THE WAIKATO CANAL.
AN ENGINEER’S VIEWS OF THE PROPOSAL.
Mr. H. Atkinson, one of the directors of the Waitemata-Manukau Canal Promotion Company, was interviewed by a representative of the Herald in regard to the proposed canal to connect the Waikato River with the Manukau Harbour, via Waiuku.
Mr. Atkinson, who illustrated his remarks with a map of the district in question, explained that a flying survey of the country was made about three years ago, and a rough estimate of the cost of the proposed canal was then given. “Through the courtesy of the Minister for Public Works,” added Mr. Atkinson, ” the Waitemata-Manukau Canal Company got the loan of these plans and all the data relating to the projected canal, with the idea of looking into the project as a feeder to the Waitemata-Manukau Canal. Having got this information, Mr. Hamer, the engineer to the Harbour Board, through the courtesy of the Board — who are in thorough sympathy with the canal scheme — has been of very considerable help to us in advising the carrying out of the survey, and also in tide readings. His advice has been carried out. all through, so far as the Waitemata-Manukau canal scheme is concerned. During the New Year holidays Mr. Hamer went up the Waikato and over the route of the canal to Waiuku, spending four days in going over the Government survey. He was perfectly satisfied with the Government survey so far as it went, but after the experience obtained in taking tide readings for the other canal he considered that before a merely approximate estimate of the cost of this undertaking could be obtained tide readings would have to be taken for a considerable period in the same way as was done with the Waitemata-Manukau canal; not only so, but there are several islands at the Waikato mouth, and the streams between, them should, in his opinion, be sounded for the depth of water and the strength of the current for some distance up the Waikato ascertained. The water from the Needles to Waiuku also would have to be sounded and tests of the formation made with a view to deepening the water to Waiuku. Besides this, it would be necessary to test the country between Waiuku and the Waikato.
AN EXISTING CHANNEL.
“Does not the Government survey follow for some distance the Awaroa stream?”
“Yes; for about six miles, but this would require to be straightened. This stream flows to within a little more than a mile of the tidal waters of the Manukau, and is but very little above the Waikato in level, consequently the variation in level over five-sixths of the distance would be comparatively slight. The deepest cutting would be about 60 ft, and in a formation composed of clay overlying the ordinary soft sandstone of this part of the colony, and excavation would be comparatively inexpensive. So far as our information goes, the rise and fall of the tide in the Waikato where the canal would intersect it is not more than 4 ft or 5 ft. Between high and low water at this point there is a considerable period of ‘still’, water, lasting for two or three hour’s every tide, probably caused by the incoming tide meeting the large volume of water coming down the river, and to this same cause may be attributed the very small rise and fall of the river, for while this is actually on the West Coast the same as in the Manukau, yet in the latter we find an actual rise of over 14 ft. There is a necessity for a thorough system of tide readings to ascertain definitely whether and to what extent locks will be necessary. If locks are necessary, there is an ideal place for them at the Waiuku end of the canal.”
THE CANAL DEPTH.
“What, depth do you think the canal should be?”
“Six or eight feet would be sufficient for the trade ordinarily carried on on the Waikato, but that has to be determined by engineers.”
“And what are the prospects of the canal as a paying proposition?”
“Well, in the first place, there .are some 90,000 tons of coal, which come down by rail from the Waikato annually, and a good portion of this would most certainly come by water. Then there are large quantities of flax and timber, sand, lime, and, in the near future, bricks, which are likely to be manufactured in very large quantities at Ngaruawahia, where I understand a big sand brick factory is about to be established. There is a large quantity of heavy farm produce to be carried not only from the Waikato, but from the Waiuku district, and even as far south as the north of Raglan County. Stock could be carried down without a shake and in splendid condition, far better than by rail. Further, it would be a very easy matter to cut a small channel to be used at high water, so as to carry barges right up to the proposed municipal abattoirs and the other existing industries which are or will be situated near Otahuhu, consisting of the new freezing works, chemical works, and soap works. The back freight would naturally be lighter in weight, consisting of machinery, stores, etc. Now merchandise and machinery cost five times as much to carry by rail as they coat to carry by water on the East Coast. There is ample fuel to be obtained, and cheaply, along the route, and the barges — which I would suggest, should be self- propelled — would travel with the stream when heaviest loaded.”
COST OF THE WORK.
“What is likely to be the cost of this canal?”
“The Government estimate is, I believe, £100,000, but I think that this would be very materially reduced judging by the character of the country and the present-day methods of excavating. Mr. Hamer, I should have mentioned, spent some time on the Waikato and also on the Waipa at Easter, and explored the upper reaches, and I gathered from him that the Waikato is a thoroughly serviceable and navigable waterway. The places along the river from which freight might be safely looked for are Huntly, Taupiri, Ngaruawahia, Mercer. Tuakau, Pokeno, Rangiriri, and Pirongia, which are on or near navigable streams tapping productive back country.”
” The Waikato Canal it may be called — would, of course, depend for its construction upon the construction of the Waitemata-Manukau Canal?”
“Don’t miss the fact that the promotion company, of which I am a director, has always intended, and does intend, to hand over all data obtained to the Harbour Board whenever they are prepared to carry out the work, and the promoters have no idea of obtaining any benefit personally directly or indirectly out of the project. The Minister is labouring under an impression to the contrary. We only sought to obtain data for the Waitemata-Manukau Canal that was outside the jurisdiction of the Harbour Board: The Board has rendered us every assistance legally in their power, by allowing their engineer to act as our consulting engineer, and in other ways. The Government having already surveyed the Waiuku-Waikato Canal, it was thought proper to ask them to complete it. The promoters of the Waitemata-Manukau Canal would endeavour to get the power to construct the canal by private enterprise, but only providing none of the governing bodies did the work.”
New Zealand Herald, Volume XLI, Issue 12648, 31 August 1904, Page 1 (Supplement)
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