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

Rhodes's Cattle Station at Akaroa — (Part of Run 30, Block II)

Rhodes's Cattle Station at Akaroa
(Part of Run 30, Block II)

This was the first cattle or sheep station in Canterbury —indeed, in the South Island. William Barnard Rhodes, a New South Wales landowner, master mariner and partner in Cooper, Holt and Rhodes, of Sydney, merchants and ship-owners, turned out cattle in November 1839 near where the town of Akaroa is now. Green's Point is named after William Green, whom he left in charge of them. There were in this first shipment about 40 head, mostly cows and heifers; also, I believe, some pigs. I do not think Rhodes at first had a lease from the Maoris, but believed he had bought the land, acreage unspecified, which probably included all the open country about Akaroa and the Kaik; and within the next two or three years Rhodes occupied the open country at Flea Bay, to which there was a natural clearing through the bush from the open country at Akaroa.

Like all early stations in Canterbury before the organised settlement, the station depended for its revenue on the sale of dairy produce and in a small way on beef, potatoes, salt-pork, and so on. Some of page 330this produce was sold to visiting whaling ships and some sent to Wellington. Of course, in spite of low rent and low wages bills, none of these stations can have paid their way. The owners laid up for the future by the increase of their stock.

Green, though more intent on sly-grog selling than on his master's interests, made some success of the station, and in 1843, when Rhodes's brother George came to New Zealand to join him and take charge of the station, the cattle had increased a good deal. The Rhodes brothers soon brought over sheep and more cattle from Australia.

Green left, and started the first licensed hotel in Canterbury. It stood near Green's Point. Rhodes got Israel Rhodes (no relation to the brothers), and William Birdling down from Wellington to help him, and very good men they proved. Israel Rhodes was. married, and George Rhodes sent him and his wife over to start a new dairy station at Flea Bay, or rather at Long Bay, where the first homestead was, while he and Birdling stayed at the old homestead working the rest of the run until 1847, when the Rhodes brothers bought Purau, and George Rhodes and Birdling moved over there. While at Akaroa, George Rhodes lived at what is still known as Red House Bay.

After 1847 the old cattle station seems to have rather faded away, the lower part, I suppose, becoming settled, and the upper part of the run being worked from Flea Bay.