The following text and picture information has been modified from that compiled for the Otago Settlers Museum exhibition of the same name - June to September 2004 Dunedin. The support of the Otago Settlers Museum and staff, particularly exhibition head Sean Brosnahan, are greatly appreciated.

 

Halfway Bush

Halfway Bush was one of the earliest localities around Dunedin cleared for farming by the 1848 settlers. It served as a halfway point for travellers on the road from Dunedin to the Taieri and many wagon teams would camp here overnight. Major expansion of the suburb came in 1952 when the Hudson estate development was begun (the area bisected by Ashmore Street).
This state housing project created 300 new homes and more were built when an adjoining block across Taieri Road was added in 1959. These increased the area's population by over 250%, including many young families.

Ashburn Hall, New Zealand's first psychiatric hospital, was founded here in 1882. The suburb's second major medical facility is Wakari Hospital. This was the site of an infectious diseases centre from 1915 and then a sanatorium but was redeveloped as a general hospital in 1957.
It later became a geriatric and psychiatric care facility. The Halfway Bush School, opened in 1955, had a peak roll in the late 1960s of 420, over three times the present number. A district community hall was opened in 1968.

 

Wakari

Wakari derives from the Maori name 'Whakaari' (held up to view), which described the whole range of hills behind the modern locality. The name honours a Maori tohunga Te Wharawhara who died here and whose body was displayed on an upright platform so that his people could see him for one last time.
For some time Halfway Bush and Wakari (often mis-spelt or mis-pronounced as 'Waikari') were used interchangeably, though old settlers preferred the former. The modern Wakari residential area occupies a more limited space; between Kaikorai to the south, Halfway Bush to the north, Helensburgh to the west and Balmacewan to the east.

Only part of this area falls within the Kaikorai catchment zone. Dunedin's oldest surviving house is in Wakari. This is Ferntree House built in 1849 and tucked away behind the bush reserve opposite St Mary's Catholic church. The Wakari school is also one of Dunedin's oldest, established in 1858.
It was long a country school just beyond the city. Dunedin's first large-scale government housing scheme began here in 1937. As the modern city suburb developed Wakari school had - for a short time - the largest roll in Dunedin. In the 1960s a community hall and union church were established to meet the needs of the increased population.

 

Balmacewen

This residential locality occupies the high ground northwards of the head of Kaikorai Valley. One of the sources of the Kaikorai Stream rises in the lower section of the Balmacewen golf course, which is the area's dominant feature. The area takes its name from 'Balmacewen' the house of John McGlashan, an influential early Dunedin settler who lived here. The house was named by McGlashan to honour his wife Isabella McEwen.

The Otago Golf Club, which owns the Balmacewen course, traces its history back to the original Dunedin Golf Club established in Mornington in 1871. John McGlashan College, a private Presbyterian school for boys, was established in John McGlashan's former home in 1917.
The school site, alongside the golf course, is actually outside the Kaikorai catchment area. The Kaikorai Rugby Club has its headquarters at the Bishopscourt Sports Ground off Lynn Street. This backs on to the site of the Balmacewen Intermediate School, which opened in 1963.

 

Kaikorai

'Kaikorai' is a corruption of 'Kai karae' (eating seabirds). According to one tradition the name recalls the arrival of the Maori explorer Rakaihautu whose party is said to have eaten 'karae' (a type of petrel) while camping at the mouth of the stream.
Another tradition identifies the explorers as Waita and his brother Rakihouia. The modern locality name applies to the area at the head of the Valley where the first houses of the European settlement were concentrated. This was where two major routes out of Dunedin diverged; west to the Taieri and south to Green Island.

The Roslyn Kaikorai swimming baths were opened in Frasers Gully 1912. They were cold water baths that operated seasonally. An image of the baths from 1924 describes them as 'the largest in New Zealand'. By 1950 the baths were in a poor state of repair and were closed. They were used as a tip for 6 months and when the baths were filled the area was covered over. The site is now used as a sports ground."

A Presbyterian church was built in 1868; the Kaikorai parish celebrated its 135th anniversary this year. A school was established nearby in 1869 and originally called Linden School. This was the name of a 'ward' when the area was part of the Roslyn Borough from 1877 to 1912. The modern Kaikorai school site is at the top of the hill above Kaikorai and is actually in Roslyn.

 

   

 

Kaikorai Valley

Kaikorai Valley follows the Kaikorai Stream toward Burnside. Access from the city was not easy until the Stuart Street extension and motorway developments between 1957 and 1962. Until then the Valley had always been sparsely settled.

Most of its early houses were the humble wooden cottages of the working-class migrants who worked at the local mills, especially that of the Ellis Company established in 1877 and Roslyn Woollen Mill established in 1879. Sewage was not installed in the Valley until 1908 so that the early houses discharged their waste into gutters to flow on into the stream. The mills and other businesses also polluted it heavily.

Further down the Valley were Chinese market gardens as well as sheep and dairy farms. The market gardeners also established themselves in Brockville, in the lower Valley - near the site now occupied by Kaikorai College - and at Miller Park in Green Island. In recent times the Dunedin Environment Centre has established a community organic garden by the stream in Shetland Street.

There were major new housing developments from the 1950s as well as new industrial developments.
Expansion down the Valley continues today with a ribbon of commercial and industrial enterprises gradually extending towards Burnside.

Roslyn Wakari FC is the second oldest soccer club in New Zealand. It began as the Wakari Football Association in 1888, its playing field a farm paddock with a perimeter ditch at Wakari.
In 1890 the name changed to Roslyn AFC and five years later the club split into two, the second reverting to the Wakari name. The two clubs merged again as Roslyn Wakari in 1904. Its home ground is Ellis Park in Kaikorai Valley. This was developed from an old tip site and includes the area once used as an open-air swimming pool."