Robert Tod of Todds Valley


Merchant, shipbroker and commission agent, Robert Tod, left his home in Glasgow in the 1820s and lived in Egypt prior to coming to New Zealand. He arrived in the 1840s, when  land was being opened up for the early settlers. Tod could see  opportunities do some land speculation in New Zealand and Australia during the time he was working as a merchant and shipping agent in both Adelaide, South Australia and Port Nicholson, New Zealand.

TodRobert Tod. Sketch. Toddling after a commission.
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Tod came from Sydney to Wellington with his family on 4 December 1839 on the cutter Success, to acquire land, before the expected arrival of the British Crown.  He signed two deeds, in January1840, for desirable land between the Pipitea Stream in Wellington, and the harbour, with Ropiha Moturoa of Ngati Mutunga.  A dispute over the claim arose but by the time it had been resolved in Tod’s favour, he had sold his claim to Alexander McDonald.

Tods land in WellingtonRobert Tod's land in Wellington
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Tod came to Nelson in November 1841 and purchased a number of blocks of land. The Tod Reserve (on Todd Bush Road in Todd's Valley) is named after him, as he had a 50 acre farm in the valley in 1842-1847. One acre block at Auckland Point and 150 acres near Blenheim , where the Jackson Estate Winery is now situated, were also purchased.

Tod was the chair of the Council’s naming committee in 1842, so it is ironic that the valley and road named after him has been misspelt over time - changing from Tod to Todd. While in Nelson, Tod also served as a Justice of the Peace.

In 1841 Tod purchased three acres in Auckland, in the second land sale there in 1841. A bid of  £244.10s.4d. secured him the highly desirable second item in the auction, Allotment 63, Section 1, Suburbs of Auckland.  Two days later he had subdivision plans drawn up into 36 small sections advertised for sale by auction under the name of the ‘Village of Parnell’.   The name Parnell is believed to be in memory of his friend, a would be missionary, John Vesey Parnell.  Tod met Parnell in Syria in 1832.  Tod had become a sales agent for the British & Foreign Bible Society in the Near East and was impressed with the dedication of Parnell and his heroic exploits.

Tod was reputed to be a fiery and argumentative man. He seriously over-extended himself by borrowing to finance his speculations, and eventually, in 1847, he had to assign his New Zealand assets to the banks and other creditors and retreat to Adelaide. Tod River in South Australia is named after his time in that area in 1839.

A note on Todd's Valley

When Robert Tod sold the land in the valley in 1847 a number of families took up ownership,  including the Small, Wastney, Cummings and Sutherland families.  George Cummings took over the land at the head of the valley and this has remained in the Cummings family for many years. A man named Small took over another part of Todd's Valley and the family lived there for years, building a cob house, first with two rooms and a lean-to, and further rooms were added later. Irvine Norris from Yorkshire, bought part of the Small property and some of his descendants still live in the valley. At one time a German settler, C. H. Martin, lived near where the blue metal quarry is. He was chairman of the school committee and he left money to provide Martin prizes for the school children.


Updated May 7, 2020

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  • What was the Maori name for the Todds Valley.? Ed. We cannot find any information on this. The valley may have been unnamed, or the name may well have been lost.

    Posted by Marlene Shrubshall, 02/11/2021 1:34pm (3 years ago)

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Further sources - Robert Tod of Todds Valley



  • Edgcumbe, Margaret & Campbell, M. (2009) Robert Tod and Parnell: the Naming of a Suburb. Report to Historic Places Trust / Heritage New Zealand.

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