Davidson, William Soltau

William Davidson resize3

William Soltau Davidson

Well-heeled Scottish Canadian William Davidson arrived in New Zealand in 1865 to work as a shepherd on the Levels Estate, South Canterbury. He rose to become superintendent of 1.2 million ha of farmland for the New Zealand & Australian Land Company.

By 1880 Davidson was exploring meat-preserving, dairying and the potential of refrigerated transport. He also encouraged sheep-breeding and cheesemaking.

In 1882 he saw off the first shipment of frozen meat from New Zealand - from Port Chalmers to London - and was in London when the shipment arrived, having organised the shipping, distribution and insurance. He continued to work for the Land Company until his death, playing a key role in the burgeoning frozen-meat industry.