosphere was perfectly clear and the
sun unobscured. The few settlers spoken to on the road
all referred to the alarm caused by the untoward event
of the previous day, but it was generally taken for
granted that the force of the eruption had expended
itself. Its distance and the cause of the dustcloud
being understood, there was no further uneasiness,
except for the fate of those near the centre of the
eruption. The coating of dust steadily diminished as we
neared Ohinemutu itself. On emerging from the bush at the
top of the hill overlooking Lake Rotorua, a magnificent and
at the same time saddening spectacle was disclosed. A
dense bank of steam of snowy whiteness extended for miles
and rose above the range of hills on the shore of Rotorua,
opposite Ohinemutu. This bank of vapour drifted slowly to
the northward and merged into another dustcloud, which
appeared to be created by the play of the wind upon the
thick deposits of dust which covered the hills and forests in
that direction, In the direction where Tarawera was known
to be, the bank of steam was solid and unbroken for miles,
and rose to a height of several thousand feet further to the
right. Over the road leading to Kotomahana was another
vast column ; over that lake the setting sun lit up these
cloudbanks with a flush of pink, covering with a glory the
ramparts of desolation below. Taking within this view the
whole line of hills from Taheketo Ohinemutu—that is to say,
the whole of the north shore of Rotorua—everything wore
the grey-drab tint of the volcanic debris. At Ohinemutu
itself the steam-jets appeared rather less active than otherwise,
although numbers of new springs have broken out and the
water of Lake Rotorua has risen a foot.
At the Ngae the shower was heavier, the dust
falling to a depth of nine inches. The stories of mud
and stones being deposited to a depth of several feet
at this place are thus disproved. The dust covered up
all vegetation, leaving cattle absolutely without food
; some have already died at the Ngae ; others are
being fed on hay. The block of land at Taheke, which
was valued on Tuesday at iij. an acre, is now declared
almost worthless, owing to this thick deposit of dust.
Beyond Taheke, in the direction of Tauranga, the lightning
felled several trees, which produced bush fires, and falling
timber has obstructed the coach-road. There was, fortunately, no
loss of life in any of these directions.
The pretty little
Tikitapu bush,such a favourite with tourists, is completely destroyed;
the whole forest is covered with three feet of volcanic dust. Trees 170
feet high are lying flat, torn up by the convulsion and the high wind,
and their roots, as they were torn from the earth, lying in many cases
ten feet high. All undergrowth is swept away or torn down with the
weight of the debris, and not a leaf is to be seen, and the foliage of
the big trees is destroyed. On reaching the Tikitapu Lake, we find that
it is the " Blue Lake " no longer ; the colour of the water is changed
to a dirty brown. Following the road, the sidings are filled up with
drift deposits to half the width of the road. Rising the hill we come in
view of Rotokakihi. What was once the green lake is now dirty water, and
the heaviness of the shower may be gauged by a ditch of two feet, and a
bank four feet, the top of which only is visible.
The residents at Rotorua described the
noises heard as similiar to those experienced at
Tauranga—rumblings and tremors—but nothing resembling
the cannonading heard in Auckland. The latter noise
probably arose from the discharges in the upper
atmosphere, and was deadened to those nearer the scene
by the rumblings and vibrations in the lower
At Ohinemutu, the first signs of disturbance
were felt at one o'clock in the shape of rumbling
noises, which were taken for earthquakes. These
continued without intermission. On looking out, a
dense black cloud was seen in the direction of
Tarawera, but it appeared as if it was hanging over Ohinemutu itself.
In this cloud occurred wonderful electric phenomena,
like the most brilliant lightning, but terrible beyond
description. Finally the whole population rushed from
their houses, terror-stricken, and ran down the street,
moved apparently by the impulse to get away from the black
canopy which swelled as if it were about to seal up the history
of the village and involve all its inhabitants in a common
grave. Some declared that the Day of Judgment had come,
and the feeling experienced was such as we may suppose
would be felt by the inhabitants of the earth on that day.
None of these to whom I have spoken wish to repeat the
experience of that terrible night.
The discoveries made by
the expedition to Rotomahana and its south sides enable us for the first
time to construct a connected account of the eruption and the extent and
character of its influence. As to the phenomena, as connected with the
first outbreak, there is naturally some discrepancy in statements,
owing to the excitement under which observations were made, but a
careful comparison of the descriptions given by the most competent and
careful observers, shows that the first outbreak undoubtedly began in
the peak of Tarawera mountain, known as Ruawhia. Not improbably some
shifting of the earth crust beneath the mountain or a change within it,
producing the generation of great heat, caused the prolonged earthquake
and rumblings which were heard between one and two o'clock in the
morning, forming the first of the series of phenomena which attended the
eruption. Soon after two o'clock Ruawhia was observed to be in flames.
Above it hung a canopy of black smoke, producing on the mountain the
appearance of a large mushroom, and lightning played with such
brilliancy around the peak that the glare from the volcanic fires was
hardly distinguishable. There is no doubt, howeyer, that the mountain
did emit flames, attended with a belching forth of red- hot stones,
which could be distinctly seen as they were ejected into the air and
rolled down the mountain sides. This continued for about an hour before
the vomiting of the great mud cloud out of Lake Rotomahana, which fell
so disastrously on the village of Wairoa. This cloud was observed by
those watching the eruption of Tarawera to come up some miles south of
the great mountain, and its apparent location gave rise to the belief,
now proved erroneous, that Mount Kakaramea and the adjacent Lake Okara
were in eruption.
The loss from the destruction
of the terraces, as we cannot but fear they are gone, is simply
incalculable. A marvel which was without parallel on the earth has been
swept away ; and even if ever replaced by the same agencies working in the
silicious strata, and this is improbable, a long geological period would be
necessary for their reproduction. The eruptions now in progress are attended
by frequent earthquakes. Three were felt while we were in camp and two
during the four hours spent on the dusthills around Rotomahana. One was of
such violence that the swaying of the hill we were standing on was visible
to the eye. If these craters keep in action they will form as great an
attraction to tourists as the terraces, but when an escape has been found
for the forces recently set into motion, they may subside into quiescence or
become intermittent. The Rotorua district, however, must always be a very
wonderful one, which tourists through New Zealand will never willingly leave
out of their routes. As an attraction now, the district offers novelties
which surpass everything here before. It furnishes the extraordinary example
of how geological changes in the earth's strata are sometimes effected in
the course of a few hours. The half-buried houses and whares at Wairoa are
perfectly unique, and the village ought to be left standing just as it is,
except so far as excavations are necessary to recover bodies or property.
Rotomahana, as an exhibition of nature's forces, is infinitely more
marvellous than ever it was before. To see this large basin torn and lashed
with a fury that baffles description—roaring, cannonading, screeching,
driving into the air at one spot columns of steam such as might be generated
in the boilers of a leviathian steamship, and from another orifice in the
same crater send out black volumes of smoke and showers of stones, is a
spectacle that can only lose in magnificence by any attempt to convey an
expression of it in words. I feel that 1 dare not attempt to do it justice.
Fortunately, from the configuration of the ground a full view may be
obtained of a most extensive area of country.
With regard to the volcanic eruption, Dr. Hector
believes that the earthquake shocks caused by the outbreak
of Tarawera mountain, ruptured the steam-pipes in the Rotomahana
geysers and let in the water of the lake upon the subterranean
heat, resulting in the generation of enormous quantities of
steam and the ejectment of the mud at the bottom of the
lake. He doubts, however, whether the eruption has been
of a character which produces the formation of lava. He
thinks rather that the outburst on Tarawera was caused by
the rupture of the sealed cap which was previously impervious
to steam. The stones resembling scoria were, he thinks,
formed by heat, produced in steam and not through liquefaction
of the rock by intense heat. From a number of specimens I
had collected on the scoria hills at the back of Rotomahana,
he selected one which, from its characteristics, gave indications of
lava. The rest were mostly pieces of terrace formation and
a small piece of obsidian. As to the chance of a further
eruption, Dr. Hector hesitates to pronounce any decided
opinion. He believes, however, that the chief danger at
present is from the mud. He says the danger from the
shifting of recent deposits is well recognized.