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Voices from Auckland, New Zealand.

Bay of Islands

Bay of Islands.

At the Bay of Islands a great quantity of land will revert to the Government. The chief part of this will be in the vicinity of navigable creeks. It will be of various qualities, embracing probably much poor ground, fit only for grazing over, or for timber cutting, together with some very choice soil and surface.

Around the Omapere Lake, 10 miles from the Kerikeri, there is some very beautiful land, partly in possession of the Government, some the purchase of which is in negociation. From Omapere to Kaikohe, midway between the Bay and Hokianga, is splendid land; and again from Kaikohe to the Mangakahia mountain is a very fine district. There are well grounded expectations that this will shortly be in the hands of the Government, and when that is the case, some of the most fertile and beautiful districts in New Zealand will at once become productive. The soil is chiefly of a decomposing volcanic ash, and the surface undulating or level about the bases of extinct crater hills, as in the Auckland country.

The cultivation about the Waimate Village, at the Bay, and especially the farm at Pakaraka, the residence of the Venerable Archdeacon Williams, gives evidence of the fertility of the soil and the suitability of the climate for the produc-page 23tion of European grasses. A large extent of the volcanic hill land about Pakaraka has been surface sown very successfully by the Messieurs Williams; cattle are enclosed on a large area of fern land, portions of which are judiciously burnt off from time to time, and grass seed scattered at fitting periods of the year. The fern becomes broken and weak under the feet of the cattle, and the young shoots are eaten down. Sheep are now to be seen depasturing on European grasses produced in this way at Pakaraka. The settlement of Russell, or Kororarika Beach, consists of about 50 houses, with Office for Customs, Post, Magistrate, and Pilots Departments. There is a Protestant and a Roman Catholic Church, a School, several Hotels, a Mill, and two commodious Jetties or Wharfs. In the summer season whaling ships, chiefly American, come into the Bay for supplies, giving oil or bone in exchange. There are two good wholesale stores for their supply; but with all its natural resources, the vicinity of Russell does not yet afford a sufficiency of agricultural produce for the wants of the shipping, and potatoes and butter have to be brought from Auckland. The traders of the place for a long time obtained from the natives potatoes and other produce for the shipping, but the number of the natives has much declined, and with the diminution of the natives, supply in European enterprise has made up the deficiency. Up the Kawa Kawa River small farming might be profitably conducted with a certainty of finding a market for produce either alongside the shipping or at the stores in the settlement. No settlement in New Zealand so much requires an accession of European population as the Bay district, and no locality offers more natural advantages to the settler.

The Bay district sends a considerable quantity of wool, fat sheep and cattle to the Auckland Market. Two clipper vessels are regular traders between the ports. The geological formation of the Bay is as follows: on the coast to the east of the Kawa Kawa and Keri Keri Rivers, chiefly clay slate; about the Waitangi entrance and higher up the valley are large horizontal masses of an old eruptive rock, over which in one place that stream flows in a beautiful waterfall. About the Waimate Village and the Omapere Lake are numerous volcanic hills with extinct craters, their bases being composed of scoria and loam, and loose volcanic ash, as in the country about Auckland, of which it is the counterpart in availability for agricultural use. These formations appear to stand thus:—The clay slate—the rock decomposing into a fertile mould but surface broken, so that not more than one-twentieth of the land will repay cultivation; the soil rushes down from page 24the steep hill and accumulates in the hollows where breadth is of course limited. Eruptive rock—where the fiery action has been complete and has reduced the earth to a porous cinder, a principle of great fertility seems to prevail, but where, as in many places, the heat has not been sufficient entirely to calcine the tertiary rock, and portions of unaltered clay rock are found mixed up with fragments of turf and cinder, fertility is very local, the principle only to be developed by working and fallowing. Volcanic districts—decomposed scoria ashes and the red marl resulting from volcanic dust,—very fertile. The subsoil about the Waimate farms does not appear to have been brought to the surface by deep ploughing;—probably from the expense of labour, but as a material for rich mould it appears inexhaustible.