a family story

John Roxborogh

Murdoch Robertson

Murdoch was born in Rongotea, known at the time as Campbelltown, on 20 December 1881. In November 1940 he married Jean (Georgina Gladys Skinn) in Melbourne. It would be fair to say it caused some controversy in the family.

He grew up labouring on farms and then share milking. When the family moved to "Riverlands" at Ngarua, he and his brother John and sister Kate farmed in partnership.  Murdoch was keen on the latest, the fastest and the best. He was an astute businessman as well as a good farmer and the family prospered. 

There was often a new car, the latest and the best. There was a Dodge, which he later gave to Annie on her wedding to Bob Scott, and a Chevrolet. The Hudson Straight Six, was the first streamlined car in the Piako district.  Oh what excitement he provided when showing off his new car to the car less relatives!

By 1922 he had become a member of The New Zealand Jersey Cattle Breeders Association of New Zealand.  Murdoch’s animals were registered as “Riverlands”, taking the name from their first farm at Awahuri.




Murdoch was very interested in racehorses and bred quite a few, the best one being Valroe.  Valroe won the York handicap at Ellerslie and paid a dividend of £21, he won the Te Kuiti cup twice but there was no cup in those days.  Because of their involvement with the races they bought a house in Auckland.  They could travel there on a Friday to be ready for the Saturday races.  One Saturday Murdoch and Donald went to Ellerslie to watch Valroe race.  In the evening Cathie Roxborogh who was staying with them in Morrinsville went with her Grandmother and Aunty Kate down the street to buy the evening paper.  As Aunty Kate read the race results she said “He’s won!” and Cathie results she said: “He’s won He’s won!!” and Grandma said “The good little horse.”

  Some of the other horses were Cherry Roe and Riverlands Roe.  Catherine was in her early nineties but full of enthusiasm about their horses.  Once Murdoch disgraced the family by making a bet with a bookie!  He was not allowed to race horses again for some time.  To overcome this, the horses were registered in the name of Murdochs Uncle, Alex McKenzie.  There was a great family dispute whenever one of them won a race.  Murdoch claimed the prize money but Alex refused to surrender the stake!