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Photograph:'The Flat' today

Place: Early Dunedin

In 1848 the first European migrants to the planned settlement of Dunedin arrived by ship. Otago had been inhabited by southern Maori for several hundred years and was already home to Pakeha whalers and some small-scale farmers. The city's early days were a struggle as the predominantly Scottish colonists built houses, a church and a school, broke in the land, laid out a township and began to farm both locally and, within a few years, throughout inland Otago. Dunedin's progress was slow and provincial growth limited until gold was found close to the Central Otago township of Lawrence in 1861.

Dunedin's population boomed through the 1860s as new gold discoveries fuelled growth. As thousands of new arrivals crowded into the central city, the town's basic amenities struggled to cope. Muddy, rutted roads, poor sewerage and storm-water drainage and inadequate water supplies created cesspools across the inner city and bred disease. Locals often referred to the settlement as 'Mud-edin'.

With typhoid, diphtheria and scarlet fever common, Dunedin suffered a higher mortality rate among its children than the rate the immigrants had left behind in Britain. As the population continued to grow, inner city land prices soared and developers looked for cheaper land near at hand.

Early Harbour ViewThis very early view of 'the Flat' shows the undeveloped areas of South Dunedin about 1865. The inner harbour is in the centre with the Otago Peninsular beyond. (Otago Settlers Museum Collection)

Caversham POCaversham's first Post Office - at Robert Wilson's Store on the Main South Road, is shown in this photograph from 1863. (Otago Settlers Museum Collection)

Early KewAn 1860s view towards what would later become Kew shows Captain Blackie's cottage (the oldest house in Caversham) in the upper right of the photograph. (Otago Settlers Museum Collection)



[Next: 'The Flat' Established]


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