South Canterbury Notable People & Links 

Pearce crashed onto the overgrown gorse fence row that one grew along the fence line, out of the photo, directly left.

"The Wrights were clearly the first to achieve sustained and controlled powered flight but the question of whether or not Pearse beat them off the ground with a powered takeoff remains." 

The South Canterbury Hall of Fame

Richard PEARSE
1877 -1953  He showed courage and vision to fly.

A farmer, an inventor, a man of vision.  About March 1903 he became airborne in a high winged monoplane he designed and built himself. It is almost certain he got into the air under power before the Wrights.  The Wright brothers were the first to achieve sustained and controlled flight but did Richard Pearse beat them off the ground as early as March 1903?  Neither party was aware of each others work.  Born 3 Dec.1877 at Waitohi Flat, the fourth child of Digory Sargent Pearse and Sarah Anne nee Brown  His parents were married by Rev. Geo. Barclay 16 Jan. 1871, at Timaru, He was the elder brother of Warne, Ruth and Florence. Digory was b. in Cornwall and had arrived in Lyttelton via Adelaide in 1865.  Purchased in 1865, Trewarlet Farm, Waitohi Flat.  Richard died 29 July 1953 age 75 years & 8 months in Christchurch.  Sarah Anne Brown bc.1850 in Co. Derry, Ireland, and died 11 Aug. 1937 in Landue, Lezant, Launceston, Cornwall. She married Digory Sargent Pearse on 16 Jan 1871 in Timaru, New Zealand, son of William Thomas Pearse and Charlotte Mary Sargent.

Children of Digory Sargent Pearse and Sarah Anne Brown are:
i. Thomas Sargent Pearse, b. Abt. 1870, Waitohi Flat, Temuka, d. date unknown, Unknown.
ii. Charlotte Anne Pearse, b. Abt. 1873, Waitohi Flat, d. date unknown. aka Annie. Married William Smart. Child Gladys Smart.
iii. John Brown Pearse, b. Abt. 1875, Waitohi Flat, d. date unknown. aka Jack.
iv. Richard William Pearse, b. 03 Dec 1877, Waitohi Flat, d. Jul 1953, Sunnyside Hospital, Christchurch
v. Margaret May Mary Pearse, b. Abt. 1879, Waitohi Flat, d. 19 Apr 1950, Christchurch aka Maggie.
vi. Digory Warne Pearse, b. Abt. 1881, Waitohi Flat, d. 1968, NZ
vii. Florence Sarah Pearse, b. Abt. 1888, Waitohi Flat, d. Abt. 1976, Auckland aka Florrie
viii. Reginald Pearse, b. Abt. 1891, Waitohi Flat
ix. Ruth Beatrice Pearse, b. Abt. 1894, Waitohi Flat m. Ronald Gilpin.

Temuka Leader 19 March 1932 Page 2 Mr Digory S. PEARSE
News of the passing of an old identity and a well-known personality of the Temuka district, in Mr Digory Sargent Pearse, was received with considerable regret throughout the district on Thursday. Deceased was an exceptionally active man, even in later years, and his cheery personality and friendly disposition had brought him many friends in all parts of South Canterbury. A native of South Petherwin, a village in Cornwall, England, the late Mr Pearse was born in 1844 and educated at the Priory House Academy, Launceston, Cornwall. Leaving school, he remained for some years farming with his father, but when 23 years of age, left England for Australia in the ship 'Murray.' In Australia Mr Pearse spent about seven months farming with his uncle, Mr A. Sargent, at Kapuda, near Adelaide, leaving then to come to New Zealand. Arriving at Lyttelton in 1865, Mr Pearse spent a short time with his aunt, Mrs Parrish, at Christchurch, and then took a position as ploughman for the into Mr John Brooks, at Bankside. After staying seven months in the position, he came to South Canterbury, and purchased a farm of 150 acres at Waitohi. After paying for the land he re-joined his uncle, and look a position harvesting with Messrs Fred. Murray and William McCallum, who were in partnership. When the harvest of 300 acres was finished, the deceased look to horse-dealing, which occupation proved quite profitable to him. Twelve mouths later he came to his farm at Waitohi, making the journey with a horse and dray. Commencing farming with a small sod hut of one room, after two years Mr Pearse built a more solid structure of Kakahu stone. He was married later to Miss Sarah Brown, of County Derry, Ireland, by the Rev. G. Barclay, at Timaru. The deceased gradually increased his holding to 795 acres, and after farming this successfully, retired some years ago to live at his late residence at Epworth. The deceased is survived by Mrs Pearse, who is now over 80 years' of age, and a family of nine-five sons and four daughters. Four of the sons Jack, Dick, Warne and Reg  are successful farmers, and the first son, Tom, is a doctor practising in Sydney. The daughters are Mrs W. C. Smart (Otaio), Mrs Charles Galt (Christchurch), and Misses F. and R. Pearse (Temuka).

Timaru Herald Online 08/07/2013 Pearse's Plane
Those interested in a true, properly researched account could do worse than refer to Errol W Martyn's chapter eight of Volume  One of A Passion For Flight, published in 2012.
(a) Pearse stated in 1909 that he did not do anything practical about his aeroplane until 1904. He repeated as much in 1915, 1928 and 1943 - so no celebration possible of a 1903 flight attempt by Pearse.
(b) It is a common error to assume drawings in Pearse's 1906-1907 patent represent a ''plan'', but these, as in most patents of the time, simply represent a concept, which in Pearse's case changed somewhat over the ensuing years, leading up to November 1909 when he finally got around to making his first flight attempt. No original plans, drawings or photographs of the aeroplane Pearse first built are known to have survived.
(c) The wing fabric on the Mudrovcich machine is attached to the top of the wing, whereas Pearse attached his fabric to the wing's under-surface. There was no top covering.

The South Canterbury Microlight Clubs holds the annual Richard Pearse Memorial fly in at Waitohi in March over a weekend with Saturday designed to highlight the versatility of the aircraft and Sunday for cross country flying.  Suggested reading: The Riddle of Richard Pearse or Moonshine Country both by Gordon Ogilvie. Another website

There is a plaque at the Timaru airport and the Richard Pearse Memorial with a replica of his monoplane is in the Upper Waitohi district, near Pleasant Point on the Main Waitohi Road, overlooking the field were he crashed. Map. The Timaru Airport was opened 9 April 1932. Timaru's airport "Richard Pearse Airport" at Levels is named after this farmer from Waitohi, the first British citizen to fly.  The South Canterbury Aviation Heritage Centre is planned for the airport in a few years.  Centennial

  Richard William Pearse
New Zealand's Pioneer Aviator
This monument commemorates the first
powered flight to be made by a British
citizen in a heavier than air machine.
Most evidence indicates this flight
took place on 31st March 1903 and
ended by crashing on this site.

Pearse wrote two letters to newspapers.
Dunedin's Evening Star  May 10, 1915
"Pre-eminence will undoubtedly be given to the Wright brothers of America when the history of the aeroplane is written, as they were the first to actually make successful flights with a motor-driven aeroplane."

Christchurch Star Sept. 15, 1928 
"My aeroplane was of enormous size, having 700 square feet of wing area, and it was extremely light, being made mainly of bamboo, and weighed, with a man on board, under 700lb, so each square foot of wing area had to support 1lb. At the trials it would start to rise off the ground when a speed of 20mph was attained. This speed was not sufficient to work the rudders, so on account of its huge size and low speed, it was uncontrollable, and would spin round broadside on directly it left the ground. So I never flew with my first experimental plane, but no one else did with their first for that matter. But with my 60 horse-power motor, which proved very reliable, I had successful aerial navigation within my grasp, if I had had the patience to design a small plane that would be manageable. But I decided to give up the struggle, as it was useless to try to compete with men who had factories at their backs."

Rodliffe, Geoffrey (1993). Wings over Waitohi, Auckland. 1993 116 pages illustrated. Background and technical information

Ogilvie, Gordon (1994). The Riddle of Richard Pearse, Revised edition, published by Reed Publishing, Auckland. First published 1973.

Rodliffe, Geoffrey. Flight Over Waitohi. The book has been designed to be a semi-technical book for school classes studying the history of flight, and is based on many years of research by Mr Rodliffe into the story of Richard Pearse (1877 - 1953). F
oreword by Dr Darrol Stinton. Sketches and drawings by Philip Heath. Paperback book, size 21 cm x 19 cm. 32 pages. Published 1997.  32 pages illustrated for school use.

1 April 2003 
Aviation pioneer waits in the wings. New Zealander took off before Wright brothers 
The Wright Brothers get all the credit, but a little known New Zealand farmer and self-taught aviation pioneer deserves some recognition, too, his supporters say. On March 31, 1903, Richard Pearse flew his bamboo monoplane over the lush pastures of his farm before crashing unceremoniously onto a hedge, family members and other witnesses said. 

It was his first successful flight and came months before Orville Wright took to the air in the Wright Flyer over the North Carolina dunes near Kitty Hawk on Dec. 17 that year -- a flight that landed Orville and his brother Wilbur in the history books. The reason was the nature of the Wrights' flight. While several others are thought to have gotten machines off the ground first, the Wrights won acclaim because theirs was the ''first powered, sustained, and controlled flight by an airplane,'' said Dick Knapinski, spokesman for the Experimental Aircraft Association in Oshkosh, Wis. 

Pearse himself conceded the honor to the Wrights, agreeing that none of his flights were fully controlled -- most ended in the hedges around his farm that grew high because he was too busy working on his plane to trim them. A self-taught aviator and inventor, ''Bamboo'' Pearse, who also built a bicycle out of bamboo, got his plane into the air at least five times before the Wrights did, his supporters say. 

The New Zealand division of the Royal Aeronautical Society has nominated him for the First Flight Hall of Fame at Kitty Hawk, but says that with only one inductee a year, the earliest Pearse may be considered is 2005. ''He should be in there,'' said the society's local vice president, Hugh McCarroll. ''It will be appropriate recognition of his amazing work.'' Although there is little physical evidence authenticating Pearce's flights, some of the plane's parts have survived and his devotees insist there is no doubt he took to the air before the Wrights. 

At least 20 family members and other residents of the tiny rural settlement of Waitohi, near Timaru, reported witnessing the first flight of the aircraft, which was powered by an engine Pearce crafted on his forge.  A nephew, Richard Pearse, 83, said his father, Warne, told of being among those present for that March 31 flight and for other flights. ''My father used to help him, spinning the propeller to start the engine.'' A local photographer reportedly took a picture of the plane stuck atop a hedge, but the photo was lost in a flood years later, said Jack Melhopt, chairman of the Timaru Aviation Heritage Centre. People told of watching Pearse's plane skim over paddocks, and in one case land in a dry riverbed, the overhead engine frightening a horse. 

Amos Martin, a farm worker, recorded a flight on May 2, 1903. ''It taxied 50 yards, rose 10 to 15 feet, flew 50 yards, then crashed into a hedge,'' he wrote in a letter. ''I got on my bike and hightailed off.'' Treated as a crank by many of his neighbors and even some in his family, Pearse ended up in a psychiatric hospital, where he died, unsung and alone, on July 29, 1953, at age 75. ''Pearse was very much a recluse. He was laughed at by the locals. They called him `Mad Dick' and `Bamboo Pearse,' '' said the Timaru aviation centre's secretary, Graham McCleary. 

A lucky find of rusted parts from one of Pearce's homemade engines and a propeller in an old rubbish heap has given his pioneer work new life. Three replica engines and two planes based on his earliest designs were built to mark the centennial of his first flight. Working virtually alone, Pearse designed and built his light-bodied plane with rigid wings, ailerons, flaps, and rudder, all of which were ''movable from one control column by the pilot,'' said Geoff Rodliffe, a historian who wrote a book about Pearse. Pearce's nephew said he had a firm objective with the early flights: flying the nine miles to the town of Temuka for shopping. ''But I can see that once he was in the air he had a few problems controlling it, so he didn't make the trip to Temuka and back as he intended,'' Richard Pearce said.

Evening Post, 26 February 1902, Page 1 Colonial Inventions
Applications for letters patent, with provisional specifications, have been accepted as under: Richard W. Pearse, Upper Waitohi, farmer, improvements in and connected with bicycles.

11 October 2005 Timaru Herald

South Canterbury has secured the extensive archives of Richard Pearse researcher, Christchurch author Gordon Ogilvie. Central South Island Tourism has negotiated with Mr Ogilvie for the 23 boxes of material he has collected since the 1960s. The South Canterbury Museum has a high enough level of professionalism and quality control that they can be housed here." Mr Brownie said $12,000 had been agreed on as a fair recompense of Mr Ogilvie's expenses in gathering the materials in the archives, and applications were being made to various funding bodies to raise that money. "This price is substantially below what Mr Ogilvie could have gained elsewhere, so he's made a major financial sacrifice." Mr Brownie said the archives would be given to the South Canterbury Museum, and would be fully accessible for research purposes and any further archives acquired by Mr Ogilvie would be added to the collection. South Canterbury Museum director Philip Howe said Mr Ogilvie had previously lodged in the museum some engine cylinder remains and one or two other pieces relating to Pearse's agricultural experiments, discovered during excavations at Waitohi and Milton. "This acquisition is incredibly significant from our point of view. Gordon Ogilvie has completed the most authoritative collection of printed and written material related to Pearse in the course of research for writing his book (The Riddle of Richard Pearse). "We're delighted that it's coming back to South Canterbury and that it will be available to local people for research and to visiting researchers." Mr Howe said the museum's acquisitions budget of $1500 a year meant it was not in a position to compete with other facilities boasting larger chequebooks, so he was delighted Central South Island Tourism had led the charge. Mr Ogilvie said he had wanted the archive to remain in South Canterbury. "This was always destined to stay in South Canterbury, as long as South Canterbury was in a position to take it. I think the main issue to me was that the archives stay in Richard Pearse's own part of the world. "Almost everything connected with Richard Pearse up to this point has gone up to Auckland, to Motat." Mr Ogilvie said he was keen to see the South Canterbury Museum become a national research place for Richard Pearse. Mr Ogilvie said there remained one Richard Pearse mystery, the location of the rubbish dump around Milton where Pearse's first plane was taken. 

Evening Post, 26 February 1902, Page 1
COLONIAL INVENTIONS. Applications for -letters patent, with provisional specifications, have been accepted as under: Richard W. Pearse, Upper Waitohi, farmer, improvements in and connected with bicycles.

Article   Utility plane
Flight over Waitohi / by Geoffrey Rodliffe. Rodliffe, C. Geoffrey Auckland : Geoffrey C. Rodliffe, 1997.
Wings over Waitohi - the story of Richard Pearse / C.G. Rodliffe. Rodliffe, C.G. Auckland : Avon, 1993.

The Daily Mail (London, England) (July 3, 2006): p55.
Born on December 3, 1877, at Waitohi Flat, Temuka, South Island, to Digory Pearse, an English immigrant from Cornwall, and Sarah Brown, from Ireland, Richard William Pearse was the fourth of nine children. From an early age, he developed an interest in mechanics and by the time he'd finished his primary education his tinkering had blossomed into several inventions. These included a mechanical needle threader for his mother, a zoetrope that produced moving images by flicking through a series of stills for his sisters, and a small steam engine made from a golden syrup tin full of water. For his 21st birthday, his father gave him a farm at Waitohi, but Richard showed little interest in farming and used his farmhouse as a workshop, building aircraft and their engines from parts salvaged from agricultural machinery, supplemented by bamboo and wood. His first aircraft, a high wing monoplane with a 25ft span, was built over several years and flight-tested in 1902. Its homebuilt, two- cylinder, 24 horsepower engine weighed less than 5lb per horsepower. The structurally strong body of the craft was built from bamboo rods, supported on a tricycle undercarriage constructed from tubular steel. Cables stretched from posts at the front and rear to the wing tips, with wire bracing from the undercarriage outboard of the wheels to the wings. Strong evidence suggests that with this machine Pearse may have achieved a powered but - crucially - uncontrolled flight of several hundred metres on March 31, 1902. To attain fully-controlled flight, a pilot would have to be able to get his plane into the air, fly it on a chosen course and land it at a predetermined destination. Pearse's short 'hops' or 'flights' established the fact that he could become airborne but didn't come within this category. Neither, for that matter, did the first powered flights of the Wright brothers in December 1903. The Wright brothers, however, had the resources to continue until they achieved fully controlled flight. Pearse's achievements remained virtually unknown beyond the few who witnessed them and had no impact on his contemporary aviation designers. Little recorded information is available concerning Pearse's early flights and but for the discovery of a strange mock-up aeroplane and its extraordinary engine at his farmhouse, it's likely that his achievement would have remained hidden.  This aeroplane and some written material were collected and presented to the Museum of Transport & Technology in Auckland, where the plane is exhibited.

Pearse link lost
Tracy Miles - South Canterbury Herald 17/08/2011 End of an era: Richard Pearse's great-nephew, also called Richard Pearse, right, died in Timaru last month.
South Canterbury lost the last close link to aviator Richard Pearse following the death of his nephew, also called Richard Pearse, last month. Mr Pearse, who died aged 92, was 34 years old when his now-famous uncle died and had spent time with him over the years at the family home at Manse Bridge, Temuka, where the aviator in later years living in Christchurch would visit for Sunday dinners to catch up with family. The South Canterbury Herald visited his son Jeffrey, who, with wife Patricia, lives in the house the aviator and inventor grew up in, on Pearse Rd at Waitohi and talked about the family's links with the world's earliest days of flying and the later controversy Richard Pearse's 1903 flight engendered. According to witness statements, Richard Pearse flew and landed a powered heavier-than-air machine on March 31, 1903, about nine months before the Wright brothers flew their aircraft. Since the 1960s there has been controversy around the Pearse story, with claims that the design of his plane meant he could not have flown. For the family, being on the inside, statements by what Jeffrey Pearse calls "experts, in inverted commas" that his great uncle did not fly, have been hurtful. He said his father was a reserved man and did not talk much about the aviation achievements of his forebear. "Dad's sister Margaret, she was less reserved than my father and she always was a strong advocate he flew not publicly at all, but to us younger generation. I can clearly remember her saying, `Richard flew.' She was very proud of that. "As I say, my father was far more conservative and quiet in nature but if push came to shove he would always say that he did fly as well." Jeffrey Pearse's grandfather, Warne Pearse, was a key witness to the early flights. Warne, the brother of the aviator, and the closest of the family to him, was there "from time to time" at Richard's neighbouring block of land, helping him start his aeroplane invention and get it airborne, "and so forth". Warne was one of the key witnesses featured in later research into his brother's flight. It was well documented in newspapers of the day that he was highly regarded as a most honest sportsman, and tennis player, his grandson said. "For critics of Richard Pearse to claim that the story was a load of nonsense and that he could not have flown, really that did question the credibility of some of the witnesses, for example, Warne Pearse, and that did hurt my father," he said. Jeffrey said there has never been a statement from the family that he flew before the Wright Brothers. What mattered to them was the controversy over whether he had actually flown. "Certainly he was airborne in a heavier than air machine and was able to achieve short flights." Research by his biographer Gordon Ogilvie found that after considerable taxiing on his farm paddocks, Pearse made his first public flight attempt down Main Waitohi Rd adjacent to his farm. After a short distance aloft, perhaps 50 yards (45 metres), he crashed on top of his own gorse fence. (NZ History Online). "No details were recorded, by Pearse or onlookers, of this tentative flight." In two letters, published in 1915 and 1928, the inventor writes of February or March 1904 as the time when he set out to solve the problem of aerial navigation.
He also states that he did not achieve proper flight and did not beat the American brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright who flew on December 17, 1903. "However, a great deal of eyewitness testimony, able to be dated circumstantially, suggests that March 31, 1903 was the likely date of this first flight attempt," according to NZ History Online. His attempts at flying were witnessed not only by Warne, but by local farmers and pupils of Upper Waitohi School who would see him flying on their way to or from school, Jeffrey said.
The controversy over whether he flew did not arise until the 1960s, after the aviator's death. Gordon Ogilvie bore the brunt of it as the researcher and argued the claims on behalf of the family. While the flights or lack of them were debated it was forgotten there were real people involved, Jeffrey said. "Twenty-two witnesses from right throughout the country all having some account of Richard Pearse and his flights all interviewed independently so no collusion. So it's a fairly weighty lot of evidence. "There were errors in times and dates and varying degrees of the distance he flew but they were all adamant he was airborne."
But for the family it was never in question, because of Warne's close association with his brother, and his upstanding character.
Pearse's plane lacked an aerofoil section on the wing, a necessary element of flight. The wings worked more like kites, but according to Timaru man Jack Mehlhopt who helped build a replica of the Pearse's first plane, with the fabric covering the bamboo structure not stretched tightly, the ballooning affect in flight would have acted like an aerofoil. "It's all about the angle of attack," another local Pearse enthusiast Paul Marshall said. "I don't think there was ever any commercial purpose. But what was absolutely categoric was his vision for flight in the early 1900s history has shown 100 years later how absolutely correct his vision was," Jeffrey said.
Aerilons (the small flap on the outside of the wing), the propeller in front of the plane, single wings all have been adopted as the norm. "If he'd had a world patent on aerilons all would have been well," he said. It was not his last aviation invention. He created an autogyro in his garage in Christchurch which was designed to be an everyday utility plane, to be driven down the road, and to take off vertically. This plane was found by aviation pioneer and early Richard Pearse researcher, George Bolt, who took it back to Auckland. A newspaper article alerted Pearse's sisters Ruth and Florrie, and they made contact with Mr Bolt, telling them the history of its inventor, and that he flew before the Wright Brothers. That sparked off Mr Bolt's interest. "He came down to South Canterbury [in 1958] on the suggestion of the aunts and started digging around. When he found pieces of the original plane, he started to interview witnesses," Jeffrey said. In later years, his uncle, who never married, would worry, on visits to the family at Temuka, that others were stealing his ideas. He died in Sunnyside, in 1953, but Jeffrey said at that time the hospital was also a home for the elderly. "It wasn't necessarily a loony place but he was no doubt very eccentric." Jeffrey cannot pinpoint any point in time when he was told about his famous great uncle the story was just there in the background of family life that he had been airborne and that he was incredibly clever as an engineer. The harshest criticism against the flight came from within New Zealand, he said. The most generous support came from overseas with the aviation publishers Jane's, recognising his contribution to aviation. There has still not been official New Zealand government recognition of his achievements, although he has appeared on a coin. "I think it's probably in the too hard basket because there are still `experts' that will deny his achievements." These experts are aviation people with high qualifications but who are very distant from the real story, he said. His father, Richard Pearse, died suddenly in Glenwood Home, Timaru, in early July, the same home where Warne died in 1967. His passing marked the end of those with the closest association to the man who may well have been the first to fly a plane.

Timaru Courier July 1st 2010 pg 7
Pearse's feats not recognised in lifetime
LITTLE interest was taken in Richard Pearse until 1958, five years after he died.
Only then did recognition come the way of the locally born aviator whose early flights may possibly have predated the historic flights of Orville and Wilbur Wright on December 17, 1903. After leaving school, Pearse worked on the family farm at Waitohi until the age of 21. He probably started his experiments late in 1899, in 1900 or early in 1901. He had no machinery, no one to bounce ideas off, and no financial backing. First, he designed a monoplane and successfully tested a model of it. Then he built himself a lathe, a forge and a flimsy shelter to house the plane while it was being built. The hardest job was to build a motor light enough to make flight possible. No such motor was available and car engines were far too heavy, so Pearse had to make his own. He began with a single cylinder but had to add a second, made from four inch steel irrigation piping. Other parts, such as pistons and crankshaft, which he could not make, were made in Timaru. The motor was attached to a tubular steel frame that rested on a homemade tricycle carriage with air filled tyres. The front wheel was steerable. Pearse sat on a sort of saddle that he could slide forwards or backwards to adjust the plane's centre of gravity. He also hoped the movement of the seat might absorb some of the impact if the plane crashed. The rectangular wing had a bamboo framework and the whole surface was covered with canvas. The propeller was wooden, about eight feet long (2.4m) and beautifully finished. After 18 months work mostly on Sundays and some trial runs on his farm, Pearse took his monoplane out on to the road for its first serious trial. His younger brother, Warne, the only other person present, dated the event at about June 1901. Unfortunately, the motor was underpowered and could not lift the combined weight of man and aircraft off the ground. Pearse then built a more powerful motor. The result was a two cylinder engine of about 15 horsepower. He was very proud of this, believing it to be the lightest engine in the world for its power. He changed the propeller to an iron one, with metal blades cut from sheep dip drums. The machine was then hauled by horses to the main road and parked facing Temuka. The road was little more than rough grass and shingle with gorse hedges on each side. The hedge on the left was about 10 or 12 feet high. A few spectators helped push the plane after Pearse had spun the propeller. Mine was the last push, and off she went. There was no silencer, what a breeze! As he whizzed past me, my hat flew in the air, Warne Pearse later said. The plane taxied some distance then rose slowly and noisily into the air, at an estimated speed of 20mph. It then veered to the left after a 100 -150 yards and landed on top of a high hedge. Pearse was taken to Temuka for medical treatment, in a slightly dazed condition. Everyone agrees the date of the flight was March 31, but memories differ over the year. Many say it was 1903, and some are sure it was 1902. Nearly all those who witnessed the flight are sure it was before any news of the Wrights flight reached them. Pearse made no claim to being the first to fly, even saying the Americans, the Wright brothers, were the first to achieve extended and controlled flight. But who is to definecontrolled? All Pearse wished to take credit for was being the first to use ailerons, a pneumatic tyred tricycle under carriage, nose wheel steering, and direct transmission to the propeller. One of his neighbours, John Casey, later made a sworn declaration to the Geraldine County Council, in 1967, that in about March 1903 Pearse flew twice around the perimeter of his farm before landing again on top of a hedge. About 30 people witnessed the flight. In 1902, Pearse patented a new style of bamboo framed bicycle whose pedals moved up and down instead of moving in a circle, and he equipped this bike with four speed gears. He also invented two sound recording devices. One was a type of gramophone on which he could record music and play it back loudly enough to be audible a quarter of a mile away. His last effort was to build a multi purpose vertical take off craft, which could act as a plane, helicopter or road vehicle, thinking it might be useful in anti submarine warfare.
He died in Christchurch in 1953, aged 74 unknown, unrecognised and friendless.
Innovator: A formal studio portrait of a young Richard Pearse in 1902. Regardless of the uncertainty over the date of his first brief flight and the debate over what constitutes controlled flight, his ideas about ailerons, under-carriages and engine design were revolutionary. Sadly, Pearse's achievements went unrecognised in his lifetime.

March 12 2004. Jim Anderton
We pride ourselves on an attitude of believing we can tackle anything - "we can do that". We are far from the rest of the world and comparatively few in number. Although that has its disadvantages some times, it has some special advantages as well. Lord Rutherford, said, "we in New Zealand don't have much money, so we have to think." New Zealanders like to try things out. We have had to learn a skill of being resourceful. We are culturally innovators. We are also incredibly creative.

Dick ARNST (1883- 1953) cycling. buried at Timaru. brother

Sir Douglas Copland KBE, C.M.G. 1894-1971

Douglas Berry Copland was born on 24 February 1894 at Otaio, between Timaru and Waimate in the Canterbury Plains of the South Island, New Zealand. He was the thirteenth of sixteen children born to Alexander and Annie Morton, nee Loudon, both Scottish-born Presbyterians. Copland. They  were pioneer farmers who grew wheat, raised sheep and bred horses. From 1899 to 1906 he attended Esk Valley Primary School and spent the next six years at the Waimate District High School.  Upon graduation, Copland tried to enlist in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, and subsequently in the reserve, but was rejected as medically unfit because of a lesion in the heart valve. Greatly unsettled, he spent the summer of 1915-16 as a compiler at the Census and Statistics Office in Wellington before becoming a mathematics master (1916-17) at Christchurch Boys' High School and a graduate research assistant in economics (1917) at Canterbury College. In addition, in 1915-17 he lectured in economics for the Workers' Educational Association, both in Wellington and at Christchurch. By the time he left New Zealand in 1917 he studied teaching at the Christchurch Teachers' College, and gained Bachelor of Arts 1915, and Master of Arts degrees at Canterbury College. MA 1916 1st class Hons. in economics. In addition, he tutored for the Workers' Educational Association and worked as a Compiler in the Census and Statistics Office of the Department of Internal Affairs. Copland's love of teaching and fascination with economics stems from these years - in particular from his work on his father's wheat farm and the research for his M.A. thesis, 'The progress and importance of wheat production in New Zealand'. From 1917 Copland pioneered the development of the economics profession in Australia. Was professor at the University of Tasmanian from 1920 - 1924 and professor of commerce at the Melbourne University for 15 years. He began his work as a Government adviser in 1931. He was knighted in 1933. 1946 First vice chancellor of the Australian National University in Canberra. High Commissioner for Australia in Canada (1953 to 1956). Sir Douglas Copland was elected president of the UN Economic and Social Council March 29 1955. Became principal of the Australian Administrative Staff College in Melbourne when it was founded in 1956. He retired in 1959 but continued to write on economic matters. speech Died at age 77 from pneumonia, Sept. 27 1971.

He was the organiser of the programme that took Australia out of the depression.

He lost a brother in WWI.
Rank: Rifleman,  New Zealand Rifle Brigade, 2nd Bn. 3rd.  Service No: 24/1254
Age: 21  Date of Death: 19/09/1916
Son of Alexander and Annie Morton Copland, of "Rosslyn," King St., Timaru, New Zealand.
Grave/Memorial Reference: I. A. 6. Quarry Cemetery, Montauban

Timaru Herald April 1993 DEATH:
COPLAND. On April 9th, at Brookfield Street, St Andrews, George, infant son of Alexander and Annie Morton Copland, aged 6 weeks.

Ann Brebner nee Don

Timaru-born woman Ann Brebner, spent her life working in the theatre and movie world of California, died on Friday January 13, 2017, aged 93 years, at her home in San Rafael, Calif., the Marin Independent Journal reported Jan. 14, 2017. Ann attended Craighead Diocesan School and Otago University where she graduated with a BA in psychology. She had churned words out from the time she was 6. She would finish a play on a Sunday afternoon and perform it that evening for her best friend and their parents. "With all the courage that young children have, it was just something I knew I could do," she recalls. Ann trained as a director at the Old Vic Theatre School, London, 1951 1952 where she met fellow student John Philip Brebner. The couple married in Auckland on May 21, 1953 and moved to the Marin County, north of San Francisco in California where they founded the Marin Shakespeare Festival. Ann died after a lifetime in film and theatre as stage director and writer. She had a very rare mix of elegant and earthy, a wonderful capacity for silliness and laughter. Jean Ann Don was the daughter of John Hallam and Jean Ann McBey (Robertson) Don. John Brebner was born b. 23 Aug. 1907 in Prescott, Grenville Co., ON, Canada and died in 2013.
    John Hallam Don was a dentist in Timaru. He died 31st July 1953 at the age of 65 and is buried in Timaru along with his wife. His wife died August 1923. Ann was raised by her single father after her mother died in childbirth. His will was made 10th Dec. 1929. His aunt was Emily Mary Herd. His sister was Helen Phyllis Telford who married William Borthwick Telford in 1923. At age 90 Ann said Do what's in your heart, not what your head thinks you should do. Ann received her acceptance letter for the Old Vic in London and to medical school on the same day. She chose the Old Vic, disappointing her father. The only colours she wore was black and white, because it relieves her of having to decide what to put on in the morning. "Now I can forget my own appearance and focus on what is going on around me."

"Bob" Ruby Robert FITZSIMMONS  1862-1917

William HALL-JONES Liberal Prime Minister 21 June 1906 - 6 August 1906.

Mary Margaret Kelly b. 15 Sept. 1886 at Timaru. Third of eight children of Irish-born parents Jeremiah Kelly, labourer, and his wife Deborah, nee O'Connor.

Jack Lovelock 1910-1949

Sir Robert Reynolds Macintosh 1897-1989

James McKENZIE  1820 -1858  

Heroes get remembered but legends never die!

Mckenzie, born in Ross-Shire Scotland had emigrated to Australia and drifted like so many others of his class to NZ.  He fancied that the difference between the price for sheep on the Rhodes' run and the value of them in the Mataura district of Otago would afford good remuneration for him.  New Zealand's most famous sheep stealer had a sturdy bullock that carried his sack of oatmeal, his horn of whiskey, and other stores.  Mackenzie County and Pass are named after him even though it is spelt differently. His faithful collie dog Friday drove approximately one thousand sheep towards Burkes Pass in 1855 from Levels Station. McKenzie was apprehended at the Mackenzie Pass by J.H.C. Sidebottom an overseer for the Rhodes Brothers at Levels Station. Friday lived the rest of his years at Levels Station.  Details of the Mckenzie story, Son of the Mist, can be found in O.A. Gillespie's book South Canterbury A Record of Settlement.

Beattie, Herries (1881-1972) Mackenzie of the Mackenzie Country : pioneer, explorer, sheeplifter : story of a remarkable man Dunedin, NZ: Otago Daily Times and Witness Newspapers Ltd, 1946 113pp, blue soft covered. Index. Illustrated
1. A Discursive Chapter Introducing the Subject
2. The Mackenzie Country
3. Scotland and Australiasia
4. Mackenzie Comes to New Zealand
5. Some early Accounts
6. Some Later Accounts
7. Mackenzie's Shadowy Movements
8. Further Elusive Wanderings
9. Mackenzie in the South
10. Personal Appearance and Characteristics
11. Bullocks, Dogs and Sheep
12. Acts. Accomplices and Ambitions
13. Taken in the Act
14. Where was Mackenzie Captured?
15. The Maoris Assistants at The Level
16 Mackenzie is Officially Arrested
17. Events After the Arrest
18. Various Escapes From Jail
19. Mackenzie in Prison
20. Summing-up and Summary
A. Scenery of the Mackenzie Country
B. The Beckoning Road-Timaru to Mt. Cook
C. Nature in the Mackenzie Country
D. Sheep Stations in Mackenzie
E. The Maoris in Mackenzie
F. The Hermitage
G. Acknowledgments

Samuel Butler wrote in 1860  "He is a man of great physical strength, and no uncommon character; many stories are told about him, and his fame will be lasting.  He was taken and escaped more than once, and finally was pardoned by the Governor, on condition of his leaving New Zealand. His boldness and his skill had won him sympathy and admiration, so that I believe the pardon was rather a popular act than otherwise".


A man ahead of his time. May 5th, 2008 - New Zealand's Colin Murdoch, inventor of the disposable syringe, which has potentially saved millions of lives over the last half century by stopping cross infection, has died. He was 79. Murdoch died in his home town Timaru after a long battle with cancer, his family said Monday. As a pharmaceutical and veterinary chemist, he patented 46 inventions including the tranquillizer dart gun for big game animals, the childproof bottle cap and the silent burglar alarm, as well as the disposable syringe, the Timaru Herald reported. In 2014 a tranquiliser gun invented in the 1970s by Colin Murdoch was donated to the South Canterbury Museum along with two tranquilliser guns made in Timaru by Pax Arms about 1980. A pen donated in August 2018. "Patents give you the right to sue, they don't give you the money to sue," he told his hometown paper, the Timaru Herald, in 1995. Clever Kiwis stamp.

RHODES Brothers  Their 1856 timber, thatched roof cottage still stands at Levels Station, near Timaru.

stafford2.gif (25335 bytes)Sir Edward William STAFFORD 1820-1901

Represented Timaru from 1869 to 1877 at the General Assembly.  Stafford St. the main street in Timaru was named in his honour.  He had arrived in New Zealand on the 'Aurora' the first emigrant vessel into Port Nicholson, now Wellington, 22 January 1840. Reference: White Wings Vol. II  by Sir Henry Brett

Death: April 18 1857 at Auckland, Emily, wife of Edward W. STAFFORD, Esq., of Mayne, County Louth, Colonial Secretary of New Zealand, died aged 29. There were no children of this marriage. On 5 December 1859 Stafford married Mary Bartley at Auckland. They were to have three daughters and three sons. Mary Stafford died in 1899.

Three times Premier of New Zealand and twice Superintendent of the Province of Nelson (Nelson's first Superintendent), was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1820 and reached New Zealand soon after the Wairau affray of 1843. At 37 he became New Zealand's first and youngest-ever Prime Minister, holding office from 1856-1861, 1865-1869 and in 1872. In 1846 he married [Emily Charlotte Sidney Wakefield, niece of E.G. Wakefield] the daughter of Colonel [William] Wakefield and was thus brought into close contact with the New Zealand Company. His high character and sterling abilities rendered him the most suitable candidate in the Province for the office of  Superintendent and he was twice chosen for the high position. The institution of a System of Education, afterwards extensively imitated in the other provinces and the establishment of Roads Boards, were among his most important achievements.  In 1856 he gave up provincial for colonial politics, and accepted the offer of Premier in New Zealand's first Government. He displayed marked political ability, and great energy in his conduct of public affairs; and in 1859 he visited England to arrange for the Panama Steam Service. On his return, in 1861, his Government was defeated, chiefly on account of it's native policy.  Mr Stafford was Premier again from 1865 to 1869 and again in 1872. Some years afterwards he went to England to spend the evening of his life in retirement in that country where he died on 1st February 1901, and was buried in Kensal Green, London. A wreath was sent by the Government of New Zealand, on behalf of the Colony with the inscription; "New Zealand to her Statesman"  Cyclopedia of New Zealand - Nelson, Marlborough, Westland 1906.
Registrar General's Marriage Index 1840
Edward Stafford: New Zealand's First Statesman by Edmund Bohan 432pp. Hazard Press.

"His vision of an independent, democratic and racially tolerant nation set him apart from almost all his contemporaries."

Timaru Herald Saturday 10th August 1867

Stafford, spare that tree,
Touch not a single bow;
In youth it shelter'd me.
And I'll protect it now.

Sir Keith Lindsay Stewart 1896-1972 b. in Timaru

Rodolph and Harry Wigley - One family on the road to tourism

South Canterbury Links

Round Hill on Richmond owned by Don Waters. 25 May 1961 the Tekapo Ski Club was officially formed. History. Bruce Scott, David Allan, Dick Wardell, Don Prouting, John Dampier Crosley and Brian Waters, then took on the massive task of discovering potential fields using such criteria as snow conditions, access, safety from avalanche dangers and, most importantly, run holder cooperation to make a final decision. Bruce recalls there were four finalists. Cass basin on Godley Peaks, Tekapo Saddle on Mt Hay, Coal Creek basin on Lillybank and Round Hill on Richmond. And the best option? Round Hill.

slideshow. search Temuka Waimate
Stafford St. 1990s
Fairlie facebook photos
81 photos from around Geraldine Feb. 2007
Timaru District plan - Geraldine 2010
South Canterbury Events

Waitaki Hydro-electric Project photograph album taken between May 1929 and February 1933.
Power station 75 years images
Four Peaks - Te Moana flickr
The roads less travelled
South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce history

1930s Photos Off Site - Burkes Pass HotelFairlie, Caroline Bay
Queen's Chain Rights Press Release
Caroline Bay Association
Brewing History
A Visit to Peel Forest
Fairlie photos

Mackenzie in winter
Black stilt or Kaki are the world's rarest wading bird, once widespread in NZ they are now essentially restricted to the Mackenzie Basin
Bicycle stamps
The Bloody Good Race Mt Cook to Sherwood Downs over the Mickleburn Saddle to the Rangitata to Arundel to Mt Hutt to New Brighton.
Clayton Station Andrew

Kurrow, Waimate, Haka cycle map more maps
Cycle - Skins Alpine - Mt Somers to Tekapo 2010   Day 3. Stage 4: Rangitata Gorge to Sherwood Hall - 80km, 2300m ascent There's a massive climb to start the day with a steep descent. Head off into the remote Phantom River region. There's a gradual 25km climb before some undulations and fast descents. The riding will be unforgiving and rough.

Flickr 2009 Timaru photos
Mt Cook St. flora

1976 Higher Trails song
Timaru - one of New Zealand's best kept secrets. 
part one - the port.
part two - Caroline Bay
part three - CBD
Events Calendar NZH article 2015
Family Histories in the South Canterbury Genealogy library.

2009: Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park in the Two Thumb Range includes 11 tracts of public land, including a large segment of Mesopotamia Station. It will be host to a number of outdoor activities, including guided walks, horse-trekking, cross-country skiing and mountain biking.  

Pass To Pub Mountain Bike Ride - A 36Km mountain bike ride from Burkes Pass (at 545m above sea level) in the Mackenzie Country through valleys, across streams do to the Albury Tavern (at 238m above sea level). It is on shingle roads, farm tracks and 100% rideable 4WD trails. A family ride that provides a challenge for all levels of rider from absolute novice to elite riders. Early March.

The Timaru Herald | Wednesday, 28 February 2007
"With settled weather predicted for the ride we think the number of riders could be right up there with last year's record of 850". "It can be used as a starter event for anyone who wants to give mountain biking a go and many family groups compete." The trail consists of farm tracks and shingle roads and runs from Burkes Pass to Albury Tavern. The ride appeals to a wide range of ages and abilities because if you ride it at a leisurely pace it is not physically demanding.  "However if you want to go flat out it does require a good level of technical skill." The race crosses 10 farms, several rivers and is mostly down hill with an altitude decrease of 200 metres. The support from the local community and run holders has been fantastic. "The event is a great fundraiser with a share of the proceeds from the event going to the Albury Home and School Association and Burkes Pass Heritage Trust". Entry forms are available at bike shops in Timaru. However late entries will be accepted on the day at the start. Registration opens at Burkes Pass from 8.30am to 10am, with the race starting at Rollesby Valley Road at 10.30am. The prize giving will be held after the last rider has finished around 3.00pm. A bus was available to take one rider per car from the finish back to Burkes Pass to collect their vehicle. The Pass to Pub is one of the oldest mountain bike events in the region and was first run in 1986. The Albury Home and School Assn will have a BBQ operating, as their fundraiser, and the Hospitality at the Albury Tavern is the best.

Queen's Chain plan to be axed
The Press | Saturday, 24 Feb. 2007

Plans for a "Queen's Chain" across New Zealand's back country are set to be dumped by the Cabinet in a major Government concession to farmers. The Press understands a consultation panel headed by South Canterbury farmer John Acland has recommended Rural Affairs Minister Damien O'Connor ditch plans to force open large tracts of the countryside to public access through legislation. Instead, the panel has recommended the Government reaffirm the private land rights of farmers and set up a travelling agency with the power to hear district access issues and negotiate solutions with farmers and the public. In return, farmers are understood to have agreed to allow walkers the right to use the large number of paper roads that criss-cross the country. Where these are unsuitable, the agency could hold talks on a land swap in return for the deletion of the paper road. Better signposting of rights-of-way and areas where the public can walk or drive are recommended. The panel's findings follow a year of public hearings and two years of controversy over plans by the Government to create a 5m-wide strip of public access, dubbed a New Zealand version of the British Queen's Chain, across private land to access publicly owned waterways and the coastline.  The proposal was announced in late 2004 but caused protests from farmers, who threatened to blockade their land and sue the Government for compensation for the removal of their property rights. "It's an acknowledgement that, overall, farmers have been very generous over the provision of access to private land. They just want the courtesy of being asked," Carter said. The panel's findings have been hailed as a victory by farmers. The attempt by Sutton to ram through legislation had caused a massive rural backlash that had made access issues worse, Mason said. Federated Farmers president Charlie Pedersen said farmers were delighted with the panel's work. While he had not seen the recommendations, he understood farmers would retain the right to say who could walk across their land.


Senior Stories Annett    Prattley - Temuka
Baker and Grant - Geraldine &Temuka
Black / Searle Timaru
Black's of Waimate and Timaru
Brown - Zealandia 1870 , Blue Jacket 1867
Cross, Preddy, Necklen and Thomas families Neville's website 
Griffin Hamilton Rae
Hamilton and Litster families of Fairlie
Hawkins, Walter - Waimate
Hoare - Kerrytown
Hobbs, William
Loomes - Fairlie Loomes
MacKay Wm & Margaret Smith m. 1902
Charles James Morris was employed by Morrison's, Geraldine between 1898 and 1903

Shaw -Geraldine Flat settler
Stanley - Temuka
Stevens - William & Mary at Orari  arrived on the "Ballockmyle"
[sic: Ballochmyle] in 1874
Taylor - Winchester. To Canterbury on the Waimate in 1875.
Growing up in South Canterbury

The Baker family from Coach Road, Orari
        - Thornycroft Farm
Winchester Woolscour
Ben Ohau

Biographical register of Christ's College, 1505-1905, and of the earlier.
By John Peile
Le Cren, Douglas Russell Jaumard: son of John Henry; born at Timaru, 12 April 1879. School: Lancing College, 1879-809; Christ's College, CHCH, 1880-7; Otago university, 1887-9; Admitted pensioner under Cartmell 29 April, 1889. B.A. 1892. medical Student at the London Hospital. Returned to NZ. Present address: Craighead, Timaru

Temple Forest photos
Real ENZ Look under Canterbury, rural.  22 Nov. 2002: Huge increase in the value of South Canterbury rural properties over the last three years with an 89% increase in land value and a 53% in capital value.

From Fairlie the Clayton Rd will take past the Sherwood Downs-Ashwick Flat War Memorial and Lake Opuha. Fox Peak ski field is located on the run 'Lilydale' on the left just before Clayton Station. (Lilydale was named in honour of Lily Anne Henrietta (Worthington) Bray who was born at Waitohi in 1883.  Her mother, a school teacher, taught Richard Pearse). Continue on over the Meikleburn Saddle, 2,200ft, and Lochaber.  Over the range. North Opuha hut

According to Robin Startup's New Zealand Post Offices (1977 edition) page 172
Sherwood Downs, in Timaru Postal District, a farming area 19km north of Fairlie, Post Office 18 December 1912 to 25 April 1917 then Telephone Office 25 May 1917 to 31 May 1930.

 If you would like to have your South Canterbury, New Zealand family history homepage linked send me an email. Additions, corrections, comments welcome!

A visit to your friends and relatives in Timaru combined with some local sightseeing may be just as psychologically rewarding as a 10-day trip to Europe. Several studies showed regular holidays were good for our health. They can help us be happier, sleep better, and stop the onset of depression. 

South CanterburyGenWeb Project