New Zealand Journal of Forestry (1964) 9(2): 128–138
©New Zealand Institute of Forestry
Symposium: Sand Country of the Wellington West Coast
Sand soils occupy 270,000 acres of the Wellington West Coast between Paekakariki and Patea. Four age phases are recognized, the older three being referred to collectively as the Older Dune Complex and the most recent, the Waitarere Phase, as the Younger Dune Complex. This last derives from wind erosion caused mainly by a century of European farming occupation. The climate is characterized by strong winds and summer drought. The natural vegetation has been modified to a limited extent by 1,000 years of Maori occupation and more completely by recent pastoral use. The stability and use of the soils of this sand country are largely dependent on their moisture status, which forms the main basis of their classification. The earliest official recognition of the sand drift problem was the passing of the Sand Drift Act 1908. This was followed by a pilot reclamation scheme undertaken by the Lands Department and the Forest Service at Tangimoana between 1915 and 1931. Sand reclamation was then extended under the Public Works Department until 1951, when it reverted to the Lands Department and the Forest Service. Government policy in sand reclamation has aimed primarily at bringing more coastal land into farm production, forest production being a secondary consideration. At present, State forests at Waitarere, Tangimoana and Santoft contain 18,700 acres of which 12,000 acres are regarded as potentially productive and 5,200 acres have been planted. The timber requirements of the Manawatu-Wanganui district and adjacent districts are substantial and a land-use study has shown that, on the freer draining sand soils, forestry is significantly more profitable than sheep/beef farming and is of comparable profitability to dairying on the limited areas suitable for this type of farming. Dairying combined with farm forestry is more profitable than either enterprise on its own.