Topic: The Sandhills Run

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Early history of the coastal area between the Waimakariri River and the South Shore Spit. The area now known as Bottle Lake Forest was once a part of Sandhills Run

In 1848, Henry Kemp, Governor Grey's agent for land purchase began negotiations to buy land from Ngai Tahu on behalf of the New Zealand Company. Large stretches of land from Kaiapoi to Otago were bought and divided up into runs, and this large Scale real estate operation became known as Kemp's Purchase.

An area of land taking in the eastern coastal band between the Waimakariri River and the South Shore Spit was part of the land purchase deal and was named the Sandhills Run, having been purchased by the New Zealand Company for pastoral purposes. The boundary of the Run was the Paeraekanui or Styx River, down Canal Reserve (Marshland Road) to the Avon River and then following the river to the estuary.

Sketch map to illustrate The early Canterbury runs

William Derisley Wood (1824 - 1904), who had arrived at Port Cooper (Lyttelton) on the “Randolph”, the second of the first four ships to arrive in 1850, joined the great rush to buy land, and grasped the tenure of the Sandhills Run. Wood purchased Run 9 on 31 January 1852, and he and his partner and brother-in-law William Chisnall added Run 72 on 14 January 1853.

Wood and Chisnall operated the Run as a dairy farm, supplying Christchurch with milk. Purchasing the Run appeared to be a purely speculative move because only a matter of months later, they sold the Run leases to Dr Thomas Moore and Peter Kerr (1814-1877), although the leases were not officially transferred until 4 June 1854. Moore and Kerr added Run 239 in February 1858, and this extended the Sandhills Run to 6000 acres (2428 hectares). Not long after selling his share of the Sandhills Run, Chisnall met his death by drowning in the Waimakariri River, where he owned some land. William Wood went on to establish his well-known flour milling business, and he died an octogenarian in 1906. Their names are commemorated in Chisnallwood Intermediate School.

Woods Riccarton Mill in 1862  [1862] Christchurch City Libraries. CCL PhotoCD 3, IMG0003

Dr Moore had arrived on the Sir George Pollock in 1851 with one son and six daughters, and was one of the first medical men to practice in Christchurch. Dr Moore was a speculator. He was interested in stock and farming and had previously brought out some good Shorthorn dairy stock for his Charteris Bay property, and the strains of their blood were valued for many years on the Peninsula. Success at farming the Sandhills Run was not forthcoming and he sold out and went back to his medical profession.

Peter Kerr and his wife Margaret also arrived on the Sir George Pollock, Peter, in the role of servant to Dr Moore. Peter Kerr was a very capable young man of outstanding ability. He was appointed as Way Warden for the Avon and Heathcote districts by the Provincial Council in 1856. This was a position given only to the eminent and capable. He went on to become an active member in the community which was to develop on the Sandhills Run at New Brighton. In 1865 Kerr bought out Dr Moore's share in the run, giving him some 6000 acres leasehold and 500 acres freehold. By the late 1860s, the uninspiring land of the Sandhills Run was recognised as not having much potential as a farming unit due to the sparse vegetation that grew on the sandy soils, and began to be divided into small economic holdings in the 1870s. German and Polish immigrants already settled to the northwest of the Sandhills Run, bought some of these smaller holdings. Kerr became interested in horse racing and died as a result of being thrown from his horse. Kerr's Reach is named after Peter's son John, who married David Hamilton's (New Brighton pioneer and landowner) daughter Edith.

In 1878 the City Council bought part of the Sandhills Run now known as Bottle Lake Forest Park, for the purpose of disposing of toxic waste and sewage. Five years later, in 1883, the first block of forestry was planted as a trial using two exotic species; Corsican Pine and Monterey Pine. There have been minimal, if any, noticeable effects from the waste site of 1878. While the forest was a working forest, the public was barred from using it, but since gaining park status, the forest is used extensively by those wanting to enjoy the outdoors. This area was also used extensively during World War II as a military training ground, initially by the Mounted Cavalry units of the Canterbury Yeomanry and Canterbury Mounted Rifles. Along the foreshore, an intricate system of trenches, machine gun posts, bunkers, and firing ranges were established by the Home Guard West battalion in readiness of a Japanese invasion.



Acland, L.G.D. The Early Canterbury Runs. Whitcombe and Tombs Ltd: Christchurch, 1951. pg. 50-51

Bottle Lake Forest Park: Fact Sheet. Parks and Waterways, Christchurch City Council.

Penney, Sarah E.W. The Estuary of Christchurch: a history of the Avon-Heathcote estuary, its communities, clubs, controversies and contributions. Penney Ash Publications, Christchurch, c1982.

Surgenor, I. Water Wood: the story of Bottle Lake Forest Park. Christchurch City Council, Christchurch NZ), 2000.

Walsh, Geo. W. New Brighton: a regional history 1852 - 1970. The Author, Christchurch, c1971).

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