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

Present and Future

Present and Future.

The recent progress of the district of Hawke's Bay and of the town of Napier is admirably illustrated by the statistics of the Napier Chamber of Commerce. The returns for the year ending the 30th of June, 1905, show that the area laid down in grass amounted to 3,057,124 acres, as against 2,687,403 acres for 1904. The area of improved land was greater by 352,046 acres than it was in 1904; but the area in crops showed a small decrease, no doubt due to the great extension of pastoral industries, more especially in connection with dairying and frozen mutton. The total number of sheep in the district at the end of April, 1905, was 2,938,397, or 6000 fewer than in the previous year; a fact which showed that Hawke's Bay, like other districts in the colony, suffers from the decimation of its flocks, through the efforts of sheepfarmers to push the frozen mutton trade. Cattle had increased during the same period by over 16,000 head; while the total of 22,000 horses remained practically unchanged.

According to the trade returns for the year, imports showed a small decrease, whereas the value of exports had increased from £959,477 to £1,178,400, a gain of £218,923. The Napier Harbour Board returns showed a further increase in export values of £128,674. This was due chiefly to the rise in wool, which had increased in value from £775,000 to £935,000. The shipping returns give further proof of the growing commercial activity of the district. The number of steamers and sailing vessels which entered Napier port for the year 1905 showed an increase of eleven; while the tonnage was nearly 8000 tons above the previous year's record. The Customs revenue, which rose from £84,896 to £95,618, gave further indication of increasing prosperity. The railway returns for the Wellington-Napier-New Plymouth section also showed an increase of over £24,000. While the expenditure had increased £15 per mile, the revenue for the same period had risen by £31 per mile—a satisfactory sign of industrial and commercial progress. All these facts and figures combine to encourage the most confident hopes for the prosperous development and future success of Hawke's Bay. Happily for the district, the staple products—wool, frozen meat, and dairy produce—represent the firmest and most permanent foundation on which the prosperity of a country can be based. The timber has been mostly cleared away; but as the roads and railways stretch into the hitherto unsettled country, the great extractive industries will be supplemented by many subsidiary forms of occupation and investment. But not even the lack of mineral wealth appears to be a serious disadvantage, when we reflect upon the enormous natural resources of Hawke's Bay, as represented by her sheep and cattle, her butter and cheese and wool; and by the time that these resources are fully explotted, Hawke's Bay will vie with any other district in New Zealand in population, in wealth, and in all the essentials of the most progressive civilisation.