The first European Settler
On July 18th, 1854 the first wheel marks known to the Waimate land were cut by the bullock team of 21 yearold Michael Studholme. He came across the Waimate Creek with his companion Saul Shrives and the men brought their small caravan to a halt.
According to some authorities, they were accompanied by another man named Batterby but of him nothing is known. Possibly he returned to Christchurch.
The slow moving team had made the journey south from Christchurch in mid winter. For the last thirty miles Studholme and Shrives had followed no track. Their way lay through tussock, flax, swamp, and creek.
So it was that when the small equipage rounded the point of the Waimate Bush the two men breathed a sigh of relief.
Every yard of the 150 mile trek had been a fight. Unfordable streams and rivers had been encountered. It had been necessary to unload the dray and pack the load across piecemeal, then load up again.
The two men who forded the Waimate Creek and pitched their camp at the Point Bush on July 18, 1854. would have struck anyone who met them as an oddly matched pair.
A husky young man, tall and strongly built with fair hair, beard and grey-blue eyes, Michael Studholme, the third of the four sons of John Studholme of Kingsmore and later of Morton, near Carlisle in the border district of Cumberland, was strong-willed and kindly. An honest man, he was intolerant of dishonesty.
Saul Shrives, Studholme's bullock driver, was, on the other hand, rather a gloomy fellow and ignorant and superstitious. He could neither read nor write. But in these latter limitations he was no real oddity in those days.
It is not known exactly how long it took Studholme to travel from Christchurch to the Point Bush, but it has been estimated at about six weeks. Besides nature's obstacles Studholme was confronted with another in the shape of his companion.
Shrives frequently sat down and declared it was impossible to cross a river or creek. Several times he refused to budge until Studholme set to work to unload the dray, undaunted by his companion's attitude.
Shrives carried his despondency to the extent of predicting death for his bullocks at each river crossing and he relentlessly argued with Studholme. But for all that he was a good bullock driver and he had a wholesome respect for his employer.
That this bond of affection was reciprocated there is little doubt. Shrives was an honest worker and honesty was a quality that counted with Studholme.
When Studholme and Shrives reached the Point Bush the scene that met their eyes was very different from Waimate as it is today.
There was something like 3000 acres of virgin forest and a wilderness of flax, rushes, scrub and swamp.
Hard by the Waimate Creek was the Maori pa. It stood on a corner of the bush.
At the time there were about fifty Maori living at the pa, but it was built to accommodate many more for the forest was a natural hunting ground and during the fishing and game seasons many Maori came from Arowhenua and the south to live there.
The day after his arrival Studholme went to the pa to see Huruhuru. The two men evidently understood each other and Studholme made an agreement with the Maori to observe the boundary and not to interfere with any of the rights of the pa. This agreement was kept faithfully and the two men worked together in harmony until Huruhuru died in 1861.
The South Island Maori were a peace-loving folk and highly intelligent and this, no doubt, made Studholme's initial task a good deal easier.
It was probably the war-like nature of the North Island Maori that led to the establishment of the Waimate pa. In 1836, the North Island natives came down the West Coast and threatened to kill the South Islanders. Hawea pa was deserted and some of the Maori came over to the Waitaki. Among them were Huruhuru, his mother Kaiko, his sister Papa and two brothers, Kapa and Riko.
The family lived at the Awamoko pa on the southern side of the Waitaki, nearly opposite Redcliff, but after a time Huruhuru moved to Waimate on the advice of his family. There he ultimately became the chief.
When Studholme met him he found a fine-looking man with noble features. Huruhuru was heavily tattooed. his face being entirely covered and he had a high intelligent brow and bright piercing eyes.
Below the waist Huruhuru was paralysed and he could move only his arms. However, there was nothing wrong with his mental faculties and he was the respected ruler of the pa.
The meeting with Studholme was not Huruhuru's first dealing with a European. In 1844 the "protector of the Natives," Edward Shortland, met him. Shortland had been sent out from England to inquire into the welfare of the Maori and he visited the Waimate district during his travels. There he met Huruhuru and the chief drew him a plan of the country which showed the course of the Waitaki River and lakes at its sources as well as Lakes Hawea and Wanaka.
Thus it was that on July 18, 1854, at a meeting outside a Maori whare between a husky young Briton and a revered, crippled Maori chief, the basis for the community, which was to become Waimate, was established.
Studholme turned away trom Huruhuru's whare and immediately went to work. Six years later he married in Christchurch and brought his young bride to his home. But between those two significant events Waimate, or, as it was then known Te Wai-mate-mate, must have developed fairly quickly.
Four years after Studholme and Shrives crossed the Waimate Creek for the first time, there was a fortnightly mail service from Christchurch. The bullock drays had made a reasonably well defined track between Timaru and the little settlement on the fringe of the bush and there was a considerable amount of traffic along the route. The drays brought goods for the stations and on their return to Timaru they carried the timber from the Waimate Bush. Much of this timber was destined for use in the construction of houses in the growing coastal town.
First girl born in Waimate
The first European girl was born in Waimate on July 14th,1862 :Sarah Ann, first daughter of Richard Champion.
First store opened in 1863
It is believed there were about 200 people living near Waimate in 1860. They were mainly bushmen and they had needs that had to be catered for, but it was not until 1863 that a store was established and the man who went into business was Saul Shrives, Michael Studholmes bullock driver.
Shrives sold clothing and being unable to read or write he kept his books in novel fashion by sketching opposite the crosses which represented his customers, hieroglphics to indicate a shirt, pair of trousers or some other article.
In the same year John and George Manchester with William Goldsmith also opened a store in Germantown, near the Mill Road. After about eigteen months they moved to High Street and then in 1868 they took over a site at Queen and High Streets.
When Cobb and Company came to the scene in 1864 there were about 400 people in the settlement and the township began to take shape. There were now three stores, a blacksmiths shop, baker, butcher, bootmaker and a hotel. Then a doctor came to the town and John Manchester was appointed postmaster, the Post Office now being transferred from the Studholme Homestead to Manchester store.
On March 11th the following year, Mr B. Woollcombe was appointed Magistrate and a month later he held his first Court in the township.
The first summons was recorded in Waimate for a dishonoured
cheque, valued about £4, on March 1, 1868;
First criminal prosecution on November 24, 1867, defendant being sentenced to one month's imprisonment for dog stealing.
The first marriage registered was that of Mr and Mrs Thomas Johnson on January 17,1869;
The first birth registered was that of Ann Elizabeth Thomson, born on Christmas Day, 1876.
The first death recorded was Mr, John Green of Makikihi, on December 31, 1875.
Farm Machinery, 1952
Electric motors Total 1377 Total HP 586
Internal combustion engines Total 535 Total HP 1,634
Rotary hoes and garden tractors Total 76 Total HP 315
Agricultural tractors Total 918 Total HP 25,350
Milking Machines, 1952
Cows capable of being milked simultaneously, 254.
Cows in milk on holdings employing milking machines, 1,887.
Shearing Machines, 1952
Plants, 405; stands, 825.
The Rainmaker 1988
In the summer of 1988 the Wizard received a request from the A&P Show committee in Waimate (a small town in South Canterbury) to attend their annual Agricultural and Pastoral Show with the aim of doing something to break their drought.
There had been rain in nearby districts but not a drop had fallen on Waimate for six months and the area was completely barren. Stock had been sent away and the show was only being held because it functioned as an important social gathering for people from all over the district.
Inspired by the old Hollywood film "The Rainmaker"(starring Burt Lancaster and Katharine Hepburn) the Wizard decided it could do no harm and would certainly cheer up the depressed locals to try out his skill as a rain-maker. He informed the A&P Show organisers he would accept the challenge and would design a special rain dance for the occasion.
As soon as the local Assembly of God heard that the Wizard was coming to do a rain dance they were enraged and demanded that A&P Show committee cancel the invitation. They put pressure on the mayor and council and said they would withdraw financial support from the show.
A battle between the forces of Good and Evil broke out. The mayor and show committee wouldn't back down and the media, who thrive on such things, made a big issue out of it. When the Wizard arrived in Waimate some weeks later it still hadn't rained and the local population and curious TV crew were abuzz with anticipation.
Slowly the Wizard assembled his rain-making equipment, which included four buckets of water, a horn, an umbrella under which hung a small red demon, a large bass drum, his magic staff, and a mug of beer.
No sooner had he begun his circular gyrations whilst beating his drum, than a strange black cloud, more like smoke than water vapour, appeared over Waimate. An hour or two later torrential rain began to fall and the show was washed out. This time the rain, which fell all night and on into the next day, fell mainly in the Waimate valley and by-passed other regions.
The Wizard adjourned to the refreshment tent to watch the downpour and partake of the free whiskeys that were thrust into his hands by the visibly shaken farmers. The weatherman on the national TV News that night began his description of the day's weather with the phrase "You're not going to believe this, but..."
A day or two later a whole page of the New York Times was devoted to the Wizard and his spectacularly successful rain dance. This was the first time the name of the town of Waimate had been trumpeted abroad.
THE FIRST MAILMAN
There was no regular mail service to South Canterbury until 1858 when William Baines, who had been a cook at Te Waimate for Michael Studholme, obtained the contract at £300 a year from the Provincial Government.
This tender was accepted on 24 April and the following week Baines advertised his fortnightly "Great Southern Road" mail service, departing from Christchurch every Wednesday and leaving Timaru on the return journey the following Wednesday.
At first he carried the mails on horseback, though he also ran a conveyance as far as the Rakaia, in those days, the end of any kind of formed highway.
Letters cost twopence a half ounce, though the rates varied in different parts of Canterbury.
According to Mrs Michael Studholme, Baines was a man of some education with a taste for bad language and a fund of gossip, but he was a man of the utmost integrity.
He lost the mail only once, on 6th January 1859, when his horse disappeared into a hole in the flooded Rangitata River and rolled over. Baines freed himself, recovered his horse later, but not the mailbags which had been strapped to the saddle. Such was his reputation that, at the end of his first year as mailman, he was presented with a purse of sovereigns in appreciation of his services.
The weather made mail delivery a precarious business. Baines was allowed three days in summer and four in winter to make the
journey from Christchurch. River crossings were a constant menace, as they changed with each flood.
On 6th June 1860 Baines began a combined passenger and mail service between Christchurch and Timaru, using a dog-cart and charging a fee of £3 each way or £5 return. After leaving Rakaia, the pot-holed road became a rough, uneven track through the tussocks. By 1860, also, he had extended the service as far south as the Waitaki River to serve the isolated runholders of that region, and allowed two days in which to make the extended journey from Timaru.
In April 1861 he was held up from 19th to 24th April on the Rangitata, the only occasion on which he broke open the mailbags and took the letters south for delivery.
Early in 1862 he attempted to establish a forty-eight hour service between Timaru and Christchurch but without success, as it exhausted both horses and driver. In March that year he began the first regular mail service from Timaru to the Mackenzie Country, for which E. G. Stericker was appointed ' postmaster of the Mackenzie plains' the following May.
By that time Baines had divided his territory and was employing assistants. Charles Perceval, who had
started an opposition horse and cart service in 1861, was employed on the run from Christchurch to Ashburton, where Baines met him every Thursday evening and continued the journey south to maintain a weekly service, but this venture was short-lived.
The following year he took H. D. Manning, a Christchurch dealer, into partnership, but this was unsuccessful and ended in bankruptcy in 1863. This was partly due to Baines's attempts from time to time to improve his service by speeding it up, but the provision of relays of horses at the various staging posts proved too costly. After this reverse, Baines continued to carry mails and passengers until he was replaced by the more efficient Cobb and Company in 1863, when the era of coaching began.