The First Sheep Farmers in Manawatu
Because the bush-covered areas in Manawatu did not attract European settlers looking for open country to run sheep the first big farming enterprises in New Zealand were elsewhere — in Canterbury, Wairarapa and Hawkes Bay. But Manawatu had its sheep runs too.
From the Oroua River at Awahuri across to the Rangitikei River, where there was open country covered mainly with fern, flax, and low scrub. Many acres of land were leased from the Maori owners for grazing sheep — and some cattle — from as early as the 1850s.
- Captain Charles Bluett who had served in the 65th Regiment, leased a run at Te Rakauhou between present day Sanson and Feilding
- Captain Edward Daniell’s Killimoon was around today’s township of Bulls
- Major Benjamin William Rawson Trafford leased a property called Mingaroa’ (managed by Major Reginald Biggs)
- Captain Campbell leased Pohatatua’(managed by John Lees).
Other early arrivals were Duncan and Donald Fraser at Waitohi. The Fraser family had been among the first European settlers across the Rangitikei River at Parewanui.
In the other direction, from Awahuri (on the way to presentday Feilding), James Whisker and his brother in law John Hughey leased land along the Oroua riverbank in the Kawakawa Native Reserve from the mid 1860s.
At Raukawa between Ashhurst and Palmerston North the first farmers (from the 1860s) were John Dalrymple, William Cumming, Alfred Grammer, George Richardson and William Waugh.