Local History for Waimate New Zealand

The following information was taken from public domain documents on Waimate History. Because it is scanned some errors have occurred so please beware.

Michael Studholme set out from Christchurch mid 1854 in a dray filled with necessities driven by Saul Shrives. They reached Waimate around July 1854 and camped at Point bush. He called on the Chief Huruhuru who was living in a nearby pa, and made a contract with him to observe boundaries and not interfere with the rights of the pa. In February 1855 the Studholme's received the first pastoral licence for a 35,000 acre block lying between the headwaters of the Hook and Waihao Rivers, and around the southern base of the Hunter Hills. 
In August 1855, January 1857 and again in 1859, further licences were issued, until the total area of Te Waimate, as the run was called, was estimated at 98,500 acres. The thatched Cuddy built from a single totara tree was the first European dwelling in Waimate this still stands in the garden at the Te Waimate on the spot where it was originally built. Michael Studholme who is referred to as the "Father of Waimate" was prominent in Politics at the local level. He succeeded his brother John on the Waimate Road Board in 1865, and had a distinguished career as chairman from 1865 to 1875, and again in 1877, when the county took over the work of the Road Board. He was also on the Waimate County Council, being chairman from 1881 to 1883 except for 3 months in 1882 when John Manchester held that office. He was one of the first commissioners of public parks in Waimate. He was one of the first representatives on the Timaru and Gladstone Board of Works formed by the Governor to represent the Waimate Road Board on the Timaru Harbour Board when it was formed in 1877. Michael Studholme gifted the piece of land where the St. Augustine Church is built and still stands to this day. It is believed that the bush fire of 1878 caused great worry and expense and hastened Michael's death in 1886 at the age of 53 years.

The Berry Fruit Industry
In the early 1880's, a new industry started in the Waimate District. The land near the town was especially suited to growing strawberries. The first to start was Mr E. Childs who planted 1/2acre in about 1883. He also opened up a shop and sold the berries locally. He was followed in 1886 by Mr J Tullet and subsequently by Mr T S Hardy and Mr D R Buckingham. The strawberry grown at that time was "La Marguerite" and in the height of the season (November, December and January) Buckingham alone took two tons daily to the station, employing 40 to 50 boys picking, and making 700 in one year. In the summer of 1898 it was estimated that 150-200 people were employed in the industry and an average of 5 railway van loads of produce was picked and left town daily. In 1896 a commencement was made growing raspberries. One of the first to start was Mr Zebedee Cousins, and it was noted that he advertised 'm the Waimate advertiser of 17'h December 1898 raspberries for sale at 6 pence per pound. Many others followed suit, and a flourishing business was developed. Countless punnets and buckets of raspberries and strawberries were taken throughout the day in the guards-van from Waimate to Studholme for trans- shipment. The fruit laden train could be smelled from quite some distance away. Quick dispatch was needed to get the berries to market and the express train was used, however several requests to use the second express train as well were declined as extra carriages would be required. Fruit was sold to jam factories in Dunedin, Christchurch and Roxburgh for 3d to 4d per pound (pickers were only getting 1/2d per pound). A jam factory was also situated near the Silo and was successful for 2/3 years but it went broke in a bad year. The raspberry growing industry peaked around the 1940's. However, it then suffered a severe setback about 1966 due to bud weevil, and largely fell away. It has though, continued on until today but on a much smaller scale. The weather has affected the crops many times over the years with severe hail storms, rain and gales destroying luscious berries ready or almost ready to be picked. Today the berry fruit industry is still important to the economy of Waimate, with the predominant fruit being the strawberry. Waimate has a name for its fine strawberries and celebrates every December with the Strawberry Fare and Christmas Parade - a family day with entertainment, stalls and competitions. 

After the bush fire of 1878 it was discovered a patch of native bush remained standing in an area then known as Upper Bush. It later became known, as Keleys Bush in honour of two old pioneer brothers, Julius and Frank Keley.  It is believed they spent time in Australia but Julius arrived in Auckland in 1851 and after 8 years in the North Island he moved to Otago where he was joined by his brother Frank. They moved to Upper Hook District ,residing together for about 110 years. They then moved to Waimate - Upper Bush- now known as Kelcys Bush.  The Keley's were under contract to the Studholmes to clear the valley of the logs which remained following the fire. An active man Julius had snow white hair and whiskers. After clearing the logs Julius scattered grass seed over the ground, the logs were sold to residents.  Frank who suffered rheumatics did the cooking, he was known for his 'Damper' and 'Diggers Duff'. There home was an old house on a little flat at the bottom of the cutting, it had a roof of boards which leaked badly but never asked for repairs and seemed very happy enjoying life in spite of the hardships.  Julius died in 1905 at the age of 80 at the Waimate Hospital. He was survived by Frank but no more is known of him. ; In 1901 Questions were asked in the house by the local MP, Sir William Stewards. The suggestion was that a portion of Keleys Bush Should be reserved for the preservation of the forest and Native bird life was abundant, eg, Kaka, Pigeon, Tui. A recommendation was made to the Surveyor General suggesting it would be a mistake to allow this piece of bush to disappear.  

NORMAN ERIC KIRK 6-1-23 to 31-8-74 
The Right Honourable Norman Eric Kirk was Prime Minister of New Zealand for twenty months from December 1972 until his death on the 3 1"' August 1974, aged 51 years. Mr Kirk was a third generation New Zealander born in Waimate on January 6 1923. His great grandfather John Kirk came to New Zealand from Scotland in 1869 and bought land in East Chatton near Gore in 1875. John's son George was born in Ayrshire just 6 weeks before leaving for New Zealand. His grandson Norman, the father of the Prime Minister, was born in Gore. Though most of his working life was spent in Christchurch he retired to Waimate in 1955 where he died on February 8 1968 aged 66. Mr N.E. Kirk's only formal education was at Linwood Avenue Primary School. He held a variety of jobs. Because of illness he was declared unfit for military service. He then gained his Stationary Steam and Engineer's tickets by correspondence and worked as an engineer in dairy factories and on the Auckland Harbour ferries. In 1948 he moved to Kaiapoi where he was involved in the Labour Party organisation and in 1953 was elected Mayor of Kaiapoi when aged 30 years. He entered Parliament in 1957 and 1965 he supplanted Mr Nordmeyer as leader of the opposition. On August 18 1973 Mr Kirk made a special trip to Waimate to open the new Salvation Army Citadel. On 3 1 " August 1974 Norman Erie Kirk passed away. A crowd of about 4000 people attended the funeral at the Waimate Cemetery and about 160 Maoris from between Christchurch and Invercargill gave the traditional challenge. On September 26"' 1974 a memorial service was held in Westminster Abbey and more then 2500 people attended including three former Governors General. The inscription on his grave reads:  Norman Erie Kirk Toe To Kupu, toe to mana, toe to whenua The Norman Kirk Memorial Swimming Centre was opened on Saturday November 4'h 1978 by Mr John Kirk W for Sydenham on behalf of the Kirk family. A  scholarship was established in 1997 in honour of Norman Kirk and named the Norman Kirk Memorial Trust/Waimate High School and District - Scholarship. It was established to assist and further the tertiary education of pupils of the High School who have limited resources.  

Knottingley Park
In November the same year an application for a grant of money was made for a survey to be completed and a tender be called for clearing and planting the Waimate Park Reserve. About this time the reserve was transferred from the crown to the Waimate township. 1 1Messrs Michael Studholme and John Manchester were appointed Commissioners and undertook the administration of the reserve. The Book 'South Canterbury a Record of Settlement' written by Oliver Gillespie and published in 1958 says "Knottingley Park, notable for its plantations of exotic trees is named after Knottingley in Yorkshire - the home of John Studholmes wife. The planting of the park began in 1 87 8 with 4 men and a foreman being employed. Upon the Borough being constituted in 1879 the trusteeship was vested in a Domain Board. It is thought the first Oak tree (which still stands) was planted by Michael's wife Effie in 1878.  in succeeding years the Waimate Council Parks & Reserves Department has cared for and maintained the Park.  In 1993 a group of residents founded the 'Friends of Knottingley' and working alongside the Park Superintendent have achieved a lot. With many thousands of hours of voluntary labour they have landscaped new areas, renewed fences, planted thousands of bulbs, planted many new trees plus other work has been undertaken.  A question often asked 'Is Knottingley a Park or an Arboreturn?' The answer is BOTH  Locals call it a Park because that is what they've always known it to be. Arboretum means Tree Park and as from 1874 over 3000 trees large, small, evergreen, deciduous, well known and lesser known have been planted. This makes it an Arboretum.  Knottingley is a great place for cricket horse events, kennel club shows, camping, picnics, and walking. It all takes place in the Park where the original 83 acres has become 36.7 hectares  

Records show NZ. Railways ran the first train from Studholme to Waimate on March 1 gth 1877.The first train of 3 cars and a van, had at its head AI 3 one of a class of only fourteen considered by many to be a "mere mite, veritable toy locomotive". It was conceded this engine did surprisingly good work on branch lines, it was only when the line was approaching closure that the classic Ab itself approaching extinction, was used on the 12 miles 58 chain (engineers measure) from Studholme Junction to Waihao Downs.  The Studholme to Waimate line closed to passengers in February 1931 with the last train running on April 1' 't 1966. The Waimate Station  was situated just behind where the swimming pool now stands. A group of farsighted people with an eye on the fertile Downlands of Waihao Valley, could see the benefits of rail transport would be to the area, so formed a company to meet this need. In 1878 the Waimate Railway Company issued a Prospectus with a proposition to extend the line through the Waimate Gorge to Pudding Hill.  Work did not begin until 1882 on the first stage which was to be the Waimate to Waihao Downs. The four planned Stations were sited at the  head of the Gorge (Arno) McLean's Siding (at the eastern end of McLean's Road) the Waihao Forks And the Terminal near the Waihao Homestead. A rail bridge was constructed parallel with the road bridge and was opened for business in December 1882.  This short branch line held more than it's fair share of gradients and tight curves with the climb up the Forks Bank close to 80 feet, imposing a limit of 180 tons, but from Melean's onward the reliable Fa engine could handle 360 tons. The wagons would be moved in to stages before reconnected for the trip to Waimate The make up of the trains rarely changed and always at the head steamed a glittering Fa 10, 41, or 251.  As well as passengers it carried stock and freight such as wool /grain /coal. Schools would arrange combined Rail Excursions for a picnic at Caroiine Bay. Although work on extending the line to Waihaorunga and beyond did commence in 191 4 the war brought it to a halt and it was never completed. While the Waimate Railway Company built this Waimate to Waihao Downs Branch Line and managed it in the early years, in 1885 the NZ railways took over it's management. The Line ceased to carry passengers in February 1931 and closed completely December 1953. 

Dr Margaret Barnett Cruickshank MD
After 16 years Dr Cruickshank left Waimate on January 1913 on twelve months leave to extend her studies in London, Dublin and  Edinburgh. Before she left she was presented with a gold watch and chain and a purse of sovereigns at a public function. With the outbreak of the first world war on August 4 1914 and with Dr Barclay on an overseas trip and the enlistment of Dr Borrie for war service, changes took place in the administration of the Waimate hospital Dr Cruickshank together with Dr EC Hayes and Dr AG Pitts became superintendents in two monthly intervals, although Dr Barclay was still officially medical superintendent.  The 1918-19 influenza epidemic took its toll in Waimate as in other places and Dr Cruickshank served with others on the Waimate Health Committee under Mr George Dash. Disaster struck in November 1918 when Dr Cruickshank contracted pneumonia influenza. She died November 28th 1918 and owing to epidemic conditions was buried privately with the rites of the Presbyterian church.  The marble statue situated at Seddon Square, Waimate wasn't completed until 1923 and was unveiled by Mr John Bitchener NW who had been a hospital committee member. The statue bears the inscription - "The beloved physician, faithful until death". Dr Margaret Cruickshanks service to the hospital and  community was further acknowledged when the -new additions to the hospital were finished, the maternity ward was named "The Margaret Cruickshank" ward.  

This area of just over 17 acres, was set aside for recreational purposes in 1881, soon after the proclamation of the Borough in 1879.  The construction of a banked cycling track was authorised in February 1891, the oval within the track was levelled and sown in fine grass and the outer area planted in oaks and other English trees.  The track and oval had it's greatest use on the day of the Caledonian Society's annual games on Boxing Day, and with the formation of the Amateur Athletic Association in the 1920's, athletics events have continued to this day.  With the onset of the financial depression of the thirties and the ,availability of subsidised labour to the Borough Council, it was decided to make a curator's house and shed for plants etc. were erected, and the park and grounds improved under the guidance of the curator Mr Archie White. The planned improvements continued under Nlr N Morrison who succeeded Mr White in 19' )7, and then Rene Laplanche from 1947 to 1981.  Additions at intervals were the aviary (presented by Mr A Richards of Waihao Downs) the animal enclosure, the bowling green and pavilion. The original glass house was presented by Dr Galway, an eminent musician from Dunedin who retired in Waimate. This latter glass house has been rebuilt and enlarged and is now called the "Alex McRae House" as a mark of appreciation of his tong term service as mayor.  The park also has a children's playground, camping facilities, a sound shell and Boy Scout's Den, and now has a new racing track which was opened in February 2000.  

The White Horse
During a visit to Leewarden Holland, in the early 1960's, Mr Norman Hayman, a retired farmer from the District was impressed with their statue of a Friesian cow, a tribute to that animal's contribution to the prosperity of that region. He thought of the Clydesdale horse, and what it had done for the district. It became his dream to see something similar erected in Waimate, and he came home from his tour planning to enlist support for the building of a statue in the town. In 1965 an area of land between 20 and 24 acres (8.1 and 9.7 ha) was donated to the Waimate Development Society by Mr J.M. Sutherland. It was suggested that a Look-Out and Park on Mt John, the hill which overlooked Waimate, would be a valuable community asset.  With the co-operation of land owner, Mr Jack Sutherland and the Waimate County Council, "Centrewood Park" with its panoramic views, north, south, west, cast became a reality.  Mr Hayman put forward his suggestion, a Clydesdale statue could be placed at the look-out, however it became obvious that to make the statue a size visible from a distance, the cost - an estimated $5,200 - would be prohibitive.  Using his own words from notes he wrote at the time, Mr Hayman said ......... "I then came up with a plan of a silhouette, twice the size of a horse in a concrete slab on its edge. There was still doubt about the size being sufficient, time was still going on and no monument. 1 was given the idea of the Whitehorse of England, which 1 tried with wallpaper on the face of the hill. This was the start of action, the steep rocky face of the hill was too heartbreaking to smooth over. My next move was to the smooth valley close by, not so good for viewing, but where I could work myself. A load of plaster board scrap from the dump, laid in outline, proved the monument would be too small, but I was in business and ordered 200 paying stones."  Over the next 3 months, almost single handed but with assistance from wife, Betty, he laid some 1,220 concrete slabs, and with a 2 1/2  ton head, precast in Mr Ron Hutt's yard, a dream was realised.  The final cost of $240 was met by donations from old farmers,  teamsters, and others who admired the Clydesdale horse.  On October 10 1968 the then Minister of Agriculture, the Honourable, B. E. Talboys, unveiled the cairn erected above the concrete horse at Centrewood Park. A plaque with a raised figure of a Clydesdale is set into the stonework of the cairn and commemorates the many draught horses which helped develop New Zealand.  The statue is 60 foot high (18.29 m) 48 feet long (14.63 m) ] 6 foot head (4.88 m) Set in 20 acres (8.09 ha) 130Oft above sea level (396.24 m)