Headstone Histories

Delving into the lives behind gravestones  reveals some often touching, sometimes shocking, real-life stories. Using local records, verbal history and old newspapers, I am slowly uncovering some local headstone histories.

1886 – The Tragic Death of William Mackintosh, aged 91/2 years

1888 – Death of a church organist – Clara Hight, aged 19

The Belgrave Children
One stone bears simply the names and ages of four of the Belgrave children. What were their names and ages? And did they have any brothers and sisters?

Wattse, Watts, or what?
We try to find out more about the John W A Watts who drowned crossing the Waiau in 1862, and who was buried at Hanmer Springs Cemetery.


18 thoughts on “Headstone Histories

  1. I am looking for information on the daughter of a Maori Kaumatua, Pinana Te Atua. She was born in1815 and died 16/1/1889. She lived on the Marae at Kaiapohia before it was raised around 1831-32 by Te Rauparaha. I am trying to verify her death and find where she is laid to rest. She had a daughter, Elizabeth King, or Betsy, born 1833. her father is supposed to be a John King. Also of note is Pinana had a brother, a well known warrior- Teoti Te Wahia who escaped Te Rauparaha’s onslaught. Betsy King went further South and married John McLeod at Purakanui aged 18. I descend from these folk. I have my Whakapapa on both sides but no proof of the link between Pinana and John King who is reportedly one of the missionary Kings from the Bay of Islands. Any advice appreciated. Liz

    Posted by Liz Heenan | April 8, 2011, 9:33 am
    • Hi Liz,

      A good place to start would be the records of Births, Death, and Marriages online. https://www.bdmonline.dia.govt.nz

      You could also try searching old New Zealand newspapers using Papers Past. The collection covers the years 1839 to 1945 and includes 61 publications from all regions of New Zealand. http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast

      KiwiCelts website also has a good list of NZ family history resources: http://kiwicelts.com

      Best of luck in your search.
      Hunting Kiwis

      Posted by hleggatt | April 9, 2011, 7:35 am
      • Thanks for the suggestions. Ihave been using BDM and will look at the newspapaers. Appreciate your ideas- I am a novice at this.

        Posted by Liz Heenan | July 18, 2012, 8:20 am
    • kia ora Liz,
      I know Pinana Te Atua was a daughter of Pukukaiotea and Wahinekaia, as you wil already know.I am wondering if Pinana Te Atua lived at Purakaunui near Dunedin as there is a ‘Pinana’ in Mantell’s 1848 census where Pukukaiotea was also residing in the same settlement-nohoka.This however might have been Pinana te Auta.I will look at bit more closely when I get the chance.


      Posted by Irian Scott | February 14, 2012, 10:11 am
      • Hello Irian, just found your reply too. Yes I have tracked her down to Purakanui. She and daughter Betsy married on the same day 11/9/1854. I was told by my great Uncle Albert Beck that Elizabeth King was daughter of John King son of Missionary Jonh King from Bay of Islands who landed with Samual Marsden in 1814. Pinana being the mother. Then curiously I track Pinana and Betsy as she became known to Puruknaui. Betsy married John McLeod and Pinana married Emanauel King the same day. I have been trying to solve this mystery for years. If you have any information I would love to hear it.. It may be possible that the father is Phillip Hansen King another son so I am searching through history trying to place him at Purukanui about 1833 10 1836 as I am not certain of her birthdate.I ahve some of John King senior’s diaries which I am about to transcirbe. I see there are qute a few Te Wahia connections too and I understand there is a cemetry somewhere there which I shall come visit next year. I am taking 3 motnhs off work next year to try and solve the mysteries and collate what I have found. Please contsct me at Lizhee@xtra.co.nz


        Posted by Liz Heenan | July 18, 2012, 8:16 am
    • Hi, we too are from that line and have just found new information on this Kuia Pinana.
      Be interesting to catch up with you Liz.
      My email is jerusalemonz@gmail.co.nz
      Ana Winterburn

      Posted by Ana | June 14, 2016, 10:55 pm
  2. Great project
    Just went through most of these cemetries in the last few months looking for our own relatives. Got a few stones to erect and/or repair now, when things stop shaking! Wrt “histories”, I can supply details on a few you already have, and a few who will eventually appear. But then so can thousands of others. Are you looking to build up a comprehensive database on who all these people are and how they relate, or just collect a few particularly interesting stories?

    Posted by Grant | April 16, 2011, 4:01 am
    • Thank you, Grant. Sad to hear that you have damaged gravestones to repair, but great that you found them and will do something about it. I do worry how many are not aware of damage to family headstones, although understandably many are currently focused on repairing their own lives.

      I most definitely do want to flesh out the cemetery listings with information from families, archives, and the like, so any contributions you have are very much welcomed 🙂

      As the blog evolves I will be better able to organise the information, at the moment I’m concentrating on content and photographing as much as I can (although today’s weather isn’t playing ball!).

      Thanks again for your interest and generosity, I look forward to hearing from you, you can email me at leggatt@xtra.co.nz or moorfnz@gmail.com.


      Posted by hleggatt | April 16, 2011, 4:25 am
    • Hello Grant I just found your reply today. Yes I would be very interested to recieve any information about these people. I still dont know where Pinana Te Atua is buried (died 16/1/1889) Betsy McLeod (nee King, died 8/10/1873 at Davidsons Bush but I dont know where she is buried. I am trying to build a picture of these peoples lives. I have the basic family tree of names only. My email is Lizhee@xtra.co.nz

      Posted by Liz Heenan | July 18, 2012, 8:05 am
  3. Kia Ora Liz,
    My name is Quinn Nahi. I am a direct descendant of Pinana by way of Ross McLeod Beck who is my maternal grandfather.
    If you are still having issues with determining your connection then I may be able to help you.
    I have a whakapapa with our line back to Pukukaiaotea.
    If you are not registered with Ngai tahu then I am happy to share my line with you if you can tell me how we are connected.

    Looking forward to hearing back from you.

    Quinn Nahi.

    Posted by Quinn Nahi | December 18, 2013, 7:56 am
    • Kia Ora Quinn!!

      Thankyou so much for the contact!! Your reply is a Godsend..

      John Wheeler King had another son, who is believed to be the son of Pinana and brother of Elizabeth (Beck Mcleod).. His name is James Arthur King – who was born in Hastings and died in 1928 in Auckland.

      It won’t be until I fly back to NZ next month and visit the Auckland Library to find a book in regards to the “maori wives” of the settlers to confirm this.

      John Wheeler King was a translator at the “Maketu” trial and we believe it is around this time that Pinana fled south with Elizabeth.. Why the son was left behind still remains a mystery but having looked at the events that transpired after the execution of the then 16 year old Maketu, we can kind of piece together the reason behind Pinana’s plight.

      John Wheeler King never (re)married. He had a good history in Opotiki. If Pinana is indeed his wife and the mother of James, then your whakapapa is indeed a huge gem for us.

      God bless, Randall

      Posted by Randall Simi | February 13, 2016, 6:23 am
  4. Hi all!!

    You sure are a sight for sore eyes!! I have been searching high and wide for the “next link”..

    I have the John King info — John Wheeler King DOB 29 Sept 1816 DOD: 19 June 1895 (please note for some reason there are records of his Birth being recorded as 19 Dec 1816, but this could be his date of Christening or Baptism)

    Son of John Thomas King (1787-1854) and Hannah Hansen (1792 – 1851)

    I find that it is very ironic that I find this conversation thread on Waitangi Day!!!

    I hope you still get notifications from this thread as would love to know what you have discovered

    Thankyou so much

    ps: John Wheeler King was recorded as a Bachelor

    Posted by Randall Simi | February 6, 2016, 10:24 am
  5. Anyone replying to these comments, please include me in your email list.

    My email is: kelsallaiga@hotmail.com

    Thankyou again, Randall

    Posted by Randall Simi | February 13, 2016, 6:36 am
  6. I am also a descendant looking to fill in the gaps and would appreciate being added to any updates. When we are looking at going onto the Ngai Tahu register it asks for one of the 48 Kaumatua?

    Posted by reid225 | February 1, 2017, 3:51 am
  7. Kia Ora,
    My name is Kirsty Sutherland and i am also a descendant of Pinana Te Atua. I too am trying to piece together more information about my family history. We have a family tree (I’m not sure of it’s accuracy!) which shows John King and Pinana, and their daughter Elizabeth marrying a John McLeod. My family is descended. from this line. My family tree suggests that Pinana and her brother Teoti Te Wahia are memebers of the Nga Puhi tribe. Apart from the family tree the only other info that we have is paperwork relating to a small parcel of land that we share ownership(?) of with other members of our Iwi. None of the paperwork has any relevant information about family or history. Any further information would be very much appreciated.

    Posted by Kirsty Sutherland | February 6, 2018, 6:43 am
  8. Tena koe Kirsy,

    My maternal Grandfather Ross Mcleod Beck was the great grandson of John Mcleod and Elizabeth King. How close to this line are you?

    Also the Maori land you may have an interest in would probably relate to the Rowallan Blocks in Southland.

    Nga mihi,

    Quinn Nahi,

    Posted by Quinn Nahi | March 15, 2018, 11:16 am
  9. Kia ora Quinn,

    John and Elizabeth King’s daughter, Elizabeth, is my Great Great Great Grandmother. I would be very interested in finding out some more about our whanau if you could point me in the right direction.

    Kirsty Sutherland

    Posted by Kirsty Sutherland | March 15, 2018, 7:11 pm

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