craigmore station history

Edward Elworthy left Somerset in England in 1862 and in 1864 settled at Holme Station, south-west of Timaru in South Canterbury, New Zealand. He had purchased a share of the Pareora lease and farmed over 70,000 acres, steadily converting the property from leasehold to freehold. At its fullest extent Holme Station ran from the top of the Hunters’ Hills in the west to the Pareora river in the north and the Otaio River in the south. Holme Station included the limestone hill known by the Scottish shepherds as Craigmore (gaelic for “rocky outcrop”).

Edward and his wife Sara Maria and their seven children lived at Holme Station itself, which eventually passed to his eldest son, Arthur. Holme Station was developed into one of the pre-eminent New Zealand sheep, beef, cropping and dairying operations over the 38 years from 1864 until Edward’s death in 1898.

Over time Edward sold sufficient land to free himself of all debt. He then allocated 10,000 acres to each of his three surviving sons. The core Holme Station block went to Arthur. Craigmore Station went to Herbert, and Gordon’s Valley went to Percy.

Craigmore was farmed by Herbert and his wife Gladys (neé Cleveland, from Melbourne, Australia). They built the homestead in 1907 and added another story in 1910. There is view in the Craigmore branch of the family that Herbert was the most dedicated farmer of Edward’s three sons. He acquired Mt Possession, Hakatere and Mt Potts Stations (where the Riders of Rohan had their village, Eldoras) during his career.

Herbert's son Harold took over Craigmore between the wars. He and his wife June then passed it on to their sons Peter, Jonathan and Robin Elworthy in the 1970s.

Peter Elworthy bought out his brothers in the late 1970s and also built up Papamoa, a pioneering deer farm at Morven-Glenavy. During the 1980s Peter became President of Federated Farmers and Chair of independent directors of the board of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. During this period he played a key leadership role in the restructuring and liberalisation of the NZ economy. He played a leading part in persuading farmers to give up their subsidies in return for market liberalisation. He was knighted for services to agriculture in 1985.

After Peter died in 2003, Forbes inherited Craigmore Station and Charles the adjoining Cleveland property. Forbes has since extended the farming assets of Craigmore Farming Company to approximately 4,200 ha (10,300 acres) by acquiring the Baber’s Block and Grange Hill runs in the Hunter Hills.