Methven was founded in 1869 by Mr Robert Patton, he bought land and named it Methven after his hometown of Methven in Scotland. When the first settlers arrived, Methven was situated on an open tussock covered plain exposed to the elements.
Holmes bequeath, is the name given to the two acre triangle of land which was a one time part of John Holmes ‘Viewmont’ property. It was bequeathed in 1907 for the benefit of the people of Methven and Mt Hutt Riding. Approval was obtained in 1952 to allow the Mt Hutt Memorial Hall to be built on the reserve. The hall was built in 1956 to commemorate those who fell in the Second World War.
In April 2011 the hall was refurbished and extended to include a new function room, Theatrette, and tourism Encounter. This $6 million project was largely funded by community donations and fundraising and a grant from the local Ashburton District Council.
Hall of Memories
Methven lost 69 men in World War 1 and 15 in World war 11. Their memorial board is located in the Mt Hutt Memorial Hall and is still a focal point of the centre. The Hall of Memories displays medals, solider uniforms, information & images from Methven veterans. Every ANZAC day wreaths are laid at the Memorial Arch in McDonald Street and the Methven Community marches to the Mt Hutt Memorial Hall to raise the New Zealand flag and place wreaths in front of the memorial board.
The bronze dog statue at the entrance of the Mt Hutt Function Centre celebrates ‘Rajah the Wonder Dog’ and his contribution to our town’s history. Rajah was owned by Police Constable Robbie Robertson and lived in Methven from 1929 to 1936. While he was never an official Police Dog, his skills made him the perfect companion. Amongst Rajah’s claims to fame were his almost psychic ability to retrieve items hidden around Methven, understanding 52 commands and receiving an invitation to show off his tricks in Hollywood USA. The statue was made by sculpter David Marshall and was unveiled on the 8th February 2015. A children’s book about Rajah is available for purchase at the Methven Bookshop.
Mt Hutt Ski Area
In 1969, a 100 years after Patton’s arrival, the Methven Lions Club investigated the possibility of a ski field on Mt Hutt (Opuke). The Hood Alpine Highway was established in 1970. The Mt Hutt Ski Development Company was formed in 1972. Just recently Mt Hutt Ski Area won an award for the best ski area in New Zealand.
The Legend of the Rakaia Gorge
A taniwha used to dwell near the Acheron Homestead. For food he captured the Moa, the Weka and other feathered game. Possessions of his were tapu (scared). On a cold day the taniwha went to find a hot spring to warm himself. While away the demon Northwest wind came down the Rakaia from the Main Divide and flattened the property of the taniwha. The taniwha was determined to outwit the north west demon and journeyed up to the mountains and bought down huge stones and boulders to halt the course of the demon. This narrowed the Rakaia so that it flowed between the rocky walls. This remains today as the island between the two bridges. The evil one, the northwest became so warm that the heat from his body melted the snows on the mountain and perspiration from the taniwha in his efforts to form a barrier to stop the demon’s progress fell on the rocks and boulders and formed crystals in the river bed. So forms the legend of Fighting Hill.
Rangitata Diversion Race (RDR)
- The race is 67 kilometres long
- Average width of 15 metres
- Average depth of 3 metres
- Average water speed of 0.8m/sec
The canal diverts water from the Rangitata River at Klondyke, across the Mid Canterbury Plains, to irrigate about 64, 000 hectares of farmland. A second intake is at the South Ashburton River. The race supplies water to the irrigation schemes of Mayfield Hinds, Valetta and Ashburton Lyndhurst and to the hydro electric power stations at Montalto and Highbank.
The RDR was built during the depression to give badly needed work for the unemployed. The RDR was the nation’s first major river diversion and opened in 1945. Construction began in 1937 initially by pick and shovel. Major control structures built along the race include the Rangitata intake and sandtrap, checkgates, spillways and siphons passing under rivers and streams which cross the race. The RDR’s design was completed in 1982 with the addition of Montalto.
The RDR’s affordable water shows the foresight of the people who built the scheme and the good fortune of today’s shareholders who benefit from paying for the water only.
+64 3 302 9666
Mt Hutt Memorial Hall
160 Main Street