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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Taranaki, Hawke's Bay & Wellington Provincial Districts]

Climate and Industry

Climate and Industry.

The climate of Taranaki is essentially mild and equable. The temperature in a recent year ranged from 32 degrees to 84 degrees. The rainfall is heavy, for the district is page 7 exposed to the full sweep of the north-west and south-west sea winds. In a recent year the total rainfall was 69.165 inches on 241 days; whereas the rainfall for Auckland is only 39 inches, and for Otago (Dunedin) only 42.774. But the rainfall varies considerably within the limits of the district itself; ranging from 62 inches at New Plymouth to 112 inches near Inglewood. The humidity of the atmosphere, and the heavy rainfall, render the whole district suitable rather for pastoral than for agricultural pursuits. Taranaki is thus naturally a grazing and dairying district, and its chief products are butter and cheese. There are about one hundred dairy factories, and eighty skimming stations scattered throughout the district. Of these factories, the greater number produce butter only, a few butter and cheese combined, and fewer still produce cheese only. Many factories are owned by proprietary companies, while others are run on co-operative principles. There are also in the district a number of registered packing houses for milled butter, more than 200 registered private dairies for butter making, a few for cheese only, besides many small plants run on individual farms, of which no record is obtainable.

In September, 1896, a new work in connection with the dairying and meat industries was started, in the shape of the Taranaki Freezing Works, situated at Moturoa, near the breakwater, and close beside the railway line. During the hot season, the factories and railway vans carrying the butter are supplied with ice from the works at a nominal cost. The district sustained a loss in the season of 1904, through these works being burned down; but, luckily, the most of the season's butter and cheese had been shipped; nor did this set-back deter the company, for plans were prepared, and everything was in readiness to build the works anew in time for the next season's output. Most of the butter from the southern end of the district, now goes to Patea.

During a recent season, the total area Taranaki had under corn crops, and cut for threshing, was 7,263 acres; corn and grass crops cut for hay, chaff, or ensilage, 15,129 acres; corn clovers for feeding down, 812,974 acres; sown grasses for seed, 511 acres; potatoes, 1,401 acres; beet, 2 acres; turnips, 9,930 acres; mangolds, 680 acres; rape, 1,888 acres; carrots, 542 acres; other crops, 80 acres; total area under crops of all kinds, including gardens, orchards, and vineyards, 853,237 acres; plantations, 1,047 acres; fallow, 471 acres. The average yield of different grain-crops in bushels per acre for the season was: Wheat 30.43, oats 24.0. barley 28.0.

The only mining going on at present is at the Mokau coal mines,
Dawson Falls, Mount Egmont.

Dawson Falls, Mount Egmont.

which are situated on the Mokau river, about twenty-three miles from the sea, the river being navigable right up to the mines for vessels of seven feet six inches draught. The coal is the best class of pitch-brown, and is excellent for household and steam purposes. Ironsand is found in great abundance on the seashore from Mokau to Patea, a distance of 130 miles. It produces, when smelted, from fifty to sixty per cent. of iron of the finest quality. The first attempt to smelt this sand was made in 1848, and several trials have been made since, but the heavy cost of production, and the absence of capital, and modern appliances, have somewhat handicapped the industry, which, however, is now (1906) in a prosperous condition.