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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



Depressed Areas

On the lower easier parts of the ranges, where the snow risk is not great, are the store-sheep farms, the runs averaging between 8,000 and 10,000 acres and Corriedale and cross-bred flocks predominate. Immediately adjacent to the plains and extending in a narrow belt throughout Canterbury lies the foothill country, undulating to hilly land nearly all ploughable. In South Canterbury as late as the 1950s the foothills were a rather depressed agricultural area. During the inter-war period a Department of Agriculture survey revealed 72 per cent of the farms to be uneconomic units and, despite amalgamations, 59 per cent remained uneconomic in the post-war period. After a period when, like the rest of the plains, the area had been extensively grazed with Merino and half-bred flocks and ploughed up for wheat farming, a policy of closer settlement and returned-soldier settlement led to the subdivision of the large estates and the establishment of 200- to 400-acre farms which, under a system of intensive cereal cropping, proved incapable of maintaining the rent and mortgage charges. To meet the crisis some farmers concentrated on cereal production, thus depleting the fertility of the soil; those more unfortunate left their properties. Once again in Canterbury the institutional framework proved inadequate for the needs of the farmers and the necessities of the environment. However, with increased size of holdings and the application of established fertiliser and pasture practices, the farmers of the area can anticipate a more prosperous future.

Christchurch and Timaru apart, the settlements of Canterbury are concerned with servicing the requirements of the rural community. North Canterbury is without any major settlement and the local trade is conducted in the small townships, like Culverden, 397; Waiau, 386; Cheviot, 491; Amberley, 714; and Oxford, 871 – population figures are for 1961. Rangiora and Kaiapoi both possess a number of agricultural processing industries, whilst Kaiapoi has also woollen and textile mills. In the period 1951–61 it showed a high rate of growth, increasing by 38·46 per cent. Ashburton, for its size, also grew at a fast rate, 40·0 per cent; again its industrial activities were an important factor in the growth. South Canterbury has a larger number of towns than the northern part of the region and, in addition, it possesses small servicing centres, such as Methven, 960; Rakaia, 768; Pareora, 605; Pleasant Point, 895; and Fairlie, 844.