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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.



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Farming Development

In 1874 the provincial population was 22,558. By 1911 it was 48,400. Consolidation of settlement had taken place on the agricultural lands of Tasman Bay. Hops were a significant export and a speculative orchard-planting boom was in full swing on the coastal spurs of the Moutere Hills. Some 7,000 acres of land were planted in fruit trees by syndicates between 1911 and 1916 but the horticultural experience of the settlers and the size of the export markets were overestimated. Ultimately a flourishing orchard industry stabilised at some 2,500 acres on the hills and another 1,200 acres on the flats. Farmers in the wetter Golden Bay district were now turning from mixed farming to specialise in dairying. To the south of Tasman Bay the valleys had been occupied by small farmers – in many cases sons of the first Nelson settlers – in the 1890s. By 1911 dairying had been established on the valley flats, and the timbered hills were being cleared for sheep grazing – a process which in many places was to end in widespread reversion to fern, gorse, and scrub.

The population map for 1911 shows that marked changes had taken place since 1874 in the density of settlement in the Amuri district. Under the impetus of the Liberal Government's land policy, the large freehold sheep runs had been parcelled up into medium-sized arable and livestock farms on the plains and downlands and into grazing runs on the steeper, unploughable land. The pattern was set by the purchase by the Government in 1893 of the famous 84,000-acre Cheviot estate for the sum of £260,000. The area was subdivided into 104 farms and 26 small grazing runs. By 1915 five more estates in the Amuri had been subdivided by the Government while the others were gradually fragmented through private sales or division amongst members of the families of the original landowners. The pattern of land use and settlement in the Amuri district thus belatedly came to resemble that of Canterbury, and to the majority of the new settlers the link with Nelson was but a matter of history.

The West Coast area of the provincial district experienced something of a second golden age early this century. Technical improvements in quartz mining, accompanied by an infusion of British capital and more vigorous management, brought about a revival of lode-gold mining at Reefton. Coal production also increased greatly in response to New Zealand's growing demand for fuel in industry and transport. The Buller coalfield attained its maximum output in 1910 and its peak population in 1911. A substantial migration of young Australian miners to the Greymouth and Buller coalfields and the Reefton quartz mines occurred in the first decade of the century, and the radical political outlook of the district was in part related to the influence of this group. Sawmilling was also established by now in the Grey Valley and in the coastal terraces near Westport.

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