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

Gebbie's Run — (Runs 12 and 431)

Gebbie's Run
(Runs 12 and 431)

This is another station started before the Canterbury settlement. It lay between the Purau, Kaituna, and Ahuriri stations and ran right back to Lake Ellesmere. The homestead was on the flat at the head of Lyttelton Harbour, where Teddington is now, and where Captain Thomas at one time proposed to lay out the town of Christchurch.

John Gebbie and Mary, his wife, came to Wellington in 1840 under engagement with William Deans, and moved down with the Deanses when they settled at Riccarton in 1843. By the time he came to Riccarton Gebbie had saved £90 from his wages, and in the summer of 1845, when his engagement expired, he and Samuel Manson, another hand who had come out with the Deanses each hired a 'bowen' of 14 cows from Deans Brothers and settled near the head of Port Cooper. They both rented land from the Maoris. The terms on which they had their cattle were 50/-a year for each cow, and all calves to be reared for the Deans brothers. Gebbie had enough savings also to buy two good cows and a mare outright, and enough money over for about a year's stores. He (and also Manson) did very well from the beginning and would have done better still if, in their first season, a large part of their produce had not gone down with Captain Sinclair in his cutter on the way to Wellington. From 13 cows in milk Gebbie had made 7001b of butter and near 24001b of cheese in the season. At that time butter sold at 1/1½ and cheese at 1/-, but butter soon rose to 1/3. In 1847 Gebbie began sheep-farming as well as dairying. On the arrival of the Canterbury settlers he bought a fifty-acre section of page 338freehold with a small pre-emptive right grazing lease attached to it.

Unfortunately Gebbie died early in 1851, aged 28 or 29, leaving a wife and six children and £1000 worth of property; but with the help and advice of John Deans Mrs Gebbie carried on the station and continued to do well. In his Letters from Canterbury Archdeacon Paul speaks of the Gebbies' 'dairy station famous for producing the best Port Cooper cheese.'

In January, 1852, Mrs Gebbie got a pasturage license for Run 12 of five thousand acres, and in 1862 another for Run 431, on the lake shore, also five thousand acres, but owing to freehold buying, the area of both together had been reduced to seven thousand seven hundred acres in 1864. In the 'seventies and 'eighties the station was carrying some 6000 sheep, and about 1890 the land was divided among the family, some of whom are living on it still.

The name of the homestead is Burnt Hollow; but the station was always known as Gebbie's Run in the old days. My account of John Gebbie is taken from Canterbury Pioneers, edited by John Deans.