The Early Canterbury Runs: Containing the First, Second and Third (new) Series
Waikakahi — (Runs 11, 16, 22, N.Z.R., 11 & 16 were later 503 & 505)
(Runs 11, 16, 22, N.Z.R., 11 & 16 were later 503 & 505)
Waikakahi originally covered all the country between the Waihao and Waitaki rivers and ran from the sea to Elephant Hill.
William Hyde Harris and Alphonso Clifford were granted runs by Colonel Campbell in November, 1853, Harris the country south of the Waihao from the sea inland, and Clifford in the angle formed by the Waitaki and the sea. Clifford was a younger brother of Sir Charles Clifford, of Stonyhurst. Next to Clifford, page 196 Samuel H. Pike took up a run for John Parkin Taylor, but this was moved to the westward when Brittan took over the administration of the South Canterbury waste lands in 1854, and the country next to Clifford given to Samuel Stephens, Pike's run becoming Elephant Hill. Harris built a station on the Waihao and seems to have bought out Stephens and Clifford very soon, and it was then probably that the homestead was moved to the present site. He entered partnership with David Innes, of Pareora, about 1855, and they worked their runs together, Harris living at Waikakahi, with C. H. Dowding as his manager, and James Macdonald, who lived at Pareora, was a supervisor of all the partners' runs. Harris freeholded four thousand acres of his run.
Harris and Innes dissolved partnership in 1864, Waikakahi reverting to Harris, who sold it in 1866 to John and Allan McLean, and retired to live in England. He was a great racing man and amateur rider, and one of the importers of Traducer. His horses were trained by Webb at Riccarton. Golden Cloud and Belle of the Isle were two of his that were famous in their day. He was superintendent manager for Clifford and Weld, and had to inspect Stonyhurst and Flaxbourne. On one of his trips north he and J. W. Mallock rode a match, winner to have both horses, from Christchurch to Horsley Down. Mallock won, being much the lighter man.
The McLeans took their brother-in-law, the Honourable George Buckley, into partnership, and the firm bought the freehold of the larger part of the run. Buckley sold out to his partners in 1875, and the McLeans dissolved partnership in 1880, when John, the senior partner, gave Allan his choice of Waikakahi or Waitaki Plains, Redcastle, and Lagmhor. Allan very wisely chose Waikakahi.
Allan McLean held the station until November, 1898, when he sold it to the Government for closer settlement, retaining for a time the house and garden. The price of the land and the sheep came to nearly half a million. At the time the Government bought page 197it, Waikakahi was one of the finest stations in Canterbury. It consisted of about forty-eight thousand acres of freehold and carried over 50,000 sheep. They cut over twelve hundred bales of Lincoln wool. There were four hundred miles of fencing on the run.
The farming was also done on a very large scale. McLean let three or four thousand acres every year to croppers to get the country into grass. He also grew two thousand five hundred to three thousand acres of turnips every year. The croppers, or contractors, did the ploughing and top work on the blocks sown in turnips. Often thirty-five or forty four-horse teams would be at work on one block, divided into portions for the various contractors.
After a good season or two, many of the croppers accumulated capital, and have since done well farming in various parts of New Zealand.
In 1888 the three thousand-acre block between Glenavy and the homestead was in turnips; 26,000 hoggets and 9000 wethers were run there on one break, which must surely be a New Zealand record. To draft such a large mob they put up special hurdle yards on the road (which was then four chains wide) between Pike's Point and Whitney's Creek.
Whitney's Creek was named after B. Whitney, who used to camp there. He, first as station wagoner, and afterwards as contractor, carted wool to Timaru. Lintil some time in the 'sixties the wool was taken by bullock teams over the Waitaki to Oamaru.
In the early days there was an out-station at Harris's old homestead on the Waihao from which nearly 3000 head of cattle were worked, but in later days they did not keep many cattle at Waikakahi—under 200 head.
The managers and some of the station hands should be mentioned.
After Dowding, James Macdonald managed Waikakahi for Harris, and stayed for about a year after the sale to McLean and Buckley. He was a kinsman of the Macdonalds of Orari, and had previously managed Pareora. He was succeeded by Dan Macdonald, who stayed until Buckley sold out in 1875, when the Mc-page 198Leans appointed their cousin, Alexander McLean, better known as 'Big Alex,' as manager with James Mitchell as overseer and book-keeper. In 1880, when Allan McLean became the sole owner, he appointed George McLean, who managed the station until it was sold to the Government.
Roderick McKenzie, who afterwards owned Black Mount and other stations in Southland, was overseer and book-keeper from 1880 to 1887. In 1888, A. H. McNeill was appointed, and he remained until the station was sold.
There were two out-stations on the run. That at the Waihao Bridge was in charge of Alexander McPherson for many years. The Merino Downs, at the nor'-west end of the run, was in charge of J. M. McNeill, who was employed at Waikakahi from 1874 until the sale.
Alexander McDonald was with the McLeans for over twenty years, and Adam Borwick (who is now farming at the Waihao) was also shepherding at Waikakahi for a very long time.
No account of the McLeans' stations is complete without mention of Tan So, a most faithful and honest Chinaman. He had saved the McLeans' lives and gold from bushrangers when they were returning to Melbourne from their last gold-buying expedition to the Bendigo diggings. The McLeans took him into their service and he lived with them until his death at Redcastle, after the sale of Waikakahi. He worked for them in various capacities, and was always free of any of their stations or homes.