Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Journal of the Nelson and Marlborough Historical Societies, Volume 1, Issue 4, October 1984

Early Sheep Runs of Marlborough (Continued)

Early Sheep Runs of Marlborough (Continued)

Taylor River Run No. 14 — Charles Bigg Wither

This run was taken up by C. B. Wither of Waimea East about 1848, but was not numbered on the sketch map of 1849, so may not have been issued with a licence until later that year. By 1854 it was numbered 14 and was about 15,000 acres. During the next few years C. B. Wither purchased from various owners five or six of the surveyed sections (Budge's survey) between the run and Alabama Road, making his holding about 16,000 acres. He also free-holded as much as he could of the original run.

The original run had a long stretch of land between the Branch Stream and the Taylor River from Vinegar Point westwards to the Blairich Stream and the Tyntesfield Run boundary which could be described as a pan handle.

Toward the end of 1861 his neighbours Messrs Eyes and Empson bought about 2,000 acres extending from the Branch Stream Junction and Vinegar Point westward, effectively cutting off C. B. Wither's access to land further westward. The only thing Wither could do was lease this block of land to the occupier of the neighbouring run, either Tyntesfield or Blairich, until there was a change of ownership at Meadowbank. C. B. Wither was then able to sell his part of the panhandle to the new owner, Dr Ralph Richardson, in 1867. In the same year Wither sold his interest in the remainder of the run to Henry Redwood the elder of Waimea West, this gave Redwood the control of all the hill country from the Taylor River to the Vernon Bluffs though he may have been leasing it or running stock on shares prior to this.

Tradition has it that Wither's first manager at his run was John Maxwell who lived at the "Blue Gums". Maxwell had been a servant of Dr Monro at Waimea West and had married Catherine Maher in 1845 at St Michael's Anglican Church, Waimea West. Maxwell Road, Maxwell Stream and Maxwell Pass are named after him.

Henry Redwood died in 1873 and his trustees carried on the run until early 1884 when Thomas Redwood, his third son, took over 7,010 acres of the western part of the run and Charles, the fourth son, took over a smaller area of 4,445 acres to add to his holding of flat land around the Riverlands area. Neither of these two sons were sound businessmen. Thomas had to sell to Thomas Carter of Hillersden in 1891 while Charles' interest in the Riverlands Run was taken over by the Bank of New South Wales who had gained control of all the mortgages on the property. The bank conveyed the Riverlands Run to Robert John Bell of Riverlands and his brother James Bell of Hillersden in 1900.

Dashwood Run No. 15

This run does not appear to have had any particular name, but was taken up by Edwin Hare Dashwood in 1848 and a depasturage licence was granted the following year — No. 20, by the New Zealand Land Company in Nelson. When the fourteen year licences were issued in 1854 by the Commissioner of Crown Lands at Nelson, this run became No. 15.

The boundaries of the run were: eastwards by the Flaxie Stream from near the Vernon Lagoons to its source, then through Redwood Pass to a stream on the other side called Boundary Stream and down that stream to surveyed sections. (Wakefield Downs Survey District — Budge's), southward by surveyed sections to Stafford Creek, to its source, to Maxwell Pass, over this and down Seventeen Valley Stream to surveyed sections (Opawa District — Budge's), northward by surveyed sections to Flaxie Stream. This took in about 14,000 acres at first, but soon others started buying up parts of it from the Crown. Dashwood, himself, soon seemed to lose interest in running the property and let others run stock on it for shares of wool and natural increase.

page 6

Dashwood was Crown granted a homestead section near the Flaxie Stream and also a section on the Stafford Creek for an outstation in 1853 and 1854. Others started buying up parts of the run from 1854 onwards. John Poynter, solicitor of Nelson, later magistrate of that city, bought several sections out of the run from the Crown in 1854 and 1855 and soon after conveyed them to Douglas Brown of England and Alexander Taylor, M.D., of Pau in France. Brown and Taylor also bought land out of the Dashwood Run in a gridiron pattern and when they sold their holdings to trustees of Henry Redwood they had 6,576 acres.

William Atkinson, who had established himself on a small section at Burtergill, bought 1736 acres adjoining, out of Dashwood Run on the Awatere side. Dr Ralph Richardson, M.D., of Nelson, started buying land on the northern side of Dashwood run in 1854 and 1855, as well as some land already surveyed for closer settlement by Budge and had, by 1859, about 1500 acres in this area, perhaps half of it out of Dashwood run.

That same year (1859) Redwood leased the freehold land owned by Brown and Taylor on similar terms with a right of purchase after 19 years. Included in the lease and sale of Dashwood's run to Redwood was a flock of 2,400 sheep, presumably there was also a flock of sheep in the lease and sale from Brown and Taylor.

In 1853 Dashwood married Roberta Henrietta Abercromby who, by a certain contract of marriage dated 14th October, 1853, received a share in this property. This is mentioned in a lease with right of purchase for 8,000 pounds after the expiry of a nineteen year lease commencing 1st February, 1859, between the above couple and Henry Redwood the Elder of Waimea West.

For further history of this run see article on Run No. 16, The Bluffs.

The Bluffs Run No. 16

This run was next to the sea on the hills south of Vernon Lagoons and was taken up by William Budge, surveyor, in 1848, it was also No. 16 on the list of runs in 1849 and was about 5,500 acres

William Budge (1816–1870) came to New Zealand as an assistant surveyor on the Will Watch arriving in 1841 and was employed by the New Zealand Company for several years. Toward the end of 1846 he supervised the cutting of a line through ten miles of the "Big Bush" into the Wairau Valley at Tophouse. With sub-contractors Joseph Ward, Cyrus Goulter, and Nathaniel Edwards, Budge took a contract to survey the Wairau and lower Awatere Valley flat land into rural sections of 150 acres at sixpence an acre. They commenced in 1847.

Budge lived for a time on Budge's Island until the big earthquake of 1855 caused him to abandon it because of land subsidence and flooding from Vernon Lagoons.

Henry Redwood the Elder of Waimea West sent a flock of sheep through to the Wairau in 1848 under the care of his third son, Thomas, and grazed them on "The Bluffs" and on unoccupied sections in the Wakefield Downs District of the Awatere. Redwood was able to buy up many of the surveyed sections in the Ugbrooke area a few years later, mostly from the Crown and some from absentee owners. In 1857 he was able to purchase Budge's land and interest in this run along with the transfer of the licence for 370 pounds for 740 acres of freehold land. He then set to and bought the freehold of the rest of the run over the next few years.

It was not known where Tom Redwood established his headquarters as supervisor of the run; one likely place is at the junction of the road to the Castles and the through road from Redwood Pass to the Awatere River and beyond; Redwoods later had a training stable here. Another likely place is where the present Vernon homestead is — Thomas Redwood lived there in the 1860s. The enlarged area of The Bluffs, Dashwood's Run and the Ugbrooke area was named Vernon by the Redwoods. There is some controversy over the origin of the name which has has not yet been resolved.

page 7

After the death of Henry Redwood in 1873 his trustees carried on the Vernon run. They concluded the purchase of the interest of Edwin Hare Dashwood and his wife, also the interest of Douglas Brown and Taylor (by then Sir Alexander) in the Dashwood run area.

In 1882 Redwood's trustees sold the Vernon run of 1860 acres to the Hon. William Joseph Hugh Clifford who was a son of Lord Lewis Henry Hugh Clifford, Baron Clifford of Chudleigh who lived at 'Ugbrooke Park' in the County of Devon, England. The Hon. Wm. Clifford had grand ideas of a large mansion at Ugbrooke, but as he did not consolidate his financial position he soon got into difficulties. When the house was only half finished he was borrowing from his father and friends as he had exhausted the commercial sources of money. By the end of 1887 Lord Clifford had had enough of bailing his son out of financial difficulties, so in 1888 he asked George Clifford, the eldest son of Sir Charles Clifford of 'Stoneyhurst', to take over the administration of Vernon run. The Hon. Wm. Clifford then went to live in Tasmania.

George Clifford, who succeeded to the Baronetcy of Stoneyhurst in 1893, endeavoured to get the run onto a better footing. He tried cutting it into smaller units but without much success — only two were sold, one of which came back on his hands about three years later. In 1897 the whole estate was sold to another relative, Henry Dunstan Vavasour, with the exception of 459 acres sold to George McLeod Gunn in 1891, but which Vavasour bought back in 1900. Though he paid not much more than half what Wm. Clifford had paid fifteen years earlier, it was still a struggle to finance the undertaking, but when parts of the run were sold off over the next 25 to 30 years he managed to complete the large brick house started by Wm. Clifford.

Vavasour came to New Zealand in 1871 to learn farming; after a short period at Flaxmore he then moved to the North Island for experience in cattle farming. On his return to Flaxbourne several years later he took over the day to day farm management from Herbert Westmacott under the supervision of Walter Lovelace Clifford. In 1887 Vavasour married Bertha Redwood, eldest daughter of Thomas P. Redwood of Burleigh, they had twelve children.

There is further information about Ugbrooke and the Vavasours in 'The Awatere' by A. L. Kennington (1978) and also in 'The Awatere Valley, Today and Yesterday' published by the Awatere Valley Branch of the Women's Division of Federated Farmers (1966).

(Note: Prior to 1859 Eyes and Empson had been leasing Dashwood's run and flock of sheep on terms by which they guaranteed an annual rental of 47% of natural increase together with two pounds of wool for each sheep.)

Flaxbourne Run No. 17

This run was taken up by Charles Clifford and Frederick Aloysius Weld in 1847. It is historically important as the first really large sheep run to be successfully established in New Zealand. It was Run No. 8 on the 1849 list of runs in Marlborough. Its northern boundary was from the sea along the surveyed sections in the Blind River area for about three miles, then for a short distance along the Blind River to its junction with the Tetley Brook and westwards along the latter stream to its source in the Haldon Hills; then over a ridge and down a small stream on the other side to the Flaxbourne River, the junction of which is opposite Dog Hill. Then up the Flaxbourne River for about a mile, then up a stream on the south side of the river and then across the upper catchment of the Needle stream, over a ridge to a stream running south to the Waima (or Ure) River. This stream used to be called Boundary stream but is more recently called the Dunsandel stream. From there the boundary followed the Waima or Ure River to the sea. Eastwards was the sea coast.

So much has been written about the life and times of Clifford and Weld that the story need not be detailed here. As with most of the early sheep runs the holding page 8of sheep on the part of the country that the manager wished to graze for good pasture management was a problem. Timber to build fences was almost non-existent and wire did not arrive in New Zealand in any great quantity until about 1865. Prior to this fences were mainly of the sod ditch and bank variety, but these took time to build and maintenance was also time consuming. We do not know how many miles of ditch and bank fence was erected on Flaxbourne, but the remains of a fence of this description which ran from the south west corner of Lake Grassmere across country to Lake Elterwater is still visible (the distance is 3½ to 4 miles.

In the early years a shepherd was in charge of a flock on various parts of the run. By day they grazed and at night he took them to a fold. These folds were in strategic sites on several parts of Flaxbourne, usually in a low easy saddle in the hills and were constructed of sod ditch and bank with a small sod hut nearby for the shepherd to live in and keep an eye on the flock in case there was an attack by wild dogs which were very troublesome for several years. When fencing did become available Flaxbourne, like many other runs in the Awatere, bought iron standards with holes in them. When these were driven into the ground every 8 or 9 feet they supported the wires. Posts were at much wider intervals.

A story about a bullock wagon load of iron standards and wire relates that, on the way from the Wairau to Flaxbourne, they took a short cut across Lake Grassmere on what appeared to be a dry lake bed. When nearly across they struck a soft spot. There was no hope of getting out with the weight of iron standards and wire so, with night coming on fast and a drizzle of rain, the driver threw off the wire and standards and managed to get the wagon out. He intended to come back the following day and pick up his load. Unfortunately it rained for several days and filled the lake bed and it was months, perhaps years, before it was dry enough to take any sort of vehicle onto it. The salt in the lake ruined all the wire and standards so that they were never recovered.

Many people were employed on the run as it increased its stock-carrying capacity. There were run managers, head shepherds, shepherds, bullock drivers, fencers, cooks, dog catchers, later, after rabbits became a nuisance, large gangs of rabbiters, packman, storekeeper, teamsters and, at shearing time, perhaps another 50 or 60 to run the shed and muster the sheep, etc. Some of the managers were James Laing, George Lovegrove, Herbert Westmacott, Henry Dunstan Vavasour, Walter Lovelace Clifford, Everard A. Wild. Others who served Flaxbourne well were John S. Workman, Tom Caverhill, 'Taff' Assal, Tachall, J. Moran. Tachall's Creek is named after a shepherd who had a hut near the sheep and cattle yards on the "Hummocks", Gulch Road.

In 1854 Flaxbourne lost 3,680 acres in between Lake Grassmere and the surveyed sections near Blind River; it was sold to Alfred Fell who took up Blind River Run in September, 1854 (Run No. 49). Another small area of about 50 acres in the lower Tetley Brook area was conveyed to William Atkinson of Sedgemere in 1871. A further area of about 400 acres was sold to the Crown to go with the Starborough Settlement of 1899. This was between the present Highway 1 and Caseys Road and is at present farmed by Ian Conway.

After negotiating to buy Flaxbourne for closer settlement the Crown compulsorily acquired 45,600 acres for over 181,000 pounds. Four Clifford brothers who, by then, were the main owners of Flaxbourne (Sir Frederick Weld having died in 1891 and Sir Charles Clifford in 1893), exercised their legal right to retain 10,511 acres in what was known as the Cape Block, but which they subsequently sold by public auction in 11 parcels in 1911 and 1912.

The interests in the estate of Sir Frederick Weld were looked after in New Zealand by Sir Christopher Bowen, 'gentleman', and Henry Hamilton Loughnan, solicitor, both of Christchurch.

At the sale of the land of the Cape Campbell bloc in 1912 by Clifford Bros, at public auction, the homestead block of what by then was known as "New Flaxbourne" of 3,072 acres was purchased by the manager of "New Flaxbourne", Everard Aloysius Weld, a son of Sir Frederick Weld.

page 9

Woodside Run No. 18

About 1851 this run was applied for nominally by Alphonso Clifford, a younger brother of Charles Cliiford of Clifford and Weld of Flaxbourne and Stoneyhurst and became almost immediately part of Flaxbourne Run.

This run lay between the Waima (Ure) River in the north and the Kekerengu Stream in the south and was bordered on the east by the sea while the western boundary was somewhat vague. By about the turn of the century there was 9,565 acres of freehold and 12,500 acres of leasehold land in the Woodside Run, In 1901 Clifford and Weld Estate sold the freehold to Charles Frank Murray of Rotherham and his brother-in-law, Alfred Rittson Thomas. Murray took the northern portion, 6,236 acres, which extended up the Waimea River and Rittson Thomas and easier portion to the south of 3,329 acres which he named Tirohanga; Murray called his property Wharenui. The 12,500 acres in the remainder of the Woodside Run was offered for lease by the Crown in 1902 and Murray and Rittson-Thomas secured it on mutual terms for three years. In 1905 the Crown offered two blocks off it for lease; the Benmore Run (4,740 acres) received over 250 applications; Freeborn Parsons was the lucky winner of the ballot while for the Napoleon Run Arthur Wiffen was the winner out of 275 applicants. In 1911 another parcel of land from the old Woodside run, including some land from Whernside Run, was offered for lease by ballot and Roderick Alexander Kennedy, shepherd of Kaikoura, was successful and called the property Wairewa.

The first mention of an employee from Flaxbourne taking up residence is in the late winter or early spring of 1851 when John Stanton Workman moved with his family to the Flags — a small stream near the present Wharanui homestead. Here he was to keep a boat, supply Flaxbourne with fencing and firewood, look after the rams and assist any travellers passing that way.

Another item of interest about Woodside run is a circle of old gum trees between the present Ngaionui homestead and the north side of the Waima (Ure) River. At one time this circle contained holding yards and a hut for use when stock had been mustered off Woodside and crossed the river Waima or Ure.

At one time there was a plentiful supply of flax (Phormium tenax) growing in parts of Woodside, as in other parts of Marlborough, in damp hollows and along creeks and flaxmills operated in three or four places. Water from the Flags or else the Woodside streams operated a mill at Wharanui while other mills were in Schwass's Gully and at Te Rapa.

A description by the Lands and Survey Department of 1905 of Napoleon ad Ben More says: "Some mixed bush, manuka, matapo, broadleaf and some matai and kowhai on the slopes of Woodside stream; limestone country, good soil, over half the land good tussock country."