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Nelson Historical Society Journal, Volume 6, Issue 5, 2002

Development of the Takaka Valley

Development of the Takaka Valley

Sawmilling was the main industry of the Takaka Valley in the first half century of European settlement, with farmers following the millers as land was cleared. Development was slow, handicapped by remoteness from Nelson, poor roads and by the large areas of land held by absentee owners. EB Dixon was not successful as a farmer and moved on, but most of the early settlers persevered, barely making a living. Hops became a cash crop from the early 1870s, with a report in The Colonist of 6 April 1875 listing seven growers whose gardens were described as 'wonderfully productive'. This is some years earlier than is usually given. Within a decade those with suitable soils were beginning to live in more comfortable circumstances, although most farms remained in a rough state until the Advances to Settlers Act of 1894. The establishment of a butter and a bacon factory in the same year heralded a better and more stable future for dairying. The stumps and blackberry were finally cleared and today's farms began to take shape.