The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 62
"This is a subject of great importance to page 28 Canterbury and to other parts of New Zealand, where the country is admirably adapted by nature for carrying out a comprehensive scheme, as it would hardly be wise to enter upon an undertaking of such magnitude without obtaining the best procurable information as to the cost of the work, the best mode of conducting it, and its probable results. It will be for this Conference to say whether or not a Commission of qualified persons should not be appointed to enquire into the whole matter. Private enterprise has already demonstrated the value of water when applied to grass land, growing crops and orchards. We have an illustration of how easily the work can be carried out by the success which has attended Mr Dixon's extensive experiments. But we still hold that to avoid future litigation over water rights this work can only be satisfactorily carried out in detail by working to an authorised plan."
Mr Gough moved—"That one or more officers be appointed by the Government to go into the question of irrigation, for the purpose of obtaining information thereon, and reporting the several districts suitable for irrigation."
Mr Sinclair said that he should be opposed to the constituting of a commission to go all over New Zealand to see whether irrigation could be carried out. He would not mind if the motion provided that districts requiring water races should be able to have the services of this Commission.
Mr Coleman Philips said he would second the motion. They in the Wairarapa were engaged in constructing water-races, but they had no one to instruct them as to what has to be done. Now he suggested that one or more irrigation officers should be appointed, whose services should be available for the whole colony. In America they had a large department costing a very large sum, and they were carrying out very great works.
Mr Sinclair said that the proposal of Mr Philips was far more practical than that in the motion.
Mr Gough agreed to withdraw his motion in favour of the following proposed by Mr Philips:—"That the Government be requested to appoint one or more irrigation officers for the colony."
Mr E. T. Chapman could not see how the recommendation of the appointment of these officers would help them. They wanted information at once on the best method of irrigation. He was connected with a Board which was going in for the largest scheme of irrigation ever proposed in New Zealand. They were going to irrigate 160,000 acres at a cost of £30,000.
Mr Pashby said that he was connected with a large irrigation scheme, and they had no desire whatever that the Government should interfere with them. The length of their works from the intake would be very great, and they would supply 840 gallons per acre per day.
Mr Grigg had the greatest possible confidence in great results accruing from irrigation of light lands. Surely it was only a little matter to ask Government for services of an engineer to give practical information as to the practicability of certain works. They intended in their county to irrigate the plain between Ashburton and the Rakaia. Would it not be a great thing for the County Council to be able to ask the Government expert whether they were going the right way to work.
The motion was put and carried.