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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 75

The Land System of New Zealand

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The Land System of New Zealand.

The Crown lands of New Zealand are administered under "The Land Act, 1892," together with its amendments and the regulations made thereunder.

The distinguishing features of the present land system are the outcome of ideas which have been gradually coming to maturity for some years past in this colony. These features involve the principle of State-ownership of the soil, with a perpetual tenancy in the occupier. This, whatever may be the difference in detail, is the pre" vailing characteristic of the several systems under which land may now be selected. In New Zealand this tendency to State-ownership has taken a more pronounced form than in any other of the Australasian Colonies, and the duration of the leases has become so extended as to warrant the name, frequently given to them, of "everlasting leases." In point of fact, most of the Crown lands are now disposed of for terms of 999 years. The rentals are based on the assessed value of the land at the time of disposal, without increase or recurring valuations. Under this system there is a fixity of tenure practically equal to freehold, and which, like freehold, necessarily carries with it the power of sale, sub-lease, mortgage, or disposition by will. Since all lands held under the Crown by "lease in perpetuity are subject to the land-tax, the necessity for the periodical revaluations under the perpetual-lease system is done away with, the State reaping the advantage of the unearned increment through the before- page 4 mentioned tax. At the same time the improvements made in the soil by cultivation, &c., are secured to the tenant.

The advantages of this system to the selector are manifest. When it is taken into consideration that, with few exceptions, the Crown lands are, in their prairie condition, incapable of producing anything until brought into cultivation, the advantage to the settler of setting free his capital to develop the capabilities of the soil, rather than having to expend it in the purchase of a freehold, is very apparent. One of the most striking benefits of this system is the advantage it gives to the poor man, who, with little more capital than his strong right arm, is enabled to make a home for himself which, under the freehold system, he is frequently unable to accomplish.

The values placed on the Crown lands are, as a rule, low, for the State does not so much seek to raise a revenue directly therefrom as to encourage the occupation of the lands by the people; this secures indirectly an increased revenue, besides other advantages resulting from a numerous rural population.

Again, underlying the whole of the New Zealand land system is a further application of the principle of "the land for the people"—viz., the restriction in area which any man may hold. This subject has been forced upon the attention of the Legislature by defects in former systems, under which one individual with means at his command could appropriate large areas, to the exclusion of his poorer fellow-settler. Under conditions where the price at which the land is offered is fixed, and where choice of selection is by ballot, the poor settler has the same chance as the rich one, and may, should he wish it, hold as much land. The limit that a selector may hold is so fixed as to encourage the class of small farmers, and up to that limit the amount he may select is left entirely to himself. The Act defines the amount of land any one may select at 640 acres of first class, or 2,000 acres of second-class land, inclusive of any land he may already hold. These limits apply to lands which are thrown open for "free selection," as it is termed, but in some cases, when found desirable, the limit is by regulation made much smaller.

In addition to the many advantages offered by the "lease-in perpetuity" system, the Land Act provides others, to meet the wants of different classes. The rule is almost invariable, that land thrown open for so-called "free selection" is offered to the public under three different tenures, and the choice left entirely to the would-be settler. The three tenures are:— page 5
(1.)For cash, in which one-fourth of the purchase-money is paid down at once, and the remainder within thirty days. The title does not issue until certain improvements have been made on the land.
(2.)Lease with a purchasing clause, at a 5-per-cent. rental on the value of the land; the lease being for twenty-five years with the right to purchase at the original upset price at any time after the first ten years.
(3.)Lease in perpetuity, at a rental of 4 per cent, on the I capital value, as already described above.
The present land-laws have been in force since the 1st November, 1892, and, therefore, the returns of the Department of Lands and Survey for the year ending the 31st March, 1897, in respect of lands the tenure of which is optional, will give a fair idea of the proportions in which lands have been disposed of under the three systems during last year, and they show that the occupation with right of purchase and lease in perpetuity are just about equal in popular favour:—
(1.)Cash: 90 selections, 9,835 acres.
(2.)Occupation with right of purchase: 277 selections, 59,648 acres.
(3.)Lease in perpetuity: 278 selections, 62,229 acres.

"The Land Act, 1892," provides for a special class of settlement called "small-farm associations," which found favour with the public to a very considerable extent during the first three years after the Act of 1892 came into force, but is now superseded to a large extent by the "improved-farm settlements" system. The "small-farm association" system provides that, where not less than twelve individuals have associated themselves together for mutual help, such an association can, with the approval of the Minister of Lands, select a block of land of not more than 11,000 acres, but there must be a selector to each 200 acres in the block. The extreme limit that one person may hold is fixed at 320 acres. Settlements of this class are held on "lease in perpetuity" for 999 years, in the same way as Ends under the same tenure when thrown open for free selection. The conditions of residence and improvement are the same. The system offers many advantages to the settler, so long as the blocks of land are judiciously chosen, having regard to quality of land, access, markets, and the probability of employment being obtained in the neighbourhood. In the eagerness to obtain lands on such easy terms, these points have, in the past, not received sufficient attention by some of the associations, and in consequence their success remains to be proved.

The following figures show the extent to which settlers have availed themselves of this class of settlement during the five years ending the 31st March, 1897; the figures represent approved applications only: 1,770 selectors have taken up 349,899 acres, in various parts of the colony, but principally in the Wellington District.

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The "village-settlement system" of New Zealand has become widely known in the Australian Colonies, and has excited much inquiry with a view to its adoption in other parts. It is believed, however, that this and the "small-farm association "settlements, referred to above, are often confounded in the minds of the public, for of recent years there has been no very great extension of village settlements in this colony. (For details, see Mr. March's article, p. 8.) The system was initiated in 1886 by the late Hon. John Ballance, with the intention of assisting the poorer classes to settle on the land. It became immediately very popular, and by its means a considerable number of people were settled on the land who might otherwise never have become landholders. The features of the system were, originally, the possession of a small farm, not exceeding 50 acres in extent, held under a perpetual lease for terms of thirty years, with recurring valuations at the end of each term. The rental was 5 per cent, on a capital value of not less than £1 an acre. Residence and improvement of the soil were compulsory. The new and important feature in the village-settlement scheme, however, was the advance by the State of a sum not exceeding £2 10s. per acre, up to 20 acres, for the purpose of enabling the settler to cultivate the land and of a further sum not exceeding £20 to build a house with, on which he paid interest at the rate of 5 per cent. Road-works were also very frequently undertaken in the neighbourhood of these settlements, and have been of very great help to the settlers. Under this system a number of settlements were formed, and, where the sites were chosen judiciously, a large measure of success has resulted therefrom.

The present law admits of similar village settlements, but the area which a selector may hold has been increased to 100 acres, and; the tenure changed to a "lease in perpetuity" for 999 years, on a 4-per-cent. rental. Advances for clearing and house-building have, however, practically ceased, and, indeed, few settlements have lately been started, one of the principal reasons being the dearth of suitable lands on which to plant them. Crown lands adapted to the special features of "village settlements" are scarce.

The "improved-farm settlements" system, so far as can be judged at present, will eventually take the place of both the "village settlement" and the "small-farm association." In order to find work for the unemployed, considerable areas of forest-clad Crown lands have been set aside, and small contracts for the clearing burning, and sowing these with grass have been let. The land is then subdivided into small farms, and let on "lease in perpetuity," at a rental sufficient to cover the cost of clearing, &c., together with a fair rental of the land. Up to the 31st March, 1897, forty three settlements had been allocated, covering an area of 70,196 acres, situate in various parts of the colony. At that date 646 settlers had been allotted sections, and they had felled and grassed 9,894 acres. The amount paid to the settlers up to the 31st March was £36,221, and the value of improvements on the land (including page 7 the Government advances) was £49,690. At the same date 1,229 persons were living on the lands.

The size of holdings averages about 100 acres.

With respect to other methods of dealing with the Crown estate, the "Digest of the Land-laws" appended hereto will give sufficient particulars.

The Land for Settlements Acts, 1892 and 1894.

Allusion has already been made to the dearth of Crown lands suitable for small settlements in localities where they are most needed—i.e., in settled districts, where the lands are frequently held in large estates, whose owners employ a good deal of labour. Not only is this the case in many parts of the colony, but there is also a want of land where the sons of settlers can obtain farms, not far from the homes of their parents. To meet this want the Hon. J. McKenzie, the present Minister of Lands, introduced into the Legislature in the session of 1892 a Bill intituled "The Land for Settlements Act," which authorised the purchase from private individuals of suitable properties for subdivision into small farms not exceeding 320 acres in extent. Under the provisions of this and the amending Acts several properties have been acquired, and subsequently divided into small farms and leased in perpetuity at a 5-per-cent. rental, on a capital value fixed at a sufficient rate to cover first cost, together with survey, administration, and roads (if required). The process of acquisition is as follows: Whenever a property is offered to the Government, if it is so situated as to meet the object of the Act, a report on it is obtained by a qualified Government officer, and, should his report be favourable, the question of purchase is then referred to a Board of Land Purchase Commissioners, composed of the Inspector, who is the permanent Chairman, three other Government officers, and a member of the local Land Board, whose training and duties qualify them to advise the Government as to whether the purchase is a suitable one, and as to the price which should be given for the property. It is only on the advice of this Board that the Government acts. In nearly all cases the properties acquired have been improved farms, situated in settled districts, where the tenants have some chance of obtaining employment in the vicinity. The amount which may be expended per annum under the Act of 1892 was £50,000; but the Act of 1894 extended this amount to £250,000, and it also provided that the limit of land which might be selected should be the same as under "The Laud Act, 1892." The Act also provides for the exchange of high-lying pastoral Crown lands for low-lying agricultural lands suitable for small holdings.

A new feature was introduced into the Act of 1894—namely, the power of taking lands compulsorily in cases where the Board could not agree with the owner as to price, &c., and where the Governor in Council decides that the possession of the land for purposes of subdivision is otherwise desirable. The amount payable to the owner is decided by a Compensation Court, composed of a page 8 Judge of the Supreme Court and two Assessors; one appointed by Government, the other by the owner of the property. Only one property has hitherto been acquired compulsorily, and that has since been disposed of on satisfactory terms. Up to the 31st Match 1897, thirty-three estates had been purchased and offered for selection, at a cost of £471,960, including roading, surveys, &c., which covered an area of 95,348 acres. At the same date there were living on those estates which had been subdivided and selected 1,051 persons, in place of the few who held those lands formerly. The whole of these estates at the date given, in some cases, had not been selected, but the farms leased were bringing in a rental of 4.98 per cent, on the capital sunk in them. This extension of the provisions of the previous Act should prove beneficial in providing homes for a large class of persons, who, from inexperience in the breaking in of new country or other reasons, are in a measure prohibited from occupying the waste lands of the Crown; and, moreover, as the properties acquired are all more or less improved, they seem to afford to the small-farmer class of the Old Country an opening for building up homes for themselves where their previous experience will be of use, instead of having to learn-often by sad experience—the methods adapted to a new and wild country.

"The Land for Settlements Act Amendment Act, 1896," contains special provisions as to the disposal of lands acquired under" The Land for Settlements Act, 1894," giving the preference to landless people, and requiring applicants for rural land to satisfy the Land Board as to their means to stock and cultivate the same and erect suitable buildings thereon. It gives the Board, in fact, a discretion as to who shall be entitled to apply for the lands. It also provides, in cases where buildings are on the land to be disposed of, that their value, apart from the capital value of the land, shall, with interest thereon at the rate of 5 per cent, per annum, be paid by the tenant in half-yearly instalments extending over a term of years.

There are also regulations as to advances by Government, to successful applicants for allotments, in aid of the cost of fencing and planting the same and building dwelling-houses thereon, and special provisions as to allotments for workmen's homes, the area of which should not in any case exceed 3 acres.

Regulations giving full directions to applicants under this Act have been issued during the past year, which should be in the hands of every one before applying for lands under this Act.

Vlllage-Homestead Settlements.

The plan of forming village settlements was first commenced in the Provincial District of Canterbury by the Hon. Mr. Rolleston. It was on a small scale, but it worked admirably. In 1874 and 1875 there was a difficulty in finding quarters or employment for immi- page 9 grants, who had arrived in Canterbury in considerable numbers, and it was decided to try the experiment of settling them on the land in districts where they were likely to obtain work. The course adopted was briefly as follows: On the line of railway, or adjacent thereto, as at Rakaia, Orari, and Arowhenua, blocks of Government land were laid off into sections varying in area from one-quarter to five acres. Assistance was given to the extent of £10 towards the erection of a small hut or cottage. The terms of occupation were as follows: For the first year, rent free; and for the second and third years a rental of 2s. per week was charged, to recoup the Treasury the amount advanced.

In the formation of some of these settlements, notably at Geraldine, Timaru, and Waimate, the idea was not to permanently locate the immigrants, on whose behalf the plan had been adopted, but merely allow them to occupy the land temporarily; and it was considered that in three years they would be enabled to find situations or places elsewhere. All traces of the settlements formed in the localities named have long since disappeared.

The land comprised in the village settlements formed at Rakaia, Arowhenua, Beaconsfield, and other districts in Canterbury was sold to the original settlers on the deferred-payment system.

From 1876 to 1886, a period of ten years, very little was done in extending the system, but in the latter year the late Hon. Mr. Ballance, then Minister of Lands, introduced regulations for the formation of village-homestead special settlements. These were of a liberal character; and the assistance granted by way of loans for dwelling-houses, bush-felling, grassing, &c., enabled an industrious man to make and establish a comfortable home, while he was precluded from parting with the freehold.

A large number of settlements were thus formed, and, generally speaking, the settlers and their families have comfortable homes, and look healthy and contented; the financial results prove conclusively that the settlements are successful.

The number of village-homestead settlements now in the colony is 158. Of these, 51 are situated in the North Island and 107 in the Middle Island. The settlers number 1,543. The total acreage held is 35,247 acres: of this, 15,719 acres are in the North Island, and 19,528 acres in the Middle Island. The average area to each settler is 22¾ acres. Up to the end of March last the settlers had repaid the Government £1,911 of the amount advanced for cottages, bush-felling, &c., leaving £23,938 outstanding. The annual rent and interest is £4,904; and during the past year £4,905 14s. 10d. was received. The settlers have paid for rent and interest from the commencement of the system and up to the 31st March, 1897, £27,014: namely, rent, £20,806; and interest, £6,208. Of this amount, £11,834 was paid by settlers in the North Island, and £15,180 by settlers in the Middle Island. The arrears of rent and interest on the 31st March last amounted to £1,820. The improvements made by the settlers on the land are valued at £109,529.

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Purchase of Native Lands by Government.

From about the year 1823 (which is the date of the first recorded deed) until the 6th February, 1840, the date of the Treaty of Waitangi, lands in New Zealand were acquired by direct purchase from the Maoris by individual members of the white races. During the years 1837 to 1839, or about the time it became probable that the sovereignty of the islands would be assumed by the Queen, the greater number of these purchases were made, and they extended to most parts of the country. These purchases are technically known as "the Old Land Claims," and their total number (including pre-emptive claims), as estimated by Commissioner F. Dillon Bell in 1862, was 1,376, covering an area of about 10,322,453 acres, out of which large area grants were recommended for 292,475 acres. These figures have been slightly added to since, but not to any very large extent. The large area shown above was reduced on survey to about 474,000 acres, situated principally to the north of Auckland. The difference between the amount granted and the total area surveyed became what are termed "surplus lands of the Crown." It was held that the Native title had been fully extinguished over the whole area surveyed; but, as by statute the claimants could only be granted 2,560 acres each, the balance became vested in the Crown on the assumption of the sovereignty, the Native title having been fully extinguished.

In many cases the titles did not issue to those to whom the land was awarded, as they were compensated by scrip issued by the Government, with the understanding that such scrip was to be exercised in the purchase of Crown lands in the neighbourhood of Auckland, to which place it was desirable—so soon as the capital was founded—to draw a population. The lands thus paid for in scrip became Crown lands, and these, together with the surplus lands, have from time to time been disposed of by the Crown and settled on. The amount of scrip, &c., issued up to 1862 was over £109,000.

On the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi on the 6th February, 1840, the pre-emptive right of purchase from the Maoris was ceded to the Queen, and consequently private purchase ceased. This remained the law until the passing of "The Native Land Act, 1862," when, the Crown relinquished its right of pre-emption, whilst at the same time the purchase of Native lands for the Crown did not abate, but continued side by side with the private purchases up to the passing of "The Native Land Court Act, 1894."

From time to time since 1840 various sums were appropriated by Government or by Parliament for the acquisition of a Crown estate. Up to the date of passing of "The Native Land Act, 1862," these operations were conducted by officers of the Government specially appointed, who, from a knowledge of the Maoris, their customs and disposition, were successful in securing large areas of land page 11 for settlement. It must be conceded that their operations as a whole were successful, and that the number of disputed cases arising out of their labours was exceedingly small. The Waitara purchase is, however, here excluded, for there were reasons of general policy affecting that sale which did not prevail in other cases. This purchase was the ostensible cause of the war of 1860 and following years, but the motives which led to it were far deeper than the mere purchase of a few acres—there was a great principle at stake.

The difference effected in the mode of purchase by "The Native Land Act, 1862," was this: Previously, the title of the Maoris who were to receive payment for the land was decided by the Land Purchase officers; but the Act quoted set up a Court, presided over by able Judges, who determined the titles, which were afterwards registered in a special Court. Purchases have since been effected with the registered owners.

It is difficult to obtain figures showing the actual area acquired by the Crown from the Maoris up to 1870, but in round numbers it was 6,000,000 acres in the North Island; whilst the whole of the Middle Island, with the exception of reserves for the original Native owners, was acquired prior to the passing of "The Native Land Act, 1862." Stewart Island was purchased from the Native owners by deed dated 29th June, 1864.

The Native rebellion of 1860-1869 brought Native-land purchases, for the time being, practically to a standstill.

The Immigration and Public Works Acts of 1870 and 1873 appropriated £200,000 and £500,000, respectively, for the purchase of lands in the North Island; and these amounts have, up to the 31st of March, 1897, been augmented by further annual appropriations from the public funds and other loan-moneys, covering altogether a total expenditure since 1870 of £1,789,796, with the following results: Area finally acquired in the North Island from Natives, from 1870 to 31st March, 1897, 6,735,433 acres. Area under negotiation in the North Islapd on 31st March, 1897, 1,541,879 acres; interests therein finally acquired, 613,778 acres.

Digest of the Land-Laws.

The Crown lands are administered, under the authority of "The Land Act, 1892," by the Hon. the Minister of Lands at Wellington. For convenience the colony is divided into ten land districts, each being under the local direction of a Commissioner and a Land Board. The Commissioner's office is known as the principal land office, and in some of the larger districts there are one or more sub-offices. It is with these land offices the selector has to transact all business, from the first consultation of the maps to the final receipt of the Crown title.

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Land Districts and Principal Land Offices.

The names of the land districts and of the towns where each principal office is situated are, beginning with the most northerly and taking them geographically, as under:—
Land District. Town where Principal Land Office is situated.
Auckland Auckland.
Taranaki New Plymouth.
Hawke's Bay Napier.
Wellington Wellington.
Nelson Nelson.
Marlborough Blenheim.
Westland Hokitika.
Canterbury Christchurch.
Otago Dunedin.
Southland Invercargill.

Classification of Lands, &c.

Crown Lands are divided into three classes:—
(1.)Town and village lands, the upset prices of which are, respectively, not less than £20 and £3 per acre; such lands are sold by auction:
(2.)Suburban lands, the upset price of which may not be less than £2 an acre; these lands are also sold at auction:
(3.)Rural lands, which may be disposed of at not less than £1 per acre for first-class, and 5s. an acre for second-class lands; such lands may be sold or leased by auction, or sold or leased on application.

No rural section may be larger than 640 acres in extent if first-class land, or 2,000 acres if second-class land, whether offered by auction or application. No person can select more than 640 acres of first-class or 2,000 acres of second-class land, including therein any land which he then holds. Pastoral runs are limited to areas which will carry 20,000 sheep or 4,000 cattle. No person can select more than one run.

Mode of acquiring Crown Lands.

Crown Lands may be acquired as fellows:—
(1.)By auction, after survey, in which case one-fifth of the price is paid down at the time of sale, the balance within thirty days:
(2.)By application, after the lands have been notified as open for selection, in which case the applicant fills up a form (to be obtained at any of the Land Offices) and makes the declaration and deposit required by the particular system he wishes to select under.

All applications, whether for surveyed or unsurveyed lands, are-deemed to be simultaneous if made on the same day, and, if there be more than one applicant for the same land, the right of selection is determined by ballot.

Lands thrown open for application may be either surveyed or unsurveyed, and those not selected the first day remain open.

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The Optional System of Selection.

Lands for selection are notified as open for application on and after a stated day, and, at the option of the applicant, may be obtained on any of the three following tenures: (a) Cash; (b) Occupation with the right of purchase; (c) Lease in perpetuity.

(a.) Cash.

If the land is surveyed, one-fifth of the price is to be paid down at the time of application, and the balance within thirty days; or, if the land is not completely surveyed, the survey-fee is paid on application, and goes towards the purchase of the land; the balance must be paid within thirty days of notice that the survey is completed.

A certificate of occupation will issue to the purchaser on final payment, which will be exchanged for a Crown title so soon as the Board is satisfied that the improvements mentioned below have been completed.

(b.) Occupation with Right of Purchase.

Lands selected on this tenure are held under a license for twenty-five years. At any time subsequent to the first ten years, and after having resided and made the improvements hereinafter described, the licensee can, on payment of the upset price of the land, acquire the freehold. If the land be not purchased, the license may be exchanged for a lease in perpetuity.

The rent is 5 per cent, on the cash price of the land; a half-year's rent has to be paid in with the application, if surveyed land, which represents the half-year's rent due in advance on the 1st day of January or July following the selection. If the land is unsurveyed, the cost of survey is to be deposited, and is credited to the selector as so much rent paid in advance, counted from the 1st day of January or July following thirty days' notice of the completion of survey.

Residence and improvement of the land are compulsory, as hereinafter described.

(c.) Leases in Perpetuity.

Lands selected on this tenure are leased for 999 years, subject to the conditions of residence and improvements described below. The rental is 4 per cent, on the cash price of the land, and applications are dealt with in the same way as under the previous tenure (b), but there is at no time a right of purchase.

Two or more persons may make a joint application to hold as tenants in common under either of the two last-named tenures.

Residence and Improvements.

Under the two last-mentioned tenures, the conditions as to residence and improvements are:—

(1.)Must commence on bush or swamp lands within four page 14 years, and in open or partly open land within one year, from the date of selection:
(2.)Must be continuous for six years on bush or swamp land, and for seven years on open or partly open land, on lands occupied with a right of purchase:
(3.)Must be continuous for a term of ten years on lease-in-perpetuity lands.

The Board has power to dispense with residence in certain cases, such as where the selector is residing on adjacent lands, or is a youth or unmarried woman living with parents, and in a few other cases.

Residence implies the erection of a habitable house to be approved of by the Board.

Improvements which must be made are as follows:—
(1.)Cash-tenure lands must be improved within seven years to an amount of £1 an acre for first-class land, and 10s. an acre for second-class land.
(2.)Lands held on lease with right of purchase, or on lease in perpetuity, must be improved to an amount equal to 10 per cent, of the value of the land within one year from the date of the license or lease; within two years must be improved to the amount of another 10 per cent.; within six years must be improved to the value of another 10 per cent., making 30 per cent, in all within the six years. In addition to the above, the land must be further improved to an amount of £1 an acre for first-class land, and on second-class land to an amount equal to the net price of the land, but not more than 10s. an acre.

Improvements may consist of reclamation from swamps, clearing of bush, planting with trees or hedges, cultivation of gardens, fencing, draining, making roads, wells, water-tanks, water-races, sheep-dips, embankments or protective-works, or in any way improving the character or fertility of the soil; or the erection of any building, &c.; and cultivation includes the clearing of land for cropping, or clearing and ploughing for laying down with artificial grasses, &c.

Special-settlement Associations.

Under the existing regulations any number of persons, not less than twelve, may apply for a block of land of not less than 1,000 acres or more than 11,000 acres in extent, but the number of members must be such that there shall be one for every two hundred acres in the block, and no one can hold more than 320 acres, except in swamp lands, where the area may be 500 acres.

The capital value of lands within a special settlement is fixed after survey by special valuation, but may not be less than 10s. an acre; the rental is not less than 4 per cent, on the capital value, and the tenure is a lease in perpetuity.

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Residence, occupation, and improvements are generally the, same as already described, and applications have to be made in manner prescribed by regulations.

Applicants should apply to a Commissioner for a copy of the regulations, as they are liable to change at any time.

Improved-farm Settlements.

Special regulations are in force for this class of settlement, which should be applied for, but briefly the terms are as follows: Those who form settlements under these provisions are selected from the applicants by the Commissioner of Crown Lands, preference being given to married men. The areas of the farms may vary from 10 acres to 200 acres, according to locality; no settler can select more than one farm. The land is leased for 999 years at a rental of 4 per cent, on the capital value, to which is added 5 per cent, on the amount advanced by Government for clearing, grassing, &c. The rates allowed for felling are those current in the district, but must not exceed £1 15s. per acre. Advances to cover cost of sowing with grass will be made, if required, likewise not more than £10 towards building a house or erecting fencing. Not more than 100 acres of felling will, however, be paid for. As a rule, the settlers can get employment on the road-works in the neighbourhood, but Government does not guarantee this.

Residence for the first ten years is compulsory, and improvements must be made in terms of Part III. of "The Land Act, 1892." (See ante.)

Village Settlements.

Village settlements are disposed of under regulations made from time to time by the Governor, but the main features are as follows:—

Such settlements may be divided into:—
(1.)Village allotments not exceeding one acre each, which are disposed of either by auction among the applicants or by application, as already described, with option of tenure, the cash price being not less than £3 per allotment:
(2.)Homestead allotments not exceeding 100 acres each, which are leased in perpetuity at a 4-per cent, rental on a capital value of not less than 10s. per acre.

Residence, improvements, and applications are the same as already described. The leases are exempt from liability to be seized or sold for debt or bankruptcy.

The Colonial Treasurer is empowered in certain cases to advance small sums for the purpose of enabling selectors to profitably occupy their allotments.

Small Grazing-runs.

Small grazing-runs are divided into two classes: First-class, not exceeding 5,000 acres; second-class, not exceeding 20,000 acres in area. The rental in both cases is not less than 2½ per page 16 cent, on the capital value per acre, but such capital value cannot be less than 5s. per acre. Small grazing-runs are leased for terms of twenty-one years, with right of renewal for other twenty-one years, at a rent of 2½ per cent, on the then value of the land. The runs are declared open for selection, and applications and declarations on the forms provided have to be filled in and left at the Land Office, together with the deposit of one half-year's rent, which represents that due on the 1st day of March or September following the selection.

No holder of a pastoral run, and no holder of freehold or leasehold land of any kind whatever, over 1,000 acres in area, exclusive of the small grazing-run applied for, may be a-selector under this system; and only one small grazing-run can be held by any one person.

The lease entitles the holder to the grazing rights, and to the cultivation of any part of the run, and to the reservation of 150 acres round his homestead through which no road may be taken; but the runs are subject to the mining laws.

Residence is compulsory, if bush or swamp land, within three years; if open, within one year; and must be continuous to the end of the term, but may in a few cases be relaxed. Improvements necessary are as follows: Within the first year, to the amount of one year's rent; within the second year, to another year's rent; and, within six years, to the value of two other years' rent: making in all a sum equal to four years' rental, which must be expended within six years. In addition to these improvements, bush-covered first-class runs must be improved to an amount of 10s. an acre, and second-class bush-clad runs to an amount of 5s. an acre.

These runs may be divided, after three years' compliance with the conditions, amongst the members of the selector's family.

Pastoral Buns.

Pastoral country is let by auction for varying terms not exceeding twenty-one years; and, excepting in extraordinary circumstances, runs must not be of a greater extent than will carry 20,000 sheep or 4,000 head of cattle. Runs are classified from time to time by special Commissioners into: (1) Pastoral lands, which are suitable only for depasturing more than 5,000 sheep; (2) pastoral-agricultural lands, suitable for subdivision into areas of under 5,000 acres, which may be either let as pastoral runs, generally for short terms, or cut up for settlement in some other form. Leases of pastoral lands may not be resumed; leases of pastoral-agricultural lands may be resumed at any time after twelve months' notice, without compensation.

No one can hold more than one run; but, in case of any one holding a run of a carrying-capacity less than 10,000 sheep, he may take up additional country up to that limit.

Runs are offered at auction from time to time, and half a year's rent has to be paid down at the time of sale, being the amount page 17 due in advance on the 1st day of March or September following the sale, and the purchaser has to make the declaration required by the Act. All leases begin on the 1st day of March, and they entitle the holder to the grazing rights, but not to the soil, timber, or minerals; and the lease terminates over any part of the run which may be leased for some other purpose, purchased, or reserved. The tenant has to prevent the burning of timber or bush; in open country to prevent the growth of gorse, broom, or sweetbriar; and to destroy the rabbits on his run. With the consent of the Land Board, the interest in a run may be transferred or mortgaged, but power of sale under a mortgage must be exercised within two years.

In case it is determined again to lease any run on expiry of the lease, the new lease must be offered by auction twelve months before the end of the term, and if, on leasing, it shall be purchased by some one other than the previous lessee, valuation for improvements, to be made by an appraiser, shall be paid by the incoming tenant, but to a value not greater than three times the annual rent excepting in the case of a rabbit-proof fence, which is to be valued separately. If the run is not again leased, the value of rabbit-proof fencing is paid by the Crown, but the tenant has no claim against the Crown beyond the value of the rabbit-proof fence; he may, however, within three months of sale, remove fences, buildings, &c. Runs may also be divided with the approval of the Board.

Survey Charges on Unsurveyed Lands.

The following is the scale of charges for surveys of unsurveyed lands:—
  • Not exceeding 30 acres, £6.
  • Exceeding 30 and up to 50 acres, 3s. 6d. per acre, but not less than £6.
  • Exceeding 50 and up to 100 acres, 3s. per acre, but not less than £8 15s.
  • Exceeding 100 and up to 200 acres, 2s. 6d. per acre, but not less than £15.
  • Exceeding 200 and up to 300 acres, 2s. per acre, but not less than £25.
  • Exceeding 300 and up to 500 acres, 1s. 8d. per acre, but not less than £30.
  • Exceeding 500 and up to 1,000 acres, 1s. 4d. per acre, but not less than £41 10s.
  • Exceeding 1,000 and up to 2,000 acres, 1s. per acre, but not less than £66 10s.

For the survey of any area of rural land, being open land, the scale of charges shall be two-thirds the foregoing rates.

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