Dr. Andrew Sinclair, c.1796–1861, Mespotamia, N.Z. Naval surgeon,
naturalist, colonial secretary
The Grave at Mesopotamia
In Memory of Andrew Sinclair, M.D. late secretary
to the General Government of New Zealand under the Administration of Sir
George Grey. He was drowned on crossing the Rangitata on 1 April 1861.
"Mesopotamia 1884" by Capt. Temple.
2/3 of the watercolour painting of the former homestead of
Samuel Butler's run up the Rangitata Gorge.
Dr Sinclair’s Grave Reserve (4 hectares) is on the river flat,
forward and to the right of the Mesopotamia Station
New Zealander 4 April 1861
SINCLAIR On 25th ultimo, by drowning in the Rangitata River, Province of
Canterbury, Dr Andrew Sinclair, R.N, for many years Colonial Secretary of New
Zealand. The grave
(2008) surrounded by Matagouri, a native plant, and
daisys with Mt Sinclair in the distance. [and
in April 2016]
Andrew Sinclair, c.1796–1861. Naval surgeon, naturalist, colonial secretary
Scottish surgeon, naturalist and colonial administrator. Assistant surgeon,
Royal Navy, 1822–32; surgeon, 1835–43. Collected botanical and zoological
specimens for the British Museum and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Settled in New
Zealand, 1843; colonial secretary, 1844–56; became a member of the legislative
council in 1844. Elected a fellow of the Linnean Society, 1857. In 1858, began
collecting material for Joseph Dalton Hooker's Handbook of the New Zealand flora
(J. D. Hooker 1864–7).
Drowned on Julius von Haast's geological surveying
expedition to the headwaters of the Rangitata river, Canterbury province.
Sinclair was seeking a way through the river to get back to
Mesopotamia Station, named by Butler, means between two rivers, was
bounded by Forest Creek, the Rangitata, and Bush Stream was taken up
Samuel Butler in April 1860. The property’s location on the south
side of the remote and scenic Upper Rangitata inspired his famous novel
Erewhon. There is now a station named Erehwon on the north side
of the river. Butler's family edited and published
A First Year
in Canterbury Settlement in 1863
from his letters he sent home.
Quoted with page
number. It remains one of the best accounts of life in the colony
at the time. Since the end of April Butler had been living with two or
three companions in a primitive upside down “V” hut up on a low terrace
at the confluence of Forest Creek and the present-day Butler Creek. The
hut site lies just outside the boundary of Mesopotamia today. In October 1860 he moved to the present Mesopotamia
homestead site where.
page 78 wrote
By and by we turned up the shingly river-bed which leads to the spot
on which my hut is built. The river is called Forest Creek, and,
though usually nothing but a large brook, it was now high, and
unpleasant from its rapidity and the large boulders over which it
page 132 wrote
The first question is, Where shall you place your homestead? You
must put it in such a situation as will be most convenient for
working the sheep. These are the real masters of the place—the run
is theirs, not yours: you cannot bear this in mind too diligently.
All considerations of pleasantness of site must succumb to this. You
must fix on such a situation as not to cut page 132 up the run, by
splitting off a little corner too small to give the sheep free scope
and room. They will fight rather shy of your homestead, you may be
certain; so the homestead must be out of their way. You must,
however, have water and firewood at hand, which is a great
convenience, to say nothing of the saving of labour and expense.
Therefore, if you can find a bush near a stream, make your homestead
on the lee side of it. A stream is a boundary, and your hut, if
built in such a position, will interfere with your sheep as little
as possible. The sheep will make for rising ground and hill-side to
camp at night, and generally feed with their heads up the wind, if
it is not too violent.
Dr Sinclair, a naval surgeon, who travelled to New Zealand in same ship,
the Bangalore, as
Governor Robert FitzRoy,
and arrived in Auckland 26 December 1843 and was appointed Colonial
Secretary by Governor Fitzroy on the 6th of January, 1844, the office
having been vacated by the resignation of Lieutenant Shortland on the 31st of December, 1843. In connection with the two
last-mentioned members of the Executive, Mr. Sinclair held the appointment until
the establishment of responsible Government in 1856. He was a keen botanist, made botanical
and zoological drawings, and was instrumental in setting up museum in Auckland
in 1853. On Sir George Grey's return to England in 1854 Sinclair organised, as a
gift a collection of drawings of the country by New Zealanders; this album of
drawings and lithographs is now in the British Museum (AddMS.19953/54).
Go for a tramp
from Forest Creek,
Wellington Independent, 16 April 1861, Page 5
DEATH OF DR. ANDREW SINCLAIR.
Among all the records of accidental death which have darkened the columns of
this journal almost without intermission since the foundation of the settlement,
none can be found so lamentable as that which it is our painful duly now to
register. News has reached town that Dr. Andrew Sinclair, who passed through
Christchurch and Lyttelton but a few weeks ago to assist Mr. Julius Haast in his
exploration of the interior of this island, perished by drowning in the upper
waters of the fatal Rangitata river on Monday the 25th of March. An authentic
account which we have received states that on the day mentioned the exploring
party were about to proceed to the sources of. the eastern and middle branches
of the Rangitata, having finished the survey of the western branch, when an
accident rendered necessary the return of a man and horse to Mr. Butler's
station (Mesopotamia); Dr. Sinclair determined to return with them, his object
being to collate the large quantity of valuable specimens of botany he had
collected, to complete various drawings, and to recruit his health which had
suffered from the hardships to which he had been exposed. Having one horse
between them, Dr. Sinclair and the man who accompanied him, named Richard
Stringer, adopted the plan, where the river crossings were bad, of letting the
horse take over one of them at a time and sending him back for the other. At one
spot where the river divided, leaving an island in the middle, Dr Sinclair went
over first, selecting a not very favorable crossing. On reaching the island, he endeavoured to send the horse back, but the animal refused to return and set off
by himself to cross the next stream towards Mr. Butler's station. Dr. Sinclair
followed the horse into the second stream, which was fleet and broad, and
Stringer, after watching him for some time went down the bank a little to find
a. better crossing for himself. On reaching an elevated spot which commanded a
complete view of that part of the river, Stringer, turned round, and to his
great surprise failed to catch sight of his fellow traveller. He at first paid
little attention to the circumstance, thinking that Dr. Sinclair, having
crossed, was resting, or gone in search of the horse but after watching for some
time longer the painful reality began to force itself upon him and he returned
to the camp— not two miles distant— and related his sad story. Mr. Haast hurried
to the spot, where on the following day he was joined by Mr. Butler and the rest
of the party. About sundown on this day, the body of the unfortunte gentleman
was discovered, about 300 yards below the place where he had crossed, in a
position which gave every indication, that he had left the water alive. The body
was some yards from the stream and the head was resting on the arm. No time was
lost in conveying the remains to Mr. Butler's whare, a coffin having been
prepared, the solemn ceremony of interment took place in a spot carefully
selected and fenced round. A document was prepared and attested by those
present, detailing the circumstances of the death, in precise language, in case,
legal investigation (which could not be had on the spot) were not required. We
learn, however, that steps will be taken for securing the observance of the
desirable forms of law.
Dr Andrew Sinclair, whose untimely end we have thus recorded, has left a name
and a character behind him to which we regret that we must fail to do justice.
He was a surgeon in the Royal Navy, and had served with credit afloat, visiting
almost every corner of the world in the course of his duty. His experience and
his scientific attainments, especially as a botanist, brought him into
communication with many leading men in the world of science at home, with
several of whom he formed a lasting friendship. After leaving the regular
service his professional abilities secured him employment on several occasions
as Surgeon Superintendent of ships bringing convicts to the Australian colonies,
in the performance of. which most difficult duty he was eminently successful,
and most so in the most trying of all, the charge of female convicts. In 1843 he
came down to New Zealand on a botanizing tour, the second which he made to this
country, and happened to be a fellow traveller with Capt. FitzRoy the coming to
Auckland to assume the duties of Governor of the colony. He landed at Auckland
on the 23rd December in that year, at a time; when local party spirit ran high,
and a difficult. tusk was set before the new Governor to steer with safety
between the contending political factions. It happened that, on the resignation
of Mr. Willougbby Shortland the task of appointing a Colonial Secretary devolved
upon the Governor; and he, believing it to be utterly futile to name one of the
local leaders of party, offered the appointment to Dr. Sinclair, who long
refused it, though repeatedly pressed upon him. Alleging a consciousness of.
want of. qualification for the post, he for some time resisted the Governor's
entreaties, an at last only accepted office to relieve the government of the
colony from embarrassment. As an official Dr. Sinclair worked haul and attended
regularly to his duties; and though he has not left the reputation of ability as
a Secretary, there is no doubt ; that he rendered as valuable service us the
system of government, which left the Governor all powerful and his highest
subordinates but clerks, permitted any official to render. He held his office
until the introduction of Responsible Government within these last five years
released him, with a pension, from serving the colony in one way to benefit it
in another way no less important.
Dr. Sinclair was the first collector of specimens of New
Zealand natural history, in botany, conchology, and entomology; he sent home
such a variety of plants, shells, and insects, as to induce Dr. Grey of the
British Museum to commence the first scientifically arranged catalogue which may
be found appended to Diffenbach's work on New Zealand. He was of late years
again closely occupied by his botanical researches, and spent a large portion of
his time in the investigation of the natural productions of this country. It was
in the prosecution of his favorite pursuit that he fell a victim to the perils
which beset the explorers of nature among our inhospitable Southern Alps.
But the passion for science by no means closed the heart of Dr. Sinclair to
human sympathies. If he earned a reputation at a distance as a natural
historian, he was better known in his immediate neighbourhood as a true
philanthropist. In 1843, 1844, and 1845, the population of Auckland underwent
severe privations and distress, such as the settlers of this part of the colony
have never known. Many an industrious and honest man received then at Dr.
Sinclair's hands that assistance which he wanted to tide him over the crisis ;
and not a few prosperous men of the present day here reason in recalling that
time, to name him as the man who caused them to be, what they are. Having no
family of his own his generosity also gathered round him relations not a few in
number to share in the prosperity which he had earned and late in life enjoyed
in the neighbourhood of Auckland. In private life Dr. Sinclair was a true
Christian gentleman, liberal in the expression of opinions, pleasant and
courteous in manner; as an official he was honest, upright, scrupulous, and
laborious: as a man of science he was ardent but painstaking. The loss of one of
his attainments and character, with the means and leisure which he possessed, is
a public calamity ; for there are few among us with his advantages, and fewer
still who can use them as he did. His age we do not know; but though far from a
young man, he had much of the vigor of youth still remaining, and might in all
probability have enjoyed many years of life agreeably to himself and usefully to
his fellow colonists, had not the melancholy accident which it has been our duty
to narrate carried him of from the midst of his labours.— Lyttelton Times,
Five Years in New Zealand 1859 to 1864
Author: Robert B. Booth
The plan adopted for crossing a stream, when there is more than one person and
only a single horse, is as follows: One end of a sufficiently long rope is
fastened round the animal's neck, the other being held by one of the men. One
then crosses the stream on horseback, when he dismounts, and the horse is hauled
back by means of the rope, when another mounts, and so on. In this instance the
attendant rode over first, but the stream being somewhat broader than the rope
was long, the latter was pulled out of Dr. Sinclair's hands. The man then tried
to turn the horse back loose, but the animal, finding himself free, bolted for
the run. Dr. Sinclair called to the man that he would ford the stream on foot,
and although, as the attendant stated, he warned him against attempting to do
so, he immediately entered, but the current was too powerful and quickly washed
him off his feet. It was now nearly dark and the man said that although he ran
as fast as he was able down the stream, he was unable to see anything of the
Doctor. This was the miserable story the station hand gave in at the homestead
when he arrived an hour afterwards.
All hands turned out, and having mounts in the paddock, Cook and Brabazon were
soon in the saddle galloping towards the fording place. Striking the stream some
distance below where the accident occurred, both sides were carefully searched,
as they worked up. When within a quarter of a mile of the ford Cook discovered
the body of the Doctor lying stranded with head and shoulders under water. Life,
of course, was extinct. He was drawn gently from the stream and laid on the
shingle just as the foot men arrived with torches. It was a sad spectacle, this
fine old man we all loved and respected so much, only a few hours before full of
life and health, now a ghastly corpse, his hair and long white beard lying dank
over his cold white face and glaring eyes. The scene was rendered all the more
weird and awful by the surroundings, the still dark night, the rushing water,
and overhanging cliffs under the red glare of the torches. His body was laid
across one of the saddles while one walked on each side to keep it from falling,
and so they returned to the station that lonely four miles in the dead of night.
He was laid in the woolshed and a watch placed on guard, and early in the
morning a messenger was despatched to Dr. Haast with the sad tidings. His party
were at first alarmed at his non-appearance the previous evening, but at length
took it for granted that he must have returned to the station, and felt
confident that with his attendant and a horse he could not possibly have come to
any harm, the river being easily fordable on horseback, or even on foot by a
strong man, but of course such a clumsy mistake as employing too short a rope
never struck anybody. The attendant who was responsible was one of the hands
employed on ditching and fencing, and possibly was not much experienced at river
fording, and he said the Doctor delayed so long botanising that darkness was
upon them by the time they reached the fording place.
Dr. Sinclair's remains were interred the following day about a mile from the
homestead on the flat near the south bank of the Rangitata, where his tomb
doubtless may now be seen, his last earthly resting place; and, dear old man,
with all his strong antipathy to horses, what would he have thought could he
have known that one was destined at last to be the cause of his death?
page 142 wrote Butler
If you are your own shepherd, which at first is more than probable, you will
find that shepherding is one of the most prosaic professions you could have
adopted. Sheep will be the one idea in your mind; and as for poetry, nothing
will be farther from your thoughts. Your eye will ever be straining after a
distant sheep—your ears listening for a bleat—in fact, your whole attention
will be directed, the whole day long, to nothing but your flock. Were you to
shepherd too long your wits would certainly go wool-gathering, even if you
were not tempted to bleat. It is, however, a gloriously healthy employment.
Bob Stavelly, third mate, to sail from St Katherine Dock's, London on April 29 1859
On the 3rd of August we sighted the coast of Canterbury, and at daylight on the
4th we found ourselves lying becalmed about 12 miles off Port Lyttelton Heads,
from whence the captain signalled for a pilot steamer to take the ship to
harbour. In the clear rare atmosphere, and the pure invigorating feeling of that
glorious morning, we were all impatient of delay. A couple of fishing boats were
lying not far off, and we begged the captain to let us row out to them and he
permitted us, conditionally that we returned and kept near the ship, because
immediately the tug arrived we would start.
I think it was at this time that a most sad occurrence took place, resulting in
the death of Dr. Sinclair, who was travelling for pleasure in company with Dr.
Haast, Geologist and Botanist to the Government of Canterbury. He and Dr. Haast
with their party had been staying at Mesopotamia for a few days previous to
starting on an expedition to the upper gorge of the Rangitata. They all left one
afternoon, Dr. Sinclair, as usual, on foot. He had an unaccountable aversion to
mounting a horse, and could not be induced to do so when it was possible to
avoid it. Strange to say, a horse was eventually the cause of his death. He was
a man of some seventy years of age with snow white hair, a learned antiquary and
botanist, and old as he was, and in appearance not of strong build, he could
undergo great fatigue and walk huge distances in pursuit of his favourite
page 148 wrote Butler
Then we were on the shingly river-bed which leads up to the spot on which my
hut is made and my house making. This river was now a brawling torrent,
hardly less dangerous to cross than the Rangitata itself, though containing
not a tithe of the water, the boulders are so large and the water so
powerful. In its ordinary condition it is little more than a large brook;
now, though not absolutely fresh, it was as unpleasant a place to put a
horse into as one need wish. There was nothing for it, however, and we
crossed and recrossed it four times without misadventure, and finally with
great pleasure I perceived a twinkling light on the terrace where the hut
was, which assured me at once that the old Irishman was still in the land of
the living. Two or three vigorous “coo-eys” brought him down to the side of
the creek which bounds my run upon one side.
Two Thumbs climb
Sinclair Range High Country Tenure
Places in New
Zealand named after Scientists
Illustrations of the New Zealand Flora
A Year in New Zealand - Southland Times, Volume III, Issue 26, 6 January
1864, Page 6
William Packe's c. 1868 watercolour of Butler's
homestead. Two sod cottages with a sheep carcass on the gallows.
Maybe Jackson read Butler?
page 74 written in 1860
Truly it is rather a dismal place on a dark day, and somewhat like the
world’s end which the young prince travelled to in the story of “Cherry, or
the Frog Bride.” The grass is coarse and cold-looking—great tufts of what is
called snow-grass, and spaniard. The first of these grows in a clump
sometimes five or six feet in diameter and four or five feet high; sheep and
cattle pick at it when they are hungry, but seldom touch it while they can
get anything else.
page 76 wrote Butler
After about ten miles we turned a corner and looked down upon the upper
valley of the Rangitata—very grand, very gloomy, and very desolate. The
river-bed, about a mile and a half broad, was now conveying a very large
amount of water to sea.
Daily Southern Cross, 30 December 1843,
The same day at one o'clock, His Excellency held his first Levee at Government
House, which was more numerously, and more respectably attended than any thing
of the kind which has ever taken place in New Zealand.
The following are the names of the gentlemen introduced to His Excellency :
P. Gammie, Surgeon
Lieutenant Bennett, R.E.
Messrs. Plummer, G. Graham, Lardner, and Turner
Lieutenants Langford, R.M., Johnson, R.N., Egerton, R.N., and Curtis, R.N.
Dr. Sinclair, R.N
Messrs. Sutherland, R.N., Launders, R.N., Sutherland, R.N., Campton, R.N., and
Messrs. Appleyard, Atkins, Barrow, Barstow, Bell, Berry, Betts, Brown, Dr.
Campbell, Messrs. Chapman, Church, Rev. Mr. Churton, Messrs. G.Clarke, H. F.
Clarke, S. Clarke, Cleghorn, Coats, Connell, Cooper, Coyney, Corbett, Cretnay,
Dr. Davies, Messrs. Elliott, Falwasser, Fitzgerald, Forsaith, Fulton, Govett,
Graham, Grimstone, Hardy, Hargreaves, Haile, Hart, Hogg, Hoggard, Hutton, Dr.
Johnson, Messrs. Kelly, Kempthorne, Kennedy, Leech, Ligar, Marshal, Martin, Dr.
Martin, Messrs. Mason, Mathew, M'Guaran, Surgeon, M'lntosh, Meurant, Mitford,
Montefiore, Moore, Morris, Afunro, Nelson, O'Mealy, O'Neil, Outhwaite, Parry,
Paton— Rev. Petit Jean,— Dr.Pollen, W. F. Porter, M.C., R. F. Porter, Messrs.
Rich, Ridings, Rough, Captain Salmon, Messrs. Savage, Scott, Sinclair, Smith,
Spain, Staudinger, Swainson, Taylor, Thompson, Tucker, Turner, Whitaker, Yates,
Young. Native Chiefs— Jabez Bunting, Kati, Paora, Te Iwi, Tamati, Ngna Pora, and
Te Whero Whero.
The following ladies waited upon, and were received by Mrs. Fitzroy :— Mrs.
Berry, Mrs. Churton, Mrs. Clarke, Mrs. Coats, Mrs. Connell, Mrs. Eames, Miss
Falwasser. Mrs. Kempthorne, Mrs. Ligar, Mrs. Ludbrook, Mrs. Mathew, Mrs. Porter,
Miss Porter, Mrs. Rough, Miss Shepherd, Mrs. Shortland, Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Smith,
Mrs. Tucker, and Mrs. Young.
New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator,
17 February 1844, Page 3
His Excellency the Governor has appointed Major Bunbury to conduct the duties of
the Government during his temporary absence. John Jermyn Esq., appointed
additional Police Magistrate for the Southern district. S. E. Grimstone, Esq.,
is to be Secretary to the Government for the Southern district. Andrew
Sinclair, Esq., Colonial Secretary, James Coates, Esq., Clerk of Councils,
and R. A. Fitzgerald, Esq., Registrar of Deeds, are appointed Commissioners pro
term, to examine the public accounts of the Colony. His Excellency causes it to
be notified that Government salaries, &c, will in future be paid quarterly.
Mesopotamia Station carved up under Govt scheme
The Press 7 April 2008
The owners of one of New Zealand's best-known and revered sheep stations, the
26,000ha Mesopotamia, have reached a deal with the Government. The details of
the tenure review deal will be announced officially this week. However, under
the agreement the Prouting family, which has been connected to the station since
1943, will gain 5000ha of freehold land and 21,000ha will become Department of
Conservation land. The Proutings will receive a 30-year hunting and tourism
concession over the 21,000ha. Mesopotamia, about 95km inland from Timaru, was
named by English author Samuel Butler in 1860 and takes in a vast area of rugged
high country on the southern side of the Rangitata River between Ben McLeod, at
Forest Creek, and the Forbes River. The Proutings have been in negotiations
since 2003. Laurie Prouting once told the Timaru Herald he was absolutely gutted
by the process and his son, Malcolm, in his late 30s, regards the final outcome
as "doing a deal with the devil". The family negotiated to get exclusive and
private hunting rights over 3500ha of the former lease but that has not been
granted. Their yearly rent on the property has been $15,000 a year. The
Proutings did not want to comment to The Press for this story but their long
association with Mesopotamia will make the transaction a bitter-sweet wrench.
The last muster, beginning today, will be poignant, sources told the Press.
The Prouting connection began with Malcolm Velvin Prouting, from Mayfield, who
began working at Clent Hills Station with its then manager, Bob Buick, when he
was only 14.
He became Buick's right- hand man and when Buick took over operation of
Mesopotamia in 1943 he brought Prouting in as manager. Prouting bought the
property in 1945 for 27,000 and is credited with getting the station back on its
feet after the devastations of the Depression and rabbits. He subdivided part of
the station, sowed lucerne and rebuilt huts, roads and farm buildings. Greatly
helped by the wool boom in 1951, the station entered a period of prosperity
during which Prouting built a new homestead, installed a power plant and
diverted the Rangitata River away from the flats with groynes. A school opened
on the station in 1956. It closed in 1999. In 1974, Prouting freeholded about
4000ha of flats and downs and was one of the first farmers to start farming
deer. Tourists were flown into the farm by his sons' then aviation firm, Air
Safaris, based in Pukaki. Tragedies befell the hard- working family, however.
Two of Malcolm's sons died in accidents. The youngest, Peter, was killed aged 23
in a plane crash within sight of the homestead and in full view of his father.
Malcolm Prouting died in 1981 aged 64. Son Laurie, formerly on Mount Arrowsmith
in the Ashburton Gorge and a helicopter pilot, took over management of the farm
after his father died, carrying on his father's improvements although wool was
never as profitable as in the '50s. He left the farm in 2002 to concentrate on
the station's 500ha safari park. It accommodates herds of tahr, deer, chamois
and fallow deer which are hunted by paying visitors, mostly Americans. Laurie's
son, Malcolm, and his wife, Sue, who began working on the station in 1988, have
been in charge since 2002. They run about 11,000 merinos and 2000 deer,
including 700 velveting stags. In 1980 it carried 22,000 sheep, 1600 cattle and
A total of 304 South Island high-country properties covering more than 2 million
hectares were farmed under pastoral leases from the Crown. The tenure review
process, allows leaseholders to gain freehold title to part of their properties,
in return for land handed back to the Crown for conservation. Under the scheme,
about 176,000ha has been freeholded and 127,000ha has been returned to the Crown
as conservation land.
July 2011 photos above.
Samuel Butler's 1851 homestead site.
January 2015 photos, now plaque has the fourth screw
missing and a bullet hole.
1860: Cambridge-educated gentleman Samuel Butler (1835-1902) secures the first
of 10 runs which eventually form the station he names Mesopotamia.
1864: Butler sells Mesopotamia to William Parkerson, a speculator, for 10,000.
Butler apparently doubled his capital but Parkerson made the easy money by
selling the station a year later for a profit of 3000. While Butler is still in
New Zealand, his father publishes his letters home under the title A First Year
in Canterbury Settlement.
1868: Mesopotamia owned by brothers Michael Campbell, General Campbell, an
officer in the Indian army, and J. R. Campbell.
1880: Rabbits first appear on the station.
1885: The brothers General and J.R. Campbell sell to George Allan McMillan, a experienced high country
farmer who ran 20,000 merino sheep on the station. He also owned Stronechrubie
1896: The Government hands over 16,000ha of the best of the run to Canterbury
1903: Bought by George Gerard, one of the most successful high country station
1914-18: Nearly all of the station's mustering gang enlist to fight in World War
1. Of the eight who went, only two returned.
1917: Gerard sells to William Nosworthy, who was first elected to Parliament in
1908 as the member for Mid- Canterbury. He was made Minister for Agriculture in
1919 and was knighted in 1929.
1918: A disastrous winter in which up to half the station's flock of 22,000
merinos perish in metre-deep snow.
1920: Rabbits become an enormous problem with the shearing tally in 1921 down to
1921: Poisoning using strychnine and carrots kills 150,000 rabbits.
1926: First truck is driven to the station homestead.
1930: Wages drop and staff cut as the Depression bites. Surplus fine wool sheep
1939: Rabbits again out of control and Bank of New Zealand assumes control,
appointing Bob Buick, the manager of Clent Hills Station, supervisor.
1943: Bob Buick took over operation of Mesopotamia in 1943. Malcolm Prouting, in his early 20s, is appointed manager.
1945: The Press, 17th November, 1945, stated that Malcolm Velvin Prouting,
Nosworthy's manager, had bought the station for £27,000 as a going concern.
1946: Kea kill about 1000 sheep.
1951: Wool boom starts and a period of rebuilding begins. He built fences,
tracks, huts, a new homestead and a power plant.
1974-75: Deer farming and tourism start.
1981: Malcolm Prouting dies at age 64 and son Laurie takes over.
2002: Laurie leaves the station to concentrate on safari hunting and his son,
Malcolm Pouting, takes over.
2003: Tenure review negotiations begin.
2005: Submissions called on proposed settlement.
2008: Deal completed and 21,000ha goes into DOC estate. Area feature alpine
screes and stonefields, herbfields, tall tussock grasslands, shrublands, beech
forest and regionally rare upland totara. Threatened birds include blue duck,
New Zealand falcon, kea, black-fronted tern and wrybill.
tarns & tussocks
Land converted to public estate under tenure review and Crown purchases in the
past 10 years includes:
- 7861ha Twinburn station between St Bathans and Omarama.
- More than 1600ha of Mount Cook station at the head of Lake Pukaki in the
- Birchwood Station in the Ahuriri Valley on the western-most point of the
- 10,000ha Clent Hills Station bordering Lake Heron, west of Ashburton.
- 8000ha of Pukaki Downs station near Mount Cook.
Note the gorse / broom covered terraced far bank of the Rangitata
Mesopotamia Station, 47km from Mt
Peel Station, up the Rangitata Gorge Rd, is a long way up there and back.
BEAUTIFUL any season. One day I will go all the way to
grave. It was a blinding hot 33 degree C day with a strong
Nor'wester so the air was thick with haze and dust making good shots of the
HUGE valley impossible, wrote Bruce Comfort in Jan. 2015. Photos
courtesy of Bruce.
A First Year in Canterbury Settlement, in 1863.
Samuel Butler sent letters home. On page 76 Butler wrote "After about
ten miles we turned a corner and looked down upon the upper valley of the
Rangitata—very grand, very gloomy, and very desolate. The river-bed, about a
mile and a half broad, was now conveying a very large amount of water to
Summers are warm and dry. Winters are cold with
frequent snow and severe frosts.
Note the extensive flat and the mountainous back
country. Looks like a glacial valley.
Note the beautiful fescue tussock (Festuca novae-zelandiae)
grassland forms large patches between the matagouri, the dominant plant, on
the terraced banks of the wide braided Rangitata River and the barbed wire.
Mesopotamia Cemetery Upper
Bush Stream is 2.5 km beyond Mesopotamia Station.
The Two Thumb
Dr. Peter Maling, a medical practitioner of Christchurch, has long had an
interest in historical maps and charts. Born in Temuka in 1912, graduated as a geologist from
Canterbury College (now Canterbury University), and spent two years prospecting,
"doing geological work in Persia", in Iran for the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. Then he turned to the study of
medicine in London. After war service in the Royal Army Medical Corps he began
36 years of medical practice in Christchurch in 1946. Known as an editor,
author, researcher and collector. As a member (1959-69) of the Regional
Committee of the Historic Places Trust he launched its publications with Samuel
Butler at Mesopotamia (1960). Among his best-known work is his editing of The Torlesse Papers (1958, reprinted 2003), a reminder that Canterbury history began
before 1850. Dr Maling died on 8 December 2006.
at Mesopotamia - Peter Bromley Maling, 66pages, dj, half of
Peake's painting with the clothes line,
'Together with Butler's Forest Creek manuscript and his letters to
Tripp and Acland. Published in conjunction with the National Historic Place
Trust. 1960 Govt. Printer Wellington.
Mesopotamia Station - First Hundred Years by Peter
Newton. Softcover (stapled booklet) Publisher: Timaru Herald Co, 1960. 55pp
b/w plates & map.
South Canterbury NZGenWeb Project