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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]

Little River

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Little River.

Little River is in the county of Akaroa and near Lake Forsyth. There is a considerable area of level country in the valley, through which a small river, overhung with foliage, slowly meanders to the lake. The township is the centre of a large sheepfarming, cattle raising and dairying district, with some large estates. There is a butter factory in the neighbourhood, and dairying is carried on privately at some of the homesteads. Little River has a sawmill and seedcleaning establishment, and cocksfoot grass is grown extensively for the purpose of seed production. The district is connected with Christchurch, thirty-six miles distant, by rail, and with Akaroa, eighteen miles off, by coach. The railway station and post office are combined, and have telegraph and money order departments, and other branches of the public service. There are two public schools in the district, and several places of worship, including a Maori church, as there are still a number of Maoris in the neighbourhood. The township has a hotel, an accommodation house, and several stores.

Little River.

Little River.

The Main School, Little River , is a wooden building, with two roomy apartments. It is surrounded by an extensive playground, and is situated some distance up the valley, on the main road to Akaroa. The average attendance is about seventy-six. There are two teachers, the headmaster, and an assistant mistress. During the past twelve years the number on the roll has fallen from about 150 to less than 100.

Mr. George Gilling, Headmaster of the Little River Main School, was born in Nottinghamshire, England, and arrived at Lyttelton when he was a child. He was educated in Christchurch, where he served an apprenticeship as a pupil-teacher, became an assistant master in the East Christchurch public school, and, in 1885, was appointed to his present position.


Aoranga Estate, Kaituna, Little River. This estate consists of 1600 acres of first-class agricultural and pastoral land. It is fenced, subdivided, and in a high state of improvement. Sheepfarming and dairying are the chief industries carried on upon “Aoranga.”

Mr. George White, Owner of the Aoranga estate, was born in Port Levy, in 1845, and is a son of the late Mr. Thomas White, who arrived in New Zealand in 1838, and afterwards settled in Pigeon Bay. He was educated at a private school in Pigeon Bay, and brought up to farming, which he followed at Pigeon Bay, until 1901, when he sold out and bought “Aoranga.” Whilst in Pigeon Bay Mr. White was a member of the Cddfellows' Lodge, and, also, of the local road board. He was married, in 1869, to Miss Mary Urquhart, of Pigeon Bay, and has two sons and three daughters.

Gisken Estate, little River. This estate is the property of Mr. Henry White. It comprises about 2000 acres, and was purchased by Mr. White about 1885. At that time much of the land was in its rough, primitive state, but it has long since been turned into well-grassed and well-fenced paddocks. The estate is devoted chiefly to raising cocksfoot seed, and to fattening stock for the frozen meat trade. Mr. White's homestead is one of the prettiest on the route between Christchurch and Little River, and the grounds are laid out with great taste.

Mr. Henry White was born at Kaiapoi, in 1859, and educated at Christchurch, and was in business for some years. He has been a member of the Akaroa County Council, and of the Little River Road, Domain, and Recreation Boards, and vice-president of the cricket and football clubs. Mr. White was married, in 1885, to Miss Lockhead, of Leeston, and has two sons and one daughter.

Hawk Hill Estate (Morrison Barclay, owner), Okuti Valley, Little River. This property was bought about seven years ago from the Hon. W. Montgomery. It is 210 acres in extent, is fenced and subdivided into seven paddocks, and well improved. About six tons of cheese are manufactured yearly; cocksfoot grass-seed growing is also an important industry on “Hawk Hill,” whilst sheep grazing and cattle rearing are carried on in a minor degree.

Mr. Morrison Barclay, Proprietor of Hawk Hill Estate, was born in Dundee, Scotland, in 1851, and is a son of Mr. John Barclay, of Dundee. He was educated at private schools, and brought up as a tenter in the linen mills. Mr. Barclay arrived in Canterbury in 1874, and took up leasehold property in Pigeon Bay, where he farmed for about twenty years. In 1895 he removed to Hawk Hill Estate, Little River. Mr. Barclay was for years a member of the Pigeon Bay school Committee, and, after settling at Little River, he was, until 1901, chairman of page 643 the library committee. He is a member of the Okuti Valley school committee, and a Deputy-Grandmaster of the Oddfellows. Mr. Barclay was married in Dundee, in 1872, to Miss Swaddle, and has a family of five sons and two daughters.

Kinloch Estate (H. D. Buchanan, and J. F. Buchanan, proprietors), Little River. “Kinloch” was originally taken up by Mr. Smith, who had bought only a few cattle and horses when he sold it to the father of the present owners early in the fifties. Mr. Buchanan, senior, stocked the run with Merino sheep, in 1851. There was then very little freehold in the district, but during his lifetime, Mr. Buchanan bought 13,000 acres of the best of the run, surface-sowed the whole with grass-seed, and erected sixty-four miles of inside and division fences, the estate being bounded outwardly by river, lake and sea. By means of these valuable improvements and the judicious management of the present owners, the wool clip of “Kinloch” has increased 500 per cent. The estate now contains 15,000 acres, and is stocked with about 18,000 sheep and 500 cattle. It supports two dairies, and gives permanent employment to upwards of twenty persons.

Mr. Hugh Buchanan, the Founder of Kinloch Estate, was born in 1812, at Kinloch Mhor, in Argyleshire, Scotland. His father leased extensive pastoral farms from the Earls of Breadalbane, and the Stewarts of Appin. After being privately educated he was trained to farming. He leased the Argyleshire property called Blarcreen, and farmed there till 1848. In that year he sailed for Melbourne, but finding the heat of the Australian climate too intense, he, shortly after made his way to New Zealand. He was settled at Motunau until he obtained possession of “Kinloch,” at the head of Lake Forsyth. Mr. Buchanan was member for Wainui in the Canterbury Provincial Council, in which he sat until the abolition of the provincial system of government. He was also chairman of the Little River Road Board, and as such, and as a member of the Council, he was devoted to his duties, and was rarely, if ever, absent from his post. As presidents of the Banks' Peninsula Agricultural and Pastoral Association, he did much to promote dairying, and the farming interests generally. At the time of his death it was said of him that his hospitality was unbounded; the best that his house contained was placed before his guests, who always received a hearty Highland welcome, which was extended alike to rich and poor, for no wayfarer, be he ever so humble, ever left the door of Hugh Buchanan untended, or uncared for. No case of distress was ever brought under his notice but his heart and hand were at once open. Many a man who was truggling bravely to fight the battle of life, but who was almost brought to despair by the difficulties he encountered, has had his heart cheered and been encouraged to persevere by the kind words and still kinder aid given by Hugh Buchanan.' Mr. Buchanan was twice married, and was survived by his wife, two sons and three daughters, when he died on the 23rd of September, 1877; aged sixty-two years.

The late Mr. H. Buchanan.

The late Mr. H. Buchanan.

Mr. H. D. Buchanan, J.P., one of the present owners of “Kinloch,” was born on the estate in 1864. He was educated in Christchurch at Mr. Cook's private school, and finished with a private tutor. In 1887, when he was only twenty-three years of age, he was appointed to the Commission of the Peace. He was a member of the road board for a number of years, chairman of the County Council for four years, and an active member of the council of the Agricultural and Pastoral Association for three years. Mr. Buchanan was married, in 1889, to Miss Roberts, and has two sons.

Mr. John Fletcher Buchanan, another of the present proprietors of “Kinloch,” is a son of the late Mr. Hugh Buchanan. He was born in Christchurch, in 1872, educated at Christ's College, and trained to country life at “Kinloch.” At his father's death he succeeded, in conjunction with his half-brother, Mr. H. D. Buchanan, to the proprietorship of the estate. Mr. Buchanan has twice visited the Old World. During his last trip, which took place in 1900, he travelled through England, Scotland, and the Continent. He was a member of the Akaroa County Council for two years, and is now (1903) a member of the Little River Domain Board.

Montgomery, William Hugh, Farmer, Little River. Mr. Montgomery was born at Opawa, Christchurch, in 1866, and is the eldest son of the Hon. William Montgomery, M.L.C. He received his primary education at Mr. Baker's school, French Farm, and was afterwards at Christ's College, and the Boys' High School, Christchurch. In 1885 he entered Balliol College, Oxford, where, in 1887, he graduated B.A. with first class honours in Jurisprudence. He was called to the bar in London, in 1888, and returned to Christchurch in 1890. He entered the legal firm of Messrs Garrick, Cowlishaw and Fisher, of Christchurch, soon after his return, and, in 1891, was admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of New Zealand. Shortly afterwards he retired from professional life, and took up the management of his father's estate at Little River. In 1893, when the other candidate was the late Hon. W. Rolleston, Mr. Montgomery was elected to the House of Representative for Ellesmere, and was again elected to represent the same constituency in 1896, when his opponent was Mr. Frederick Anson. At the election of 1899 he was defeated by Mr. R. H. Rhodes, who page 644 still holds the seat. Mr. Montgomery is a member of the Canterbury College Board of Governors, and a Justice of the Peace. He takes a considerable interest in art, having studied painting in London and Paris. In the latter part of 1902 he married Miss Edina Mary Allen, eldest daughter of Mr. James Allen, member in the House of Representatives for the electorate of Bruce, in Otago.

Paton, Robert, Farmer, Little River. Mr. Paton was born in Fifeshire, Scotland, in 1856, and accompanied his parents to New Zealand, in which he landed on the 5th of January, 1865. In his early years he followed farming. He purchased the Hill-top Hotel in 1894, but has since then returned to farming. As a marksman Mr. Paton has won more than his share of the trophies. In 1891 he won the champion prize offered by the Reserve Corps at Christchurch, Little River and Duvauchelle's Bay, and also the medal of the Kowai Rifle Club's meeting; and the president's prize at the Duvauchelle's Bay Rifle Club's competition. He owned the horse “Marlborough,” which won many races, and he has been a member of the Pigeon Bay Road Board and school committee.

Quealy, Thomas, Road Surveyor and Farmer, Kaitura, Little River. Mr. Quealy was born in County Waterford, Ireland, in 1855. He was educated at a grammar school in Dungarvan, and subsequently in the Catholic University. In 1879 he sailed for New Zealand, and almost immediately on landing was employed to carry out the construction of the railway line from Lincoln to Birdling's Flat. This completed, he took up the position of clerk and surveyor to the Little River and Tai Tapu Road Boards. Later on the acquired land in the Little River district, and is the owner of a large dairy farm. Mr. Quealy, apart from his other duties, has always taken great interest in the progress of the district of his adoption, being actively connected with any forward movement likely to advance its interests.

Standish and Preece, photo.Mr. T. Quealy.

Standish and Preece, photo.
Mr. T. Quealy.

Reed, John, Farmer, “Oweka,” Little River. Mr. Reed was born in 1874, and is the only son of Mr. John Reed, blacksmith, of Durham, England. He landed at Lyttelton in 1853, with his father, who spent the two following years at shipbuilding. In 1860 he accompanied his father to Duvauchelle's Bay, and with him engaged in blacksmithing. At the age of seventeen he captained a ferry boat playing between Akaroa and Duvauchelle's Bay, and four years later took charge of a sawmill in that district. Mr. Reed farmed for eleven years at Duvauchelle's Bay before acquiring this present property, “Oweka,” at Little River. “Oweka,” which is one of the most attractive freehold farms in the district, comprises 324 acres of rich pasture land, overlooking Lake Forsyth. The property originally belonged to the late Mr. A. D. M. Allen, in whose hands it remained until bought by the present owner, in 1891. Dairy farming, sheepfarming, and grass seed growing are carried on on the estate, which is well fenced, and sown in good grasses. Mr. Reed was married, in 1873, to Miss Amelia Pawson, daughter of a North Island farmer, formerly of Duvauchelle's Bay, and has six sons and five daughters.

Standish and Preece, photoMr. J. Reed.

Standish and Preece, photo
Mr. J. Reed.

The Springvale Estate (Mrs William Coop, proprietress), Little River. This property is situated in the valley of Little River about a mile above the township. The history of the estate dates back as far as the sixties, when a section was bought by the late Mr. William Coop. It now comprises an area of 2000 acres, all well fenced and stocked with sheep and cattle. The cultivation of cocksfoot seed is also carried on to a considerable extent on “Springvale.” In 1873, the late Mr. Coop established a sawmill, which is still conducted by Mr. James O. Coop. Upwards of ten men are permanently employed at the mill, and totara is the chief timber saw. The bush in the neighbourhood of Little River is, however, nearly exhausted, so that the mill may soon be removed.

Mr. James Openshaw Coop, J.P., is the eldest son of the late Mr. William Coop. He was born in Charistchurch, and, at an early age, removed to Little River, where he was educated at private and public schools. He was afterwards trained, under his father, to farming and sawmilling. Mr. Coop, in partnership with his brother, Mr. John Coop, is the proprietor of about 1600 acres at Waihora, Gebbie's Valley, and of 2000 acres at Kaituna. Mr. James Coop—following in his father's footsteps—takes an active interest in public affairs; and is a member of the Little River Road Board, Domain Board and other public bodies. Mr. Coop is also Bishop's warden at St. Andrew's English Church.

Stockley Farm (George Standbury, proprietor), Little River. This estate comprises 487 acres, and is divided into two separate holdings; one, of 200 acres, situated in the village of Little River, and the other, of 287 acres, lying in the Western Valley. A small portion of the first area was originally in the hands of Mr. S. Bealey, sometime Superintendent of Canterbury. It was afterwards, in 1870, bought by the father of its present owner, who gradually added to it until it reached its present area. The Western Valley portion of the estate is a recent purchase. Stockley Farm is devoted chiefly to dairying, and sheep and cattle grazing.

Mr. George Stanbury, Proprietor of Stockley Farm, was born in Devonshire, England, in 1850, and is a son of the late Mr.
Standish and Preece, photo.Mr. G. Stanbury.

Standish and Preece, photo.
Mr. G. Stanbury.

page 645 John F. Stanbury. He received his education at private schools, and, at the age of twelve, landed, in company with his parents, at Lyttelton. Two years later, the family went to Little River, where the late Mr. Standbury and his two sons were employed for some years at sawmilling and road making. In 1876, they commenced farming, and, fourteen years afterwards, Mr. Stanbury, senior, died. Mr. George Stanbury bought his brother out in 1891, when he became sole owner of Stockley Farm. Mr. Stanbury is a director of the Little River Creamery. He was married, in 1878, to Miss Margaret Belcher, of Christchurch, and has eight sons and three daughters.

Waikoko Station (Messrs Birdling Bros., proprietors), Birdling's Flat, Little River. This property, which is amongst the best known of the older Canterbury estates, comprises an area of 5220 acres of good fertile land. It contains a considerable area of level land on the shores of Lake Ellesmere, and hilly country to the rear. They history of “Waikoko” dates back to the early forties, when a small area, where the old homestead now stands, was bought by the late Mr. William Birdling. Subsequent purchases increased the extent of the property, and now (1903) it is one of the largest estates in the district. Grass-seed growing, sheep rearing, and cattle grazing are the chief industries carried on at “Waikoko.”

Waikoko Homestead.

Waikoko Homestead.

Mr. Frank Gillam Birdling, who is the sixth son of the late Mr. William Birdling, occupies the original homestead on Waikoko station. He was born in the month of June, 1865, and educated at the Rev. Mr. Ferguson's grammar school. Leaving school at the age of seventeen, he spent the eight succeeding years in farming on “Waikoko,” and afterwards travelled through the North Island. He returned, in 1892, and has since been associated with his brother in the management of “Waikoko.” Mr. Birdling was married to Miss Charlotte Elizabeth Douglas, daughter of Mr Thomas Douglas, of Amberley, in 1890, and has two sons and one daughter.

Standish and Preece, photo.Mr. F. G. Birdling.

Standish and Preece, photo.
Mr. F. G. Birdling.

Mr. Albert Edward Birding is the youngest son of the late Mr. William Birdling. He was born in 1868, and educated at the Boys' High School, Christchurch, and the Akaroa High School, and also received some tuition at Mr. Ferguson's boarding school. When seventeen years of age he began life as a farmer, and has since been engaged, in conjuction with his brother, in the management of the family's original estate of “Waikoko.” From boyhood Mr. Birdling has taken a considerable interest in athletics. He has been a successful competitor at various sports, and, in 1884, he won a silver medal at the Akaroa athletic sports, against all comers. He is also an excellent shot, and has secured some unusually good bags amongst duck and quail page 646 on and around Lake Ellesmere. Mr. Birdling was married, in 1898, to Miss Louisa Price, daughter of the late Mr. Joseph Price, an old colonist.

Standish and Preece, photo.Mr. A. E. Birdling.

Standish and Preece, photo.
Mr. A. E. Birdling.

Mr. Robert Henry Birdling, sometime of Little River, was a son of the late Mr. William Birdling, latterly of “Lansdown,” Halswell. He was born, in 1861, at Little River, and educated at Mr. Ferguson's boarding school, Lyttelton, and at the public school and high school at Akaroa. On completing his education he returned home, and assisted his brothers in the management of the estate until his death in 1902. Mr. Birdling was married, in 1890, to Miss Vogan, daughter of Mr. George Vogan, of Duvauchelle's Bay. His wife and three children, who survived him, still reside in Caton's Bay, Little River, where the property occupies a delightful spot overlooking Lake Forsyth.

Old Colonists.

Mr. William Coop, J.P., sometime of Little River, was born in Bury, Lancashire, England, in 1831. He was educated at Radcliffe private school, and also gained some tuition at a night school conducted by Mr. John Just, headmaster of Bury Grammar School. After spending some years at sawmilling work in England, Mr. Coop sailed in 1854 for Australia. He worked for seven years in Victoria, first upon the goldfields, and, later on, he started, with his father, lead pipe and corrugated iron works in Melbourne. In 1863 he landed at Lyttelton, and almost immediately went to Little River, where, in partnership with the late Mr. William White, he started the Forsyth sawmills. He bought a section of land higher up the valley, and in 1873 he bought a larger area and established the Springvale sawmill, which is now conducted by his eldest son. The machinery for the Forsyth sawmill was imported from Ballarat and Melbourne. The boiler and engine were landed at Lyttelton, and thence removed to Sumner, whence they were drawn by bullocks, via Christchurch, to Little River. Mr. Coop took considerable interest in local matters, and had at various times been a member of many local bodies. He was married, in 1858, to Miss Mary Jane Holt, of Bury, and had a family of eight sons and four daughters. Mr. Coop died at Little River in 1897.

The Late Mr. W. Coop.

The Late Mr. W. Coop.

Mr. Joseph Price, sometime of “Kelvin Grove,” Price's Valley, Little River, was born in 1810 at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England. When thirteen years of age he went to sea in a trading vessel, plying between England and France; and, six years later, sailed for the colonies. For some years he was engaged in trading along the coast of New South Wales, but afterwards entered the New Zealand waters, where, until 1852, he was employed almost continuously in the whaling trade. In the latter part of 1852, he commenced farming in Price's Valley, Little River, where he secured a run of about 2550 acres, afterwards known as “Kelvin Grove,” which he continued to work until his death in June, 1901. Mr. Price was for a considerable time a member of the Little River Road Board. He was married in 1848, to Miss Jane Scott, of Sydney, and left a family of six sons and five daughters. His widow, who is one of the oldest residents in the neighbourhood, still occupies the homestead; but the estate is let to Mr. W. Birdling.

The late Mr. J. Price.

The late Mr. J. Price.

Mrs J. Price.

Mrs J. Price.

“Te Koraha,” the Residence of Mr. A. E. G. Rhodes. It was here the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York, now Prince and Princess of Wales, stayed during their visit to Christchurch in June 1901. Photo taken and presented by Mr. J. J. Collins, of Collins & Harman, Architects.

“Te Koraha,” the Residence of Mr. A. E. G. Rhodes.
It was here the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York, now Prince and Princess of Wales, stayed during their visit to Christchurch in June 1901.
Photo taken and presented by Mr. J. J. Collins, of Collins & Harman, Architects.