Emigration was the compromise Butler and his father reached after Butler refused to join the church and his father refused to fund an artistic career. Arriving in New Zealand in 1860, Butler explored the little-known territories of the South Island and settled on an estate of 8000 acres adjacent to the Rangitata River. Naming his run ‘Mesopotamia’ (a name it still bears), he built a hut to accommodate himself and the few workers he had co-opted, and, with no prior experience, established a sheep-station. Within a year he had 3000 sheep under his charge.
Butler’s brand – the unique mark used to identify his flocks – was registered in the Brand Book for Canterbury on 26 November 1860. Its design is a candlestick, alluding to the tallow candles (made from mutton fat) which were commonly produced at sheep-stations.