The Church of the Holy Innocents

The Church of the Holy Innocents was built in 1864.  Built to last. Photo taken 2nd April 1994 after attending a wedding there.

Mount Peel Station, South Canterbury, NZ reopened.

The distant roar of the river is the one element of the landscape that never changes. Some of the stone used for the church was sourced from the nearby Rangitata River.

U of Canterbury - enter the digital library and search for Acland to see 200+ painting, sketches and photographs from the Acland papers including a beautiful water painting by Leonard Stowe

The Church of the Holy Innocents is registered as category 2. Historic place of historical or cultural heritage significance or value.

The late Hon. J. B. A. Acland, ex M.L.C., arrived in Canterbury in 1855 by the ship Royal Stuart, and in the following year in conjunction with the late Mr C. C. Tripp, took up 250,000 acres of pastoral lands, including Mounts Peel, Possession and Somers, and the Orari Gorge stations. He was called to the Legislative Council in 1865, and resigned in June, 1899. He was chairman of the Mount Peel Road Board since its inception in 1870, and from 1873 to 1873, was a member of the Board of Governors of Canterbury College.  John Barton Arundel Acland of Mt Peel Station married Emily Weddell Harper on 17 January 1860 at Bishopscourt. She the eldest daughter of Rt. Rev. Henry John Chitty Harper and Emily Wooldridge. She died on 23 July 1905.  Emily's her sister Sarah Shepherd Harper married Charles Percy Cox at the same ceremony.

The Church of the Holy Innocents at Mount Peel Station was a gift to the community by John Barton Arundel Acland (1823-1904) and consecrated by his father-in-law, Bishop Henry John Chitty Harper, 30 May 1869. The church is named in remembrance of three infant children who died between 1864 and 1869 and are buried in the churchyard cemetery, among them Barton Dyke Acland eldest son of J. Barton Acland d. 7 Mar 1863 at Mt Peel and Emily Dyke Acland,  2nd dau. of J.B.A. Acland, d. 27 Oct 1864 aged 7 months.  Both Acland and his partner Charles G. Tripp (1820-97) were devout churchmen. They were one of the first runholders in South Canterbury and took up Mt Peel Station in 1855. Tripp later took up the Orari Gorge Station. Bishop Harper conducted services at their homesteads in 1857 and 1858 when he made pastoral tours on horseback accompanied by his son Henry and was escorted by Tripp across the treeless Canterbury plain and the Rangitata River. William Brassington, stonemason, was the chief builder and the builders used greywacke boulders (grey stone) from the Rangitata River bed and limestone brought cross country in bullock drays from Mount Somers and shaped the rocks by hand. The interior wood is native, pit-sawn at Mt Peel and the alter rails are of knotted totara and black pine with six beautiful memorial windows including one 'The Light of the World / The Good Shepherd' in memory of Henry Dyke Acland (1867-1942) s/o J.B.A. Acland donated by members of the New Zealand Sheepowner's Federation. 

Cross stolen, Feb. 2021

Lyttelton Times, 18 January 1860, Page 4 MARRIED.
On Tuesday, January 17, at St. Michael's Church Christchurch, Canterbury, N. Z., by the Right Rev the Lord Bishop of Christchurch, father of the bride, John Barton Arundel Acland, Esq., Barrister-at- Law, sixth son of Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, Bart., of Fillerton, Devon, to Emily Weddell Harper, eldest daughter of the Bishop of Christchurch.
    Also, Charles Percy Cox, Esq., of The Springs, Canterbury, N. Z., fifth son of the late Captain Cox, of the First Life Guards, and of Sandford Park, Oxfordshire, to Sarah Shephard Harper, fifth daughter of the Bishop of Christchurch.

Evening Post, 19 May 1904, Page 6
The Hon. J. B. A. Acland, ex-M.L.C, died here yesterday, aged 81 years. He arrived in Canterbury in 1854 by the ship Royal Stuart, and in the following year, in conjunction with the late Mr. C. J. Tripp (father of Mr. L. Tripp, of Wellington), took up 250,000 acres of pastoral lands, including Mount Peel, Possession, and Somers, and the Orari Gorge stations. He was called to the Legislative Council in 1865, and resigned in June, 1899. He was Chairman of the Mount Peel Road Board since its inception in 1870, and from 1873 to 1878 was a member of the Board of Governors of Canterbury College. He was married in 1860 to Miss Harper, eldest daughter of the late Bishop Harper.  

Timaru Herald, 30 September 1871, Page 2
Death of Sir Thomas Acland, Bart. The venerable Baronet of Killerton, father of J. B. Acland, Esq of Mount Peel, died in July last at the ripe age of 84. A Devonshire paper says "On the Friday he took his usual carriage airing, and with his usual thoughtful kindliness sent in to Exter to the Judges and the Dean what may be called his Assize-presents of vension. On Saturday morning he appeared to be in his usual health but whilst he was dressing he was seized with a fainting fit, and so died, suddenly and painlessly. His medical advisers expected that death would thus overtake him, and of this his family have been for some time aware.

The Light of the World / The Good Shepherd. In memory of Henry Dyke Ackland 1867 - 1942. Given by the N.Z. Sheepowners' Federation in grateful recognition of a lifetime of fathful service to sheep farmers throughout N.Z. dedicated 16 Jan. 1944.
The Light of the World / The Good Shepherd.      

 Blessed are they that we have not seen yet have believed.
Christ and the Disbelief of St. Thomas the Apostle
The Mitton window, installed in 1889 in the Church of the Holy Innocents, was in memory of Michael Mitton, the manager of Peel Station for 15 years. 

The Light of the World: In commemoration of Henry D. Acland (1867-1942). He was a barrister and president of the New Zealand  Sheepowners' Federation. The window was unveiled on Sunday 16 January 1944.  The design is based on a painting by William Holman Hunt at the Keble College Chapel, Oxford. Executed in Dunedin by Robert Fraser. The two photographs of the stained glass windows were taken in January 2006 by Michael Sheate a very bright afternoon at Mt Peel, there had just been a wedding in the church.

Faith and Charity is a fine window designed and executed by Karl Parsons (1884-1934) of Lowndes and Drury, of London. The window was dedicated 6 May 1920 commemorating Mary Emily Dyke Lysaght. She died in January 1916. Her husband, Frederick Villebois Lysaght was the donor. He died on 26 May 1937.

The Mary Grace Caroline Lysaght window.
Faith and Charity / The Christ-Child Seated on a Rainbow
The Mary Grace Caroline Lysaght window.
Cartis is Latin for charity.

Timaru Herald Thursday 12 May 1887 Marriage
LYSAGHT - ACLAND - On the 10th May, at the Holy Innocents Church, Mount Peel, by the Most Rev. the Primate, grandfather of the bride, assisted by Archdeacon Harper and Rev. J. Preston, Frederick Villebois Lysaght [born in 1861], eldest son of James R. Lysaght, of Mokoia, Hawera, to Mary Emily Dyke [born on 31 May 1865 in Holnicote, Canterbury, NZ], second daughter of the Hon. J. Barton H. Acland, of Holnicote, Mount Peel.

The Lysaght Family
Mary Grace Caroline Lysaght 1850?-1936, artist. Painted a beautiful watercolour of Mount Four Peaks from Albury [188-]. Eldest child of James Richard and Frances Charlotte (nee Gardiner) Lysaght (1828-15 Sept. 1907 Mokoia). Born at Adbury, Hants.  Left England with parents and nine brothers and sisters 1873, on the "Crusader", arriving Lyttelton, 1874.  Father bought 500 acres of farm land and leased another 2000 acres at Mokaia, near Hawera, South Taranaki, in 1875, and farmed it till death in 1900. Francis was buried at the Hawera cemetery. As a memorial to her husband James, who had died in 1899, Frances had St James' Anglican Church at Mokoia built in 1905. This church was demolished in 1992, and much of the material and stained glass windows, are now incorporated in the extension of St Mary's Anglican Church, Hawera, creating a large foyer and offices. Annie Caroline Lysaght of Hawera made a camping trip to Mount Cook in 1877. Annie later married Thomas Henry Wigley.

The quaint church with heavy wooden door and its magnificent stained glass windows set against greywacke and limestone looks northeast towards the river terraces. From its site under Mt Peel, the Church of the Holy Innocents has witnessed floods, droughts and heavy snows. The churchyard that surrounds it speaks of lives lived to the fullest of the pioneering Acland family, their employees and local people, of tragedy, sickness, and a bond formed in this peaceful place where Rangitata river, foothills and Canterbury plains converge. The large exotic trees frame the church, forming a boundary for the pioneer cemetery and a holly hedge arches over the entrance to the church. In early December lilies, Cardiocrinum Giganteum, under the trees on the driveway are in bloom. Thousands of giant Himalayan lilies grow among old oak and beech trees between the homestead and the Church. It is believed the lilies spread naturally after a conservatory blew down in the 1930s. The Mt Peel gardens cover 8ha.

Timaru Herald May 29, 1997
Geraldine police are still investigating the theft of priceless brass candlesticks from the Holy Innocents Church at Mt Peel Station last month. The items were taken from the church, which is on the Acland family property, sometime between April 14 and 21. Senior constable Jim Hopa, of the Geraldine police, said yesterday the police felt for the Acland family. "We feel for the parishioners and Mr and Mrs Acland. The items have sentimental value and are irreplaceable. Unfortunately we have had a negative response in the search for the items," Mr Hopa said. He was now preparing the file to be circulated in the Temuka police station  ... 

This James Powell & Sons, London window donated by the Acland family in memory of Emily and J.B.A. Acland and dedicated in 1908 by Archdeacon Henry Harper, brother to Emily Acland. This beautiful three light window was destroyed in the 4th Sept. 2010, Darfield earthquake.
Inside the Mount Peel Station Church. Note the lamp. The phrase around the arch reads "Holy, holy, holy, Lord Almighty which was, and is, to come, Alleluia".
INRI is an acronym of the Latin inscription IESVS NAZARENVS REX IVD ORVM,
 which translates to English as "Jesus the Nazarene (Galilean), King of the Jews (Judeans)".
The Crucified Christ Mounted by St. Mary BV, St Mary Magdalene and St John the Evangelist. Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift. The initials SPQR is an from a Latin phrase, Senatus Populusque Romanus ("The Senate and Roman People"). The window on the right is a partial view of the restored window in April 2013.

A.C. Barker photo, Mt. Peel Church 1878.

Feb. 2013- repaired fundraising

May 2011- GS
Unfortunately, many windows have been lost, like the James Powell window from Holy Innocent Mt Peel, Provincial Chambers, Basilica, St Mary's Merivale, the Cathedral in the square, St Barnabas Fendalton, St Peter's church square, St Lukes in the city, Durham, St John's, St. Mary's and many other churches, St Cuthbert's Governers Bay, Holy Trinity Avonside, Holy Trinity Lyttelton, and damaged buildings such as All Saints Sumner and the list goes on. It truly is hard to believe as so many have been totally destroyed. It is heartbreaking to see so much devastation to our heritage glass, but all is not lost and we are trying to save what we can.

Every splinter counts in stained-glass rescue
Careful sifting for glass splinters among the stone and rubble of the earthquake-damaged Church of the Holy Innocents helped save its 2.7-metre-high stained glass window. Soon after the September earthquake Mt Peel residents John and Rosemary Acland collected every shard of glass of the century-old window, their work meaning it is now halfway to being repaired. "It was smashed to smithereens, it was a diabolical mess," Graham Stewart, of Stewart Stained Glass, said of the pieces that arrived at his North Canterbury studio. He described the damage as the shattered-windscreen effect. The saving grace was the effort Mr and Mrs Acland had gone to in salvaging every fragment of broken glass from the 10 panes. "They had very carefully filtered the glass from the stone that had fallen into the church. It was very good of them to show such foresight," Mr Stewart said, explaining that the shards were useful for colour matching. The Mt Peel window was the most severely damaged in Canterbury in the September earthquake, but the conservationist knew it could be saved. However, despite the Aclands' efforts, about a third of the glass was still missing. And much of what they had found was damaged. The window was in by far the worst condition that Mr Stewart had been presented with, but he did have another piece of luck  a series of photos taken of it more than 20 years ago. With the aid of computer technology, the photos have been blown up to actual size, and have been used as a pattern for the many missing and broken pieces. The window was the worst hit in the September quake "but now it is one of zillions [of quake-damaged windows]. "All we have been doing all year is trying to salvage windows. "We have just been quietly working away at it [the Mt Peel window]. "It is the feel-good factor," Mr Stewart said, adding it was an aspect of their work that was providing some joy, when staff were having to deal with so much destruction. While hundreds of hours of work have already been put into the restoration project, Mr Stewart estimates it could take another six months for the window to be completed. As to the cost of the project? "I don't want to scare you," was his response. Ask him whether the completed window will be a restoration job or a replica and Mr Stewart uses the term "conservation" instead. Some of the broken pieces of glass will be used and some of the cracks will be visible, a reminder of the earthquake. Glass that does not end up going back in the window will not be wasted  it will be reused in the reinstated church in some way. Mr Stewart said the window and the church were part of Canterbury's heritage  "there is nothing left in Christchurch". "It is a very important little church." - The Timaru Herald  24/09/2011 Rhonda Markby. Another photo.

Church window smashed
The church was damaged in the September 2010 earthquake and Graham Stewart along with Rosemary Acland, carried broken glass out in sheets and piled the "dust-like" pieces into bags before the 18-month job of restoring the windows started. The $60,000 restoration of the stained glass windows was completed and displayed in the Canterbury Museum's Quake City exhibition in April 2013. The $680,000 to restore the church has been found. As well as the insurance payout, benefactors have promised a further $380,000 for the project. Code.

March to December 2016. $900,000 budget, more needed. Scaffolding up. Contractors discovered the inside of the walls were filled with debris left over from the original construction of the stone church. The next unexpected find was that the east wall to the ridge line had nothing between the walls. "Engineers believe it is the only church built this way in New Zealand. It's a unique historical building."

Taken by Steve Taylor, 2014. CHCH.
The restored window in the Quake City Exhibition, 2013.

The Listener Archive Sunday April 9 2007
Spectrum, National Radio, 12.09pm. Spectrum visits one country church that hasn't been converted into a holiday home, craft shop or cafe: the Church of the Holy Innocents at Mt Peel in South Canterbury. The church was a gift to the community by John Barton Arundel Acland and his descendants John and Rosemary Acland now care for it. Ngaio Marsh, a friend of the Aclands, thought it was so lovely that she asked to be buried there among Acland family members and the children after whom the church is named. The church is made of greywacke taken from the Rangitata River and limestone brought cross-country by bullock from Mt Somers. The altar rails are made from knotted totara and black pine and the church features a number of beautiful stained-glass windows.

Dame Ngaio Marsh, DBE, 1895-1982 funeral service was in Christchurch Cathedral. A single bunch of roses cut from her own garden were the only flowers she requested

From the Listener Archive: Features June 17-23 2006 Vol. 204 No 3449
Green Hills Remembered by Natasha Hay
A blissful return to the first high-country sheep station in Canterbury. The tiny Church of Holy Innocents, with its magnificent blue stained-glass windows set against the greywacke stone and limestone, was built to serve the station, although JBA's vision of establishing a settlement at Mt Peel didn't quite pan out. The lovely graveyard is a peaceful resting place for many connected with the station. Among family members and past workers lies crime writer Ngaio Marsh [headstone]. A governess to the family of surgeon Sir Hugh Acland, she remained close to the station. How would you murder a man in a lift, between the third and fourth floor, she once asked Sir Hugh at dinner. With a meat skewer through the eyeball to the brain - was his advice, which she used in one of her books to bump off a character. doodle

John's brother Simon, a vicar, leads the service outside the church. Kids play, dogs lollop among the gravestones and fantails flit about as we sing the hymns a cappella. It's a scene of such serenity that even this non-believer cannot remain unmoved. Afterwards the children mark 150 years by planting a sequoia (like the one by the homestead with the plaque that reads -born in Devon in 1856, planted at Mt Peel 1859). 

Today the Mt. Peel Station churchyard cemetery is bathe in shade from the century old exotic trees in the churchyard.
The graves are all over the place! There are many tombstones, behind the church and under the trees.

Burials at Mt. Peel. The Acland family and an incomplete listing. There is a variety of headstones from wooden crosses, boulders with brass plaques and polished granite make up the 20th century headstones. The older 19th century headstones are usually white marble, four with sculptured crosses. Gravestones numbers are in order that photos were taken in no other significance. Transcribed from digital photographs taken in November 2009 and February 2010. Approximately 123 burials named. Another site.


2. Elizabeth S. Hawdon, 1851 - 1921, the daughter of Dr. Alfred Charles Barker and her headstone reads
"She was the first born child of Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand." 

3. Arthur J. Hawdon

Photos of the Hawdon headstones courtesy of Michael Sheate taken 2005.

[Dr Alfred Barker, his pregnant wife Emma and two children (one was Samuel Delabere Barker 1848 -1901) came out to Canterbury on the Charlotte Jane as the ship's surgeon in 1850. Alfred studied medicine at Kings College, London and practised in Bath and Rugby. Emma wrote a shipboard diary. She died in 1858 after giving birth to their eighth child, in thirteen years, William Edward Barker b. 26 Aug. 1858. Their only daughter married Arthur Hawdon. Sarah was "A beautiful women who wrote for the newspapers under the pseudonym 'Tent-born'. "W.E. took up Waikonini, near Peel Forest and was an orchardists and later W.E.'s son, Wm Percy D'Ewes Barker, took up Rocky Ridges. W.E.'s daughter Ruth was born in 1913 and married Cotty Burdon and they had at least three sons - one, Philip Burdon at 13 attended Waihi Preparatory School and on to Christ College.] [Sarah wrote a book : Hawdon, Sarah Elizabeth. New Zealanders and the Boer War, or, Soldiers from the Land of the Moa. 287 pages, Christchurch: Gordon and Gotch, 1902 wrote it under the pseudonym 'by a New Zealander', because she was a woman. Her son, a proud volunteer for the Boer War.

4. Man Unknown, drowned in the Rangitata, 1893 marked by a greywacke boulder. Before the unknown man, the Rangitata River had already claimed the lives of other young adventurers. In 1857, young Englishman Adam Clark was on his way to Mt Peel. Anybody wanting to cross the river was supposed to light a fire on the bank and wait for help to arrive. Clark instead forded the cold, swift waters of the Rangitata and was swept away. His grave was marked by an iron cross on the riverbank below the station, but the cross washed away and was salvaged by John Acland.

Adam Taylor Clark drowned October 1857

5. Emily Dyke Acland 2nd dau. of J.B.A. Acland, d. 27 Oct 1864 was the first child to be buried there. 

6. 7. The death of Emily Acland was followed by two little Irvines

8. The stillborn son of Abner Clough, (1840-1910), a shepherd on the station who worked from the day the station was founded and for another twenty years. Abner, the son of a high-born Maori princess and an Englishman had a huge physical stature.  'Abner stood 6 ft. 4 in. and weighed some sixteen stone; his black hair and beard, swarthy complexion, beetling eyebrows, erect bearing giving him a leonine and commanding appearance.'  Edward Chudleigh wrote about Abner and his leadership during a snowstorm: 'Abner does not usually walk but goes at a slow jog; none has ever been able to keep up with him in N.Z. yet.' Acland marvelled at his crossing and recrossing of the Rangitata River, wading in water which reached up to his chin. 'This comes of his Maori blood and few white men would attempt it.' Abner's Spur at Mount Peel derives its name from Abner Clough.

Abner Clough
One month

Edward Chudleigh's diary records Abner's wedding.
20th. Mr Brown comes today and gives evening service and marries Abner tomorrow. The wedding is to be at the surveyors hut in the bush four miles from here. Abner's father came to see his son married on Monday. On 21 September 1863, at Mount Peel, Abner Clough married Ellen Regan from County Limerick, Ireland. They had had at least seven children, and possibly two more. In 1877 Clough and his family joined Chudleigh on the Chatham Islands.

Samuel Butler: a biography By Peter Raby
Butler did not have much contact with Maoris, since there were so few in his part of Canterbury. One he did know was Abner Clough, a half-caste Maori who worked at Mount Peel' "Abner is the son of a Maori Princess and is, as Butler says, a prince by nature and if he had a good education would have been a polished gentlemen."

9. Chudleigh and his wife are buried in the Mt Peel churchyard. Edward Chudleigh, a cadet on Mt Peel wrote about the death of his godchild in his diary. "At eight, Mr and Mrs Acland, nurse and myself were standing all around her. She gave a little sigh, her chin contracted two or three times and she fell asleep to wake no more. She was by far the best-looking and finest of the children and up until the cutting of the back teeth had never ailed a moment."
CHUDLEIGH, Edward Reginald, 1841-1920
Born in Cornwall, Chudleigh arrived in New Zealand in 1861 working initially on Springs Station (now Springton township) and later driving stock to the Otago and West Coast goldfields. In 1861 and worked at both Mount Peel and Springs Stations. In the late 1860s he farmed land at Wharekauri in the Chatham Islands.


Son of Alexander Finlayson
(Scottish shepherd at Mt Peel)
And his wife Jane
Died 18 January 1898
Aged 10 Years
Result of an accident

Alexander and Jane Finlayson  were early station workers. In the graveyard lies their 10-year-old son, Peter. Mrs Finlayson hailed from Glasgow where she lived near a shipyard. She saw a ship being built and asked where it was going. "To New Zealand" came the reply, to which she said, "I'll be on that ship". When she arrived in New Zealand she worked for the Deans family in Christchurch. One evening she heard somebody playing the bagpipes and remarked "I'm going to marry that man". That man was Alexander Finlayson. The family settled at Mt Peel where Mr Finlayson became a shepherd. One day in 1898 she saw the station children in the distance coming over the hill. "One of the children is dead," she said. As they got closer it became apparent that they were carrying her son, who while playing had received a blow to the head.

Timaru Herald, 20 January 1898, Page 3 SAD AFFAIR AT PEEL FOREST.
GERALDINE, January 19. At Peel Forest on Tuesday Robert Finlayson, aged 13, killed his brother Peter, aged 11, in a quarrel or friendly scuffle by throwing a poker at him, which struck the lad behind the ear, causing death within an hour. An inquest will be held to-night before Major W. M. Moore, J.P.

12. Agnes Dyke Acland (daughter of John and Emily Acland)
13. Barton Dyke Acland eldest son of J. Barton Acland d. 7 Mar 1863

3988 Hugh John Dyke Acland 
Born Christchurch
17 January 1904
Died Mt. Peel
26 January 1981

"How youngly he began to serve his
country, how long continued"
"How youngly he began
 to serve his county,
How long continued."
Eldest son of Hugh Thomas Dyke Acland and Evelyn Mary Ovans. Grandson of John Barton Arundel Acland.

15 & 16. James Rae b. 1846, d. 17 Nov. 1915
In loving memory James Rae the beloved husband of Eliza Rae died Nov. 17 1915. Aged 69 years.
also Gladys Lucy Rae. Died Oct. 30th 1904. Aged 6� years
17. Also his wife Eliza Rae died Sept. 11th 1925
18 7 18a. In loving memory of Donald Alfred Rae killed in action at Gallipoli 28 August 1915 also William John Rae killed in action at Flanders 27 May 1917
19. John Rae  b. 1851, d. 1940

[Timaru Herald September 1875
RAE - GRIFFIN - On September 8, at St Mary's Church, Geraldine, by the Rev. James Preston, James Rae, third son of Linson Rae, of Woodland, Rangitata, to Eliza Griffin, only daughter of Martin Griffin, Pleasant View, Rangitata.]
The Rae's headstones are near the big redwood tree in the bush.

The Redwood.

20. J.B.A. Acland died in Christchurch on 18 May 1904, and was buried in the Mt. Peel churchyard.

21. Elizabeth Earnshaw Ritchie, died aged 42, in 1923, plot 51
22. Katherine, died aged 45, in 1928, plot 58.

23. Frederick Villebois Lysaght b. 24 Dec 1856 in Mokoia, Hawera. D. 26 May 1937. Buried on 29 May 1937 at Mt Peel, married Mary Emily Dyke Acland on 10 May 1887.

24. Mary Emily Dyke Acland b. 31 May 1865 in Holnicote. D. Jan. 1916 in Geraldine. Buried on 13 Jan 1916 at Mt Peel. married Frederick Villebois Lysaght on 10 May 1887.

In loving memory of
Mary Emily Dyke LYSAGHT
Born May 1865
Died January 1916
"Now abideth Faith Hope and ?"

25. Archibald Claude Douglas Spencer b. 1861. d. 08 Nov 1929 in Holnicote. Buried on 10 Nov 1929 at Mt Peel, married Harriet Dyke Acland on 30 Dec 1908 in New Zealand.

New Zealand Herald, 28 September 1908, Page 8
The following announcement appears in the Morning Post: "A marriage is arranged, to take place in January, between Major Archibald C. D. Spencer, late Royal Irish Rifles, youngest son of the late Henry Spencer, D.L., J.P., of Woodlands, Hants, and Miss Harriett Dyke Acland, third daughter of the late Hon. John Barton Acland. of Holnicote, Mount Peel, Canterbury, New Zealand."

26. Harriet Dyke Acland b. 21 Jun 1866 in Holnicote. D. 1948. Buried at Mt Peel, married Archibald Claude Douglas Spencer on 30 Dec 1908

27. In Memory of
Robina Henry Smith
the beloved wife of William Smith.
Died 4 Aug 1898, aged 50 years.

"My darling from me is gone.
A voice I loved is stilled
A place is vacant in my house
Which never can be filled
God in wisdom has re-called
My Darling, my love he has taken
And though the body lingers here
The soul is safe in Heaven."

Robina Henray married William Smith in 1874

28. This cross was erected in memory of Thomas Pickett who for forty years worked faithfully and well on the Mount Peel Station. Born at Carrick-On-Suir, Ireland. Died Christchurch February 13 1914.

29 & 30 4010
Paul Acland THOMSON
15-1-1901  29-3-1976
Son of Oliver and Lucy THOMSON
Elizabeth Hilda THOMSON
19-1-1906  19-11-1995
Wife of Paul THOMSON

31 James Ormond Wallace
21.12.1974 - 8.9.2003
Son of James and Eve Wallace, nee Acland
Brother of Antonia and Henrietta
Dearly loved

Emigrants from Estonia
These three persons, below, probably considered themselves as Russians in terms of identity and culture, and that is why I prefer to describe them now as emigrants from Estonia rather than Estonians wrote Graham Avery, March 2011.

32 & 33. Leonore Butkevitsch
Born Tallinn Estonia
9 October 1893
Died Christchurch N.Z.
2 May 1984
Loved sister of Val Muling

34 Anita Muling
Born Riga Imperial Russia 10.1.1903
Died Christchurch New Zealand 20.9.1990

35Val Muling 1896-1961

Val Muling headstone- Mt Peel, Canterbury, NZ, 2010

Anita Muling headstone- Mt Peel, Canterbury, NZ

The five headstones - Mt Peel, Canterbury, NZ
The front five headstones.
Leonore's to the left, Anita in the middle, Val's to the right with Sylvia's Fox behind and slightly to the right of Anita's with Ngaio Marsh to the left of Sylvia

Ngaio Marsh "introduced the Mulings to a genuine NZ sheep station, Mount Peel". The Mulings were expatriate Russians who moved to Christchurch. Vladimir (Val) became a particularly close friend and one to whom she could confide. In late 1960, while Ngaio was in England, Val died following a severe stroke. The Acland family, generously offered a place for Val in the graveyard of the family chapel Church of the Holy Innocents, on the estate. 

36 & 37 In loving memory
George Hamilton Dennistoun
23-9-1884 - 14-6-1977

Beatrix Dennistoun
Daughter of F.H. Pyne
9-6-1893 - 13-1-1979

38 Sylvia Sibbald FOX
5-12-1898 - 6-10-1992

39 Edith Ngaio Marsh
1895 - 1892
[The ashes of Dame Ngaio Marsh on February 18, 1982][A small plain granite headstone]

40 Ethel Mews 1900- 1982
Widow of S.H. Mews of Subika, Kenya and loved friend of Kit Acland. She requested her ashes to sent to Mt Peel from England.
"Other headstones cause one to wonder what motivated the deceased to request burial so far from their place of death. This extract from "That Mountain Must Come Down" is courtesy of Neville Forsythe.

41 Mary Maxwell Acland
Born Jersey 1891
Died London 1990
The wife of
Theodore William Gull Acland

42 3977 In loving memory of Alexander Edgar Allan
loved husband  father and "Pop"
4-9-1912   16-9-1986
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills
Psalm 121

In loving memory
Mabel Joyce ALLAN
(nee BEAVEN)
8 - 12 - 1916  21 - 8 - 2007
Loving wife of Edgar Loved by all
May the sun shine warm upon your face

A.E. Allan
82248  2nd NZEF  DVR
N.Z. Army Service Corps
age 74 yrs

43 & 44 In loving memory of
Alexander Allan
Died Aug. 9th 1950 aged 63
also his beloved wife
Jane Elizabeth
Died March 21st 1875 Aged 84

45 Emma Fay Hawdon
only daughter of Arthur and Elizabeth Hawdon
8 June 1873?
Departed this life 7????

46 2nd N.Z.E.F.
37759   PTE
A.W. Connelly
N.Z. Infantry
Died 30.10.1966 aged 45 years

47 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills
Psm 121
In memory of
John Chalmers Kelland
a loving husband & father
9th Sept. 1978 - aged 37
Owned 'Stewpoint" STN, 1964-1973

48 & 49 1st N.Z.E.F.
6/2300 SGT
L.A. Timpson
Canterbury Regt.
Died 21-7-1961 aged 66 years.

Annie Ellen Timpson
1907 - 1983
Rest in Peace

50 &51
L.L. Bell
7799 2nd NZEF  W.O. II
N.Z. Medical Corps
Died 19.10.1986  aged 77 yrs

Also his loved wife
Kathleen Mary Bell
nee Stevenson
25.7.1994  Aged 77 years

52 & 53
In loving memory Margaret Jean
Brown (nee Bell)
1907 - 1977

James Stewart Brown
1904 - 1977

54 55 & 56 3973
In loving memory of
George Neil Langford
1860 - 1943
[had worked at the station was buried in the churchyard]

In loving memory of
Alfred George LANGFORD
1907 - 1984

In loving memory of
Eric Charles LANGFORD
1910 - 1985

In loving memory of
1881 1963

57 In Memory of
Janet Catherine
Born 8th July 1885 Died 11th December 1969
Devoted 46 years of her life to the
Hugh Acland Family

59 & 60
Colin Dyke Acland
16-6-1906  29.10.1999
Natal Mounted Rifles 1939 - 45

Sybil Marjorie Acland
9.7.1909   4.12.2000 

61 & 62 To the glory of god in loving memory of
Hugh Thomas Dyke Acland
Born September 1874, Died April 1956

and of his wife
Evelyn Mary Acland
Born at Eastsheen, England
October 1872  Died April 1964

63 Michael Dyke Acland
26.3.1911  10.1.1994
Reg. No. 509 2 N.Z.E.F. WWII

64 968 In memory of
the beloved wife of
W.E. Barker
who entered into rest
19th Feb. 1884
aged 28
Rev. XLX.9

Timaru Herald Jan. 31st, 1884
Birth: BARKER. On the 9th January, at Waikonini. Peel Forest, the wife of W.E. Barker, of a son.
Death: BARKER. On the 19th January, at Waikonini, Peel Forest, Gertrude Ellen, the beloved wife of W.E. Barker, aged 28 years.

65 In memory of
The beloved son
of W.E. & L.M. Barker
who entered into Heaven
19 Sep. 1895, aged 6� years.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."

66 In loving memory of Arthur James Delaberr, eldest son of
James P. & Ellen M. Pritchett
of Darlington, England
who died August 16th 1882
aged 24 

[Timaru Herald, 27th Sept. 1882
PRITCHETT. On the 16th August, at Waikoinui, Peel Forest (the residence of W.E. Barker), Arthur James Dolabere, eldest son of James Pigot Pritchett, of Darlington, England.] His sister was Gertrude Ellen Pritchett had married William E. Barker 26 Aug. 1880. They also had a brother the Rev. Percy Hugh Pritchett b. 18 Sept. 1860 at Darlington who was the Curate at Rangiora in 1889 and at Hokitika 1892 and  Vicar of Mount Somers, Canterbury in 1908. See the Anglican Blain Biographical Directory for addition info. After Gertie dies 19th Feb. 1884 Wm E. Barker married Gertie's sister Lucy Pritchett at Christchurch three years later. She was born 12 Oct. 1863. Another sister was Ellen D'Ewes Pritchett b. 7 June 1865. Their parents were James Pigott Pritchett and Ellen Mary nee D'Ewes of Knaresborough.
Wednesday 6 July 1887 Marriage
BARKER - PRITCHETT - On Monday, July 4th, at St John's Church, Christchurch, by the Rev. N.C.M. Watson, William Edward, youngest son of the late A.C. Barker, surgeon, to Lucy Mary, third daughter of J.P. Pritchett, Esq., Architect, Darlington, England.]

67 Olive Mary Barker
1890 - 1980
Last surviving Grandaughter
of Dr. A.C. Barker

68 Alan Cedric D'Ewes
Born at Waikonini, Peel Forest
March 30 1903
Died in Victoria, British Colombia
November 23, 1996
Youngest child of
William Edward and
Lucy Mary Barker
last surviving Grandchild of Dr. A.C. Barker

Warm summer sun
Shine quietly here;
Warm northern wind
Blow softly here;
Green sod above
Lie light, lie Light
Good night, Dear heart,
Good night, Good night!

69 Elva Gertrude
20-11-1924   2-11-1927
Loved infant daughter of
ivy & Walter Foster, Arundel
(Grand daughter of David Pringle
manager, Mt. Peel Station 1919 -1931)

70 In loving memory of
William James Cain?
Born Dec 30 1854
Died Dec 28th 19_2?

71 In loving memory of
Phillip John Lindroos
Died tragically 31-1-99 Aged 49 years
"Adventure is not in the guide book and beauty is not on the map seek and ye shall find"

72 & 73 942
Francis Archibald Glasson
Adored father of Beth and Hannah
loving partner to Darryl
10-10-48  27-06-04
Forever, Peace

74 Darryl John Nolan
'We miss you & wish you were here'
Love always Gabriella & Josef
Family & Friends XXX
Forever with Frank

75 Ryan Kelvin Jopson
Whitestone Funeral Services

Young man dies in fall while hunting tahr alone
Wed, 3 Jun 2009 Otago Daily Times
Ryan Jopson. A young man, formerly of Otematata, who died while hunting on Mt Peel, had been a keen hunter most of his life.
Ryan Kelvin Jopson (18) died after apparently slipping on snow and tumbling down a 200m slope. He was found at 5.30pm on Monday near an area known as the Blue Slips, near Mt Peel, Senior Constable Mike Stephens, of Geraldine, said. Mr Jopson spent most of his life at Otematata, where his parents live, before studying at Telford. After graduating, he worked in the Telford area before joining Mt Peel Station as a single shepherd in January. Mt Peel Station owner John Acland said yesterday Mr Jopson was a very keen hunter, and had hunted at the station since he arrived. He also played in the forwards for the Geraldine Rugby Club. Last weekend, Mr Jopson stayed at the station to hunt tahr when most other staff had left for the holiday weekend.
Mr Jopson was a quiet student at Telford Rural Polytechnic, was a hard worker and loved the outdoors, Telford finance and administration manager said yesterday. Mr Jopson had attended Telford from July 2007 to May last year and gained his Telford certificate in agriculture and other papers which were available in the one-year course. "He was a good student who loved what he did." Sen Const Stephens said a co-worker noticed Mr Jopson had not returned from his hunting trip. Mr Jopson's motorbike was found at the base of a hill and the search for him involved two helicopters. Sen Const Stephens said it was "not horrendous" country and Mr Jopson had hunted in the area before and knew the terrain well. The death has been referred to the coroner.

76  931 Oskar Eigil Raymond
05-01-2004  24-12-2004

77 929 In loving memory of
Frank Gordon John Taylor
6-11-1924 - 20-12-1993
Rock from Lewis Pass

78  905
Frank LANE (Vicar)
1904 ̶ 1954
also his wife
1902 ‒ 1979

79 & 80 907
In Loving Memory
Who died 8th May1898
Aged 56 Years

Mary Hannah RITCHIE
Who died 10 Feb 1919
Aged 67 Years

81 911
Michael MITTON
Manager of Mt Peel Station
Died July 20, 1888,
Aged 47



82 912
In Loving Memory of
Ethel Olivia MAISTER
Who died Sept 2nd 1893
Aged 11 years

83 914
John Henry CAIN
Born 8th Nov 1867
Died 12th Aug 1957

84 915
In loving memory
Beloved wife of
John Henry CAIN
Born 30th July 1870
Died 5th Oct 1942

85 916
In loving memory of
Catherine Robina
Daughter of J & R CAIN
Died Feb 5th 1904 Aged 2 years

86 918
In loving memory of
Third son of J & R CAIN
Died March 22nd 1911
Aged 3 months

87 921
In loving memory of
Francis Findlay JOHNSTONE (Phil)
26-9-1879  19-7-1957
Shepherd on Mount Peel
Also his beloved wife
Mary Eliza JOHNSTONE (Nee RAE)
19-12-1876  30-5-1926

88 925
George Sutton MAISTER
Died 13 June 1930
Aged 74 years

89 926
Gilbert Sutton MAISTER
Died 31st May 1909
Aged 16 years

90 927
Rosamond Mary Herdman MAISTER
Died 9th Sept 1908
Aged 51 years

91 & 92 938
In loving memory of Frank CAIN
15 Feb 1905  11 Feb 1990
'Gone Fishing'

Also his beloved wife
Agnes Ellen (Nance)
5 March 1908 27 Nov 2002
'In the Garden'

93 944
In loving memory of our dear mother
Who passed away Oct 10th 1932
Aged 80 years
Erected by her loving children

94 945
In loving memory of
Joan McKinnon PARR
Died March 18th 1925
Aged 2 years & 2 weeks
And a little child shall lead them

95 946
In memory of
Son of Margaret & William
Aged 6 months
Peacefully Sleeping

96 948
In memory of
James PARR
Born Sept. 18th 1875
Died June 29th 1916
Who bore great suffering with
Wonderful patience and hope.
"He giveth his beloved sleep"
Blessed are the dead who die
In the �

97 949
Flora Isabel PARR
Born 30th April 1880
Died 15 Dec 1959

98 950
Archibald James PARR
Born Oct 3rd 1904
Died Sept. 12th 1961

99 953
In loving memory of
Elizabeth Marie DEANS
(nee HUTTON) of Peel Forest
9-5-1925 - 11-5-2004
Beloved wife of Austen for 57 years
Mother of seven boys
Breeder of Welsh mountain ponies,
Artist, & successful organic small farmer.
"Blest are the pure in heart"

100 958
Reg. No 14538 2nd N.Z.E.F
Loved husband, father and grandfather
27-10-15  16-5-86

101 962
In loving memory of
William Edward BARKER
Born 26th Aug 1858
Died 12th March 1935
Chip by chip
Chip by chip
The stone is diminished
Bit by bit
Bit by bit
The figure is finished
The carver who sculptured it
A crucifix imaged

Chip by chip
Chip by chip
Sin is diminished
Bit by bit
Bit by bit
Jesus life imaged
Even in us
May it fully be finished   

Press, 13 March 1935, Page 1
BARKER  On March 12th, at Waikonini, Peel Forest. William Edward, dearly loved husband of Lucy Mary Barker, and youngest son of the late Dr. Barker; aged 76 years. Interment at Mount Peel Cemetery on Thursday, March 14th at 2 p.m.

102 964
In loving memory of
Lucy Mary BARKER
Wife of William Edward BARKER
Born 12th Oct 1863
Died 6 Oct 1947
"I know that my redeemer liveth"

103 965
In loving memory of dear little Evelyn
The daughter of W E & L M BARKER
July 2nd 1901
Aged 5 years & 10 months
Their angels do always behold
The face of my father which is in Heaven
MATT XV111 10

104 967
Rhoda Elizabeth BARKER
Died June 21st 1964
Blessed are the pure in heart

105 969
Ruby Gwendoline BARKER
1893  1975
At Peace

106 970 Illegible

107 979
In loving memory of
Thomas St. Hill ACLAND
b. Somerset 1910 d. Christchurch 1996
And of his wife
Margaret Ellen ACLAND
b. Cumbrai 1916 d. Geraldine 2004

108 983
Joanna Enid ACLAND
Of Mount Somers Station
18 Feb 1955 ~ 29 March 2007
Loved wife of Mark
Loved mother of
David, Ben & Hamish

109 988
David Henry Lyndon MACFARLANE
Born 12th Sept 1930
Died 10th June 1952

110 3952
To the glory of God and in loving memory of
Samuel David DEANS
Aged 3� weeks

111 3954
In loving memory of
Clifton Hembrough CHAPLIN
27th September 1919 7th November 1993
"You are not alone but linked to everything around you"

112 3957
In loving remembrance
John Michael Stuart NIXON
1919 1979
& daughter Janie "Lady Jane"
1949 1989
Lift up your eyes to the hills

113 3960
In loving memory of
Annette May CAMPBELL
Devoted wife and mother
19  6  1986 ~ aged 35
Always dearly loved

114 3972
In memory of
Helen Clarissa IRVINE
Died November 19th 1866
10 months
Also Robert Ernest IRVINE
Died July 30th 1809
Aged 4 months

115 3986
18-7-1912 9-9-1953
And his wife
Elizabeth Evelyn Dyke
22-6-1913 12-8-1975
Age shall not weary them
Nor the years condemn

116 3989
In loving memory of
Archibald Claud Douglas SPENCER
1861  1929
Also his wife Harriet Dyke
1866  1948

117 3991
Lucy Alice Dyke
Wife of O. Scott THOMSON
Died 6th Aug 1903 AE TAT 34
And infant
And Oliver Scott THOMSON
Born 15th June 1856
Died 21 May 1928

118 3992
To the glory of God and in loving memory of
John Barton Arundel ACLAND
Born at Killerton Devon on 25 November 1826
Died 18 May 1904

3992 cont.
And of his wife
Emily Weddell ACLAND
Died 24 July 1905

119 3997
To the glory of God and in loving memory
Of Henry Dyke ACLAND
Born 21st September 1867
Died at Christchurch 12 December 1942
And of Elizabeth Grace ACLAND
Born 13 April 1876
Died at Christchurch 29 October 1942

120 3989
In loving memory of
Archibald Claud Douglas SPENCER
1861  1929
Also his wife Harriet Dyke
1866  1948

121 3999
In loving memory of
Phillipa Mabel ACLAND
1 June 1914  31 July 1999

122 4005
To the glory of God and in loving memory of
Adrienne Maud MACFARLANE
Born 13 December 1907
Died at Christchurch 25th Feb 1950

123 4011
Nancy Acland WEAVER
21-3-1899  3-5-1985
Daughter of Oliver and Lucy THOMSON
Wife of John Yardley WEAVER

There is a grave hidden down in the river bed, in some willows, it's marked by a old iron cross.


Timaru Herald October 1885 Marriages
EMPSON - ACLAND - On the 15th September, at the Holy Innocents' Church, Mount Peel, by the Most Rev. the primate, grandfather of the bride, assisted by the Rev. J. Preston and the Rev. Walter Harper, Walter Empson, eldest son of the late Rev. Arthur Empson, of Eydon, Northhamptonshire, to Agnes Dyke, eldest daughter of J. Barton A. Acland, of Holnicote, Mount Peel.

Wanganui Chronicle, 25 May 1909, Page 7
A very pretty wedding was celebrated on May 19th, at the Church of the Holy Innocents, Mount Peel, Canterbury, when Miss Judith Empson, only daughter of Mr and Mrs Empson, late of Wanganui, was married to Mr E. Gordon Williams, eldest son of Mr Allen Williams, of Te Aute., Hawke's Bay. The Ven. Archdeacon Harper, great uncle of the bride, officiated, assisted by the Rev Staples Hamilton, vicar of Geraldine. The church had been beautifully decorated and in spite of the grey and misty weather, the scene as the bride, attended by her bridesmaids Miss Esther Barker, Miss Hewitt, Miss Nancy Thomson, and Miss Angela Dunn walked up the church was very picturesque. The bribe's dress was of ivory satin charmeuse, simply made with berthe, of old Brussels lace, the train carried by Master Jack Acland. The bridegroom was attended by Mr C. J. Nairn, of Pourerere, Hawke's Bay, as best man. After the ceremony, which took place at 12.30 the guests, about 80 in number were entertained at lunch by Mr and Mrs Empson and Miss Acland. Archdeacon Harper proposed the health of the bride and bridegroom, the latter returning thanks in singularly happy and appropriate terms. At three o'clock Mr and Mrs Gordon Williams left for Ararima, Orari, the residence of Major and Mrs Spencer, kindly lent for the occasion. In the evening a dance was given at Mount Peel to the shepherds and other employees of Mount Peel station, dancing being kept up until a very early hour. Among those present in addition to the parents of the bride and bridegroom, were: Mr and Mrs Fred Williams (Napier), Mr and Mrs Lysaght (Geraldine), Dr and Mrs Acland (Christchurch), Mr H. D. Acland (Christchurch), Mr, Miss and Mr T. Denniston (Peel Forest), Mr and Mrs T. Barker (Waihi), Mr T. N. Williams (Frimley), Major and Mrs Spencer (Geraldine), Mr and Mrs C. A. Dunn (Huntsham), Mrs T. and Miss C. Williams (Havelock N.), Capt. W. R. Russell (Flaxmere), Mrs Gordon (Wanganui), Mr E. 8.. Williams (Hawke's Bay), Mr H. B. Watson (Wanganui), Mrs George Harper and Mr Eric Harper (Christchurch), Mr F. Tripp (Orari), Mr O. Scott Thomson (Kakahu), Mr and Mrs Hawdon (Underwood), Mr L. G. D. Acland (Christchurch), Mrs Macfarlane, Mr and Mrs Hugh Reeves (Christchurch), and many others. Among the innumerable presents were a beautifully fitted-up suit case from the employees of Te Aute, and a remarkably pretty silver sugar basin from the shepherds of Mount Peel.

The Mount Peel Station homestead on the Rangitata Gorge Rd and the peel Forest Station homestead on Peel-Denistoun Rd are registered as Category 1 with the NZ Historic Places Trust.  Historic place of special or outstanding historical or cultural heritage significance or value.Each year since 1882 a member of the Acland family tolls the church bell to mark the beginning of a new year. There is no electricity in the church, so oil lamps are used for evening worship and a pedal harmonium provides the accompanying music. The church is located 8 km north of the Peel Forest settlement on the Rangitata Gorge Rd. Turn left up a driveway just before reaching the homestead entrance, and park by the church. Mrs Acland visits the church every morning just to check and tidy. 

In October, springtime, an open day is held in the local churches with guided tours to hear about each stained glass window and the wood carvings. Occasionally a local girl is married here and wedding photos taken in the grounds and the cars park beyond the holly hedge.

Mount Peel Station homestead. 1997   It is so very English � the impressive brick homestead, surrounded by trees, sweeping green lawns, shrubs and swathes of spring flowers.    
1997                                                                                        1903

Mount Peel homestead built in 1865 with timber pit-sawn in nearby bush and bricks made on the property. Photographer: J. Waddington, 1979

Watercolour:  Holnicote, the station homestead at Mt Peel. Construction began in 1865, and the house was built by Ben Ede of Ashburton along with John Fitzgerald of Arowhenua.


The Acland family still run Mount Peel Station. The eighteen-room homestead built using local timber and hand made bricks is not open to the public. The Mount Peel Station homestead and the Peel Forest Station homestead on Peel-Denistoun Rd are both registered as Category 1 with the Heritage NZ. Historic place of special or outstanding historical or cultural heritage significance or value.  The Orari Gorge Station homestead on Burma Rd and the Waikonini homestead at 300 Horsfall Rd, Peel Forest are both registered as category 2. Historic place of historical or cultural heritage significance or value.  The area Aclands farm in 2010 5208ha (3,047 acres) is reduced from the original 46,135 ha (114,000acres) taken up in 1856. (flat 1600ha, improved 2300ha, steep hill 1380ha) The tenure review process replaced the 4748ha leasehold with 1350ha freehold, leaving a total of 5280ha freehold as Mt Peel Station (located on the Ragitata Gorge Rd). The station records an average rainfull of 1100mm/yr. A significant slowing in pasture growth once frosts set in, mid May. Spring growth starts mid September and peaks at the end of October. Snow falls 2-3 times per year, but clears within a few days; a heavy snow fall can be expected 1 in 10 years. Highes point is Mt Peel 1743 a.s.l. on the eastern boundary. Lowest point is 250m a.s.l. on the southern boundary or entrance to the property. reference

"In the Colonies you always like to see for yourself, and the worse account you hear of unoccupied country, the greater the reason for going to look at it." JB. Acland 1855

Feb. 2010
Mount Peel Homestead Feb. 2010. You don't need a flash house to have a flash garden, but it helps.

The alter rails are of knotted totara and black pine. The windows in the church are beautiful. The above photographs are courtesy of Lee Adamson during his adventurous trip around the world and were taken in 1997 with a digital camera. Thank you Lee. The window "The Crucified Christ Mourned by St Mary, St Mary Magdalene and St John the Evangelist" was made by James Powell & Sons, London in 1907 in commemoration of John B.A. (d. 18 May 1904) and his wife Emily W. Acland (d. 23 July 1905) who had the church built. The window was ordered by H.T.D. Acland and dedicated by Emily's brother Archdeacon Henry Harper 30 Dec. 1908.

Photograph on the left was taken by A.F. 2 April 1994 after a wedding and the photograph on the right taken ten years later by Winsome Griffin on a grey day November 2004 and the church has a new roof. The church was built under the supervision of William Brassington, a Christchurch stonemason with greywacke boulders from the Rangitata River bed an the facings are of Mt Somers limestone.

Canterbury University Library, Christchurch
J.B.A. Acland Diaries
- The Acland Papers [link broken]
1858-60 voyage account pg9 to 43.   /mb_44_b2_1.pdf
1863 1865-67 1867 1869     /mb_44_b2_2.pdf                      /mb_44_b2_3_3.pdf          /mb_44_b2_4_1.pdf       /mb_44_b2_4_2.pdf
1870 1877 1876-78  1878-79     /mb_44_b2_5.pdf               /mb_44_b2_7.pdf               /mb_44_b2_8.pdf            /mb_44_b2_9.pdf
1880-81 1881-82 1883-85 1885-86     /mb_44_b2_9aa.pdf       /mb_44_b2_9a.pdf              /mb_44_b2_9b.pdf         /mb_44_b2_10.pdf
1889-90 1893-98 Vol. 1     mb_44_b2_12.pdf   /mb_44_b2_13.pdf
Acland family remembered

Acland papers - 2005 was the 150th anniversary of the founding of Mt Peel Station by John Barton Arundel Acland, whose descendants still live there. To mark this the University Library displayed manuscripts, photographs, watercolours and architectural drawings. The selected items on display were taken from the Acland Papers, held in the Macmillan Brown Library and given to the University by Kit, Lady Acland in 1981. The display filled 6 display cases and provides a fascinating insight into life among the Canterbury gentry in the colonial period. The full collection of Acland Papers occupies about 15 metres of shelf space in the Macmillan Brown Library Archives Collection and is a frequently consulted source of research material in several disciplines. The Acland Papers are one of the richest and largest collections of 19th century family papers in New Zealand.

Henry John Chitty Harper, D.D. born c1804 died 28 Dec 1893;
Came to New Zealand to serve as the first Anglican Bishop of Canterbury Province 1856 - 1890
Baptized 09 Jan 1804 Holy Trinity Gosport Hampshire
Died 28 Dec. 1893, Christchurch buried 01 Jan. 1894 Barbadoes Street Cemetery, Christchurch
At rest. Dec. 28th 1893. In his 90th year. The most Revd. H.J.C. Harper first Bishop of Christchurch, N.Z.

The Star December 30 1893 page 1
Bishop Harper was born at Gasport Hampshire, in 1804. Appointed Bishop of Christchurch in 1856. Resigned May 3 1890. Died at his residence, Bishopcourt. He was always amongst the first to welcome the immigrant, and to extend a helping hand to those in need. It is mainly due to his exertions that Christchurch now possesses a handsome cathedral, the foundation stone laid on the fourteen anniversary of the province. Appointed Primate of New Zealand in 1869. His Lordship arrived in Lyttelton "Egmont" with Mrs Harper and their numerous family on the Christmas Eve of 1856. There they were meet by Bishop Selwyn and Mrs Selwyn, and coming over the hill at once, the new Bishop was enthroned on the following day - that is - Christmas - day, afterwards the Church of St Michael and All Angels, which henceforth became the pro-Cathedral. The Bishop's first care was to visit and organise his diocese. It extended northwards no farther at that time than the river Waipara, and included not only Otago, but Southland and Stewart Island. Nearly every subsequent year until separation of the diocese of Dunedin from that of Christchurch in 1871 Bishop Harper visited systematically the southern division. Visits to this remote portion of his pastorate were often not only accompanied by much discomfort, but were also meet with considerable danger on account of the number of rivers to be crossed and the bad state of the roads. The greater part of these journeys had to be accomplished on horseback, and it was no uncommon thing for the bishop to have to camp out with nothing but his saddle for a pillow and his overcoat for a covering. Some of his visits to the West Coast in the early days of the diggings were also of an exciting, not to say dangerous nature; but nothing daunted, the visits were made as regularly in those primitive days as in the more civilised times of stage coaches and railways, and the care of the flock which had been committed to his charge was always his first consideration. During his episcopate he twice visited England - in 1867 and 1878 - each time to take part in ecclesiastical conferences at Lambeth Place. H. J. C. Harper, first  bishop of Christchurch and First Primate of New Zealand -1867 - 1890

29 Dec. 1893 obituary
13 June 1888 obituary for HARPER Emily W
Feb. 1894 funeral report and obituary
Mar. 1894 p487 obituary
07 June 1930 p15 obituary
11 Dec. 1981 article on his life
Memorial altar carved by  F Guernsey for chapel at Bishopscourt

Revd George Harper, a brother of the first bishop of Christchurch Henry John Chitty Harper; George Harper became a Jesuit priest. Reverend George Harper curate Dorchester, (1851) a Roman Catholic.

Harper, Henry William born 04 May 1833 Eton Berkshire died 20 Jan 1922 London eldest son (of fifteen children) of Henry John Chitty HARPER (bishop). Venerable Henry W. Harper M.A. Archdeacon and Vicar of St Mary's during the past 36 years 1875-1911.

Hawera & Normanby Star, 24 July 1905, Page 3
CHRISTCHURCH, July 24. Obituary: Mrs Acland, widow of the late Hon. J. B. Acland, aged 75. Deceased was the eldest daughter of the late Bishop Harper, and mother of Mrs F. V. Lysaght, of Hawera.

West Coast Times, 10 January 1880, Page 2
We are glad to be able to supply some particulars of the remarkable Celebration or the Golden Wedding, of the Primate and Mrs Harper, which took place on December 12th, at Christchurch. In the body of the chapel seats were allotted to Mrs Harper, with her sons and daughters, and their families. Of these, we believe, no less than 75 were present, out of a total number of 82, the youngest son and eldest grandchild being absent in England. The Bishop on his arrival in Canterbury 23 years ago. The Primate's family, which is as follows: 
Hon. J. S. Acland, M.L.C., Mrs Acland, and 9 children;
C.R. Blakiston,. Esq., Mrs Blakiston, and 7 children ;
Ven. Archdeacon Harper, M.A., Oxford ;
C.G. Tripp, Esq., Mrs Tripp, and 8 children ,
T. Maling, Esq., Mrs Maling, and 8 children;
L Harper, Esq., barrister at-law, Mrs Harper, and 8 children ;
Charles J. Harper, Esq., Mrs Harper, and 2 children ;
Percy Cox, Esq., Mrs Cox, and 8 children;
G. Harper, Esq., barrister at-law, Mrs Harper, and 5 children ;
T. Douglas, Esq,, Mrs Douglas, and 3 children ;
Rev. Walter Harper, M.A.,. Oxford, Mrs Harper, and 2 children ;
Gerald Harper, M.D., M.R.C.S.


HOPE - TRIPP. On the 25th July, at St. Thomas' Church, Woodbury, by the Most Rev. the Primate (grandfather of the bride), assisted by the Ven. Archdeacon Harper and the Rev. Walter Harper (uncles of the bride), and the Rev. James Preston, Arthur, third son of T. A. Hope, Esq., of Stanton Bebington, Cheshire, to Frances Emily, eldest daughter of C.G. Tripp, Esq., of Orari Gorge, Canterbury, N.Z.

The Times: Wednesday, Oct 16, 1907; pg. 1
Ormsby : Hope - On the 20th Aug. at St David's Church, Raincliff, Pleasant Point, South Canterbury, New Zealand, by the Venerable Archdeacon Harper, great uncle of the bride, and the Rev. Stanley Hinson, Charles Montague, only son of the late Arthur Ormsby, of Timaru, New Zealand, to Edith Mary, eldest Mary of Arthur Hope, of Raincliff, and grandaughter of the late Thomas Arthur Hope, J.P., of Kensington (London) and Liverpool.

Otago Witness, 9 September 1897, Page 29
Cox Fox  On the 1st September, at All Saints' Church, Sumner, by the Rev. Canon Harper (uncle of the bridegroom), assisted by the Rev. Henry Purchas, Percy Harper Cox, manager Bank of Auetialasia. Ashburton, to Alice Emily, second daughter of W. Bowman Fox, Ashburton.

Wanganui Herald, 30 October 1909, Page 7
Mr Percy H. Cox, who has been manager of the Bank of Australia at Ashburton for 19 years, has received notice of his transfer to the management of the Christchurch branch.

John Barton Arundel Dyke Acland,  son of Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, 6th Bt. and Lydia Elizabeth Hoare, married Emily Weddell Harper, daughter of Rt. Rev. Henry John Chitty Harper and Emily Weddell Wooldridge (1805/08 died 10 June 1888 Christchurch), on 17 January 1860. Mrs J.B.A. Acland, Emily died on 23 July 1905.
1 Agnes Dyke Acland
2 Emily Dyke Acland
3 Mary Emily Dyke Acland
4 Harriet Dyke Acland
5 Lucy Alice Dyke Acland
6 Elizabeth Dyke Acland
7 Emily Rose Dyke Acland
8 Dorothy Acland
9 Parton Dyke Acland
10 John Dyke Acland
11 Henry Dyke Acland
12 Hugh Thomas Dyke Acland

Theodore's father, Leonard Harper, a lawyer, was the first president of the New Zealand Alpine Club. Theodore's mother was Joanna Dorothea Dyke Acland, thus the source of his middle name. Theodore Acland Harper was born December 17, 1871, in Christchurch, New Zealand. He was born into a prominent New Zealand family of nine children. After attending Christ College Grammar School in 1895 he proceeded to the School of Mines at New Zealand University where he graduated in 1897. His schooling in mining provided the means for his many adventures. Soon after graduating, Mr. Harper began his travels as a sailor before the mast. His travels aboard ship as a deckhand only lasted about six months, he arrived in London with only $17 in his pocket. Theodore Acland Harper died in Portland, at Good Samaritan Hospital, on May 6, 1942. Became involved with Camp Fire, USA as a storyteller.

Bishops of the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch 1856-1890 Henry John Chitty Harper

Griffiths, Barbara. Do Nought Without a Bishop: life of Henry John Chitty Harper. Timaru, Timaru Herald, 1956

Purchas, H.T. Bishop Harper and the Canterbury Settlement. Christchurch, Whitcombe & Tombs, 1909. (38)

Purchas, H.T. A History of the English Church in New Zealand. Christchurch: Simpson and Williams, 1914.

Williams, Carol A. Bishop Harper's journeys: his visitations, consecrations, baptisms and confirmations, 1857-1890. Christchurch, Archives Committee, Anglican Diocese of Christchurch, 1997. (146)

The Weekly News - 30 May 1928 -
Death - THOMSON -
The death took place from heart failure on Monday week of Mr Oliver Scott Thomson, of Geraldine, at age 72. He was the son of a well known Christchurch business man of the early days and was educated at Christ's College. He was at Hopefield for 3 years, manager of Glynwye from 1886 to 1893 and in 1894 was appointed manager of Mount Peel Station. Later on he was sheep farming at Kakahu before retiring to reside at Geraldine. -- his wife predeceased him a few years ago, was a daughter of Hon. J.B.A. Acland, the owner of Mount Peel Station.

Timaru Herald 26 July 1905 Page 3 OBITUARY.
By the death of Mrs Emily Weddell Acland, relict of the late Hon. Acland, M.L.C., who died about ago, the people of Mount Peel district have lost an old and well tried deceased lady was the eldest of fifteen children of the late Bishop Harper, first Bishop of Christchurch, and was therefore one of the earliest colonists, the bishop and his family arriving in 1854. In 1860 she married Mr Acland, and helped him to make Holmcote, Monnt Peel Station, probably more like an English country-gentleman's home than any other station in the colony, and that is saying much, where so many English gentlemen settled down and sought to surrounded themselves with something resembling the homes of their youth. In those early days Mount Peel was a rather out-of-the-way station, but Mrs Acland had the companionship of a sister not far away, in Mrs C.G. Tripp of Orari Gorge, the two ladies being within easy riding communication. A feat of theirs in company used to be talked of in the old days, both, having ridden to the top of Little Mount Peel. At Holmcote the deceased lady brought up a family of three sons and six daughters, all of whom except one daughter survive her. Mr John S. Acland is farming at Bassington, Somersetshire. Mr. Henry Acland is a solicitor in Ashburton; Dr Hugh Acland has a practice in Christchurch. The daughters are Mrs. W. Empson, of Wanganui, Mrs T. of Hawera, Mrs C. G. Dunn, of Peel Forest, the late Mrs Scott Thomson, and the Misses Harriet and Rose Acland. Archdeacon Harper, of Timaru, is a brother of the deceased lady. The funeral, will take place at the pretty little church at Mount. Peel to-morrow.

The church was used around six times a year for services and weddings and had a steady stream of visitors calling in as they visited Peel Forest.

Photo taken 3rd November 2007 by Margaret Todd.
The Church of the Holy Innocents...what a lovely wee church!  When you look beyond the monuments in the photo you can see the high bank of the Rangitata river in the background. Only two services are held there each year and a couple of thousand people go through. The adding the church only held 100 people.

The Press (Christchurch) 21 October 2006 Mike Crean
There is more to Peel Forest than first meets the eye. Peering from his studio above Peel Forest, Austen Deans can see the Port Hills of Christchurch. The popular artist estimates the distance across the plains as "80 miles as the crow flies". Deans' chalet nestles among tall trees. The walls are hung with his mountain landscapes. The 90 year-old Deans loves mountains. Returning from World War 2 and establishing himself as a full-time artist, he wanted to live in the mountains. He fancied somewhere further up-country but settled for Peel Forest for the sake of his children's education. Fifty-five years later, he is still there. He explains: "I never found a nicer place to live. I found a rich and lovely community life here." Closeness of community is what he likes best about Peel Forest. It reflects his happy childhood among extended family near Darfield, his comradeship with fellow soldiers of the 20th Battalion, his sharing of privations as a prisoner of war. He adds: "I had always known Peel Forest and loved it anyway." Deans says Peel Forest has retained its charm. Some clubs have folded, the school has closed, the shop has lost its petrol pumps. But newcomers have kept population figures stable and, importantly, they have willingly joined into the community. A symbol of the district's spirit is the former school, now owned by a local trust and used for a Montessori preschool. The former principal's house provides affordable breaks for caregivers under stress. Many of Peel Forest's newcomers live in a part that the casual visitor never sees. As you enter the village, having left the Inland Scenic Route (Highway 72) between Mayfield and Geraldine, you pass a row of old houses, the shop, Musterers Cafe and Bar, the hall and tennis courts. This seems to be all but it isn't. A little further on, a road leads into the hills on the left. Up there is a side settlement dotted with new and old houses, and baches that scale the hillsides among birdsong and bush scent, as near to idyllic as you can get. Some residents come for weekends and holidays. Others call this home, many working in such tourist ventures as rafting and horse trekking. Steve and Jenny Deans run a small farm, homestay and possum-skin business at Peel Forest. Jenny came here 24 years ago, from Timaru, and married Steve, who is Austen's son. A bird table on the lawn shows their love of birdlife. Jenny says June's snowfall and the frosts that followed, killed the fantails that used to flock there. The cold weather wiped out insect life, so the fantails had no food. They would not eat anything else, Jenny says. The last fantail she saw pecked at her window, one cold day, until Steve let it in. It flew around the living room before dying. The snow also felled trees and broke branches. Some mountain walks have only just reopened, after laborious clearance jobs. The casual visitor probably thinks of Peel Forest as that large picnic area 2km past the village. With its mountain backdrop and fringe of native bush, this is a popular getaway for daytrippers from Timaru and Ashburton. From here, a dozen well-marked walking tracks lead into the native podocarp forest. They range from the 15-minute jaunt to the "big tree" -- a giant totara -- to the six-hour return tramp on Little Mount Peel. Camping is prohibited here, but a camping ground, with cabins and tent and caravan sites, is just up the road, above the Rangitata River. Bartek Wypych comes striding from the camp, his eyes on the lofty mountain he is setting out to climb. The Polish immigrant, who lives in Auckland, read about Peel Forest in the Lonely Planet Guide. He was drawn, with his wife and child, to camp here and explore one of the most accessible remnants of New Zealand's podocarp forests. The area is all that he had hoped it would be. A further 5km up the road, the homestead and farm buildings of Mount Peel Station are concealed in a copse of trees. Beyond them stands the stone Church of the Holy Innocents and its interesting graveyard. The church was a gift from the Acland family that has owned Mount Peel for 150 years. The Aclands are an integral part of the area's history. The original John Acland and his friend Charles Tripp were liberal-minded lawyers who tired of the class system in England and sailed for Lyttelton in 1855 to seek a fairer society. Acland had no experience of the high country and some scoffed when he bought Mount Peel. No-one scoffs now. Generations of Aclands have been leaders in public life. The current John Acland is a noted environmentalist. Peel Forest, saved from the pioneers' axes and saws, is an environmental treasure.

The Christchurch Press 12 December 2003
Rosemary Acland and granddaughter Annabelle Gualter, three, of Geraldine, admire one of the Himalayan lilies at Mount Peel Station. The Acland family will open their 8ha of garden to the public on Sunday for lily day. Each year hundreds of visitors flock to the grounds of the historic South Canterbury station to see its thousands of Himalayan lilies, a giant species that flourishes beneath the tall trees of the sprawling garden. It is believed the lilies spread naturally after a conservatory blew down in the 1930s. The gardens will be open from 10am, and Simon Acland will give a lecture at 10.30am at the Church of the Holy Innocents on the church's stained-glass win-dows. A service will follow at 11am. Rosemary Acland said lily day was an opportunity for visitors to stroll through the grounds, enjoy a picnic, and admire the historic trees, some planted in the late 1800s. Admission is $5 (schoolchildren free), and all proceeds will go to the Geraldine Anglican parish. Children from the Carew-Peel Forest School will perform the legend of Mount Peel at noon, and will also put on a sausage sizzle. Devonshire teas are also available. There will also be Morris dancing and background music.

The Christchurch Press 15 December 1997
Hundreds of visitors made their way to historic Mount Peel Station in South Canterbury yesterday. The Acland family opened the grounds of the station homestead for the Day of the Lilies - a chance for visitors to see the thousands of giant Himalayan lilies growing among tall oak and beech trees. The downward-facing flowers have a heady perfume and grow from bulbs which take seven years to flower. The original bulbs are thought to have been planted by W. W Smith, an English gardener who came to work for the Acland family in the 1870s.

The Irish Times Saturday, March 14, 1970
Prince Charles and Princes Anne left their parents (in Wellington) last night and flew to the South island city of Timaru for a weekend of horse riding, swimming and fishing at the home of Sir John Acland, chairman of the New Zealand Wool Board.

Sunday Star-Times 3 June 2001
 The World Was All Before Me : The Journals and Watercolours of Edward Ashworth 1838-1845, at the National Library Gallery, until 29 July. Reviewer William McAloon.
EDWARD ASHWORTH emigrated to New Zealand in 1842 but left less than two years later. Taking its title from Ashworth's journal, where he misquotes from John Milton's poem Paradise Lost: "The world was all before me/where to choose my place of rest", the exhibition reflects the hopes and ultimate disappointment of this early settler, offering a fascinating portrait of early colonial history. While not altogether believing the puffery circulating about the new colony, Ashworth sought to "at least do better" in New Zealand "than in overpopulated England". An architect by trade, inquiries into the prospects for his profession in the colony were met with favourable assurances from New Zealand House in London. His journals and images describe the arduous five month voyage out, one sustained for Ashworth and his fellow colonists by the "bright anticipations of the future flight of our fortunes". This was not to be. Arriving in Auckland in October 1842, he found the new capital of the fledgling colony "bare, bleak, barren, brown, burnt up", with high rents and food and labour shortages. His images of Auckland reflect his written description, and Ashworth's precise architectural line goes a long way to describing the state of the settlement. Architectural work was out of the question. Ashworth records in his journals the state of architecture in the colony, "the boarded dwelling, the rude tree bridge, the bullrush hut, or the split pale fence of a colonial property", which seemed "to mock & deride the profession of an architect". He was thus the first in a long line of critics of Auckland's built environment. Ashworth had carried with him a letter of introduction to Governor William Hobson, only to find his potential patron had died two months before his arrival. Acquiring land and building his own house, he resorted to teaching, instructing the children of the late governor and Eliza Hobson. He tried money lending as a potentially lucrative sideline, but this too was of limited success. Chasing up a bad debtor, Ashworth made a trip south in 1843, travelling as far as Te Awamutu and returning to Auckland via Raglan and the Manukau harbour. This trip provides the exhibition with some of its most memorable images, such as The settlement at Waikato Heads, New Zealand. Looking south, as well as accounts of Maori and missionary life. By January 1844 Ashworth had had enough of New Zealand - "it seemed as blank and unfriendly as the watery horizon, broken by volcanic islands" - and departed for Hong Kong, via Australia, Batavia and Macau. From his paintings of these places, which are larger and more assured than his New Zealand images, it seems they impressed him more. He returned to England late in 1844, working in Exeter as an ecclesiastical architect until his death in 1896. Ironically, Ashworth's only New Zealand building, the Church of the Holy Innocents at Mount Peel Station in Canterbury, was designed from there.  The World Was All Before Me is an engaging and informative exhibition, one that reveals Ashworth as a lively recorder of colonial life, a life for which it seems he was eminently unsuited.

13 August 2005 Timaru Herald
The Church of the Holy Innocents at Mt Peel holds rich tales about South Canterbury pioneers and their families. Aoraki Polytechnic journalism student Victoria Rutherford unearths some stories about those buried in the small churchyard. Man Unknown, drowned in the Rangitata, 1893. A single greywacke boulder, carved by the icy waters of the Rangitata River and muted with ageing moss is all that is known of this man. In his churchyard resting place he listens to the distant roar of the river, the one element of the landscape that never changes. The unknown man could have been heading south to find his fortune in gold or hoping to find a place on a sprawling high country run. Maybe he was a lonely figure fresh off the ships, with only a swag for company on the cloudless nights of the Canterbury Plains. Nobody knows. From its perch under the Mt Peel foothills, the Church of the Holy Innocents can boast seeing many changes to the people and the land. It has witnessed floods and droughts and devastating snows, and has stood proud while Mt Peel Station struggled in times of hardship. The churchyard that surrounds it tells the stories of the pioneering Acland family, their employees and local people. It speaks of lives lived to the fullest, tragedy, sickness, and a bond formed in this peaceful place where river, hill and plains converge.

It is more than 150 years since John Barton Arundel Acland arrived at Mt Peel, building an impressive homestead and church reminiscent of an English village. Huge exotic trees frame the buildings, giving them an air of mystery. The small church with its magnificent stained glass windows set against greywacke and limestone looks northeast towards the river terraces. A prim holly hedge arches over the entrance-way to the church, leading visitors to the heavy wooden door.
The headstones in the churchyard are a contrast some are tall and commanding, others are just mortar marker stones. Some are mysterious, hidden among grass and agapanthus. Others sit on the boundary of the yard, backs stiff against the trees. Many headstones use the Celtic cross, which is a reminder of the Irish, Scottish and Welsh who ended their days here. The four small children buried in the churchyard speak of a time when survival was often cut short by nature. Emily Acland was the first child to be buried there in 1864. Edward Chudleigh, a cadet on Mt Peel and an interesting character in his own right speaks of the death of his godchild in Chudleigh's Diary, an account of early life in New Zealand. "At eight, Mr and Mrs Acland, nurse and myself were standing all around her. She gave a little sigh, her chin contracted two or three times and she fell asleep to wake no more. She was by far the best-looking and finest of the children and up until the cutting of the back teeth had never ailed a moment."

Despite Chudleigh's extensive roaming around New Zealand, it was at Mt Peel he felt at home. His diary is a frank account of early pioneering life in his search for a farm from Hokianga to Bluff.
He spent time in the Chatham Islands, where he became unpopular with the local Maori, and his entanglement with the Hau Hau prisoners from the land wars saw him narrowly escape death at their hands. Chudleigh and his wife are buried in the Mt Peel churchyard. Hardship stamped the life of pioneers in New Zealand, and the early days at Mt Peel were no exception. Death was never far from the doorstep for the settlers and their families. The death of Emily Acland was followed by two little Irvines and the stillborn son of Abner Clough, a shepherd on the station. Abner Clough was an early employee on the station whose huge physical stature and ability became part of legend. The son of a high-born Maori princess and an Englishman, it was said he could hold a mule up off the ground by its ears as it was being branded. He could walk any swift-flowing Canterbury river with water up to his chin and still retain his footing, a skill not akin to many, shown by the large numbers of drownings in the mid 1800s. Before the unknown man, the Rangitata River had already claimed the lives of other young adventurers. In 1857, young Englishman Adam Clark was on his way to Mt Peel. Anybody wanting to cross the river was supposed to light a fire on the bank and wait for help to arrive. Clark instead forded the cold, swift waters of the Rangitata and was swept away. His grave is marked by an iron cross on the riverbank below the station.

Although stories of ghosts and supernatural happenings are few and far between in New Zealand, a strange story comes from a burial in the 1940s. According to the centenary book, Mount Peel is 100, Mt Peel received a call from a Christchurch man who had worked at the station. His name was Langford and he wanted to bury his father in the churchyard. The request was granted and Mr Acland attended the funeral service, tying his dogs outside the church and making sure they did not follow him in. After the funeral, Mr Acland stood talking to Mr Langford when suddenly his dog "Snow" appeared by his side. The young man said nothing for a moment, then white and shaken he asked; "Is that your dog Mr Acland?" Mr Acland answered yes, and asked why he had enquired. Mr Langford said as his father lay dying he told his son he wanted to be buried at Mt Peel and there would be a white dog at his funeral.

The story of early station workers Alexander and Jane Finlayson also owes its credit to premonitions. In the graveyard lies their 10-year-old son, Peter. Mrs Finlayson hailed from Glasgow where she lived near a shipyard. She saw a ship being built and asked where it was going. "To New Zealand" came the reply, to which she said, "I'll be on that ship". When she arrived in New Zealand she worked for the Deans family in Christchurch. One evening she heard somebody playing the bagpipes and remarked "I'm going to marry that man". That man was Alexander Finlayson.
The family settled at Mt Peel where Mr Finlayson became a shepherd. One day in 1898 she saw the station children in the distance coming over the hill. "One of the children is dead," she said. As they got closer it became apparent that they were carrying her son, who while playing had received a blow to the head. It was only recently that 50 descendants of the family gathered to dedicate a headstone for him, more than 100 years after he died.

Perhaps one of the most recognisable names in the cemetery is renowned crime writer Dame Ngaio Marsh. Dame Ngaio became governess to the son of Christchurch surgeon Sir Hugh and Lady Acland, forming a strong friendship with the family. She often used the South Canterbury area as an inspiration for her books. But it was in her description of sometimes shocking murders that she sought the advice of Sir Hugh. Mt Peel's John Acland senior recalls his father telling him about Dame Ngaio's visits. "He could remember sitting around the dining room table, and Ngaio saying during dinner, "Now Hugh, how are we going to murder this person in my story, when the person to be murdered is in a lift and we have three minutes as the lift moves down three storeys". Sir Hugh replied, "there is only one way Ngaio, with a knitting needle through the eye and into the brain". This murder appears in her book Surfeit of Lampreys, but a metal skewer has replaced the knitting needle. It is dedicated to Sir Hugh and Lady Acland. These days the Church of the Holy Innocents is taken care of by John and Rosemary Acland. It is still used for many occasions and is open to the public. Every New Year, in-keeping with tradition, a member of the Acland family rings the bell to send out the old year and welcome in the new one. The church stands as a fitting tribute to the toil of this country's forefathers, and the quaint churchyard allows their stories to be kept alive, even though the characters have gone.

Photo taken by M.T.
The beautiful fragrant Himalayan lilies (Cardicrinum giganteum), locally called the Mt Peel Lily bloom just before Christmas. Legend has it a glasshouse broke after a snow and the plants escaped and thrived. They take seven years to bloom from seed. After flowering, they die, leaving behind offsets (pups) which will flower in 3-4 years.  It can become invasive in an ideal climate like NZ, they prefer shade so do well under trees. ut  Once a year just before Christmas, the Acland's or the Oriari Estate open the gardens to visitors, inviting them to roam the fragrant lily bedecked outer grounds and groves of majestic towering trees planted by the family over a hundred years ago and to picnic on the lawn in front of the homestead. Proceeds go to local charities. Lily seeds are available for purchase. In 1914 some plants were taken to the Orari Estate from Mt Peel and the lilies have thrived. The stems grow 2 to 4m.

 Nineteenth-Century Rural Labour in Canterbury - an assessment of the social mobility of the workers employed at Mt. Peel Station from 1856 - 1893.  A thesis by Eleanor Cottle.

Harte Geoffrey William Mount Peel is a hundred, the story of the first high country sheep station in Canterbury. 1956, printed at the Herald Printing Works, Timaru, NZ. 83 pages. Contents:
1. In the beginning
2. West, the land is bright
3. Settling Mt Peel
4. Pioneering Days
5. Thru the years
6. From depression to prosperity
7. The Acland Family
8. The men who worked on Peel
9. The Homestead and church
10. Two Strange Tales
11. No answer to the snows
12. Search for gold
13. Men of faith.
Appendices & Bibliography

MOUNT PEEL IS A HUNDRED The story of the first high country sheep station in Canterbury

This publication has been commissioned by Mr Jack Acland of Mount Peel Station. It is designed to give those who attend the centenary celebrations at the homestead in April, 1956, and all who are interested in the romantic history of our high country, an appreciation of life at Mount Peel over 100 years.

The district of the Upper Rangitata has two certain claims to recognition in New Zealand history: Mount Peel was the first high country station taken up in Canterbury and the land further west was the home of the English satirist, Samuel Butler. Mount Peel is one of five Canterbury high country runs never to have changed hands. The brand the first owners used for their sheep (AT) in the form of A is still used. The brand embraces the first letters of the surnames of the two founders, Barton Acland and Charles Tripp. These partners at the height of their land holdings could actually lay claim to nearly 300,000 acres of leasehold country, an area including Orari Gorge, Mount Peel itself, Mount Possession, Mount Somers and part of Hakatere.

Now Mount Peel is but a shadow of the vast territory once owned by Acland and Tripp but the traditions of the founders have been maintained. Along with the rest of the farming community, Mount Peel has experienced prosperity in the last five years or more, but a high country station can hardly be considered a sound trustee investment over 100 years. If Mount Peel had been sold up, as was suggested after World War! and the money invested in Government stock then the return would have been about the same as was obtained from years of heart breaking toil up to the time of World War II. Contrary to the popular urban view, high country stations are not veritable gold mines.

Much of the information in this publication has been gathered from old diaries, reports, early letters and documents. That they are available is due to Sir Hugh Acland who long ago realised the value to posterity of the diaries and documents of the pioneers, and made a personal collection of Acland's and Tripp's early writings.

Many persons have been interviewed and my thanks are due to former employees of the station who gladly provided information. The problem of selection of items has been difficult, as always in a brief history of this kind, but I have endeavoured to balance the past with the present in the hope of giving a full picture of high country life.

My thanks are due to the Jack Acland family for placing all records and letters at my disposal; to Mr Randal Burdon, Wellington, for permission to use extracts from his book, High Country; to Mr William Vance, South Island representative of the Turnbull Library, for providing much early research and background on which this work could be based; and to Mr Ian Donnelly for his advice and revision. Acknowledgement is due also to Coral T. Anderson for information from her thesis, The Exploration and Settlement of the Upper Rangitata District.

Timaru, April, 1956


This is the story of the first high country sheep station settled in Canterbury. Its name is taken from the range behind the run - Mount Peel, but its fame has spread from the qualities of the men who owned, managed, farmed and worked on the property. Now Mount Peel has reached a century of settled existence. Today the station creates an atmosphere of substance and security. Behind these attributes lie a turbulent history of great snows and high floods; of financial difficulties, depressions and wool booms; of a constant struggle to gain a comfortable living by men who worked the land as a trust, men with a sense of responsibility to future generations. Mount Peel has moulded such men, much as a school moulds its scholars, imbuing them with a feeling for tradition. And like a good school it was well-founded by two outstanding Englishmen: John Barton Arundel Acland and Charles George Tripp, the first white men to explore the uplands of the Rangitata. They were men of courage and enterprise, unbending Christian principles and a belief in the dignity of labour. They came from an age of elegance in England, determined to carve their own way in the young country; that they succeeded against appalling difficulties is a tribute to their unceasing toil and abiding faith in the future of the colony. They alone could never have built up the present Mount Peel. It needed and gained the support, industry and enthusiasm of the men and women who worked on the station with them, and with the Acland family of two later generations. Theirs was a firm impact on the history station, the prosperity of which ever lies uncertainly the Golden Fleece. Yet if personalities must be the theme about which this story runs, then the ever-present back-drop must always be the station, for in the end, it was always the station tested, made, or marred men. 'Even if he has been a farmer in England, a man will do well to lay aside his pride and go and work as a labourer for five or six months until he is able to form his own judgement as to what will be the wisest course for him to pursue in his individual case. He need not be ashamed of working thus better men have done it before and will do so again.' With these words Acland concluded a paper on New Zealand sheep farming to farmers in England. His advice is timeless. It would be as applicable today to the emigrant farmer as it was in March 1858, when Acland was again visiting the family estate. He knew the type of person the young colony needed; the small farmers, industrious and hard-working, men who were being pressed by the economic conditions of the in Britain to the extent that they or their children would up as labourers, their property gone. New Zealand welcomed hard workers, but the idle ones might as stay at home.

'A man goes out to the colonies for various reasons,' said Acland. 'He may have an official appointment) or military; he may be travelling in search of health pleasure or for science; he may be going out to make much money as he can in a few years before returning to England or he may be wishing to improve his condition by making a new home in a new land and as true colonist be prepared to cast his lot in with the fortunes of his new country, be that what they may. It is to the last-named that New Zealand offers special advantages. Let such men have no visionary ideas of making fortunes; they will not do that, but they may, one and all, make a solid improvement in their condition, acquire a moderate competence and see their children settled on their own freehold land... A man with a tenth part of 2000 pounds may buy 20 to 40 acres at 2 pounds an acre and engage in agriculture... Acland was looking to the future with faith, provided the country was colonised by competent, hard-working men imbued with high ideals. New Zealand wanted no squatters to exploit the land and then unload their responsibilities on to unsuspecting purchasers, departing with a handsome profit to England or Australia. ...


It would be pleasant to think that some dramatic scene took place when Acland and Tripp first brought the bullock wagon over the Rangitata to establish Mount Peel. Tripp, in particular, might have relished a small ceremony to acknowledge their gratitude for at last having crossed the wilderness into the land of their choice. Instead, the remarks made, if any, might have been censurable as the bullocks waded half-way across the Rangitata and then six of the eight turned round so that the party was marooned in mid-stream. It was a damp finale to a trip full of incident, which began when they left Christchurch on the morning of April 26, 1856.

In their customary manner the partners had made careful preparation for the Journey. They started with a bullock dray and eight bullocks, Acland riding behind. In the dray were Robert Smith, a Shropshire man, Mrs. Smith and her three children. (The baby, Harry Smith, was to grow up on Mount Peel to become a well-known Wool Classer having a long association with the Tripp Station at Orari Gorge). Mrs Smith had firmly announced that where her husband went, she went too, and that was so. On the overnight halts, the bullocks usually strayed across the unfenced Canterbury Plains and the animals caused Acland and Tripp some desperate heart burning as they searched far to recover them.

At Rakaia, the swift, bitterly cold river was crossed by boat, the partners taking turns at towing other members of the party and their baggage across. Five or six trips were made with the person towing working waist deep in water. Restrainedly Acland records that he was 'cold and wet'. Even with their Herculean endeavours, half a ton of flour had to be left on the north bank. The bullocks, naturally, became bored with the delay and wandered off and two perspiring hours were spent rounding them up again.

The trackless, featureless plain required navigation; Acland and Tripp devised a plan whereby one of the partners would ride ahead and light a fire to guide the others into a pre-selected camping site. They had an anxious night on May 1, when Wyatt, the newly engaged carpenter-cum-shepherd, a man who had never been out of Christchurch before, was lost. This resulted in his employers searching frantically for him in driving rain and it was about noon the next day' that he was found, little the worse for a miserable night spent in the open.

They camped at John Hayhurst's property near the Ashburton River and then headed for the Rangitata. At the Rangitata River, Abner and Robinson Clough joined them. Abner, aged about 16, was the son of an Englishman and his high-born Maori wife. He had attributes desirable on a high country out-station. He could walk any swift-flowing Canterbury river with the water up to his chin and still retain his footing; on Mount Peel this skill in fording swift Streams was to prove invaluable. He was also an excellent bushman and could track down straying animals and wild pigs. He stayed 20 years at Mount Peel. Abner was engaged at 50 pounds year and his brother at 35 pounds.

Toward the end of the fifth day, the party had now swelled to 10 persons. They reached the Moorhouse homestead, a 'tent with a chimney at one end,' situated on the north bank of the Rangitata. Considering their troubles the party had made good time. It was here that they were held up for a week before the river was fordable and the time was spent in cutting a road down the terrace to the water's edge. When the crossing of the main stream began, the load on the dray was lightened, as usual, and the bullocks driven in. Near mid-stream the leading bullocks turned about and refused to budge. Time was wasted persuading the animals to turn ahead again, this deadlock eventually being solved by detaching the six leading bullocks and taking them to the south bank. They were then used to haul the dray across by means of long ropes and chains. Next day the remainder of the load was brought across the river and a track made from the bank to the house site. On May 10 the bullock dray reached the house site with its first load and returned across the river to bring over Mrs Smith and her three children. The children were Robert, aged three, Harry, aged two and Mary, nine months.

The next day was Sunday, a day of rest, but even so Acland and Tripp saw that some wild pigs were salted for food. On the Monday the party set to work building a house which was completed in 19 days, the walls being formed of cabbage trees. The first house was one of contrast so far as its contents went. It contained no furniture, but from the roof hung some of Bent's best English saddles, a valuable rifle and a fowling piece. A second house was soon under way as the only bedroom in the first was occupied by the Smith family, Acland and Tripp and other hands sleeping in tents throughout the winter. The second building, more substantial in every way was followed by a cowshed, stockyard and garden and by Christmas Day, eight months after leaving Christchurch, all at Mount Peel were eating vegetables from the garden.

Peel Forest provided a ready source of timber. It was almost too good a supply and soon stations as far south as Levels were taking sections with sawmills working the blocks. Now the bush is safe, gazetted as a national reserve, thanks to the efforts of the Acland family. There was one clear drawback to Mount Peel; the river cut it off from easy access to Christchurch and by the bush south from the settlement of Timaru. The nearest neighbours were the Moorhouses across the river at Shepherd's Bush Station. Mrs Moorhouse came to that homestead of a tent with a chimney at one end, walking beside a bullock dray and carrying her baby and driving a much cow. She was determined to have fresh milk for her child and it is said that the cow was the first to be driven across the Canterbury Plains. With the years the tent became a homestead of 16 rooms, famous for its hospitality. There was one unwelcome guest - the river. One day the Rangitata came to stay and the homestead site is now the centre of the main stream with some tall poplars remaining to show the site of a once beautiful garden.

Dr Moorhouse was the only medical man between Christchurch and Timaru so his services were ever in demand. To the sick, the injured and to those in childbirth he was doctor, nurse and midwife. Moorhouse was a big man and big-hearted and never spared himself in making long journeys to those who needed his services. Although sheep farming was his work and his wish, his neighbours having greater confidence in his powers of healing thought otherwise. All at Mount Peel were on friendly terms with their neighbours at Shepherd's Bush.

Next to Shepherd's Bush was Cracroft Station on the North river bank, owned by Sir John Cracroft Wilson. He had been a judge in the Madras Presidency and came to New Zealand in 1854. He had chartered the ship Akbar to bring with him a retinue of native servants and animals from India and was known throughout the Colony as 'the Nabob.'

The station bordering on Mount Peel on the south was Peel Forest, (know known as the Peel Forest Estate) held by Francis Jollie, brother of Edward Jollie, an early Canterbury surveyor.

The dangers of the Rangitata River were soon brought home to the partners when news was received that 'young Fendall ' of the family which Fendalton took its name, had been drowned in the Rangitata while crossing to Wilson's station below the forest. He had been south with his brother-in-law, the Rev. J. C. Andrew who was to be a constant visitor to Mount Peel. The Rev. Andrew was a great scholar and had a distinguished career at Oxford. He was always known as 'Parson' Andrew. He first took up a run, the Otamatata Station at Lake Ohau and then went to the North Island where he had Ica Station in the Wairarapa. He represented Wairarapa in Parliament and later became headmaster of Nelson College. There is the story told of the time when rations were short at Mount Peel. 'Parson' Andrew was holding Sunday service in a tent. Suddenly he stopped and cried; 'I see a pig.' The service broke up in confusion with the congregation following the parson out in search of the animal.

During 1857, the Rangitata River claimed another man. A young Englishman named Clark was on his way to Mount Peel. He did not give the usual signal to the house of lighting a fire on the river bank. Instead he tried the ford alone, on foot. He was swept away and drowned. He was buried on the riverbank, his grave being marked by an iron cross.


The first sheep to come to Mount Peel were bought from Burke at his Halswell Station and they reached the Moorhouses' property on May 30; here they were run for some time "on terms. This meant that the man who grazed the sheep permitted the owner say 2/6 a head for wool and half the increase." When the agreement was terminated the original number of sheep, without any deduction for deaths, was returned with the increase as well.

In 1857 the partners bought 400 to 500 ewe lambs from Hayhurst at Ashburton and 1000 more from Rhodes at Levels. In this same year the first 19 bales of wool were sold in London. Flocks were gradually increasing and 13,500 were on the station. Acland wrote home to his family complaining that the partners had been grossly cheated' in that instead of 19 bales there should have been 26. The sheep were not shorn at Mount Peel and the partners were not able to go to the places where the fleeces were removed. For the 19 bales 400 pounds was received. Only 2,500 of the flock were shorn.

The second shearing of 1857-58 saw between 4,000 and 5,000 sheep shorn, yielding 50 bales of wool and a net profit of 900 pounds. The next season 6,256 sheep were shorn and 64 bales returned 1200 pounds, although this year the partners expressed regret that they had shipped for selling in London rather than selling in New Zealand.

Tripp and Acland formally entered into partnership on April 1, 1856, choosing that day as the date on which the new Canterbury Land Regulations came into force. They started with a nominal capital of 4000 pounds, which was not entirely paid up until March 1857. According to Acland the area applied for was about 190,000 acres but the country had not been surveyed. "Men laughed at us three years ago for going into the back country,' writes Acland. " We were the first to do so in Canterbury . . . Now we are looked on as having a rather convenient site. Men taking up (high country) runs now will have to pack their way in by horse and bullock."

The partners were allotted land between the Rangitata and Orari Rivers above Peel Forest and land on the northern bank of the Rangitata. These were later divided into Mount Somers, Mount Possession, Mount Peel and Orari Gorge Stations. Tripp's name covered what was thought to be Mount Peel Station, but was found later to cover Mount Possession; Mount Peel was applied for under Acland's name, the homestead block being taken up on August 9, 1858. The last block at Mount Peel was taken up in 1861.

The runs were not fully stocked for years and it is said that the partners stocked Mount Possession rather hurriedly in response to a rumour that some other settler proposed placing sheep there. Acland sent up a shepherd named James Rawle with 1579 sheep and so the name of the block became "Mt Possession".  Mt Possession was taken over mainly as a buffer block, in the hope that it would prevent the spread of the dreaded scab disease down on Mount Peel. This disease had been rampant in Nelson and worked south into Canterbury about 1858. Acland and Tripp were fortunate in that at no time did it infest their flocks. By 1884 the province was free from scab.

In keeping with a long-standing promise to his family Acland returned in England in March 1857.  On September 23, 1858, Tripp was married to Miss Ellen Shephard Harper, third daughter of Henry John Chitty Harper, first Bishop of Christchurch, who had arrived in the Colony the year before. Tripp wrote to Acland that he had, "fled a knot with the tongue, which cannot be undone with the teeth."

It appears that yet another diarist had arrived on the station in the person of Mrs Tripp. She records in her personal reminiscences that life was difficult for the pioneering women, an observation that would have been supported by Mrs Smith who had for so long been the only woman on the station. It was Mrs Smith who bore the first-born on Mount Peel - a daughter. It is believed that the Smith baby was one of the first born in South Canterbury. At the time there was no maternity nurse and during the anxious days preceding the confinement the young station owners were as agitated as the poor husband was. All went well, with Acland godfather and Mrs Moorhouse one of the godmothers.

Tripp brought his wife to Mount Peel and six chairs too, an unheard of luxury in the back blocks. A piano also appeared on the scene. This instrument must have been as hardy as the pioneers themselves as the bullock wagon bringing the piano broke down in the river for six weeks. Once it remained on an open verandah for six winter months. The instrument is still in good order and is at Orari Gorge Station.

But it needed more than bodily comfort and music to moderate the loneliness faced by Mrs Tripp, with her restless husband absent all day. Fear of wild pigs kept her close to the tiny homestead; her feelings are understandable when she "watched the riverbank opposite the house, hoping to see a human figure on the horizon." She read, over and over again, Keble's Christian Year and Paley's Natural Theology, with slight variation provided by The History of India, doubtless lent by Sir John Cracroft Wilson.

Occasionally there was a visitor from through the river gorge to lighten the day. He was the owner of Mesopotamia Station, Samuel Butler. If ever a man made his impact on the high country and then left, as suddenly as he came, it was Butler. His Erewhon has its beginnings based on the Rangitata Valley and "Black Andy,' the Australian aboriginal on Mount Peel Station may well have been a model for "Chowbok. Butler had a taste for Bach's fugues; in times of stress he would calm himself playing the piano, either his own or the Mount Peel instrument. The Tripp's found Butler; "the small dark man with the penetrating eyes, a fascinating fellow, although Tripp thought he wasted too much time with the piano and Mrs Tripp found his advanced views upsetting. She objected to his attempt to convert her cook to atheism.

On October 1, 1859, the first child was born to the Tripp's. He was christened Charles Howard. Mrs Tripp fed her son out of a tin, "which I bent into shape and used the finger of a kid glove, and until the baby was a year old, he lived chiefly on water gruel and arrowroot.

In the time Acland was absent overseas, Tripp was a conscientious correspondent and his letters throw light on conditions prevailing in the late "fifties. Here are some extracts: 'Wages are rising very fast and I have engaged Wyatt for two years or more at 50 pounds a year. The gold diggings in Nelson are going ahead and I cannot get a shepherd anywhere. All the young men are leaving the place and next season (1858) we will have to go to 30/- a hundred for shearing.

'Woollcombe is going to be resident harbourmaster at Timaru with 200 pounds a year. Mr Banks is going to put on a few steamers to call anywhere on the coast, even for 50 bales . . . Land is selling in Timaru at 100 pounds an acre . . . Shepherds from Scotland with wives and able sons would be the making of our fortune. I hope you will try and send out one. I hear the best are from the Shetland Isles. 'Money is now being lent at 12 per cent. Wool is 1/8 in Sydney and 1/5 on the beach at Timaru. Timaru is rising very fast. There will be two large stores there soon and a ship is coming direct from England to load 2000 bales of wool.

Tripp was not one to neglect his dress completely when living in the outback; he requested Acland to go to Beale in Bond Street for white shirts for the evening, adding almost peremptorily - not dress shirts, as he never wore them. The whole pattern of Tripp's courtship can be followed from the time he first mentions excitedly how charming he thinks the six Harper girls are. Two days after he was engaged he asked Acland to bring out a breakfast and dinner service for him and mentioned that the Bishop was a distant connection of Lord Crewe. Perhaps Tripp felt that he was not keeping abreast of the landed gentry at home, for his postscript was a note requesting Acland to bring Burke's Peerage and The Commoners of England as useful books for the station.

When he returned to New Zealand in January 1859, Acland found the station considerably improved, boasting a small weather board house of six rooms and a verandah for the Tripps. Acland was happy to take over the original hut or whare for his bachelor establishment. It is evident from Acland's diary that he was seeing a lot of Bishop Harper and family on his visits to Christchurch. Emily, the eldest daughter, often stayed with her sister at Mount Peel. In November of that year Acland announced his engagement to her. They were married on January 17, 1860. The pair spent their honeymoon exploring the headwaters of the Rangitata. This may have been a rugged introduction to station life, but Emily had stayed long enough on the station to know what lay ahead of her and she shared her husband's enthusiasm for riding and exploration. This may have come from her father. He rode throughout his diocese, which extended to Stewart Island, often accompanied by his son Henry, who was to become Archdeacon of Timaru.

In later years it was the custom for Acland and Tripp to say that they had imported their wives, basing their claim on the fact that they had been among the first to sign a petition asking for the appointment of a Bishop to serve the province.

It was in 1859 that the first annual show in Canterbury was held on the property of Dr Moorhouse. Johannes Andersen in his Jubilee History of South Canterbury suggests that Acland was the originator of the idea and Mount Peel would have been the show ground if the sheep from the north could have been got across the Rangitata. He writes that there were 28 pens in the show . . . many of singularly fine character."

The show was held in September under the auspices of the Canterbury Pastoral Association, with prizes for five different classes. Tripp in his diary makes an interesting story in a few words: Sheep show at Moorhouse's. Innes carried off most of the prizes. Dowling's sheep beat all I have ever seen. Gave our men a holiday. Chapman got drunk. De Renzy slept here".

In June 1862, the partnership was dissolved. This was to be expected as with Acland married, he was living with his bride in a small cottage behind the other buildings making up the homestead, and both Tripp and Acland were finding it unsatisfactory to live in the same part of their large, but as yet, partly stocked run. It must have been a solemn moment when the division was made. It was agreed that Tripp should say how the property was to be divided and Acland have the first choice of the property. He took Mount Peel and Tripp, Mount Somers and Orari Gorge. Mount Possession had been sold a year before. It is a comforting reminder that there are still Acland's at Mount Peel and Tripp's associated with Orari Gorge. That is the way the two men would have liked it. Mt Peel homestead was named " Holincote " after Acland's old Somerset home and for many years the name was generally used alone, or, as "Holincote, Mount Peel". Now the name has lost favour to the original Mount Peel. Tripp and Acland had worked well together, as partners. Acland had provided the steadiness to the swarms of ideas arising in Tripp's brain.

Like Acland, Tripp kept a diary. His letters are voluminous, but his writing indecipherable. Tripp left an enduring mark on Mount Peel. He had a fine eye for country and a liberal mind. He was progressive and eager to try experiments. He was considered a wonderful judge of men and a poor judge of stock. Nature intended Tripp to be a pioneer while he himself would have been uncertain whether the description fitted. He looked always to the future and a pioneer he remained until the end of his days. His family recalls his favourite saying: "If ever I am a millionaire I will spend every penny on wages and making 10 blades of grass grow where one grew before".  He was keenly religious, in a humble, simple way, and never missed Sunday services. There were two main reasons why he left England. One was to make enough money to retrieve his mother's property and the other to seek a way of life free from class distinctions. In England he could not bear the village children curtseying to him. Benevolence showed in his face as clearly as did those mixed qualities of simplicity and shrewdness. No runholder in Canterbury ever had more anecdotes told about him in the shearing sheds and musterers' huts than Tripp. The most memorable story concerning Tripp is recorded at the time when he was leaving Mount Peel. He and his wife were crossing the river to say goodbye to the Moorhouses. Mrs Tripp was washed down the river in a boat and Tripp found himself unable to go to her assistance. He is said to have shouted from the bank: "Goodbye, Ellen, meet you in heaven, you know; meet you in heaven."


In January 1857, the Mount Peel holdings contained 4000 sheep and 24 cows. The two partners had established themselves to their satisfaction after discouragements and disappointments. Runholders on the plains had called them cranks, but the eccentricity of taking up hill country was soon forgotten in the rush by others to follow their example. It was in '57 that 1,000,000 acres of high country was applied for and it was not surprising that in 1860 Samuel Butler had to go right to Mesopotamia, in the very shadow of the Main Divide, to obtain land. Butler, incidentally, was not the first to take up Mesopotamia country. Part of his land had been taken up by Henry Phillips jun. in October 1857, but was not stocked until 1860 when John Henry Caton, the man who had the celebrated quarrel with Butler, leased or bought Phillips' land.

The late 'sixties saw some changes in methods in station management. An enterprising Australian, who had come over to manage Shepherd's Bush Station, introduced the swing gate for drafting sheep. This did away with hand drafting when every sheep had to be caught and lifted into separate yards and those that were heaviest, dirtiest or had the largest horns usually proved to be quite invisible to the eye of the lazy shepherd. The custom of washing was out of fashion and runholders were beginning to shear their wool in grease and send it to the towns to be scoured. A few abandoned the method of baling wool with a spade and began to use screw presses; autumn lambing was already something of the past. The 'sixties saw the introduction also of the greatest revolution of all in sheep farming - galvanised wire.

With the partnership dissolved in 1862, Acland experienced prosperous times for the next two years, but 1864 showed a decline in prices which was to continue right up to the time of his death in 1904, at the age of 81.

In 1864, four, six and eight-tooth ewes were fetching about 30/- but by 1869 eight-tooth merino wethers were 6/-to 6/6. Ten years later merino ewes were worth 1/3 while poor conditioned or old sheep were worth nothing at all. In 1860 wool averaged 16d a lb. There was a gradual drop in 1870 and apart from some minor booms the fall in prices was steady until in 1895 rock bottom was reached for Mount Peel merino wool-59'4d. Five years later crossbred wool dropped to 4d. The start of frozen meat exports in 1881 helped runholders who, before that time, could do nothing with old surplus stock, but slaughter them.

It was on May 30, 1889, that the leases of the Canterbury hill stations were to be determined and put up for auction. Many men like Acland, who had spent years on their runs, built comfortable houses and laid out substantial gardens, looked to the date with some fear in the knowledge that they might be outbid for their leases.

The sale took place in Timaru and according to the newspaper report of the day, the country had been reclassified and subdivided with the result that Mount Peel was put up in three blocks and the Government fixed the upset rental at which the bidding should start. The sale in the Timaru Assembly Rooms saw Mount Peel No.1 block of 42,500 acres on a 21-year lease offered at an annual rental of 1050 pounds. This was returned to Acland at the upset price, but in the case of the second run of 58,000 acres on a 10-year rental a bidder ran the price up from 900  pounds to 1220 pounds a year before retiring in favour of Acland. The third block of 2700 acres for 10 years was retained without opposition at 90 pounds.

The report says that Tripp and Acland were cheered and clapped as they regained their runs. The same enthusiasm was not shown when T. Teschemaker's Otaio run was put up. It seems that an old enemy of Teschemaker was prepared to pay off an old score the expensive way. He did just that. The upset price was 485 pounds and several bidders were interested. It went up in 10 pounds rises until 670 pounds was reached where Teschemaker was obliged to retire in favour of his opponent. The report says: There was a storm of hisses and boos and turned on the audience and said, 'I want it to bury the bones of the Princess Royal in". This remark could hardly have endeared him to so touchy a gathering of run-holders. The same person had run up Acland and Tripp in their rentals and yet it was apparent that he had no desire to own their runs.

Asked why he had done it he could not supply an answer.

The great snow of 1895 saw disaster strike Acland and the station almost ruined. There was practically 100 per cent death rate in the hoggets in the Little Forks area, where there was three feet of snow for 10 weeks.

The manager at the time, Mr O. Scott Thomson reported that 51,000 sheep were turned out in '95 and 32,000 sheep shorn the next year leaving a loss of about 19,000 sheep. Wool prices were still low and even if the station were sold it would be at a loss. Some relief was provided by the Government, which gave remissions in rent equal to half the stock lost and extensions in leases.

After Acland's death it was left to the trustees, Messrs H. D. Acland, H. T. D. Acland and George Harper, to try to keep the station afloat for the benefit of the Acland family. The slump of the 'eighties was bad enough, but soon after the turn of the century, the Acland family had to face something even more depressing when money was urgently required to pay station debts. The principal creditor demanded the immediate payment of his debt of 20,000 pounds, but it seemed next to impossible to raise such an amount. Then A.E.G. Rhodes came forward as a guarantor. This was a shot in the arm for the station finances and 1911 foresaw yet another change in the fortunes of Mount Peel. It was time for the high country to be sub-divided once again and Commissioners rode through the tussock uplands to see how the various runs could be partitioned. It was the same year that shearing machines were installed and to house these a new shearing shed was erected. The old stone whare was abandoned as shearers' quarters and new bunkhouses built.
The trustees were alive to the public's feeling concerning sub-division in 1911. There is this comment in their annual report: The trustees view with considerable satisfaction the fact that some of the owners have become resident permanently at the homestead. Agitation and demand for sub-division increases each year and there will be considerable traffic past the homestead in future. Mount Peel is no longer a cul-de-sac. Under these circumstances public attention is likely to be drawn to anything that might cause an agitation for acquisition of the property. Neglect of duties cast upon owners of large properties can cause this agitation and the owners of Mount Peel Station must never forget that there are duties as well as privileges attached to properties of this kind.' There was one change in the trustees at this time, Mr Walter Empson replacing Mr Harper. More than half the country was taken over for closer settlement in 1912. The country partitioned was cut into six blocks:

Waikari Hills, 3200 acres, now owned by Mrs A. Allan;
Whiterock, 3300 acres, Mr W. Connolly;
Coal Hill, 4509 acres, Mr A. Taylor;
Rata Peaks, 6600 acres, Mr Edgar Allaen
Ben McLeod, 38,000 acres, Mr A. Taylor.
This cut in the holding reduced Mount Peel from a carrying capacity of 45,000 sheep to 20,000. The 1912 dispersal sale took place on February 20 when 25,000 sheep were sold by auction in the station wool shed. The sheep included merinos, half and three-quarter breeds, lambs, wethers and rams. The sheep were sold within three hours.
Until the sub-division the station was well balanced as regards winter country, but now it had lost a good proportion of this. The station became most difficult to manage because of faulty sub-division, which placed most of Mount Peel country on the west side of the Mount Peel range. The main out-station at Camp Gully could be reached by either going up the Orari River or over the Stew Point saddle, a distance of 28 miles.

There was insufficient ewe country and a proportion of the ewes as well as the hoggets had to be put on turnips on the Mount Peel farm, about 10 miles away on the plains. When the sub-division was first made J. Armstrong drew the bottom Isolated Hills block (now Waikari Hills Station), Leo Connolly, the Top Isolated Hills block (still in the Connolly family), A. Davidson, Coal Hill; Godfrey Waters, Stew Point; J. Parr, Rata Peaks; and E. Slowey, Ben McLeod. J. Armstrong was one of the best all-round station men in the district. He was a good musterer, shearer, fencer and butcher. He was noted for being able to tackle almost any job that the station required doing. So practical a man also had ideals, which were beyond the comprehension of many of his fellows.

During World War I he gave all his profits from the run to the Red Cross. He also attended farewell socials to soldiers in the district and at one of these functions he said from the platform that he would hand over his run and his stock to the first three local soldiers who returned from the war. These three soldiers, Alex Allan, Charlie Johnstone and George Parr, when they came home were given the run and stock in partnership. Eventually Alex Allan bought out his two partners and the property is now held by the Allan family.

The First World War saw an improvement in prices. There were no longer merino flocks run exclusively on Mount Peel, as in the founders' day. The climate is unsuited to the breed for Mount Peel has an average rainfall of 43 inches whereas in most parts of Canterbury the rainfall average is about 25 inches. It was this factor that decided the trustees in 1907 that English Leicester cross would be a more suitable breed. By 1945 the predominant breed was three-quarter bred Romney Merino and this type of sheep is on the station now.

In the 1916 Estate Report there was a 'considerable improvement shown in station finances. Greasy wool sold totalled 390 bales and the best price was 22d a lb. It was expected that the conditions would be better still. Cattle had been sold at 'extraordinary high prices, one fat heifer making 15 pounds at the Geraldine sale. Old ewes were selling at 20/- and two-tooths at 30/-. Labour costs were rising and there was a shortage of men to run the station. Shearers were being paid 25/- a 100, shed hands 2 pounds 10/ a week, day musterers 15/- a day and a young shepherd was engaged for 100 pounds a year.

The 1917 report records that Allan, the head shepherd had enlisted; Lindsay and Peterson had been wounded and Charles Livingstone killed. Farquharson was in camp and Sillifant and Gillespie due to go any day. A later report mentions that among station hands killed were Peterson, Sillifant, Cochrane and Rex Maister.

The assured Wool and meat prices brought prosperity and the station indebtedness was reduced to 3,779 pounds. In 1912 it had been 7,800 pounds. In 1918 wool was fetching as much as 19 3/4d a lb. But 1921 saw a post-war depression and the station recorded a loss of 4,000 pounds for the year for the first time since 1896. All wages were reduced by 10/- a head. The report complains of visitors and tourists encroaching on the privacy of the homestead. 'Many have no hesitation in coming into the garden and about the house. Large numbers visit the church.' Deer were apparently as interested as the public in the garden and these too were coming down in large numbers from Peel Forest.

There was a small profit on the year, 12 months later, but the station indebtedness was climbing again to 13,500 pounds. Wethers were selling at 16/6 and ewes at 14/6. Cattle made 10 pounds 5/- when three years before they had been worth 27 pounds. The top price for station wool was 21d. Higher costs of running the station were swallowing up profits and by 1925 the indebtedness was 15,000 pounds, even though wool was sold at 30d. In 1928 the top price for wool was 26 1/2d with an average of 20, 1/4d. High winds had damaged the conservatory and when it came to repairs the structure was found to be in poor repair and was dismantled.


It was an American poet who wrote that 'From the new earth, the dead return no more,' inferring that in new lands such as America and New Zealand there can be no ghost stories. Perhaps so, but there is a strange story bordering on the supernatural, concerning a burial not so many years ago at Mount Peel.

One day Mount Peel received an unexpected telephone call from Christchurch. A young man named E. Langford sought permission for his father to be buried at Mount Peel. Jack Acland was surprised at the request for he knew of no Langfords buried at the station churchyard, but he was ready to meet it. A check was made on the register and sure enough a brother had been buried there as a child. Jack Acland attended the church service and burial feeling that one member of the Acland family should be present. As was always his custom, he first tied up his dogs, making sure that they did not follow him to the Church of the Holy Innocents. After the service, Jack stood talking to Mr Langford when suddenly his dog, Snow' appeared at his side. The young man said nothing for a moment and then, white and shaken asked: 'Is that your dog, Mr Acland?'
'Yes, it is; why?'
'Because, as my father was dying, he said to me, "I want to be buried at Mount Peel and there will be a white dog at my funeral.'

Part of the folk-lore of the district is 'Te Wanahu's Corner,' the legend of a Maori Chief, Te Wanahu, who was supposed to have fought to the death in pitched battle against an invading tribe. There is a Totara on the road winding through Peel Forest carrying the sign where the last stand was supposedly made. It is material for a wonderful story, but in spite of the wealth of legend it is no more than that. All arises from a Christmas visitor to Mount Peel who told a tale too well.

Barton Acland had relatives from Cornwall staying with him, one of whom was Mr Dudley Mills, a man well steeped in Cornish folk lore. What could be more natural than that he should entertain the children on this Christmas Day picnic with a legend of old Cornwall. His hero was Wainhouse and to make his story more vivid 'Wainhouse, was changed to 'Te Wanahu and Cornish cliffs gave place to Peel Forest bush; smugglers became Maoris and a handy totara became the scene of a dramatic stand by this Maori chieftain while his women and children were to escape into the mountains. Yet there is a touch of tragedy about Te Wanahu Flat for near the great Totara tree a bushman was lost. Years later a skeleton was found near the tree. Was it the skeleton of the bushman? The more romantic, encouraged by the darkness and gloom of the surrounding bush, preferred the fiction of Te Wanahu, so, up went the sign. In actual fact, the skeleton was discovered before the Te Wanahu story was ever told ...  The late Miss Jessie Mackay was moved to write a poem about Te Wanahu in seventeen stanzas, which helped to make fact out of fiction:

At the side of the road which winds through Peel Forest, on the banks of the Rangitata, there is a tree which bears the inscription, "Te Wanahu Corner." Tradition says that this spot was the scene of an ancient Maori battle. An army from the North Island, in search of the greenstone so much prized among the Maoris, made a raid on the coast of South Canterbury. A fierce battle was fought between them and the Arowhenua tribe at Patiti Point, near Timaru. The invaders were victorious, and the Southern Maoris hastily retreated to Peel Forest and the gorge of the Rangitata ; but while in the bush they were overtaken by the enemy, a conflict ensued, and the Southern chief, Te Wanahu, was killed.

Here on the hill, where fern trees wave,
In the days of long ago
Was the last retreat of a Maori brave:
Wild and lone is the warrior's grave
Te Wanahu lies below.

On level Arowhenua plain,
And shore of Timaru,
That still their Maori names retain,
The Maories dwelt beneath the reign
Of brave Te Wanahu.

Over the deep a Northern crew,
Far in the days of yore,
Rowing the painted war-canoe,
Their faces dark with the fierce tattoo,
Came to Patiti shore.

Te Wanahu stood, as legends tell,
And swore, with martial breath,
To die or the Northern foe repel ;
They danced on the shore, with fearful yell,
The terrible dance of death.

They fought and fell by the ocean deep
Till the foam was red with gore;
High on the sand was a slaughtered heap ;
Long did the Maori mothers weep
For the fight at Patiti shore.

The battle was fought; the North had won ;
Te Wanahu's shattered band
Back to the pah in haste had gone.
In haste the chief at set of sun
Spoke to them, spear in hand :

"Hear, O tribe ! the fight is o'er :
The Northern gods are strong :
The sons of the North are at our door ;
The flower of my tribe on yonder shore
Lie a dead and ghastly throng !

"To-morrow raise the funeral cry ;
To-morrow lament the slain ;
To-night afar to the hill we fly,
Or else by the Northern spear we die
On Arowhenua plain."

"O Arowhenua, and Timaru tide,
Farewell!" the maidens said.
They thought of the braves on the beach who died ;
And the wives who were widowed wailed and cried
For the place where they were wed.

And so in the dark they fled away :
Te Wanahu led them on ;
Red was his hand from the fatal fray ;
Many a mile ere dawn of day
The wandering band had gone.

They reached the foot of a mountain high,
And entered the dark-green bush ;
But all too late  the foe is nigh;
The men of the North their march descry
With savage yell and rush.

On the hill Te Wanahu turned at bay;
" Let the women and weak go on :
My warriors, stand and guard the way;
We pass to the spirit-world to-day,
But we go not there alone.

"Look your last on hill and sky,
Accursed Northern race ! "
He brandished his greenstone mere high,
And shouted a Maori battle-cry ;
The foe came on apace.

The bird of the forest, scared away,
Far on the mountain flew ;
Crushed were the ferns and red that day,
The frail white creeper shattered lay
At the foot of Te Wanahu.

Mothers of Manukau tore their hair
For the braves who came no more ;
And maids of Waikato, in dark despair,
Mourned for the host that perished there
Or died at Patiti shore.

But the men of the South were failing fast
Around their dying chief.
He fell at the foot of a pine at last;
Through Reinga gate his spirit passed
With grim farewell and brief.

And still the Rangitata rolls,
And wails in a tongue unknown
For Te Wanahu and his warriors' souls ;
For them no Christian requiem tolls :
They lie in the forest lone.
by Jessie McKay 

Maori Legends


At Mount Peel, the battle against the elements has always, and will always, be unceasing It is a high country station bared in parts to the searing nor'-westers beating down from the Southern Alps, to a heavy rainfall when country only a few miles away is parched and dry, and to snowfalls which have threatened the very life of the station and all its hands. While the wind and the rain can always be met, no answer has been found to the snow which overnight may turn a year's labour from profit to loss and possible bankruptcy.  About once every eight to ten years heavy snows have swept the South Island since the settlement of Mount Peel. For the record, the station experienced its worst snows in the years 1862, 1867, 1878, 1888, 1895, 1903, 1908, 1918, 1929, 1933 and 1945.

Until 1862 the colonists did not know what the climate was capable of producing; the '62 storm, when Geraldine flat was covered up to a depth of two feet, was thought to be abnormal. They were disabused in '67 when the back country suffered from snow for five successive days. The custom then was for lambing in late July-August and some high country properties lost as many as 90 per cent of their lambs. At Mount Peel 10,000 sheep were lost out of a flock of 31,000.

One of the early snowstorms is described by Edward Chudleigh. He writes "We all started about 7 a.m. and I went to the top of the Orari Pass to join Abner and four others. By 10 a.m. we were spread all over the country to bring the sheep to one place, put them over the creek and take them on next day. We hitched the tent after a fashion with two walking sticks three feet long for poles at each end. In this tent six of us existed for 40 hours. We were on a saddle 4000 ft up and owing to the nature of the ground we were obliged to pitch tent on the side of the saddle, so the water oozed through the earth making the inside of the tent quite wet. A cold south-west wind was blowing and the weather thickening from rain into snow. The next day the snow was so thick as to cut visibility down to 20 yards. The party had 20 pounds of sugar with them and breakfasted on bread and sugar. For want of something better to do they had another meal later in the morning, the diet being the same".

'Our appetites were very good,' he writes. 'There is about two feet of snow on the ground and we are getting very tired and the others are getting cramped for lying so long on their sides. We have no room to lie on our backs.' Next day the snow stopped but the party broke camp at 5 a.m. in thick fog. Chudleigh writes 'Abner, who is an absolute brick among us, ventured to try to cross the top of Coal Hill, which is the way we ought to have gone, but before 8 a.m. we gave it up and made a sideling under the top to cross the valley.' The party went down the lower ridge, which added six miles to the journey, but they managed to get down by 1 p.m. Twice they unloaded the packhorse to get it out of snow drifts. During the last part of the journey the horse with them was sliding so badly in the snow that the men had to carry all the gear.

In 1888 snow came again to Mount Peel. The fall was not so severe as in 1867 but the station lost 6000 sheep out of a flock of 43,000.

The worst winter for snow was experienced by the station in 1895. As mentioned in an earlier chapter, about 19,000 sheep were lost.
In early June there was a succession of storms, which placed the sheep in difficulties on the back country. The night of June 24 brought the heavy fall. The storm came from the south-west and by the following morning snow lay deep all over the hills and valleys. It surged over the ridges and smothered sheep as they huddled in camps; and while the current storm abated, snow fell throughout June, July and August, giving the station a covering of three feet. Two thousand sheep died and were skinned on the Little Forks between the Phantom and Hewson Rivers.

In the heavy fall of 1903 the whole of the Orari basin was under two feet of snow. The fall started on July 11 and the thaw began on August 8. That winter brought a loss of 7000 sheep.

The year 1908 saw a heavy fall in the Orari country, which increased, from two feet at the junction of the Orari and Hewson Rivers to three feet at the Tin Hut at the junction of the Hewson and Quartz Creek. On the Little Forks country only two top wires of the fence could be seen. The manager, Mr D. Livingstone, anticipated a bad winter and ewes had been taken off this country and so what might have been a 50 per cent loss was averted. This was small consolation as the tallies showed the station to be 8000 sheep short.
Mr G. Dickson, manager in 1918, gives a picture of the series of falls in his report to the Acland Estate. In late June and early July 14 inches of snow lay around the homestead, and at Coal Creek there was three feet of snow. Fortunately a nor'-wester saved the country, bringing a local thaw. Mount Peel escaped comparatively lightly. At the same time North Canterbury stations suffered severely.

In 1929 the snowstorm which started on July 15 lasted two days. All the flat from the Forks of the Orari to the Tin Hut was covered with two feet of snow and the Little Forks country by three feet. Although ewes had been shifted from this country there was still about 15 per cent loss of sheep.

In the 1933 storm precautions were taken to save many sheep, and by the time the 1945 storm came along, the back country of Mount Peel Station had been sold.

Mount Peel had learned the hard way just how dangerous the country could be if sheep were left on the back country. It was almost impossible to clear the back area of sheep in a bad winter. Snow and ice made it difficult and dangerous for sheep, horses and men to travel over the 4000 ft Stew Point saddle; it was equally hard going travelling down Quartz Creek in the Orari country.  In the search to find a safe wintering country the estate, in 1904, bought a farm 10 miles below the station where sheep were wintered on turnips. Difficulty of access was always to be a problem on Mount Peel, winter and summer. Steep slopes and narrow gullies made for hard mustering and rabbiting, not to mention fencing. The dark side of the Mount Peel range of about 40,000 acres, could only be handled by packing material and supplies up the Orari Gorge, or over the zigzag at Stew Point and right over the range. From the homestead to the back hut was a 28-mile trip with a long, hard, time-wasting climb.

The dangers of Stew Point are recalled by Leo Acland. He mentions in his Early Canterbury Runs that the largest mob of sheep he ever saw was at Stew Point, where it was the custom to bring 22,000 sheep together. The station once had a bad smother there. A man new to the country was following part of a mob down from what looks from above a perfectly good spur, but which really ends in two bluff gullies. The sheep turned back, but he hunted them on and 1100 went over before they could be stopped. Mount Peel was unlucky with smothers and part of a mob of 5000 was also smothered in the gully this side of Rawle's Yards. In 1902, after a big flood, a mob of sheep were mustered to the top of Chapman's paddock. The flood had scoured out a small gully to a depth of seven feet, too wide for sheep to cross. No one saw the scour and by the time the musterers reached the spot the gully was filled with dead ewes and lambs until it was bridged with smothered sheep.

The snowstorms in the early days had one compensation in that they killed the rabbits. Rabbits were first sighted on Peel in the late 'seventies. They became bad enough to need permanent rabbiters, but they were worse on Mesopotamia and the other gorge stations. Charles Tripp first sounded the alarm. In 1878 he mentions being troubled by the rabbit pest, but three years later a trip to Lake Wakatipu with his family showed him just what a rabbit could do to lay waste the land. Tripp came home with the zeal of a reformer prepared to cleanse the Temple and wrote to Acland and every neighbour he could think of warning them of the peril on their doorsteps. Before they had time to decipher the communications a further letter had been delivered demanding to know why they had not answered the first. Acland received a letter complete with diagrams that appeared to trace the pedigree of some particular important sire. Closer inspection showed that Tripp had worked out just how prolific the rabbit had been since it was first released in Invercargill in 1864.

The Government took action, passing a new Rabbit Nuisance Act in 1882, and stoats and weasels were imported two years later to stop the spread of the pest, and even gassing was tried, but Mount Peel had best results from phosphorus and strychnine poisoning, coupled with the snowstorms of 1888 and 1895. While the Government was planning control with one hand it conveniently overlooked its action on the other by permitting the export of rabbit skins which in 1882 had reached the phenomenal total of more than 9,000,000.

During the 1914-18 war when men became short and gas was being put to more serious use, the rabbits again increased and it was prophesied that rabbit farming might be more profitable than sheep. New Zealand learned slowly and it was to see the start of World War II before an all-out campaign with a killer policy and rabbit boards was to bring the rabbit under control. Mount Peel to-day is relatively free of rabbits and the strictest measures are undertaken to keep the balance of power in favour of the runholder. Where the rabbit failed to do damage around the homestead block, gorse and sweet briar did. Fencing was always a problem with the pioneers. The ditch and bank' method was first used involving the digging of a ditch and placing the sods to form an embankment about three feet high. The early settlers planted gorse because no wire was available. The nor'-westers and a bountiful climate did the rest. The gorse flourished far beyond the fences and finally took over pasture. With labour difficulties in later years not enough men could be spared to grub the gorse, a labour few farm hands regard with enthusiasm anyway, so it was a matter of keeping the gorse in check rather than of eradicating it. Hormone spraying is now eradicating the gorse and bringing the land back into production. Deer have proved troublesome to the homestead on occasions, but both deer and chamois provide good sport on the 'tops.'

Chapter Thirteen: MEN OF FAITH

Barton Acland and Charles Tripp came from traditional land-owning families in the West of England. They understood the duty and policy of encouraging employees to settle down and bring up their families on Mount Peel and they showed them every consideration. Their absolute faith in the future of their venture and in the future of New Zealand is borne out by their decision to build a substantial homestead within a few years of the first settlement. They laboured hard and risked much and the station today is a monument to their efforts. In the surrounding countryside descendants of the first employees now live, prosperous farmers in their own right. Mount Peel homestead has weathered the years comfortably and nestles in a small forest of English and native trees. Aclands of the second, third and fourth generations have followed faithfully the tradition of the founders and the family maintains the reputation, established 100 years ago, of hospitality, integrity and service to the community. If Barton Acland could view the country to-day from the peak of his beloved Mount Peel, he would see the road running south like a white ribbon into the wooded plains; he would see prosperity all round him and feel well satisfied. Indeed, the land is bright.


1855-1910  - 100,000 acres wintering about 45,000 sheep.
1910-1938  - 6,000 acres plus a 600 acre farm wintering about 20,000 sheep and 120 cattle.

1945- About 18,000 acres of freehold and leasehold including the front facings of Mount Peel lent by Mr Haldon Beattie. The area winters 7000 three-quarter bred Romney Merino sheep and 850 Aberdeen Angus cattle.

The country runs from Little Mount Peel to the top of Coal. The distance is about 12 miles ranging from 4500 ft to 5600 ft. Just over half the country is over 2500 ft and the balance between 1000 and 2500 ft. The lowest rainfall is 33 in. and the highest 57 in. The average is 43 in. The wettest months are November, December, and January. About 800 acres are ploughable chiefly between 1400 ft and 2000 ft.

The station is 43 miles from Timaru at the mouth of the Rangitata Gorge. It is 37 miles inland from Ashburton. In 1855 New Zealand exported 1,772,344 lb. of wool at an average price of 12.6d., and a total value of 93,106 pounda. The 1954-55 season saw about 406,000,000 lb. of wool exported valued at about 89,000,000 pounds. The average price was 49.67d.

The following summary records highlights in the history of the station:
1855 Mount Peel country first explored
1856  Sheep bought and the brand AT registered (Acland-Tripp).
May 10: Established Mount Peel.
1858 September 23: Charles Tripp married a daughter of Bishop Harper.
1860 January 17: Barton. Acland married a daughter of Bishop Harper.
1864 Adam Irvine's house built (now Frank Joines')
1866 Present homestead completed
1869 Church of the Holy Innocents completed.
1887 Water supply for house put in.
1888 Bad snow.
1895 Snow worst ever recorded.
1903 Snow.
1908 Snow. Sheep shorn were 8000 less than turned out.
1910 Last shearing in old shed.
1911 Machine shearing.
1912 Government took over more than half the station.
1916 Lynn Bridge built.
1918 Snow.
1920 Present men's whare built.
1929 Snow on July 6. Resumed blade shearing.
1932 Drought, January and February.
1936 First Aberdeen Angus bulls turned out
1938 Disposed of back country.
1943 Snow on June 29 - 12 inches at house.
1944 Started selling cattle at Temuka special sale. Top price for steer calves 8 pounds 10/--.
1945 Snow on July 13-21 inches at house
1948 Bert Loffhagen shore 230 ewes with the blades in 8 hrs. 40 min.
1949-50 Top-dressed from air.
1951-52 Floods on March 18. Electric-power brought to station from Ashburton.
1952 Snow on October 2-8 inches at the house.
1955 Pre-lamb shearing of two tooths

J.B. A. Acland and C. G. Tripp (owners)
Henry Dumoulin (overseer)
Robert Smith
Ned Samson
Black Andy
Abner Clough
Robinson Clough
William Wyatt
Tim Tyler
James Rawle
'Liverpool' Jack
'Sandy' McLeod
Sharp (cadet)
Edward Chudleigh (cadet)

Jack Acland (manager)
Frank Joines (head shepherd)
Trevor Bowman (ploughman)
Jack Pinkerton (cowman-gardener)
Bay Burrows (fencer)
Pat Sugrue (shepherd)
Robin Button (shepherd)
Mark Acland (roustabout)


Timaru Herald 26 Oct. 1874. Tender - Michaell Mitton, managerMANAGERS
1858 Henry Dumoulin (overseer)
1861 Alexander McPherson (overseer)
1862 Adam Irvine (overseer)
1873 Michael Mitton
1888 John Acland
1893 Scott Thomson
1905 D. Livingstone
1913 G. Dickson
1919 D. Pringle
1931 J. and C. Acland
1933 J. Acland
1961 John and Mark Acland

1861 Adam Irvine
1871 Sandy McLeod
1893 John McLeod
1897 J. Turton
1899 W. Heney
1907 M. McDonald
1909 Duncan Livingstone
1912 Alex Allan
1916 F. Stevenson
1923 W. Pringle
1928 J. Grieves
1929 G. Edge
1934 W. Hardie
1942 F. Joines
1961 P. Sugrue

The men on Mount Peel 1926 - 1956 (This list is by no means complete but recalls the names of many of the men who worked for several years on the station).

Jim Binnie
J. Chapman
H. Chisholm
G. Edge
Jimmy Evans
Paul and Lloyd Evans
R. Evans
J. Gibson
C. Gibson
W. Hardie
L. Harrington
A. Pringle
G. Smith
Tommy and Fred Stevenson
L. Timpson
H. Walker
J. Walker
Frank Eaton
George Fifield

A. Rae
'Shorty' Smith

Owen Keen

Pat Hand
C. and H. Gibson

L. Bell
F. Brown
E. Hall
C. Home
G. Hornbrook
Bob Johnston
A. Mackie
J. Mackie
J. Nicholls
D. Smith
G. Smith
H. Stewart
F. Stevenson JR.



The Early Canterbury Runs by L. C. D. Acland. A Jubilee History of South Canterbury by Johannes C. Andersen.
High Country by Randal M. Burdon.
Erewhon and First Year in the Canterbury Settlement by Samuel Butler.
High Country Journey by Peter Newton.
The Diary of E. R. Chudleigh.

Diary of J. B. A. Acland and C. G. Tripp.
Notes by members of the Acland family.
Letters of J. B. A. Acland.
The Exploration and Settlement of the Upper Rangitata District, Thesis by Coral T. Anderson.

Peden, Robert Making Sheep Country - Mt Peel Station and the Transformation of the Tussock Lands, Published: January 2011 by Auckland University Press.  Pages: 280 From the 1840s through WWI the South Island was transformed as large tracts of land were claimed, native vegetation was burned, and large-scale sheep farming was established for wool and, later, meat production. This record focuses on one case study in particular John Barton Acland and the Mt. Peel Station to explain how the pastoralists modified their environment. Providing ample insight into the farmers world, from the sheep they bred to the rabbits, droughts, and floods they fought, this history is a sweeping portrait of the economic and ecological transformation of New Zealand. Has a photo of the first house taken by A.C. Barker in 1861.

Wilson, Gillian, 1958- Mount Peel Station, 1856-1982 : a historical study of the development of a high-country run in Canterbury, New Zealand : this dissertation has been completed in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Diploma in Landscape Architecture, Lincoln College / Gillian Wilson.
Held Lincoln University Library

Timaru Herald, 22 May 1876, Page 3
Mr Acland pointed out that acreage was no criterion of what constituted a proper division of a parochial district. The Temuka portion would be the most populous.

Scotburn map

The first recorded introduction of radiata pine to New Zealand was at Mt Peel Station in South Canterbury in 1859.

Kerr, Phyllis. Tarahaoa: history, story and legend of Peel Forest. Christchurch: Jane Kerr, 1985.

Timaru Herald, 30 December 1893, Page 3
DEATH OF BISHOP HARPER. The Lyttelton Times, referring to the death of the late Bishop Harper, states that it was only on Friday last that he to took his bed, and and Wednesday his eldest son, the Ven Archdeacon Harper, was summoned from Timaru. Yesterday morning he appeared to rally, but about three o'clock in the afternoon he fell asleep, and passed away peacefully. He was conscious up to within a few hours of his end, and spoke cheerfully of himself. He was within ten days of reaching his ninetieth year, and last Monday completed his thirty eighth year of service in the colony. The Press says that despite his great age, the Bishop was exceedingly active, and was to be seen briskly walking through the streets up to quite recently. During the last four months, however, his health bad failed somewhat, and he had suffered from restlessness. Up to the last hour of his death be retained full procession of his faculties, and passed peacefully and quietly away surrounded by several members of his family. The deceased leaves a very large family. His wife died in 1886. The golden wedding celebration took place on December 12th, 1879. On this occasion presentations were made to the Bishop and Mrs Harper not only from their numerous family and relations, but also from a number of old settler.. The number of descendants number over one hundred. The sons of the deceased are Ven Archdeacon Harper, Dr Harper, Rev. W. Harper, and Messrs Leonard and George Harper. The daughters are Mrs Acland, Mrs Tripp, Mrs Blakiston, Mrs C. P. Cox, and Mrs Maling.

Timaru Courier June 10 2010 pg 7
Foresight saves forest remnants from complete destruction by fire and axe.

 AS early as 1857, Thomas Cass, the Chief Surveyor of Canterbury, with a personal knowledge of the standing timber on the Geraldine site, had published a Gazette notice on July 25 stating that all Crown lands within the township on which trees were standing, were reserved for the preservation or sale of such timbers and the open slather was rationalised to some extent. Unfortunately for his good intentions, a large fire destroyed much of the bush at Kakahu in December 1875, the destruction being made worse by a drought in spring in 1878 when undergrowth and discarded branches left by millers in the Raukapuka bush had dried out. In mid November, fire had broken out when sparks from smouldering logs were carried into this tinder dry material by strong winds and by evening the flames had swept through more than 20ha of bush. That night the flames reached the bush on the hill above Geraldine. Fire brigades came from as far afield as Temuka, but their primitive equipment was inadequate to have much effect on the wall of advancing flames. Eight days later, the fire was still raging, and had reached virgin bush owned by the sawmillers Maslin and Gibson. By the time the wind had died down, much of the Raukapuka bush was gone. The trees in Peel Forest disappeared not through fire but by the efforts of man. Oliver Gillespie, in South Canterbury: a Record of Settlement, writes: The original forest, as Acland and Tripp found it, contained mighty totara and black and white pines towering above a middle tier of broadleaf trees, the floor a mass of ferns in great variety. Peel Forest extended up the southern face of the mountain and its eastern spur to the 600m level and then spread fanwise on the flat terrace lands southwards to the 240m level, where it joined the kowhai, manuka, cabbage trees, flax and matagouri before breaking into tussock plain. To the east, the forest ran to the bank of the Rangitata and northwards it spread over the wide river flats at the foot of Little Mount Peel, extending up a spreading valley for a distance of more than 3km. In 1856, the first trees began to fall in this magnificent forest and thereafter the timber received no mercy. Runholders were soon applying for sections of splendid trees. The first block of 20 acres [8.1ha], Section 803, was taken by C. G. Tripp for himself and Acland, near where Francis Jollie's house was afterwards built. The Rhodes brothers took 115 acres [46.5ha] on the river flats and up the terraced bank to the edge of what was known as the Agnes Mills bush, and also a 75 acre [30.4ha] block near what is now Blandswood's Corner. Other runholders selected similar blocks where the finest timber stood. The Peel Forest Hall stands on part of a 20 acre block taken up by Scott and Grey, and William Wilson, the Christchurch nurseryman who sold plants, shrubs and trees to the pioneers, also bought a 20 acre block in Peel Forest. The first and most famous of the pit sawyers was Ben Thorn, who was paid 20 shillings a hundred feet [30.5m] for sawn timber and scantlings, 20 shillings a thousand for shingles, and 40 shillings a thousand for laths. He used to draw his supplies from the Mt Peel homestead. John Ryan followed him but received only 16 shillings a hundred for his sawn timber. These two men cut much of the timber used for homesteads and station buildings within reach of the forest, for the runholders selected sections which could be reached most easily by their bullock wagons. Most of the timber used for the Mt Peel homestead and station came from trees then growing along the Lynn stream. The sawyers lived in V huts thatched with totara bark. It was not until April 1857 that a horse track was made through the forest. Before that, travellers between Mt Peel Station and Geraldine had to cross and recross the Rangitata River, because the dense forest extended to the water's edge. Some years later the track was made sufficiently wide for the passage of vehicles. The preservation of Peel Forest of today is due principally to the generosity and foresight of Arthur Mills, a relative of the Aclands of Mt Peel. When he visited New Zealand in 1881 he was much concerned by the activities of the sawmillers and realised the forest must ultimately disappear. This prompted him to buy 40 acres [16.2ha] of forest bordering the present road and north and south of the stone bridge which crosses a stream flowing to the river. hen Mills died in 1898 his sons sold this section of virgin forest to the government at much below its value. Other areas have since been added and by an Act of Parliament in 1926 the Peel Forest Park was constituted. There are now 1200 acres [485.6ha] of this forest, which is cared for by a local body. Splendid groves of kowhai, the glory of the landscape in spring, extend to the river flats.

Cottage industry: Workers pose by a steam engine used for milling timber on Mt Peel Station, date unknown. Photo: South Canterbury Museum P2008/075.03

Auckland Star, 7 March 1942, Page 9 NATURALIST'S DEATH
MR. W. W. SMITH One of New Zealand's most prominent horticulturists and naturalists who had been recognised by the King for his work, has died at New Plymouth. He was Mr. W. W. Smith, aged 90. At various times during his life, Mr. Smith was in charge of the Ashburton Domain, the public gardens at Palmerston North, and for twelve years, from 1906 to 1918, he was in control of Pukekura Park, New Plymouth, designing the general plan for the park. Mr. Smith was born in Hawick, Scotland, and when he came to New Zealand was in charge of the late Mr. J. B. A. Acland's garden at Mount Peel, Canterbury, forever four years. He was later appointed a commissioner to the scenery department of the New Zealand. Government. many years Mr. Smith corresponded with children interested in insects and plants. He was granted a medal by the King in 1936. Three sons survive him.

Auckland Star, 25 July 1933, Page 6
Mules In Canterbury. Though the motor lorry has now superseded the bullock-wagon and the pack-horse in taking supplies to most back-country stations, survivals of earlier methods of transport are still to be found in some of the more remote parts of Canterbury. On Mount Peel station pack mules are still kept to carry supplies over the rough hill tracks to some of the huts, and mules are frequently to be seen in the holding paddocks by the roadside beyond Peel Forest. On at least one other station in the district donkeys once a familiar sight on the beaches at Sumner and New Brighton are kept for breeding purposes.

Press, 16 October 1913, Page 6
A party from Woodbury consisting of Mr Burdon and his son and Mr Eustace Cox and his sister, started early on Tuesday morning to ascend Mt. Peel. They motored to the Acland homestead, and although the weather was threatening, and the tops of the hills wore enveloped in fog, they decided to make the ascent. As they had not returned when darkness set in, a search party was sent out by Mr Empson, and another party went out at daybreak yesterday morning from Mt. Peel homestead. On receipt of a telephone message at Orari Gorge station at nine o'clock a party was sent up the Orari river with provisions, as it was considered possible that owing to the fog the party might have taken a spur leading to the Orari river instead of the Rangitata. The mountaineers only had sufficient food with them for luncheon, and they must have suffered some hardships, although the weather was fine and mild after midnight. Late yesterday afternoon the missing party was discovered by a search party, but no details are available.

Mount Peel Church photo taken by A.C. Barker.


South CanterburyGenWeb Home Page

'Those who roam across the seas change their sky not their hearts'.

The Harper family motto.