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Totara Valley 

Reference: Cyclopedia of New Zealand, Canterbury edition. Vol. 3  pages 940-941. Published 1903

TOTARA VALLEY is a rich farming district extending for several miles on the northern bank of the Tengawai river, in the Tengawai riding of the Levels county. The population at the census of 1901 was set at forty. The building stone which is excavated from picturesque cliffs is of considerable value, and if its transport were available, would be largely in demand. There is a Presbyterian church and a public school in the district, and also a blacksmith shop.

THE PUBLIC SCHOOL at Totara Valley was opened  about 1890. The building, which is prettily situated on a grassy knoll surrounded with pines, is constructed of wood and iron, and has the usual class room, with a porch entrance.  There is accommodation for fifty pupils, but there are only twelve on the roll.

ST. PAUL'S PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, Totara Valley, was built of local lime stone in 1890. It has accommodation for 120 worshippers. A Sunday school, consisting of forty children and four teachers meets in the building.  Services are regularly held, and the minister at Pleasant Point is in charge.

Opening Timaru Herald, 14 October 1890, Page 4
The church is a beautiful and substantial building after the Grecian order of architecture, and reflects much credit on Mr W. Annand, who very generously supplied the plans and specifications. It is situated on the left hand aide of the road towards Mr Blue's, and facing the road which passes Mr Hay's front entrance. The site was given by the SJ-Z. and A.L. Coy, through Mr C. N. Orbell, the highly esteemed manager of the Levels estate. The church is built of white stone from Fraser Bros.' estate, and the masonry is skilfully planned and neatly executed. It is plastered inside and has coved ceilings with ornamental ventilators. The walls are tinted light blue, very pleasant to the eye ; the windows are of stained glass of various colours ; the pulpit, seats, and dadoing are in dark wood, presenting a contrast to the walls. The acoustic properties of the building are excellent, the slightest whisper being heard in any part of it. Immediately above the door on the outside is a perforated stone with the figure of a burning bush carved upon it, and the motto of the Presbyterian church of New Zealand�" Nec tamen consumebatur." The doorway is squared at the lop, the congregation hoping at some not remote date to build a porch and vestry. In the meantime they have endeavored to reduce the cost of the building to the minimum commensurate with obtaining an elegant and useful church. The total cost, including service gratuitously rendered, has not been less than �430, and the debt is not more than �140. It may be mentioned that the pulpit desk was presented by Mr John Elder, of Pleasant Point, the Bible by Mr P. W. Hutton, of Timaru, and Mr J.E. Beckingham is supplying a pulpit chair to match the desk, and Miss Callendar, of Upper Totara School, a table. On Thursday evening there was a social meeting m the church to celebrate the opening. The attendance was very large, fully 200 being present. Tea, etc., was provided by the ladies of the congregation

Nov. 14. 2009 Photo taken by me.

MILLER, Joseph, General Blacksmith and Farrier, Totara Valley.  Mr Miller started business in 1886 in a shop built of stone quarried in the district.  The residence, which adjoins the smithy, is of wood and iron, and stands on part of a section of two-and-a -half acres of freehold. Mr Miller was born in 1848, in Caithness, Scotland, where he served his time to the blacksmith's trade as general blacksmith, for a period of four years.  He then went as an improver to the Clyde, where he worked as a ship-smith. Mr Miller came to New Zealand in the ship "Hydaspes," and landed at Lyttelton in 1869.  He found employment intermittently in different parts of New Zealand, and, like all early colonists, tried his hand at various kinds of work.


Mr W. CunninghamCUNNINGHAM, William, Farmer, "The Willows," Totara Valley. Mr Cunningham was born in Scotland, in 1859, and came to Lyttelton with his parents in the ship "Captain Cook" in 1862. He is a son of the late Mr David Cunningham, of Waitohi, was educated at Christchurch and Temuka, and worked with his father for two years. He then engaged in contracting and cropping, and latterly in sheep dealing, As a sheep dealer he has been very successful, and his turnover for the year was over �35,000.  Mr Cunningham rented a farm of 600 acres from Mr Verity for six years, and then bought his present property of 500 acres at Totara Valley.  The land was then in its native state, but he has cleared it and drained it with pipes, and it is now first-class farming land. Formerly he cropped extensively, but since he has gone in for sheep dealing he utilises most of the land for grazing.  He finds the three-quarter and cross-bred sheep most suitable. Mr Cunningham is a member of the Opihi school committee, and has been a member of the Totara school committee.  In 1886, he married Miss McLeod, of Kakahu, and they have two sons and four daughters.

Feeding motherless lambs.  Weeks Ltd.

GLENELG ESTATE, Totara Valley.  This estate was originally part of the New Zealand and Australian Land Company's property.  It was purchased in the first instance by Mr W.W. Cobb, who sold it to Messrs Paterson and Rodgers.  These gentlemen, in turn, sold the 824 acres which they held to Mr D. McBeath in 1886.  Mr John McBeath subsequently purchased 186 acres adjoining, and now the estate has a total acres of 1010 acres. It is all limestone formation, and will grow crops of grain and turnips to perfection. The improvements which have been  made by the Messrs McBeath consist of a good dwellinghouse, beautifully situated on rising ground near the head of the valley.  Stables, with stalls and boxes for fourteen horses, have been built of stone and iron, with walls fifteen feet high.  The loft is used as a granary, and there are other out buildings in keeping with the rest of the homestead, which is enclosed on the north-west and south-west by or mental and shelter trees.  The swamp land on the property has been title-drained, and the whole of the estate has been cultivated with the exception of a small block which is surface-sown with choice grasses. The property is well fenced, and sub-divided into twenty paddocks. During a recent season there were 300 acres in crop, and the balance was carrying fattening 3700 sheep, besides cattle and horses.  The general flock consists of Border Leicesters and crossbreds, but there is a stud flock of Border Leicesters, which was established in 1877 with four ewes purchased from Mr. W. Boag, and descended from imported stock.  These ewes were mated with the ram "Bismarck," bred by Messrs Gillies and Street, and all the rams used since have been bred by the most colonial breeders, as the New Zealand Flock Book shows. In 1889 when Messrs Henderson and McBeath dissolved partnership, they divided their flock, Mr Henderson taking his portion to Sprydon and Mr McBeath his to Glenelg.

Glenelg Homestead

McBEATH, Mr. Donald, the elder brother, was born in 1835, in Caithness-shire, Scotland, where he was educated and followed a commercial life. In 1863 he came out to Otago in the ship "Helenslea." and went to Westland soon after gold was discovered there, and he remained till 1895. He died in November, 1902.

McBEATH, Mr John is two years younger than his brother, with whom he came out to Otago. He was for many years settled in Otago, but subsequently entered into business in Christchurch.  In 1889 he leased his brother's portion of "Glenelg." and still leases and works it in conjunction with his own part of the property.

TOTARA DOWNS,  Totara Valley. This estate is the property of Mr Charles H. Verity, who came to out New Zealand in 1877, and was for many years manager on "Rockwood" and "The Brothers" estate, near Albury, South Canterbury.  "Totara Downs" contains 611 acres of rich limestone formation, and is capable of grazing and fattening a large number of sheep and lambs. The property was originally part of the New Zealand and Australian Land Company's run. and was bought by the present proprietor in September, 1884. It is now devoted chiefly to the breeding and fattening of lambs for the export trade.  In order to keep the pasturage in good heart and condition, a considerable area is annually placed under cultivation. the homestead is beautifully situated on the highest part of the property, and commands a fine view of the Canterbury Plains, the Pacific Ocean and the Southern Alps.

BALFOUR, Mr James, sometime Totara Valley, was born at Downs, PertThe Late Mr. J. Balfour.  Standish and Preece, photo.hshire, Scotland, in 1841, and was brought up to country life. He came to Port Chalmers by the ship "Robert Henderson," in 1862, and for sometime found employment as a carrier to the Otago goldfields, and afterwards farmed at Totara in the Oamaru district. About 1873 he acquires 1203 acres of freehold land in the Totara Valley, which he farmed, and resided at his homestead, "Mansfield." until his death in April, 1897.  In addition to "Mansfield," Mr Balfour owned 200 acres near Pleasant Point. He was a prominent supporter of the Presbyterian Church in his district, and contributed liberally towards the erection.  Mr Balfour was married, in 1872, to a daughter of the late Mr James Oliver, of Oamaru, who arrived at Port Chalmers with his family by the ship "Strathmore," in 1855.  He wife was born in Sutherlandshire, Scotland, and, at her husband's death was left with three sons and six daughters. The second daughter studied for the medical profession in Edinburgh, and has recently gained her diploma.

South Canterbury NZGenWeb Project

Farmhouse, Totara Valley

Timaru Herald, 27 December 1898, Page 2
A very pretty wedding took place last Wednesday at St. Paul's Presbyterian Church, Totara Valley, when the Rev. J White united in wedlock Miss Florence May McBeath. second daughter of Mr John Mcbeath, of Glenelg, and Mr Hugh Eaglesome, of Grangeston, Spreydon. The church was beautifully decorated by the girl friends of the bride, a large floral bell hanging over the happy pair. The bride, who was beautiful, dressed in crime silk was given away by her father, and was attended by her sister, Miss McBeath, Miss Miller, a cousin, and Miss Gunn, of Timaru, The best man was Mr M. Eaglesome, and groomsmen Messrs A. M. McBeath and J. Henderson. About 60 guests sat down to the wedding breakfast at Glenelg, after which the happy pair left at 2.30, amid showers of good wishes and rose leaves, for Timaru en route to the southern lakes for their honeymoon. The guests included friends from Christchurch, Dunsandel, and Timaru, and they remained to enjoy a dance, which was kept up with spirit till 4 a.m., when all joined in singing Auld Lang Syne" The wedding presents were numerous and valuable.