WW I solder settlement farm of

John and Vera Aislabie



Ronald, Alan, Ruth, Mark


Military history

Lance corporal John Ladas Aislabie No. 10021


John served in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force of World War 1 from 14 November 1915 to 5 January 1920, completing an army service of 4 years 52 days, 3 years 173 days served overseas.

He fought in many battles along the Western Front in France and Belgium. He participated in the battle of the Somme 1916, and battle of Messines 1917 where he was badly injured by shrapnel from an artillery bombardment.

Regiment: 10 Company Nth Otago 

Battalion: 2nd Otago,

Brigade: 2nd Brigade


Lived at this site

1920 to 1938 - 18 years


Brief history:

There were three Aislabie brothers who served in WW1, all seriously injured in battle and all came to this soldier settlement scheme soon after the war had finished. Johns brothers’, Clement and Arthur, had a block at the start of the settlement toward Ruatiti. They were all in their early 20s and took on the challenge to convert these hills from heavy bush to pastural farmland. All clearing work was achieved with hand tools and fire. Grass seed was sown by hand, tracks formed by hand, fences made by hand. Building material, fence posts, and battens were hand made by sawing or splitting abundant local timber.


The initial house had no glass panes in the windows and used flour sacks to keep out the cold and let in the light. They had no running water and began to plant hedges to replace the bush for shelter at this relatively cold, high altitude (590m) site. The hedges that still line the road edge and the driveway (i.e. laurel hedge that was the left of the house site behind this sign) protected the house, vegetable garden and fruit trees.


After 10 years John had established a farm at this site that mostly ran steeply down ridges and gulleys to the north of the sign. By then they had built a homestead, garden, fenced the property, built a woolshed and yards, plus a sheep dip. By 1928 he had 660 sheep, they owned a car and the telephone lines extended down the valley. Vera became the local telephone exchange operator in her sitting room and each morning a 9 AM she would hold an open line news and gossip call to all the ladies in the valley.

By 1938, when the road closed, they left with very little but were able to take up farming in the Lakes Road area near Raetihi, John died 4 years later (1942), aged only 48 years.