|dc.description.abstract||The pastoral high country, encompassing the tussock-clad hill and mountain lands running down the backbone of the South Island of New Zealand, has since the mid- 1800s been the domain of vast Crown pastoral runs producing most of the nation's fine-wool. The men who held and ran these properties were, and still are, commonly known as runholders. Lake Wakatipu, and the rugged, mountainous land surrounding its shores, forms part of this high country geography. This thesis examines the practice of runholding in the Wakatipu basin between 1900 and 1950. It considers the many inter-relationships between the economic, social, environmental and political aspects of runholding.
The history of twentieth century runholding is often viewed dichotomously - of an exploitative, inefficient, and sometimes negligent phase up until the passing of the 1948 Land Act and a more prosperous and sustainable era thereafter. Using various primary archival sources that provide information on over twenty high county stations in the Wakatipu, this thesis explores some of these assumptions. It reveals that runholding was frequently rendered unprofitable through environmental and economic shocks. Throughout the period, the underlying factors of climate, geography and ecology formed the basis ofrunholding's marginality as a form of land use and livelihood. This study shows that while the runs and runholders of the Wakatipu shared many similarities, hardships and successes, there was often considerable variability in the fortunes of different properties.||en_NZ