Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

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

The Terrace Station — (Runs 17 and 20)

The Terrace Station
(Runs 17 and 20)

The two runs which were included in the Terrace Station both ran from the Hororata to the Rakaia; the western boundary lay roughly along the foot of the hills and the eastern boundary ran along the road from Hororata to Te Pirita, still known as Boundary Road.

Run 17, of ten thousand acres, was taken up in November, 1852, by Sanderson and Brayshaw. There is a large single gum tree on the river bed of W. J. Inche's present property which marks the site of their original hut. Run 20, of twenty thousand acres, was taken up in August, 1851, by Mark Pringle Stoddart. His homestead was below the river terrace, opposite Highbank, hence the present name of the station, which was originally the Rakaia Terrace Station. Stoddart was a 'shagroon' who came over from Australia with sheep in 1851 and was one of the first party to explore Lake Coleridge. He also wrote some of the Canterbury Rhymes. The place he chose for his homestead is still about the windiest place in Canterbury, and Stoddart's spirited verses describe the winds there in his day. He was the father of Miss Stoddart, the artist.

In 1853 Sanderson and Brayshaw sold their run to the Studholme brothers, afterwards of Waimate (under which I give a fuller account of their enterprises). The Studholmes had already taken up the Point Station nearby. They built a new homestead where it is now, at the other end of the run near Hororata. John Studholme was the brother who managed this run, which they called Hororata in their time.

In April 1853 Stoddart sold his run, which he called the Rakaia Terrace, to John (afterwards Sir John) Hall, for £2750 which included 1870 sheep and lambs, and the horses, improvements, stores and sundries. Hall worked the run in partnership with his brothers T. W. and J. W. Hall.

page 79

I have read their diary for the first year the Halls were at the station and give rather a long summary of it, as accounts of station management in the 'fifties are rare. Before he sold the run Stoddart had built a hut and temporary woolshed near the Rakaia, but the Halls put up new more permanent buildings, of slabs tatched with toe toe. The huts were plastered inside with clay.

Scab having lately shewn itself in the neighbourhood, they kept the sheep in hand and penned them at night in the hurdle yards which often blew down. Except for the shepherds, the men's chief work was cutting and carting in timber, firewood and toe toe. Until it became scarce they used driftwood from the riverbed for firewood.

Unlike most early runholders the Halls used horses in their drays when they first went up to their station, but they brought up a team of bullocks before very long. They always washed the bullocks' necks in brine before and after work. The bullocks were grazed before work and until dark after it, but at night were kept in a small paddock from which they often broke out and were a bother to find again, as in all station diaries of the 'fifties, there is continual mention in this of hunting for lost stock and of neighbours coming in search of theirs. There was also continual borrowing and lending of tea, sugar and flour between stations.

The Halls made a garden as soon as they came, they even grew tomatoes. They also grew a little wheat and barley for home use.

There were many wild pigs near the hills, and like all runholders in the 'fifties the Halls were much bothered by wild dogs. I don't know whether these dogs were descended from Maori dogs or from pre-Adamite settlers' dogs gone wild. The Halls had a lot of bother from a dog they often saw near Woolshed Hill but could never shoot or run down. One of their men had a lurcher or pig dog called Emperor. He suggested setting Emperor on to the wild dog, so the Halls took him out. They could not find the wild dog for page 80some time, however Emperor picked up the scent and gave chase. When he caught up to the wild dog, however, instead of tackling it he made friends and the two trotted off together and Emperor didn't come home till next morning, so they concluded that the wild dog must be a bitch, as she proved to be some weeks afterwards when they got her with poison.

Their first lambing began in June and a very poor lambing it proved, but another mob which began lambing in March did much better. In old days many people preferred an autumn or winter lambing to a spring one. They said the lamb lived on its mother's milk while it was young and was ready to wean in the spring when there was plenty of grass. Other people used to lamb all the year round, and the best hill sheepman I ever knew told me he would do it again if he were starting to breed up a flock on a new run from a small mob of ewes.

The Halls started with about 1100 ewes and 500 dry sheep and by the next winter the flock had increased to 2000. They washed the sheep before shearing in a pool in the river, and dipped them twice during the year in water in which tobacco had been boiled. Of course the sheep were all merinos. They only cut 10 bales to the thousand, but in those days of spade pressing a bale might weigh anything up to 700 lbs. I daresay the sheep cut about 4 lbs. of washed wool a head.

John Hall, the owner, lived in Christchurch, and his brothers Thomas and George looked after the station, but he came up often and when he came worked as hard as anyone, and was always the effective manager.

In June 1855 Hall let the run for 7 years to Henry Phillips of Rockwood and T. H. Potts. The rent was £100 a year, without the sheep; he put the sheep out on terms with Dixon at Eyrewell and Sanderson at Carleton. I think Hall took back the station before the lease was up and soon afterwards bought the Studholmes' country and joined it to his own. He moved over to their homestead, but used the name by which page 81his old run had been known, and Hororata became the name of an adjoining station.

Hall's first manager was John W. Buller, who remained with him until November 1869 when J. E. Fountain, who had been his overseer for some years, succeeded him. Buller then went to Wanganui where he fell off his horse and broke his neck. He often had accidents as he was a stout man and used to go to sleep on horseback.

Fountain was manager until his death in 1901. After Fountain came W. Pitt and then Duncan Frazer, the well known pigeon shot. Three bullock teams were employed on the station until 1868, when two of them were sent to Hall's Mackenzie Country station. The last time a bullock team is mentioned in the diary is in December 1870, when it was carting firewood. They first used longwool rams in 1874.

The first mention of destroying rabbits is on 15th September, 1881, when they poisoned them with wheat. In December 1882 they had a nor'-west storm while shearing and afterwards counted 992 sheep killed off shears by the cold. In 1898 A. D. Dobson laid out the races which still water the station.

Joseph Lorette, a Spaniard and an old whaler, deserves mention as a most versatile station hand. He worked for many years at the Terrace both for wages and by contract, and before he came to the Terrace had driven bullocks for the Halls at their Mackenzie Country stations in the 'fifties. The diary speaks of him being employed at shepherding, mustering, driving sheep and cattle, bullock driving, wagoning (with a six-horse team), ploughing, working drills and tilters, building stocks, killing pigs, fencing, and indeed every skilled job about the station, including cooking. Thomas Ward came to the station as a boy in June 1873 and stayed there until October 1932, which must surely be a record for length of continuous employment on one station.

Sir John Hall is remembered for his ability in local, provincial and New Zealand politics and administra-page 82tion; he was also a successful squatter and is erroneously supposed to have invented the 'grid-iron' system of land buying. He secured the whole freehold of his run and as early as 1878 only 8,000 of his 23,000 sheep are entered in the return as depasturing on leasehold. He was the pioneer of tree planting on a large scale in Mid-Canterbury. In 1907, a few months before his death, in his eighty-third year, he sold twenty thousand acres of his land to a syndicate for sub-division, but left his sons, Wilfred and Godfrey, fine freehold properties there. Godfrey Hall has the old homestead.