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Jackson Bay Sesquicentennial – Historic Display

17 January 2025 @ 10:00 am - 19 January 2025 @ 5:00 pm


Join us to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the settlement of Jackson Bay.

Historic Display – Friday 17th – Sunday 19th January – 10am – 5pm

Kathryn Bennie, the Jackson Bay historian who has done exhaustive and meticulous research over the last 12 to 14 years on these early settlers, will also host a display in her shed at the Bay from 10am, Friday-Sunday. This may be of particular interest to those wanting to look back into the early settlement and especially those with ancestors as there are files on all the immigrant families including where many had settled on their selected blocks of land.

History of Jackson Bay

January 19th 1875, was the very first landing of immigrants at Jackson Bay under a Special Settlement Scheme. The government had surveyed a township and farming community in the area, promising generous land ownership schemes, on-going employment, unlimited natural resources to harness, regular communication, vital infrastructure and a prosperous future.

The reality was vastly different for most, if not all, of the settlers, who in the first year experienced record rainfall with flooding and land slips that accompany these events. They faced erratic employment and communications, frugal living conditions and exorbitant prices for any food that made its way to the Bay. Attempts at growing crops were thwarted by floods and at the end of the first three years most had left in dribs and drabs until, in 1879, a Government Commission of Enquiry was held into the failed settlement. In total there were several hundred settlers that were landed over the course of those years. Most left, some of them died, and others endured.

The lack of a wharf was a huge nail in the coffin of the settlement as no timber could be milled and sent out and no supplies could be landed regularly or safely. To leave entailed crossing the Arawhata, Waiatoto, Okuru, and Turnbill Rivers following a muddy track to get to Haast as most did not have the money to return to Hokitika by boat. Despite these very inauspicious beginnings a few hardy families remained and carved out a life from the bush and the ocean gradually clearing some land and making a place for themselves in this beautiful but brutal wilderness. Descendants from some of those families still live in this area.


17 January 2025 @ 10:00 am
19 January 2025 @ 5:00 pm
Event Category:


150 Years of Connection Project
View Organiser Website