Rabbit Fence - 'Omahu' Farm

Stronvar Road, Masterton

  • Rabbit Fence - 'Omahu' Farm.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: R O'Brien. Date: 1/06/2003.
  • Rabbit Fence - 'Omahu Farm'.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: R O'Brien. Date: 1/06/2003.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 3960 Date Entered 21st September 1989

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City/District Council

Masterton District

Region

Wellington Region

Legal description

Pt Lot 18 DP 1552 Lot 4 DP 7674 Lot 1 DP 49614 Otahoua SD

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Historical Significance or Value

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

From the 1870s the spread of introduced rabbits in New Zealand was very rapid, and by the 1880s there were 12,000 acres of infested land in the Wairarapa.

The effect of the 'rabbit plague' on sheep farming was disastrous. At first control measures were not co-ordinated nationally, but 1876 legislation provided for the establishment of rabbit districts. This system had only limited success in controlling rabbit numbers and new legislation (1882) provided for stronger control, including the strategy of rabbit-proof fencing on a larger scale. The Omahu rabbit fence is all that remains of one of the first fences, which was originally 40 miles long. Fences as a passive control measure were popular for only a short time, until biological control by the use of natural predators was attempted. No effective control was achieved until the decommercialisation of the rabbit under the 1947 legislation.

The rabbit fences of the 1880s are an important reminder of the attempts of the early settlers to solve a problem which threatened the very basis of New Zealand's economic productivity.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

SIGNIFICANCE OF CONSTRUCTION METHOD:

Rabbit fences constructed of totara palings were restricted to areas where such wood was plentiful. The embedding of the palings in the ground was intended to prevent rabbits from burrowing underneath.

LANDSCAPE SIGNIFICANCE:

The height and length of this remnant of the original rabbit fence is a feature of the landscape of this part of the Wairarapa.

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Physical Description

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Split totara palings 1.5m long stacked closely together in an upright position with lower end embedded in the ground, and kept in position by means of pairs of interwoven wires and normal fence posts at intervals, the whole designed to make a rabbit-proof structure. Present length is c.750m, although it was originally part of a much larger structure.

MODIFICATIONS:

None, except for loss of totara length.

Notable Features

Construction details of totara slabs and interwoven wire.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1881 - 1882

Construction Details

Split totara palings 1.5m long stacked closely together in an upright position with lower end embedded in the ground, and kept in position by means of pairs of interwoven wires and normal fence posts at intervals, the whole designed to make a rabbit-proof structure. Present length is c.750m, although it was originally part of a much larger structure.

Completion Date

14th April 1989

Information Sources

Bagnall, 1976

A. G. Bagnall, Wairarapa; An Historical Excursion, Trentham, 1976

Dominion

Dominion

25 March 1979

Evening Post

Evening Post

23 March 1979

Thornton, 1986

Geoffrey Thornton, The New Zealand Heritage of Farm Buildings, Auckland, 1986

Breese, 1982

E.D. Breese, The Past, Present and Future of the Rabbit Nuisance in New Zealand. Diploma of Natural Resources dissertation (unpublished,

Lincoln: 1982).

McLean, 1966

W.H. McLean, Rabbits Galore (Auckland: 1966)

New Zealand's Heritage: The Making of a Nation

New Zealand’s Heritage: The Making of a Nation

A. Owen, 'The Years of the Rabbit' , vol 1.4 part 46. pp.1261-1267.

Other Information

A copy of this report is available from the NZHPT Central Region office

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.