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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Otago & Southland Provincial Districts]


page 469


Totaratahi is the postal name of a splendid agricultural and pastoral district, which was formerly a part of the well known Totara estate, and includes the homestead. Both the main south road and the Christchurch-Dunedin line of railway intersect the settlement. There is a flag station on the line—still known as Totara—which is six miles from Oamaru, and stands at an elevation of eighty-two feet above sea level. At the census of 1901 the population was 176 persons, consisting chiefly of the families and servants of those who had bought portions of the Totara estate. A good deal of dairy farming is carried on, and a large creamery has been established at a central point on the main south road. In addition to its railway station, Totaratahi has a post and telephone office, and a church and public school, which serve the adjacent settlement of Alma. Large white stone quarries are energetically worked in the district, and limeburning is also one of the local industries. Totaratahi is in the Kakanui riding of the county of Waitaki.

T.T. Quarry , Totaratahi, is a splendid property, of seventeen acres and a half, and has been worked for about twenty years. It is situated alongside Totara railway station, with which it is connected by a siding. There is an unlimited quantity of the best quality of Oamaru white stone, which is hewn by machinery, and hand-dressed at the quarry.

Mr. William Dickson , Foreman in charge of the T.T. Quarry, was born in 1842, in North, Scotland, and was brought up to country life. In 1860 he landed at Port Chalmers by the ship “Henrietta,” and for a short time he was in Dunedin and Invarcargill. Mr. Dickson has been settled in the Oamaru district since 1868. He has been engaged mostly in working the white stone of the district, and has been in charge of the T.T. Quarry since 1895. As a Forester, he is attached to Court Pride of Oamaru. Mr. Dickson was married, in 1862, to a daughter of the late Mr. David Smeeton, of Perth. Mrs Dickson died in 1903.

Dewar, William , Farmer and Threshing Mill Owner, Taratahi. Mr. Dewar was born in the parish of Caputh, Perthshire, Scotland, in June, 1844. He has been engaged in outdoor occupations from his early days, and managed his mother's farm for four years before leaving Scotland for New Zealand. In 1864 he landed at Port Chalmers from the ship “E. P. Bouverie,” on her first trip to New Zealand. He found employment in the Taieri district, where he remained four years, and removed to the Oamaru district early in 1869. He bought a team of horses, and went contract ploughing, and was afterwards cropping on Kauroo station, and, later, at Balruddery. In 1876 he went to the Ngapara district, and three years afterwards leased Rocky Knowe Farm, which he worked for eighteen years. After that he residid in Oamaru for four years and a half, and bought 327 acres of Totara estate in 1901. He has erected a large homestead, and effected many improvements. During his residence at Rocky Knowe he was a member of the Island Cliff school committee. Mr. Dewar was married, in 1880, to a daughter of the late Mr. D. M. Blackie, of Kaitangata, and has five sons and two daughters.

Fulton, James , Farmer, Totaratahi. Mr. Fulton was born at Alloa, Clackmannanshire, Scotland, in 1847. He went to school at Sauchie, near Alloa, and was brought up to country life. In 1868 he arrived at Port Chalmers by the ship “Robert Henderson,” and found employment with Mr. Hassall, at Cave Valley. Two years later, he became head ploughman at Dr. Webster's Balruddery station. After two years on this estate, he commenced farming on his own account at Pudden Hill, now known as Waihaorunga, South Canterbury. Mr. Fulton then removed to the Makataramoa station, where he was contracting for fourteen years. He afterwards bought 155 acres of the Taipo estate, named his place “Springfield,” and has resided there since 1902. Mr. Fulton was married, in 1875, to a daughter of the late Mr. Robert Brown, of the “Punch Bowl,” Waimatu, and has four daughters and one son.

Armstrong, photo. Tree Ferns.

Armstrong, photo.
Tree Ferns.

Macaulay, Robert , Farmer, Totara, Park, Totaratahi. Mr. Macaulay, who is the son of the late Mr. R. Macaulay, some time manager of Totara estate, was born on that estate in 1887. He was educated at Oamaru and Hampden, and has always been interested in farming. Mr. Macaulay has farmed on his own account since his father's death in 1895. Totara Park, which is part of the original station, consists of 500 acres held under lease.

McKirdy, William , Farmer, Largs Farm, Totaratahi. Mr. McKirdy was born at Largs, Scotland, in, 1853, and came to Port Chalmers with his parents by the ship “Zambia” in 1862. He was apprenticed as a blacksmith, and learned his trade with the well-known firm of Reid and Gray. Mr. Reid was his brother-in-law, before he left Scotland. Mr. McKirdy subsequently entered the service of Messrs J. Mill and Co., whom he served for twenty-three years at Oamaru and Fort Chalmers. He purchased 115 acres at Totaratahi in 1896, and settled on his property in 1903. At Port Chalmers he was a member of Court Robin Hood, Ancient Order of Foresters, but took his clearance to Court Pride of Dunedin. Mr. McKirdy was married, in 1877, to a daughter of Mr. Henry Spears, of Dunedin, and has had one son and four daughters; two of the daughters have died.

Rodger, Terence , Farmer, “Besbrook,” Totaratahi. Mr. Rodger was born in 1847 at Besbrook, County Armagh, Ireland. When twenty years old, he emigrated to Victoria, and a year later crossed to Otago, and settled in the Oamaru district. He found employment on the Totara, and Awamoa estates, and in 1878 started cropping on Totara station, where he continued till July, 1900, when he purchased 150 acres of the estate. Mr. Rodger has erected a comfortable homestead, and effected considerable improvements on his property. He served for a time as a member of the local school committee. Mr. Rodger was married, in 1880, to a daughter of Mr. Dennis O'Shea, of Cork, Ireland, but his wife died in April. 1887, leaving four sons and one daughter. One of the sons went to South Africa with horses, joined Kitchener's Fighting Scouts, and died of enteric fever at Bloemfontein.

page 470
Mahan and Muir, photo. See page 469. Mr. T. Rodger.

Mahan and Muir, photo. See page 469.
Mr. T. Rodger.

Rodger, David , Farmer, “Blarmor,” Waiareka Valley, Totaratahi. Mr. Rodger was born in Lanarkshire, Scotland, in 1870, and was brought up on his father's farm. He came to New Zealand, via Australia, in 1888, and was for eighteen months with the late Mr. D. Dick, at Ashley, North Canterbury. Mr Rodger afterwards removed to North Otago, and was employed on the Totara estate for eleven years. In 1900 he leased 1000 acres of the estate for ten years. Mr. Rodger was married, in 1892, to a daughter of the late Mr. William Calder, shepherd, of Totara, and has had five daughters (of whom one has died) and one son.

The Totara Public School is built of Oamaru, stone, and has accommodation for 120 pupils. There are eighty names on the roll, and the average attendance is sixty-eight. Mr John Reid, the teacher in charge, is assisted by an infant mistress, Miss R. Steel.

The Totara Presbyterian Church stands in a central position on the main south road, and was built in 1901. There is a glebe of six acres. The building is of stone, and will comfortably hold 200 worshippers. Services are held every Sunday, and there is a Sunday school with forty scholars and four teachers. The minister who officiates resides at Weston.

The Totara Estate , the property of the New Zealand and Australian Land Company, Ltd., consists of 9600 acres of freehold land, which is available for sale in small farms. Formerly it was of considerably larger extent, but about 6400 acres have been sold to farmers. The cultivation of cereals, turnips, potatoes, mangolds and grasses is extensively carried on. In the of 1898–9, 2000 acres were under wheat, 700 under oats, and forty under barley; 429 acres for wheat and oat crops were let to croppers, and fifty-eight acres for potatoes; 484 acres of ryegrass seed was harvested, and fifty-three acres of cowgrass seed saved. A stud flock of Border Leicester sheep is kept, and is one of the oldest flocks of that breed in the Colony. The Totara herd of pure Polled Angus cattle is well known; it includes 100 breeding cows, the original stock having been imported. Considerable numbers of pedigree stock are sent to the North Island and to the Australian Colonies every year, apart from those moved to other stations belonging to the company. “Totara” is a splendidly improved estate. At the homestead there is a fine two-storey mansion built of white limestone, and charmingly situated on an elevation, surrounded by a fine plantation of shelter and ornamental trees. The first cargo of frozen mutton shipped from the Colony was sent from Totara estate, in 1882, in the sailing ship “Dunedin.” The sheep were slaughtered on the estate, and lots of 250 carcases railed to Port Chalmers daily, and frozen on board ship. The first cargo of eight thousand odd created quite a sensation on the London market; the whole cargo averaged 82 pounds per carcase, and sold at 7d per pound, netting 24s each on the estate. For a number of years afterwardt the ships “Dunedin,” “Marlborough,” and “Oamaru” were kept regularly employed running to London with frozen mutton, slaughtered at “Totara”; the loading of the vessel being latterly effected at Oamaru harbour.

The Homestead, Totara Estate.

The Homestead, Totara Estate.

Mr. John Macpherson , Manager of the Totara Estate, was born in Perthshire, Scotland, in 1850. He was educated by his father, the late Mr. W. Macpherson, F.E.I.S., at Daniel Stewart's Free School, Strathtay, and brought up to a country life. For six years prior to coming to New Zealand, he served under a civil engineer in the slate quarries of North Wales. In 1876 Mr. Macpherson arrived at Lytteiton by the ship “Desdemona,” under engagement to the company, in whose service he still continues. After a short time on the company's Pareora, Levels and Hakataramea estates, he was, in 1879, appointed to “Totara,” and for a number of years he also managed the Ardgowan property, acquired by the Government in 1895, for close settlement. Mr. Macpherson has been an active member of the North Otago Agricultural and Pastoral Society, and at one time
Mahan, photo. Mr. J. McPherson.

Mahan, photo.
Mr. J. McPherson.

page 471 held office as vice-president. He has represented the Waitaki Council for a number of years on the Oamaru Harbour Board, and now represents Kakanui riding in the Waitaki County Council; and in the early days he served as a member of the Kakanui Road Board. Mr. Macpherson was married in April, 1889, to a daughter of the late Mr. W. S. Trotter, of Roslin, Southland, and has three sons and two daughters.

Mr. Andrew Fyall , who has been overseer at Totara estate since 1892, was born in Scotland in 1855, and from his earliest days has been accustomed to ouidoor pursuits. Mr. Fyall arrived at Port Chalmers in 1884 by the s.s. “Florida,” and was employed at the Levels station, South Canterbury, till 1892, when he received the appointment be now holds as overscer at Totara. Mr. Fyall served for seven years as a member of the Totara school committee. He was married, in 1891, to a daughter of Mr. James Gammie, of Pleasant Point, Canterbury, and has three sons and four daughters.

Mr. Robert Macaulay , some time Manager of Totara estate, was born at Kilbride, Scotland, in 1833. He was trained to farming, and came to Otago in 1859, under engagement to the New Zealand and Australian Land Company. For the first few years of his colonial life, Mr. Macaulay was at Edendale station, Southland, whence he was transferred to Totara, where he died in 1895, after thirteen years of management.