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Omarama Station - A Brief History
Omarama Station was first settled in 1858 comprising 74,000 hectares (181,400 acres). In 1915 the property was broken up into ten runs (high country stations) and sold off. In 1919 Annabelle's Great Uncle and Grandfather, Cecil and Wilfred Wardell, purchased the Homestead block 11,800 hectares (29,000 acres) which has remained the same until today.
Cecil married Rose Anderson from Bog Roy in 1926 and they had two daughters and a son. Cecil moved to Dunedin in 1938 to help his father, John (who died later that year), in the family business. Wilfred continued in the partnership as manager. Wilfred married Molly Matheson in 1936 and they had one son, Annabelle's father Dick,and three daughters.
In 1947 Wilfred was struck by a falling willow tree and as a result suffered poor health for a number of years until he passed away in 1956. During this seventeen year period the Station was run by managers. Wool prices after the 1951 wool boom remained reasonably good, and rabbits, which had been the number one problem since the 1880’s were finally bought under control by the Rabbit Boards.
In 1963 Dick married Beth Storrier. The following year they took over the Station which at that time was running 6,000 ewes, 1,200 hoggets and 80 Hereford Cows. There were three hill blocks, the islands and the swamp paddocks, which had been drained and oversown. Over the next 34 years there was a major development programme.
The hill is now in 23 blocks and most of the lower country has been oversown and topdressed. Thirty kilometres of tracks give good access to all parts of the property. 240 hectares of border dyke irrigation were developed between 1978-83, mainly for cattle and hogget grazing as well as hay and silage.
Dick and Beth's daughter, Annabelle and her husband Richard, returned to the Station in 1998 and have since taken over the management of the property. Further development has continued with the border dyke irrigation being replaced by 560 hectares of centre pivot irrigation. Stock numbers at present are 7,500 ewes,9000 hoggets and 1000 head of cattle including 350 breeding cows.
Annabelle and Richard have developed close links with their end users, sending their beef to a Japanese Restaurant chain and their wool to one of New Zealand's most well known outdoor clothing brands, Icebreaker.