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Rata for sale as firewood, 1907

Hukanui timber mill, photographed between 1890 and 1910 - 90-017/103

In 1910 the Wairarapa Daily Times reported that
Settlers in and around Hukanui are finding that Palmerston [North] is proving a profitable firewood market, according to the remarks of a resident of Hukanui to a Wairarapa Daily Times reporter.

He stated that one farmer has cleared no less than a thousand cords of firewood off his property during the past year, and has not only made a fair profit out of the venture, but also reaped the benefit of having his land cleared.

Splendid rata firewood is to be got almost immediately adjacent to the railway station, and the result of the reporter's inquiries show that this could be railed to Masterton in two-foot lengths at a cost of about 28s 5d per cord, allowing 2s 6d per cord to the farmer for his wood. At this price there is not a wide margin for profit, but the Railway Department might be induced to lower the freight sufficiently to allow the wood to be retailed locally at a reasonable profit.

Rata firewood is very scarce around Masterton now, and the price of other wood is rapidly increasing.
 Wairarapa Daily Times, Volume LVII, Issue 8809, 15 July 1907, Page 4

Native timber, from trees that had taken hundreds of years to grow, was not seen as a finite resource until the latter years of the 20th century.  While many trees were felled to provide quality hardwood timber for building, native timber, including hardwoods such as totara, was in common use as firewood until the 1960s.


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