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



Henley is a village situated on the Taieri river, twenty-one miles southwest by rail from Dunedin, and is the centre of a dairyfarming community. It is seen at its best during the summer season, when crowds of visitors take advantage of the excellent accommodation provided at the hotel, and the excursions which run down the river to the Taieri Mouth and Beach. A steam launch towing a flotilla of small boats page 656 is the means of transit, and the scenery on the journey is picturesquely rugged, and pleasing to the eye. There are two specially large properties in the district, namely, the Berkeley and Henley estates. A very fine view of the Taieri Plain can be obtained from the top of the hills at the back of the township; the ascent is easy, and a quantity of native bush still enhances the beauty of the hills. Henley has a railway station, public school, church, post and telegraph office and telephone bureau; and a social hall for purposes of entertainment.

The Henley Estate , Henley, Otago. This estate was first owned by Messrs E. B. Cargill, John Bathgate, and John Reid, but was subsequently acquired by Messrs James Mills. John Roberts, C.M.G., the Hon, George McLean and the National Mortgage Company. At first the estate comprised 7000 acres on the flat and 3000 acres on the hills, but since then it has been cut up, and is now held in separate lots by the present proprietors. Messrs Mills and Roberts' portion, of which Mr. John Stevenson is manager, contains 600 acres on the flat and 1200 acres on the hills. Only dairy farming is carried on; but 400 cows are grazed, and the milk is sent to the local factory. When the estate was in its entirety, 1200 cows were kept, and also a dairy and cheese factory; and about 225 tons of cheese were turned out yearly. When the present manager, Mr. John Stevenson, took charge of the Henley estate, it was considered a great feat for a man to cross the plain from the Taieri river to the Maungatua mountain. It was one sheet of water, above which appeared large tussocks called Maori-heads, and it was useful only as a resort for wild ducks and a fishing ground for eels. But as the result of a methodical system of drainage, carried out by Mr. Stevenson, the whole of the land within the bounds of the estate, with the exception of a few hundred acres, has been completely drained, and a richer soil it would be difficult to find. There are now upon the flat 300 miles of open ditches; the larger of which are 8 feet wide by 4 feet deep, and the smaller ones, 3 feet by 3 feet. These ditches lead the water into the Taieri river.

Mr. John Stevenson , J.P., Manager of Messrs Mills and Roberts' portion of the Henley estate, was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1840, and came out to New Zealand with his uncles. Messrs James B. Stevenson and Charles Stevenson, who arrived at Port Chalmers, in 1849, by the ship “Larkins.” He was brought up and educated at the Halfway Bush, but subsequently moved to the Taieri Plain, where his uncle took up some land. It was at this farm of his uncle's that Mr. Stevenson received his first practical lessons in agriculture afterwards he was manager of Messrs Campbell, Thompson and Co.'s Rockland station, at Deep Stream, where he remained for four years, when he left to take the management of two stations at Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea, owned by the Scottish Trust Company, of Edinburgh, Scotland. In 1871 Mr. Stevenson was appointed manager of the Henley estate, where he has since remained, except during three years spent on a property near Waimate, Canterbury. In public life Mr. Stevenson has taken a prominent part, and has been a member of the Outram Road Board, chairman of the
Wrigglesworth and Binns. photo.Mrs J. Stevenson.

Wrigglesworth and Binns. photo.Mrs J. Stevenson.

Henley River Board, president of the New Zealand Dairy Association, chairman of the Taieri Ferry school committee, and a member and judge of the Otago Agricultural and Pastoral Society. At present he is a member of the Maungatua Drainage Board. As a Freemason he belongs to Lodge Hfiram, Dunedin, No. 48, New Zealand Constitution. Mr. Stevenson was married, in 1864, to a daughter of Mr. William Barr, of Shandon, Dumbartonshire, Scotland, and has a grownup family of two sons and one daughter. Mrs Stevenson came out to New Zealand in 1863, in the ship “Victory.”