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Te Rauawa – from Horowhenua Chronicle 7 May 1910:



Although within the past quarter of a century the country around Levin has undergone a complete transformation, more remains to be done, and this fact is clearly recognised by the farmers, all of whom are steadily carrying out improvements of various characters. One of the most up-to-date farms in New Zealand is that of and development of the country, and it stands high in the commercial and religions world. It is a good many years Mr J. Kebbell, who has an estate of over 2000 acres at Ohau. The name of Kebbell is a familiar one to all persons dwelling in this part of the dominion. It is inseparably associated with the improvement since Mr Kebbell came out from the Old, Country. He landed at Wellington on the 23rd of December, 1856, and he has, therefore, a useful knowledge of the colony. That knowledge he has himself profited by, and he has also used it for the good of the general community. He resided in the Manawatu riding till 1863, when he went to Canterbury, and stayed there for two years. His particular object in going to that portion of the South Island was to gain a practical experience of sheep, and consequently he went on one of the big stations, and acquired a knowledge of sheep second to none in the country. He returned to Wellington in 1867, and in 1874 he came to Ohau, and took up land some four miles from Ohau station, in the direction of the beach. Mr Kebbell had not been long in the district when he threw himself with vigour into the local administration of the place. In 1878 he was elected to the Manawatu Council as the representative of the Horowhenua riding. He sat on this body for three years, and in 1880 he was appointed a Justice of the Peace. At that time there were no roads worth speaking of. They were in a deplorable condition, and Mr Kebbell set himself to affect a fundamental improvement. He was elected a member of the Otaki Road Board, and on this authority he performed work of a most important character. He and Mr Davies made a survey of the district, and suggested where roads should be made. These suggestions were acted upon, and they proved to be accurate ones. When he was on the County Council there was no main road. An effort was made to commence one from the Foxton end, but the natives objected, and for a time the work was abandoned. Mr Kebbell, however, visited the Maoris in Otaki, and as a result of a friendly interchange of views, they signed a petition stating that they wanted the road and would give the land. So, after some further delays a road was made; but it was an undertaking of great difficulty, inasmuch as all kinds of obstacles had to be surmounted. In 1881 the subject of our article was elected to the Horowhenua County Council, and continued to be a member of it until November, 1902. He was its chairman for nine years, and during this time he was able to give very sound, practical advice to the members. Mr Kebbell is


and was, in 1900, elected to the Wellington Education Board, of which he is still a member. He took an active part in the building of the first school at Ohau, and was chairman of the school committee for two or three years. He has worked indefatigably to encourage education, realising that if New Zealand is to compete successfully with foreign countries her sons and daughters must be intelligent and furnished with the best education. The Church of England has found a zealous supporter in Mr Kebbell. He is very firmly impressed with the necessity of giving the children a sound religious education, and he speaks enthusiastically of the work of the Vicar of Levin (the Rev. S. G. Compton, M.A.), who conducts the services at Ohau. In the course of conversation with a “Chronicle” reporter, Mr Kebbell said that the prospects for sheep farmers in the dominion were all right, but the price of land was going too high. Sheep farmers really could not pay the price they were asked. The Government helped the farmers very well, but when they came to pay present prices for land, it made matters somewhat serious. Dairy farmers could afford to pay the prices asked. If the Government did more for the farmers he was afraid it would be at the ratepayers' expense. There is one thing, however, he lays emphasis on, and that is the experiment farms. He holds that at least half-a-dozen cadets should be employed at the Weraroa estate, where they could he taught as well as if they were at Lincoln College, Canterbury. Mr Kebbell's farm itself is a magnificent estate of undulating, hilly country. As one approaches it from Ohau, the low range of hills in front reminds one forcibly of South African scenery, but as one comes nearer the hillocks one sees the country clothed with a beautiful carpet of grass, on which many hundreds of sheep are peacefully feeding. Nearly a mile and a half's walk across the estate brings one to


The road lies through a charming locality, broad patches of country being relieved by hills and dales, and a large expanse of water. The house is surrounded by clumps of macrocarpa, and the gardens and lawns are protected from the winds by well-kept hedges. Painted in light brown, with a vermillion-coloured roof, "Te Rauawa" is an ideal farmstead. Mr Kebbell has combined the artistic with the practical. He has planted all kinds of trees in and around the house, and in summer time, when the flowers are in full bloom and the trees in full leaf, it is one of the most picturesque spots in the North Island. Mr Kebbell has everything up-to-date. His workshop is a revelation in itself. There is every variety of instrument for making and mending implements. He has a first-class set of carpenters' and engineers' tools, and two excellent lathes. Adjoining this building is the black-smith's shop, with its forge, and a little distance away is the men's s whare, a shearers' house, a bathroom, cart-house, a room for keeping light harness in, a building for n smoking bacon, a gardener's cottage, a and a dairy and washhouse, as well y as other minor conveniences. There is, also, a, spacious woolhouse and engine-house. Few farms possess a better set of stables than those at "Te Rauawa". Like all the other buildings, they are kept scrupulously clean. Mr Kebbell has installed an acetylene gas lamp into the stables, so that after the horses have been fed at evening the men have no difficulty in attending to them and turning them out again. The lamp is a most powerful one, and lights up the whole of the eleven stalls almost as clear as noonday. For supplying the house and farm with water Mr Kebbell has erected a windmill and installed a concrete tank, which holds 2,000 gallons. It has proved of untold advantage, and in the driest of seasons, the homestead is always assured of a copious supply of pure water. Standing on a tufted knoll yesterday hard by the house, one got, a magnificent view. To the west the sun was shining on the dancing waves of the rippling ocean, and all around was a country rich in pasturage. The river Ohau flowed below us, and a pleasing combination of hill and valley filled up the intervening country. Of bush there was little to be seen. The march of civilisation in the person of the owner of T Rauawa had long ago cleared the country, and the marshy land which still remains is gradually being reclaimed by an extensive system of draining. Mr Kebbell has sown his land with the best grass seeds, and his sheep are as healthy a lot as will be found on the coast. His farm carries about 3000 sheep. He has a stud lot of 200 ewes, and the rest of the flock is purebred. His Shorthorn cattle are a magnificent lot, and he takes a great pride in them. In the orchard there is every kind of fruit tree. The pear, apple, plum, peach, strawberry, walnut, all grow well. Pears and cherries have produced some splendid crops, and so have the plums. In the orchard near the house blight has attacked the trees, but Mr Kebbell has been very free from this as a rule. For spraying he recommends a solution of lime and sulphur. There are many other features of interest on the estate, but this record will convey some conception of what an up-to-date farm is in New Zealand. Mr Kebbell is still carrying out improvements, adding to the value of his property, and incidentally contributing to the prosperity of the district. To roam over his estate is most exhilarating, because one comes in contact with such a diversified type of country, and from many a hillock lie obtains a view of surpassing grandeur. Every animal on the farm looks sleek and healthy, and no wonder when there is such an abundance of rich feed. On other land, Mr Kebbell possesses 150 acres on the roadside some two miles from Te Rauawa, another 100 acres in another part of the district, as well as 200 acres of leasehold.


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Te Rauawa Mr Kebbell's estate, Ohau


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May 7, 1910

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