ACLAND, Leopold George Dyke
Explorer, soldier, author, sheep farmer.
Acland was born in Christchurch on 2 July 1876, son of Thomas Dyke Acland, of Exeter, who farmed at Ellesmere for some years, and of Flora Margaret, daughter of Robert Waitt of Teviotdale. He was educated at Christ's College, Christchurch, where he attained some note as a caricaturist. After leaving school he went to Mt. Peel Station, gaining more pastoral experience on Cracroft Station. In 1897 he bought Glentanner Station in the Mt. Cook district, which he sold in 1904. Acland served in the South African War in the 3rd New Zealand Contingent, the “Rough Riders”, and was awarded five clasps to his medal. In September 1902 he joined C. A. Monckton's expedition to New Guinea, during which he gave Canterbury names to certain geographical features on the New Guinea coastline.
After his return to New Zealand Acland sold Glentanner, and bought the Lavercost Station at Amuri. This he sold in 1906, and went on an extended tour which led him to India, where he lost his left arm in a brush with a tiger, and to Japan, where after managing a shipping office at Kobe for a short time, he took the trans-Siberian railway to Moscow, St. Petersburg, and thence to England. He then returned to New Zealand, where he owned, in succession, Braemar, in the Mackenzie Country (1906–11), and North Clumbar (1912) at Hororata.
He was posted to the main body NZEF (1914), serving with Army Service Corps as a second lieutenant, and won the M.C. at Gallipoli. He later joined General Godley's staff, rising in rank to major, and gaining the O.B.E. and three mentions in dispatches.
In partnership with H. M. Reeves, with whom he had farmed Loburn, north of the Ashley, for some months, he bought in 1917 the 30,000-acre Cecil Peak Station on Lake Wakatipu, and in 1920 acquired Reeves's interest in this property. He later sold a portion of North Clumbar, retaining 425 acres for fat-lamb raising in which he specialised. From 1910 to 1935 Acland was a steward of the Canterbury Jockey Club, and in 1913 he was president of the Canterbury Sheepowners Union, later serving as president of the New Zealand Sheepowners Union. Acland's deep interest in farming, together with his having owned so many famous stations, led him into researches from which he produced Early Canterbury Runs (1930, revised 1946) and numerous newspaper articles. In 1935 he married the sweetheart of his youth, Emily Reeves, widow of his late partner, and daughter of Very Rev. Walter Harper, a former Dean of Christchurch. Acland lived his latter years at Hororata, and died at 50 Esplanade, Sumner, on 7 April 1948.
Acland not only displayed considerable business ability during his ownership of several well known runs, but was also able to indulge an adventurous streak in his nature, which led him to make long and often highly dangerous expeditions. He was an expert conversationalist, and famed for his fund of stories, not all of them printable, of early days in Canterbury.
by Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.
- Early Canterbury Runs, Acland, L. G. D. (1946) 2nd. ed.
- Press (Christchurch), 9 Apr 1948 (Obit).