Taieri rail route ‘dangerous’

The Otago Central Railway runs alongside the Taieri River at Hindon. — Otago Witness 5.2.1924
The Otago Central Railway runs alongside the Taieri River at Hindon. — Otago Witness 5.2.1924
Residents of Alexandra brought before the Minister the question of a railway between Kokonga and Dunback. The line was looked upon as dangerous. There was always the possibility of slips which would probably result in a stoppage of many months’ duration, and they felt that the time had arrived when we should have another route. The line through the Taieri Gorge was generally understood  to have become so dangerous that the department was seriously considering the question of the construction of a line from Kokonga to Dunback, which was only some 25 miles. Mr Shand said it was not so much a business proposition as an insurance against loss should they be unable to get their stock and produce away via the usual Central route. Mr Shand, continuing, said he understood the staff had a very trying time when running trains in the vicinity of Hindon. The men on the locomotives never knew the moment a stone would come down. The Minister: Does not that apply to many lines in the dominion? Mr S. Greer said he felt that he could not too strongly stress the danger of the line. They had been led to believe that the whole hill was moving, and they did not know when a serious accident would take place. The railway was the only means the settlers had of getting their stock and produce out. Their roads were not good enough to permit of motor transport.

The Minister, with regard to the allegations of danger in the Taieri Gorge, said he could assure them that it was not more dangerous than many lines in New Zealand. With regard to the suggested Kokonga-Dunback line he did not wish to express an opinion until he had seen the country and had had an opportunity of fully considering the position. The line was 41 miles, not 25 as mentioned by one of the speakers, and its estimated cost was £1,162,000. The question was: Were they justified in spending that?

Ambulance service’s vitals

The St John Ambulance Association during 1923 had 1036 calls, the total distance run being 7584 miles. The average distance per trip was 7.3 miles, and the cost of operating, including repairs etc, 1 shilling 5 pence per mile. During the same period the nurses had paid 5197 calls, exclusive of those made on influenza patients. In connection with attendance at race meetings, while in other centres a charge of £10 10s per day was made, the charge in Dunedin was only £2 2s per day. It was felt that the latter amount was not commensurate with the service rendered, and it was decided that the racing clubs be approached on the subject. The chairman  had interviewed Mr Massey with regard to a subsidy for the purchase of a new ambulance, but that, while very sympathetic, the Prime Minister had informed him that the consent of Parliament would be required. In the meantime the need for a new machine was so pressing that steps must be taken to secure one.

African Americans vacate South

In regard to the negro problem in the United States, Professor W. Hewitson says that it is giving rise to much thought. The negroes are flowing in numbers from the South to the North. Over half a million shifted to the North last year. They are finding work in the factories and foundries, as hotel porters etc, and it is felt that this migration will largely affect the attitude of the South towards the negroes. The employers of the South are losing their labour, and they will have to treat the negroes better to retain them. — ODT, 22.2.1924

Compiled by Peter Dowden