The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 9 (January 1, 1928)
The actual quantity of goods handed over to the railways of New Zealand for conveyance during the twelve months ended 31st March last was 7,308,449 tons. This quantity is a New Zealand record, and is equal to the total carried by the South Australian, Western Australian and Tasmanian railways combined. New Zealand's total is two million tons greater than the tonnage carried on the Queensland railways in one year, and is only a little more than a million tons short of the Victorian total. New South Wales is the only other Australian State having a greater freight traffic by rail than our own Dominion, the quantity being in proportion to the difference in the population of the two countries, that is, at the ratio of two to one.
It may be interesting to look for a moment at the proportions in which the goods that go to make up the seven million tons of freight on the rails are distributed. The farmer looms up large in the freight use he makes of the rail. Fertilisers and the products of agriculture, such as grain, fruit, root crops, fodder, flax and seeds total one million tons. Animals and animal products total another million tons. More than half of this tonnage is incurred in the conveyance of the animals themselves — the cattle, horses, sheep and pigs that earn for New Zealand her great reputation as a pastoral country. But the secondary industries, arising directly from the pastoral, supply an equal tonnage; for there are 170 thousand tons of butter, cheese and dairy byproducts carried, 148 thousand tons of meat, and 134 thousand tons of wool represented in the million tons for which the skilled attention given by our men on the land to certain branches of the animal kingdom is in the first place responsible.
Mining plays an important part in the supplying of work for the railways, and accounts for the heaviest classified tonnage carried last year, amounting to over 2½ million tons. Of this there was about a million tons each of New Zealand hard coal and New Zealand brown coal. Road metal and agricultural lime comprised most of the balance. The amount of imported coal carried was 82,000 tons. The products of New Zealand forests in the shape of timber, firewood, posts, etc., made up 750,000 tons, the tonnage of imported timber being 45 thousand
Amongst the manufactures railed New Zealand cement totalled 78 thousand tons, and benzine page 11 zine 61 thousand tons, while miscellaneous manufactures accounted for the remaining million and a half tons.