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Altogether, the suitable farming land was estimated roughly to be about 12,000 acres, and, to help develop this, the first batch of young single men arrived from Wairarapa, and got to work on grassing and fencing. Incidentally, these young men were carefully chosen, since they were to be the first trainee settlers when the training farm was established. Behind the scenes, the committee of owners tackled the question of leases, selection of settlers, training, shareowners, casual employees and all the other problems arising from the venture. The Department of Maori Affairs field staff, meanwhile, went ahead with the specialist work, concentrating particularly on 376 acres which had been reserved, and cut into two training farms for dairying purposes. The development of the block went ahead rapidly from then on.
At the time of writing, Pouakani is now a working proposition, and since all this has been accomplished in less than two years, it reflects credit on the Wairarapa Maoris and the Department. But we must let the figures speak for themselves.
There is at present 11,500 acres in grass, and 40 miles of fencing, on which is planted about
15 miles of shelter trees. There is some 20 miles of roading. One of the dairy training farms last year milked 144 heifers, which yielded over 15,617lb of butterfat, valued at £2,000. The first six trainees who were ‘graduated’ from the training establishment are now settled on their own farms, and each went to a new house and a milking-shed fully equipped with a modern plant. Each of them has taken a trainee, thus expanding the instructional range of the scheme even further, and accelerating the rate of occupation. In all, the scheme is now carrying stock of approximately 2,700 steers, 18,000 sheep and 550 dairy cattle; but with the pastures becoming more consolidated, it will be necessary to step up the carrying capacity immediately.
The financial figures are formidable, total expenditure up to date being over £417,000, which mainly covers buildings, clearing and grassing, fencing, roading, water supply and implements. Finally, it is estimated that Pouakani will be able to sustain about 50 or 60 farms—mostly dairying—though some sheep stations may be established in the back country. And when all is achieved, it will be a most fitting ending to a story that began with a lake, a blocked channel and some Maoris who loved eels.