Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Mt Pisa Station Story

The Mt Pisa Station Story

A Stroke of Luck

by Nicola McCloy

Publication date: October 2016 RRP: $49.99

Established in 1858, Mt Pisa Station was one of the largest landholdings in Central Otago. The current owners, the MacMillan family, have been on the station since 1924.

The Mt Pisa Station Story is a tale of boom and bust, of gold and water, of drought and rabbits, and of a changing agricultural world. But more than that, it is the story of the MacMillan family — much of it told by the current owners, Murray and Jacky — and their connection to this iconic piece of land.

Murray has spent most of his life on Mt Pisa, having grown up on the property and taken over its management when he was 24. He and Jacky have raised their family on Pisa and have shepherded the property through some massive changes – including the impact of the building of the Clyde Dam, the rise and fall of rabbit populations, and tenure review. They are the first to admit that alongside their hard work, luck has played its part in their lives.

So many critical points in Mt Pisa Station’s history resulted from a stroke of luck. The origin of the area’s development sprung from that ultimate stroke of luck — the discovery of gold. Had it not been for the gold rushes, Mt Pisa might have remained an offshoot of Wanaka Station and the whole area a backwater for many years to come. However, perhaps the main stroke of luck, for the MacMillans, was Murray’s father winning the ballot for the Homestead Block, when the larger property was divided up following the First World War.

‘Writing The Mt Pisa Station Story was the opportunity of a lifetime for me,’ confesses Auckland-based Nicola McCloy, whose roots are firmly planted in the Maniototo, in Central Otago, where her family settled in the 1870s. ‘Having spent all my summers in Central Otago while I was growing up, I have always loved the tales of the gold rushes, and it was those stories that first really piqued my interest in New Zealand history. The whole region abounds with stories of the hardships encountered by the early settlers, and with yarns spun by some real hard-case characters. Writing The Mt Pisa Station Story gave me the opportunity to add to the record of those tales and to pull together the story of one of Otago’s oldest properties,’ says Nicola.

On first driving out to the homestead of Mt Pisa, Nicola experienced an overwhelming sense of familiarity — as it turns out, with good reason. When she was a child, her cousin and husband worked on the station, and Nicola had visited them one summer. The strength and the warmth of those memories are typical of visitors to the station, which inevitably has them in its thrall. Perhaps this is why the MacMillans are so determined to conserve and nurture the land so dear to their hearts.

Nicola McCloy has written 16 books, including bestsellers Whykickamoocow, Made in New Zealand and The Speight’s Southern Man Cookbook.

RRP incl. GST $49.99 |Publication date: October 2016

No comments: