NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.






Through the 19th century, more people left the farms and highlands of Scotland and moved into the coalfields and industrial towns.  They came from the Highlands and islands, from overcrowded lowland farms and from Ireland.  In 1818 the Belfast-Portpatrick steam boat services opened and by 1841 over 125,000 Irish immigrants had settled mainly in the west of Scotland.  The years 1845-49, when the potato crops in Ireland failed, brought thousands more.  1¼ million sailed to America and about 115,000 came to Scotland.  In 1851 Irish born people made up 15% of the population of the west of Scotland and 18% of the people of Glasgow.


‘Scotch’, ‘Scots’ and ‘Scottish’.  You can’t go wrong usually with ‘Scottish’ and the people are known as ‘Scots’.  ‘Scotch’ is dangerous and is to be used only with whisky (in Ireland ‘whiskey’), broth, haggis, shortbread and terriers!


Until the 18th century nearly all Scots were buried in the parish churchyards.  In the larger towns some non-denominational cemeteries were opened early in the 19th century.

Submitted by Doreen

(June 2005)


NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.



John Hay


Surveyor, Otago

District Surveyor for the Western Districts (Southland)

Chief Surveyor, Otago

First Commissioner for Crown Lands appointed to Southland

Successful founder and promoter of the concept of Fiordland as public domain



John Hay was born 6 May 1848 in  14 John Street, Greenwich, London, England,  and died  1 August 1907 in  his residence, Gala Street, Invercargill, Southland, New Zealand. He was buried 5 August 1907 in St John’s Cemetery, Invercargill. He married Mary Ann Hamlyn, 7 January 1879, in the residence of Mr Hamlyn, Waimatuku (Flints Bush), Southland. She was the daughter of William Hamlyn and Martha Moss. Mary was born 20 March 1858 in Prossers Plains, Tasmania, Australia, and died 3 April 1919 in Cargill Street, Dunedin, New Zealand. She was buried 5 April 1919, in St. Johns Cemetery, Invercargill.

John Hay was the fifth child of early Otago pioneers, George and Jane Hay. His parents had travelled to London from Keith in Scotland before he was born. When the ship Ajax set sail from London for Otago in 1848, John Hay was exactly four months old. A few weeks after arriving at Port Chalmers in January 1849, the family set sail in a small cutter, Jumping Jackass, for Port Molyneux. John was carried ashore from the Jumping Jackass by Makariri, the daughter of a Maori chief and ‘wife’ of George Willsher. Mahariki took John up the beach to a whare and the frantic Hay family disembarked and took chase. When they finally found John he was surrounded by Maori women. They had taken John’s clothes off and were examining him carefully. The women had never seen a white baby before. From then on Makariri took a great interest in John calling him her ‘Jackie Boy’. The Hay family lived at Willsher Bay close to the local Maori settlement for four years. It is very likely that John had a good command of the Maori language, having few other playmates other than local Maori children and his siblings. John’s contact with local Maori as he grew to adulthood stood him in good stead as he earned much respect from the southern Maori when engaged in survey work in later years.

John’s parents purchased a 50 acre property in 1853 at what was later known as Romahapa and named it Hilly Park. The family eventually added to the acreage of Hilly Park. They also purchased other land in the Glenomaru area that in their early pioneering years had been leased from the Crown by the John’s father, George Hay. This land is still known as Hay’s Run

When the East Clutha School (much later to be called Romahapa school) opened, John was a first day pupil. He was taught by James Brydone, Dan McEwen, and James McEwen, the latter being a skillful educator. John attended the East Clutha School for all of his primary and secondary school education.


In May 1867, at the age of 19, John began his cadetship with the Otago Provincial Survey Staff under Mr C.W. Adams, Mining Surveyor. John surveyed in the Molyneux, and West Otago and various other Otago areas. John was appointed District Surveyor for Western Districts of Southland in June 1873 where he made survey expeditions to Stewart Island, reportedly during the 1870s and 1880s.


Southern Fiordland:

Of particular interest was during the period from January to April 1883 John Hay when led a small team to make a ‘flying survey’ of the west coast of Southland. They were only given three months to complete the task. This land was unknown to the settlers and although some hardy explorers had ventured into Fiordland, much of this area was not explored. The survey team started out from a station on the west of the Waiau and surveyed the area to Preservation Inlet. John is remembered in Pioneers Explore Otago8 where Herries Beattie quotes W.G. McClymont: “He reached its head (Lake Poteriteri) and made two good expeditions - one went to Long Sound and another, north to the Hay River to a point from which he saw Dusky Sound.” This river John named after the Hay family.

In one of John’s two Field Books recording this survey are his sketches of:  South-East side of Hauroto Lake (variations in spelling found appear to be Hauroko and Horoto); North End Mary Island; View Peak near headwaters of Preservation Inlet and of Westland waters of Hauroto Lake; Hauroto Lake; from Hill North-West of Ena Peak on dividing range; of Princess Mountains near head of Potiritiri Lake; Lake Kakapo; Hauroto Lake; Sandy Point 'Long Sound'; Coast from Puyenger [sic] Point to Waiau Mouth; Nice (or Rice) coast Big River; Mouth of Big River; Waititi River; Wanaurahiri River; Te Wai Wai Bay. Other surveying entries were: bearings from South End Hauroto Lake, Max Hump and Beatrice Peak; bearings from Caroline Peak; bearings from White Peak, Billow Mountains. The northern point of his survey was close to the Seaforth River. Based on information in other survey books it might be expected that John’s second Field Book of the Reconnaissance Survey of Fiordland, missing for some years from the Land Information collection, would probably hold the written calculations and measurements from this the survey. An official map titled Reconnaissance of Part of Fiord Country showing John’s surveys from Long Sound to Lake Horoto was drawn and completed by W. Deverell in October 1883.

There is so little written about the marvellous accomplishments of John Hay in Fiordland that the following account deserves to be recorded here.

F.T.W. Miller wrote that: “He went to Lake Poteriteri and west to the Inlet, crossing Lake Hauroto in a canvas boat. Using it on Poteriteri he reached its head and made two expeditions, one west almost to Long Sound and another north by the Hay River to a point from which he saw Dusky Sound. Some four or five months were spent in the bush, and considering the climate and the nature of the country, it is amazing that he accomplished so much. He began his survey at Orepuki and covered all of that country in which lie the Princess Mountains, the beautiful bush-girt lakes, Hauroko Poteriteri, Hakapoua and Kiwi, and the ice-cold waters of the swiftly flowing Waiau, Waitutu, Wairauhiri and Big Rivers. The survey was thorough and extended in places 25 miles back from the coast. Hay's chief assistant and chainman was Jack Arnett, whose descendants still live in Bluff and other parts of Southland and whose name is perpetuated in Arnett Peak, near Long Sound, an extension of Preservation Inlet. Hay's trig stations have occasionally been encountered in more recent years.” 

Instead of three months, John and his team took from June to October to complete this survey, some four to five months. This was hardly surprising since the geography of the area was so difficult. A canvas boat was built by John for transporting equipment across rivers and lakes, and for transportation on the waters of Long Sound. Despite difficulties when the boat had to be carried, this was a brilliant move that ultimately enabled John to complete the survey. 

It was another example of resourcefulness that enabled John’s group to overstay the allotted time. Marcus Jackman, in the Clutha Leader series, Recollections, wrote: “Provisions had run out, so they had to rely on birds caught by Squash and Mac the dogs. A relief party was about to set out to look for them when word was received from the Waiau Station that the party had turned up safe and well.”  John could only report that of the 554,000 acres he surveyed, all were completely unsuitable for farming.

John Hall-Jones, in his book of Fiordland Placenames, lists the names given by John Hay to geographic features in southern Fiordland. Those that mark the existence of the Hay family of Romahapa are:

Grant Burn: South coast. Named by Hay (in 1883) after his mother whose maiden name was Jean Grant.

Hay, Lake and Hay River: Lake Hauroko. Named after the surveyor John Hay who (in 1883) carried out a remarkable reconnaissance survey of southern Fiordland. Later as Commissioner of Crown Lands for Southland he was the prime mover in having Fiordland set aside as a public reserve for national park purposes.

Jeannie Burn: Long Sound. Named by Hay (in 1883) after his mother, Jane Grant.

Mary Island: Lake Hauroko. Named by Hay in 1883 but for many years this name has remained a mystery. After tracing his burial to the Waikiwi Cemetery it was fascinating to find that his wife's name was Mary, and this is undoubtedly the origin of the name. Mary Island is the location of the Hauroko burial cave. 

Grace Burn: South coast. Named by Hay (in 1883) reason unknown, but possibly after his sister-in-law.


In 1891 John was sent to survey the Auckland Islands to see if the land was suitable for sheep farming. John would have been the first surveyor to venture here. Magnetic variations at these Islands made the task very difficult. On his return he surveyed in Western and Northern Southland.

In January 1897, John Hay was promoted to the position of Chief Surveyor for Otago and then in 1901 made the first Commissioner for Crown Lands for Southland . He moved to Invercargill.


John Hay secures Fiordland as a public reserve:

In 1903, John Hay, having behind him the experience of surveying in Fiordland, paved the way for the rugged and beautiful area to be declared a National Park. John Hall-Jones quotes a section from John’s letter where he pleads his case: “It may appear very extensive but the country is excessively rugged and quite unfit for pastoral purposes”. Hall-Jones goes on to comment: “Hay had a powerful ally in T.E. Donne of the Tourist Department, who reported that the area, if carefully preserved, is destined to become one of the colony's foremost attractions and, in time, one of it's greatest assets”. Hall-Jones continued: “Hay eventually got his way and in 1904, 930,480 hectares (2,326,200 acres) of Fiordland were set aside as a public reserve for national park purposes and placed under Hay’s care.” Not only was T.E. Donne an advocate of John’s plan for a national park, but no doubt John also had a faithful lobbyist in his sister’s brother-in-law, the Hon. John Edward Jenkinson, member of the Parliamentary Legislative Council.  (J.E.Jenkinson came from Port Molyneux)


An untimely end for a gentleman:

In 1907 John Hay became ill. He had been diagnosed as suffering from measles. One week before his death it was discovered that he had cancer. His work colleagues established the Hay Memorial Fund so that a fitting memorial to John should be placed in a central location in the St. John’s Cemetery at Waikiwi, Invercargill.

© J Maslin 2005

(June 2005)


NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.


Report on Branch Visit to DOUG NESBIT FUNERAL SERVICES LTD on 7 July 2005


Members enjoyed a very informative and interesting visit and tour through the business on James Street, Balclutha.  Doug and his wife Gail began the business in 1989.  Prior to that Doug was employed making caskets and other joinery in a local factory.  Their business also has a monumental mason and sign writing service attached. 


We were shown an example of the arrangement sheet which is filled out, containing information legally required along with specific arrangements for the funeral and service, newspaper notice etc.  We were very pleased to see, that although the legal death certificate requirement states ‘age’, this business asks for birth date both for deceased and also living sons and daughters.  Doug finds this is more helpful from their point of view and of course as genealogists we think that’s just great.  The information on these forms is available for research following request.  Their system uses a card index and after establishing the enquirer’s needs and reason for the query, some information is available.  Enquirers do not see the original arrangement sheet.  Information is not given out over the phone and it is desirable, if not a close relative, to obtain family permission first.  The Privacy Act is a guideline.  Of course, as genealogists, we know that the information contained is only as reliable as those giving it.  Doug recommended that we record the important dates, places and names required ourselves.


We were surprised to learn that if the deceased’s GP has not seen that person within the past three months, they are unable in most cases, to issue a cause of death.  In these circumstances, the death then becomes a coroner’s case.  This is a requirement of law.  If a post mortem is required, this is paid for by the state.  If a hospital requests a post mortem, the hospital pays.  The undertaker will ring the GP to confirm death and the paperwork is done before removing the deceased.


It is the family’s choice (or deceased) which funeral firm undertakes the funeral arrangements.  These arrangements can be entirely individual according to the family’s wishes.  The business strives to meet any wishes of the family, creating a very personal and meaningful farewell.


We learned that larger centres, eg Wellington, have individual undertakers who specialise in meeting the special requirements and customs of the different ethnic groups. 


We were shown a number of coffins and again learned that you can have quite individual choices for these, including rope handles and you can even make your own.  One member declared that white satin lining was not for her and her wishes were to be wrapped in one of her patchwork quilts.  Those wishes would not be a problem.  The coffins were mostly made locally.  Pressed steel casks, called pyra-capsules, were specially imported from America - these are seldom, if ever asked for in Balclutha.  We learned that you do not necessarily need to employ an undertaker for arrangements and burial and this can be done by the family.


In the case of cremation, contrary to some beliefs, everything is cremated.  The ashes are run over with magnets to remove any metal parts, eg  hip pins and the like, and are refined before being placed in the special container.  This business always collects the ashes and will store them on their premises until the family are ready for them (the Crematorium in Dunedin will store these but there is a daily charge for this service).  The Balclutha Lawn Cemetery has a special area in which you may place a memorial plaque while still scattering the ashes elsewhere.  There is also a different place set aside for burying ashes.  Not all cemeteries have these arrangements.


We were shown the mortuary where embalming takes place and learned a little of this process and the care and respect in which this is undertaken.


Following this, we moved to the area in which the monumental work is done.  The granite, in its different forms and colours, is imported from India and China.  Most headstones in our area are polished on all faces and edges which is better in our wet and cool climate.  The inscription work can be done on site if the stone is in position, otherwise it is done in a garage on the business premises.  Following decisions on design, layout etc, all of which can be as individual as the family requires, the etching is done using finely crushed garnet which is blasted at high pressure onto the face of the stone.


Cleaning of granite headstones can be undertaken.   30 Seconds or Handy Andy in warm water is recommended for those affected by lichen etc, rinsing well.  Do not use Janola which, although not damaging the stone itself, will break down the cement and plaster and can result in the stone falling in time. Once clean and dry, the granite stone is best cared for by applying car wax.  Marble is best left alone in all circumstances.  Remember that headstones are the property of the family and if not a family member, we need to obtain their permission before undertaking any cleaning etc.

(July 2005)


NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.



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Last updated 7 Feb 2007