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Newbie package creation question

I'm quite new to all this, so apologize if this is the wrong place to ask this .
I've begun creating packages for some programs I enjoy using, and they work.
I'm not sure they're as efficient as they could be, however.
In one case, the author provides a custom shell script in place of autoconf.
It's used to test for the installation of various flavors of curses.  
Unfortunately, it looks for them in hard-coded places, NetBSD's default 
/usr/pkg not among them.
I ended up simply adding another test to look for the library in 
/usr/pkg/lib/ in this case.
This doesn't seem portable to me, though.  I'm wondering if there's another way 
to get at the value of LOCALBASE or whatever in a shell script like this?
Ideally, I'd like to be able to give these patches back to the author in future.

Any help with this would be appreciated.

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