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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]


This District Of Morven was formerly known as Waihao, and was originally part of the Waikakahi estate. It includes some splendid land on the south bank of the Waihao river, and a good deal of hilly and undulating country extending into the hills towards Arno and Waihao Forks. The township of Morven consists of two stores, a bakery, butchery, two smithies, a creamery, a public school, and a railway station and post office combined. The Roman Catholic church stands on the main road between Morven and Glenavy. At the census of 1901 the population of the district was 336. The railway station, which stands at an elevation of fifty-four feet above sea level, is 100 miles from Dunedin, and 131 from Christchurch. It may be stated that the Waikakahi estate comprised 47,830 acres, and was bounded on the east by the ocean, on the north by the Waihao, on the west by the Elephant Hill estate, and on the south by the Waitaki river. The district was originally taken up in 1854 as two runs by Messrs Alphonso Clifford and Samuel Stevens respectively, and the first freehold section on it was purchased by a man named Pike on the 26th of May, 1859. This section was afterwards sold to Mr. Harris, who after increasing the freehold to 4000 acres, sold the property in 1865 to Mr. John McLean. From that time Messrs George Buckley and John and Allan McLean kept on buying steadily until 1875, when nearly the whole of Waikikihi run became freehold. Mr. Buckley then sold out, leaving the McLeans in possession. In 1880 Mr. John McLean retired, and Mr. Allan McLean became sole proprietor. In November, 1898, the Government bought the estate in terms of the Land for Settlements Act, and it was thereupon subdivided into 130 farms, ranging from forty-five to 1473 acres, fourteen small grazing runs, and about forty acres for a township at the Waihao railway station. After certain reserves had been made, the land was all offered to the public in March, 1899, on lease in perpetuity, and every section was taken up by the right class of settlers, who at once set to work fencing, ploughing, building and tree-planting. In altitude the land of the settlement ranges from ten feet to 1100 feet above sea level. Forty thousand acres of the estate had been cultivated, and the balance surface sown, and the wheat crops had yielded from fifty to seventy bushels per acre, and oats 120 bushels. Latterly Mr. McLean had had about 8000 acres in crop every year; 4000 acres in grain, and 4000 acres in turnips. He had erected 200 miles of fencing on the estate, 140 miles in wire and sixty miles of gorse. The Waimate Acclimatisation Society has stocked the Waitaki and Waihao rivers with trout, and red deer are numerous on the ranges within reasonable distance. Morven, the name given, to the township at the Waihao railway station, connects the place with the Morven Hills sheep station, once owned in Otago by the Messrs McLean, and with their ancestral district in Scotland, the “woody Morven” and “Morven of hills,” famed in the poems of Ossian.

The Morven Railway Station, And Post Office was known as the Waihao flag station for twenty years, but in consequence of the closer settlement of the Waikakahi estate a stationmaster was appointed in December, 1900. The buildings are of wood and iron, of the usual type, and the business of the post office, savings bank and money order department is conducted at the station, which has a passenger platform, goods shed, and cattle loading yard, and houses for the stationmaster, the local ganger, and two surfacemen.

Mr. William James Milner, Stationmaster and Postmaster at Morven, was born in 1873, at Amberley, where he was educated. He entered the railway service at Christchurch in April, 1890, as a cadet, and was afterwards stationed successively at Timaru, Ashburton, Leeston and Culverden. Mr. Milner was for nine years clerk at Lyttelton, and, after a short time on the relieving staff, was appointed to his present position, at Morven in September, 1902. He was married, in October, 1898, to a daughter of Mr, T. Bishop, engine-driver, of Lyttelton.

The Morven Public School was established about 1872. The building is of wood and iron, with two class rooms and porches, and stands upon four acres of land, half of which is used as a grazing paddock for horses. There is a shelter-shed in the playground, and a teacher's house of five rooms adjoining. The staff consists of a master and assistant mistress, and the number of names on the roll is seventy-nine.

Mr. William Thomas, Master of the Morven Public School, was born in Dunedin, in 1879. He was educated in Dunedin, and at the Waimate High School, and served a pupil-teachership at the Waimate public school. Mr. Thomas had charge of the Waitaki Village Settlement school for three years, and was appointed to his present position in April, 1903. He had previously completed two terms as an out-student of Canterbury College, and passed the first section of his B.A. degree.

Mr. James Scott, M.A., formerly Master of the Morven Public School, was born in Banffshire, Scotland, in 1835, and was educated at Keith, and at King's College, Aberdeen, where he graduated M.A., in 1859. After ten years' experience in England, he came out to Melbourne in 1859, and was teachering at the Scotch College there for one year. Mr. Scott then came to New Zealand, and had charge of the Hokitika Academy till 1875. In that year he became headmaster of the Timaru Main School, where he remained for ten years, when he took a two years' trip to England, Mr. Scott was appointed to Morven page 1089 in 1889, but retired from the service early in 1903, and is now (1903) residing at Temuka.

Cox, photo.Mr. J. Scott.

Cox, photo.
Mr. J. Scott.

Waikakahi Public School was established in 1902, and stands on two acres, centrally situated off the main road. The building, which has accommodation for fifty pupils, was erected in 1902, and a residence was built for the master in the following year. The number on the roll is twenty-three, and the average attendance, twenty. Mr. Louis Phillipe Longuet was appointed master in 1903.

Morven Creamery, (North Otago Dairy Company, Limited), Morven. The creamery building is of wood and iron, with concrete floor, and stands on a section of three-quarters of an acre of land. The machinery consists of a foar-horse power stationary engine, with six-horse power boiler, and an Alpha-Laval separator, capable of treating 600 gallons of milk per hour. About 600 gallons are treated daily, and the cream is forwarded to Oamaru.

Mr. James Craig, Manager of the Morven Creamery, was born at Oamaru in May, 1872. He was appointed to his present position when the creamery was opened in November, 1901, having previously had experience in the business. Mr. Craig was married, in 1902, to a daughter of the late Mr. A. White, of Maerewhenua, North Otago, and has one daughter.

Wrathall, William, Blacksmith, Morven. Mr. Wrathall was born in Yorkshire in 1852, and learned his trade with his father. He came out to Austraila in the ship “John Elder,” in 1881, but crossed to New Zealand in the course of a few weeks. In eighteen months, he returned to Australia, but soon came back to New Zealand with the intention of remaining in this Colony. He bought a business at Methven in 1884, and did a steady trade in horse-shoeing and in making and repairing farm implements, for settlers within a radius of fourteen miles. In the early days it took the Double Hill teams three days to come to Methven to be shod and to return. Mr. Wrathall, who is now in business at Morven, has often been solicited to take part in public affairs, but in that respect he has confined his attention to church matters. He was married, in 1890, to Miss Scott, and has two daughters.

Manchester Brothers And Goldsmith, General Merchants, Morven; head office, Waimate. The Morven branch of this business was opened in November, 1900, and the premises occupied stand on an acre of land opposite the railway station. The buildings are of wood and iron, and consist of a large double-fronted shop with a verandah, and a residence behind, and there is also a bulk store with timber racks. There are departments for groceries, drapery, ironmongery and crockery, farming requisites, building materials, and agricultural implements.

Mr. William Arthur Nelson, Manager of the Morven branch of the firm of Messrs Manchester Brothers and Goldsmith, was born in Oamaru, in 1875, and educated at the Waimate District High School. He joined the firm soon after leaving school, and when it was decided to open a branch at Morven, he became the manager, Mr. Nelson has served as a volunteer in the Waimate Rifles for nine years, and is a member of Court Foresters' Pride, Waimate, in which he has occupied the various chairs up to that of S.C.R. He is at present (1903) chairman of the Morven school committee.

Mr. W. A. Nelson.

Mr. W. A. Nelson.

Meehan, James, General Storekeeper, Morven; head office, Makikihi. This branch of Mr. Meehan's business was established in 1898. There are three shops, and also a large store, in which there is a plant for grinding and crushing oats and wheat, driven by a five-horse power Crown Hornsby-Ackroyd oil engine. The ground floor of the store is of concrete, and on the next floor there is a spacious room of forty feet by twenty-five feet, for storage purposes.

Mr. George Wells, Manager of the Morven branch of Mr. Meehan's business, was born at Clyde, Otago, in March, 1867. He had six years' experience with Mr. P. Keddie, page 1090 of St. Andrew's, South Canterbury, and was storekeeping on his own account at Makikihi for two years, before entering the service of Mr. Meehan. In February, 1902, Mr. Wells was entrusted with the management of the Morven branch. He is attached to Court Foresters' Pride, Waimate. Mr. Wells was married, in July, 1900, to a daughter of Mr. M. Adomson, of Otaio, and has one daughter.