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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 76

Influence of the Stage System on Land Values

Influence of the Stage System on Land Values.

That its adoption would have a very important influence on the value of land of every kind cannot be doubted, and the question arises: Will that influence be a disturbing one, or will it lie advantageous? Naturally, I have had to study this part of the subject very closely, and with the fullest confidence I reply Greatly advantageous in every respect, and in every district.

The popular idea is that it will greatly increase the value of distant country lands, and decrease the value of the chief cities and lands for, say, 15 miles round them. A little study will, however, show that this is not so.

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As to our great cities, I cannot see how they can be injured by a much larger number of people being settled in the interior. These towns are all port towns, and the trade and commerce of the country must flow through, them. Suppose there was a population of 20,000 in and around Frankton, and 10,000 in and around Rotorua, could this injure Auckland I Most certainly it would do it a great deal of good, even though a considerable portion of that population came from Auckland. The trade between town and country would be enormously increased. There is no fear about the chief cities not growing quickly enough.

Then as to the lands for 15 miles round. These would quickly be subdivided into residence sites, and consequently they would be greatly raised in value instead of depreciated. Then, as to the next two stages, these would be readily available for dairy farms, and even market-gardens for the supply of the cities, which must improve their value. In short, the effect must be to spread the population out, and thus increase the value of land in every direction. The rateable value of land would be raised all over the colony.

We often talk a great deal about spending large sums in advertising the colony, but I ask what would advertise it so well as introducing a really efficient reform in railway administration?

If it were known that in New Zealand you could travel first-class the whole length of the Hurunui-Bluff lino for 18s. 6d., or from Auckland to Rotorua for 3s. 6d.—that you could do this every day in the year, break the journey as often as you pleased, and return for the same price, just when it suited you, and could purchase your tickets without the crush at the station, and use them on any day—would it not be a great, attraction to tourists and others, and would it not develop that lucrative traffic more than anything else could?

It is not possible to estimate the loss this colony has sustained through allowing Hungary to forestall us by appropriating our idea. How many in a thousand ever heard of Hungary before it adopted the Zone System, and who has not heard of it since? This position ought to have been ours, and would have been, but for the selfishness and incapacity of our railway officials, for the Stage System was before the New Zealand public six years before the Hungarian adaptation of it came into force. We, however, still have a good deal left, for there is a very great difference between the Stage System and the Zone, and every other system.

The "Times," in reviewing our Agent-General's new hook, "The Long White Cloud," says:—"The existence of New Zealand has not yet modified the affairs of the world in any very appreciable degree, and the world in general is proportionately indifferent to the history of New Zealand."

Could the "Times" have written thus if the Stage System had been put in operation 12 years ago—as it ought to have been— page 35 and it had proved the success thousands beside myself believe it will be whenever it is tried.

When laying down the Stage System, and fighting the railway question, as I have done, I have looked far beyond New-Zealand, and have thought of the influence it would have in the world, but I should have been glad if New Zealand had led in this great reform.