Keith Stirling - droving sheep at "Glentanner",
Mackenzie Country, New Zealand


This photo with Keith, his horse and border collie sheep dogs at Glentanner Station and Mount Cook in the background has appeared on many calendars, postcards and jig-saw puzzles over the years. Looks like they merinos have just been crutched.

Keith Stirling (1900 - 1980)

Keith (Gilbert William Stirling) received his primary education at Albury where his father was farming. He attended Timaru Boy's High School and Christchurch High School. He played on the 1st fifteen (rugby) and was on the rowing team  Started off teaching but soon returned to farming. As a young man he mustered on "Mt Algidus".  He breed thoroughbred horses in North Canterbury.  In 1934 Keith came to Allendale from Oxford and 1934 and purchased a 92 acre farm now known as the "Ponderosa". He was still single and played rugby in Fairlie and worked on other farms around the district. After farming at Allendale and he had another property around Fairlie he sold them and purchased "Ribbonwood" Sherwood Downs, Fairlie in 1940 and held it until he went bankrupt in 1946 and my father purchased the property. Keith's horses often competed Mackenzie Highland Show in the show class and competed in sheep dog trails. He was a skilled horseman and excellent stockman. He married Ruth Bell, from Dunedin, in1940 whom he met at a dance to farewell the district WWII soldiers in Burnett's woolshed at Cave. Keith planted some of the trees around the homestead. After selling "Ribbonwood", 4765 acres, in 1947, Keith and Ruth moved to "Glentanner Station" in the Mackenzie where he managed the station for the next fourteen years. Mum and Dad accidentally visited him there in January 1948. They had been to Mt Cook and ran out of petrol so called into "Glentanner" and stayed the night at the homestead. In those post war days there was still petrol rationing. Keith gave them some petrol in the morning and sent then on their way. They knew Keith from his years at "Ribbonwood." Keith and Ruth retired to Otaio then to Kingsdown and finally Timaru. They had one daughter.

"Ribbonwood"
"To be young and fit and keen, alone in a mountain world with only the skyline beyond: what a life for a young man" a shepherd,  Reg Winn, voiced of his first experiences as a high-country musterer in the Mackenzie Country.  Keith always loved the hills. From Kingsdown you can see the Two Thumb Range and "Ribbonwood."

On 27 December 1949 a Timaru party of five from the New Zealand Alpine Club, South Canterbury section, arrived in pouring rain just after "Glentanner" homestead had been burned to the ground through a lightening strike on its telephone wires. This event encouraged the club to build a hut. The Unwin Hut located off Pukaki-Hermitage Road, Mount Cook Village, was officially opened 5 May 1951 by Desmond Unwin, the son of Dr. W.H. Unwin of Timaru. In addition to a large section contingent, other visitors from Timaru, the Hermitage and "Glentanner" were: Desmond, Biddy, Basil and Bill Unwin, Mick Bowie, Pat Walmsley, Jocelyn Bueling, Nellie and Murray Douglas, Geoff Milne, Ivan Brealey, Bert Barley, Duncan Darroch, Harry Stinson, Tom Woods, Hans Bohne, Stein Lundberg, Geoff Pike, Roland Guinness and Keith Stirling. Dr Unwin had left a bequest to the The New Zealand Alpine Club, South Canterbury section, and they decided, as his memorial, to make this the nucleus of a fund to build a hut in a reasonably accessible area as a training ground for young climbers. A rabbit fence still separated Birch Hill from the next station down the Tasman River, Glentanner. Glentanner lost much of its wintering land when Lake Pukaki was raised in 1962.


Tourist & Publicity Dept.
Keith Stirling on 'Glentanner Station'
Handcoloured photograph on board 40 x 50cm

New Zealand Herald Tuesday May 20, 2008 Photos: Mackenzie sheep muster
Shepherds move merinos towards Mt Cook during an autumn muster on Glentanner Station, Mackenzie Basin. The merinos are brought down from the tops so they are not trapped when the heavy snow comes.

August 1972 photo, Glentanner muster, looks like Keith Stirling and his horse. Keith was actually paid well probably by the Tourist & Publicity Dept. to feature in these photographs and became very well known throughout New Zealand and this was one of the reasons he stayed on at Glentanner.
Glentanner Woolshed and sheep yards.
Blades Still Rule at Glentanner
Inside - throwing a fleece on to the table.
Glentanner Station, 18,000ha, lies at the head of Lake Pukaki, near the Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park boundary, on SH 80, has been managed by the Ivey family since 1957. Their farm holdings in 2010 support nearly 9000 merino sheep, 200 Hereford cattle and 230 red deer. In this area there is significant wetlands, glacial moraines and habitats for black stilts. Geographical features include The Ben Ohau Range, the braided Tasman River and flats and Lake Pukaki with iconic landmarks views of Aoraki/Mt Cook, a glacial tarn named the Acland lagoon where anglers fish for brown trout in October / November and mountain streams. Wildlife include the Canada goose, the Paradise, grey and mallard ducks. The Tasman River bed is unoccupied Crown Land. The run is bounded by Birch Hill Stream to the north, the Tasman River to the east, Whale Stream which forms the boundary with Ferintosh Station to the south and the Ben Ohau Range to the west. The Fish and Game prick eggs to control numbers of the Canada goose to control numbers. map

The Timaru Courier Feb. 2013 Musterer on card recalled by farmers
The publication in last month’s Courier Country of a postcard view of mustering sheep against the backdrop of Mt Cook stirred some memories for a South Canterbury mother and son. Robert Tennant, of Wellpark, Otaio, and his mother, Julie Tennant, of Timaru, remember the musterer and his horse. He once worked on their farm. Mr Tennant said he was about nine years old when the late Keith Stirling and his horse arrived from Glentanner Station to work on the family farm. ‘‘He always had the old horse. He spent more time leading it than riding it,’’ Mr Tennant said. Mr Stirling, his wife Ruth and their only daughter, who now lives in Kathmandu, moved to the Tennant farm in 1957. Mr Tennant’s father employed Mr Stirling because he was converting from dairying to sheep farming because of the boom in wool prices. Mr Tennant said he though the photograph was taken shortly before this time while Mr Stirling was working at Glentanner, near Mt Cook. The Stirlings previously farmed at Sherwood, near Fairlie, and left that farm during the depression, Mr Tennant said. Mr Stirling also had a ‘‘mob of dogs’’ and was known for his loud whistle, which could be heard ‘‘three or four farms away’’, he said. The Stirling family later retired to Kingsdown, near Pareora, where Mrs Stirling was to live into her 90s, Julie Tennant said. ‘‘That horse: he could drop the reigns and it would still be there when he came back,’’ Mrs Tennant said. She had often bought the postcard to send to friends, she said. Mr Tennant said the photograph also featured on the front of a board game called ‘‘Squatter’’. An early edition of the game was recently offered for sale on Trade Me. It was described as an ‘‘Australasian’’ farming game, for two to six players aged 10 to adult, based on actual livestock farming principles. Each player starts with an unimproved sheep station fully stocked with 3000 sheep. With pasture improvement and irrigation, the farm can be stocked with 6000 sheep. The money needed to do this is earned from players’ shrewd selling and buying of sheep and the sale of their wool. Colourview Publications Ltd, based in Oamaru — New Zealand’s biggest producer of scenic postcards — still produces the card, which began as a blackand-white snapshot and was later colour-tinted. Colourview’s managing director Nolan Culleton said the card was one of its most popular.

South Canterbury NZGenWeb Project

Otago Witness, 3 June 1876, Page 19
Select Poetry
DON’T LEAVE THE FARM
Come, boys, I have something to tell you,
Come near, I would whisper it low,
You are thinking of leaving the homestead,
Don't be in a hurry to go!
The city has many attractions,
But think of the vices and sins,
When once in the vortex of fashion,
How soon the course downward begins.

You talk of the mines of the Black Hills,
They're wealthy in gold without doubt,
But ah! there is gold on the farm, boys,
If only you'll shovel it out;
The mercantile trade is a hazard,
The goods are first high and then low;
Better stick to the farm a while longer,
Don't be in a hurry to go.

The great busy West has inducements,
And so has the busiest mart
But wealth is not made in a day, boys,
Don't be in a hurry to start.
The bankers and brokers are wealthy,
They take in their million or so.
Ah, think of the fraud and deception;
Don't be in a hurry to go.

The farm is the safest and surest,
The orchards are loaded to-day,
You're tree as the air of the mountain
And “monarch of all you survey.”
Better stay on the farm a while longer,
Though profits come in rather slow,
Remember, you've nothing to risk, boys,
Don't be in a hurry to go!