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Early New Zealand Settlers

Carlukes history is revealed in numerous stories here on our website, but equally our grandparents were seeking their fortunes in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. We will be expanding on the fortunes of William Brownlee in the Marlborough region of New Zeland in another story but first, here is the tale of the first settlers in the Rai Valley just miles from where Carluke, NZ would eventually be settled. The story is taken up, with kind permission, by Don Donovan of Auckland. 


The Rai Valley Cottage, Carluke

This sturdy pioneers’ cottage in the Rai Valley, between Blenheim and Nelson, is in remarkably good condition not only because it was well built in the first place but also because it has been carefully looked after by volunteers and the Historic Places Trust in recent years.
It was built by Charles and Arthur Turner, the first settlers in the valley, in 1881, and was occupied by Charles and his wife Matilda and their children for the next twenty-five years. They lived remotely for the first four of those years until the coach road from Nelson was formed, and one can only imagine the hard times they must have endured, the constant danger from injury, the lack of medical help, the absence of easy communication.

Apart from a corrugated iron chimney, the cottage was entirely made of local materials: split Totara slabs for the walls and roof shingles, and round stones from the local riverbed to support the chimney. Charles would spend weekdays working as a bushman in Pelorus Valley – a fair distance away even by horse - while Matilda and the children worked at undergrowth clearing around the house. Eventually they cleared enough to fell the bush
and establish a cattle farm and so succeeded through the diligence and faith that marked those courageous pioneer families.

They were also well known for their hospitality and welcomed passers by. Indeed a diary note by one of the children recorded a hardly believable 500 visitors in 1894 alone!
Various additions were made to the cottage as time passed: a separate cookhouse and bakery, dairy, milking shed and a ‘bloke’s shed’ to where Charles could escape to play his violin. (Which might also have been a relief for the family!)
A settlement of about 100 developed nearby, with a school and sawmill founded by William Brownlee. It was named Carluke after Brownlee’s birthplace in Scotland.

Read more stories from the Places section
Law Hospital (the next story in sucession)
A History of Education in Carluke Parish
Carluke Laundry
Castlehill Colliery
Mauldslie Castle 1914 (video)
Miscellaneous Photos

Created before 2012