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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]



Otaio is the name of a small settlement, and also of a riding of the Waimate county; at the census of 1901 the riding had a population of 535. The settlement of Ecclestone is also about four miles from the Otaio railway station. Ecclestone estate consisted of 1245 acres, and was subdivided into four farms, varying in area from 215 to 444 acres. There are two other settlements, one known as Kohika, and another as Tavistock. The district has a public school, and the business of the post office is conducted at the local smithy. The flag station on the railway line stands eighteen feet above sea level, and is 114 miles distant from Christchurch, fourteen from Timaru, and four from St. Andrews. Otaio lies between the river of that name and the Makakihi river. The country generally is fertile and undulating, and is devoted chiefly to sheep-farming. Otaio is noted for the fineness of its climate.

Otaio Post Office was established about 1887. It is now conducted at the local smithy, but was for some years conducted at the railway station. Three mails are received and one mail despatched daily.

Mr. William George Irwin, Postmaster at Otaio, was born in Timaru, in 1868. He has been in business at Otaio since 1894, and has acted as postmaster all the time.

The Otaio Public School was established in the early seventies, and is one of the oldest schools in the district. It stands on a glebe of two acres, and has room for fifty children; the number on the roll is thirty-two, and the average attendance, twenty-eight. There is a good play-ground, with well grown shelter trees, and the teacher's residence is two stories in height, and has six rooms.

Miss Jessie Fyfe, Teacher in charge of Otaio Public School, was born in Timaru, and served her pupil-teachership at Waimataitai public school. She was at the Kapua school near Waimate, for four years and a half, and was appointed to Otaio in 1902.


Blyth, Alexander, Farmer, “Blythes-dale,” Otaio. Mr. Blytn was born in Scotland in 1839. He emigrated to Queensland in 1863 in the ship “Prince Consort, and after remaining there a few months came on to New Zealand. For about nine months he was shepherding on Ben Lomond station, Waitaki, but on the opening of the West Coast goldfields he went with the “rush,” and, like the majority, was unsuccessful. Mr. Blyth then went to the Otaio estate, where he was shepherding for nine years, and he afterwards worked for Mr. Michael Studholme for two years at Waimate. He subsequently went to live on his farm, which he had cought some years previously, and which was then in its native state. The whole of the farm has now been cultivated, and the wheat crops average thirty bushels per acre. Of late years Mr. Blyth has been letting his land for cropping. He has been a member of the Otaio school committee for the last eighteen
Mr. A. Blyth.

Mr. A. Blyth.

page 1052 years. In 1875, he married Miss Elizabeth Adams, but had the misfortune to lose his wife and children by the hand of death.

Hoskin, Stephen Archelaus, Farmer, Benalta Villa, Otaio. Mr. Hoskin was born in Victoria, in 1861, and was brought up to an outdoor life. In 1876 he accompanied his father, the late Mr. S. Hoskia, to Timaru, where they kept the accommodation house at Otaio Ferry for some years. Mr. S. A. Hoskin holds eleven acres of freehold, on part of which his pretty villa residence stands. He works his property as a dairy farm, and sends the milk to the creamery at St. Andrews. He also owns a cottage and two acres of land opposite the post office at Otaio. Mr. Hoskin served as a volunteer in the St. Andrews Mounted Rifles for a year, and was a member of the Foresters' Order in the early days. He was married in August, 1681, to a daughter of Mr. John Merry, of Hook, and has two sons and one daughter.

See page 1052 Burford, photo.Mr. and Mrs S. A. Hoskin.

See page 1052 Burford, photo.
Mr. and Mrs S. A. Hoskin.

Johnson, John Freeman, Farmer, Otaio. Mr. Johnson was born in Shropshire. England, in 1856, and farmed on his own account for thre years before coming to New Zealand. He arrived at Lyttelton by the ship “Waitangi,” in 1880, and found employment at Picton under Mr. H. Redwood for three years, afterwards being for three years on the Kingsdown estate; then, after a short time at Pleasant Point, Mr. Johnson settled at Otaio, where he leases 217 acres from the Education Department, and carries on mixed farming. He was a member of the local school committee. Mr. Johnson married, in April, 1887, a daughter of Mr. Thomas Young, now of Wairangi, and has six sons and three daughters.

Langlands Estate (R. Heaton Rhodes, proprietor), Otaio. This property consists of 217 acres of freehold land which is mostly devoted to sheep farming. It is under the care of a manager, who occupies the homestead.

Mr. Walter George Walton, Manager of “Langlands,” was born in June, 1860, at Woodend, Canterbury. He was brought up to country life in his native place, and removed to Otaio in 1884. For fourteen years he filled various positions under one employer, and was afterwards at Esk Bank station for ten years, until he was appointed manager of “Langlands.” As a Forester, Mr. Walton is a member of Court Progress, St. Andrews, has passed all the chairs, and was district chief ranger in 1902. He was married, in 1888, to a daughter of the late Mr. Charles Hodgkinston, of Riccarton, and has three sons and one daughter.

Burford, photo.Mr. and Mrs W. G. Walton.

Burford, photo.
Mr. and Mrs W. G. Walton.

Martin, Andrew, Farmer, Teams Farm, Otaio. Mr. Martin, who was one of the first settlers in the Otaio district, was born in Forfarshire, Scotland, in 1834, and was brought up to farming in the Old Country. He arrived in Melbourne by the ship “Sea King,” in 1854, and was married in Geelong, in 1859, to Miss Isabella Thomson, of Fifeshire, Scotland. After seven years of experience on the goldfields in Victoria, he came to Otago, where the worked on the diggings till 1865. He and his brother, Mr. George Martin, then went to Otaio, and took up 100 acres of land. This he has successfully cultivated, and, year by year, has added to his farm, which now consists of 1500 acres of freehold. A dwellinghouse and a large number of outbuildings have been erected, and there is a well-kept garden in front of the house. Teams Farm is considered one of the best model farms in South Canterbury, and it reflects great credit on Mr. Martin's energy and ability. Mr. Martin has been a director of the Timaru Milling Company since its formation; he was chairman of the Otaio school committee for sixteen years; he has been an active member of the Timaru and Waimate Agricultural and Pastoral Associations, Canterbury Farmers' Co-operative Association, and Smithfield Freezing Works. Mr. and Mrs Martin have six sons and three daughters, and four of the family are married and settled in the district.

Mr. and Mrs A. Martin, Senr.

Mr. and Mrs A. Martin, Senr.

Martin, Andrew, Junior, Hillside Farm, Otaio. Mr. Martin is the eldest son of Mr. Andrew Martin, an old colonist at Otaio. He was born in Geelong, in 1860, and came when a child with his parents to New Zealand. His practical knowledge of farming was acquired on his father's farm, and in 1887 he took over his present property, perty, which consists of 374 acres. Mr. Martin has devoted his attention entirely to his farm, and has taken no active part in public affairs, In 1885 he married a daughter of the late Mr. David Ogilvie, an old colonist of Otaio, and has three sons and three daughters.

Norrish, Robert, Farmer, Otaio. Mr. Norrish was born at Thorverton, in Devonshire, England, in 1859, and workd on his mother's farm until coming to New Zealand, via Australia, per s.s. “Cephalonia,” in 1883. After some time in Canterbury he went to Taranaki, where he farmed for thirteen years, and also carried on a butchery business in connection therewith at Stratford and Midhurst. On selling out in 1897, he took a trip with his wife and family to the Old Country, and on his return journey spent some months in Natal, South Africa. Mr. Norrish settled in 1901 in the Otaio district, where he took up 400 acres of land under a lease in per-patuity and also bought the freehold of 260 acres of agricultural and pastoral land. He is chairman of the Kohika school committee,
Burford, photo.Mr. and Mrs R. Norrish.

Burford, photo.
Mr. and Mrs R. Norrish.

page 1053 and held a similar position at Midhurst. Since settling in Otaio he has acquired a first-class threshing and chaff-cutting plant. He is an amateur photographer. Mr. Norrish was married, in 1885, to a daughter of the late Mr. Thomas Butt, of Kaiapoi, and has one son and four daughters. All are ardent advocates of the no-license cause.

Palmer, John George Paige, Farmer, “Hilly View,” Otaio. Mr. Palmer was born in Devoushire in 1851, and followed farming until leaving for Lyttelton, where he arrived in August, 1878. He settled in South Canterbury, and after twelve months at Dunsandel removed to St. Andrews, where he was in business as a butcher for eight years. In 1889 Mr. Palmer leased 274 acres from the Education Department, and purchased the twenty acres of freehold on which his residence stands. He was married, in 1880, to a daughter of the late Mr. Richard Brisley, of Margate, Kent, who came to Lyttelton in the ship “St. Leonards,” in 1873, and has two sons and three daughters.