South Otago Cemeteries
The New Zealand Society of Genealogist Balclutha Branch has good records of the cemeteries in the area. The link to their website is below.
Beaumont is a township on the eastern bank of the Clutha River just south of its junction with the Beaumont River on State Highway 8, 53 kilometres north-west of Milton via Lawrence and 7 kilometres south-east of Raes Junction (at the junction of State Highway 8 and State Highway 90) in the Clutha District. The town was originally known as Dunkeld but changed its name to that of the Beaumont River which is a tributary of the Clutha River. It flows into the Clutha River just north of the Beaumont township. The river was given this name as early as 1857, after the Bowmont (sic) Water, a tributary of the River Tweed in the Borders Region of south-east Scotland.
The area is predominantly a fruit growing district. The whole valley over the past 30 years has been under threat from flooding as a dam has been proposed at Tuapeka Mouth as part of the hydro electric power development. This threat has led to a decline in population and the closure of several services including the school, churches, general store, post office, race-course and the New Zealand Forest Service headquarters at Beaumont. However in 1996 an announcement was made that the proposed dam plans have been shelved indefinitely.
The hotel serving the district is almost the same design as two others in the area at Raes Junction and Millers Flat.
The Beaumont Bridge, the longest and first single span structure in the Southern Hemisphere was opened in 1887.
For eleven years, Beaumont served as the terminus of a branch line railway that ran from a junction with the Main South Line in Milton. The railway reached Beaumont in 1914 and an extension to Millers Flat was not opened until 1925. This line ultimately became the Roxburgh Branch and operated until 1968. Relics of the railway still remain, including a stock yard and a bridge over the Beaumont River.
There is definite evidence of a Maori settlement site near the Beaumont Cemetery. This is one of only two in the South Island. The site is a transient camp dating from 1200 AD that has been settled semi-permanently over hundreds of years. There are almost certainly Maori graves there.
A few kilometres past the Beaumont Bridge, which crosses the Clutha River, is the Beaumont hill. The task of travelling this incline was once daunting for horses and wagons but now motor vehicles can climb the incline with ease.
An interesting trip, if one is travelling from Central Otago, is down the road which runs beside the Clutha River, ending up at Balclutha. This route takes you past forests, and at Tuapeka Mouth there exists the only punt in New Zealand.
BEAUMONT SCHOOL started in 1872 and closed in 1988. Since 1989 local schoolchildren have commuted to Lawrence Area school by bus. The Admission, Progress and Withdrawal Registers from 1872 to 1988 are held in the Hocken Collections in Dunedin. The years 1872-1920 have been transcribed by the New Zealand Society of Genealogists Dunedin Branch. There is no restrictions on access to these records.
ANGLICAN CHURCH – St Alban’s Anglican Church at Beaumont was opened in 1922 and was linked to the Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Lawrence. The final service was held at the church in 1975. The building has since been sold and is now used as a private residence.
The Hocken Collections in Dunedin holds the Register of Services for the church. Beaumont baptismal records can be found in the baptismal registers of Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Lawrence.
The Holy Trinity Anglican Church at Lawrence was officially opened in 1871. Prior to that, Anglican services had been held in the Wesleyan church or in the local school since 1867. The Parochial District of Tuapeka was established around the church in 1872. Most of the Holy Trinity Anglican Church records are in the Hocken Collections in Dunedin and many of the registers contain records relating to churches in nearby districts, including Waitahuna, Waipori, Greenfield, Clydevale, Beaumont and Roxburgh.
PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH – The only marriages records available start in 1911 and go to 1918.
BEAUMONT (DUNKELD) CEMETERY – when travelling from Dunedin do not cross the Beaumont bridge but instead, as you approach the bridge, turn left along Weardale Street. The street is no exit and is partially tar sealed and then gravelled. The cemetery is about one kilometre along this road, on your right.
History of the cemetery – a Public Meeting was called at the school house on 20 April 1896 to elect members as trustees on the Cemetery Reserve committee. Today the cemetery is still cared for by trustees.
The headstones for the cemetery have been transcribed and cover the period 1896-1982.
BURIALS AT THE BEAUMONT CEMETERY 1896-1982
|BARR||Jean Mrs||38 years||1933|
|BARR||James Mervyn||69 years||1966|
|BORTHWICK||Sarah Mrs||72 years||1911|
|COLLINS||Thom A. William||1904|
|COLLINS||Elizabeth Ellen Mrs||84 years||1964|
|COLLINS||William Ashwin||81 years||1953|
|CRAWFORD||Ivy Mrs||49 years||1958|
|CUMMINGS||Margaret Mrs||76 years||1905|
|DONALDSON||Lillian E. Mrs||66 years||1950|
|GEEVES||Allan Eric||70 years||1975|
|GEEVES||Agnes Mary Mrs||86 years||1963|
|GEEVES||A. R.||7 hours||1939|
|GEEVES||Reuben Thomas||58 years||1927|
|GEEVES||Stillborn of R. T.||Stillborn||1909|
|HOLLAMBY||Harry Alban||44 years||1936|
|HOLLAMBY||Roberta M. Mrs||76 years||1971|
|JOHNSTON||Emily Mrs||56 years||1899|
|JONES||Christine Mrs||73 years||1968|
|JONES||David John||85 years||1964|
|KELK||William Robert||18 months||1982|
|MARTIN||Mary Jane Mrs||86 years||1950|
|McCUNN||Don (Senior)||90 years||1904|
|McCUNN||Robert T.||76 years||1945|
|MILES||Frances Ella Mrs||56 years||1952|
|MORRISON||Amelia Jane Mrs||79 years||1955|
|MORRISON||George David||55 years||1953|
|MORRISON||George William H.|
|MORRISON||Thomas David||49 years||1967|
|PEARSON||Graeme Kemp||2 years||1948|
|PHILLIPS||Lucy Mrs||3 years||1939|
|THOMSON||Eion Cunningham||39 years||1960|
|WELSH||Mary Ann Mrs||80 years||1946|
|WESCOMBE||Alfred Louis||90 years||1962|
|WESCOMBE||Sarah Ann Mrs||64 years||1935|
|WOOD||Catherine Isabel Miss 84 years||1979|
|WOOD||Elizabeth Mrs||71 years||1939|
|WOOD||Ethel Mrs||78 years||1981|
|WOOD||R. Lance-Corp.||29 years||1917|
Kaitangata is 13 kilometres south-east of Balclutha, on the Matau branch of the Clutha River. In 1855 John Lovell became the area’s first resident, and the first sale of town sections took place in 1862. Flax mills were established at Kaitangata and Wangaloa around 1868, and coal mining began soon afterwards.
Frederick Tuckett reported seeing coal in the district in 1844 and in 1859 coal from the first mine at Coal Point was carried to the Clutha River where it was loaded on the SS Tuapeka . Several coal mines were opened near the town during 1869 and 1870. The Kaitangata Coal Company began in 1872 and was re-formed as the Kaitangata Railway and Coal Company in 1875. An English syndicate took over the company in 1898 and worked the mine as the New Zealand Railway and Oil Company. Their other interest was Orepuki shale oil, and the failure of the latter resulted in the collapse of the company in 1926. A new Kaitangata Coal Company was formed by South Otago and Dunedin interests in 1927 and they moved their head office to Kaitangata until the mine was taken over by the State Coal Mines in 1959.
THE KAITANGATA CEMETERIES
The first cemetery at Kaitangata was located on the south corner of Exmouth and Salcombe Street on the hill above the Presbyterian Church. It was known as the Southern Cemetery and the first burial is believed to have been that of Maria Roland and took place in 1861. Thirty of the thirty-four victims of the 1879 Kaitangata mining disaster were buried in graves dug in two rows in this cemetery.
A second cemetery was opened in Kaitangata in 1897. It was situated to the north of the town on the road to Lovell’s Flat and was known as the Northern Cemetery. Jeannie Poole, wife of the Mayor of Kaitangata Frederick Poole, was the first person buried in the new cemetery. She died on 1 June 1897 aged 38 years.
In 1963 the condition of the old Southern cemetery came under discussion by the local town council. It was agreed that all headstones in good condition were to be relocated to one central area and a memorial would be erected to the miners killed. In 1967 a playground was planned to be erected on the site.
A full transcript of all the headstones that have survived from the Old Cemetery plus a list of all known burials is available. .
The Kaitangata Coal Mining Disaster, 1879
The Kaitangata Coal mining disaster occurred on 21 February 1879 in the Castle Hill mine, a short distance to the north of the town. Thirty-four men lost their lives. Not only was the death roll high but subsequent investigations of working conditions in the mine disclosed a disregard for generally accepted safeguards.
At 9 a.m. on 21 February the small township of Kaitangata was shaken by a violent explosion and 12 hours later the last of the bodies of the 34 victims had been located.
The exhaustive inquiry into the accident uncovered a system of neglect and foolhardiness that the public found impossible to accept calmly. Defective ventilation, the use of naked lights (mainly candles) in the face of recurring evidence of firedamp in the mine, and the refusal of the manager and the deputy manager to abandon or modify their haphazard and slipshod methods of operation were shown to be the causes of the tragedy. In response to public clamour, new legislation was passed to provide stricter control of the working of coal mines, but even with this warning from Kaitangata it was to be many years before legislation produced the relatively safe conditions of today.
The Victims –
1. James Beardsmore Senior aged 48, left widow Jane Southall and eight children (three dependent). He was two years in New Zealand.
2. James Beardsmore Junior aged 14 years, son of James Beardsmore senior.
3. Caleb Beardsmore aged 36. Son-in-law of the above, he left a widow, Mary Beardsmore, three young children and an aged parent.
4. Edward Beardsmore aged 25 years, son of James Beardsmore Senior. He left a widow Mary and two young children.
5. Joseph Beardsmore aged 38. He was acting fireman of the mine and brother of James Senior. He left a widow Caroline Greaves and two children.
6. Thomas Black aged 55 years. He was unmarried and had been 18 years in New Zealand. He had previously had a lease of a coal quarry at Lovell’s Flat and had no known relative in the district.
7. David Buchanan aged 30 years, son-in-law of Samuel Coulter, another victim. He left a widow, Grace, and two young children. He has been in New Zealand only four weeks.
8. John Clark aged 69 years, a roadsman in the mine. He had come from Green Island. His wife, sons and daughters arrived in Kaitangata by the afternoon train.
9. John Clinging aged 26. He left a widow, Janet Parker, and two children. He had been in New Zealand for two years.
10. Samuel Coulter aged 53. Had been in the country only four weeks. Left a widow and eight children.
11. Edward Dunn aged 15 years, son of George Dunn.
12. John Ferguson aged 31. He left a widow, Agnes Thomson, and four young children. The eldest was about seven years old. He had been in New Zealand two years.
13. Thomas Frew aged 40 years. He left a widow and six children residing in Dunedin. He had been in New Zealand for fourteen years.
14. John Gage aged 26. He left a widow, Sophia Penman, and four young children. He had been in New Zealand for three months.
15. James Hall aged 48. He left a widow, Janet, and five children.
16. William Parker Hall aged 34. He left a widow, Sarah Ann, and five children.
Both James Hall and William Parker Hall were brothers and had only arrived in New Zealand 14 days previous to the accident.
17. William Hay aged 27 and unmarried. He had been in New Zealand for two years and while he had no relatives living in Kaitangata he had a sister living in Mosgiel and a brother elsewhere in New Zealand.
18. Archibald Hodge aged 56 and unmarried. He was deputy manager and had been in New Zealand for sixteen years.
19. William Hodge aged 50 was the brother of Archibald Hodge. He was also unmarried and had been in New Zealand for twenty years.
20. Andrew Jarvie was 40. He left a widow, Janet Forrester, and eight children. He had been three years in New Zealand.
21. George Jarvie aged 29. He left two children. He had been in New Zealand for three years.
22. Daniel Lockhart aged 18 and unmarried. He had been in New Zealand for two years.
23. Charles McDonald aged 15. He was a pony driver, born in New Zealand, the son of John McDonald.
24. Barnet McGee aged 37. He left a widow, Elizabeth Rogers, and three children. He had been in New Zealand for two years.
25. John McMillan aged 28. He left a widow, Christina McDougall, and four children, the eldest only six years old. He had been in New Zealand for four years. Christina’s only other relative in New Zealand was a brother living at Green Island.
26. Joseph Moulton aged 35. He left a widow, Martha Smith, and two children. He had been in New Zealand for three years.
27. John Molloy aged 29
28. John Thomas Molloy aged 16
29. Edward Molloy aged 14
The above three had only been in New Zealand for six months. Their deaths left their wife and mother with no other relatives in New Zealand. Their ages are recorded incorrectly on their headstone as 36, 15 and 13.
30. Thomas Smith aged 40. He left a widow, Jane Marshall, and five young children. He had been in New Zealand for three years.
31. James Spiers aged 39. He left a widow, Elspeth Douglas, and eight children, the eldest believed to have been only ten years old and the youngest four months. He had lived 17 years in New Zealand.
32. William S. Watson aged 38. He left a widow, Helen Ramsay, and four young children, as well as his 60 year old father-in-law who died four months later. He lived three years in New Zealand.
33. William Whinney aged 31. He left a widow, Jane Wilkinson, and two children. He had been four years in New Zealand.
34. William Wilson aged 34. He left a widow, Agnes Gibb, and four children who, owing to the death of Agnes, were raised by Mrs John Harris at Saddle Hill. William Wilson had lived three years in New Zealand.
Thirty of the thirty four victims were buried in the Kaitangata Cemetery. John Clark and William Wilson were buried in the Green Island Cemetery, Dunedin. Thomas Frew and William Hay were buried in the Northern Cemetery, Dunedin.
All funeral expenses were met by the mining company.
Otago Daily Times Supplement 25 February 1879:- The funeral of two of the miners – Thomas Frew and William Hay – who lost their lives by the recent explosion in the Kaitangata coal-mine, took place yesterday afternoon. The inclemency of the weather no doubt prevented members from attending to manifest their sympathy, but still about fifty persons followed the remains of Thomas Frew, and forty the remains of Thomas Hay. Eight carriages also joined the procession, and between 200 and 300 persons had assembled at the cemetery before the arrival of the funeral cortege. The service was read over the remains of Thomas Frew but the Rev. Dr. Smart, and the Rev. Josiah Ward conducted the funeral service of William Hay, who was a member of his congregation. .
SURNAMES WHICH APPEAR ON THE SURVIVING HEADSTONES IN THE OLD KAITANGATA CEMETERY
The above database was contributed by Arthur McGregor, May 11, 2000, last edited Aug 24, 2004 [firstname.lastname@example.org]. Total records = 2,678.
Burial Inscriptions and Burial Book data compiled by Arthur McGregor. This record is of the Lawrence Cemetery at the town of Lawrence, Central Otago, South Island, New Zealand. (Near Gabriels Gully..Early gold mining area)
The Cemetery Reserve covers seven acres of land. The Cemeteries Management Act of 1877 stated “that no railing, gravestone or monument can be set up or any other inscription made without the written consent of the Trustees of the PukerauCemetery”.
The cemetery was opened for burials in 1882 and is located at the end of East Street (the first street on your left when travelling from Balclutha).
The cemetery was transcribed in 1977 and the transcripts cover 1882-1975 with a total of 106 plots and 238 burials. Copies of these transcripts are available on microfiche as part of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists Cemetery Microfiche Collection.
Gore District Council have their cemetery records on-line. As Pukerau falls within the Gore District Council it is therefore possible to search Pukerau cemetery online at
Surnames found in the cemetery include:
The cemetery is now very overgrown and most of the headstones which have survived are broken or are lying on the ground. However it is still worth a visit to this cemetery.
The cemetery records cover the period between 1896 and 1937. A granddaughter of a former sexton advised that the last burial here that she can remember was of a Mr Glass just before the war (we assume this must be WWII). He, however, is not mentioned in the records or on the memorial plaque at the cemetery gates. The memorial plaque gives the dates for the cemetery as being 1896-1971. Alan Burgess of Owaka was involved with the recent work done at Ratanui Cemetery. He advised the last burial was probably in the late 1930s but the cemetery was not officially closed till 1971. There is some confusion over ownership of the cemetery. Letters between the Clutha District Council and the Department of Conservation in 1994 gave the impression that DOC seemed to think they had been made responsible for the cemetery but it was finally proven that it was owned by the Clutha District Council. In 2000 new trustees were elected to protect and maintain the grounds. Alan Burgess cut down large macrocarpa trees surrounding the cemetery and the sale of the wood raised $2300 which went to the Clutha District Council. Alan has been using this money to put up the new fences around the cemetery. He found a large saw under one of the trees and got it sandblasted. Names were added to the saw and a shelter was built. This formed the memorial at the entrance to the cemetery. The maintenance of the cemetery will be on-going with the Owaka Lions Club helping although most of the work has been falling on Alan Burgess.
It appears no-one is exactly sure who is buried in the cemetery. The Burial Register for Ratanui Cemetery was found during the move to new premises by the Clutha County Council in September 1983. However very little information was recorded, and records are in a very fragile condition. The Owaka Museum also have records from the old Owaka Post Office, which give more detailed information. The records indicate many of the names have been duplicated and there are discrepancies in the spelling between the two registers. The burial records from the Borough have included maiden names.
Locals are aware of children buried there not recorded in any official records. Some of their surnames have been added to the memorial plaque.
It would seem that Denis McCaw, aged 36, was the first person buried there on 7 May 1896. He appears to have been born in Country Antrim, Ireland and was married at Green Island to Mary Jane McCaughlin.
The next burial to take place was that of a child with ‘sickness during teething’.
Some of the names recorded are still known in the area. Descendants of the Martin family are still living in this area and the burial records record a 2-year-old child, Helen Martin, was burnt by fire in 1897 at Tahakopa.
Other families with long association with the area are the Miller and McDonnell families.
Many of the family’s lives were interwoven and there was inter-marriage between the local families. Two such families, who were quite important in the area in earlier times, were the Moir and Carlton family. These families were sawmillers. Two infants by the surname of Moir are buried in the cemetery. One member of the Carlton family was involved in the building of Otago Boys’ High School. The local postmistress, Mary Harrington, was the daughter of James and Annie Stansfield. Her relative, Robert Stansfield married Lil Carlton and later died in Christchurch leaving a fortune of $175,000, most of which went to charity. His sister married an Allan and there are some five Allans buried in the cemetery.
The early burial records for Ratanui Cemetery give some haunting statistics. Most deaths seemed to involve people under 40 years of age (21 of the first 44 burials). Many of these were babies or toddlers who died from typhoid fever, heart failure or were victims of fire.
Some of the occupations of those buried in Ratanui cemetery include: farmers, sawmillers, domestics, weaver, butcher, labourer, mariner, baker, postmistress and blacksmith. Most were born in either Ireland or Scotland or descended from parents born there. There is a smattering of English, one American, one Fijian and one Australian.
For further information on Ratanui Cemetery researchers should contact the Owaka Museum.
Tuapeka Mouth Cemetery
Tuapeka Mouth is a farming locality at the mouth of the Tuapeka River, on the east bank of the Clutha River, 20 kilometres south-west of Tuapeka Flat, 27 kilometres south-west of Lawrence and 35 kilometres north-west of Balclutha.
Tuapeka Mouth is a farming locality at the mouth of the Tuapeka River, on the east bank of the Clutha River, 20 kilometres south-west of Tuapeka Flat, 27 kilometres south-west of Lawrence and 35 kilometres north-west of Balclutha. The Clutha River can be crossed here by a ferry known as the “Tuapeka punt”. This punt is the sole survivor of a number of punts across the Clutha River and the last non-motorised river ferry in the Southern Hemisphere.
To get to the punt, take the sealed road up the north bank from Balclutha. About 20 kilometres upriver is the tiny settlement of Clutha Valley, with Clydevale on the hillside opposite. Tuapeka Mouth is a few minutes further upstream.
The telephone was introduced to Tuapeka Mouth in 1924 and electricity was connected in 1954.
The Tuapeka Mouth school opened in 1870 and was closed in 1949. It was consolidated as part of the Clutha Valley District School at Clydevale in 1939. The old school building is now part of the camping grounds.
The school records are now in the Hocken Collections in Dunedin. Their contents includes examination registers, Attendance, Progress and Withdrawal Registers (APW) and School Committee records. There is also a letter relating to the closure of the school due to scarlet fever. The APW registers cover 1879-1949.
The Presbyterian Church was opened on 7 March 1909 at a cost of £276.
The Roman Catholic Church of St Augustine of Hippo opened in February 1919.
The Coronation Hall opened in 1912. All are still in use today.
In 1984 the general store closed having been open since about 1905. The Post Office closed in 1985.
TUAPEKA MOUTH FERRY – On 24 February 1996 the centenary of the Tuapeka Mouth punt was celebrated with a re-enactment of the first crossing of the river. Disputes over management of the punt have been a big part of the ferry’s history. The former Tuapeka and Clutha Counties have argued over the financial management of the punt, and the ferryman’s housing and wages for several decades. Today the punt’s future is more secure as a historical venture rather than a need for crossing the river.
The punt is a bridge-like platform fixed across parallel steel pontoons. A ramp runs down to it. When the hydro dams at Roxburgh and Clyde hold back water for power generation, the river level drops and the punt can grate against gravel on the south side. River current powers the punt, which is attached by wire ropes to two overhead cables. The trip across the river, about 130 metres wide at this point, takes four minutes and is free. It is a convenient crossing for traffic between the Gore and Lawrence areas. It operates from 8 am to 10 am and 4 pm to 6 pm each day.
TUAPUKA MOUTH CEMETERY – The cemetery is located ten kilometres from Clydevale, on the road to Lawrence. It is located on the hill above the township. Turn into Skinner Road (a tar sealed road) and drive past the Tuapeka Mouth Presbyterian Church and then turn right into North Cemetery Road (gravel Road).
nes have been transcribed from 1882 to 1970 and contain the following surnames – Allen, Anderson, Barclay, Bradley, Brown, Clark, Daniel, Dickson, Drain, Foster, Fraser, Grieve, Guildford, Hall, Hames, Hardie, Keenan, Lyon, McCorkindale, McGowan, McGown, McLeod, Moore, Nehoff, Sharp, Skinner, Smith, Steart, Stirling, Thompson and Walter. .
Location: Waihola is situated on SH1 approximately 40 kilometres south of Dunedin. The cemetery is on the hill just above the township. Turn left at the sign post to Taieri Mouth then left into Ramsgate Street up the hill left into Chathan Street then right into Beacon Street and the cemetery is on the left.
GPS location: S 46º 01.643’ E 170º 06.101’
[tb_google_map address="-46.027383 170.101683" width="500px" height="500px]
Overall maintenance: Very good condition with no long grass or bushes. All graves are easily accessible although some are in need of repair. Depending on the direction of the wind there can be a smell from the pig farm across the road.
Transcriptions: Cemetery headstones were updated in 2005 and a copy of the transcript, along with the burial records 1884-1972 are available. The burial records from 1973-1992 have not been transcribed.
The original Waihola Cemetery burial records 1884-1992 are now at the Milton Service Centre (part of the Clutha District Council), 124-126 Union Street , Milton, phone 03 417.8109 , fax 03 417.8332 . They are open 8.30 am – 5 pm.
Interestingly Facts: A comparison of the burial records to the headstone transcript shows over one third of those buried in Waihola cemetery have no headstone.
Those buried in the cemetery with a headstone (as at 2005) are as follows (the year in brackets indicates year of death):
|Surname||First name||Date of Death|
|BUNGARD||Helen Frances (Nellie)||1973|
|BUNGARD||Mayda Annie Brydon||1974|
|BUNGARD||Shane Leslie Joseph||1982|
|HALBA||Jan Carol (John Carl)||1914|
|HANKEY||Albert William (Bert)||1976|
|HENKE||Bertha Sophia Frederika||1910|
|PETERSON||Louis James Peter||1936|
|YORSTON||Louisa Elizabeth Jane||2002|
|YOUNG||Mary Esther Sinclair||1942|
Kelso is a small settlement in West Otago, located ten kilometres north of Tapanui on the Kelso River, close to its junction with the larger Pomahaka River
There is no cemetery at Kelso. The nearest cemeteries are at Tapanui or Crookston
The township was first surveyed in 1875, and the first settlement began the following year. It was named Kelso after the Scottish town of Kelso which was home to one of the town’s first settlers, James Logan. The town was linked by rail in 1878 with the construction of a Tapanui – Waipahi line. There was a passenger service until 1934 and a goods service until 1954. The Railway Hotel opened in 1881.
The Presbyterian Church was built in 1888 and a Congregational church also flourished in the town. A flour mill operated from 1881 to 1889 and was then used as a rabbit canning factory until 1894.
The township was frequently subject to flooding, notably in 1903, 1913 and 1917. it was inundated with flood water during two major floods of the Clutha River catchment in 1978 and 1980, and after the latter flood it was decided to relocate the settlement. Today, little remains to indicate the location of Kelso, other than a stone memorial and faded wording referring to the township on several remaining buildings.
If you are interested in reading more about Kelso I recommend reading an article in the Otago Daily Times newspaper, 31 May 2008 page 19 entitled “In memory of a town that drowned.”
A FAMOUS INCIDENT IN THE TOWN
The town had been made famous by the phantom “Kelso Airship” which is still the subject of discussion whenever the subject emerges of flying saucers appearing around New Zealand. The episode began on the evening of 11 July 1909 when, according to the Otago Daily Times newspaper, several Kaitangata residents reported observing, for about thirty minutes, mysterious lights resembling a possible airship bobbing in and out of view to the east over the Wangaloa Hills. The Evening Star newspaper reported that the German vessel Seestern , which had recently left Australia bound for New Zealand, had launched the Zeppelin from its deck to spy on the countryside and then return to the ship.
By the last week in July, a massive outbreak of sightings occurred from one end of the country to the other. The most spectacular incident took place on Friday 23 July in broad daylight at Kelso, where 23 schoolchildren and an adult described a Zeppelin-type airship swooping low over the township. Several drawings done by the pupils appeared in the local newspapers. One drawing done by a pupil, Thomas Jenkins, consisted of a long cigar-shaped body, a suspended gondola underneath, and two large sail-like wings. He also said the propeller-like wheel at the back was revolving rapidly.
Further information on these sightings can be read in the following newspapers: Evening Star , 29 July, 1909, page 4; Otago Daily Times , 29 July 29, 1909, page 7 and Auckland Weekly News , 5 August, 1909, page 21.
Kelso, Crookston, Tapanui Cemeteries
Kelso has an interesting 1865-1980 monument marking the record heights of floods in the town. The 1978 flood, known as the ‘100 year flood’ was to be followed by another in 1980. This later flood was much worse than that of 1978 and was the demise of the township.
The Kelso school opened in 1882. The one roomed school and teacher’s house cost £400 to build. It was replaced by a new school in 1952 which cost £13,000.
Several school reunions have been held. The first reunion was in 1932 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the school. Further reunions have been held in 1952 (70th), 1962 (80th), 1972 (90th). However the school did not remain open for its 100th anniversary. It closed in 1980 following a series of devastating floods in the area. Despite the closure a final reunion was held in 1982.
The school building was dismantled and taken to Heriot in 1983. Only the old oak tree planted by school children to mark peace in 1919, following World War One, has survived to mark the spot where the school once stood.
The Kelso School was consolidated with Tapanui and Heriot Schools.
The Hocken Collections in Dunedin hold the Kelso school records for 1954-1982. The Hocken Collections also holds the Kelso School history file 1882-1982 which includes history cards, historical notes, newspaper clippings, notices regarding school closure and photographs of school buildings.
Neighbouring Glenkenich School opened in 1877 and was consolidated with Kelso school in 1948. Its records from 1896 – 1949 are in the Hocken Collections.
There is no cemetery at Kelso. The nearest cemeteries are at Tapanui or Crookston.
Both of these cemeteries have been transcribed and are available on the NZSG microfiched cemetery collection.
includes headstone transcripts and burial records.
Tapanui Cemetery is a lovely, sheltered and very well kept cemetery. On the Tapanui – Raes Junction Highway (Highway 90) turn left into Northumberland Street and then right into Cemetery Road. At the end of a dead end road is the cemetery.
Includes headstone transcripts and burial records. Located on a side-road just off of State Highway 90, north of Tapanui. Sign-posted from SG90.
The Tapanui and Crookston Cemeteries come under the administration of the Clutha District Council. Altogether the Clutha District Council operates and maintains six urban cemeteries at Balclutha, Milton (Fairfax), Kaitangata, Lawrence and Tapanui, and eight rural cemeteries at Port Molyneux, Romahapa, Taieri Beach, Waihola, Waikoikoi, Waipahi, Waipori, and Waitahuna. They also provide assistance to a further four cemeteries at Clinton, Crookston, Owaka and Tuapeka that are managed by trustees. .
Waikawa is the name of three small settlements and a river in New Zealand. There is a Waikawa in Southland, another in Marlborough and there is a WaikawaBeach which is a holiday community north of Otaki in the Wellington Region. The WaikawaRiver is in Southland.
The Waiwaka we are detailing in this article is the one located on the western shoreline of the WaikawaHarbour, at the mouth of the WaikawaRiver in Southland. It is 3 kilometres south-east of Niagara, 26 kilometres south-east of Tokanui and 63 kilometres south-west from Owaka. The WaikawaValley is located 15 kilometres north of Waikawa. At CurioBay, 5 kilometres to the south-west, below South Head there are rock terraces washed by the sea to reveal the original floor of a Jurassic forest dating back 160 million years.
Waikawa was originally a small Maori community. A whaling base was established inside the North Head at the harbour entrance in the 1840s and later some shipbuilding was carried out here. The first European settlers were Andrew and Betsy Haldane and their family. The Haldanes built the first sawmill, which began production about 1836.
At one time in the late 19th century Waikawa was a major port, shipping timber from the sawmills of the Catlins north to help build the new town of Dunedin.
The township was surveyed in 1864 and given the street names of Antrim, Carrick-Fergus, Lorne, Lisburn, Mena, Mill, River, Lough and Castle. As early as 1865 it was a bustling town with a hotel, grocery store, bakery, butcher, confectioner, bootmaker and a post office. The settlement was moved across to the west side of the harbour in the 1870s. Unfortunately for Waikawa the entrance to the Waikawa harbour silted up over the years, preventing larger vessels from entering and shipping had ceased by the early 1920s and the nearby township of Fortrose became the more prominent port. It too fell prey to the arrival of the Tokanui Branch railway, and to a lesser extent the Catlins River Branch, in the late 1890s.
Waikawa was geographically isolated and the building of roads was slow and expensive. The 1901 census showed that there was only 26 people living at WaikawaBeach with 44 people living in the township.
By 1939 some residents had a telephone installed in their homes with a private line. A public telephone bureau existed at the post office at Waikawa. A party line was introduced in the late 1940s.
The township today is a small fishing settlement with both permanent residents and some holiday homes.
St Mary’s Anglican Church (Waikawa)
Services at Waikawa were begun by Rev. D. Rankin in 1909. St Mary’s church was opened and dedicated on 10 March 1932. The church has since closed and the building is now used as a museum.
The records from 1932-1979 which include a baptismal register and a register of services are available as part of the Hocken Collections in Dunedin.
Marriage records for Waikawa 1875-1920 are part of the Wyndham Parish records. Wyndham parish includes records for Upper Matuara, Fortrose, Edendale, Waikawa and Mokoreta. The Wyndham records for October 1880 to July 1888 are missing.
There are no marriage records for the Waikawa – Mokoreta Home Mission Station 1895 to 1913 but there are some marriage records for Waikawa Home Mission Station 1913-1915. There are also some marriages for the Waikawa – Tokanui Home Mission Station 1916-1920 but no further marriages until 1937.
All of the existing records are available at the Presbyterian Church Archives at KnoxCollege in Arden Street, Opoho, Dunedin.
The Waikawa School Admission, Progress and Withdrawal Records (APW) for the years 1902-22 and 1924-59 are available in the Information Services Section, first floor, Invercargill Public Library. There are charges of 20c per page for photocopying at the library. If enquiring by post there is a standard $5 fee which covers all research, copying and postage.
Postal Address: Private Bag 90111, Invercargill
The first school in the district was at The Spit, at the mouth of the WaikawaRiver. Because of the district’s isolation and rugged terrain and in the days before roading, there was also two schools run in private households.
The Waikawa school was opened in the town hall at Waikawa in February 1902 with a roll of eight pupils – two boys and six girls. The school at The Spit had burnt down the week before so locals had taken the opportunity to move the school closer to the township. The teacher, Mr John McFaddon, left after a short time and the Waikawa school was closed until July 1902 when a new teacher, Miss Duthie, was appointed.
A school had been wanted in the township of Waikawa since the early 1890s but all applications were turned down as there was already a school nearby at The Spit. Also the residents at nearby Niagara had been putting pressure on authorities to get a school there. The school committee at the Spit had made requests for their school boundaries to be altered to include Niagara and have one new school built at Waikawa township to cover pupils who lived at The Spit, in the Waikawa township, up the WaikawaValley and at Niagara. Unfortunately the authorities would have none of this proposal and went ahead and built a new school at Niagara.
When the school at The Spit burnt down they decided to rebuild the new school in the township. But this meant that the WaikawaSchool was built only two miles from the Niagara school.
From 1902 until 1911 lessons were still held in the town hall until, in 1911, a new purpose built school was erected.
The school eventually closed in 1972 when it had a roll of 15 pupils.
There was also a school inland in the WaikawaValley. It opened in June 1894 with an initial roll of 15 pupils from the Crosbie, Crighton, Turner and Pemberton families. The school was very isolated and the pupils had to walk long distances along muddy tracks to get to school.
The WaikawaValleySchool closed in June 1929 and the pupils were sent to Niagara.
The cemetery is located between the settlements of Niagara and Waikawa and some sources refer to it as the Niagara / WaikawaCemetery. Two graves, which appear to actually be memorials only, are on one side of the road on a bank above the cemetery. These graves are on page 13 of the newsletter. One, for the Wybrow brothers and George McBurney, was paid for by public subscription. The other grave was one of three paid for by the estate of Rev James Henry.
The remainder of the cemetery is on the slope between the road and the harbour.
The headstones have been transcribed and are available as part of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists cemetery microfiche collection. The transcripts cover the years 1894 – 1986.
The surnames listed on headstones at the time of the transcripts are: