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Official Guide to the Government Court: N.Z. Centennial Exhibition

Lands And Survey Department

Lands And Survey Department

The first essential in the colonisation of New Zealand was the establishment of an organisation that would be responsible for the economic and orderly administration of the disposal of the Lands of the Crown.

Each centre of early settlement established a land survey branch, the officers of which undertook the work involved in pioneering and exploring the new land.

The exhibit of the Lands and Survey Department at the Centennial Exhibition attempts to portray the development of the Department from those early beginnings.

On the left-hand wall of the Court is a display of charts and maps showing the early charts of Abel Tasman and Captain James Cook, the discoverers and page 17 navigators of the coast of New Zealand, and maps of the six centres of early settlement as they were first surveyed and as they are at the present day.

As a finale to this chart and map display, is a mural illustrating the proposed early issue of the first authoritative atlas of New Zealand, consisting of historic, territorial, physical and economic maps, a suitable commemoration of 100 years of progress and development in New Zealand.

The visitor is then recommended to turn to the right, and, starting from the right-hand end of the show-case above which is a symbolic mural, inspect the various instruments there displayed. Here an attempt has been made to illustrate the development of angle-measuring instruments used by surveyors in New Zealand over the period of the last 100 years.

Pausing and turning in the direction from which the inspection of the instruments was started, one sees a modern map of Wellington and its environs painted on the wall, true to scale, and illustrating the built-up areas of the city, the roads and transport routes, while above the passage-way on the curved arch is the crest of the Lands and Survey Department.

From the instrument show-case, the visitor is then advised to follow, from right to left, the display of linear measuring chains, tapes and bands used in New Zealand during the past century. Hoary with age, these old methods of measuring distance read as a romance in development from the heavy link chains to the neat 1-16in. continuous steel wire now used for measuring distances.

Above this case is the first half of a photographic mural, which is one of the highlights of the exhibit, for into its tangle of photographs is woven a story of development from the astronomical star, denoting latitude and longitude, through the trig, signal, peg and surveyor, to the draughtsman who prepares the plan of the survey, on to the administration of the sale of land with its ballots, ledgers, receipts and warrants, finishing with a globe symbolic of the mapping operations of the department.

This development is illustrated on the two small partitions where are seen the field book, the traverse sheet and the survey plan, the records of work of the surveyor, and, on the reverse side of the same partition, the record maps and lithographs prepared for the survey records, finishing with the final published small-scale territorial maps on the partition at the end of the linear measurement case.

Walking round this partition the visitor observes a further section of the photographic mural telling the story of development of the topographical map used so extensively in military operations, finishing with the hands of a man noting instructions on correspondence, typifying the executive and administrative control of the Department.

Below this mural is set out the various draughting equipment and small field instruments used for the preparation of maps and plans and the production of topographical maps in the field.

Here is displayed a modern development in the use of photography for the production of topographical maps in the stereoscope and projector which portray in miniature the land as seen from above. Here the visitor is recommended to pause a moment and view these photographs through the two instruments displayed.

Adjoining the mural is a photographic display of the administrators of the department entitled "A Century of Land Administration," adjoining which are photo-graphs of some of the reserves and national parks administered by the Department.

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The Department's activities do not end here, for almost opposite are two models which tell the story of the land development operations carried out by the Department, one illustrating the development of the Rangitaiki Plains from its rough swampy state to its present productivity, and the other presenting in miniature form a typical small farm with its subdivisions, buildings and amenities.