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Journal of the Nelson and Marlborough Historical Societies, Volume 1, Issue 3, November 1983

Michael Mayer's Run No. 12 (1854)

Michael Mayer's Run No. 12 (1854)

This run does not appear to have had a specific name and lay along the north of the Wairau River from the Waikaka Bush in the east to opposite the junction of the Waihopai and Wairau Rivers in the west. The northern page 28boundry was a line one mile from the Wairau River and it was originally between 3,600 and 4,000 acres.

Michael Mayer1 Senior was of Irish stock, born in County Tipperary about 1794. About 1818 he married Nancy Lamphier, a descendant of Hugoenot refugees who fled from France in the 17th century. They lived in London for a few years before emigrating with their three children to Nelson, New Zealand. Michael Mayer, junior, born 1829, joined the survey party to the Wairau about 1848 and then went back to Spring Grove where his parents were living and persuaded them to come to the Wairau and take up a sheep and cattle run, which they did in 1852. In 1853 the eldest son, John, born 1819 was drowned in the Wairau River.

At first the Mayers lived in a quickly erected abode in the shelter of "Whare Hill" as it is known locally. Later they built a cob and timber house of one and one half stories on the homestead block which Michael the younger purchased in 1855. This block was section No. 7 of block 1 District of Kaituna, and is north of the present road known as the Tua Marina Track.

In 1863, from the corner of this section, Michael Maher conveyed five acres to James Davìs and Arthur Kìnsey, who erected the Kaituna Accommodation House. As money became available Michael Mayer, the younger purchased further sections out of the run, until after his death in 1874 he owned about 1,500 acres of land mainly to the north and west of the homestead.

Michael Mayer Jun. (1829–1874) had married Elizabeth Holt2 of Waimea South in the early fifties and their eldest son, John (1859–1940) took over the day to day management of the property with his mother until the youngest member of the family reached twenty one years of age. John married twice, his first wife, Jessie Anderson (?–1892) had three children, two daughters and a son. His second wife Kate O'Brian (1865–1959), two sons. Descendants of the latter union farm quite an area of this land at the present time (1983). Land out of the run further to the east of the Homestead was purchased by outsiders, notably John Gibson, a very progressive farmer who also established a flour mill and a flax mill driven by water power from the Ari Ari stream. Because so many people were employed by Gibson, his several sons and other settelers (Weavers, Story, etc.) a small village sprung up known as Gibson Town.