Timaru Creek Station and the Dingle


(now Dingleburn Station)


Access has been one of the major problems confronting the inhabitants of the Dingleburn since it was first taken up as an area to run sheep and cattle.


In 1862 James McKerrow arrived to survey the area falling into the Otago District around Lake Hawea. The majority of the Hunter River was in the Canterbury District but the last three miles of its course came under the Otago District. Following is the report to JT Thomson on the Dingleburn dated 9 July 1862.


“The only means of communication to the head of the lake is by boat. Mr Jones of Oamaru established a station at the head of Lake Hawea after much labour and difficulty .He had to boat his sheep a distance of two miles so as to go round Rocky Point which descends into the depths of the lake in so precipitous a manner that to go around is impossible and over it just as impossible. Cattle cannot be boated like sheep and as cattle are best adapted for the swamp pasture of the Hunter Valley. Mr Jones resolved to have a track cut to drive them around. During the six months previous to the survey, two contractors had formed one mile of side cutting on each side of the real difficulties. These are two masses of overhanging rock through which the track will have to be blasted. This is being done and expected to be completed in October”.


The ownership of the land, now under Dingleburn Station, is a little lost from the occupation by Mr Jones until the early 1880's when William Fraser was the licensee of Run 433. Thomas Archibald Fraser of Run 335B and the Upper Hunter blocks 95A and 99A were owned by Patrick Cotter in 1898. Patrick Cotter died in 1904 and the license transferred to Francis Catter, although in the same year it was forfeited for non payment of rent.


Dougald Bell of Hawea, Lake Station Run 335B became concerned that Francis Cotter was removing the improvements on the runs and he wrote to the Commission of Crown Lands about this concern. He had witnessed this practice taking place on other Runs that had been forfeited and he had known of instances where runs where taken up and the half years rent paid so that the improvements could be removed and then the Runs were surrendered.


Andrew McDougall, the Ranger, interviewed Cotter about the matter but owing to the difficult means of transport down the lake by boat, he had not succeeded in removing these improvements and had only sledged them as far as D Bell's Run.


Runs 95A and 99A after being forfeited, were inspected by T A Fraser, Assistant Chief Inspector of Stock, who declared the country should have been forfeited some time ago for infringement of one of the conditions of the license, was keeping down rabbits which were extremely numerous. He suggested that in order to save the Government expense of rabbiting this country, it should be re-offered as soon as possible as it would be taken up again.


The Government offered the license to Dougald Bell for three years, he accepted and then the Government withdrew the offer and the Runs were joined and offered for public auction in 1908.


Dougald Bell was very irate about the Government’s decision and he felt that people were going to take up the Runs solely for rabbit farming as he knew the applicants and that their intention was to only kill the rabbits, when their skins were of value in the winter. He declared the Runs were swarming with rabbits and required to be dealt with a firm hand.


At the auction in 1908, Alfreo Spain ran the rent up to £101 per annum, a price very much beyond the value of the Runs. He paid one years rent and was not able to pay any more rent because of financial difficulties and surrendered the Run in 1909.


Mr Charles Christie Graham who had been a stipendiary magistrate for many years purchased the property to make provision for hi unmarried daughter Francis Carline (Fanny) Graham. The same year he purchased Run 33 for his other unmarried daughter, Phoebe Graham, while he himself took up ownership on Run 335B with his wife Jemma Frances Graham. His other daughter Susan had married Fredrick Ratcliffe Riley a doctor in Dunedin.




These three Runs were all under one management and from 1915 Dave McCall was the Manager for 18 years. Dave was responsible for milling the timber and building the Woolshed and shearers quarters at the Dingle which are still in use today as the original buildings.


Apart from the access to Runs 95A and 99A, they had other problems and Ranger Leonard in a report to the Commissioner of Crown Lands in 1923 on reviewing rentals, stated that the carrying capacity of these Runs as well as Run 433 was decreasing owing to deprecations by deer which were increasing in numbers and also a high death rate of stock from keas and tuku (tutu?) with

enormous losses experienced during bad winters from snow.


Charles Christie Graham died in 1916 and in 1918 Jemma Graham signed over the lease of Run 335B to her daughter Charlotte Susan Riley. When Jemma died in 1925, her will stated that the property went to her son-in-law Frederick Riley.


Due to the Hunter River causing access problems to Run 95A it had not been used in conjunction with 99A for a number of years.  This seemed to be of widespread knowledge and there were inquiries, to the Commissioner of Crown Lands, by various people to see if they could apply for the lease. Mr D Denniston and R Campbell being two of the applicants.


Murdoch Drake who held the license on Runs 430A and 95 had in fact been  using Run 95A so in 1949, Frances Graham wrote to surrender the property and stated that Murdoch Drake would take up the license - he also had the rabbits and deer under control.


Run 95A was incorporated with Run 430A and 95 in 1950. Run 433 under the license of Phoebe Graham was transferred to Francis M Riley. When Charles Graham purchased these properties he had hopes of a safe and profitable investment but this was not realised and he found it impossible to carry on financially. His son-in-law Dr Riley came to his rescue and he became jointly financially involved in the property Run 433.


When Mr Graham died his wife Jemma agreed to sell the remaining interest to Dr Riley who transferred it to Francis Melville Riley in 1929. Although the three licenses are in different names, they have always been worked as one by Dr Fred Riley until his death in 1932 and since by his trustees Charlotte Susan Riley, Francis Melville Riley and Peter William Riley with Francis as resident Manager.


To amalgamate these three Runs, the licenses were surrendered and a new pastoral lease was issued in 1954 in names of Trustees estate FR Riley. When this case was put before the land board one of the problems of the property was still noted as being the access which made it difficult to hold labour at the Dingle. Only riding access to the homestead at the Dingle, where all the work was carried out. Wool, heavy equipment and supplies were all brought by boat from Mead's landing across the lake.


In 1954 the Dingle was taken under the Ministry of Works Act to enable the raising of the lake for Hydro electricity storage.


Ian Sarginson managed the property until he and his brother John bought it from the Ministry of Works in 1958. Ian and John managed and developed the property during the next years. In the early 1960's, Ian built the road which has fixed the access problems for the station. Access still remains the major management handicap on the station but it is now a manageable concern. Ian during his period built the homestead and hydro power scheme, in conjunction with quite extensive over-sowing and fencing.  


The property was sold to Guy and Davida Mead in August 1988. The Meads have continued to develop the property through to the present and it has a bright future producing super fine merino wool and good quality cattle.



Run 335B


1884 Thomas Archibald Fraser

1888 Hector McLean

1895 Donald Bell

1907 Donald Gordan Gunn

1910 (4/3/10) Charles Robert Denniston

1910 Charles Christie Graham/ Jemma Frances Graham

1926 Frederick Ratcliff Riley

1933 CR, RM, RW Riley

1954 Became P46

1956 Taken for water power, part in P151

Ian Saginson/ John Sarginson

22/12/58 Iam Sarginson

1/8/88 Guy and Davida Mead


Run 433

1860 Mr. Jones

1861 William Fraser

1889 James Linton

1891 James Haugh

1893 Harriet Dowling

1896 Jessie Bell

1910 (1/3/10  Donald Gordan Gunn

1910 (4/3/10) Robert Denniston

1910 Phoebe M. Graham (13/10/10)


   Pt 433NE (E of the Dingle)                                       Pt 433 NW (W of Dingle)

      1910 Phoebe M Graham                                           1910 Phoebe M Graham

      1923 Marian E Cameron Ben Avon                         1929 Frederick R. Riley PR 1711 NE

      1953 Colin & Joan Walker                                       1956 Pt Run 443 Taken for Water Power