Story: South Canterbury places

Page 7. Waimate

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Town 45 km south-west of Timaru, with a 2013 population of 2,778.

In July 1854 Michael Studholme reached an agreement with Te Huruhuru, leader of the local Māori, to found the Te Waimate sheep run. A small part of the property remains in the hands of the Studholme family.

There were more than 1,200 hectares of native forest in the area, and the town of Waimate began as a sawmilling settlement. Five mills were operating by 1877 (when the branch railway reached the town), but a bush fire the following year ended the industry. Land for a town had been reserved in 1859, and by 1864 Waimate had a population of around 300.

A plucky physician

In 1897 Margaret Cruickshank became the second woman doctor to graduate in New Zealand. She established a practice in Waimate. During the 1918 influenza epidemic, when her driver fell sick, she used a bicycle to make her rounds. She eventually contracted influenza herself, and died. A memorial statue of her stands in Seddon Square.

Waimate became a borough in 1879 and was also the seat of government for Waimate County. As a rural service centre, Waimate received a boost when the Waikākahi Estate was subdivided in 1899. The population reached a little over 3,000 in the 1950s and remained at this level until the early 1990s, when it decreased slightly. The town is the site of co-educational Waimate High School.


Small township on the main road, 18 km north-east of Waimate. It has several brick buildings – a reminder of the long-closed brick works on Analong, a farm in the area. The town has survived because it is the base of a transport company and the site of a potato-chip factory, which uses potatoes grown in the nearby Willowbridge district.


Settlement 14 km south-east of Waimate. Until the subdivision of the Waikākahi Estate, it was little more than a railway station (Waihao) and a school. After the subdivision, Morven became a service and social centre for the new settlers, with stores, houses, and a convent and convent school. It never had a hotel or saleyards (which were at nearby Studholme Junction).

The settlement declined in the 1960s and 1970s and is now smaller than Glenavy, which it had eclipsed through the first half of the 20th century. The hall, domain and school remain.

Studholme Junction

Location 8 km east of Waimate. It was established in 1877 at the junction of the main south and Waimate branch railway lines. First known as Waimate Junction, it was renamed after a notable local runholder in 1881.

The hotel and saleyards flourished when the Te Waimate and Waikākahi estates were broken up into family farms in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Waihao River

Waihao is one of South Canterbury’s oldest names. It dates from the rendezvous between Rākaihautū and Rokohouia of the Uruao canoe, and refers to a type of freshwater eel caught in that area. The Waihao River rises south-west of the Hunters Hills and flows round their southern extremity to the coast east of Waimate.

On the river’s upper reaches is a district called Waihaorunga and the locality of Waihao Downs, where there is a notable homestead and a monument to early settlers. At Waihao Forks there is a hotel, and in 1941 the Centennial Runanga Hall was built on the Waihao marae, near Morven, just south of the lower Waihao River.

Wainono Lagoon

Large, shallow coastal lagoon impounded by a shingle beach barrier, 10 km north-east of Waimate. It is an important habitat for waterfowl, migratory birds, coastal birds and native fish. It is also a popular game-bird hunting area.

How to cite this page:

John Wilson, 'South Canterbury places - Waimate', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 25 July 2024)

Story by John Wilson, published 28 Feb 2007, updated 17 Aug 2015