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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 79

A Commercial Value Given to Previously Unsaleable Lands

A Commercial Value Given to Previously Unsaleable Lands.

Let us take the ease of Waerenga, and ask ourselves what the work carried on there has "demonstrated." To begin with, we must bear in mind that the class of land dealt with at Waerenga forms a large proportion of the total land area of Auckland pro vince—at a safe guess, several hundred thousands of acres. The proof as seen at Waerenga, that such land has a commercial value for various cultural purposes has raised its unimproved value in the market 300 or 400 per cent. About thirty years ago this class of country would have been difficult to sell in areas of any considerable size, even within reach of the railway, at half-a-crown an acre—indeed, it is said that a block of 10,000 acres of somewhat better land, but of the same character, was set aside by the authorities as an endowment for the Auckland University College, because it could not he disposed of by the Crown at 2s 6d an acre.

About ten years ago, some time after the first cultural experiments on Waerenga State Farm had been begun, the Agricultural Department, on the re-commendation of Mr E. Clifton, bought twelve hundred acres adjoining the original block at a cost of £800 in its natural state. At the present time no unimproved land within a radius of several miles of Waerenga could probably be bought under 40s per acre In certain positions such land would fetch 60s, and perhaps more.

The evidence offered to all who will notice it at Waerenga, namely that these so-called worthless clay lands are not worthless at all when properly dealt page 7 with is surely worth a good deal to the country and districts where similar land exists in very large tracts. But this is not an item which can be shown in the Waerenga balance-sheet.