Thursday, October 2, 2008

James MacKenzie statue at Fairlie

The above statue in honour of the legend of James MacKenzie was unveiled in Fairlie, South Canterbury, in 2003. The photo comes from a visit in March 2006, with other members of the executive committee of the NZ Federation of Historical Societies.

According to the sign alongside the statue, MacKenzie arrived in 1855, a Scottish immigrant seeking a better life. He took up a lease near Edendale in Southland, but one of the requirements of the lease was that he stocked the farm with sheep – which he didn’t have. He learned of a route through the mountains from Otago, leading to the basin which today bears his name.

He rustled 1000 sheep from the Rhodes Brothers of the Levels Station near Timaru in the dead of night, and this sparked off a high country pursuit with the law hot on his trail. He was caught a few days later, 4 March 1855, but made his escape. Eventually apprehended, he was sentenced in Lyttleton to 5 years hard labour. His case by now, though, had considerable national notoriety. His frequent escapes from custody added to the legend. He was pardoned in 1856, and left New Zealand forever.

450 kilograms of bronze was used by sculptor Sam Mahon to cast the statue, which is described as “James MacKenzie and his collie dog looking down upon their stolen flock. He faces into the wind, hand held above his valuable “eye dog” poised to do its instinctive duty of silently herding sheep.” The rock on which the statue stands came from the MacKenzie Pass.


  1. And because I love your blog so much Ice Wolf I have given you a brilliant blog award. Just visit the "Goings on at the Mad Bush Farm"Blog to collect your Brilliante Blog Award 2008

    Love Storm

  2. That's cool, Storm, and I appreciate your wonderful comments, but ...

    I don't know at least seven other blogs (as per the Brilliante rules). That's a bit of a problem -- but ta very muchly for the honourable mention.

  3. Don't stress Ice you'll find the ones you want as you go. The award stands - no hurry at all. Just about to link your blog onto the Mad Bush Farm one and everyone can enjoy it!!!! Sheep story is now finished. have a gander sometime.

  4. We historians never stress -- we just brush away the cobwebs now and then!

    I caught the second half of your shaggy sheep story earlier tonight. Almost tempted me to put up the story of the sheep races at Avondale. Another time, perhaps ...

  5. Now that story on the sheep racing I would just love to see...

  6. Okay. Hang on, while I go down to the vault ...