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Journal of the Nelson and Marlborough Historical Societies, Volume 1, Issue 3, November 1983

The Early Sheep Runs of Marlborough (Continued)

The Early Sheep Runs of Marlborough (Continued)

page 23

Meadowbank Run No. 13 (1854)

The history of some of the runs in the Lower Wairau are difficult to record for various reasons. The very early records are fragmentary, different writers have given vague facts which sometimes conflict with one another and sometimes even official descriptions conflict in their detail of boundaries etc. For instance the eastern boundary of Meadowbank Run of 1854, which is the earliest description we can find is: By the left bank of the Taylor River, southward by the crest of the hills dividing the Wairau from the Kaiparatehau (Awatere). Whereas the description of the western boundry of the next Run to the east (Taylor River Run No. 14) says, by the Taylor River from the surveyed land to where it turns at a right angle to the eastward, from that point the boundary follows the eastern base of a long ridge in which the west branch of the Taylor takes its rise, up to the extreme western source of the main stream of the "Taylor".

On the sketch map of the Wairau Runs of 1849 the name of G. Duppa is shown, but on a sketch map of 1850 John and William Oldham are shown as occupiers. They still held this licence for this run in 1854 and transferred it in 1856 to William and Henry Eyes and Charles Empson. The western boundary of this run was the Fairhall River.

Eyes and Empson were bits of wolves in purchasing land out of their neighbours runs. About 1861 or 1862 they bought several sections out of C. B. Wither's "Taylor River Run" (between the Taylor River and the Branch River, called at this time the west Taylor River, from their juncture and Vinegar Point westward, thus effectively cutting off their neighbour's access to further land west which C. B. Wither had to buy up quickly. A stalemate position arose with neither side giving way until, in 1866, Eyes and Empson found themselves in financial difficulties due to falling wool prices and sold their interest in Meadowbank Run to Dr. Ralph Richardson, M.D. M.A. C. B. Wither then sold the cut off land to Richardson the following year.

Before this Dr. Richardson had returned to live in England and his agent in N.Z. leased the run to Arthur Penrose Seymour until 1882 when the Doctor's youngest son, George Billingsley Richardson became manager.

It is difficult to follow the history of the surveyed sections (Budge's Survey) between Meadowbank Run and New Renwick Road, but at various periods some of them were owned by Eyes and Empson, some by Henry Seymour of Kent and some were probably leased to whoever was farming Meadowbank, as one map shows the run with access through to New Renwick Road. From 1870 onwards H. Seymour sold off some of the sections to various buyers.

In 1898 G. B. Richardson leased the greater part of Meadowbank to George Turner Seymour for fifteen years. In 1903 a small part of the run was leased to Philip Verco for the extraction of lime, but this only lasted a short time.

In 1907 G. B. Richardson conveyed Meadowbank Run, which was then of 18,827 acres to Mrs Amy Bell, wife of Robert John Bell, along with a flock of seven thousand merino sheep for £9,900. Mrs Bell signed a sale of purchase agreement with Edwards Francis Joseph Grigg of 'Akaunui', Eiffelton, Canterbury for the sale of 'Meadowbank' along with a flock of 7,000 merino sheep for £48,850; this commenced a long association of the Grigg family with this land, though today it is farmed by two cousins who are grandsons of E. F. J. Grigg under two or more separate titles.

page 24

Map of the Lower Wairau Runs c. 1854

page 25

Bankhouse Run No. 9 (Run 15, 1849).

This is one of the larger runs of easy country in the Wairau and lay in the fork of the Wairau and Waihopai Rivers. Originally the western boundry on the Wairau side was the Marchburn Stream to its source thence by a gully opposite that source known as Boundary Creek and down that gully to the Waihopai River above the present Waihopai Hydro Dam. Its area was nearly 27,000 acres.

In March 1848 Dr David Monro, with the aid of five men and with two horses to carry baggage, drove his flock of 1,000 sheep from the Nelson area via Tophouse and down the Wairau to the above run.

Dr. (later Sir) David Monro (1813–1877) was born in Edinburgh, son of Dr. Alexander Monro, Professor of Anatomy at the University of Edinburgh where David obtained his degree of M.D. He bought land scrip in England in the New Zealand Company's settlement in 1841 and sailed for Australia to visit his brother Harry who had a sheep station in Victoria. In early January 1842 he left by the schooner Ariel a coastal trader calling at several places between Auckland and Nelson, where he arrived in March 1842. He built a timber cottage on his town acre section facing Trafalgar Square. In 1843 he was allocated his 50 acres at Waimea West. This was increased to nearly 200 acres over the next few years and named "Bearcroft". In 1845 he married Dinah Secker (1818–1882) at the little church of St. Michael, Waimea West.

Section 1 of XII was crown granted to him in 1852 and other sections were purchased over the next twenty years without much trouble from outsiders trying to freefold sections out of the run.

Towards the end of 1868 or early 1869 Alexander Binning Monro of Valleyfield took over the management of Bankhouse for a time. It is reported that an illicit still was discovered in the manuka scrub and finally the ex-manager was charged and convicted. Such stills were not uncommon at the time.

About 1870 Monro's eldest son, Alexander (1846–1905) took over the management of Bankhouse which he inherited on the death of his father in 1877. Alexander died in 1905 and the run was carried on by trustees and executors namely his widow, Frances Caroline nee Severn and Richard Corbett of Leefield, station manager. The widow as executrix was to manage the realty and to receive £400 a year; the residue to go towards education and maintenance of the children. The Bankhouse property was then to go to the two eldest sons as tenants in common and the rest of the estate to the other children with a clause to equalise the amounts. Despite this, in 1915, Bankhouse was cut into three parcels of land; the homestead block went to Herbert Yelverton Monro, the Marchburn block to Philip Charles Monro and owing to the early death of Henry Alexander Monro in 1916, the Craiglochart block was transfered to his widow, Edith Sylvia Monro.

The Bankhouse run which included the Homestead was of nearly 11,000 acres, but with various sales and exchanges is now of about 10,000 acres and is one of the highest valued single properties in the district, H. J. Monro married Maude Clouston and had one son and two daughters. During his time the merino flock of sheep was upgraded with the establishment of a Merino Stud No. 62 and was well thought of during the 1920's and 30's, but was discontinued in recent times. In 1947 his son, Alexander started taking over the management of Bankhouse.

The Marchburn area of 8081 acres was taken over by Philip Charles Monro in 1915 and in 1930 was transfered to Lewis Henry Clouston for a few page 26months before being transfered to Alexander Monro, son of H. Y. Monro. For the next 30 years it was run in conjunction with Bankhouse before being transferred to John Henry Barrington Shield whose wife was a daughter of H. Y. Monro. A few years later it was turned into a farming company.

The Craiglochart area of Bankhouse, 7605 acres, was transferred by trustrees to Edith Sylvia Monro, widow of Henry Alexander Monro, at the beginning of 1917. The following year she married Thorston Frederick Kelling of Blenheim, Solicitor. In April, 1923 Craiglockhart was transferred from Mrs E. S. Kelling to Cuthbert Oliver Tate Rutherford of Hawarden, Canterbury. In 1947 the Crown took over Craiglockhart for the re-settlement of three returned servicemen who took up their respective farms in 1950. They were Henry Lumsden Tancred, Louis Arthur Laugesen on the Homestead area and Arnold Arthur Marfell.

Langley Dale Run No. 10 (1854).

This run was applied for by William Adams about 1853 and lay on the north side of the Wairau River, stretched along the river bank for 10 or 11 miles, from opposite the confluence of the Wairau and Waihopai Rivers to about the mouth of Bartletts Creek. It was said to be about 15,000 acres in extent. Most of the land was covered in heavy bush fern and scrub, while the long narrow flat near the river was largely swamp occupied by numerous wild cattle and pigs. It was named after his wife whose maiden name was Langley.

William and Martha Adams had been living at Redwood, a sheep run in the Avon Valley since 1852 and were able to build a two storey house at Langley Dale before leasing their Redwood Run to Charles Elliot in 1857 and moving to Langley Dale in September of that year.

When Marlborough became a separate province in 1859 William Adams became the first Superintendent. The capital was Picton at the time and he moved there leaving the men to run Langley Dale. After a few years he and Martha moved to Nelson where he resumed legal practice, the firm being known as Adams and Kingdon. In 1869 their third son, William, left college and came to Langley Dale to learn the running of the station and later to take over the management.

William and Martha returned to live at Langley Dale in 1872 and he died there in 1884 and was buried on the "rock" near the homestead, Martha was buried beside him when she died in 1906.

Meanwhile, William the younger was doing a very good job improving Langley Dale, clearing and developing the run, draining swamps and planting trees. By 1903 the run was carrying 7,000 sheep and 400 cattle, while a water wheel drove an electric generator and a flax mill. Until 1912 all goods to and from the station had to be carted over the Wairau ford. In 1899 a portable steam engine with thresher and chaffcutter was purchased and used until about 1925. By then the original ash had gone off the hills and when William died his son, Archibald Miles William Adams, who inherited most of Langley Dale, had to re-sow the hills with more suitable grasses. He had a difficult time keeping the run going as he also spent a lot of time on local body and community affairs.

Langley Dale was later divided into three blocks for his sons: Alistair Hamilton William Adams took over the block known as Rock Ferry, Douglas Murray William was at Langley Dale and Rae Dundas William the block to the west known as Coatbridge.

page 27

Delta Run No. 11.

Edward Green took up this run about 1848– originally No. 12 of 1849. The area of waste land in this de-pasturage licence was not great, but a considerable area of light strong land had been surveyed under Budge's direction for closer settlement but had not been applied for, or in many cases applied for by absentee owners still living in England. This allowed Green to graze sheep on a much larger area than his run.

About 1854 Dr. Thomas Renwick M.D. of Nelson became interested in buying land in this area and bought section 163, Omaka District, of 150 acres from Edward Green who had completed the purchase of it from the Crown a few months earlier. Over the next two years Renwick purchased from the Crown over 3,000 acres; much of it out of the Delta Run and must have come to some agreement with Green for the lease of the remainder of the run, though the official transfer of the run did not take place until the end of 1864. As other sections in the area became available Renwick managed to purchase a good many of them. In 1863 he purchased from the Hon. Frances Dorothy Dillon 300 acres upon which the main homestead for the run was subsequently built.

At the southern end of the run Dr. David Monro purchased from the Crown 500 acres and also about 10 surveyed sections (Budge's Survey) on behalf of his brother-in-law Alexander Binning Monro of "Auchinbowie", Scotland, Section 149 and Risk Farm of 250 acres. The later had a checkered history of ownership before finally becoming part of the Delta Run in 1929. To sort out all the historical ramifications of the ownership of many of the sections which went to the making up of the Delta Run would be greater than this article warrants. Risk Farm mentioned above is interesting because it was so long in coming under Delta ownership though it was surrounded on three sides by Delta land and across the road on the fourth side and could be described as an enclave.

Dr. Thomas Renwick died in 1879 and his second wife, Anne as administator retained the run until 1899 when the trustees sold to William Pollard who had been manager of Delta for some years. After Pollard's death the run was sold to Elsie Howard Watts, wife of George Fowell Watts of Lansdown, in 1929. Members of the Watts family held the Delta until after the second World War when the land to the north of Highway 63 was acquired by the Crown for the settlement of Returned Servicemen. During the war the Defence Department had used a considerably larger area for the establishment of military and airforce training camps. After the war other areas were sold, the largest of these to W. C. Patterson, Moonee Valley.

In 1966 the Murray family of Spring Creek took over the homestead block of 1291 acres, calling it Murray Downs. Nigel Watts retained another block fronting on to Highway 63 of 1061 acres for a few years before selling it about 1972, this he called The Delta.

I have not mentioned the establishment of the town of Renwick, originally called Renwicktown, by Dr. Thomas Renwick as it is another story.

Michael Mayer's Run No. 12 (1854)

This run does not appear to have had a specific name and lay along the north of the Wairau River from the Waikaka Bush in the east to opposite the junction of the Waihopai and Wairau Rivers in the west. The northern page 28boundry was a line one mile from the Wairau River and it was originally between 3,600 and 4,000 acres.

Michael Mayer1 Senior was of Irish stock, born in County Tipperary about 1794. About 1818 he married Nancy Lamphier, a descendant of Hugoenot refugees who fled from France in the 17th century. They lived in London for a few years before emigrating with their three children to Nelson, New Zealand. Michael Mayer, junior, born 1829, joined the survey party to the Wairau about 1848 and then went back to Spring Grove where his parents were living and persuaded them to come to the Wairau and take up a sheep and cattle run, which they did in 1852. In 1853 the eldest son, John, born 1819 was drowned in the Wairau River.

At first the Mayers lived in a quickly erected abode in the shelter of "Whare Hill" as it is known locally. Later they built a cob and timber house of one and one half stories on the homestead block which Michael the younger purchased in 1855. This block was section No. 7 of block 1 District of Kaituna, and is north of the present road known as the Tua Marina Track.

In 1863, from the corner of this section, Michael Maher conveyed five acres to James Davìs and Arthur Kìnsey, who erected the Kaituna Accommodation House. As money became available Michael Mayer, the younger purchased further sections out of the run, until after his death in 1874 he owned about 1,500 acres of land mainly to the north and west of the homestead.

Michael Mayer Jun. (1829–1874) had married Elizabeth Holt2 of Waimea South in the early fifties and their eldest son, John (1859–1940) took over the day to day management of the property with his mother until the youngest member of the family reached twenty one years of age. John married twice, his first wife, Jessie Anderson (?–1892) had three children, two daughters and a son. His second wife Kate O'Brian (1865–1959), two sons. Descendants of the latter union farm quite an area of this land at the present time (1983). Land out of the run further to the east of the Homestead was purchased by outsiders, notably John Gibson, a very progressive farmer who also established a flour mill and a flax mill driven by water power from the Ari Ari stream. Because so many people were employed by Gibson, his several sons and other settelers (Weavers, Story, etc.) a small village sprung up known as Gibson Town.

1 error reported - should read Maher

2 error reported - should read Hoult