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The past two weeks I have been busy writing a couple of articles for the coming West Otago A & P Society booklet. This year the group is celebrating 100 years, which is really something to shout about! However shows started long before that. In fact as early as 1875 interested runholders voiced opinions with support for augurating an agricultural and pastoral society in Tapanui and subscriptions were collected. A large amount of £400. Now this was a coup as the Otago A & P Society, based at Forbury in Dunedin averaged £600 per annum.

A meeting was convened by John McKellar at Noble’s Hotel in May 1876 where carried unanimously “That an association be formed to be called the Tapanui and Central Districts Pastoral and Agricultural Association”. The history of this group is interesting and the men who were management committee more so. The reasons for the clubs demise seemed unbelievable, however The Tapanui farmers’ Club was formed in 1880 and continued until 1910.

In 1911 a change came about, so this is all in a separate article to be written by Ruth Stiven. The second article I have penned is about the Rodger family involvement. James Rodger, aged 22, came to Otago as a shepherd aboard the Young America with the first shipment of Leicester ewes and rams for the province in 1862. He instigated the show movement calling for interested parties to form a society. At this time he was the runholder of Rankleburn Run, he named Deloraine. Before he was 30 he owned over 1000 acres freehold. Something he would never have achieved if he stayed in Scotland. His son Robert Alexander (RA) became the secretary and treasurer of the Farmers’ Club for many years. A brother to James, Alexander who became a D.P. selector on Glenkenich, was Vice-president in 1881, President in 1882. RA’s son Keith, his son Murray and Murray’s son Peter have all been presidents. So the Rodger family are the only locals who have been involved in the shows for every generation since 1875.

The show this year in November will be one to attend. Held on Saturday 19th, adds can be found in the local paper Blue Mountain Express. I will be there… I wouldn’t miss it!



I have just seen the Ozalid, an image very close to the final, of the books cover… looks very vibrant and the colours are really well matched. Graeme has done an excellent job with this. The final proof is to be commended and all goes well. Such a smooth process and experience this has been.

Great news this last week!! An email from fellow researcher.. The Tapanui Courier is under serious considerations for addition to the Papers Past digitisation program through the National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa. Many people I know have been trying their hardest to get this online. I wish to congratulate the Clutha District Council and team of promotors for this achievement.

A massive task updating and changing the layout of my website at West Otago Farming and Families. I just have one more page to do and will ftp the lot. It has snowed here since yesterday lunch time and we have about three inches lying about. Its so cold and even more so since I have just come back from a wonderfully warm holiday in aussie. The internet went down, which I might add is not uncommon for us. The service is particularly unreliable.

The book is finished! What a pleasure it has been seeing this to printing stage. With so much support I gathered enough information necessitating division of the material into a series and this is the first in that series.

Recording European settlement in West Otago between 1850 and 1875 focuses on arrival in Otago, New Zealand, the hardships and challenges in a new land mainly untouched by man. Establishing runs, home and family drew out shear determination to achieve the best flocks, improved pastures and want for more land.

Working with Graeme Leather, the production designer of Island Bridge has been a joy. His guidance and advise has made this stress-free and enjoyable. The sketches by Peter Gregory are more than I wished for and I highly recommend him too.

Pre-orders are welcome as this is a limited print. Copies are already selling, however distribution will be November 2011 after the book launch at Tapanui.

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Amanda Rodger Dickson

West Otago - 150 Years, Farming & Families

Runholders, managers and shepherds