REDWOOD – Thomas Herbert Preston (1824 – 1884)

Known to the Maori as Te Kete Wananga o Te Kopare O Iho, the swampy terrain made it perfect for food gathering. They would hunt the native rat, quail, grey and paradise ducks, shags and eels. Flax among many other plant life was also gathered from this area. Also flowing through the swamp was the Otukaikino which is now known as the Styx River.

With the arrival of Europeans, the area adopted the name of ‘Styx’. This came from the settlers laying down sticks, marking the safe paths through the swamp.

Thomas Herbert Preston and his wife Elizabeth arrived aboard the ‘Cornwall’, the 18th Canterbury Association ship in 1851. They settled down in the Styx and started their family immediately – with the arrival of Ellen in 1852. Five more children would follow, three of them being sons. Thomas’ farm was sited on what is now known as Prestons Road (opposite the Redwood Hotel), named that for obvious reasons ;p The story goes that Thomas planted three Redwood (Sequoia) Trees with his three sons (William, John and Thomas) in mind. The use of the term ‘Prestons Road’ was first used in The Star newspaper in 1874.

In 1967 the area was re-named Redwood after those trees. Only one now remains – in the grounds of the Redwood Hotel and the Seqouia 88 Restaurant. A local has told me of one of the Redwoods coming down due to a bad storm a few years ago.

May the last Redwood remain for many, many, many years to come.

*photo taken by Annette Bulovic*

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