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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



Problem of Land Development

Popular opinion has it that this pioneer work solved the problems of occupancy. In fact the rapid extension of farm land in the region since Vaile's time has been dependent on the interaction of a number of critical factors. It is true that mineral deficiencies were an important factor, and time has revealed the need to apply additional minerals other than cobalt, whilst agricultural research has placed the application of these minerals on a more scientific basis. The soils of the region, being derived from ash, are notoriously deficient in humus content and no method has been devised of rapidly building up this content under a system of small-scale individual land settlement. The capital charges, for one thing, are too great. Consequently, the State has had to provide the finance and bear the risks involved in developing large blocks of land previous to their subdivision. By combining high-grade pastures, including a notable clover content, with modern fertiliser practices and modern livestock management techniques, the Government Departments in charge of the schemes have been able to establish profitable farming whilst the soils have been undergoing mechanical and chemical improvement. The farms of the Central Plateau are the product of modern technology and modern science and State intervention.

The State acquired a total of 431,894 acres of land for development. By the end of 1961, 128,498 acres had been disposed of and a further 150,440 acres were awaiting alienation. In 1960 the costs of development per acre were estimated at £34 for sheep and 62 for dairy farms. Largely as a consequence of these schemes, therefore, the total area grassed has increased in Taupo County from 39,741 acres to 193,493 acres in the period 1951–52 to 1959–60, and in Rotorua County from 117,299 acres to 234,790 acres. During the same period the number of cows in milk has increased by 92.67 per cent in Rotorua County and by a huge percentage in Taupo County. The region as a whole has shown a 20-per-cent increase in the number of cows in milk, a 135.92–percent increase in the number of sheep, and 158.24–percent increase in the number of breeding ewes.