Mar 25 1970

Salisbury Property

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Donald Reid was ambitious, disciplined, far-sighted and a hard worker. He was born on a farm in Fifeshire, Scotland and it had always been his ambition to own his own farm.
With his two young brothers and his widowed mother, who had just remarried, he arrived at Port Chalmers in 1849. He was fifteen years old. In two years’ time he was grazing his own bullocks at Breadalbane, North Taieri. Before he took up 62,000 acres at ‘Salisbury’ in 1857, he had gained experience at the Valpy Farm at Forbury and had also operated his own farm at Caversham for two years, where he had succeeded in bringing swamp land into cultivation.
By 1857 there were clay-walled thatched roofed cottages sparsely dotted round the foothills of North Taieri well above the swamp of the central plain. Reid built a peesy (or pise [with e acute]) which was his highland name for the Australian named wattle and daub cottage. He brought the water supply right to the cottage with a tap on the verandah. He called his property ‘Salisbury’, as the hills reminded him of Arthur’s Seat and the Salisbury Crags, Edinburgh. Gradually the wilderness of high fern, manuka scrub and flax became a model farm: the flax and fern roots were broken up by ploughing with oxen; bricks were burnt on the property to build accommodation for the men; shelter belts of blue gums, macrocarpus, wattles and pinus insignis, ornamental trees such as poplars, weeping willows and hawthorn hedges were planted, and a plantation of gum trees were started with seed from Australia. ‘Salisbury’ was almost a self-contained community where most of their requirements were produced, including candles and soap. By 1865 the change from grain growing to sheep grazing had been made and it became one of the best grazing estates in Otago, splendidly watered and well sheltered with belts of trees.
When gold was discovered in 1861, Reid made a bargain with his men. They agreed not to abandon their farm duties for the goldfields until their important summer work was over. In return, Reid supplied transport, equipment and supplies for three months whilst they worked a claim together. This claim brought them more than their usual share of luck. Reid also ran a carting business to the diggings taking farm produce and stores, making a trip each way every week with a bullock dray.
… The first Mrs Donald Reid died in 1868 and he married Mrs Price in 1874.
… Donald Reid was one of the outstanding men on the Taieri and in Otago. His interests were wide including farming, transport, Harbour Board, politics and the development of industry and local affairs. He served continuously on road boards and school committees and donated the glebe of 10 acres on which the North Taieri Church and manse stand; he was instrumental in the passing of some early land Acts and in Sir H. Atkinson’s government, after the Abolition of the Provinces in 1876 he was Minister of Lands and Public Works. When he retired from public life in 1878 he commenced the business of auctioneer and stock and station agent which … developed into the … large concern.
His journey of 24 miles to Dunedin and back each day involved three to four hours’ travel in all weathers, part of it in an open buggy. in 1911 Reid made the decision to sell ‘Salisbury’ and the following year it was purchased by Mr L C Hazlett who retained the flat land for grazing his race horses and built the four cottages between ‘Salisbury’ and the North Taieri Church.
From 1945 to 1965 Mr E C S Falconer of Dunedin owned the property… The present owners are Mr and Mrs P O McDonnell. To maintain the ‘Salisbury property in its former condition would be costly and a great deal of work. Young Mr and Mrs J W Penno [who] now live in the house… – “Taieri Buildings” 1970 by Daphne Lemon

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