Moutere Station Complex

551 Moutere-Disputed Spur Road, Chatto Creek

  • Moutere Woolshed.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Heather Bauchop. Date: 5/04/2010.
  • Cob construction.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Heather Bauchop. Date: 5/04/2010.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7810 Date Entered 15th October 2010

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Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Sec 1 and Sec 11 Blk IV Leaning Rock SD (CT OT 7C/851 and CT OT68/6), part of Crown Land (Tail Race) Block IV Leaning Rock SD, Otago Land District and the buildings or structures associated with Moutere Station (namely the Homestead Outbuilding, Stable/Smithy, Woolshed and Redfern Barn) thereon, and their fittings and fixtures. The homestead is not included in the registration. (Refer to the map in Appendix 1 of the registration report for further information).

City/District Council

Central Otago District

Region

Otago Region

Legal description

Sec 1 and Sec 11 Blk IV Leaning Rock SD (CT OT 7C/851 and CT OT68/6), part of Crown Land (Tail Race), Blk IV Leaning Rock SD, Otago Land District.

Location description

Approximately 25 kilometres north east of Alexandra.

Summaryopen/close

Moutere Station Complex sits nestled in the arid landscape at the base of the Dunstan Mountains in Central Otago. The complex of utilitarian farm buildings dating from the late 1860s or early 1870s (a woolshed, stables, outbuilding and barn) are special because of their cob construction, and for their association with the earliest developments in pastoralism in Central Otago.

Alongside Galloway Station (Run 220), Moutere (Run 221) was one of the first two pastoral runs to be taken up in Central Otago in 1857. Moutere Run was bounded on three sides by water (the Manuherikia on the east, Chatto Creek on the north, and the Clutha/Mata-Au River on the south), hence the name, which referred to a place almost surrounded by water. Scotsman Watson Shennan (1835-1920) leased over 100,000 acres of land. The Shennan brothers are described in many historical accounts as exemplifying the pioneering, hard working, and independent spirit typical of the early runholding period in Central Otago. Having stocked the run the Shennan brothers were aware of the need to improve their merino flock. Alexander travelled to Germany where he purchased 15 rams and 27 ewes for £2,000 from the King of Prussia’s Potsdam stud. He later obtained 22 sheep from Paris, with the resultant stock being the first Stud Merinos imported into Otago, and the ancestors of the Merino flock on the farm today.

In 1865 Watson Shennan sold Moutere to Robert McLaren, William Greig and Robert McGregor Turnbull, and shortly afterwards purchased the Puketoi Station in the Maniototo. By the late 1860s the large sheep stations were consolidating and the best pastoral land was taken up. In 1882 Moutere was sold to Alois Duffus Lubecki. Lubecki was the son of Polish noble Prince Konstantine Alois Drucki-Lubecki (d.1864), the first known Polish settler in New South Wales, who immigrated to Australia with his Scottish born wife Laura. The family immigrated to New Zealand, where son Alois Duffus Lubecki became officer in charge of the Dunedin Telegraph Office, as well as finding time to become proprietor of Moutere Station, and was active in many community affairs, and was considered by Sir Frederick Chapman as ‘an eminent member of New Zealand society.’

In July 1891 Andrew Jopp took over Moutere. Andrew Jopp (1842-1913) emigrated from Scotland in 1862, first working as a shepherd on Morven Hills Station, and later droving stock through Otago and Southland. Andrew’s son Robert (1882-1966) (known as Bob) took over the run from his father in 1910. Bob was born at Puketoi. Bob Jopp was a prominent breeder of stud merinos. Building on Watson Shennan’s flock, he imported ewes from South Australia, maintaining two stud flocks. The Jopp family has continued the association with Moutere to 2010 and beyond, and have remained leaders in the merino industry.

The buildings associated with Moutere Station are located south-west side of Moutere-Disputed Spur Road twenty five kilometres north east of the Central Otago town of Alexandra. The station itself is located at the base of the Dunstan Mountains in the rolling foothills of the arid land between the mountains and the Manuherikia River, an area of harsh grandeur. There are three buildings which formed the core of the historic farmstead: the outbuilding to the rear of the homestead, the stable/smithy, and the woolshed.

The Redfern Barn, named after the area of the station on which the building is located, is situated about a kilometre and a half to the north west of the other buildings. The outbuilding is located in the garden behind the homestead. The Smithy/Stable is located to the north west of the homestead. The homestead is not included in the registration. The woolshed is located to the south east, close to the road.

The farm buildings on Moutere Station are all constructed of cob, although the smithy/stable has a back wall of mud brick. Surviving examples of cob construction are relatively rare, with surviving examples of other earth construction methods such as sod or mud brick more common, at least in Central Otago. The construction of the buildings from local materials gives these modest utilitarian farm buildings a visual and physical connection to the spectacular surrounding landscape which gives them special appeal.

Moutere Station Complex forms a significant component of the extant Central Otago historic landscape, with the runholders special figures in the history of pastoralism in Otago. This is one of a small number of remaining complexes dating from the first years of pastoralism in the region, and shares with other such complexes the use of locally available construction materials, a vernacular design and a foundation role in the history of the province.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

Moutere Station has special historical significance. Leased from the Waste Lands Board in 1857, it was, along with the neighbouring Galloway Station, one of the first two pastoral runs leased in Central Otago. The buildings in the registration, dating from the early 1860s, are among the earliest relating to pastoralism in the area. The Shennan brothers, in particular Watson Shennan, are significant figures in the history of Otago and Dunedin for their place in the history of pastoralism. He acquired several of the largest runs in the province, was a pivotal figure in the community, and on his retirement, a wealthy Otago personality. He is remembered for his pioneering role as explorer, runholder and sheep breeder, and in particular for the establishment of the first stud merino flock.

Aesthetic Significance or Value

Moutere Station Complex is located at the base of the Dunstan Mountains in the rolling foothills of the arid land between the mountains and the Manuherikia River, an area of harsh grandeur. The buildings are built of local materials and have visual appeal in this spectacular landscape, made as they are from the earth around them.

Archaeological Significance or Value

Moutere Station Complex has the potential to inform us about the archaeology of pastoralism, in the layout and function of an early run. The buildings, all dating from the mid nineteenth century, form a complex that provides insight into the structure and operation of an early pastoral run.

Architectural Significance or Value

Moutere Station Complex has special architectural significance as it dates to the early period of pastoralism in Central Otago. The farm buildings are architecturally significant for their vernacular style, and their association with the first European settlement of the area. Their construction shows the adaptation to local conditions and the use of available materials in this treeless area.

Technological Significance or Value

Moutere Station Complex has technological significance as one of the few, if not the only, surviving group of farm buildings constructed using cob methods. Cob involved puddling a mix of earth, clay and straw. Earth building methods were relatively common in arid areas of Central Otago but surviving examples of cob are rare, this gives Moutere Station Complex special technological significance.

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history

Moutere Station Complex is representative of the history of pastoralism in Central Otago. It is the earliest run in the area, first leased by brothers Watson and Alexander Shennan. The Shennans are significant figures in local history, and imported the first flock of merino sheep from Germany, forming the basis of the flocks that stock the station today. In addition the Jopp family’s long involvement and significant role in the development of the Merino industry gives additional significance, with the woolshed and the former stables still used in the farming operation.

Pastoral stations, with the homestead and utilitarian buildings essential to the functioning of the station provide insight into the workings of these vast landholdings. The ‘functional entity’ of a run was built around the necessary basics - access to transport routes (the woolshed was usually closest to the road), with buildings often spread out (a reflection of the limitless space in isolated, largely unpopulated areas). The layout of buildings and the relationship of their functions provide important insight into pastoralism.

(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history

The Shennan brothers were significant in Dunedin and Central Otago’s local history, and have national significance for their early pastoral enterprises and development of the first merino flock in New Zealand, an undertaking carried further by the Jopp family’s long and significant involvement in the merino industry. .

(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place

This complex of buildings has special significance as one of the few, if not the only, surviving group of farm buildings constructed using cob construction methods. They represent the early period of pastoral history where there was little timber available in the area and there was a reliance on technologies which made use of materials that were available locally.

(i) The importance of identifying historic places known to date from early periods of New Zealand settlement

The Moutere Station buildings date from the early years of European occupation in the area.

(j) The importance of identifying rare types of historic places

The Moutere Station buildings form one of approximately five station complexes still standing in the Central Otago region, all dating to the first years of pastoralism. These are a rare historic resource. As farm technologies change, such intact sites become increasingly valuable examples of past farming practices, histories and building types. As rare surviving examples of cob construction they have additional rarity value.

(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape.

Moutere Station forms a significant component of the extant Central Otago historic and cultural landscape. This is one of a small number of remaining complexes dating from the first years of pastoralism in the region, and shares with other such buildings similar construction materials and a vernacular design.

Conclusion

It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category I historic place. Moutere Station Complex forms a significant component of the extant Central Otago historic landscape, with the runholders, particularly Watson Shennan and the Jopp family being special figures in the history of pastoralism in Otago. Moutere is one of a small number of remaining complexes dating from the first years of pastoralism in the region, and shares with other such complexes the use of locally available construction materials, a vernacular design and a foundation role in the history of the province.

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Historical Narrative

Maori History

Maori had settlements in Central Otago, associated with early occupation. Six were known on Lake Hawea (Te Taweha o Hawea, Mahaea, O tu Purupuru, Turihuka, Te Taumanu o Taki and Pakituhi) and one near Cromwell (Wairere). The moa-rich area was known for camps where moa were butchered and cooked (for example there were large sites in the Hawksburn and Happy Valley areas, as well as the Nevis Valley), and there were quarries used for stone tools in the region of Tiger Hills and Mount Benger. The swampy plains in the Maniototo provided eels and other food resources. Trails through the area provided access to these rich caches in this arid landscape. There are no recorded Maori archaeological sites at the site of Moutere Station Complex.

Early Pastoralism

Moutere was one of the earliest runs taken up in Central Otago, part of the opening of the interior of the South Island to pastoralism that had gained momentum by the mid 1850s in both Canterbury and Otago. These early years also saw the beginning of the wool servicing industries, which formed one of the backbones of the New Zealand economy, built on the pastoral enterprises. Pastoral stations, with the homestead and utilitarian buildings essential to the functioning of the station provide insight into the workings of these vast landholdings. The ‘functional entity’ of a run was built around the necessary basics – access to transport routes (the woolshed was usually closest to the road), with buildings often spread out (a reflection of the limitless space in isolated, largely unpopulated areas). The layout of buildings and the relationship of their functions provide important insight into pastoralism. According to Stephenson et al, Moutere Station was one of the ‘big five’ stations of Central Otago. The others were Earnscleugh, Morven Hills, Kawarau, and Galloway.

Alongside Galloway Station (Run 220), Moutere (Run 221) was one of the first two pastoral runs to be taken up in Central Otago in 1857. Moutere Run was bounded on three sides by water (the Manuherikia on the east, Chatto Creek on the north, and the Clutha/Mata-Au River on the south), hence the name, which referred to a place almost surrounded by water. Scotsman Watson Shennan (1835-1920) applied for both runs to the Waste Lands Board, leasing the land for fourteen years with a yearly charge of 6d per head of cattle, and 1d per head of sheep. Shennan leased over 100,000 acres of land. He was able to purchase a pre-emptive right of 80 acres for each run and 10 acres for each out station. A pre-emptive right at or near the homestead of 640 acres could also be given, as a safeguard against the possibility the run might be required for closer settlement.

Watson Shennan and his brother Alexander Shennan are described in many historical accounts as exemplifying the pioneering, hard working, and independent spirit typical of the early runholding period in Central Otago. Watson Shennan was born in Galloway in Scotland, the son of a farmer, arriving with his brother in Otago at the age of 22 aboard the Thomas and Henry in 1857. He farmed in Otago all his life, and was a significant figure in the region, associated with major pastoral properties including Puketoi and Conical Hills. He retired to Dunedin in 1904, dying there in 1920.

As one of the earliest runholders in this isolated area, Shennan had to negotiate access from the coast, a difficult and risky undertaking, but rewarding, giving the Shennan brothers the first glimpse of the country they were to take up. Looking down over the Manuherikia Valley from the top of the Knobby Range, Alexander exclaimed: ‘Here is the country we are looking for; a land well grassed & watered – a very land of promise. Here we will pitch our tent, & here we shall stay & make our home for good.’ On descending into the valley the Shennans found the country ‘all open, well grassed & watered, sufficient scrub for fuel for many years, but no bush or timber.’ Satisfied with the land they saw, the Shennans applied for what amounted to 100,000 acres, naming the two runs Moutere and Galloway. Having been granted the license, there was then a requirement that the land be stocked, and sheep were acquired from Mr Anderson in the Clutha district and were on the run by March 1858.

Getting the stock onto the run was a difficult undertaking. Shennan recounted the journey over the rugged country in 1910. He scouted the country for a route suitable for a bullock dray, only to find once into the journey, that the soft autumn ground on the slopes of the Lammerlaw Ranges made the use of the dray impossible and he had to return the dray to Tokomairiro. The party droving the sheep continued, supplied only with pack horses, and the delay meant that the drovers were subject to appalling conditions on the high tops. Shennan recounted that ‘I do not think it possible to experience greater hardship and live’ – with drifts of snow from 4 feet to 30 feet deep. ‘My party had nothing hot to eat or drink for three days, and the bullocks were not out of the yokes for the same time, and had hardly any food. When I picked the party with the sheep in Ida Valley they were out of provisions and had only mutton to eat for some days and had lost a man and a horse….The horses had to be moved from one big now tussock to another, that being the only food they could get. The party could only find enough sticks to boil the billy and cook a chop not sufficient for a fire to warm them. A journey to the South Pole is nothing to a trip like that.’

Watson Shennan arrived on the run in autumn, late in the season for building, given that the only available materials were clay and stone. He camped in a tent with a stone and clay chimney for cooking. No timber for building was to be found, with the nearest bush being 160 kilometres away. Shennan’s first priority was to erect sheep yards, which he managed using green scrub. After surviving winter in a tent, Shennan then erected some more permanent yards and huts in the spring with ‘as much vigor as circumstances allowed.’ The first shearing was in 1858.

The next hurdle was getting the wool to market. The preferred route was to Waikouaiti, on the coast north of Dunedin, and from there to Dunedin by ship. The overland journey took three weeks, and as a sledge could only carry four bales, and two teams could therefore take only 8 bales it could take the whole summer to get the wool down to market, and the stores back to the run.

Having stocked the run the Shennan brothers were aware of the need to improve their merino flock. Alexander travelled to Germany where he purchased 15 rams and 27 ewes for £2,000 from the King of Prussia’s Potsdam stud. He later obtained 22 sheep from Paris, with the resultant stock being the first Stud Merinos imported into Otago, and the ancestors of the Merino flock on the farm today.

The Shennans’ quiet life was abruptly brought to a halt with the discovery of gold at the nearby Dunstan field in 1862, which resulted in an inundation of miners looking for supplies on the Shennan properties. Within a day of the discovery Shennan had travelled to Dunedin and ordered every available wagon to be loaded with flour and stores and dispatch them to the rush, and mustered his stock to make mutton available for the miners. He sold the supplies from a canvas shop on the Clutha/Mata-Au River. Even with the foresight, miners still ran short of supplies and sheep were taken for food. Shennan described the rush as a ‘terrible affair’, with all the hopes of the squatter vanishing. He felt that nothing good came of the mining and that it brought ‘ruin and desolation’ to the land.

John Connell’s survey of the 23 acre pre-emptive right of Run 221 located on the true right bank of the Manuherikia River completed in July 1865 shows the structures built by this date, on this first site, to the east of the present farmstead. On the southern boundary are three buildings in a row, the northern most of which is marked as a stable. To the east of these three structures are three other buildings marked as house, kitchen and store. To the north is a T-shaped woolshed within a fenced area. T.B. Kennard, an early station hand in Central, recalled that when he knew the run (between 1860 and 1862) Shennan’s run ‘was a large compact one and the station was the usual clay buildings.’ The buildings were fairly primitive clay-walled structures, with rat-infested rush roofs. The store house was stood on piles surrounded by tin to keep the rodents out. Raupo was used for mattress fillings.

Another block survey completed around 1866, showing Watson Shennan as applicant, shows an eleven acre block (possibly an outstation) with a house, located in the north/central part of the run equidistant between Chatto Creek and the Clutha/Mata-Au River. Later owners Robert McLaren, William Greig and Robert McGregor Turnbull are noted on this plan. This is likely to be the site of the current farmstead.

In 1865 Watson Shennan sold Moutere to Robert McLaren, William Greig and Robert McGregor Turnbull, and shortly afterwards purchased the Puketoi Station in the Maniototo. Land transactions from this period are difficult to follow as the first certificate of title for the homestead block is not issued until 1874, and the earlier transactions are only indicated on the survey plans associated with the pre-emptive rights. By the late 1860s the large sheep stations were consolidating and the best pastoral land was taken up.

Robert McLaren erected the beginnings of the present homestead in 1873, joining two musterers’ huts (which are likely to be the house indicated in the circa 1866 survey), with the cluster of essential farm buildings being built around these structures. Although exact construction dates for these buildings are unclear, they are likely to range from the 1860s through to the 1870s or 1880s. The woolshed was moved to its present site. Shearing would initially have been done in the open or under a shelter and the wool stored in a separate building. As the wool industry developed, and runs became more settled, a purpose-built woolshed was essential. The woolsheds for large stations were often T shaped in plan, with a screw press.

The Moutere Woolshed is built of cob and is T-shaped in plan. Architect and historian Geoffrey Thornton records it as the only known cob woolshed in New Zealand, and that Moutere is the only station where all the buildings have been constructed of earth. The shorter arm of the ‘T’ houses the shearing board originally of 16 stands for blade shearers. The press tower projects from the roofline of the wool storeroom, and was built to accommodate the screw press. Anthropologist M.D. Dominy writes that the woolshed is the centre of the history and activity of high country sheep stations. ‘The cultural significance of the woolshed may also derive from the role it plays, like the yards and tailing yards, as a physical and conceptual intermediate space between uncultivated pastoral land and the homestead’ as the ultimate container for the expansiveness of stock activity and human labor, it is the physical site for harvesting a product, the fleece, and for concentrating the labor force (farmers, family, shearers and classer); and it is the conceptual site for distilling the landscape and pastoral activities of the year into fleece.’

By the 1870s there was pressure from local inhabitants to break up Moutere. In the late 1870s, for example, following a memorial from Alexandra residents, the Land Board recommended that 5,000 acres be open for selection on the agricultural lease system. In November 1878 Minister of Lands Robert Stout was reported in the Otago Witness as stating that 17,000 acres would be surveyed off the run on slopes of the Dunstan Range in blocks of 1800 to 3000 acres each, and on the river terrace flats, blocks of 300 acres.

There was tension between those who wanted land available for settlement and those residents who wished to see it retained in Crown ownership to enable mining to continue on the pastoral blocks. Alexandra residents noted that Moutere ‘contains two extensive, well-defined auriferous belts, both of which are being profitably worked; and is intersected by several water-races constructed at great expense, and which would be rendered valueless in the event of land being sold.’ Petitioners pleaded that only non-gold bearing land should be freeholded.

Small areas of land were subdivided from Moutere. In the mid 1870s Thomas Wilson farmed land on an agricultural lease in the Leaning Rock Survey District. Wilson had come to the Dunstan as a shepherd in the early 1860s (first at Black’s Station near present day Ophir, and then for Watson Shennan on Moutere. He helped the famed Hartley and Riley who made the Dunstan gold discovery cross the Clutha/Mata-Au, with their gold haul hidden in sacks made of their corduroy trousers. Wilson was issued the title to the land on which the Moutere homestead, woolshed and other outbuildings are located in 1874, though he seems to have held it for only a short time, transferring it to Robert McLaren and Robert Turnbull in 1875.

After this, with the Moutere runholder’s support Wilson applied for the freehold of the land which adjoined the Moutere pre-emptive right. In 1883 title was issued to the land on which the building known as Redfern Barn now stands the locality then known as Yankee Flat. This was the time when the infrastructure of the station was still being developed, and it is arguably more than coincidence that cob construction was used for Wilson’s other property (only separated from Moutere Station in 1883) just over a kilometre away (nearby in pastoral terms), which has been run as part of Moutere for one hundred years, since 1910. This property was only run separately from Moutere Station from 1883 to 1910.

Wilson developed his farm constructing a seven room dwelling, dairy, washhouse, waterwheel, barn, five stalled stable, cowshed, fowl house and sheep yards; one of these structures is what is now known as the ‘Redfern Barn.’. He farmed until ‘old age and failing health’ forced him to sell, and he retired to Oamaru, and later to Sydenham in Christchurch. Wilson sold the property to Eliza Jopp, from Moutere in 1910, where she continued Wilson’s farming operation. Wilson is recorded as a significant early pioneer, a ‘grand old man’, and one of the few settlers who came before the goldrushes and stayed on. According to Gillian Jopp, Eliza Jopp (wife of Andrew, who bought Moutere in 1891) ran a dairy operation there, as an adjunct to the station operation. The land was incorporated into the Moutere holding in the 1930s.

In 1875 Moutere was sold to Robert McGregor Turnbull. Turnbull, who also held Linnburn Station in the Upper Taieri, owned the property until around 1882. Alois Duffus Lubecki purchased the property at this time. Lubecki was the son Polish noble Prince Konstantine Alois Drucki-Lubecki (d.1864), the first known Polish settler in New South Wales, who immigrated to Australia with his Scottish born wife Laura. The family immigrated to New Zealand, where son Alois Duffus Lubecki became officer in charge of the Dunedin Telegraph Office, as well as finding time to become proprietor of Moutere Station, and was active in many community affairs, and was considered by Sir Frederick Chapman as ‘an eminent member of New Zealand society.’

The changes in ownership coincided with the burst of the economic bubble which resulted in the long economic depression of the 1880s and 1890s, which, combined with the effects of the rabbit plague, led to many runholders walking away from their properties.

In 1883 the Government opened three million acres of land for settlement in Otago. Land was reserved for townships, railways and agricultural blocks, and the runs themselves subdivided into 2,000-3,000 acres blocks and offered for lease or sale on deferred payment. Areas over 5,000 acres were let as runs for ten years. Seventy six runs were subdivided into 150 runs. Runholders fought fiercely to oppose the move.

The Jopp Family

In July 1891 Andrew Jopp (1842-1913) took over Moutere. Jopp had previously managed Puketoi for Watson Shennan. Andrew Jopp emigrated from Scotland in 1862, first working as a shepherd on Morven Hills Station, and later droving stock through Otago and Southland. He was appointed Government Ranger for Otago and Southland in 1870, completing annual returns for every sheep property with over 3,000 sheep. In 1873 he took over the management of Waipahi Station near Clinton, and in 1875 was appointed manager of the Shennan’s Puketoi Station. In 1888 he took over the management of the Teviot Station before purchasing Moutere in 1891. Jopp family tradition has it that Andrew established a small flock of Stud Merinos at Puketoi, and the progeny were registered in the first Moutere Stud return in 1904.

Andrew Jopp paid £15,000 for Moutere Station. The 48,000 acre run carried 18,000 sheep. Andrew and Eliza Jopp and their family of nine moved onto the station in July 1891. Jopp took over the station at a time when the government continued the move towards ‘closer settlement’, the cutting up of large estates into smaller holdings and in 1896 over 12,600 acres of Moutere, south to Clyde and up the Cromwell Gorge were subdivided from the run. The smaller runs combined the huge rabbit problem meant survival rather than profit was the experience of many runholders.

The New Zealand Sheepbreeders’ Association was founded in 1894, and a stud register was established at this time. The register recorded the breeding of all rams and ewes. To be eligible for entry in the flock book, uninterrupted use of purebred sires was required since 1880. The Moutere Merino Stud was registered in May 1904, with the flock founded on the 83 ewes and 31 lambs from Murray, Roberts and Co. from Gladbrook Station at Middlemarch. Of the twenty six Stud Merino flocks recorded in the 1904 NZ Flock Book only one is still in existence in 2009.

Andrew’s son Robert (1882-1966) (known as Bob) took over the run from his father in 1910. Bob was born at Puketoi. After being educated at Moutere School and Otago Boys’ High School he came home to Moutere to work the run around 1896. He managed the run through both World Wars (with the attendant labour shortages), significant economic depressions, along with the more mundane problems of harsh weather and rabbits. Bob was a prominent breeder of stud merinos. Building on Watson Shennan’s flock, he imported ewes from South Australia, maintaining two stud flocks.

In 1912 there was further subdivision with over 11,052 acres in four parts removed from Moutere (although some were repurchased by Moutere in the late 1970s). In 1920, 7,100 acres were made available for returned servicemen as a soldier’s settlement.

By 1938 Bob Jopp was living off the farm in Alexandra, and the Depression was taking its toll on the property. His son Andrew started working on the property in 1938 as ‘the boy’ on the run. He completed agricultural qualifications at Lincoln in the late 1930s, saw active service in World War Two and on his return managed to persuade his father to appoint him as manager. He focused on working on improving the run, including reducing rabbit numbers, dealing with footrot and improving the stud flocks. With the prosperity of the 1950s he spent money improving the buildings and services at Moutere, particularly the homestead.

In 1976 son Robert took over the management of the property. He was actively involved in Merino breeding, and was the chair of the Central Otago Stud Merino Breeders, and focused on the quality of the stud flocks.

Robert Jopp (1951-1996) was described as one of the ‘statesmen’ of the industry, a sector leader, and the fourth generation of his family to run the merino stud. Friend and fellow industry leader John Perriam described Jopp’s commitment to Moutere (New Zealand’s leading merino stud) as internationally recognised and Jopp as ‘without a doubt…the greatest influence on the national merino flock in recent years.’ Robert Jopp was the inaugural chairman of Merino New Zealand Incorporated, an organisation formed as a result of a growing desire by merino growers for ‘greater autonomy.’

In 2001 the last sheep were shorn in the old woolshed, after a new woolshed was constructed. The old shed has been partially incorporated into the new building, and it has been used to display memorabilia from the station, but the original layout is still readable in the building. In 2004 the Men’s Quarters located next to the Stable/Smithy burnt down.

The Jopp family has continued its association with Moutere to 2010 and beyond, and have remained leaders in the merino industry.

Physical Description

Setting

The buildings associated with Moutere Station are located on Moutere-Disputed Spur Road (so-called because of a disputed boundary with Matakanui Station), twenty five kilometres north east of the Central Otago town of Alexandra. The station itself is located at the base of the Dunstan Mountains in the rolling foothills of the arid land between the mountains and the Manuherikia River, an area of harsh grandeur.

The Farmstead

The cluster of buildings is located on the south west side of Moutere-Disputed Spur Road. There are three buildings which formed the core of the historic farmstead: the outbuilding to the rear of the homestead, the stable/smithy, and the woolshed. The Redfern Barn, named after the area of the station on which the building is located, is situated about a kilometre and a half to the north west of the other buildings. The outbuilding is located in the garden behind the homestead (which includes the original mud homestead with a large 1960s addition). The homestead is not included in the registration. The Smithy/Stable is located to the north west of the homestead, while the woolshed is located to the south east, close to the road.

Cob Construction

The farm buildings on Moutere Station are all constructed of cob, although the smithy/stable has a back wall of mud brick. Surviving examples of cob construction are relatively rare, with surviving examples of other earth construction methods such sod or mud brick more common, at least in Central Otago. There are a number of examples of cob residential buildings, particularly in the Nelson area still surviving. In the words of Geoffrey Thornton, cob construction uses ‘a dampened mixture of earth, preferably having a proportion of clay, and chopped straw or tussock grass well puddled before being placed in position to form a wall about 0.6 metres thick.’ These buildings needed a ‘good hat and a good pair of shoes’ to survive, that is a good plinth of stone to provide a well drained base, and a sound roof protecting the walls from the weather. The dry Central Otago climate was suited to earth construction and has meant that there are good surviving examples. New Zealand Historic Places Trust regional archaeologist Dr Matthew Schmidt indicates, however, that in six years of surveying pastoral properties, has not seen any other examples of cob construction.

The construction of the buildings from local materials gives these modest utilitarian farm buildings a visual and physical connection to the spectacular surrounding landscape.

The Homestead Outbuilding

The homestead outbuilding is a single storey earth building, with a corrugated iron gable roof. It is located perpendicular to the homestead. The outbuilding is divided into several bays, each with timber joinery - a door and a window. A concrete block garage has been added to the north east elevation, but the original layout is unchanged. Surviving evidence indicates that some of the interior walls may have been white washed. The building is currently used for storage.

The Smithy/Stable

The Smithy/Stable is a single storey earth building, rectangular in plan, with a hipped corrugated iron roof. Modern garage doors provide vehicle access to what were originally the stalls. Internally the building is divided into three areas: the smithy, the area where the horses were stabled (the stalls have been removed), and the tack room. The smithy (and later a pit for repair of motor vehicles) was located in the north west end of the building. The forge is still in place. The stall area is open storage space. At the south east end of the building is the tack room, also now used for storage, with the hooks for hanging the tack still in place, and graffiti is incised into the walls.

The Woolshed

The Moutere Woolshed is a long, low single storey T-shaped building with a hipped corrugated iron roof. The earth walls are 18 inches thick and rest on a schist base, which acts as a damp proof course. The stud height is around 1.8m. As with other woolsheds, the building operated as two parts – the shearing shed (with pens for sheep and shearers’ stands) and the wool room where the wool was processed and pressed.

Originally there were sixteen stands for blade shearers located in the shearing shed, with a drag across board (as opposed to a raised board). Only eight remained when machine shearing began. Pens were located on the north east wall. The shearing shed has been altered, with the stands removed to make room for pens which now provide dry undercover shelter for the sheep. The chutes where the sheep were discharged after shearing remain in the south west wall. The original operation and layout is still readable in the building.

The original wool room has been converted to a display area for station memorabilia. The screw press has been removed, but the screw press tower remains. The walls have been lined.

A modern two storey woolshed has been built three metres to the north west of the old woolshed. An opening has been created between the original wool room and the original shearing shed to allow access between the outside pens and the new woolshed. There is also an access ramp from the north west of the original shearing shed into the new woolshed.

Redfern Barn

The Redfern Barn is a single storey earth building, rectangular in plan, with a hipped roof on the north west elevation, and a single gable on the south east. The north west gable end has a single window opening, blocked up with corrugated iron, just under the eaves. The south east elevation has a door opening on the left, with a small square window set just off from centre. Like the one on the opposing elevation, it is blocked off with corrugated iron. The openings in the building have timber lintels. The building looks to have been constructed in two stages, with a join evident in the roofing iron, and in the wall construction.

The rear ((north east) elevation has two small windows, one located just under the eaves. The front (south west) elevation has an open bay on the south east end, and an enclosed room with timber barn doors. The building is used for storage.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1860 - 1869
Original Moutere Station buildings constructed close to Manuherikia River. Musters huts and outstation constructed on current farmstead location.

Original Construction
1870 - 1879
Homestead probably constructed around the original musterers huts. Woolshed thought to have been relocated to current position, and construction of homestead and outbuildings begun at current site.

Original Construction
1880 - 1889
Possible construction of what is now known as Redfern Barn.

Other
1960 - 1969
Homestead substantially remodelled.

Addition
2000 -
New Woolshed constructed and original woolshed converted to display area and pens.

Other
2004 -
2004 Men’s Quarters burnt down.

Construction Details

Cob, corrugated iron, timber joinery.

Completion Date

11th May 2010

Report Written By

Heather Bauchop

Information Sources

Cowan, 1948

Janet. C. Cowan, Down the Years in the Maniototo: A Survey of the Early History of Maniototo County and Naseby Borough, Otago Centennial Historical Publications, Whitcombe and Tombs, Dunedin, 1948

Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1905

Cyclopedia Company, Industrial, descriptive, historical, biographical facts, figures, illustrations, Wellington, N.Z, 1897-1908, Vol. 4 Otago and Southland, Cyclopedia Company, Christchurch, 1905

Thornton, 1986

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

McIntyre, 2007

R McIntyre, Historic heritage of high-country pastoralism: South Island up to 1948, Department of Conservation, Wellington, 2007

Carter, 2003

Bill Carter and John MacGibbon, Wool: A history of New Zealand's Wool Industry, Wellington, 2003

Jopp, 2004

Tony Jopp, In the Shadow of the Rock: The story of Moutere and its Merinos, Moutere Station, Central Otago, 2004

Other Information

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.