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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Otago & Southland Provincial Districts]



The Caledonian Society Of Southland is one of the oldest institutions in the district, and dates from 1868. The annual sports take place in Queen's Park, Invercargill, on New Year's Day, and, on an average, £250 is distributed in prize money. Between 11.30 a.m. and 4.30 p.m. on that day, numerous and various competitions are held and decided, and the prize money is paid over on the ground. The sports are very popular with Southlanders. and are sometimes witnessed by as many as 8000 persons. On the 1st of January, 1903, £325 was taken in gate money, and the total turnover for the year ending August, 1903. was £550. In addition to arranging and carrying out its sports, the Society encourages education by occasionally providing entertainments, and assists charitable and other local interests. The Society is under the management of a board of twenty-five directors with a president, treasurer and secretary. The officers for 1903 were Messrs W. B. Mitchell (president), D. A Mitchell (treasurer), and J. McGregor (secretary).

The Southland Acclimatisation Society dates from the 7th of September, 1863, when its council held its first meeting. Mr. John Turnbull is president; the Hon. H. Feldwick and Mr. R. McKinnon, vice-presidents; and Mr. E. Russell acts as secretary and treasurer. The Society has jurisdiction page 826 over that portion of the Otago district which lies west of the Mataura river. Its fish hatcheries at Wallace-town, seven miles from Invercargill, are under the care of Mr. P. B. Brass, curator.

The Southland Metropolitan Agricultural And Pastoral Association has its head quarters in Invercargill, and was formed in the year 1867 by a few of the leading townsmen and agriculturists in the district; and the first show was held on the 19th of December in that year in an enclosure commonly known in those days as the “Union Bank” paddock which was lent for the occasion. The show was a very successful one, and the quality of some of the stock exhibited on that occasion was equal to the best that can be seen to-day in any show ground in New Zealand, Indeed, a veteran settler and judge of stock in the early days maintains, that the stock shown thirty-five years ago was better than now, that it was more adapted to its surroundings, and that the natural pasture was more abundant and nutritive, and in proof of his assertion, he refers to the fact, that at one of the early shows the first and second prize fat bullocks, each scaled over 1,400 lbs., dressed weight, with only 64 lbs. between them. The president of the society at its initiation was Mr. Robert Hamilton, one of the New Zealand and Australian Land Company's managers. The vice-president was Mr. Wm. Cochrane, of Messrs. Cochrane, Grainger and Blackwood, merchants, Invercargill; the treasurer Mr. John Dalgliesh, manager of the Bank of Otago; and the secretary Mr. J. J. Ham, of the “Southland Times.” Along with these gentlemen, many other leading settlers were associated, among them being the Hon. J. A. R. Menzies, M.L.C., Superintendent of the Province of Southland, John Morton, John Russell, Thomas Cumming, Thomas Hamilton, Hugh McLean, Alex. McNab, Captain McCallum, and others, who have joined the majority; while of those who took a leading part in forming the society and who still reside in the district, may be mentioned: Messrs J. B. Sutton, Daniel Sinclair, A. A. McDonald, William Waddell, John McIntosh and others. The association has enjoyed a continuous career of useful progress since its foundation in 1867, and has held annual shows ever since that date. The second show in 1868, was held in a five acre paddock forming part of the town belt, which the association had enclosed and fitted up with all the conveniences necessary for the effective display of stock, at an outlay of £800. In fact the enclosure was at that time justly regarded by visitors from all parts of the Colony as a model show ground. Some years later the association's exhibitions were removed to a more commodious enclosure, forming a portion of the public park at the northern boundary of the town, and hero they still continue to be held, only the ground has recently been enlarged, and now embraces an area of about sixteen acres. The laud is leasehold, and is held on favourable terms, at a nominal rental for a long term, by the Agricultural Association, in conjunction with the Caledonian and Irish Athletic societies, whose sports are also held there. The ground is naturally well adapted for show purposes, and has of late years been considerably improved by the erection of a large fenced ring, where draught and light horses can both be judged at the same time, and where the jumping and driving competitions are held; rows of neat stalls for the accommodation of quiet cattle, and a couple of rings for judging them; loose boxes for stallions, pens for mares and foals; commodious
Lake Ada, Milford Sound.Guy, photo.

Lake Ada, Milford Sound.Guy, photo.

page 827 sheep pens, a fair sized building for the display of dairy produce, which is a specialty of the Southland district; and an excellent grandstand with a large private luncheon room, ladies' rooms, etc., on the ground floor. The society is in a flourishing financial condition, and the names of many of the leading agriculturists in Southland may be found among its executive officers and committee of management, either now or in former years. The secretary and honorary treasurer is Mr. R. F. Cuthbertson, who has occupied the positions for the last twenty-one years. The committee of management consists of twenty-one members, exclusive of the president and vice-president. The association holds a summer show of stock, dairy produce, implements, etc., in December, extending over two days, and a winter show of grain, roots, dairy and other produce in the month of June, while a ram and ewe fair is held in March, and a horse parade in October. Southland has long been noted as the home of many different kinds of prize stock, and among the most prominent breeders are: Messrs John and George Sutton, the Trustees of the late Hon. M. Holmes, Messrs McKercher, McCrostie, Beaven, Grieve, Carswell, James and Walter Blakie, the New Zealand and Australian Land Company, Messrs W. Rankin, B. Meek, John Grant, James Gait, James Gardner, James Holmes, David Murray, James Drain, F. B. Boyd, James Crombie, B. and A. Officer, A. Chrystal, W. C. Ladbrook, and many others.
Mr. Peter Lindsay Gilkison , who was born in Campbelltown. Argyieshire, Scotland, in 1810, is the eldest son of Mr. John Gilkison, merchant, and was educated at the Campbelltown Grammar School, and at Howwood, Renfrewshire. Leaving his native land in 1861, he accompanied his grand-parents to New Zealand in the ship “Aboukir,” which landed at Port Chalmers. Mr. Gilkison, settling in Southland, commenced farming at Waianiwa, where he lived for sixteen years, till he joined the firm of Fleming and Gilkison in 1879. He takes an active interest in the general welfare of the district, especially in the Southland Agricultural and Pastoral Society, in which he has held the office of president. Mr. Gilkison married Miss Jeanie Fleming, daughter of Mr. Thomas Fleming, of Rakahouka, in 1873, and has six children.