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

Whiterock — (Runs 127, 165, 166 and 168)

(Runs 127, 165, 166 and 168)

Whiterock was bounded on the north by the south branch of the Waipara and ran to the top of The Brothers. It was bounded by Mt. Grey on the east, the Okuku River on the west, and Loburn on the south.

Runs 165, 166 and 168 were taken up in August, 1957, by John Macfarlane. He had taken up Loburn in 1851 and worked Whiterock as part of it until he sold Loburn in 1862, when he built a homestead at Whiterock.

A man called Young took up Run 127 (Mt. Karetu, the part of Whiterock adjoining Mt. Brown), in November, 1853, and had 1200 sheep there in 1858. He sold his run and sheep to Macfarlane about 1860. I have not been able to find out who he was or anything about him.

John Macfarlane came out to New Zealand in the early 'forties, and soon afterwards went to the Wairarapa, but was driven out by the Maoris in 1850 and came down to Canterbury. He landed at the Heathcote from a whale boat about a fortnight before the arrival of the First Four Ships, which he saw from the top of Scarborough Hill.

Macfarlane lived at Coldstream near Rangiora. His first manager at Whiterock was John Robinson. Robinson had been a shepherd at Esk Head and was sup-page 252posed to have walked from there to Lyttelton and back to Christchurch in twenty-four hours, making only one stop—at Saltwater Creek, where he drank a pint of whisky. Owing to the scrub there, scab was very bad at Loburn and Whiterock in the 'sixties. Macfarlane was fined £1000 on one occasion and £1500 on another. In June, 1868, Mallock and Lance of Horsley Down claimed £500 from him for contaminating 21,000 of their sheep, but Macfarlane got this reduced by arbitration to £275. Robinson dipped the sheep in arsenic, and besides killing several hundred of them with it, nearly killed the shepherds as well. He left in 1869, and fell off the pier at Dunedin and was drowned. He was succeeded as manager by Alexander McLean, who stayed about five years, during which he cleared the scab. He used to dress the infected sheep with spirits of tar and tobacco, and then dip the whole flock a month later with sulphur and tobacco.

After this time, Macfarlane used Whiterock as a wether station and took the wethers on to Coldstream where he fattened them for the Coast.

For a time, in the 'sixties, Macfarlane let the run and sheep to his brother Malcolm (who was afterwards drowned in the Rakaia), and John Mann, but owing to scab they did no good and John Macfarlane took the run back some time before 1867, when he had 18,000 sheep there.

In 1882 Walter Nicholls, who at that time owned Haylands, bought Whiterock from Macfarlane, and in 1889, when the Midland Railway Company sold their land, made the whole run freehold.

In 1904 or 1905, after Nicholls's death, his executors sold Whiterock to G. D. Greenwood of Teviotdale. Greenwood made a lot of money by cutting it up. He sold the homestead block to C. H. Ensor, who sold off the land in smaller blocks. The Whiterock house was burnt down during Ensor's time, but the old station woolshed is still used by the Whiterock Shearing Company.

Macfarlane's last manager was Miles Campbell, one page 253of the compilers of the Cyclopaedia of New Zealand, who stayed on until about 1889 with Nicholls, when he was succeeded for a short time by W. B. Scott. William Macintosh, one of the best sheep men in Canterbury, succeeded Scott, and managed Whiterock until it was cut up by Greenwood.

Amongst the old station hands must be mentioned Henry Elderton, of Amberley,* who, as I said before. was the best authority I know on the history of the hill stations between the Hurunui and the Waimakariri Rivers.