The Story of
the Murrells of Manapouri
According to one historian, G.A. Hamilton, in his ‘History
of Southland’ (The Southland Times Company, Invercargill,
p144) Robert Murrell ("Old Bob") and his wife Elizabeth
moved permanently to New Zealand in 1865.
“Their first venture was an accommodation house for
wagoners and travellers at Stag Creek, a little north of Dipton.
Later in the ‘sixties Murrell was engaged as a boundary
rider on the Manapouri station. At that time most of the traffic
to Manapouri and Te Anau came up the Waiau Valley by way of
Blackmount, and as there was no hotel or accommodation house
in the district Murrell saw an opportunity of entering again
into that business.
In 1870 he built the Takitimu Hotel on the east side of the
road leading from the Plains station to Redcliffs. This building
was burnt down in 1902 but the site, now known as Bob’s
Corner, is still marked by shelter trees.
Murrell died in 1896 and in 1900 his son Robert [Young Bob],
who was born at Stag Creek in 1868 [sic; actually 1865], sold
the Takitimu Hotel and purchased the accommodation house at
Manapouri and the launch Titiroa for service on the lake. The
following year he built the present accommodation house well
situated on rising ground, but the old house still stands in
the present motor camping grounds.
As he has lived nearly all his life in the district Mr. Murrell
knows it thoroughly and in his time he has done much exploring
of the rugged country to the west of Lake Manapouri. A true
explorer, he knows how to “live off the country”
through which he journeys and his unrivalled knowledge of the
flora and fauna of the district has often been eagerly “tapped”
by visiting scientists.”
Old Bob and Elizabeth appear to have only two children before
Elizabeth died in 1882 - Robert (Young Bob) and Alexander. Alexander
married Margaret Lampeat in 1894. They had two children, both
Young Bob married Margaret Scott, daughter of his father’s
companion on his first trip to new Zealand. James Scott was born
in Gallow Tree Lane, Leicester, near the London Road. He is believed
to have worked in Melton Mowbray, as well as being a barber in
Nottingham. One family story has it that he used to shave George
Stephenson of steam engine fame. He went to Australia in March,
1842. In 18 August of that year he was in business in Greenpond,
Tasmania. In 1853 he went to Bendigo as part of the gold-rush.
He came to New Zealand in 1861, returning to Australia in 1863,
presumably to complete arrangements (or perhaps persuade his wife,
Elizabeth Looly). He returned to Southland to settle in 1865.
He was the owner of the Elbow Hotel at Lumsden in 1884, and at
Castlerock in 1894.
Young Bob and Margaret had eight children - seven boys and one
girl. The oldest child was John Robert who was a distinguished
mountain guide, killed in action in September 1918. The second
son was Graham.
Graham married Annie Agnes Clearwater in 1915. The Clearwater
name is a common one in Otago and Southland, going back to Garret
Hopper Clearwater who was working for the Weller Brothers at their
whaling station in 1838, and was on hand to greet the first emigrant
ship into Otago Harbour in 1848. Graham and Annie had three children
- Iris, Jean and Allan.