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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 superficial feet.

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 demand.

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.


Extracts from the Sydney Daily Press relating to the recent eruption of Mount Tarawera.

Sydney Morning Herald^ Friday, June nth, 1886.

Auckland, Thursday. 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 Wairoa.

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.

Sydney Daily Telegraph.
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 atmosphere.

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.

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