Blue Cliffs Station, St. Andrews, South Canterbury, N.Z.  - a sheep station

Gordon's Valley with poplars to the left of the road with gorse flowering. To the right a few cabbage trees. Looking SW.
"For all who know understand and love the land especially whose lives are spent upon our farms and stations."  Mrs A.E. Woodhouse, 1950

 L.D.G. Acland wrote "A station is where the owner lives in a home apart from the shepherds, and lives on a property with his wife and family. The acreage varies but he must shear three thousand or more sheep. His home is called a homestead." Blue Cliffs Station certainly meets that classification. It is a beautiful piece of property with rolling hills. "Blue Cliffs (Run 31) originally 25,000 thousand acres, ran up the south side of the Otaio River from a point just below Hendry's Road, and was bounded on the east by a line from there to a point on the Black Line Road. The Findlay Downs Settlement was part of the freehold. At first Blue Cliffs, situated 22 miles south west from Timaru, only went to the summit of the Hunters Hills, but in the 'sixties the country behind running into the Hakataramea Valley, which had been part of Otaio, was added to the run." Map Map In 1855 Miss Jeannie Collier took up the vast Otaio Run, No. 25, (she had three nephews, Leslie, James and Andrew Thomson), from which 10,120 hectares (25,000 acres) was granted to Henry Poingdestre in 1856, and this formed the original core of Blue Cliffs. In 1878 Thomas Teshemaker became the sole owner of Otaio, which was on the south and east boundary of Blue Cliffs. Station Peak was to the west and Holme Station and Pareora to the north.

Henry Poingdestre 1855-1866

Henry had arrived in Lyttelton The Royal Stuart in January 1855 as a steerage passenger. Cabin passengers included J.B.A. Acland, Charles Tripp, T.W. Maude and F.W. Teschemaker all later became pioneer run holders. Henry Poingdestre and George Buchanan took up the Blue Cliffs run on 1st July, 1856, in Poingestre's name. In those days there were no fences until 1865 so the runholders relied on boundary keepers. The Otaio River, the natural boundary between Blue Cliffs and the Pareora run was kept by George Gordon who had arrived on the Strathallan in 1859. Gordon's Valley was named after him. Percy Elworthy in 1956 erected a memorial stone to mark the site of Gordon's cottage. Henry Poingdestre built the first homestead near the south bank of the Otaio river, near blue cliffs, hence the name. Buchanan was the manager and they had 1191 sheep there in 1857 and their brand the Prince of Wales feathers, Brand for the jute wool cap  - Prince of Wales feathers., was registered in the Brand Book of Canterbury, 4th May 1857. Poingdestre bought Buchanan out about 1860 and appointed a friend of his named Richard Groome as his manager. In 1866 he sold Blue Cliffs to John Hayhurst. Buchanan who like so many had first gone to Australia was working on the Pareora Estate for three years for William Harris Harris and David Innes until 1860 then became a partner of Henry Poingdestre. That same year he went to England. When he came back he brought land and built the first flour mill south of Timaru and planted willows about the bridge over the mill stream hence the name Willowbridge. In 1872 he brought a farm at Otaio and later moved to Timaru. A son was born 1 July 1866 at Willowbridge. Mr Buchanan died in 1922, aged 89. In 1864 Edward Elworthy came from Australia and joined David Innes in partnership of the Pareora estate after Harris had left.

William Wilson Poingdestre, an engineer in Calcutta and with his wife, Helen, moved to New Zealand to live with eccentric brother Henry (1861-66) at the South Canterbury run near Timaru. There were no other women in the district.
Children of William Wilson Poingdestre and Selena Jane Helen Pritchard:
Mary Vidal Poingdestre b. 20.9.1862
John Henry Poingdestre b. 28.4.1864
both at Blue Cliffs Station, Timaru, South Canterbury. They were the earliest pakeha children to be born in the Blue Cliffs district.

Hawera & Normanby Star, 21 August 1922, Page 5
Mr. George Buchanan, who died at Timaru last week,, was one of the earliest pioneers of; South Canterbury. The- deceased, who. was in his 90th year, was born in Yorkshire and left England for the Australia diggings in 1852 in the ship Chandernagore. After taking part in, the Bendigo and New South Wales gold rushes, he came to New Zealand in, 1853, landing at Lyttelton and travelling overland to Timaru. With Mr. Poingdestre he took up the Bluecliffs run, and after a visit to England where he. married, he took up the Willowbridge, estate, on which he erected the-first flourmill in Canterbury south of Timaru. He subsequently purchased a farm at Otaio, which he worked for a few years before his retirement, and finally took up his residence in Timaru. His widow and family of six sons and two daughters all survive him.

Timaru Herald 28 Jan. 1865 page 5. Sic - Elworthy.

William Wilson Poingdestre (Civil Engineer) d. Roseville Street (St H) died 25.7.1876 ulcer of the intestines.

Timaru Herald, 7 August 1885, Page 2
Death of an Old Resident. — Many of the old residents in this district will regret to hear of the death of Mr Henry Poingdestre, which took place at the residence of his cousin, on July the 18th, at Murrambarrah, N.S.W., aged 64. Mr Poingdestre arrived in Timaru in the year 1856, and shortly afterwards, in conjunction with Mr G. Buchanan, took up the Bluecliffs run (which in those days was without the pale of civilisation, but now is one of the most picturesque spots in South Canterbury), eventually selling out ; since which he had been in business on the Thames and West Coast goldfields, leaving New Zealand about two years ago for Sydney. To those early settlers who enjoyed the pleasure of his intimacy we may say they will never know his like again for ready wit and geniality.  

Timaru Courier July 29, 2010 pg 7
Poingdestre: as tough as a man could be

POINGDESTRE’S Rd in Studholme commemorates the residence there of a rather unusual man, Henry Poingdestre, a Channel Islander born at St Helier, Jersey, in 1832, who came to New Zealand on the Royal Stuart in 1855. In December that year, he went to Australia and returned the following March (with money from the goldfields perhaps?) to become the first owner of Blue Cliffs station. A real character, an eccentric and a congenial host, he was short and very stout with an immense bushy head, bushy eyebrows and very bright, twinkling eyes. He sometimes drove a homemade gig fashioned from a packing case, with a mule and old white mare in tandem, and in fact drove it to the first race meeting held in Timaru in 1860 and ran the mule in a half mile scurry. It did not win. Children got on well with him and he would often do fascinating carvings for them on sticks or handles of stockwhips. In those days, hospitality was a point of honour. Several friends arrived at Blue Cliffs one evening to stay, just when Poingdestre’s supply of liquor was low, so he ordered his bullock driver to go to Timaru for more. The bullocky got back by dinner time next day with a case of gin before they finished what they had, so honour was saved. He sometimes visited Christchurch and it is said that after a rather convivial evening at the Royal Hotel, he got into a bath tub and rowed down the Avon, explaining, ‘‘I’m off to look for more country’’. In 1868, Poingdestre sold Blue Cliffs, and probably leased or possibly bought one or possibly two 20 acre sections on a peninsula near the mouth of the Waihao River (‘‘Poingdestre’s Island’’) and lived in a slab hut close to where the Waimate Creek runs into the Waihao estuary. He put up a ‘‘hutchery’’ of driftwood and logs with a thatched roof to breed rabbits for the Timaru and Oamaru markets, but that year his business was washed away by a flood, rabbits and all. A sad case of a business having just too much liquidity and no assets. Edgar Studholme recalls that when his father was driving near the swamp he decided to call on Poingdestre. It was just as well he did — he found Poingdestre lying in bed with a broken leg, after falling from his horse two days before. He had managed to crawl to the hut and made himself some tea, which helped him to survive until help came. Edgar’s father took him to the homestead where he soon recovered, ‘‘being as tough as a man could be’’. He later left for the Thames and West Coast gold fields, and died in New South Wales in 1885.  

John Hayhurst 1866- 1870

Born 1827- a s/o a Lancashire farmer. Arrived in Australia at age 16, came over to New Zealand to the North Island and worked as a bushman - and then on to North Canterbury as a shepherd shortly before the first four ships into Lyttelton and later took up Simon Pass station in 1857, Grays Hills and on 28 May 1866 took over Blue Cliffs and moved the homestead from the blue cliffs to its present location at the base of the Hunter Hills, 800' above sea level. He planted tress and erected a considerable amount of fencing and dug a water race that brought water from the hills and still supplies the homestead. Andrew Burnett, who took up "Mount Cook Station", did not take procession immediately so in the meantime became a manager of Blue Cliffs until late 1867 while Hayhurst concentrated on his property near Temuka.  By June 1869 Henry Dunford was station manager and bankrupted. Hayhurst commission John Thompson to survey the station and in July 1870 the station changed hands for £1 1750. The purchaser being Charles Meyer. Hayhurst of Greenhayes, Temuka died 1889 at age 62.

Charles Meyer 1870-1878

In 1849 Charles, aged 16, with his brother Herbert, age 18, immigrated to New Zealand in the Mariner. Herbert worked on sheep stations around Nelson and Charles went over to Australia where three of his brothers had emigrated.  Hebert settled on Station Peak but sold it and returned to England. Charles bought the 24,950 acres Blue Cliffs Station in July 1870. Meyer freeholded from the crown and added 17,000 acres leasehold from Run 160. The run now covered over 40,000 acres, almost all leasehold except two 20 acre sections that included the homestead block. The Blue Cliffs manager was John R.W. Cook and the head shepherd was Charles Headry. Heady had taken the place of David Burnett, brother to Andrew. Headry had emigrated from Rosshire Scotland to Dunedin in with his parents. He married Janet (Jessie) McDonald in 1865. Headry's daughter Robina married John McAlwee and lived in the district. Charles returned to the Old Country after 25 years and came back with a wife in 1875 - Ellen Mary Laynard, from Somerset. Charles was 42 and Ellen 23 were married at Combe Hay 30 Sept. 1874 by her brother the Rev. Charles Clement Layard. He came out to New Zealand and among other positions was curate at Longbeach and Mt. Somers in 1883. Mrs White became cook. She loved the countryside and would go for walks. Meyer planted trees and the mixed plantations showed which trees were suitable for the country. The lower country tussock was broken up and more fences erected. David and Henry Stowell were fencers. Shepherds were the brothers Charles and Johnnie Hendry. Mrs Meyer couldn't have children so a doctor advised an operation and this was done in Christchurch and she died on 30 January 1878 at Blue Cliffs at the age of 26 and only after three years at Blue Cliffs. Charles Meyer arranged for St Marys to be built on Church Hill, Upper Otaio Valley now known as Esk Valley, six miles below the Blue Cliffs homestead. The church, one of the loveliest of South Canterbury, was designed by the Benjamin W. Mountford, a Christchurch architect, and built of limestone from the Albury district. It was consecrated in May 1880 by Bishop Harper. The interior is rich with colour from windows dedicated to members of some of the early settler families in the district. The church was Ellen's wish; she loved the view and valley. She was buried at Barbadoes Street Cemetery on the banks of the Avon River in Christchurch. Charles left for England a sad man; they had plans to raise a family here. He left Walter Whitaker Cartwright as manager and Charles Hendry as head shepherd. Charles had heart value problems and got pneumonia after a trip to Scotland and died seven months later on 30 August 1878, aged 46, broken hearted, and was buried at Norwood Cemetery, London. Charles left £6000 to pay the stipends of two clergymen to carry out services at the church and in Waimate.

The Pall Mall Gazette (London, England), Friday, October 2, 1874
MEYER -LAYARD - at Combe Hay Church, bath, Mr. Charles Meyer, of Blue cliffs, Canterbury, N.Z., to Ellen M., daughter of the Rev. C.C. Layard, Rector of Combe Hay, Somerset, Sept. 30.

Timaru Herald, 26 February 1878, Page 3 Death
Meyer. — On the 30th January, at Armagh street West, Christchurch, Ellen Mary, the beloved wife of Charles Meyer, Blue Cliffs.

The Standard (London, England), Thursday, September 05, 1878; pg. [1];
Meyer - August 30, at Loch Inver Hotel, Lairg, N.B. of heart disease, Charles Meyer, Esq., late of Blue Cliffs, Canterbury, New zealand.

Robert Heaton Rhodes, Junior 1878-1918

Timaru Herald, 8 February 1879, Page 2
The Blue Cliffs estate, belonging to the late Charles Meyer, has been sold privately by the trustees to Mr R. Rhodes  (1858-1918) (son of the late George Rhodes 1816-1864) for, it is said, a highly satisfactory price, and the sale of the estate and stud of sheep is consequently withdrawn.

Star 10 February 1879, Page 3 SALE OF BLUE CLIFFS.
This property was disposed of by private treaty by the trustees to Mr R.H. Rhodes, junr., at the price of £64,500. Considering the very depressed state of the money market, and the difficulty of disposing of properties at anything approaching their recent values, the sale may be taken as an indication of a change for the better. The property consisted of about 8000 acres of freehold, 22,000 sheep, and a license to depasture over 28,000 acres, subject as regards the latter to a very heavy rent. The price, 64,000] therefore, may be taken as being highly satisfactory, and the sale may be considered a remarkably good one.

George Rhodes 1816-1864, was the first white man to make a permanent home in South Canterbury. At the end of 1850 William Barnard, Robert Heaton and George Rhodes applied for pastoral licences for blocks of land totalling about 75,000 acres and in June 1851, George Rhodes and companion arrived at the Levels with the first sheep. He had married Elizabeth Wood in Lyttelton in 1854 and they had five children, their two of their sons were Robert Heaton Rhodes (1858) and Arthur Edward (born 1859 at Levels). The Rhodes' built the first house in Timaru and the first woolshed. Robert, the eldest son of George Rhodes, bought Blue Cliffs Station in 1879. George Hampton Rhodes, the third son settled at Claremont. Elizabeth's husband George died in 1864 and Elizabeth and family moved to Timaru and lived at "Linwood." She then married Arthur Perry in 1867 and they lived at Beverley.  There are four Robert Heaton Rhodes. There was R.H. Rhodes of Otahuna s/o R.H. Rhodes of Purau and Elmwood and there is R.H. R. of Woodville, s/o Joseph Rhodes of Hawke's Bay. 

When Bob Rhodes took over Blue Cliffs, Cartwright left and became manager of Holme Station for Edward Elworthy and Richard Rowland Pitt became manager of Blue Cliffs 2 March  1879. Bob was very involved with the station especially the stock, 22,700 sheep in 1879 and 395 bales wool. The woolshed had a board for 16 blade shearers.  Bob was involved in the CYC, hunting with hounds, church warden of St. Mary's with John Bradshaw, appointed by Bishop Harper in 1880 and from 1884 The Mount Cook Hermitage Company. Bob continued to plant trees and in 1880 employed a gardener and contracted out agricultural work often to neighbouring famers.  Pitt left in March 1884 and Alfred Ewen Cox, s/o Alfred Cox of Raukapuka took over management in April 1884. In 1888 Bob became a director of the C.F.C.A. In the winter of 1889 Jessy Bidwill, of Pihautea,  N.I. came to stay at Rutherford's at Opawa, Albury and a group travelled to the Hermitage including Bob Rhodes. Alfred Cox left in Feb. 1890 and Charles Hendry became manager. He already knew the station from Charles Meyer's time.

Star 19 April 1890, Page 2 Marriage
Rhodes— Bidwill.— April 16, at Pihautea, by the Rev. Alfred Williams, Robert Heaton, eldest son of the late George Rhodes, to Jessy, youngest daughter of the late C.R. (Charles Robert) Bidwill.  

Bob had the firm of Collins and Harman, of Christchurch, architects, design a house for the station for his bride to be. John James Collins also designed the large picturesque houses such as "Te Koraha" (A.E.G. Rhodes, his brother's house) (now 'The House' at Rangi Ruru School) and the former "Longbeach" homesteads. Their only child, daughter, Airini Elizabeth Rhodes was born in Dunedin 8th Nov. 1896 and baptised at St. Mary's Church, Esk Valley. In 1891 leases of the front country expired and the area cut into small grazing runs and runs were renumbered and offered for sale. Bob purchased 1972 acres part of the Weaner Run and 1990 acres was bought by Jessy Rhodes. Their brief honeymoon was spent on Stewart Island. Jessy brought back some young native trees and planted them in the Blue Cliffs garden - rimu, two ratas and a red beech. Bob's mother, Mrs Perry of "Beverley", died in July 1890. The house was finished with walls of black pine and the floors, doors and other fittings of kauri, cost £2115. The couple was still living in the cottage. On 13 February they left for England via the steamer Mariposa to San Francisco then south to Monterey and then by train across the States then on to London where they purchased furniture and carpets in London at Maple and Co. After a tour of France, Switzerland and Italy and back to London by November they sailed for Port Chalmers in January 1892.

Timaru Herald, 21 January 1891, Page 3 LAND SALE.
A meeting of the Christchurch Land Board was held last Thursday. Present— Messrs J H Baker, Chief Commissioner, D McMillan, and W Kitson. The following sections situated on the Pareora, Bluecliffs, and Otaio runs, and comprising part of the Hunter Hills near Waimate, were disposed of For cash —
P. A. Baber, section 36224, 1843 acres, at 22a 6d per acre, ; only application
R H Rhodes, section 361225, 1972 acres, at 25s per acre, by ballot
J Rhodes, section 36226, 1990 acres, at 22s 6d, only application
T J Teschesmaker, section 36230, 1735 acres, at 25s per acres by ballot
E Elworthy, sections 36236, 36238 to 36241, 36324 to 36328, being remnants of river flats, total area, 640 acres, at various prices, only application:
R Kelland, section 30323, 110 acres, at 25s per acre, by ballot
McAlwee, auction 30329, 85 acres, : at 20s per acre, only application.
On perpetual lease — H G Smith, section 36220, 1798, acres, at 1s 3d per acre, by ballot
H Herriot, section 36222, 1912 acres, at 1s 3d per acre, by ballot
J Elder, section 36223, 1790 acres at 1s 3d per acre by ballot
T Mann, section 36229, 1650 acres at 1s 4d, by ballot
C Jackson, section 36233, 102 acres at 1s, only application.

Star 2 March 1891, Page 2
Auckland, Feb. 28. The
Mariposa arrived from Sydney last night and proceeds on with the San Francisco mail this afternoon. March 1. Sailed, on Saturday — Mariposa, for San Francisco. Passengers— Mesdames Ross, Huntington, Rutherford, Clark, Joshue, Parvk, Hutton, Field, Burrows, Rhodes, Sapilli, Kingsland, child and nurse, His Lordship Bishop Yidal, Viscount Raeham, Dr Ross, Messrs Rutherford, Joshue, Lewin, Huntington, Huntriss, Purvis, Hutton, Clark, Garlick, Bush, Field, Barrows, Lamb, Sapilli, Kingsland, Kitcate, Rhodes, and forty steerage and through passengers from Sydney.

Another trip was made to England in 1905.
Otago Witness
, 25 January 1905, Page 33
Mr R. H. Rhodes, of Bluecliffs, who leaves on a trip to the Home Country this week, was entertained at Timaru on Wednesday. Mr Rhodes leaves by one of the direct boats, but instead of going straight to London will spend about six weeks in the Argentine, then travel up the coast of Brazil, and cross over to Portugal and Spain, thus making an unusual tour on the Homeward journey. He will be accompanied by Mrs Rhodes and family [Airini would have been eight years old], and expects to be absent from the colony about 12 months.

Walter Scott was manager from 1906-1908. Lachlan Calder from 1908 -1923. In 1908 Bob purchased the Gordon Valley block and sold the South Paddocks, 2000 acres. This block was later sold to the Government for closer settlement - the Finlay Settlement in 1915, divided into five farms. In 1910 Blue Cliffs consisted of  approx. the Homestead block 4300 acres, the Weaner Run 5000 acres and the Gordon Valley block 1430 acres. Another trip was made to England sailing in December 1910 and returned home in early 1912. Bob died 11 August 1918, aged 61 from pneumonia.  

Otago Witness 8 August 1906, Page 63 Table Talk
Miss Ellie Ulrich left last week for Timaru, where she will be the guest of Mrs R. Rhodes at "Bluecliffs."

Otago Witness, 3 July 1907, Page 51 Wedding
ORBELL— ULRICH.— On Wednesday, June 19, 1907, at All Saints' Church, Dunedin by the Most Rev. the Primate, assisted by the Rev. H. H. Bedford. R. Leslie Orbell, Timaru, to Ellie, second, daughter of the late Professor Ulrich, Otago University. The day of bitterly cold. [R.L Orbell, was a land agent in Timaru and was Jessy's second cousin and he had married her friend Ellie. R. L. Orbell brokered the deal to sell the South Paddocks in 1908].

Otago Witness 21 August 1907, Page 71
Thursday was very fine, and quite a large number of people went out to Riccarton on the occasion of the second day's races. Mrs Robert Rhodes (Bluecliffs) was there gowned in brown taffetas and wearing handsome sabled ; Mrs Elworthy wore black, with a touch of purple in her bonnet ; Miss Elworthy was in navy blue; Mrs Arthur Elworthy had a lovely gown of pale blue cloth and hat with roses ;

Otago Witness, 6 October 1909, Page 71
The flower show held by the Melanesian Guild was most successful, the flowers being exhibited in greater numbers than usual. The "Daffodil Cup" was won by Miss Airini Rhodes (Bluecliffs), who was also successful in other classes.

Otago Witness 14 July 1909, Page 72
Mrs R. Rhodes (Bluecliffs) and Miss Cargill left for the north on Tuesday.

Bluecliffs homestead built in the years 1890 to 1892. Photographer: J. Waddington, 1979.

Blue Cliffs homestead February 2010. Photo by Margaret Todd
Interesting to see that the chimneys have been removed.

Blue Cliffs homestead, built 1889-1890. The main entry hall to this late Victorian house is to the left side, with a Paul’s Scarlet climber rose reaching upward. A verandah extends around this side of the house.  In its size, planning and appearance it is a typical example of the life style which the Canterbury province's pioneering families had achieved within the first four decades of settlement. Its historic values are enhanced by its near intact condition and collection of original furnishings. The large garden featuring mature trees has been retained. Three quarters of the 2nd floor balcony, where the ladder is located, was enclosed after 1910. Bedrooms on the 2nd floor are on each corner. Another bedroom is to the right on the ground floor with the drawing room to the left and a sitting room in the middle. There were five fire places, two shared a chimney. Peter McIntyre wrote  "After my years of exile [overseas during the war] the days at Blue Cliffs brought back all that is good of life in New Zealand from the first barking of dogs and the chortling of magpies in the early morning, to sleep-deep-chintzy comfort in front of a log fire in the frosty evening. I had found another part in the pattern of my New Zealand. The pensioned-off old sheepdogs whose high privilege it was to lie on the veranda in the sun all day..." The back of the house includes car parking and native plantings seen here are the tussock and cabbage trees.

Blue Cliffs homestead February 2010. Photo by Margaret Todd

Poverty Bay Herald, 13 August 1918, Page 2
Christchurch, this day: The death is announced of Mr. Robert Heaton Rhodes of Bluecliffs, South Canterbury, aged 60 years. Mr. Rhodes was the eldest surviving son of the late Mr. George Rhodes, of Timaru, who was the first man to take up land in South Canterbury. He was educated at Christ's College, Christchurch, and Exeter College, Oxford. He married a daughter of the late Mr. C. R. Bidwill, one the earliest settlers in the Wairarapa Valley. He took a very practical interest in the affairs of the Christ College Old Boys' Association, and a few years ago made a gift of £2000, which was to be held in trust by the governing body for such purposes as the improvement of the school surroundings or the encouragement of school, sports in such directions as the funds of the governing body might not be sufficient. Deceased was director of the Canterbury Frozen Meat Company. Mr. A. E. G. Rhodes [who was a member for Gladstone in 1887-90, and for Geraldine in 1890-93], of this city, is the only surviving brother, whilst a sister is Mrs. M. J. Godby, now of England. He leaves a widow and an unmarried daughter.

Hawkes Bay Herald Oct 10 1883
Mr W H TESCHEMAKER, writing from London To a friend of his in Otago says :- " I went to a Leadenhall market, and saw a card on a sheep with "Bred by R RHODES, jun., Bluecliffs, New Zealand on it." I waited, and saw the sheep cut down, and the hind quarters were sold at 9½ d per lb. FITTER, the butcher, declared the meat splendid. English mutton sold at the same time at 10 1/2d per lb.

Marlborough Express, 5 August 1889, Page 2
The Rabbit Pest. — Mr A. E. G. Rhodes, M.H.R. for Gladstone writes as follows :— "My district has not suffered much as yet, but the rabbits are just coming into the Mackenzie country by millions. The history of the pest is that the public will not believe in the danger.'

Otago Witness 18 February 1892, Page 17
On the morning of the 10th a large and fashionable gathering assembled at St. Augustine's Church, Waimate (says the Press), to witness the marriage of Mr Arthur E. G. Rhodes, M.H.R., of Christchurch, and Miss R. Moorehouse, of Waimate. The ceremony was conducted by Bishop Harper, assisted by the Revs. Coates (Lyttelton) and Sotham (Waimate). The bride was charmingly dressed in a rich white satin, with a very long train, finished with ostrich tips, and wore a long tulle veil. Her bouquet, which consisted of white flowers and maidenhair fern, was tied with long white streamers, and her train was carried by two tiny bridesmaids dressed in cream silk. The bridesmaids, of whom there were eight, were dressed, three in pink silk, three in heliotrope, and two in cream. Miss Studholme, Waimate, was the principal bridesmaid.

Taranaki Herald, 8 October 1909, Page 3
Christchurch, Oct. 8. Mr. Robert Rhodes, of Blue Cliffs, president of the Old Boys' Association, has given £2000 to Christ's College. A quarter of the income is to be devoted to fostering the sports and games of the school, particularly for providing prises for a hurdle race instituted by him when a student at the college.

Poverty Bay Herald, 7 June 1916, Page 5
London, June 6. At the wool sales there was a strong market from merinos. Recent prices are fully maintained. Crossbreds continue in sellers favour: The following prices were realised for the fleece portion of the New Zealand clips named : — Blue Cliffs, top price l9½d, average price 18d; Hakateramea, 23½d and 23¼d.  

Rhodes of Blue Cliffs Station 'like most country men of his day could foretell the weather with considerable accuracy.'

Blue Cliffs Rd, c.1928. Car license plate No. 122-422 

Trustees 1918-1965  P. Randal Woodhouse - manager

New Zealand Herald, 7 September 1918, Page 8 WILL OF LATE MR. R. RHODES.
BEQUEST TO TIMARU COUNCIL. Conditional upon his estate being valued for death duty at over £50,000, the late Mr. R. H. Rhodes, of Bluecliffs, St. Andrews, South Canterbury, has bequeathed £2000 to the Timaru Borough Council for improving and beautifying Caroline Bay. Under the same conditions, £1000 are left to the church property trustees to invest for the upkeep of the Anglican Church and grounds of the parish containing the Bluecliffs homestead. Mrs. Rhodes is left £1000, with all the furniture and household goods. Also, she will have the use of the homestead and about 100 acres so longe as she remains a widow. During widowhood, too, she is to receive £2000 a year, which will be reduced to £1000 if she marries again. The residue of the trust fund is to be held for the children, the eldest son taking a double part, and the others sharing equally.

The station was then held by the trustees of R.H. R. - A.E.G. Rhodes, his partner Michael Godby, s/o his sister Ada, Frank Rolleston solicitor, Timaru and Herbert Elworthy, Craigmore. Airini was a land girl, she grew up on the station. She could ride, do the wool classing and whatever. She went to in 1913 Craighead, as a weekly border, for her high school education. On Thursday 22nd September 1921 Airini married Dr P. Randal Woodhouse Medical Superintendent of Wellington Hospital [1919-1922] at St. Mary's Church, Esk Valley. Dr Woodhouse resigned and left the hospital 18 Jan. 1922 and did a 16 month apprenticeship as a farmer on Blue Cliffs. Jessy Bidwill moved to "Carne", (a Bidwill name) a house in Timaru. Randal took over as manager of Blue Cliffs on 1st June 1923 and managed the property for 38 years. Airini and Randal had one son and two daughters. Randal bought the Weaner Run, 5000 acres of hill country from the trustees in 1930. Airini took over as manager as Randal had to report for military duty for the N.Z.M.C. and was Lt. Col. Woodhouse D.S.O., M.C. A.D.M.S. 5th Division and he was based at Riccarton for ten months and came home 1st July 1943 and took over again as manager. Peter McIntyre, the official war artist, first came to Blue Cliffs in 1943, when he was on leave from the war, and again in 1946 and 1947. He had his studio in the harness-room of the large old-fashioned stable at Blue Cliffs. In 1949 Russell Clark came to Blue Cliffs to advise Airinia about illustrations for the collection of farm and station verse. Randal managed Blue Cliffs until 1961, when at age 75, he hired J.K. McKenzie. In June 1970 Randal, at age 84, appointed a business manager and made no further entries in his diary after July. Most farmers kept dairies of the day to day activities and referred back to them.

Philip Randal Woodhouse, M.C.and bar, D.S.O. O.B.E. died on 1st Oct. 1970 and the service was held at St. Marys. He was born in Dunedin on 9 February 1886 s/o J F Woodhouse. He was educated at Otago BHS. and Otago University; MB, ChB '10 , V.D. and served in Word War One with the R.A.M.C.  1914- 1919, attached to the Irish Guards, mentioned in dispatches four times, a major in 1918. He was president of the NZ Catchment Board in 1955 for which her received the on 1st Jan. 1958 in the Order of the British Empire - Civil Division. After Randal died Airini moved to Timaru, to the house her mother had built and their daughter Elizabeth Paulette Woodhouse (born at Blue Cliffs in July 1922) stayed on at Blue Cliffs.

T./Capt. Philip Randal Woodhouse, M.C. M.B., R.A.M.C. (M.C. gazetted 31st May, 1916)
M.C. to Temporary Captain Philip Randal Woodhouse, M.B. R.A.M.C. (attached 1st Battalion Irish Guards) "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He tendered the wounded under heavy shell fire, and though himself wounded, continued the work. On another occasion he went across the open under shell fire to attend to the wounded."

Awarded a bar to the Military Cross

He was a doctor during the First World War.

Hawke's Bay Herald, 9 January 1882, Page 2
RHODES-BIDWILL.— On the 4th instant at Pihautea, by the Rev. H. Vere White. Joseph Barnard, eldest son of Joseph Rhodes, of Napier, to Laila, fourth daughter of C. R. Bidwill, of Pihautea.

Hawke's Bay Herald, 1 May 1894, Page 2
BIDWILL-RHODES.-On the 30th April, at the Pro-Cathedral, Napier, by the Very Rev. Dean Hovell, William Edward, second son of the late C. R. Bidwill, to Mildred Edith, youngest daughter of Joseph Rhodes of Hawke's Bay.

Evening Post, 22 December 1902, Page 6 Death
Rhodes.— On 19th December, 1902, at Wellington, Eliza, wife of J. B. Rhodes, Hawkes Bay, and fourth daughter of the late C B. Bidwill, Wairarapa, aged 40 years.

Colonist, 27 March 1907, Page 3
Timaru, March 26 Miss Marshall, aged 24, while riding at Blue Cliffs on Saturday last was thrown from her horse and sustained serious injuries to her head. She was brought to the Timaru Hospital, where she has since lain in an unconscious condition. Dr. Talbot, who was called in, performed the operation of trephining. The patient had not recovered consciousness.

In the 1970s Blue Cliffs was approximately 4000 acres, mostly freehold downs in improved pasture with Mr W.R. Sanford as the manager.

All the owners of the property have demonstrated their civic consciousness, playing a prominent role in community affairs.

Xmas card sent from A. E. Woodhouse, Blue Cliffs in the 1960s to head shepherd.  
Dr. P.R. Woodhouse became a sheepfarmer. Clark observed social interaction; something he excelled at on canvas.

Blue Cliffs Station has been owned by the Rhodes/Woodhouse/Rolleston family since 1879 -  an unbroken link of 131 years.

February  2010 - M.T. had the opportunity recently to visit Blue Cliffs Station with members of the South Canterbury Genealogical Society and she wrote:
The drive to Blue Cliffs, inland from St Andrews on SH1, was interesting in that, on the way, we passed the Esk Valley school and war memorial. The memorial for the small area shows that 11 ex-pupils lost their lives during WW1 and one, Pilot Officer J H STOWELL, during WW2. Further on, Church Hill Road indicated the turnoff to St Mary's Church, Esk Valley. Charles Meyer was the 3rd holder of Blue Cliffs. His wife died at the age of 26 years and, before he went back to England, a broken man, he arranged for a church to be built in her memory. The church was to be seen from Blue Cliffs. Today the large trees eclipse the view but the lovely wee church stands quietly, surrounded by graves depicting the lives of earlier pioneers and people associated with the district of Esk Valley. Continuing along the dusty road we passed the Blue Cliffs woolshed which is very large and in full use today. It is situated on the roadside before the homestead enabling easy access for transporting the sheep to market. Finally Blue Cliffs Station emerged. My first impression was one of seclusion, a hidden treasure. This lovely old homestead is nestled in large trees with expansive grounds and a view to the sea. Dr. William ROLLESTON and his family now reside at Blue Cliffs. They welcomed our group warmly and kindly let us look through their home. William is a grandson of Dr Randal WOODHOUSE and his wife Mrs Airini WOODHOUSE (nee RHODES) previous holders of Blue Cliffs Station. Renovations done to the homestead over the years have been in keeping with the original design. Family history has been preserved and it was a privilege to view the RHODES' family possessions dating back so many years since their arrival in South Canterbury. Blue Cliffs retains it's original laundry, dairy and apple house which were in use until the 1920s and have been preserved until the present time. Blue Cliffs is a true example of the past being preserved for the future. The station now consists of 4,050 hectares (10,007 acres).

Timaru Herald Nov. 2014
"The overwhelming scientific consensus is that climate change is happening and that human activity, including agriculture, makes a significant contribution," says William Rolleston, Federated Farmers president. The other strands in his life have been farming, medicine and politics. After a series of locums in Britain, he returned to the farm, where he and his twin brother John began to develop hi-tech animal products for use in cell culture, microbiology and immunology. Their company, South Pacific Sera. Together they have expanded 4000-hectare Blue Cliffs Station from 15,000 stock units to 30,000. Family members have created a museum on the farm where every plant has been catalogued and displayed. Moa and other extinct bird bones from surrounding limestone areas are also featured. With so many eminent forebears (19th century politician William Rolleston, a medical superintendent or two) does he feel any weight of history? "I suppose you could say it's [public service] part of my DNA, but I don't see it as an obligation," he answers.

Peter McIntyre spent a lot of time there painting.....beautiful scenes with lots of the woolshed, shearers and musterers.

Xmas card sent from Blue Cliffs in the 1960s
Peter McIntrye wrote "I noticed that whereas the harness-room had a large fireplace the groom's room opening off it had none, which seemed strange until I was informed that in the old days the fire was there to keep the harness pliable, not to warm the groom. There was pleasure in the ritual of station life - the horses to be fed; the big day of mustering the high country which means rising at three and seeing the dawn from horseback on the higher ridges of the foothills; the day of the "Show"; and the day of the Point-to-Point [were known originally as steeplechases ]. "

The stables on Bluecliffs Station built in the 1890s. Photographer: J. Waddington. 1979. NZ Archives.

Old Dick by Colin Patterson from Rural Delivery: Poems and Images from New Zealand Farms published by Random House NZ, 2010

The stables are no longer there
nor the six-horse team with the one to spare
The harness fell in disrepair
as time rolled along

I wandered back across the Springbrook yard
the memories flooded back
and there beside the hedge of thorn
Dad's Duncan plough with moleboards worn.

Then farming became a different game,
tractors with hydraulics came.
The Duncan plough with the swingle tree
became disused machinery.

We towed her in beside the barn
She'd done her time.

Rural Delivery: Poems and Images from New Zealand Farms
Who knew that inside the rugged exterior of many a farmer beats the heart of a poet? Photographer Stephen Robinson came across some of these poems on his travels and set out to collect up more of them to accompany a wide-ranging set of his farm-themed images. From the joys and exhaustion of high-country mustering by veteran herders to the tribulations (and eventual acceptance) of never-ending mud by a dairy farmer's wife, these are the pictures and stories of a part of the real New Zealand that is not often seen by city folk! Striking photos of leaping sheep, sweeping landscapes, lost lambs and the hurly-burly of the shearing-shed pack the book with colour and character.

Timaru & Christchurch Probate Files

RHODES 		Robert Heaton 		- Bluecliffs St. Andrews 		1918  Chch 
McALWEE 	John 			- Blue Cliffs 				1914 
McALWEE 	John 			- Bluecliffs, St Andrews 		1946 
McALWEE 	Harold 			- Blue Cliffs St Andrews 		1951 
McALWEE 	Robina 			- Bluecliffs, St Andrews 		1953 Chch 
TOZER 		Arthur Stanley 		- Bluecliffs 				1954 Chch 
WOODHOUSE 	Phillip Randal 		- St Andrews 				1970 Chch 
CAHARDIE 	Stella Treemere 	- Bluecliffs, St Andrews 		1971 Chch 
MUIR 		Gavin Herries L 	- Bluecliff Station 			1973 Chch 
STANLEY 	Isabella Rose 		- Bluecliffs 				1974 Chch 
WOODHOUSE 	Elizabeth Paulette Rhodes - Blue Cliffs - Femme Sole 		1987 
WOODHOUSE 	Airini Elizabeth 	- Timaru - Widow 			1989 Chch 
McALWEE 	Edgar Harold John 	- Blue Cliffs, St. Andrews - Farmer 	1991
ROGERS 		Eric Alfred 		- Bluecliffs - Farmer 			1995 Chch 

Sheep owners returns:

1857 Hy. Poingestre Bluecliffs   1,191
1879 R.H. Rhodes Bluecliffs    21,300
1880 R.H. Rhodes Bluecliffs  20,4447
1881 R.H. Rhodes Bluecliffs    2,4411
1890 R.H. Rhodes Bluecliffs    22,731
1891 R.H. Rhodes Bluecliffs    17,381


South Canterbury's Early Settlers and Immigrants.
Woodhouse, A. E., Blue Cliffs: The Biography of a South Canterbury Sheep Station 1856-1970

Further Reading:

Historic sheep stations of the South Island; a second series By Colin Vernon Wheeler 1971 96 pages. In June 1970 Colin Wheeler and his wife came to Blue Cliffs and he made sketches for this book. He painted "Blue Cliffs woolshed and drafting race" 1970 that is used for the dust jack for "Blue Cliffs" by A.E. Woodhouse.
Peter McIntyre's New Zealand,
L.G.D. Acland, The Early Canterbury Runs, 4th ed., Christchurch, 1975
Drake, D.E. 'Mrs Airini Woodhouse writes biography of Blue Cliffs Station'. Timaru Herald, 14 August, 1982, p.6.
Geoffrey Thornton, The New Zealand Heritage of Farm Buildings, Auckland, 1986
Frances Porter (ed.), Historic Buildings of New Zealand: South Island, Auckland, 1983

The former laundry/dairy/apple shed (built 1870s) Photo by Margaret Todd, Feb. 2010

Blue Cliffs Homestead Station complex Back Line Road, Blue Cliffs, St Andrews, Historic Place - Category II reg. 30-Mar-2007 Waimate District Council
Legal Description: Rural Section No. 10510, Canterbury Land District, CT CB8F/790
Stables/carriage shed (1870s)
The former laundry/dairy/apple shed (1870s) largely stripped of original fittings
The generator shed (1907) Dynamo and Hornsby Oil Engine.
Station Homestead (1889) with original wall paper in dining room and original furniture and gardens
Addition of new two storeyed service/staff wing to Homestead - 1910
Modification - Bay window added to the morning room, bathrooms extended to include WCs beside western bedrooms on both floors, first floor middle bedroom extended to take in passage access to the balcony and include most of the balcony, date unknown. Another modification - The decorative timber balustrade on the main stairs was enclosed by paneling, with some of the interspersed supports removed 1960s
Demolished - Meathouse demolished 1990s 

The Blue Cliffs War Memorial Gates, 2010.

Feilding Star, 26 March 1907, Page 2
Timaru, March 26. Miss Marshall, aged 24, while riding at Bluecliffs on Saturday last, was thrown from her horse and sustained serious injuries to her head. She was brought to the Timaru hospital, where she has since lay in an unconscious condition.

Woodhouse, A. E  (Airini Elizabeth) 1896-1989 - had six books published.

Blue Cliffs: The Biography of a South Canterbury Sheep Station 1856-1970, Reed, Wellington, 1982. Blue Cliffs traces the taking up and development of the Hunters Hill property from 1856 to 1970. A. E. Woodhouse is the grand daughter of George Rhodes of the Levels, the first European settler in South Canterbury. Numerous illustrations, map, map endpapers. Printed 1982, 1st edition, 289 pages.  The 'biography' of a sheep station, its people, land and stock

Bidwill of Pihautea: The Life of Charles Robert Bidwill compiled by his son William Edward Bidwill and his grand-daughter Airini Elizabeth Woodhouse

Guthrie-Smith of Tutira. 1959. 302 pgs Who was he?

George Rhodes of the Levels and His Brothers (William, Robert and Joseph). Early Settlers of New Zealand: Particularly the Story of the Founding of the Levels, the First Sheep Station in South Canterbury, Auckland, 1937. 227pgs

Woodhouse, A. E., ed., Tales of Pioneer Women, Christchurch, 1940. 1988. 337pgs The eighty-one authentic tales in this book tell of the lives of women pioneers in every part of the country. The "tales" are memories handed down by mothers and grandmothers of NZ's pioneering days. Published for the Women's Institutes of NZ as part of Centennial celebrations.

Woodhouse, A. E., ed., New Zealand Farm and Station Verse 1850-1950 / collected by the Women's institutes of New Zealand. 201pgs. 

The history is unbelievable with RHODES, ROLLESTON, WOODHOUSE, BARKER, names to mention a few.

Photo taken by Bruce Comfort in 2011  Photo taken by Bruce Comfort in 2011.

South Canterbury NZGenWeb Project