Monday, August 29, 2016

Accusations (1) Job

The book of Job explains that Satan was the cause of the sickness that Job suffered. However, there are different views about why Satan was able to afflict Job with such terrible pain. Some say that Job let down his “hedge of protection”. Others say that Job succumbed to fear. Neither makes sense, because the book is clear that Job was not sick because he sinned.

A key message of the book is that his sickness was caused by the spiritual powers of evil. The reason why Job becomes sick is that Satan is an accuser. The name is a Hebrew word meaning accuser or adversary. Satan is a prosecutor who attacks God’s people by making accusations against them.

Satan accused Job of serving God with impure motives. He did not really love God, but loved the stuff that God had given him. If God took his wealth away, his true motives would be revealed. Satan accused Job of serving God for what he could get out of it. He claimed Job’s love of God was really selfishness.

By making this accusation, Satan forced God to take away Job’s wealth and health. How was he able to do this? He is a liar, but he knew better than to lie to God. So what evidence did he have to present against Job? He must have had testimonies from people who knew Job well and had influence in his life.

The answer becomes clear when we look at what Jobs friends said to comfort him. At first, they were kind, but when he refused to admit that he deserved what had happened to him, they got frustrated and revealed their true thoughts about him. They said he was greedy and deceitful.

Here is Eliphaz,

Your iniquity teaches your mouth,
And you choose the tongue of the crafty (Job 15:5).
Is not your wickedness great?
Are not your sins endless?
You demanded security from your relatives for no reason;
you stripped people of their clothing, leaving them naked.
You gave no water to the weary
and you withheld food from the hungry,
though you were a powerful man, owning land (Job 22:5-9).
Zophar agreed,
For he has oppressed the poor and left them destitute;
he has seized houses he did not build.
Surely he will have no respite from his craving;
he cannot save himself by his treasure (Job 20:19-20).
Bildad was quieter, but pursued the same theme.
The steps of his strength are shortened,
And his own counsel casts him down.
For he is cast into a net by his own feet,
And he walks into a snare (Job 18:7-9).
People so not change their opinions about other people. If Job’s friends believed these things after he had suffered, they would have believed them while he was prosperous. They might have not accused Job to his face, but they would have spoken their accusations to each other, while gossiping about him. They would have said these things to other people when they asked about Job.

When Satan appeared before God, he accused Job of impure motives. He said that Job was deceitful and greedy. This is exactly what Job’ friends said when he was suffering, and would have said earlier when he was still prosperous.

Eliphaz, Zophar and Bildad were Job’s fiends. They knew him well and had influence in his lives. This gave weight to their testimonies. Their accusations against Job, allowed Satan to make the same accusation about Job to God. Satan was able to claim it was true, because these men knew Job well and they agreed that he was greedy and deceitful.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

James Mackenzie - Full Article

Visitors to New Zealand travelling from Christchurch to Mount Cook and Queenstown, pass through the Mackenzie Country. The expansive tussock-covered plain was named after James Mackenzie, better known as Mackenzie the Sheep Stealer, who is credited with discovering this vast area of land in 1855.

The events that led to this plain being given his name are well known. A thousand Merino sheep were stolen from the Levels Station, owned by the pioneering gentry, the Rhodes brothers. Mackenzie was found with the sheep in a pass through the range of mountains which opens onto the plain that took his name. This pass was later named the Mackenzie Pass.

Mackenzie escaped, but was later captured in Christchurch. He was found guilty and sentenced to five years hard labour in April 1855. He hated prison and escaped on at least two occasions.

In September 1855, a new resident magistrate at Christchurch investigated the case, and found the trial to be seriously flawed. Mackenzie was granted a free pardon in January 1856 after spending nine months in prison. He probably returned to Australia, but was never heard of again.

I recently read a book about Mackenzie by Catriona Burnett of Mount Cook Station. I was interested in her book, because I knew her when I helped with shearing and mustering at Mount Cook Station when I was a young farmer. As the granddaughter of one of the early run-holders, she was not very sympathetic to Mackenzie.

Having grown up in the area where the events took place, I was struck by some serious flaws in the standard story about Mackenzie. Reading the account of the incident in a letter to the Rhodes brothers by John Sidebottom, the overseer of The Levels, I realised that parts of his story did not make sense.

Mackenzie Alone
The first major flaw in the standard account was that Mackenzie is said to have driven the stolen sheep from Taiko to the Mackenzie Pass on his own, with one dog and a bullock to carry his pack of food, bedding and other equipment. The legend is that his dog was so clever that Mackenzie was able to drive the flock of sheep without any other assistance.

I have driven a flock of one thousand sheep with one dog. In an enclosed paddock where the sheep know where they were going, it was difficult to keep them together, as some would be keen and move fast while the slower ones would be unwilling to move. Driving a flock through rough country that had never been grazed would be extremely difficult for a man and a dog, no matter how skilled the dog.

A modern drover would want at least three or four dogs to drive this number of sheep over rough country for this distance. A couple of them would be noisy huntaways that could push the sheep over the hill, whereas Mackenzie’s dog was supposed to have been mostly silent.

On the day that the sheep were stolen, Mackenzie is supposed to have driven them in the night up over the high ridge to the north of Mt Misery and down into Cannington by the Pareora River. Sheep do not like walking straight uphill, or downhill. They prefer to go sideways around the hillside and graze. This hill had not been grazed at that time, so it would be much rougher going than it is now. Getting the sheep over the hill with one dog, would be extremely difficult, especially when he had to lead a pack bullock.

Once Mackenzie got down into Cannington, he would probably have had to cross the Pareora River twice to get up into Mawaro. Opposite the Cannington homestead, the river goes quite close to the cliff, so it is unlikely that he could squeeze his sheep through between the river and the cliff. He would have had to cross the river before he got there, and then cross back again further up.

The river was much deeper then, because most of the flow is now taken by the Timaru water supply intake in the Upper Pareora Gorge. Sheep will cross water, but they do not like it. If you hold them close to the river and get a few leaders across, the others will follow, but this would be difficult task for one man. While he was getting the last few stragglers across, the ones that had gone first would be scattering.

As the journey progressed further, he would have had to cross half a dozen streams and rivers. Finding a place to cross would require some scouting, and getting the sheep across would never be easy for one man.

Mackenzie always claimed that he had been hired by a man called John Mossman. This was discounted by the officials, as Mossman was never found. However, given the difficulty of the terrain, Mackenzie almost certainly had assistance. Driving a flock of a thousand sheep over that country would have been almost impossible for one man. He very likely had help, or was helping someone else, perhaps the instigator of the theft.

The standard account suggests that Mackenzie planned to drive the sheep down through the Lindis Pass to Southland and sell them. This is an even more implausible suggestion, as crossing the much larger Waitakai River which would have been even more difficult for one man and a dog.

Slow Pursuit
The other odd thing about the James Mackenzie story is the behaviour of the John Sidebottom, the overseer of The Levels station. His letter to the Rhodes Brothers in Christchurch is the main source of information. What stands out in this letter is how incredibly slow he was to try to purse the stolen sheep. It was almost as if he wanted them to get away.

The sheep were grazing in Taiko. The land was not fenced at the time, so they would be put into an enclosure at night, and let them out to graze each morning. The usual practice was for two men to watch the sheep during the day and camp in a hut at night.

The theft of the sheep was reported by a Maori boy called Seventeen. It seems that he was not sleeping at the enclosure with the sheep that night, or he would have been disturbed when they were stolen. Perhaps he had gone back to the outpost at Cave for a meal and sleep and found the sheep missing when he returned early in the morning.

Sidebottom records that Seventeen came to him at Cave on Thursday morning, where he was paring the feet of sheep with footrot. Seventeen reported the sheep were gone and had been tracked to Campbell’s hut, at the foot of Mount Misery. This was really useful information, as it meant that sheep had not gone towards Timaru, or down the valley to where the Taiko stream joins the Pareora River at the foot of Mount Horrible, which would have been an easier way to go.

I presume that Sidebottom heard about the theft some time later in the morning, but he did not bother to search for the sheep that day. This is odd, because the loss of a thousand sheep was a more serious problem, whereas a bit of footrot could easily wait.

More important, he had a horse and knew where the sheep had gone. At Cave, he was much close to their destination. He could have ridden over the Cave Hill at its low point and ridden down the valley where the Cave-Pareora Road travels and be in Cannington in a few hours. By climbing up on the hills, he would have been able to see across the valley and discover where the sheep has gone. Had he taken this action, he would have probably have discovered them before nightfall.

Even if the thieves had been driving the sheep most of the night and next day, they would not only have been able to get far into Cannington. They had to drive the sheep about 7 km from Taiko, where the sheep were camped, into Limestone Valley at the foot of the hill (a direct route was blocked by a limestone cliff). They then had to drive them up over the hill north of Mount Misery and down the other side.

Getting down off the hill would have taken them at least three or four hours. I remember when my father assisted with mustering sheep at Braeval. We could watch the sheep coming down the hill from our home on the other side of the valley. It would take several hours for the flock to all come down, and that was with a good track and sheep that knew they were going to good pasture on the flatland.

The sheep would hardly have been off the hill by that time that Sidebottom heard about the theft later in the morning. However, he did nothing until the next day.

On Firday morning, Sidebottom set out with Seventeen and Taiko and they tracked the sheep over the hill and down towards the Pareora River. By nightfall, they had arrived at bush of the Upper Pareora Gorge.

I am surprised that Sidebottom had travelled such a short distance. The sheep had travelled the same route on the previous day. Sidebottom had a horse, and even if his Maori boys were on foot, they should have been able to move much faster than the stolen flock.
A thousand sheep would leave a lot of droppings and wool on bushes, so tracking them would be quite easy. So by Friday night he should have been able to catch the stolen flock, if he had been going hard all day.

On Saturday, they tracked the tracked the sheep up into Mawaro to a branch of the Tengawai River. He must have been quite close to the sheep, but Sidebottom stopped tracking and rode back to Cave to get more supplies. He had all of Thursday to prepare, so it is odd that he had run out of supplies after only one day on the pursuit.

While at Cave, Sidebottom sent back to Levels Station for more help. I am not sure why he had not done this on Thursday, because this delay allowed the sheep to travel further. By the end of Saturday, they would have been well up into the Waratah Valley. Reading his account and understanding the distance he had to travel, it seemed like he was doing his best to let the sheep escape.

On Sunday, they continued tracking the sheep, but Sidebottom deliberately delayed progress in the afternoon by sending the Maori boy Taiko to look for the men who were coming to help. Taiko took the horse, which would have delayed the speed of the tracking. He arrived back at sunset without the men.

As the end of the day, Sidebottom finally caught up with the sheep and discovered Mackenzie at the bottom of a hill watching them while preparing a meal. He captured Mackenzie and recovered the sheep. Although visibility was affected by fog, he immediately began driving the sheep through the night towards home (Mackenzie escaped during the night).

The next day they arrived back at Cave, having covered a distance of 25 miles over rough country. Driving them all through the night and into the next day without giving them a rest seemed an odd action for a man charged with caring for the sheep
The contrast in speed is astounding. When chasing the sheep, he took several days to travel from Cave to the Mackenzie Pass. When driving the sheep home, he was able to cover the distance during one night and part of the next day. If he had shown the same zeal on the outward journey, he would have quickly caught the sheep.

Large Plain
Catriona Burnett records several things about Sidebottom that I think explain why he took so long to catch up with the stolen sheep.

First, Sidebottom wrote to the Rhodes Brothers that he had seen a large plain when he had looked out from the place, where he discovered the sheep.

I should tell you I have found old sheep track (large tracks of a good mob) leading up to the same pass, therefore I have a strong opinion this is not the first mob that Mackenzie has driven off… There seems to be a fine plain just at the back of the snowy range and a fist rate pass through the mountains to it.
The first sentence can’t be true, because Sidebottom came upon the Mackenzie at dusk, so he would not be able to see track from sheep that had passed the same way several weeks earlier.

His claim to have seen a “fine plain” is also problematic. In a newspaper article written in 1917, Catriona’s father T.D. Burnett discussed the question of where Mackenzie was captured. Sidebottom said that they came across the sheep when “looking down a very abrupt hill”. TD Burnett thinks they had not reached the crest of Mackenzie Pass, but were on the Waratah side of the pass on the “little flat formed by the junction of Lockhart’s and Mackenzie’s steams. Several other witnesses confirm that they were caught in the fork of two creeks on the eastern side of the pass.

TD Burnett points out that the plain cannot be seen, except from the summit of the pass, or from the mountains on either side, so it was odd that Sidebottom wrote that he had seen “a wide plain”. The most plausible explanation is that Sidebottom had already explored the area, and already knew about the pass and the plain.

Second, Catriona Burnett reports that Sidebottom applied for a pastoral license to graze land 75,000 acres in the Mackenzie Country on 1 May 1855, when he went to Christchurch to give evidence against Mackenzie. The license was signed by William Brittain, Commissioner of Crown lands, and is labelled “Pastoral Lease No 53. These licenses were awarded on the condition that the land was fully stocked within a year. It seems that Sidebottom was unable to get sufficient sheep, so his license had lapsed by 1857, when licenses covering the same area were issued to others.

Sidebottom resigned from his overseer role at Levels at the end of the Mackenzie’s trial and took over Eureka Station in Canterbury. He died suddenly in Christchurch, two years late in April 1859, after selling a run for a considerable sum of money. He was seized with a fit of apoplexy and lingered only a short time.

Possible Explanation
The Rhodes Brothers lived in Christchurch, so an overseer had considerable freedom to get around. I suspect that that Sidebottom had investigated the area west of Cave much earlier. He was active and ambitious man, so it is natural that he would have explored further inland looking for land that was not controlled by the existing runholders. The Mackenzie Pass is visible from several places closer the coast, so if he was curious, he would have wondered where it led.

While based at Cave, he would be well placed to travel up the Tengawai River towards the Waratah Valley. When he got to the Mackenzie Pass he would climbed to the summit and seen the wide plain on the other side. He might even have ridden down and explored the flat land he had discovered.

Being the first to discover this large area of flat land, he would begin thinking about how he could get control of it. Getting a pastoral license was relatively easy. The tricky part was getting sufficient sheep to stock such a big area of land.

Small numbers of sheep had gone missing from The Levels before the Mackenzie incident. Sidebottom had probably paid someone to drive them up through the Mackenzie Pass and release them. (This is probably why his letter suggested that Mackenzie had stolen sheep on previous occasions). He may have already worked out the route through Cannington and Mawaro, and the good places to cross the rivers.

Taking a thousand Merino’s may have been the next big step towards stocking the run he planned to establish. He had probably done a deal or formed a partnership with the person who had paid Mackenzie to drive the sheep. He might have called Seventeen back to Cave, so that they were easy to take.

Once the sheep were stolen, Sidebottom moved so slowly to give them a chance to get away. Once they were up through the Mackenzie Pass and scattered across the plain, it would be impossible to find them. He could then go and apply for a pastoral license, knowing that he already had sufficiently sheep to stock the area.

What Went Wrong
Something must have gone wrong. The clue is in Mackenzie’s petition to the governor for his pardon. His submission says,

Your petitioner and James Mossman were driving the sheep three days when your petitioner became very unwell and was obliged to rest one day and immediately on the day of rest, James Moss man went to the top of the hill while your petitioner was lying on the ground unwell, but for what purpose your petitioner could not tell,, and he against after diner did the like thing, and remained till towards dusk in the evening of that day when he came running down the hill greatly agitated and exclaimed to your petitioner, “McKenzie? McKenzie? I have done a very bad job. I have stolen these sheep and the owner is coming and is close at hand and I will go away”
If Sidebottom had paid Mossman (probably his partner and not his real name) to take the sheep into the Mackenzie country, they would have agreed that he could have four days to get through the pass. Once they were on the other side of the pass on the wide plain, they would scatter out to graze and be hard to find. They would become much harder to track, so Sidebottom would be able to say that the trail had disappeared.

The problem was Mackenzie’s sickness. The drovers had arrived at the foot of the pass on Saturday night, so it would only take a few hours to travel through the pass on Sunday morning. By the afternoon, the sheep would be scattered on the plain and hard to see.

Unfortunately, Mackenzie took sick and Mossman was unable to drive the sheep on his own. The day was lost. The sheep remained on the eastern side of the pass, when they should have been spread on the wide plan on the other side.

Sidebottom seemed to have wasted time for four days to give them time to get away, but he had not counted on them losing a day. When he got near the Mackenzie Pass, he expected the sheep to be well gone. Instead, he had come upon Mossman, who several times during the wasted day had gone to the top of the hill looking for someone. They had an argument and Mossman had fled back to warn Mackenzie. He said that Mossman had a gun, so he might have pulled it on Sidebottom.

With his plans falling apart, Sidebottom had no option but to re-capture the sheep and take them back. So when Taiko returned with his horse Jenny, they carried on tracking and soon came upon Mackenzie watching the sheep. By this time Mossman had bolted, so Mackenzie was captured.

Sidebottom did have some integrity, because he bound Mackenzie loosely and he was able to escape in the fog at night. I presume that he hoped would disappear and not be seen again (as Mossman did). Unfortunately, he was captured in Lyttleton, so Sidebottom was called to give evidence against him.

Perhaps
Maybe the Mackenzie country was actually discovered by John Sidebottom, but Sidebottom Country does not have quite the same ring as Mackenzie Country. And Sidebottom Pass would be awful. It this explanation is true, Mackenzie was an innocent drover, and Sidebottom was double-crossing his employer to stock a run he planned to establish in the land he had discovered, so perhaps it is just as well that the country is not named after him.

James Mackenzie (6) Plot Foiled

Something must have gone wrong with Sidebottom's scheme. The clue is in James Mackenzie’s petition to the governor for his pardon. His submission says,

Your petitioner and James Mossman were driving the sheep three days when your petitioner became very unwell and was obliged to rest one day and immediately on the day of rest, James Moss man went to the top of the hill while your petitioner was lying on the ground unwell, but for what purpose your petitioner could not tell, and he against after diner did the like thing, and remained till towards dusk in the evening of that day when he came running down the hill greatly agitated and exclaimed to your petitioner, “McKenzie? McKenzie? I have done a very bad job. I have stolen these sheep and the owner is coming and is close at hand and I will go away”
If Sidebottom had paid Mossman (probably his partner and not his real name) to take the sheep into the Mackenzie country, they would have agreed that he could have four days to get through the pass. Once they were on the other side of the pass on the wide plain, they would scatter out to graze and be hard to find. They would become much harder to track, so Sidebottom would be able to say that the trail had disappeared.

The problem was Mackenzie’s sickness. The drovers had arrived at the foot of the pass on Saturday night, so it would only take a few hours to travel through the pass on Sunday morning. By the afternoon, the sheep would be scattered on the plain and hard to see.

Unfortunately, Mackenzie took sick and Mossman was unable to drive the sheep on his own. The day was lost. The sheep remained on the eastern side of the pass, when they should have been spread on the wide plan on the other side.

Sidebottom seemed to have wasted time for four days to give them time to get away, but he had not counted on them losing a day. When he got near the Mackenzie Pass, he expected the sheep to be well gone. Instead, he had come upon Mossman, who several times during the wasted day had gone to the top of the hill looking for someone. They had an argument and Mossman had fled back to warn Mackenzie. He said that Mossman had a gun, so he might have pulled it on Sidebottom.

With his plans falling apart, Sidebottom had no option but to re-capture the sheep and take them back. So when Taiko returned with his horse Jenny, they carried on tracking and soon came upon Mackenzie watching the sheep. By this time Mossman had bolted, so Mackenzie was captured.

Sidebottom did have some integrity, because he bound Mackenzie loosely and he was able to escape in the fog at night. I presume that he hoped would disappear and not be seen again (as Mossman did). Unfortunately, he was captured in Lyttleton, so Sidebottom was called to give evidence against him.

Perhaps
Maybe the Mackenzie country was actually discovered by John Sidebottom, but Sidebottom Country does not have quite the same ring as Mackenzie Country. And Sidebottom Pass would be awful. It this explanation is true, Mackenzie was an innocent drover, and Sidebottom was double-crossing his employer to stock a run he planned to establish in the land he had discovered, so perhaps it is just as well that the country is not named after him.

Friday, August 26, 2016

James Mackenzie (5) Possible Explanation

The Rhodes Brothers lived in Christchurch, so an overseer at The Levels had considerable freedom to get around. I suspect that that Sidebottom had investigated the area west of Cave much earlier. He was active and ambitious man, so it is natural that he would have explored further inland looking for land that was not controlled by the existing runholders. The Mackenzie Pass is visible from several places closer the coast, so if he was curious, he would have wondered where it led.

While based at Cave, he would be well placed to travel up the Tengawai River towards the Waratah Valley. When he got to the Mackenzie Pass he would climbed to the summit and seen the wide plain on the other side. He might even have ridden down and explored the flat land he had discovered.

Being the first to discover this large area of flat land, he would begin thinking about how he could get control of it. Getting a pastoral license was relatively easy. The tricky part was getting sufficient sheep to stock such a big area of land.

Small numbers of sheep had gone missing from The Levels before the Mackenzie incident. Sidebottom had probably paid someone to drive them up through the Mackenzie Pass and release them. (This is probably why his letter suggested that Mackenzie had stolen sheep on previous occasions). He may have already worked out the route through Cannington and Mawaro, and the good places to cross the rivers.

Taking a thousand Merino’s may have been the next big step towards stocking the run he planned to establish. He had probably done a deal or formed a partnership with the person who had paid Mackenzie to drive the sheep. He might have called Seventeen back to Cave, so that they were easy to take.

Once the sheep were stolen, Sidebottom moved so slowly to give them a chance to get away. Once they were up through the Mackenzie Pass and scattered across the plain, it would be impossible to find them. He could then go and apply for a pastoral license, knowing that he already had sufficiently sheep to stock the area.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

James Mackenzie (4) Large Plain

Catriona Burnett records several things about John Sidebottom that I think explain why he took so long to catch up with the stolen sheep.

First, Sidebottom wrote to the Rhodes Brothers that he had seen a large plain when he had looked out from the place, where he discovered the sheep.

I should tell you I have found old sheep track (large tracks of a good mob) leading up to the same pass, therefore I have a strong opinion this is not the first mob that Mackenzie has driven off… There seems to be a fine plain just at the back of the snowy range and a fist rate pass through the mountains to it.
The first sentence can’t be true, because Sidebottom came upon the Mackenzie at dusk, so he would not be able to see track from sheep that had passed the same way several weeks earlier.

His claim to have seen a “fine plain” is also problematic. In a newspaper article written in 1917, Catriona’s father T.D. Burnett discussed the question of where Mackenzie was captured. Sidebottom said that they came across the sheep when “looking down a very abrupt hill”. TD Burnett thinks they had not reached the crest of Mackenzie Pass, but were on the Waratah side of the pass on the “little flat formed by the junction of Lockhart’s and Mackenzie’s steams. Several other witnesses confirm that they were caught in the fork of two creeks on the eastern side of the pass.

TD Burnett points out that the plain cannot be seen, except from the summit of the pass, or from the mountains on either side, so it was odd that Sidebottom wrote that he had seen “a wide plain”. The most plausible explanation is that Sidebottom had already explored the area, and already knew about the pass and the plain.

Second, Catriona Burnett reports that Sidebottom applied for a pastoral license to graze land 75,000 acres in the Mackenzie Country on 1 May 1855, when he went to Christchurch to give evidence against Mackenzie. The license was signed by William Brittain, Commissioner of Crown lands, and is labelled “Pastoral Lease No 53. These licenses were awarded on the condition that the land was fully stocked within a year. It seems that Sidebottom was unable to get sufficient sheep, so his license had lapsed by 1857, when licenses covering the same area were issued to others.

Sidebottom resigned from his overseer role at Levels at the end of the Mackenzie’s trial and took over Eureka Station in Canterbury. He died suddenly in Christchurch, two years late in April 1859, after selling a run for a considerable sum of money. He was seized with a fit of apoplexy and lingered only a short time.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

James Mackenzie (3) Slow Pursuit

The other odd thing about the James Mackenzie story is the behaviour of the John Sidebottom, the overseer of The Levels station. His letter to the Rhodes Brothers in Christchurch is the main source of information. What stands out in this letter is how incredibly slow he was to try to purse the stolen sheep. It was almost as if he wanted them to get away.

The sheep were grazing in Taiko. The land was not fenced at the time, so they would be put into an enclosure at night, and let them out to graze each morning. The usual practice was for two men to watch the sheep during the day and camp in a hut at night.

The theft of the sheep was reported by a Maori boy called Seventeen. It seems that he was not sleeping at the enclosure with the sheep that night, or he would have been disturbed when they were stolen. Perhaps he had gone back to the outpost at Cave for a meal and sleep and found the sheep missing when he returned early in the morning.

Sidebottom records that Seventeen came to him at Cave on Thursday morning, where he was paring the feet of sheep with footrot. Seventeen reported the sheep were gone and had been tracked to Campbell’s hut, at the foot of Mount Misery. This was really useful information, as it meant that sheep had not gone towards Timaru, or down the valley to where the Taiko stream joins the Pareora River at the foot of Mount Horrible, which would have been an easier way to go.

I presume that Sidebottom heard about the theft some time later in the morning, but he did not bother to search for the sheep that day. This is odd, because the loss of a thousand sheep was a more serious problem, whereas a bit of footrot could easily wait.

More important, he had a horse and knew where the sheep had gone. At Cave, he was much close to their destination. He could have ridden over the Cave Hill at its low point and ridden down the valley where the Cave-Pareora Road travels and be in Cannington in a few hours. By climbing up on the hills, he would have been able to see across the valley and discover where the sheep has gone. Had he taken this action, he would have probably have discovered them before nightfall.

Even if the thieves had been driving the sheep most of the night and next day, they would not only have been able to get far into Cannington. They had to drive the sheep about 7 km from Taiko, where the sheep were camped, into Limestone Valley at the foot of the hill (a direct route was blocked by a limestone cliff). They then had to drive them up over the hill north of Mount Misery and down the other side.

Getting down off the hill would have taken them at least three or four hours. I remember when my father assisted with mustering sheep at Braeval. We could watch the sheep coming down the hill from our home on the other side of the valley. It would take several hours for the flock to all come down, and that was with a good track and sheep that knew they were going to good pasture on the flatland.

The sheep would hardly have been off the hill by that time that Sidebottom heard about the theft later in the morning. However, he did nothing until the next day.

On Firday morning, Sidebottom set out with Seventeen and Taiko and they tracked the sheep over the hill and down towards the Pareora River. By nightfall, they had arrived at bush of the Upper Pareora Gorge.

I am surprised that Sidebottom had travelled such a short distance. The sheep had travelled the same route on the previous day. Sidebottom had a horse, and even if his Maori boys were on foot, they should have been able to move much faster than the stolen flock.

A thousand sheep would leave a lot of droppings and wool on bushes, so tracking them would be quite easy. So by Friday night he should have been able to catch the stolen flock, if he had been going hard all day.

On Saturday, they tracked the tracked the sheep up into Mawaro to a branch of the Tengawai River. He must have been quite close to the sheep, but Sidebottom stopped tracking and rode back to Cave to get more supplies. He had all of Thursday to prepare, so it is odd that he had run out of supplies after only one day on the pursuit.

While at Cave, Sidebottom sent back to Levels Station for more help. I am not sure why he had not done this on Thursday, because this delay allowed the sheep to travel further. By the end of Saturday, they would have been well up into the Waratah Valley. Reading his account and understanding the distance he had to travel, it seemed like he was doing his best to let the sheep escape.

On Sunday, they continued tracking the sheep, but Sidebottom deliberately delayed progress in the afternoon by sending the Maori boy Taiko to look for the men who were coming to help. Taiko took the horse, which would have delayed the speed of the tracking. He arrived back at sunset without the men.

As the end of the day, Sidebottom finally caught up with the sheep and discovered Mackenzie at the bottom of a hill watching them while preparing a meal. He captured Mackenzie and recovered the sheep. Although visibility was affected by fog, he immediately began driving the sheep through the night towards home (Mackenzie escaped during the night).

The next day they arrived back at Cave, having covered a distance of 25 miles over rough country. Driving them all through the night and into the next day without giving them a rest seemed an odd action for a man charged with caring for the sheep.

The contrast in speed is astounding. When chasing the sheep, he took several days to travel from Cave to the Mackenzie Pass. When driving the sheep home, he was able to cover the distance during one night and part of the next day. If he had shown the same zeal on the outward journey, he would have quickly caught the sheep.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

James Mackenzie (2) Alone

The first major flaw in the standard account was that James Mackenzie is said to have driven the stolen sheep from Taiko to the Mackenzie Pass on his own, with one dog and a bullock to carry his pack of food, bedding and other equipment. The legend is that his dog Friday was so clever that Mackenzie was able to drive the flock of sheep without any other assistance.

I have driven a flock of one thousand sheep with one dog. In an enclosed paddock where the sheep know where they were going, it was difficult to keep them together, as some would be keen and move fast while the slower ones would be unwilling to move. Driving a flock through rough country that had never been grazed would be extremely difficult for a man and a dog, no matter how skilled the dog.

On the day that the sheep were stolen, Mackenzie is supposed to have driven them in the night up over the high ridge to the north of Mt Misery and down into Cannington by the Pareora River. Sheep do not like walking straight uphill, or downhill. They prefer to go sideways around the hillside and graze. This hill had not been grazed at that time, so it would be much rougher going than it is now. Getting the sheep over the hill with one dog, would be extremely difficult, especially when he had to lead a pack bullock.

Once Mackenzie got down into Cannington, he would probably have had to cross the Pareora River twice to get up into Mawaro. Opposite the Cannington homestead, the river goes quite close to the cliff, so it is unlikely that he could squeeze his sheep through between the river and the cliff. He would have had to cross the river before he got there, and then cross back again further up.

The river was much deeper then, because most of the flow is now taken by the Timaru water supply intake in the Upper Pareora Gorge. Sheep will cross water, but they do not like it. If you hold them close to the river and get a few leaders across, the others will follow, but this would be difficult task for one man. While he was getting the last few stragglers across, the ones that had gone first would be scattering.

As the journey progressed further, he would have had to cross half a dozen streams and rivers. Finding a place to cross would require some scouting, and getting the sheep across would never be easy for one man.

Mackenzie always claimed that he had been hired by a man called John Mossman. This was discounted by the officials, as Mossman was never found. However, given the difficulty of the terrain, Mackenzie almost certainly had assistance. Driving a flock of a thousand sheep over that country would have been almost impossible for one man. He very likely had help, or was helping someone else, perhaps the instigator of the theft.

The standard account suggests that Mackenzie planned to drive the sheep down through the Lindis Pass to Southland and sell them. This is an even more implausible suggestion, as crossing the much larger Waitakai River which would have been even more difficult for one man and a dog.

Monday, August 22, 2016

James Mackenzie (1) Sheepstealer?

Visitors to New Zealand travelling from Christchurch to Mount Cook and Queenstown, pass through the Mackenzie Country. The expansive tussock-covered plain was named after James Mackenzie, better known as Mackenzie the Sheep Stealer, who is credited with discovering this vast area of land in 1855.

The events that led to this plain being given his name are well known. A thousand Merino sheep were stolen from the Levels Station, owned by the pioneering gentry, the Rhodes brothers. Mackenzie was found with the sheep in a pass through the range of mountains which opens onto the plain that took his name. This pass was later named the Mackenzie Pass.

Mackenzie escaped, but was later captured in Christchurch. He was found guilty and sentenced to five years hard labour in April 1855. He hated prison and escaped on at least two occasions.

In September 1855, a new resident magistrate at Christchurch investigated the case, and found the trial to be seriously flawed. Mackenzie was granted a free pardon in January 1856 after spending nine months in prison. He probably returned to Australia, but was never heard of again.

I recently read a book about Mackenzie by Catriona Burnett of Mount Cook Station. I was interested in her book, because I knew her when I helped with shearing and mustering at Mount Cook Station when I was a young farmer. As the granddaughter of one of the early run-holders, she was not very sympathetic to Mackenzie.

Having grown up in Cannington, near the area where the events took place, I was struck by some serious flaws in the standard story about Mackenzie. Reading the account of the incident in a letter to the Rhodes brothers by John Sidebottom, the overseer of The Levels, I realised that parts of his story did not make sense. I will explain these problems in the next couple of posts.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Connection

A body is not built by throwing some bones in a basket. To become a mighty body empowered by the Spirit, the bones must be joined together. Each bone must be joined to at least two others by muscles and tendons. The correct bones must be joined in the right place. A body becomes dysfunctional, if just one bone is missing, or is joined to the wrong bone.

Many Christians believe that revival will come as the Holy Spirit moves in power in the body of Christ. We do need the Spirit, but this is not Ezekiel’s message. He warned that the Spirit cannot come in power until the body of Christ is joined together in strong relationships.

Being Church Where We Live, p 20.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Preparing for Victory

We are living at a pivotal time in history. While things are going badly for the church, the situation is even worse in the world. You don’t have to be a prophet to see the dark clouds on the horizon. The kingdom of man has over-reached itself and is rotting from the inside.

Christians should not be pessimistic about the future. God is in control and is working out his purpose. He is refining his church into a holy and beautiful bride. He is shaking the nations, so his people can establish the Kingdom. We can share in that victory, if we understand his plans and get ready for battle.

The shaking of world system will be a great opportunity for the church. In times of crisis, power flows to those who understand what is happening and are ready for action. Joseph understood what God was doing, so he was able to use the seven good years to prepare for the seven bad years. He rose to power during a crisis, because he understood what was happening and knew what had to be done.

The times are urgent. We should be using our time to prepare for the political, economic and social upheaval that is coming. We should be joining together to advance God’s Kingdom when the kingdoms of the world collapse and fall. Radical change is needed, so we can shine brightly in the darkness and share in the victory that God has planned.

Introduction to Being Church Where We Live.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Spiritual not Physical

Many Christians pray for the sick and are disappointed because nothing happens. One reason for this failure is the common belief that sickness has a physical cause. We have imbibed the modern view that all events in the universe have biological, social, genetic, environmental or physical causes. If this is true, it make sense to ask God to intervene and reverse the physical cause.

The Bible teaches that everything that happens on earth has a spiritual cause (Eph 6:12). God does not create sickness, so all sickness comes from the spiritual powers of evil. If we do not understand that reality, we will find it hard to pray for the sick.

Although events may appear to have a physical cause, the real cause is spiritual. For example, an inspection of Job’s body would have discovered a staphylococcus causing his boils, but the Bible explains that they were actually caused by an attack of Satan (Job 2:7).

Jesus came to “destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). One way we he did that was to heal the sick. He healed numerous sick people. In each case it would have been possible to diagnose the infection causing the disease, but from God’s point of view, they were “under the power of the devil” (Acts 10:38).

Jesus healed a woman who had been bent over for so long that she could not straighten up. A physical examination would have diagnosed osteoporosis in her spine, but Jesus said, “Satan has kept her bound for eighteen years” (Luke 13:16).

We must learn to look beyond the medical facts and into the spiritual dimensions of life to understand the real cause of sickness. We must stop thinking that sickness is something that God and has allowed and begin understanding that sickness is something that the powers of evil inflict. They were defeated by the cross, but they will only pull back, if they are resisted by people standing together in faith (1 Peter 5:8-9).

Many Christians have asked God to heal a sick friend or family member, and been disappointed. Some have taken offence at God, because they believe that he let them down. But God was not the problem. The sickness was nothing to do with him. And the spiritual powers of evil are happy, because God is blamed for something they have done.

God has given the followers of Jesus authority to heal the sick. Asking him to heal someone who is sick usually does not work, because it does not deal with the spiritual powers of evil who have inflicted the sickness. We must stop pleading with God and being disappointed. Instead we should take up the authority he has given, and get into a battle with the power of evil, knowing that they were destroyed by the cross.

More at Healing.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Declining Empires

When an empire falls under a curse, God cannot give it a good emperor. There are three possibilities.

  1. God can cause the empire to be invaded by another powerful nation. This usually happens towards the end of the life of the empire. This is what happened to Egypt. Pharaoh was destroyed when it was invaded and defeated by the rising Babylonian empire.

  2. God can destroy the empire from within. This is what happened to the Roman Empire.

  3. The best that God can to an arrogant empire is give the it an emperor who is mad. That is what happened with Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 5:19). When he exalted himself and demanded worship, God made him go mad and he lived among the donkeys and remained there until he honoured God. This was only possible because a prophet was there to challenge the emperor.

A clown as emperor is a merciful option.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Deficient Candidates

In a post last week, I wondered about the meaning of the US ending up with two such deficient presidential candidates. Something has to be seriously wrong. One possibility is that the nation has place itself under a curse.

If a nation that believes in military force and political power comes under a curse, where does it lead? Probably to more of what it trusts.

Real prophets should be preparing the people for what lies ahead.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Work and Prophets

Prophets should generally be working to support themselves, so they can be free from influence of those who support them. I am suspicious of a prophet who loses their job, and then makes no attempt to find another. It suggests there are issues that they have not dealt with.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Sport and Nationalism

I hate the way that sport has been captured by nationalism.
I dislike the success or sports men and women being used to buttress the pretensions of the nation state.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Politics and Deception

Observing the media descriptions of the US political party conventions and the reactions of politicians, I am struck that lying has becomes normal. How is this possible in an educated country?

John Whitehead suggests that the reason is that Politics has become Entertainment.

Politics is entertainment. It is a heavily scripted, tightly choreographed, star-studded, ratings-driven, mass-marketed, costly exercise in how to sell a product—in this case, a presidential candidate—to dazzled consumers who will choose image over substance almost every time.

This year’s presidential election, much like every other election in recent years, is what historian Daniel Boorstin referred to as a “pseudo-event”: manufactured, contrived, confected and devoid of any intrinsic value save the value of being advertised. It is the end result of a culture that is moving away from substance toward sensationalism in an era of mass media.

As author Noam Chomsky rightly observed, “It is important to bear in mind that political campaigns are designed by the same people who sell toothpaste and cars.” In other words, we’re being sold a carefully crafted product by a monied elite who are masters in the art of making the public believe that they need exactly what is being sold to them, whether it’s the latest high-tech gadget, the hottest toy, or the most charismatic politician.

As I read this I thought more of 2 This 2:9-12.

This is not it, but I can see how it could happen.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

No Voice

The prophetic voices in America have been disappointing on the presidential election.

  • One group is digging up reasons why Christians should vote for Donald Trump despite his ungodly behaviour and unwise statements.
  • A few very brave ones are claiming that Trump is God's man to save the nation.
  • Another group claim that the flaws in his character are so flawed that they cannot vote for him.
  • Others are urging people to vote for Hillary
True prophets would be explaining why a nation with such a strong Christian influence has ended up with two such morally deficient candidates. They would be explaining what this means and how God’s people should prepare for the consequences.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Prophet and Bride

A prophet is called to speak on behalf of Jesus to his bride. A prophet who does not love the bride that Jesus gave him in the same way that Jesus loves his bride will struggle to speak on his behalf. He will find it hard to give painful messages to Jesus bride, if he does not understand the pain that his own bride is feeling. Jesus talks to his bride all the time and feels her pain.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Fullness of the Spirit

Jesus was able to carry the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

One person following Jesus is not able to carry the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Only a body of believers committed to Jesus and loving each other and living in the same place can experience the fullness of the Spirit. The modern experience of the Holy Spirit is limited, because our loves are so fragmented.

When dealing with a situation, the Holy Spirit loves to give a gift of discernment to one person a gift of faith to another and a gift of healing to a third. If these people have not learned to operate together, with total trust in each other, they might prevent the Holy Spirit from accomplishing his purposes.

More at Being Church.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Wrong War

Commenting on the death of a priest at the hands of ISIS terrorists, the Pope said,

This is war. There was the war of 1914, with its methods; then that of 1939-45, another great war in the world; and now there is this one. It is not perhaps so organic; organized, yes, but organic… I say… But it is war.
He is wrong. This is not a war. It is a sign of a lost spiritual battle.

There is only one war that counts, and that is the spiritual battle taking place in the spiritual realms (Eph 6:12).

The spiritual war for the Middle East was lost many centuries ago. The Western powers have engaged in numerous costly and physical wars in the Middle East during the the past century, but they have just strengthened the defeat in the spiritual realms.

The spiritual forces that reign in the Middle East are now attacking Europe. That battle is already lost in the spiritual realms. Recent events in France are a sign of that defeat, not the beginning of a new war. Fighting against this spiritual attack with military force will strengthen the hand of the spiritual powers of evil.

The same spiritual forces are attacking the United States. That battle is close to being lost, too. Those with their eyes open are already seeing the signs of defeat.

Instead of looking to political and military solutions that will inevitably fail, God’s people should wake up and engage the spiritual war that Jesus has already won for them.