Home' Greymouth Star : November 30th 2013 Contents Greymouth Star
6 - Saturday, November 30, 2013
e Rough River valley near Ikamatua, a stretch of native wilderness from the Atarau Road to the foot of the Paparoa
Range, has long served as a haven for outdoorsmen and a gateway to the nearby Paparoa National Park. It is also
the stamping ground of the Mir n family --- true pioneers of the West Coast since 1862, only two years after
James Mackay had negotiated the purchase of the land from Poutini Ngai Tahu, and three years before the goldrushes.
CHRISTINE LINNELL reports
In the 1970s and 1980s,
John Mir n took his family
camping in a particular
section of the Rough River-
Otututu River valley every
summer. He and his children
went kayaking, tramping,
hunting and y shing, while his wife
Marie studied the di erent species of
Now, thanks to a years-long e ort by
Mr Mir n, a 120ha section of that valley
will be preserved for the general public.
In March, Conservation Minister Nick
Smith announced that the Mir ns were
selling the property to the National
Heritage Fund for $450,000, adding to
a stretch of reserve land going right up
Last month, the family held a small
reunion in the bush near Rough
River, meeting up with Department
of Conservation sta for the o cial
unveiling of the new scenic reserve. John
Mir n said it was an important step in
the family's ownership of the land.
"If we want to come up here with our
grandchildren, we still can, and so can all
of New Zealand. I'm sure my father Mel
--- this block was passed on to him by
his grandfather --- I'm sure they would
be pleased with what's happening."
DOC partnerships ranger Trevor
Johnston said the Mir ns always had the
highest respect for the shermen and
hunters who used the property. " ere's a
real specialness coming up here hunting."
National Heritage Fund principal
adviser Allan McKenzie, about to retire
after 45 years in the eld, said the sale
was a last-ditch chance for him.
"We'd turned it down once. We were
spending money on other things. e
second time John rang me up, I had a
bit more of a think about it. John really
wanted to see this issue settled."
For generations, the Mir n family
has safeguarded the land and kept a
balance between farm development and
conservation in this corner of the upper
William Craven Mir n and his wife
were only the second European family
to settle on the West Coast, arriving
just after the Mackleys settled Waipuna,
across the Grey River, in 1862.
Within 20 years the Mir ns had a
well-established homestead, Oulton
Park, with 60 head of cattle, 14 draught
horses, 3000 sheep and other stock.
His son W C Mir n Jr took over
the estate in 1883. at same year,
his mother died and he married Sara
Walker, daughter of sailing ship Captain
Walker. e Mir ns had one daughter,
Jessie, and seven sons --- Walker,
Stanley, Melville ( John's father), Rollo,
George, and twins Ashton and Bryson.
John reminisced about the family
history during lunch at Ikamatua Hotel
following the unveiling of the scenic
reserve. On one occasion, Sara and her
children walked up the road to visit the
Mackley family at Waipuna Station.
" ey were going up the path to meet
the Mackleys, and one of the kids turned
to his mum and said ' ere's something
like you coming up the path.' ey had
never seen another adult woman before."
Among John's documents and
photographs was a commendation
signed by Winston Churchill for
Melville, who was on board the troop
ship Marquet when it was torpedoed in
World War One. He was an excellent
swimmer and saved a lot of lives as the
ship went down.
A newspaper clipping from 1960
documented a Mir n family reunion
marking the centennial of the Oulton
homestead. All eight of the third
generation attended. e Mir n farm
continued raising sheep and beef
until about 20 years ago. At its height
there were about 3000 ewes, and they
produced 700 fattening cattle per year.
e land is now divided into two dairy
farms, owned by brothers Andrew and
Blair Mir n.
Andrew 's Gunsight Farms, run with
his wife Niki, has been the highest
producing farm in the South Island
Dairying Development Centre's monitor
farms programme and sets the standard
for dairy farming on the Coast.
Andrew says he is glad DOC had
bought the lowland section.
"Better (the land) to go there than to
As for himself, he does not expect the
sale to change his daily routine much.
He will still move his stock through the
area, and it will still be there for hunting
and shing when he has the time.
PICTURE: Christine Linnell
Members of the Mir n family at the launch of the new scenic reser ve --- Marie and John, left, Andrew, Yvonne, Reese, Dorothy, Joanne, Kate and Barbara.
Marie and John Mir n often took summer holidays with their family in the Rough
e Mir n family campsite.
John, Marie and their children follow the rough track that now leads to the
new scenic reser ve.
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