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

The Okuku Country — (Run 232)

The Okuku Country
(Run 232)

The Okuku Country, twenty thousand acres, lay behind Whiterock, from which the Okuku River separated it. It took in Block Hill, and ran back to a wild piece of unoccupied bush country called the Devil's Den, which bounds Esk Head, the Virginia, Snowdale, Lochinvar, and Mt. White.

It included a piece of country (called Elderton's Downs) between that and the Okuku River.

It was taken up by Captain W. Millton in December, 1857. He and George Paterson, his manager at View Hill, explored it together, and showed very good judgment in taking it rather than Snowdale, which, perhaps, looks more attractive in summer. At that time Captain Millton owned View Hill, and tried to work the Okuku from there, but could find no practicable way to take sheep from one to the other, so he leased the Okuku Country to Mannering and Cunningham, the owners of Birch Hill and other stations.

In 1874 he bought Birch Hill as a shearing place for the Okuku sheep, and since then Okuku has been worked as a part of Birch Hill.

It was in the Midland Railway area and when the company sold their land in 1889 the whole of the Okuku Downs was made freehold. Since then about half the country has been sold, but what remains of it still belongs to Colonel E. B. Millton, a son of the page 251original owner. It was one of the only twelve stations in Canterbury which has never changed hands except by inheritance.

Robert Laurie and James Gordon were early managers for Captain Millton, and Henry Elderton and Donald Fraser (after whom places on the run are named) were early shepherds there.

Mannering and Cunningham's overseer was John O'Halloran, afterwards manager and finally owner of Glentui.