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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 48



The exhibits included a bottle of crude petroleum, which had been specially sent by Mr W. Teat, of Gisborne. Great importance attaches to the item, for the reason that it indicates the almost certainty of our being supplied with New Zealand kerosene oil at no distant date. The petroleum field of New Zealand is estimated as extending over a distance of 60 miles north and south, and in one locality it occurs in surface pools of various sizes, from 10 to 20 yards in circumference and from two to four feet deep. These pools never overflow, nor do they diminish, save for the slight sinking perceptible during the summer. They present a most curious and interesting spectacle, for owing to the myriads of bubbles of constantly rising gas their surfaces are never at rest. There are nearly twenty of these oil pools, which are spread over an area of about 200 acres. Some time ago a company was formed for developing this source of profit, but the locally subscribed capital of £5000 was altogether insufficient for the undertaking. A new company—of Australian promotion—has now been formed, and it includes members of the former proprietary. Its origin occurred in this way:—Some of the local people sent a delegate to the Sydney Exhibition. The delegate showed his samples and sought out men who were acquainted with the work done in the oil regions of America. The result was that the Canadian agent at Sydney, and another gentleman of great practical experience, visited the Now Zealand oil region, satisfied themselves as to the prospect of success, and speedily had a strong company formed. Preliminary boring by the aid of steam power will be commenced in the course of a few weeks; and it is proposed to connect the Port with the oil field by a line of pipes 28 miles long. It will be instructive to add a brief extract from an able letter by Mr G. H. Stubbs, which appeared in the Poverty Bay Herald:—"The kerosene imported into New Zealand in 1873 was 648,892 gallons, valued at £59,592, the duty on which was £16,222. In 1879 it would probably be a sixth more. The retail price of kerosene in America is 6½d per gallon; in New Zealand 2s 9d; the difference is made up of freights, duty, and other charges. Further comment is needless with crude petroleum at our doors."