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The Early Canterbury Runs: Containing the First, Second and Third (new) Series

Opuha Gorge — (Run 30, N.Z.R., later 548)

Opuha Gorge
(Run 30, N.Z.R., later 548)

This run of twenty-two thousand acres, between the Kakahu and Fourpeaks Stations, was first allotted as Run 47 by Colonel Campbell to William Hornbrook, on 1st November, 1853. William Hornbrook was a brother of Major Hornbrook, and like him had served in the Foreign Legion in the Spanish Civil War. He started the Opuha Gorge Station in 1854. He lived chiefly at Arowhenua, which he managed for his brother. About 1869 Opuha Gorge passed into the hands of Major Hornbrook, who sold it to Studholme Brothers and F. Banks, in 1871. In those days it and the Kakahu, which was worked with it, carried 26,000 sheep. At that time the Hon. T. H. Wigley, an old South Australian squatter, who had come down to New Zealand in 1860, had just left Balmoral, in the Amuri. page 159He joined Studholme and Banks, each having a third share. The firm was known as Studholme, Banks and Wigley. Wigley was the managing partner and took delivery of the stations from William Hornbrook, who was managing them for his brother. Leishman was his overseer. John and Michael Studholme divided their runs in 1878 when their interest in Opuha Gorge fell to John's share. In 1885 Banks sold his interest in the stations to his partners.

In 1889 they lost the leasehold country which the Government cut up into grazing runs, but the owners had bought something like twenty thousand acres of freehold. The partnership was dissolved in 1890, Studholme taking the Kakahu homestead and Beautiful Valley country, and Wigley the Opuha Gorge homestead and freehold round it, which carried six or seven thousand sheep.

Wigley died in 1895, but Mrs Wigley carried on the station with Robert Mackay, a trustee, as supervisor, and Robert Aitken as overseer, until 1898, when it was put up for auction, and Mrs Wigley's father, James Lysaght of Hawera, bought it. He died a few months afterwards and his executor sold off the land by degrees.

Mrs Wigley kept the homestead with eight hundred acres until November, 1907, when she sold it to John Talbot, who bought it for his son, W. H. Talbot, the present owner.

Leishman, Wigley's overseer, was a man of artistic tastes. At one time he kept a boundary at what is now called Leishman's Creek, and he planted all the wild flowers he could get round his hut. The fox-gloves got out of hand and were a great nuisance. The hills there are covered with them.