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

Mt. Hutt — (Runs 115, 148 and 152)

Mt. Hutt
(Runs 115, 148 and 152)

Mt. Hutt, the run above Highbank, takes us to the hills. The western boundary ran along the foot of the actual mountain.

John Hall took up Run 115 in August, 1853, and Run 148 in January, 1855. Hall did not stock them but let them (with Runs 15 and 16, which afterwards became part of Spaxton) to Joseph Beswick in March, 1856. He cancelled the lease soon afterwards as Bes-page 104wick was unable to find stock for the country.

In August, 1855, Alexander Lean took up Run 152 and Run 199 (which afterwards became part of High bank), in July, 1857.

In February, 1857, Lean bought Runs 115 and 148 from Hall, unstocked and unimproved, for £1400. On all these runs the sheep returns of 1857-1858 Lean is shewn as having 2800 sheep on forty thousand acres. Lean was the first man to start the Mt. Hutt Station and probably settled there early in 1857.

Lean built his homestead on a rather inaccessible flat a little up the river from the present Rakaia Gorge Bridge, it being the only place handy to water on the run which had been burnt and was clear enough of scrub and fern to build on. From a very early period, however, the station buildings from which the sheep were worked were at the present homestead. Lean sold Mt. Hutt and also Riverlaw, his town house, to H. P. Murray-Aynsley in 1862, but the leases remained in Lean's name until 1865. Hugh Percy Murray-Aynsley was the son of John Murray-Aynsley of Little Harle Tower, Northumberland, and was born in 1828. He came to New Zealand in 1858 from Trinidad where he had been in charge of a sugar plantation belonging to his cousin Sir William Miles. Murray-Aynsley was manager and a principal partner in the firm of Miles and Co., stock and station agents. He was a member of the old Provincial Council. He died in Christchurch in 1917.

John Carter, afterwards part owner of Maronan, was one of the earliest managers of Mt. Hutt. He was succeeded by W. Allen, and then came a man named Dobson. W. Dunford, the younger, was manager for Lean in 1862 and Julian Jackson was a later manager for Murray-Aynsley.

In 1898, the station, which was then managed by the owner's son, C. P. Murray-Aynsley, was cut up and sold. It then consisted of nine to ten thousand acres of freehold. C. P. Murray-Aynsley retained a block of a thousand acres.

Donald and Hamish McLean bought the two home-page 105stead blocks, Donald taking the homestead on the Rakaia and two thousand five hundred acres along the river, and Hamish the working homestead and two thousand acres on the open plain. The McLeans also bought Blackford Station which lies above Mt. Hutt in the Rakaia Gorge. Donald took the Blackford freehold and Hamish the leasehold which includes the actual hill called Mt. Hutt.

Donald McLean went in for dairying on a very large scale on his property. At one time he milked over 500 cows there. He gradually sold off the land however, and finally the homestead, which until his death in 1924 was the residence of J. H. C. Bond, of Manuka Point Station.

Hamish McLean kept his part of the Mt. Hutt freehold, together with the Blackford leasehold, until soon after the 1914-18 War, when he sold it to the present owners, S. E. and L. R. Richards. Their property is what is now spoken of as Mt. Hutt Station.

Mt. Hutt was the last station in Canterbury to discontinue the ancient practice of sheep washing; sheep were hot-water washed there before shearing until about 1887. The washed wool used to fetch a higher price than even scoured wool on the London market.

Alexander Lean was a friend of Samuel Butler; some of his letters aee published in Festing Jones's Life. I have given a full account of him in my article on Double Hill.

H. P. Murray-Aynsley originally came to New Zealand for his health. He did not live much at Mt. Hutt. C. P. Murray-Aynsley now lives near Dannevirke. George Murray-Aynsley, distinguished on the New Zealand turf, and interested in Bayfields and Mt. Algidus, is another brother.

The McLeans of Mt.' Hutt are not to be confused with the Lagmhor McLeans. They were sons of Captain McLean of Buccleugh.