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'Cyclopedia of New Zealand' Levels

The Levels Homestead

Reference: Cyclopedia of New Zealand, Canterbury edition. Part 4. pages 929-931. Published 1903

The LEVELS district obtained its name from the headquarters of the Levels estate. It is situated in the Waimataitai riding of the levels county.  The railway station is seven miles from Timaru on the Timaru-Fairlie branch line, and stands at an elevation of 78 feet above sea level.  There is a local post office, but the nearest school is at Seadown.  As a county, Levels is an important and wealthy district, consisting of low rolling downs, most of which is good wheat growing land.  There is a population of 5,500, all engaged in agricultural and pastoral pursuits, and the capital value of property within the county's limit is about �1,500,000.  The main north line between the rivers Pareora and Opihi runs through part of the county, and also the Fairlie line.  Pleasant Point and other flag stations are on this line.  The Levels county adjoins the town of Timaru.

THE LEVELS POST OFFICE was established on the 14th of September, 1901, and is conducted at the homestead of Cornelius Sullivan, near the railway station.  Mails are received and dispatched daily.

Mr. CORNELIUS SULLIVAN, Postmaster at the Levels, was born in Kerry, Ireland, in 1842.  He arrived in New Zealand in 1875 and settled at Kerrytown, and has since been employed in country life, having been at the Levels since 1897. 


ANDERSON, ROBERT, Farmer, Levels, Mr. Anderson was born at Alloa on the Firth of Forth, Scotland, in 1823, and brought up to farming. For fifteen years he lived in the Channel Islands, and was engaged in building the breakwater at Alderney.  In 1865 he came  out in the ship "Echunga," and landed at Timaru.  He rented a farm at the Washdyke for five years, and then bought 100 acres of Government land on the Levels at �2 an acre. This he has since increased to 249 acres.  In those days there were no roads formed, there were very few people in the district, and the country around was entirely devoid of trees.  Mr. Anderson has planted all the trees on his property, and tastefully laid out a flower garden.  His land has been all cultivated, and the wheat crops average over forty bushels per acre.  Mr. Anderson has been a member of the Pleasant Point School committee, and was for many years an elder in the Presbyterian Church.  He was married in the Old Country, and has a family of two sons and three daughters.

BROSNHAN, JOHN, Farmer, Levels, Mr. Brosnhan was born in County Kerry, Ireland, and came to New Zealand in 1862 by the ship "Exchange."  He engaged in various pursuits until 1856, when he became a farmer at the Levels, where he acquired 530 acres.  Mr. Brosnhan is married and has twelve children. (relative)

Mr. M. DriscollDRISCOLL, MATTHEW, Farmer, Levels, Mr. Driscoll was born in County Kerry Ireland, in 1836, and was brought up in farming. He came to New Zealand in the ship "Ivanhoe," in 1864, and landed at Lyttelton. After working some time in Christchurch he went to the West Coast diggings, but soon returned to Canterbury.  In 1867 he went to Timaru and two years later he took up forty-five acres at the Levels where his farm now consists of 500 acres, on which he grows wheat that yields over thirty bushels to the acre, and oats forty bushels.  He also runs a number of half-bred sheep, which finds most suitable for his purposes.  Mr. Driscoll has been a director of the South Canterbury Farmers' Co-operative Association.  In 1867 he married Miss Sarah Kane, of County Kerry, Ireland, and have a family of five sons and six daughters.

LEVELS STATION (New Zealand and Australian Land company, proprietors; Manger, Mr. C.N. Orbell, the Levels). This large run, which contains nearly 50,000 acres of freehold land, includes portions of the districts now known as Seadown, Cave, Albury, Washdyke, Pleasant Point, Sutherlands, and Totara Valley, and has its northern boundary at the Opihi River.  It was originally of very much greater exMr. C. N. Orbelltent, but considerable areas of the land have been taken up for closer settlement, and the process is still going on.  About 50,000 sheep are depastured on the property, besides 250 head of cattle. Every year about 2500 acres are out down in turnips, from 1200 to 1300 acres in wheat, and about 1000 acres in oats. (since the foregoing was written the property has been bought by the Government for close settlement.)

[Charles Newman Orbell 1840-1925 came to Lyttelton on the "Metropolis" in 1863.  Was a cadet on the Pareora Estate of Harris and Innes. Later manage Otaio Station for Teschemaker.  He was at Levels in 1876 succeeded William Saltu Davidson as manager and purchased the homestead block when the station was subdivided for closer settlement.  He was chairman for the Levels County Council for many years until 1924. His son W.H. Orbell carried on at Levels focusing on Corriedale sheep. Source: 'South Canterbury's Early Settlers and Immigrants' by Wilkinson] 

Data for: Mr. C.N. Orbell. (Levels County Council Section) page 976.
Councillor CHARLES NEWMAN ORBELL, Chairman of Levels County Council, was born in 1840 in Essex, England, where he was educated. He came in 1863 to Lyttelton by the ship "Metropolis", and soon afterwards entered into farming pursuits in the Timaru district. Mr. Orbell is identified with the New Zealand and Australian Land Company, as manager of the Levels estate of 50,000 acres. He has always taken a great interest in the Timaru Agricultural and Pastoral Association, of which he is a prominent member; he is a judge for the South Canterbury Jockey Club, and has been a member of the Geraldine County Council and of the Levels Road Board. Mr. Orbell was married in 1879 to Miss Fergusson, cousin of Sir James Fergusson, formerly Governor of New Zealand, and has five children.

MR. WILLIAM PHILLIP LANE, formerly Chief Cook at the Levels Station, was born at Maidstone, Kent, England in 1870 and accompanied his parents to Lyttelton in the ship "Crusader" in 1874.  He was educated at Timaru, learned the business of a baker and pastry cook and worked at his trade till the maritime strike in 1890 when he was appointed chief cook at the Levels estate, and except for a year held the position continuously until the estate was sold to the Government in 1903. Mr. Lane resides on a nice little property in the Seadown district. He was married in July, 1896, to a daughter of Mr. S. Cain, of Seadown, and has one son and two daughters.

STEVENSON, WILLIAM, Farmer, "Carsewell", the Levels.  Mr. Stevenson was born in Renfrewshire, Scotland, in 1842, and brought up to farming.  He arrived at the Bluff in 1863 by the ship "Sir William Eyre" and after four years in Southland on one of the New Zealand Land Company's stations, he removed to Oamaru where he was on another of the Company's stations for seven years.  On settling in the Timaru district, Mr. Stevenson bought land at Washdyke and farmed 340 acres for some years.  In 1881 he sold his interest in the Washdyke property, and bought his farm of 400 acres at the Levels, where he carries on mixed farming.  Mr. Stevenson was for twelve years a member of the Washdyke school committee.  He has long been associated with the South Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Association, having been on the committee for over twenty years.  Mr. Stevenson was married, in 1869, to Miss Leonard, of Galway, Ireland and has four sons and two daughters.

Timaru Herald 6th Sept 1919 The Late Wm Stevenson
There passed away recently another of the fast disappearing band of pioneers, in the person of the late William Stevenson, 'Carswell', Levels. Born in Renfrewshire, Scotland, in 1842, he was brought up to farming. While a youth, he sailed for New Zealand by the Sir William Eyre, arriving at the Bluff in 1863, under engagement to the New Zealand Land Company. After working four years on the Morton Mains Station, he was removed to the Totara Station, Oamaru, where he was overseer for seven years. When the Levels Station became available for cropping he came with a number of others from Oamaru, and cropped there for some years, and later bought land at Washdyke. Selling his interest there in 1899 he bought again at the Levels, where he carried on mixed farming until his death. While residing at Washdyke the late Mr Stevenson was a member of the School Committee for twelve years, and for over twenty years he was on the committee of the Timaru A and P Association. He was well known as a judge in the show ring, and at one time was a breeder and exhibitor of Ayrshires and draught horses. The late Wm Stevenson was predeceased by his wife about twenty years, and is survived by a family of two daughters and three sons, one of whom is a well known farmer at Albury.

Age at Death 78
Date of Interment 22/8/1919
Cemetery Timaru Cemetery
Section GENERAL Block G  Plot 335
Age at Death 66
Date of Interment 31/5/1935
Cemetery Timaru Cemetery
Section GENERAL Block G Plot 335
Age at Death 60 Years
Date of Interment 1/11/1902
Cemetery Timaru Cemetery
Section GENERAL Block G Plot 336

Mr. W. FitzgeraldFITZGERALD, WILLIAM, Farmer, Derry Farm, Levels. Mr. Fitzgerald was born in County Cork, Ireland, and came to New Zealand by the ship "Charger," landing in Lyttelton in 1862.  After being two years in Christchurch, a like period on the West Coast, he removed to Temuka district in 1868, where he bought a farm of 300 acres, to which he has devoted his whole attention, and has brought it from its native wildness to a state of cultivation.  He was married in 1883, and has seven children. 

SULLIVAN, JAMES, Farmer, "Guirteen," Levels.  Mr. Sullivan was born on the borders of Kings County, Ireland, in July, 1836.  He was brought up as a carpenter and mechanic, and spent two years at the Cape of Good Hope before coming to Lyttelton in 1862.  After a short gold mining experience at the Shotover, in Otago, he settled in the Timaru district, where he resided ever since. Mr. Sullivan began to farm 800 acres of land in the Levels Valley.  The property he increased to 1650 acres, but it was sold to the Government for close settlement in 1900.  For twenty-five years he was farming 2100 acres, at Kakahu.  But in 1901 the Government acquired this also at �4 per acre. [The Crown paid James Sullivan �8,992, for the 'Kakahu Estate', 2,248 acres, 13 miles N.W. of Temuka. The settlement was named Rapuwai and divided into five farms. Source: Gillespie's South Canterbury A record of Settlement] Mr Sullivan then took up his present property of 42 acres, in the Levels district upon which he erected a fine brick residence.  He also owns 500 acres in the Levels and Pleasant Point district as a sheep farmer Mr. Sullivan has gone in mostly for the English Leicester and Lincoln breeds.  He was for seven years a member of the Timaru Harbour Board, but retired from the position in 1899; he was also a member of the Levels Road board for many years before the establishment of the County Council.  Mr. Sullivan was married in 1871, to Miss Alexandria of King's County, Ireland, and has had four daughters and two sons. One son has died. Ferrier photo of Mr. J. Sullivan. 

RHODES George 1816-1864. His wife: Elizabeth. Sons: Arthur Edward (born 1859 at Levels) and Robert Heaton Rhodes. George 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. The bark hut erected some time before, still stands and has been dedicated by a later owner of the property, to the Historical Society. The Rhodes built the first house in Timaru and the first woolshed. A mob of cattle arrived in the Levels in 1853. George was interested in sport and was a steward at the first South Canterbury Race meeting held at Orari in 1859. Robert, the eldest son of George Rhodes bought Blue Cliffs Station in 1879. George Hampton Rhodes, the third son settled at Claremont. Reference: South Canterbury's Early Settlers and Immigrants.

The Star, Christchurch Thursday 4 June 1891 page 2 Marriage
RHODES - CLARK - on May 20th at St. Mary's Bulla, Victoria, by Rev. James Glover, assisted by Rev. Rodda, R. Heaton, oldest son of the late Robert Heaton Rhodes, of Elmwood, Christchurch, to Jessie Cooper, youngest daughter of the late Walter Clark, of Glenara, Victoria.

South Canterbury NZGenWeb