From Left: Donald with his two sons Alick and Donald at The Plains Station
Davaar Station is a 2,800 acre (1100 ha) property in Te Anau, New Zealand. Deriving its name from a Scottish farming heritage, it is farmed by a fourth generation family, the Macdonald's, whose fore-bearers immigrated from the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland. The recorded history of the station belonging to the Macdonald's goes back all the way to the early 1900s.
As you’ll see in the below timeline, during the past century the generations of the Macdonald family have endured times of hardship, tragedy and volatility, along with success and fulfillment. Hard work, perseverance and optimism have always been fundamental to the success of Davaar Station.
The last five decades have been a time of extensive development at the station, culminating into a highly productive property. Today, Davaar Station runs 6,500 ewes, 1,700 hoggets and 600 head of cattle.
In 1915, Donald Macdonald purchased The Plains Station in the southern South Island of New Zealand for £3,000 totalling, at the time, 8,519 acres. He bought this land with the intention that his son (also named Donald) would eventually take it over. Tragically, the younger Donald was killed in action in Belgium in 1917 and his second son, Alick, became the victim of the influenza epidemic.
However, that same year Donald's nephew Angus had returned from the Western Front having been wounded on the battlefield in France. Donald offered Angus the opportunity to run the station. Angus moved to the property in 1918 and by the year 1920, he had paid his Uncle Donald out. He paid £11,000 for the station and by this time, there were 3,600 sheep and 800 lambs that accompanied the purchase.
In 1923, Angus married Evelyn Cunningham (Evie) and they had three sons, Hamish, John and Angus (also known as David).
Over 15 years later, in 1939, the farm weathered a huge snowstorm where the snow lasted for weeks on end, causing massive stock losses. However, soon after in the 1940s, fescue seed (which is used to grow grass) became in high demand, as it was being used to build airstrips in the second World War. The three Macdonald boys grew it in vast quantities, returning a favourable revenue.
In 1961, Angus’ son David married Sally Robertson and also had three sons, Dougal, James and William. In 1969, tragedy struck the family when Dougal was killed on a horse on Redcliff Station.
In 1970, the station was split into three properties so each of Angus’ sons could farm their property on their own account. David and Sally took over the run end of the station, naming it Davaar. It was a combination of rugged hill country, native tussocks and grasses. There was one fence, no buildings or trees.
Today’s Macdonald family
In 1993, James took over the Davaar property with his wife, Fiona and their three children, Kate, Anna and Ben. Kate would become the founder of Davaar & Co.