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‘The Spaces That Shape Us’ Looks At The History That Connects Us To Hurunui’s Reserves

George Henry Moore was by legend a man people loved to hate.

Described in the Lyttleton Times in 1860 as a "mean, hard-hearted, barbarous, blasphemous man", it was said he was such a “hard employer and bad neighbour” that his mansion ‘Glenmark’ in the Waipara Valley had no back door so he could always see who was coming.

It’s surprising, therefore, that Hurunui District Council’s draft Reserves Management Plan includes in its list of reserves a parcel of land, in size over six hectares, with “a large grove of mature oak trees” covering half of that, which was originally part of George’s grandiose Glenmark Estate.

This philanthropy doesn’t align with the stories that still abound about George’s misdeeds, including the incident that spurred the Lyttleton Time’s denouncement of his character, which was made when he refused shelter to a passing swagman on a “dreadful, wet” Canterbury night. The man tragically took his own life in despair, one mile from where he was refused food and shelter.

“Inside his boundary,” reported the Lyttleton Times, “humanity has no rights.”

To discover the answer to this generous gifting of land to the Waipara community, which all residents of Hurunui still enjoy today, says Hurunui Mayor Marie Black, we need to go back to the start of George’s career.

George learnt to farm as a young man after immigrating from England to Tasmania. Nine years later, he married his boss's daughter on the farm 'Mona Vale'. The marriage wasn't successful and the couple separated.

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George set sail for New Zealand in 1853, landing in Lyttleton. As part of a family partnership, he bought 40,000 acres in the Waipara Valley. He began building his empire, over time taking full ownership of the land and increasing the original 40,000 acres to 150,000 and converting as much Crown-leased land to freehold as he could. He was fined numerous times for owning diseased sheep, with the aim, it was said, of ensuring his entire run was infected with scab to deter prospective purchasers from buying his leased acres from under him while he amassed his fortune. This earned him the nickname of 'Scabby Moore'.

Mean or canny, his strategy was successful.

His vision also included building the ornate Gothic mansion Glenmark, which he shared with his daughter Annie, who was allegedly kept sheltered from potential marriage prospects because of her father’s fear of fortune hunters. Three years after being built, the uninsured mansion burned down. George and Annie moved to Christchurch, where Annie secretly got married at the age of 55.

When George died in 1905, he left Annie an heiress and she also inherited the Glenmark land. Annie, who was to become widely known for her philanthropy, had a church and vicarage built and gifted these, with land for a cemetery and a domain, to the Waipara community.

Mayor Black says this land was vested into Council in 1989. "Last year, we celebrated the gifting of the original two iron gates which had stood at the Glenmark estate, and which are now at the entrance of Glenmark Reserve.

“Our reserves are full of the rich history that has shaped the Hurunui,” Mayor Black says. “You can get a copy of the reserves management plan from our website and take a road trip through our district, soaking up wonderful views and lots of history.”

Take your time when visiting the reserve to walk through the grove of oak trees that were planted on the Glenmark estate all those years ago. If you linger underneath when it's quiet, you might still hear the roar of old 'Scabby Moore'.

The story of Glenmark Reserve is just one of the stories in Hurunui Council’s draft Reserves Management Plan, which is open for submissions. To read more about the district’s reserves and to make a submission, go to

Glenmark Reserve

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