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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 62

Crown Lands

page 8

Crown Lands.

The Crown Lands Department publishes periodically, under the authority of the Minister of Lands, a "Crown Lands Guide," The object of the publication, which can be obtained price 1/- at the New Zealand Government Information Bureau, 18, Victoria Street, London, S.W., is to afford such general information as to the character and localities of Crown lands, with the terms and conditions on which they may be obtained, as will enable persons in quest of land to set about its selection without much trouble.

The total area of the colony is nearly 67,000,900 acres, which is held approximately as follows:—
Acres.
Freehold 13,592,000
Held by lease, etc., with light of purchase 1,703,950
Held on lease from the Crown 12,544,700
Reserved for public purposes 6,589,150
Crown lands 8,430,200
Midland Railway Company 4,000,000
Native lands 10,850,000
Barren, lakes, &c. 9,000,000
66,710,000
The lands held on pastoral lease and the unoccupied Crown lands represent the lands which are available for future settlement; the area amounts to 20,974,900 acres, and may be classified as follows:—
Acres.
Crown lauds suitable for close settlemen 2,000,000
Crown pastoral lands for settlement 5,000,000
Crown lands suited for mixed agriculture and pasture 13,974,900
amit 20,974,900

The unoccupied Crown lands suitable for settlement which the colony has to deal with at the present day, as a rule, are covered with forest, which has to be cleared before any return can be secured from them. The occupied pastoral lands are generally well grassed, but are mainly suitable for mixed agriculture and pasture. The cost of clearing forest land varies: in the North Island where most of the clearing is done, it ranges from £ 1 5s. to £2 per acre.

The characteristic future of the Land laws of the colony is the option of tenure provided. Crown lands may be acquired for cash on a freehold tenure, or on lease with a right of purchase, or on perpetual lease. In the case of leased land the rental is an page 9 amount equivalent to 4 per cent, on a low capital value. The liberal terms offered by the Government during recent years for leasehold land have been the means of inducing settlers to a large extent to select land on a leasehold tenure in preference to freehold. The advantages of a leasehold over a freehold in the case of the man of small means is obvious, his capital remaining intact for improving and working the farm. Special efforts have been made to enable men of small means to settle on the land, and provision has been made for co-operative settlements. It must be noted that there are no longer free grants of land, and although occasional blocks of land are reserved and opened up for settlements, the conditions of which are so liberal as to be open to the poorest, it is only a limited amount of land which can be so dealt with. The intending settler must therefore recognise that before he will be in a position to secure land, he must save the small amount of money necessary to enable him to take up land in the ordinary way. The impetus given to farming in New Zealand by the improving market in the United Kingdom for colonial produce has created an active demand in the colony for Crown land, and at the present time the demand is so keen, that the Government have a difficulty in opening up land sufficiently fast to satisfy applicants. This fact shows that a high opinion of the good prospects of New Zealand farming has been formed in the colony. There is no machinery for enabling crown land in the colony to be taken up in England by persons intending to go out. Although at first sight this might appear desirable, there are many difficulties, and it is better for a settler to see the colony and the land before he buys. Those desiring to become more acquainted with details of the land laws may consult the crown lands guide before mentioned. In the case of farmers going to the colony with capital, a question for consideration is whether it is not better to acquire improved land from private owners rather than take up unimproved crown land, which is necessarily somewhat remote from centres, and incapable of being immediately re-productive. Owing to the large amount of land which has passed into the hands of private companies and owners, there is little difficulty in acquiring land in this way. Large areas of land are always in the market for sale and lease, and some of the land companies are taking advantage of the improved prospects in the colony to offer land on liberal terms.

The information which follows is grouped under the headings Pastoral, Agricultural and Industrial; and at the end a decennial table of the exports from the Colony is given.