Maori used several inland routes close to Lake Wakatipu before European settlement with access to the lake along the nearby Kawarau River. Anthropologist Atholl Anderson notes that there were two traditional Ngati Mamoe settlements between the Frankton Arm of Lake Wakatipu and the confluence of the Shotover and Kawarau Rivers. The principle one close to Frankton noted in the Kai Tahu ki Otago Natural Resource Management Plan, 2005, is Te Roto at Kawarau Falls.
The first European settlers were pastoralists William Gilbert Rees and Nicholas Von Tunzlemann in early 1860, followed after 1862 by the gold rushes to the Arrow and Shotover Rivers. According to archaeologist Peter Petchey the Wakatipu basin 'provided space for agriculture, and formal survey of the land in 1864 made land available for development.' Three flour mills were set up in the area - including one at Kawarau Falls, referred to below, which has an association with what would become known as the McBride farm buildings.
The development of agriculture around Queenstown, and particularly at the Frankton Flats was spearheaded by prominent merchant and businessman Bendix Hallenstein, and his associates James W. Robertson (first mayor of Queenstown), Thomas Hicks and Francis McBride. These men had been in business together previously, in Victoria. In Bullarook, Victoria, with J.C. Patterson, Thomas Hicks, John McBride, and Francis McBride, he worked in the timber industry. An obituary of Robertston records that a 'visit to New Zealand to the Shotover opened the eyes of these parties to the value of a timber speculation in this district. The well-known firm of J.W. Robertson was then formed.' All members of the firm took up land, and assisted others in following the same course. Robertson was involved in many business interests in the Wakatipu area, as well as in local body politics.
Robertson in partnership with Bendix Hallenstein established the Brunswick flour mill at Frankton (the building costing £6,070), hoping to encourage wheat growing in the region. This was the first inland flour mill in Otago. The superintendent of the province leased them the land for a peppercorn rental. The partners gave practical assistance to farmers by advancing them cash, and resulting in the development of the Wakatipu as one of the best wheat producers in the colony at that time. The mill, while being an asset to the community, never turned a profit. When Robertson died in 1876 his interest in the property was sold to Daniel McBride, who transferred his interest to Thomas Hicks at the end of the first twenty-one year lease.
Geoffrey Thornton has noted the importance of vernacular farm buildings in New Zealand's history. He writes that:
'because New Zealand was founded on agrarianism old farm buildings have become a memorial to the early colonial economy. They have their own characteristics and form an important element in the humanising and transforming of the landscape. They are particularly significant for their economic importance in the development of the great pastoral and agricultural industries. Visually they remind us of our age-old dependence on farming for basic foodstuffs.'
The McBride's Farm Buildings includes show a range of buildings associated with the agricultural development of the Frankton Flats. It is one of the larger complexes associated with the period of grain growing which was the area's economic mainstay until the 1920s. According to Lakes District Museum Director David Clarke, the area from Frankton Flats to Lake Hayes was a major grain growing area, and these buildings link to that notable period in the district's history. This was the period in the Vogel Era in the 1870s of ‘bonanza' wheat farming in Otago and Canterbury.
The majority of other farm remains in the area link strongly to sheep farming rather than grain growing. David Clarke indicated that it was not until the late 1920s that the farm converted to sheep farming, after the completion of the Arrowtown irrigation scheme, which allowed them to grow green feed (and clover seed) for sheep, rather than grain.
The relationship with the wider industries in the area is important with this complex. The timber used in the buildings, and relationship between Robertson and his company farm, and their support of agriculture, including wheat growing, flour milling and an association with the timber industry provide interesting insight into the area's past.
An 1865 topographical sketch of the Shotover District (SO 1489) indicates that farming was established in the area. There are two farms on the Frankton Flats (one in the vicinity of McBride's, one by the Kawarau River), five around Lake Hayes and Arrowtown, and five between Arrowtown and Arthur's Point. These are small holdings. Other surveys indicate that ‘agricultural areas' were being surveyed in the mid to late 1860s, as noted below. This timing is consistent with the development of agriculture at nearby Lake Hayes, where land was being surveyed for that purpose in the mid-1860s.
According to land records, the land on which the buildings stand was first granted to John R. Williams as an ‘agricultural area.' A survey office plan shows a total of just over 49 acres which was surveyed in June 1866 (SO 6310). This parcel, along with another 20 acres was sold to James William Robertson, described as a timber merchant, in 1872. The shingles evident on the Grain Barn date it possibly to the late 1860s, as the use of corrugated iron became common after that date. A review of the surveyor's field books from the 1864 topographical sketch of the area, and of Millett's field book from the later that decade did not indicate any buildings on those sections before circa 1868.
On Robertson's death in 1874, the land was transferred to Thomas Hicks, Francis McBride and John Cochrane Patterson and James Whitbourn (OT7/265). The land was transferred to Thomas Hicks in 1877, and then to Francis McBride in 1886 (OT34/34). The block was incorporated into a 900 acre (365 hectare) holding owned by McBride in 1898 (OT116/112). According to local writer and historian F.W.G. Miller, McBride's property was known first as ‘Antrim Farm' and later as ‘French Farm'.
According to local historian F.W.G. Miller the mill building was later dismantled and sold to Frank McBride, well before the Kawarau Falls Dam was constructed.
In 1921 McBride transferred title to Glenorchy run holder John Edward O'Connell. Between the 1920s and 2007 the property changed hands several times, with the holding shrinking as it was subdivided in part in the 1960s to allow the development of Queenstown Airport.
In 2006 the homestead is still used as a residence and the farm buildings are largely disused. They were listed for inclusion on the Queenstown Lakes District Council District Plan, with the plan change notified in 2006. Their future use remains a matter of local debate in 2007.
The McBride's Farm Buildings are located on Grant Road on the Frankton Flats, about 7 kilometres from Queenstown, off the Frankton-Ladies Mile Highway (State Highway 6). The Farm Buildings are on land adjoining the Queenstown Airport, and are part of land recently purchased by the Queenstown Airways Corporation.
All but one of the buildings sit on the south side of an unformed road. The former stable is on the north side of that road, and on a different certificate of title.
The remains of the former smithy (built of stone) are on the left of the road, while the remainder of the buildings are on the right side of Grant Road. On the right hand side at the gate of the access road is a c.1940s house surrounded by mature trees to the south and west. At the west end of the house's section is the former dairy (also built of stone). The dairy is largely covered in undergrowth. The dairy has a corrugated iron addition to the south east. There are also good specimen trees, particularly chestnuts and walnuts.
According to The Queenstown District Historical Society the Farm is one of district's earliest farms, and contains part of the stone stable and woolshed built from timber brought down from Glenorchy.
This is a typical 1950s homestead. Local accounts have it that the house was built on the foundations of the earlier homestead, and/or that this house incorporates earlier elements of that homestead. This is not included in the registration.
Blacksmiths Shop (Smithy)
The former smithy is located on the left of Grant Road, across the road from the homestead site. The smithy was constructed of stone but is in a largely ruined state. At the time of the site visit old forge equipment was in the paddock in front of the building. The smithy is being used as an implement shed.
The dairy is shown on a 1959 deposited plan (DP 9617). The survey shows a rectangular plan stone building with a timber structure joining. The dairy has been painted on the exterior. Where the paint has peeled off it is evident that the building is constructed of stacked stone. The dairy has a hipped corrugated iron roof. The interior has been divided into two rooms, and the ceilings are match-lined.
Immediately to the rear of the dairy (to the south west) is a single-gable single garage constructed of corrugated iron with timber framing. Around four metres to the south west again is a larger garage constructed of timber, clad in unpainted weatherboards.
Beside this is a smaller, single-gable hut. The hut is rectangular in plan. It has a single door on the left hand side of north-west elevation, a six-light window in the centre of the same wall, and a small two-light window above. The hut has a single window on the south-east elevation. The interior of the hut is match lined with vertical boards below a dado line, and horizontal above. The interior ceiling is coved.
Grain Barn (Former) (Converted to Woolshed)
To the south west of the hut is the Grain Barn (Former), with attached sheep yards. This is a substantial timber framed building clad in horizontal weatherboards with a hipped roof, and lean-to extensions to the south west, and south east. The yards are on the north west of the building
The principle (north-west) elevation has a single central door, although it is evident from the vertical timber infill that this was once a large barn type door. There is a large double barn door at the right-hand end, which takes up the full height of the wall. There are five small windows of various types unevenly spaced down the wall.
The north east elevation has a large double door and a single six light window.
The double barn doors on opposite sides of the building are not typical of woolsheds.
The south east elevation has a large corrugated iron lean-to extension and two small outbuildings (what looks to be a dunny and a concrete tank).
The interior is partitioned as a woolshed, with the slatted floors of the pens, the board, and the wool handling space.
The expansive interior is timber framed, constructed from heavy framing, beams and roof trusses which are a notable feature of the interior. The timber framing and lining of the ceiling is also significant, and there are still shingles under the corrugated iron roof, with the battens visible from the interior. The timber is red beech, which would have been milled from the Head of the Lake (Glenorchy) where Robertson and Company had a mill. It appears to have been originally constructed as a grain barn, with double doors opposite each other, allowing a horse drawn wagon loaded with grain to enter one side, empty its load, and exit through the opposite side of the barn. It is possible that there was originally an upper storey used for storing sacked grain but this needs further investigation.
The structure of the barn is significant. The ground floor framing is heavy (10 by 10 inch, 250mm by 250mm), with traditional timber joints between the uprights and the verticals. In this it resembles traditional English grain barns, and is not at all like the more usually light framed woolsheds typically found in NZ.
Adjoining the Grain Barn are several small sheds, one has been used as a garage, and the other has a coved ceiling with tongue and groove match-lining.
Stables (Former) (known as the Barn)
This is large two-storey timber framed structure, rectangular in plan and clad in weatherboards. There are windows only on the gable ends of the Stables. The cladding is falling off and has in places been patched with corrugated iron.
On the north east elevation there is a large central opening at ground level. There are three evenly spaced openings on the upper level (two of which show evidence of having two paired six-light sash windows). The central first floor opening looks to be used to load grain into the Stables. At the central peak of the gable is a small window.
The south west elevation also has a single large opening on the ground floor, with three evenly spaced openings on the first floor. The central opening is covered with corrugated iron. The other two window-sized openings have lost their windows.
The interior is partitioned. It is currently used to store grain.
According to some local accounts this is the original Brunswick Flour Mill building from Kawarau Falls that was purchased by Frank McBride, dismantled, and re-erected on his farm. The Queenstown Lakes District NZHPT Branch Committee and the Queenstown Lakes District Council jointly funded an investigation into the fabric of that building to try and establish its provenance. The work was completed by Guy Williams. He concluded that the building was most likely constructed as a stable with a hayloft over sometime between 1870 and 1880, or possibly earlier. He found no physical evidence to support the suggestion that the building was originally part of the Brunswick Mill or that it was substantially constructed from demolition material from the mill.
To the south east of the homestead there are substantial plantings of mature trees. Mary Hansen also notes that a group of trees at Arranmore Farm (off Grants Road) including walnuts, chestnuts, elms and black poplars of which some are more than a 100 years old and were probably planted by the McBride family who were the first farmers on Frankton Flats.
Former Grain Barn (Woolshed), Stables (Barn), Dairy, Blacksmiths Shop, Shed and Hut, and mature tree plantings.
1860 - 1870
Construction completed for Grain Barn and Stables.
Dairy: Stone with corrugated iron roof, timber lining in the interior
Grain Barn, Barn, Garage and Hut: timber construction with corrugated iron roof
8th January 2008
Report Written By
James W. Robertson Obituary, transcribed from the 18 April 1876 Daily Telegraph (St. John, New Brunswick)
Dictionary of New Zealand Biography
Dictionary of New Zealand Biography
Gordon Parry, 'Hallenstein, Bendix 1835-1905.' Volume Two, updated 7 April 2006, URL: http://www.dnzb.govt.nz
Guy Williams, Draft Report on McBride's Farm Barn Building, May 15 2007, Report commissioned by the Queenstown Branch of New Zealand Historic Places Trust, and the Queenstown Lakes District Council, Copy held Otago/Southland Area Office, New Zealand Historic Places Trust
F.W.G Miller, Golden Days of Lake County, 5th edn, Christchurch, 1973
P.G. Petchey, 'Threepwood Lake Hayes, Wakatipu Basin, Archaeological Assessment', unpublished report, Southern Archaeology, 2005, copy held Otago/Southland Area Office, New Zealand Historic Places Trust, Dunedin
Geoffrey Thornton, The New Zealand Heritage of Farm Buildings, Auckland, 1986
A fully referenced Registration Report is available from the NZHPT Otago/Southland Area 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.