Some Marlborough History with a personal Connection


Last Modified: 30-1-2022 16:36

Needles Creek, Ward
Needles Creek, Ward
Taken during a visit to Troqueer some time during the late '80s or early '90s.
© Christopher Cookson  License this image

Last week, I had an email from a former journalist asking if I’d be interested in publishing a story from a family collection that was relevant to Marlborough. Although most of the content on Marlborough Online is written by me, I’m quite happy to take submissions from other people as long as they’re relevant, have no copyright issues regarding content such as images, and I can afford them, which generally means free, since I don’t earn much from Marlborough Online myself. I have plenty of overseas based spammers offering to write me content in exchange for a link, usually to some gambling site, and it’s pretty clear that they won’t be able to contribute anything of value to information about Marlborough.

In this case, an offer of an article for free from a journalist was to good to refuse, so we exchanged emails, and soon I had what turned out to be an annotated version of a first hand account of the subdivision and allocation of land from the former Starborough Estate, that led to the foundation of Seddon and establishment of a number of smaller farms in the area. This was very much a relevant story for Marlborough Online, but as I read through the story, and the emails, something clicked, and it became very much more personal.

Reading the name of the one of the other members of the family in the email exchanges, I thought it looked familiar, and after joining a few pieces of the puzzle, I realised that the farm that was acquired in the historical account, was one that I’d visited many times as a child, although I’m completely unrelated to any of the past or present owners.

In my case, a school friendship of my grandmother, led to her making periodic visits to Marlborough, along with her family, to visit her friend who had married a Wairau Valley farmer. Dad’s childhood experience of Marlborough partly influenced his decision to settle here when he got married, and Mum ended up becoming good friends with the daughter of Dad’s mother’s friend, who just happened to marry a farmer at Ward who was a descendent of the character in the article I’d been sent.

If the South Island were a country, it would be the 92nd largest, after Tunisia, and ahead of Bangladesh, but with a population of just over one million. The population has always been modest both pre and post European colonisation, so I guess my experience is an indication of the connectedness that’s inevitable in a place with a small population. Māori culture places great value on whanaungatanga or connectedness and relationships, however I wonder whether the concept is something the land itself creates amongst people, regardless of their origins, when we are relatively few in number.

Read the historical story here: The bike right to a ballot for Starborough in Marlborough, 1899

Cite this page

Cookson, C. (2022). Some Marlborough History with a personal Connection. Retrieved April, 24, 2024, from

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