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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 65

The Premier's Trip

The Premier's Trip.

The following cutting is from the "Wanganni Herald":—It was generally expected that the Premier would have reached Wanganui on Saturday afternoon, but those who expected him were doomed to disappointment, as he did not reach town until last evening. The party, consisting of the Hon. the Premier, Mr. Blair (Assistant Engineer-in-Chief), Mr. Mills (Managing Director of the Union Steam Shipping Company), and Mr. Rochfort (Surveyor of the Central Line of Railway), left Punit after the sod-turning and visited Orakau, accompanied by the famous old warrior, Rewi. That night they went on to Kihikihi, next day through Cambridge and to Oxford, then on to Wairoa, through Ohinemutu, page 34 reaching Rotomahana. Here they stayed, and visited the Pink and White Terraces. Next day they made Taupo, where they put up for a night. The following morning (Monday) they rode to Tokano and rested for the night. Early next morning a start was made for the Wanganui River, and the edge of the bush, Moerangi, was reached by night. Bush travelling was the order of the day on Wednesday, the Puketapu track being used. That evening they slept at Ngapuki, a native village about six miles from Taumaranui. The country had been rather rough; the altitude of the land between Tokano and Taumarunui is some 2,500 feet above sea level. The land has some excellent totara bush on it, and the bush land there is of better quality than the open. At Taumaranui the country lies much lower; there is some good land. On arriving at Taumaranui, at 10 o'clock on Thursday morning, they found a large gathering of natives, who had met there to welcome the Premier. After speeches of a congratulatory character on both sides, the party remained for a few hours getting their traps ready for transhipment, &c. At 3.30 they started by canoe for Wanganui, Mr. Rochefort having made all the necessary arrangements. That night they camped out about a dozen miles below Taumaranui; on Friday, they got within eight miles of Utapu, and camped out. Next morning they stopped at Utapu, where a great tangi was going on. The chiefs there addressed the Minister, thanking him for coming amongst them, and Mr. Stout replied in suitable terms. Proceeding on their journey, they arrived at Ranana on Satarday night, and finding it impossible to make Wanganui they stayed there, having the use of the fine whare runanga there. Yesterday morning they started on the last section of their river journey, and just below Koriniti they met a canoe sent up by Kemp to meet the Premier. Here they changed canoes, and taking their own men on arrived at Kennedy's about 5.30. Host Kennedy served up a substantial supper for the travellers, who then came on to Wanganui by coach, reaching town at ten minutes to 8. At 12 o'clock a special train left with the party for Foxton, where they were to catch the morning coach. Mr. Rochfort remains in town for a few days, and then returns to Ranana, whence he will travel through to a section of the Central Line on which a party of his men are engaged. The whole of the Ministerial party expressed themselves as highly pleased with their trip, The Premier thinks the river a grand one, and in his opinion it is Wanganui's first duty to have it opened up and made use of. The land which the railroad will tap close to the river is, he says, excellent, and he believes, without expressing a professional opinion, that the river could easily be improved. The river, it may be said, was seen at its worst, inasmuch as it is now very low, but even at this disadvantage it was considered a noble river; Mr. Blair and Mr. Mills both page 35 expressed themselves as much pleased with the river, the scenery, and the general appearance of the country. Mr. Rochfort's opinion as to the ease with which the river could be improved is not altered in the least, and he has now seen the river a number of times. Mr. Rochfort informs us that the central line is being "located" now in various places by himself, that when this is done the surveys will be gone on with at once. The tunnel section near the other end has been surveyed, and the plans are now in Wellington. While on the railway business, it may not be out of place to state that the Premier was not able to say whether or not any demonstration could be arranged at Marton, not having been in communication with Wellington for some days he did not know what had been done. With the party there also came to town Te Ngatae te Manuka, the chief of the Taumararunui tribe, and one possessing great influence. This noted chief has not been down to Wanganui for many years, having lived an isolated life at his own settlement.

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