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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78

Chapter VI

Chapter VI.

Taranaki shared in Alfred Domett's excellent scheme of Military Settlement; the fourth Regiment of Military setters being located in this district. The idea was a good one; it was essentially the planting of a series of Military Settlements along the coast in various places, composed of men who had been enlisted for that purpose, and who had to serve a few years as a military force, and then to be settled on fifty acres of land each. That the scheme was not the success hoped tor, arose from several causes, amongst which was the difficulty of enlisting men of the right stamp. But the result page 11 nevertheless, was the settlement of large areas in some parts of the district, which, prior to the war did not contain a single white resident. The lands on which those settlements took place were confiscated from the prior Maori owners, who had taken up arms against the Government. This territory extended in a belt, averaging fifteen miles wide, from the White Cliffs to Patea, an area of about 1,200,000 acres. But included within it were lands of loyal Natives, which were eventually returned to them; and other large areas subsequently purchased by the Crown.

Prior to the War, settlement was confined to a limited space around New Plymouth, But the confiscation policy vastly extended the area available for settlement, and it was then that the fine country from Patea right through and along the railway line and the coast commenced its career of prosperity that continues to this day. Approximately the year 1869, marks the commencement of permanent settlement to the south of Mount Egmont. From about that date occupation advanced both from north and south along the railway line, until the clearing and bush-felling operations met; so that at the present day a wide belt of grassed land, and numerous flourishing townships and homesteads extend right through, Not only there, but settlers homesteads are to he found all the way along the coast line from Mokau in the north, to Patea in the south, Much of the territory near Cape Egmont and extending several miles on either side of it—about 184,000 acres—is owned by Maoris, but the greater part is held in leasehold tenure by European settlers under the Public Trustee. Again, wide areas along the Ohura main road (and future railway) are covered by farms, hewn out of the solid forests by the strong arms of the hardy pioneers, who have braved the difficulties of bad roads and isolation to make homes for themselves.