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

Otaio — (Runs N.Z.R. 35 and 36 —In May, 1862, they became 449 and 450)

(Runs N.Z.R. 35 and 36In May, 1862, they became 449 and 450)

This station at one time took in all the country from the Otaio River to the Hook Creek, where it joined Studholme Brothers' Waimate Station. The boundary fence, however, was put up about a mile north of the Hook, and crossed the road at Carter's, which was named after Andrew Carter, who lived at the gate, and looked after the boundary. Otaio ran from the sea, over into the Hakataramea Valley, and included Mt. Nimrod, where it joined Cannington.

The runs were first allotted to Miss Jean Collier, the original licenses being dated 1st February, 1855.

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About the same time, G. Elwin applied for some country in the same locality, but his application was refused, and the country included in Miss Collier's runs.

Miss Collier arrived in New Zealand in 1854 with her three nephews, Leslie, James, and Andrew Thomson, who were only lads at the time. She transferred her country to them almost at once, but lived with them at their station and died there in 1862.

The Thomsons started their station in April, 1855, as a cattle station. I have been told that for a time they let George Matson, who afterwards had Mt. Nessing, graze his sheep on the Hunters Hills. These were the first sheep on the run. Sam. Rogers brought them from North Canterbury and they were eighteen months on the road, and were shorn before beingcrossed over the Rakaia. Matson built a homestead at the foot of the Hunters Hills. I do not think he remained there long, and afterwards James Thomson built a homestead at the same place, just above the present Teschemaker School. Later on (when James moved to Alexander's Crossing, where Robert Gray lives now), Leslie Thomson built a fine house and laid out large gardens there, but nothing is left of them now but a few large gums. The Thomsons put 1100 sheep of their own on the run in 1857.

The Thomsons' first manager was a man named Denbeigh, and he was followed for a short time by C. N. Orbell, who was afterwards so long at the Levels. Orbell was succeeded by Martelli, the leading amateur rider of those days. The Thomsons were themselves great horsemen and ' stickers ' to bucking horses.

E. R. Guinness and H. H. Pitman were cadets at Otaio in the Thomsons' time.

Like so many of the old squatters, the Thomsons were hit by hard times and high rates of interest in the 'sixties. About 1867, they sold eighteen thousand five hundred acres of their country with 10,000 sheep for £10,000, to Colonel T. W. White and James Selfe. This country, which was afterwards known as the Sherwood Station, ran from the Studholmes' boundary to the Makikihi, and from the sea to the foot of the hills.

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White and Selfe did not remain long at Sherwood, selling to Charles Perring and Harry Parker, for whom H. H. Pitman managed. Perring and Parker had been at Cambridge together. Pitman's shepherd for some years was Alexander Elliot, who died some years ago the owner of Elfin Bay Station on Lake Wakatipu.

Perring and Parker made some seven thousand acres of their run freehold, and sold it in 1878 to R. H. Rhodes, senior, who cut it up and re-sold it the same year. There was a great deal of dispute over the commission on the sale to Rhodes, as the firm that acted as Perring and Parker's agents was found to have an interest in the purchase.

The Sherwood homestead now belongs to James Meehan, of Timaru, and is let to John Linton.

Otaio Station was bought in May, 1868, by Teschemaker Brothers and Le Cren.

Leslie Thomson had died of yellow fever at Panama on his way to England, and Andrew went Home in 1866, only paying a short visit to New Zealand afterwards. For about thirty years he ran the Cowes Regatta, and some years after the 1914-18 War he was still living in London. Andrew Thomson wrote some amusing verses on an adventure he had in the 'fifties. He was taking a sledge and bullock team to Timaru, but found Saltwater Creek in high flood. He didn't want to get his town clothes wet, so he took them off and put them on top of the load and started the bullocks into the water. The bullocks plunged in and got across, and then bolted towards Timaru. Thomson had to swim across carrying his whip, and then sprint across the plain after the bullocks. He just managed to stop them and rescue his shirt and trousers before they reached the town.

James Elliot Thomson, the remaining brother, began life again with Benmore Station, on the West Coast Road, and afterwards had Akitio, on the East Coast of the North Island, and the Carleton, near Oxford. He died after the 1914-18 War in Timaru.

The Teschemaker brothers had just sold Haldon, in the Mackenzie Country, which they had taken up in page 1841857. Frederick Teschemaker was for many years a member of the House of Representatives.

The Teschemakers bought Le Cren's interest in the station in 1878. At that time it consisted of seventeen thousand acres of freehold, twenty-two thousand acres of leasehold, and carried 21,000 sheep. The price was £191,000. On Frederick Teschemaker's death at the end of the session in 1879, Thomas Teschemaker became sole owner. Some years after buying the run, Teschemaker and Le Cren had sold the Mt. Nimrod country to Elworthy, of Pareora. The country had never been stocked. Orbell, Pitman, and some neighbouring shepherds had once mustered it, however, and got 300 wild sheep off it, and some wild cattle.

T. Teschemaker managed the station himself for many years, eventually handing the management over to his nephew, John C. Thierens, who was with him from 1876 to 1898. Thierens is now one of the representatives of the New Zealand and Australian Land Company at Home. The last manager was George Young, aftewards manager of Wilden, in Otago.

About the beginning of the century, Teschemaker began selling off some of the land (he sold 3664 acres to the Government in 1901—the Government called it the Kohika Settlement), and in 1908 he sold the leashold run to Carlisle Studholme, since when it has been worked with Kaiwarua and Pentland Hills. It was transferred to the present owner, J. H. Meehan, in 1917. Teschemaker had paid rent to the Government from 1857 to 1908, over fifty years, which is, I believe, a record.

After the sale of the leasehold country he went on with the freehold station until 1916, when he sold five thousand acres—the whole place except the homestead and five hundred acres—to the Government. He sold the homestead a year afterwards. He died in 1919, almost the last of the old squatters, and, though none had had greater struggles, he was luckier than most of them, in that he lived to see his pluck, enterprise, and hard work well rewarded.

Several important freehold properties were origi-page 185nally part of the Otaio run. The Martins and Quinns are perhaps the oldest settlers. Spring Bank, which has been so long the property of the Johnstone family, and Bankfield, were formed out of it, and Bournedale was bought by Charles Bourne when Sherwood was cut up.

John Macfarlane is the present owner of the Otaio Homestead.