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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Nelson, Marlborough & Westland Provincial Districts]

Wairau Valley

Wairau Valley.

Wairau Valley is situated on the right bank of the Wairau river, about twenty-three miles west of Blenheim, and is the centre of an extensive sheepfarming and flaxmilling district. The Hillersden run, one of the largest sheep stations in Marlborough, is situated close to the township, and there are also other large stations in the district. Across the river, immediately opposite, lies the Government settlement known as North Bank. Wairau Valley has a church, a public school, and an hotel; the different trades are represented, and there is a post and telegraph office. It is connected by a good metalled road with Blenheim, and there is a bi-weekly mail coach service.

Hillersden Flaxmill (Messrs Carter Brothers, proprietors), Wairau Valley. This is the leading flaxmill in the province, and thoroughly up to date in every respect. The motive power is supplied by an eight-horse power turbine (Herculos), and an eight-horse power portable engine, which drive two strippers, a scutcher, and a circular saw. Water is supplied by a race, which is five miles in length, and taps Boundary Creek and its small tributaries. The mill gives employment to twenty-five persons in full work. Most of the raw material is procured on the Hillersden station, and the refuse (short and young leaves) is finished off by the use of hacklers, and sold as second-class fibre. The weekly output of this mill is about four tons and a half, and the quality ranks as first-class, the brand, “C.B. over H.,” being well known on the London market. A single bale, exhibited at the Marlborough Agricultural and Pastoral Show of 1898, secured first prize against competitors.

Mr. L. Whitwell , formerly manager of the Hillersden flaxmill, is a native of Nelson, and the fourth son of Captain Whitwell, well known in Nelson. He was educated at the Nelson public schools, and learned the trade of fitter at the Anchor Foundry, where he worked for some years. After that he went to the Wairau, where he carried on farming with little success. He then returned to Nelson where he engaged in flaxmilling, which he also followed at Foxton, where he was employed at Rutherford and Pascall's mills, which he left to take up the management of the Hillersden flaxmill.

Erina” is a good little run situated in the Wairau Valley, and was one of the first stations taken up in the district. It has been the property of the present owner, Mr. G. F. Watts, since 1883. It consists principally of hilly country, and is suitable only for Merino sheep, having no agricultural land, with the exception of a few paddocks. Mr. G. F. Watts is the only surviving son of the late Mr. C. F. W. Watts, who was one of the pioneers of New Zealand, and also one of the earliest settlers in the Wairau district. Mr. G. F. Watts, since the death of his elder page 431 brother, Mr. C. A. Watts, has resided at “Lansdowne,” which has been the property
Mr. G. F. Watts.

Mr. G. F. Watts.

of the Watts' family since it was first acquired from the Government by his father in the early days of the settlement of the Colony. “Lansdowne” is a good station adjoining
The late Mr. C. F. W. Watts.

The late Mr. C. F. W. Watts.

“Erina,” and suitable in the same way for the breeding of Merino sheep. It is chiefly hilly country, but has sufficient flat land to make a few home paddocks.

Hillersden” is nearly 155,000 acres in extent. It lies in the Wairau Valley, Waihopai Valley, and at the head of the Ascheron river, and is the property of Messrs Carter Brothers. The proprietors have a freehold title to about 80,000 acres, and the balance is held under lease. Almost the whole of the run is hilly, and the flat country contains from 9000 to 10,000 acres. About 3500 acres are laid down in English grasses, and the whole property is subdivided into sixty small, and twenty large divisions. There are plantations covering 400 acres of land, planted in blocks between the paddocks on the flats. The run carries on an average about 45,000 Merino sheep, and has a fair average clip of eight pounds and a half. The scoured wool alone runs into a total of 300 bales. There is an excellent stud flock—about 1500 Merino ewes and the necessary number of rams, some of them specially imported from South Australia, and all of the well-known Murray breed. There is accommodation at the home station for about seventy men; twenty-five are constantly employed, and the number is increased by about forty during shearing time. “Hillersden” is one of the largest sheep runs in Marlborough.

Mr. James Bell , the Manager of “Hillersden,” is a son of the late Mr. William Bell, at one time well known in Nelson and Marlborough as the owner of Benopai station and St. Leonard's estate. Mr. Bell was born
Mr. J. Bell.

Mr. J. Bell.

in Scotland, and came out to Queensland with his parents when only five years of age. After spending seven years in Australia, the family crossed to New Zealand, and settled down in Marlborough. Owing to his time being fully taken up with the management of “Hillersden,” Mr. Bell has no leisure to identify himself with public affairs. He is part owner of the Waipapa run, in the Clarence district.
Bonnington, Henry, Farmer, Wairau Valley. Mr. Bonnington was born at Chesterfield, in Derbyshire. England, in the year 1833, was brought up to farming under his father, and in 1851 came to New Zealand. For a time, Mr. Bonnington was engaged in farming, hotelkeeping, and butchering in Richmond and other parts of Nelson, and was also for a few months at the Collingwood diggings. Later on, he conducted an hotel for several years in Picton, and
Macey photo.Mr. H. Bonnington.

Macey photo.
Mr. H. Bonnington.

afterwards joined in the Wakamarina rush, though without much success. Mr. Bonnington subsequently took up his present farm in the Wairau, which consists of 300 acres of freehold grazing land. He was for a long time a member of the local school committee, and for several years its chairman. Mr. Bonnington has been married for nearly fifty years. He has, surviving, thirteen children, a large number of grandchildren, and several greatgrand-children.