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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 57

Proceedings of meeting of sheep-farmers in Amuri, to consider the unsatisfactory administration of the Sheep and Rabbit Act

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Proceedings of Meeting of Sheep-Farmers in Amuri.

Christchurch: Printed at the Office of "the Press" Company Limited, Cashel Street. MDCCCLXXXIV.

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Meeting of Sheep-Farmers in Amuri

A large and influential meeting of stock-owners was held in the Waiau Hotel on Monday, the 18th August, to consider the manner in which the Sheep Act is being administered. There were present gentlemen representing an ownership of about 400,000 sheep. Mr John Tinline was unanimously voted to the chair.

The Chairman after reading the circular convening the meeting read apologies from Mr W. D. Wood, of Swyncombe, and Mr Bullen, of Kaikoura, regretting their inability to be present, and expressing full sympathy with the object of the meeting.

Sir Norman Campbell read a lengthy correspondence between the owners of Highfield and the Sheep Department, in order to show that the Department was not doing its duty either in the matter of protecting the clean runs or in stamping out the disease in infected quarters.

After a lengthy discussion, during which several gentlemen expressed the opinion that the interests of the Sheep Department were opposed to those of the owners of clean sheep,

Mr A. W. Rutherford proposed the first resolution as follows:—"That this meeting after hearing evidence of the way in which the Sheep Act has been administered in the districts of Amuri and Marlborough considers itself justified in censuring the Sheep Department for the great neglect shown in carrying out the Act, and begs to lay the following facts before the Government. 1st—That immediately after the passing of the Sheep Act in 1878 the Sheep Inspectors at once, and without any forbearance, took most extreme measures to compel all run-holders in North Amuri, which at that time was infected, to clean their flocks regardless of all cost. That these run-holders, being most anxious to see the Act carried out in its integrity, did every-thing in their power, in season and out of season, to clean their sheep, and ultimately succeeded, but at the cost of large expenditure in fencing their runs, and also, in many instances, by the reduction of their flocks to three-fourths of their number, and with a loss of nearly all lambs for one or two seasons, caused by continual mustering and dipping. 2nd—That those runholders of Northern Amuri having got their runs clean, naturally looked to the Sheep Department to protect them and carry out the Act on the runs in Marlborough, adjoining Amuri, in a similar manner to what they Lad been themselves subjected to. Instead of which the Inspectors seem to have allowed the Act to become a dead letter, and are administering it upon lines laid down by themselves, the consequence of which is that scab has never been eradicated from some of those Marlborough runs, and has in one case become worse than it ever was before, and this district is again threatened with a fresh introduction of the disease. 3rd—That to show the inconsistency and careless manner in which the law is now being administered, the following instances may be given: Within the last few months the Messrs Inglis and Mr Tinline having infected sheep in the Kaikoura district, were compelled to pay fines to a large amount, and on the other hand another runholder in the same district being also fined had his fines remitted, although his sheep were in a much worse state than page 4 the others. The same individual was also allowed, although the Inspectors were re-monstrated with at the time, to drive his flock, numbering 40,000, half of which at least were actually diseased, to the Kahutara shearing reserve, which is in the middle of what were then clean flocks belonging to Messrs Bullen, of Greenhills, and Mr W. D. Wood, of Swyncombe, and those gentlemen have now their flocks in-fected as the natural consequence. Another instance of loose administration of the Act is the allowing large numbers of sheep to be driven out of Marlborough from runs where there is no guarantee of their being permanently clean, and through very doubtful country into Amuri, where every runholder holds a clean certificate, without any pre-caution having been taken to dip them before they commenced to travel; while on the other hand the Amuri settlers north of Waiau who have had clean flocks for many years cannot drive any sheep into Canterbury without first dipping them twice at an extravagant charge, imposed upon them through the careless manner in which the Waiau dipping reserve has been leased by the Department; whereas if the Act had been carried out in Marlborough as it ought to have been, not only those dipping charges would have been avoided, but large numbers of sheep could have been sent to the Canterbury markets and for freezing purposes, which at present cannot be done through the deterioration and injury they are subjected to through dipping and quarantining." In speaking to the motion Mr Rutherford said—To effect anything beneficial to this district a thorough reform in the administration of the sheep department is imperatively required. The Sheep Department, with the consent of the late Government, has practically suspended the Sheep Act.

Sir N. Campbell, in seconding the motion, referred to the last annual report of the Sheep Department, from which it appeared that, notwithstanding the large number of Inspectors throughout the colony, the number of scabby sheep had actually increased by 107,000. He also read correspondence from runholders in Otago reflecting severely upon the same department for their administration of the Rabbit Act there. Happily we had no trouble with the rabbits in this district as yet, but what he had read went to show that the administration of this Department was rotten in every branch.

The resolution was then unanimously agreed to.

Mr James Macfarlane proposed the second resolution, viz., "That in submitting the foregoing statement this meeting respectfully requests the Government to institute a Parliamentary inquiry into the whole working of the Sheep and Rabbit Acts, with a view to their being carried out in a more efficient manner than is being done at present."

Mr W. J. Moffat seconded the resolution, which was unanimously agreed to.

Mr W. Atkinson Jun., proposed the third resolution, viz., "That copies of the foregoing resolutions, and of the documents and correspondence relating thereto, be forwarded to the Colonial Secretary, and to the member for the district;" which was seconded by Mr W. Scaife, and agreed to.

It was further resolved that this meeting forms itself into a Committee, with power to add to their number, to take such action as may from time to time be necessary for the furtherance of the above objects.

Mr John Tinline was appointed Chairman, and Mr R. Corbett Treasurer of the Committee, and it was agreed that the whole of the correspondence and documents which had been read to the meeting should be published in pamphlet form.

A vote of thanks to the Chairman terminated the proceedings.

[Copy.] Highfield, Waiau,

B. P. Bayly,

Esq., Chief Inspector of Sheep, Blenheim.

Sir,—We wish to call your attention to a few facts re our Cloudy Range country.

You may not be aware that all the time Mr. Wharton has been interested in Highfield, now some six years, we have been afraid to stock our Cloudy Range country owing to our neighbour's sheep being so scabby. It is only now, that after going to a deal of expense in clearing all sheep off this country, fencing it, &c., that we have ventured to stock it.

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After incurring such expense and loss through not stocking the country for so many years, it seems to us very hard that we should have to run so much risk from our neighbour's, Mr. Gibson's, scabby sheep.

Considering that so much pressure was brought to bear upon Mr. Tinline four years ago to compel him to clean his sheep, it seems strange that Mr. Gibson, owning sheep in a portion of the same district, should still be allowed to remain a standing menace and source of terror not only to us, but to the whole of this distriet.

Your local inspector, Mr. Passau, can doubtless corroborate our statement re the present state of Mr. Gibson's sheep.

We have no wish to injure Mr. Gibson, but simply to point out that we are more particularly interested in this matter owing to our position, as of course if we get infected by Mr. Gibson's sheep, we have to bear the whole brunt of it, and also run the risk of infecting this clean portion of the district.—Yours faithfully,


Henry Wharton & Co.

[Copy.] Clyde,

J. Corbett,

Esq., Highfield, Waiau.

Sir,—In reply to your letter of 26th February, I can assure yeu that the matter of Gibson's Sheep endangering the country lately stocked by you is one that has claimed my attention specially for some time past, and now Inspector Passau's attention is again drawn to it.

I may further add that distinct instructions were given that if satisfactory steps, in his opinion, had not been taken already, prosecutions were to be instituted without awaiting until May, when all not having by that time secured certificates must necessarily be mulcted in a heavy penalty. You may rely upon the fact that no further extension will be granted, or is it dreamed of so far as I know.

I have now again brought this matter forcibly under Passau's attention, and I trust the result will be satisfactory to you.

Thanking you for your letter, as communications of this description strengthen my hands.—I am, yours sincerely,


Benj. P. Bayly.

[Copy.] Highfield, Waiau,

B. P. Bayly,

Esq., Sheep and Cattle Inspector and Registrar of Brands, Wellington.

Sir,—We are in receipt of your memorandum dated 7th inst., and thank you for the information contained therein, and are pleased to hear that our letter will be of some service to you.

We are glad you have instructed Inspector Passau to take whatever steps he thinks necessary in the matter, and under the circumstances we hope you do not consider it unreasonable if we request you to order Mr. Passau to have a man put on to keep the boundary between us and Mr. Gibson, until such time as Mr. Gibson obtains his certificate.

In order to shew we are justified in making this request we beg to inform you that there is a joint boundary fence between us and Mr. Gibson, also a boundary-keeper, whose time is divided between that and two other boundaries, viz: that between Messrs. Gibson and Bullen and Mr. Bullen and ourselves, and of whose wages we pay one-third. Whilst Mr. Gibson's sheep are infected we do not consider this sufficient for our protection, and think that any further expenses should certainly be borne by him.

Trusting this matter will meet with your favourable consideration.—We remain, yours obediently,


Henry Wharton & Co.

[Copy.] Memorandum from

Benjn. P. Bayly


J. Corbett,

Esq., Highfield. Wellington,

I enclose for your perusal a letter from Inspector Passau dealing with Gibson's country and state of his flock. You will observe that the Inspector explains satisfactorily some points referred to in your last communication on this subject, and I should be very glad to hear from you again if there is any matter contained in Mr. Passau's report which you may deem requires attention.


Benj. P. Bayly,

Superintending Inspector.
[Copy.] Passau to Bayly.

In reply to your letter of the 30th ultimo, respecting complaints against Mr. Gibson refusing to keep an extra boundary man and not reducing stock by boiling-down, I have to state the following:—

Re Boundary.—What Wharton & Co. state that there is a joint boundary man kept on the fence is true, but previous to the Cloudy Range being stocked he was kept there by Mr. Gibson alone. Since stocking that country Mr. Campbell was anxious that the man's wages should be paid between them, as he did not see the necessity of two men being on the same fence. Mr. Gibson agreed to this, and has not been consulted since by complainant as to the second man being necessary. Although I have forwarded a report upon the inspected runs in this sub-division, I consider it but just to all parties concerned to state here the condition of the sheep on the Warden Run (infected) which adjoins the Greenhills and Cloudy Range (clean runs).

On the 20th, 21st, 22nd of the present month I inspected fully 30,000 sheep that were mustered from the Warden Run, and I was unable to detect page 6 the slightest sign of scab, not even in the woolly sheep (about 400), they are now being dipped, and they are to be mustered in again immediately and dipped, to make certain that nothing has been left upon the run.

When this is done I shall be in a position to state that between the country actually scabby and the clean runs (the Greenhills and Cloudy Range) there will be a block of country—40,000 acres in extent—carrying nothing but clean sheep, which I consider will greatly lessen the danger of infection.

Mr. Gibson's sheep, as all other infected sheep in this subdivision, are branded with S.

There is evidently a mistake respecting Mr. Gibson's not boiling-down surplus stock, as I saw them drafted from the flock myself—about 7000.

Re Inglis' sheep, I have to report that I have, during the whole season through, seen either the whole or a portion of this flock every time that the run has been mustered.


A. Passau,

[Copy.] Highfield, Waiau,

Benjamin J. Bayley,

Esq., Superintending Inspector, Sheep Department, Wellington.

Sir,—In reference to Inspector Passau's memo, of the 23rd ultimo, we beg to call your attention to the following facts:—

Re Boundary.—It is true that the man on the boundary between the Cloudy Range and Warden Runs was paid by the owner of the Warden Run, but, as a set-off against this, we would point out that the owners of Highfield kept 27,000 acres of country unstocked for six years through fear of infection from the Warden flock, and hoping every year that something would be done to compel the owner of the Warden Run to take the necessary steps to clean his flock.

Extra Boundary Keeper.—In Inspector Passau's memo, he says complaints have been made against Mr. Gibson for refusing to keep an extra boundary man.

In answer to this, we beg to refer you to our letter of 23rd March, which was as follows, viz.:—"We request you to order Mr. Passau to have a man put on to keep the boundary between us and Mr. Gibson until such time as Mr. Gibson obtains his certificate."

As regards a conversation between Sir Norman Campbell and Mr. Gibson, what took place was as follows:—

"Sir Norman Campbell asked Mr. Gibson to make the boundary man denote all his time to their boundary, pointing out that that was as much as one man could do, instead of dividing it over two others, and on condition this was done, Wharton and Co. would pay half his wages. Mr. Gibson said that the boundary man was well able to keep the three boundaries (referred to in our letter to you); and Sir Norman Campbell said that if Mr. Gibson was satisfied on that score, he did not wish to run into unnecessary expense."

Since the above conversation took place, Sir Norman Campbell, on several occasions riding past Mr. Gibson's yards at the Reserve, saw mobs of scabby sheep, and we then thought our best plan was to claim the protection of the Sheep Department.

Inspector Passau's statement re the condition of Warden flock.—This statement is doubtless very satisfactory, but until Mr. Gibson obtains his certificate, the danger to this district remains the same.

Re Mr. Gibson's not "boiling down."—Mr. Corbett merely mentioned to you that Mr. Bullen informed him that in his opinion Mr. Gibson ought to have boiled down ten thousand sheep.—Yours faithfully,


Henry Wharton

& Co.
[Copy.] Shag Valley Station, Waihemo, Sir Norman Campbell, Bart., Cloudy Range, Kaikoura.

Dear Sir,—My brother Harry has sent me your letter of 21st April, kindly offering me the chance of some ferrets cheap. I should have been glad to take them and plenty more, but the inspectors here allow them no chance, insisting upon men with dogs and traps being kept on the same ground, and I am reluctantly obliged to give up the turning out of ferrets, which I had begun. Should the Department send men of any sense here at any time, I will remember your information on the subject, and trust that it will not then be too late to avail myself of it.—Yours faith, fully,


A. D. Bell.

[Copy.] Shag Valley Station, Waihemo,

Dear Sir Norman Campbell,—I have just received your note of 14th. I don't remember exactly what I wrote to you about the ferrets and the inspectors, but whatever it was, you are fully at liberty to use my letter in any way you please.

I am very glad to hear of the steps you intend taking. I am perfectly certain that we should have got over the difficulty down here long ago. As soon as I had reduced the rabbits to a small number by poisoning, and had spent my first hundred pounds on ferrets, the inspectors issued countless notices to employ rabbiters (dogs they particularly insisted upon, of course) where they had been turned out. When I remonstrated, the answer of those masters of the rabbit question was, "I don't believe in those ferrets myself," and this was supposed to settle the question. With the aid of prosecutions it did; and I gave up the ferrets and took the rabbiters back again, with the loss of my £100, but with the gain (of) the lives of the poor rabbits.

I have actually no less than six inspectors and agents coming regularly to this house, as well as others on my borders. The whole business is monstrous.—Yours sincerely,


A. D. Bell.