Stoddart Weirs

Stoddart Point, Diamond Harbour

  • Stoddart Weirs, Diamond Harbour. view from top of the gully, with upper weir visible in the centre of the image.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: R Burgess. Date: 16/05/2020.
  • Stoddart Weirs, Diamond Harbour. Upper Weir.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: R Burgess. Date: 16/05/2020.
  • Stoddart Weirs, Diamond Harbour. Upper weir prior to clean-up in 2015.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Frank van der Heijden. Date: 13/04/2015.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 9074 Date Entered 20th August 2020 Date of Effect 9th September 2020

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Lot 11 DP 304811 (RT 19087) and Pt Lot 5 DP 14050 (RT 225280, NZ Gazette, 2006, p. 736), Canterbury Land District and the structures known as the Stoddart Weirs thereon. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the List entry report for further information).

City/District Council

Christchurch City

Region

Canterbury Region

Legal description

Lot 11 DP 304811 (RT 19087) and Pt Lot 5 DP 14050 (RT 225280, NZ Gazette, 2006, p. 736), Canterbury Land District.

Location description

Additional Location Information

The weirs are situated in a natural gully north of the Diamond Harbour rugby grounds, immediately below the Diamond Harbour cemetery. South of the rugby fields is Stoddart cottage and the foundation remains of the Godley House are west of the gully.

The coordinates of the upper weir are:

easting northing

Northern point 1579152 5169802

Southern point 1579160 5169797

The coordinates of the lower weir are:

easting northing

Northern point 1579219 5169815

Southern point 1579228 5169810

Summaryopen/close

The Stoddart Weirs at Stoddart Point, Diamond Harbour, were constructed in 1862 by early Pākehā settler Mark Stoddart to provide a reliable water supply for his stock and horticultural business. The weirs have archaeological and historical significance or value.

Mark Stoddart arrived in New Zealand with 2,000 sheep in 1851. The following year he purchased a 50-acre headland in the Diamond Harbour area where he established a sheep farm and a horticultural business, which he expanded to 361 acres by 1862. Stock water was needed, and Stoddart constructed two weirs in a natural gully on his property to create a pond providing a reliable water supply for his expansive vegetable gardens and orchards.

The upper weir was constructed using locally sourced volcanic rocks, and was sufficiently wide to drive a horse and cart across the gully. The lower weir was constructed of earth and stone, and served as a dam only to create a water reservoir.

In 1913 the Lyttelton Borough Council purchased part of Stoddart’s estate and an area of 40 acres was set aside as a public reserve. The land southwest of the gully was levelled and Diamond Harbour Domain sports grounds were established. The upper weir was breached at its northern end in around 1945 with a two metre wide gap to drain the pond that had become a nuisance with the change of use of the surrounding land.

In the summer of 2002 to 2003 members of the Diamond Harbour and Districts Historical Association cleared the vegetation around the upper of the two weirs, which had become completely overgrown by that stage. A similar exercise took place in 2015 but in November 2019 the weirs were once again overgrown.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The Stoddart Weirs have historical significance. The weirs are representations of landscape modifications carried out by the early Pākehā settlers to adapt the environment for the growing of produce and grazing of stock. These weirs are relatively rare examples of structures, constructed for Mark Stoddart, a notable early Pākehā settler and runholder in the Canterbury region, to provide a reliable water supply for his sheep and cattle, and to grow crops.

Archaeological Significance or Value

The Stoddart Weirs have archaeological significance. As an archaeological site, it is considered to have moderate to high archaeological values for its condition, context, rarity, information potential, cultural associations and amenity values. The weirs are able to be investigated using archaeological methods and have the potential to provide significant information on construction methods and materials employed. They also have the potential to provide significant information how early Pākehā settlers utilised and modified the landscape to suit their agricultural requirements.

It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category 2 historic place. It was assessed against all, and found to qualify under the following criteria: a, b, c, e, f, g, i, j, k.

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

The Stoddart Weirs are an excellent example of infrastructure constructed by or for early Pākehā farming settlers, to provide a reliable water supply for their stock and cropping.

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

The Stoddart Weirs are associated with Mark Stoddart, a notable early Pākehā settler in Canterbury. Stoddart initially settled on the Terrace Station near the Rakaia River, but moved to the Diamond Harbour area in 1852. Stoddart gave Diamond Harbour its European name, and the reserve is named after him.

(c) The potential of the place to provide knowledge of New Zealand history

The Stoddart Weirs have the potential to provide information on the way early Pākehā settlers adapted and modified the landscape for their farming needs.

(e) The community association with, or public esteem for the place

The local Diamond Harbour Historic Society has shown to have an association with and therefore provide evidence of public esteem for the Stoddart Weirs. In 2002 to 2003 and again in 2015 the society has cleared vegetation that encroached on the weirs, trying to enhance their visual appearance and provide for their preservation.

(f) The potential of the place for public education

The Stoddart Weirs are located on a public reserve managed by the Christchurch City Council. In 2019 the Christchurch City Council constructed walkways in the area and erected signage to provide easy access to a place where they are able to be observed and inform visitors on how to get there. The weirs’ proximity to Stoddart Cottage and the remains of Godley House add to the potential of the place for public education and appreciation.

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

The Stoddart Weirs were constructed in 1862, and are closely associated with the settlement of Canterbury in the 1850s by Pākehā settlers and pastoralists.

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

The Stoddart Weirs appear to be relatively rare surviving examples of early dams constructed by or for a mid-nineteenth century Pākehā settler to provide for a reliable water supply for their pastoral and agricultural business.

(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural area

The Stoddart Weirs are located in the Stoddart Point Reserve, which includes the Stoddart Cottage and the remains of Godley House.

Summary of Significance or Values

The Stoddart Weirs have significance as archaeological features and tangible survivors of the history of land use and modification for water management by Mark Stoddart, a notable early Pākehā settler in Canterbury.

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Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

Explored and settled over 800 years ago, Waitaha, Ngāti Māmoe and more recently Ngāi Tahu, established kāinga and mahinga kai throughout Whakaraupō (Lyttelton Harbour) supported by the rich resources, particularly kaimoana, found there.

One of the many bays within Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour is Te Waipapa, now called Diamond Harbour. Nestled between Pāua o Hinekotau (the headland between Church Bay and Diamond Harbour) and Te Upoko o Kurī (Stoddart Point), the sheltered nature of the bay made Te Waipapa an attractive bay to call in to when out on the harbour.

The Ngāi Tahu ancestor Te Rakiwhakaputa claimed possession of Rāpaki for Ngāi Tahu in the seventeenth century by placing his waist-mat (Rāpaki) down on the beach. This gave the Rāpaki kainga its name, Te Rāpaki o Te Rakiwhakaputa. Ngāti Wheke retained some reserves during the 1849 Port Cooper land sale (although not Te Waipapa) however they continue their role as kaitiaki for Whakaraupō today.

The first Pākehā permanent settlers to settle in the harbour arrived in the Christchurch area in 1843. Following the arrival of the Canterbury Association pioneers in December 1850, one of the earliest permanent Pākehā settlers in the area now known as Diamond Harbour was Mark Stoddart, originally from Edinburgh, Scotland. Stoddart arrived in New Zealand with 2,000 sheep in 1851 from Australia, where he had been a runholder since 1837. Mark Stoddart initially settled on the Terrace Station near the Rakaia River but did not stay long. In 1852 he purchased a 50-acre headland in the Diamond Harbour area, and over a ten year period he expanded his landholding through the gradual accumulation of freehold blocks. By 1862 Stoddart held titles to Rural Section (RS) 246 (50 acres), RS 1333 (173 acres), RS 498 (80 acres) and RS 2404 (58 acres).

In February 1862, Stoddart married Anna Schjött and the couple moved into their new home which they referred to as ‘Point Cottage’, (now called Stoddart Cottage List no. 3088). Soon after the couple’s move into their new accommodation, the grounds around the cottage were developed, and by 1870 Stoddart’s orchard contained a considerable number and variety of fruit trees. Additionally, the family developed expansive vegetable gardens and paddocks for sheep farming. Oats and hay were cultivated to feed their stock.

Stock water needed for his sheep came from dams constructed in April 1862 across a natural waterway in a gully some 200 metres below Stoddart Cottage. This provided a reliable water supply for Stoddart’s stock and horticultural requirements. These are the structures now known as the Stoddart Weirs. The upper weir was constructed using locally sourced volcanic rocks, and sufficiently wide to drive a horse and cart across the gully. The lower weir was constructed of earth and stone, and served as a dam only to create a water collection pond.

Other structures that formed part of Stoddart’s operation included sheep yards that were constructed in January 1865, a wool shed along with a brick-lined sheep-dip with draining pens, and stables.

In 1876 Stoddart sold most of his estate to Lyttelton merchant Harvey Hawkins, who acquired the balance, including Point Cottage in 1886. In 1880 Hawkins constructed Godley House, a two-storey square villa of brick construction but plastered to imitate stone. It was badly damaged by the 2011 Canterbury earthquake and its aftershocks and demolished in December 2011. Today only its foundations remain.

Following the sale of their property to Hawkins in 1876, the Stoddart family briefly relocated back to Scotland but returned to New Zealand in 1880 when they moved into a property in Fendalton, Christchurch. Mark Stoddart died in 1885. In 1894 Hawkins was declared bankrupt. After the Diamond Harbour property failed to sell, it reverted to the Stoddart family in 1897, who leased or sold it off in portions. Anna Stoddart moved back to Diamond Harbour with her three daughters, one of whom, Margaret, was an accomplished painter and renowned watercolourist.

Following Anna Stoddart’s death in June 1911, the family offered to sell its estate to both the Lyttelton Borough Council and the government. In February 1913 a special loan was raised enabling the Lyttelton Borough Council to purchase 356 acres of the Stoddart estate. An area of 40 acres, which included Stoddart Cottage and Godley House, was set aside as a public reserve. Shortly after its purchase, the Council levelled and landscaped much of the reserve, filling part of the gully and removing Stoddart’s orchard, hedges and bluegum trees. The Diamond Harbour Domain sports grounds were established on the land between the cottage and the weirs, and a cemetery formed on the land immediately west of the weirs. In 1945 the upper weir was intentionally breached by creating a gap around two metres wide to drain the pond that had become a nuisance with the change of use of the surrounding land. In the summer of 2002 to 2003 members of the Diamond Harbour and Districts Historical Association cleared the vegetation around the upper of the two weirs, which had become completely overgrown by that stage. A similar exercise took place in 2015. In November 2019 the weirs were again overgrown. Also in 2019, the Christchurch City Council created a number of walkways in the reserve, one of which leads to the top of the gully from where the weirs are able to be observed. Signage has also been added directing visitors to the location of the weirs.

Physical Description

Current Description

The upper weir is of dry-stacked stone construction, using local volcanic rock. The weir is approximately 15 metres long, 1.5 metres wide and 1.5 – 2 metres high. It runs in a north-northwest to south-southeast direction and has a gap of about 2 metres near the northern end. The upper weir wall appears to have been bonded with clay rather than mortar.

The lower weir consists of battered earth banks held together with embedded stones. These stones do not appear to have been stacked or coursed. It is approximately 12 metres long and 1.2 metres high. It runs parallel to the upper weir, some 65 metres down the natural gully.

The weirs are of simple artisan construction. The upper weir, being constructed from stone, is unusual in New Zealand and is possibly reflective of Stoddart’s Scottish roots and the availability of stone in the locale.

Both weirs are overgrown, the lower weir more so than the upper weir. As the upper weir and surrounding area has been cleared of vegetation twice in the first two decades of the twenty first century, it is mainly overgrown with long grass. The lower weir and surrounding area has not been cleared in recent memory, and is covered in dense vegetation consisting of trees, native bushes and scrubby weeds. Trees have established themselves on the weir, and roots growing through the weir have caused significant damage. Erosion and silt accumulation have also affected the lower weir, diminishing its visual appearance and making it more difficult to interpret.

The upper part of the gully was cleared of vegetation at the time the upper weir was cleared, and subsequently planted with small natives.

Comparative analysis

There are several examples of weirs in Canterbury. A stone weir is present on the Avon River in Christchurch near the Antigua Boatsheds, which raises the water level while still enabling a flow over the top. Another Avon River weir is at Mona Vale and is a double weir of concrete construction which replaced an earlier timber weir.

There are a number of weirs and dams on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero, but they are concrete structures from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. These are for water reservoirs for public water supplies, water mill operations or hydro-electricity generation. Examples include the Upper Karori Dam (List No. 7749), Lower Karori Dam (List No. 7750) and the Fernyhaugh Flour Mill Site (Former) (List No. 5188).

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1862 -
Construction of the two weirs

Damaged
1945 -
Breach created in the upper weir

Construction Details

Volcanic rock (upper weir), earth and stone (lower weir)

Public NZAA Number

M36/157

Completion Date

2nd March 2020

Report Written By

Frank van der Heijden

Information Sources

Ogilvie, 1990

G. Ogilvie, Banks Peninsula; the Cradle of Canterbury, GP Books, 1990

King n.d.

King, Julie, ‘Flowers into landscape: Margaret Stoddart, 1865-1934’, 1997, Hazard Press, Christchurch.

Ussher 2017

Ussher, Tony, ‘Stoddart Weirs Stoddart Point Diamond Harbour Architectural Conservation & Management Plan’, 9 September 2017, unpublished report for Christchurch City Council.

Other Information

A fully referenced New Zealand Heritage List report is available on request from the Southern Region Office of Heritage New Zealand.

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero 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.

Archaeological sites are protected by the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014, regardless of whether they are entered on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero or not. Archaeological sites include ‘places associated with pre-1900 human activity, where there may be evidence relating to the history of New Zealand’. This List entry report should not be read as a statement on whether or not the archaeological provisions of the Act apply to the property (s) concerned. Please contact your local Heritage New Zealand office for archaeological advice.