The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 11 (March 1, 1929)
Essay by Margaret McKenna, Std. VI., Ohauiti School, Tauranga
Essay by Margaret McKenna, Std. VI., Ohauiti School, Tauranga.
If we carefully examine the annual report of the New Zealand Railways we shall have little cause to regret the introduction of this means of communication into this young and beautiful country. On the contrary, since railways have been used in New Zealand great progress has been made in the development of our primary industries.
Those who have derived the most benefit are undoubtedly the landowners. Railways tend to closer settlement, and hence more production. Land which has previously been unoccupied, immediately becomes valuable, and thus improves the country from the industrial and financial points of view.page 25
Goods can now be carried from one part of the country to another at very reasonable rates, and for that reason production has increased, until, not only is there sufficient produce for our own country, but even a greater quantity for exportation to Great Britain. People cannot be continually taking the good out of the ground without putting something back. The special low rates of freight on fertilisers is a boon to farmers. Every encouragement is given to all types of farming. Special arrangements are made for the carrying of sheep, cattle and pigs, even from the remotest parts of the country. The farmers take full advantage of the facilities, as is shown by the great number of animals carried annually.
The timber industry has been vastly improved since railways opened. Timber was let go to waste in former days on account of there being no ways of transporting it. Some of it was carted away by teams of bullocks, but this was a very slow and expensive procedure. Now that the railways penetrate into the heart of our thickest forest there is no difficulty in conveying the timber from the mill to the nearest seaport.
Mails are now received daily in all the small country places, which are connected by rail. In former times people thought they were very fortunate in receiving three mails a year. Papers may be had daily, and country people receive the news almost as soon as the towns people. They learn how the market for their produce is progressing, and find when and where the various stock sales are to be held. The railway has linked up the cities with the country, and thus brings about a closer relationship between both.
It has also been of great educational value. Many wayback families had their education neglected on account of there being no ways of getting to school, but thanks to Railways, there is no excuse for the education of any person to be neglected.
Families who had never had the privilege of seeing the towns are now able to travel around and see other districts. They learn quicker and better methods of doing their work, and improve their ways of living in general. The Railways keep the farmers in touch with the outside world, and enables them to travel around to stock sales and improve their herds. To show to what an extent travelling has improved, there were over twenty-six million people travelled by train last year.
At present the railway has the motor competition to contend with, as there are numerous service cars and buses running from town to town, and in some cases at more suitable times than the trains, but I page 26 think things will gradually improve in favour of the trains, as there are considerably less accidents than by the motors. During the last two years there have been no fatalities, and the slogan “Safety First” has indeed been upheld. The Railways are very near to perfection, and most people value their lives too much to sacrifice them in dangerous ways of travelling, when there are safer ones. The fares have also been reduced, until it has made it possible for everyone to travel.
There have been pleasing indications of a definite improvement in the financial position of the railways to which the public who travel by train have contributed, and if the people give the railways their cordial support they will be performing a valuable duty to their country.