The Early Canterbury Runs: Containing the First, Second and Third (new) Series
Peraki — (Runs 52 and 55 —afterwards united and re-numbered 550)
(Runs 52 and 55 —afterwards united and re-numbered 550)
Taken simply as a place, Peraki has perhaps a more interesting history than any other station in Canterbury. Captain Hemplemann, a Danish whaling skipper, started a shore whaling station there in 1837; so I suppose Peraki has been continuously inhabited by white men longer than any other place in Canterbury. But my business is with sheep and cattle, not whaling. At least four good accounts of Hemplemann have been published—Andersen's perhaps the most judicious and accurate, Jacobson's the fullest, the Piraki Log (being mostly written by Hemplemann himself and his people) the most entertaining, and Hay's the shortest and simplest. Hemplemann did well for a few years, but he was a difficult, domineering page 344man, always in trouble with his men and his agents, and besides, the whales were getting scarcer, and his business faded away.
However, he claimed a legal right to about half Banks Peninsula, which he had bought from the Maoris; but the Government would not recognise his title to it. They offered him two thousand six hundred and fifty acres as compensation, which he refused until it was too late. He went on dreaming of what he believed to be his rights until he died at Akaroa Hospital in 1880, aged 81. He left his claims to his granddaughter, who has not persevered with them, and his diary, or log books, to Justin Aylmer, who passed them on to F. A. Anson, who edited and printed them. The originals are now in the Christchurch Museum. They were all he had to leave.
He fenced in a garden and grew potatoes at Peraki, but otherwise made no use of the land except for cutting bush and for pig hunting and shooting pigeons and kakas. In 1843 his whaling gear and rights were sold, by order of the Court, to Joseph Price of Ikoraki for £52, but I think he stayed on in Peraki for some years, working, I supnose, for Price.
At the end of 1851, John Watson, who had succeeded Robinson as magistrate at Akaroa, bought Rural Section 253, fifty acres, at Peraki, with Hemple-mann's buildings 'at the end of it,' which may mean either that they were just on it or just off.
Watson's cousin, Walter Carew, from Co. Waterford, settled on the section and started a sheep station there. He was allotted Run 52 of five thousand acres in September, 1852. This did not cover all his country; so in September, 1856, he took another five thousand acres, Run 55. In 1865, after a survey, the runs were found to contain between them nine thousand four hundred acres, and were joined and re-numbered Run 550. Carew took his son, Ponsonby Carew, into partnership. They made some of the run freehold, but were improvident, got into low water, and about 1871 sold the station to Captain Hawtry, R.N., who page 345also rented French Farm from the Dicken Trustees. Soon afterwards Hawtry was drowned with all hands while sailing his yacht from one property to the other.
In 1875, Snow and Anson, two young Englishmen, bought Peraki from Hawtry's widow. At that time the station carried only about 3000 sheep, two-thirds of them on freehold; but Snow and Anson tackled the bush in earnest. In 1880 they shore 5000, and by 1886 9000, but this may have been only while the sown bush ground was new. In 1891 Snow sold his share in the station to Anson, who shortly afterwards let or sold the upper part of the valley to a man called Pinckney. After that the flock was always a little over 4000, about a sheep to the acre on the land he had kept, which was all freehold by that time.
In 1905 Anson let the station to A. P. Robinson and went home to England, where he died a few years later. In 1910 the old homestead, a very large house, was burned with all its contents; it was built of timber all milled on the place. In 1912 Harold Piper, of Duvauchelle, bought the property. He died after living there a year or so, and in 1937 his executors sold it to Commander S. Hall, R.N.R., the present owner. It is now (1944) three thousand three hundred acres, and carries 3500 sheep and 400 head of cattle.
Of the early owners, the Carews were typical Irish landowners. They might have walked out of one of Lever's books. They were very fond of horses. Ponsonby Carew kept a stud of thoroughbreds at Peraki, and when the family left Peraki they lived in Christchurch, and one of them kept a livery stable in Oxford Terrace, where the Public Trustee's office is now. Anson once shewed me a hill on the run where he said there was a rock with a pool on it always full of cold, clear water. It was quite inaccessible to stock— even to dogs—but men could get at it easily. He said one of the Carews once had the bright idea of pouring a bottle of whisky into it, so as to have a nice cool drink when he passed it next, while mustering a few days later. But when he went for his drink three days page 346afterwards, he found the pool full of dead birds; it was evidently their drinking place and they had got drunk and fallen in and drowned.
I know nothing of Captain Hawtry, except that the introduction to the Piraki Log says that his father was the Rev. John Hawtry, a famous headmaster of Lower School at Eton.
F. P. Snow was one of the Snows of Oare, a wellknown West Somerset family, as readers of Lorna Doone may remember. When he left Peraki he went to the North Island, where he bought a property.
Frederick A. Anson was a younger brother of Sir William Anson, the well-known M.P. for Oxford University and Warden of All Souls. Fred Anson was educated at Eton and Oxford and was a clever and amusing man. His son succeeded to Sir William Anson's title, but was unluckily drowned soon afterwards while skylarking in a boat on the Thames.
In 1939 a memorial was erected on the foreshore at Peraki, a stone groin surmounted by one of the try-pots used by Hemplemann. It commemorates the centenary of the first whaling station in New Zealand which was established there by Captain Hemplemann.