The historic Hakatere buildings were once at the heart of high country life in the Ashburton Gorge. The buildings, including a stone cottage, the singlemen’s (or shearers) quarters and a cook shop, were part of Hakatere Station and housed the shearers and musterers that worked there.
Stone cottage was home to many
Built in 1862, the stone cottage may be the oldest building in mid-Canterbury. As home to the the head shepherds, it was known as the 'head shepard's cottage' until around 1892, after which it became known as the 'married quarters'.
The cottage was not always lived in. At one stage it was the post office for the area, and it was later used for storage. The mutton chiller was the only room in the building that was in constant use until the mid 1970's.
The singlemen’s or shearer's quarters were built in the 1870s and have been gradually added on to as the need arose. When first built, the quarters contained the cookhouse in the middle, with the men’s bunkrooms flanking the sides. Between 1960 and 1980 up to fourteen men lived in these quarters at any one time.
Chaffey’s cook shop
Sam Chaffey built the cook shop in the 1940's using part of a relocated building, in order to house the cook and family, and to create an area for the shepherds to eat and socialise.
Heart of the high country
The buildings at Hakatere have a long history as being the hub for social activities for the men and women that lived and worked in the district.
The most famous gathering was the annual Hakatere sheepdog trials, started by Sam Chaffey. Originally started to attract musterers to the district, they quickly became a highlight of the social calendar. The Silver Billy was a heavily contested item in the sheepdog trials, and it was a real honour to win it.
How far would you go for a cup of tea?
Imagine what it must have been like for the women, bringing up children and cooking and cleaning in the tiny stone cottage. They had to content with bitter cold winters in isolation - women were scarce in the high country! One woman in the area tells of not seeing another woman for almost ten years!
Local stories tell of Mrs Lambie and her nearest female neighbour, Mary Rutherford of Mt Potts, meeting at the Trysting Stone by Lake Clearwater. This was a 20 km walk in long dresses and lace up boots, with their children, for a cup of tea and a chat!
Hakatere history is protected and brought to life
The buildings were purchased along with Hakatere Station in 2008 by the Nature Heritage Fund. They are managed by the Department of Conservation, in partnership with the Hakatere Heritage Committee, a local volunteer group who aim to raise funds to restore the buildings for all to enjoy and use.
There is an information room open to the public 24/7 in the singlemen’s quarters. The room has information panels detailing the history and ecology of the area.
The historic Hakatere buildings are found at the junction of Ashburton Gorge Road and Heron Road, 23 km west of Mt Somers village.