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Petrie Family 
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William Petrie and Ann Fiddes had several children.  Among them were Robert, James, Arthur, Margaret, William and John.  

Robert was the first of the family to leave for New Zealand.  With his wife Christine and daughter Mary Anne they arrived at Port Chalmers on the 4th of May 1852 on the ship "Agra". James Petrie married Jane Robertson on November the 5th 1857 in Leybank, Scotland.  They then set sail for New Zealand on the ship "Robert Henderson".  William came out to New Zealand on the ship "Gala" which landed in Invercargill in 1860.  Robert paid for William's fare and William paid it back in instalments.  William never married. 

The Petrie story is continued after the following chapter......

The History of Berwick


These were early times for Dunedin and the surrounding areas and the going was very rough.  When they arrived in Dunedin from Port Chalmers they only had a few shilling left but Robert was able to get a few days work about town before he procured work cutting bush in the Leith Valley for a man called Duncan.  The next job he got was shepherding for Mr Alex Chalmers and stayed at a place called the  clump of trees behind Flagstaff.  He then came to Berwick Lake Waipori as it was then known, to shepherd for Henderson and Saunders on what is now known as the Terrace Range.  He stayed at a place called Kings Bush for a while until he built on his own section about 1860.  Robert was a very good handyman and was able to build for his family a very good and sturdy home, which lasted them many years.  The house was built of wattle and daub except for the front, which was done with fern trees and had thatched roofs.  They were very comfortable. Berwick had a splendid bush area and when there became a need for timber for building, fencing and firewood, this area was a big help to the district.  There was a sawmill very early on in the district and a good deal of pit sawing was carried out.  In the days before the roads the timber was rafted away.  Fences were generally post and rail type.  The abundance of game was a great help to the settlers.  Ducks, of all kinds, swamp hens, pigeons, Kakas, wood hens and wild pigs were the staple diet.  The pigs made splendid bacon.  A skill with a gun ensured the family had food on the table.  The other early settlers in the Berwick or lower Waipori area were James H Wilson, Robert Robinson and James Henderson.  Once a settler chose his piece of land he hired a surveyor to survey it for him, paid the surveyor himself and a few extra acres were thrown in as payment.  These four applicants were the original settlers on the Berwick Flat.  The land was later surveyed in blocks and sections in 1861 and other settlers quickly took up these sections.  The settlers also had the privilege of running so many of their cattle (depending on their acreage) on government land at so much per head per annum.  The local ranger John Erving would muster them up occasionally to check that all was right.  The Rev. McNicol would come over from Waihola and hold a service at Henderson's once a month for some years. The first crops were cut with a scythe and thrashed with the flail and reddled in the wind, a very slow process.  The next stage was the little horsepower mill, the hurdy gurdy and fanners to dress, which was a great improvement.  After the district produced wheat John McDonald built a small flourmill water powered and he ground the flour for the settlers.  Surplus grain was boated to Dunedin.  In the early days before roads goods came by sea and up the Taieri River to Taieri ferry in small coaster vessels where Mr Houghton had a store and boated across in small boats up to what is now Berwick Township.  The first produce out of the area went away by the same route.  The vessels were the Spec, the Pioneer, the Rainbow, the Planet, the Margaret and the Lady of the lake. Some of them went up as far as Lake Waihola and a small vessel called the Betsy Douglas also ran from Scroggs Creek (now Allanton) to the head of Lake Waihola.

The first accident on the Taieri Bar was in April 1861 when John Simpson, owner and master of the schooner Pioneer along with one of his seamen, Peter Campbell and Miss Henderson went out in a boat to round the bar.  The boat overturned and Miss Henderson was drowned.  Simpson and Campbell righted the boat and got the body into it then Campbell remained in the boat while Simpson, who was a great swimmer started to swim to shore for help but he also drowned.  The boat drifted out to sea and was picked up the next day by the SS Oberon.  The Taieri Bar has always been a dangerous bar and over the years has claimed many lives.  Most of the coastal fleet got wrecked before many years.  The Oberon at Bluff July 23rd, 1861, The Plant at Taieri bar March 21st, 1863 (no lives lost), the Lady of the lake at port Molyneux on December 29th 1875, the schooner Pioneer on the Mataura bar on February the 9th 1883, the ketch Margaret at Akaroa in January 1899.  Another small sailer the Jane Campbell was wrecked on the Taieri Bar and drifted up the river onto the mud beach at the Governor's Chimney. 

When gold was discovered it improved things greatly as there was a good demand for all produce.  Those who had strong enough teams carted to the diggings and roads were opened up thus giving access to Dunedin.  Reaping machines and steam thrashing mills took the place of the scythe and hurdy gurdy so people were able to grow more grain.  The diggings also created a demand for sawn timber and many pit sawyers worked in the bush.  As the roads to the bush were very bad the timber was usually rafted down river to the landing then into bigger rafts for the rest of the voyage.  J & W Ayson built the first sawmill, which gave the name to mill Creek.  They soon sold it to D & A Hughan who, after working it a while sold it again and it was dismantled and moved to Woodside Bush.  Royle and Thompson built the next one at the mouth of the gorge.  They cut a race across a horseshoe bend in the river to drive it.  They had not worked it for very long when the great flood of February 1868 bought the whole river down the race and took the mill clean away.  The river has run that path ever since.  The men did not rebuild, instead they packed up and moved to the west coast where they started up again over there.  There were no more sawmills in the area for a time.  When the railway was started and there was a good demand for sleepers, G M Fraser and John Lawson both from Milton, built their mills, which were both, steam powered.  Fraser did not work his long before selling it to John Brogden and Sons who had the contract to build the railway.  Fraser went to Taieri mouth and built a mill there.  Brogden sold to McKay & Nicol who again sold out Ferguson & Davies.  Davies soon pulled out and W Ferguson carried on alone until he ran out of available timber.  He sold the plant for removal.  By shifting to three different sites John Lawson kept going until 1900 and his mills were all water powered.  Railway sleepers were the main output and these were carted down to the landing and taken over to Titri and Waihola in punts.  James Deacon started punting them first then John Lawson built a large punt with sleeping accommodation aboard.  It could take 7000 ft at a load and it kept going for a good many years.

The railway started running in 1875.  A road was built from Berwick to Henley in 1877 but was only fit for light traffic for a long time so the punt carried all heavy materials for a good few years longer.  S Shaw, who supplied the Blue Spur Claim with manuka props for many years had a punt also and punted his props across the lake from McPherson's to Titri in winter time when the Henley road was impassable.  It became impossible to do anything in the boating line as the mining silted up both the Waipori River and the lake.

When the Government cut up the large runs there was a good demand for kawhai posts and strainers and as it was very plentiful in Waipori Bush there was a good trade done in that line for years.  Flax milling was also tried at an early date by McDonalds of Maungatua, Shaws of Berwick and A Shand of Boundary creek, but they had not worked at it long when the price of fibre fell so low that they had to give up.  It revived again about 1883 when J Brown started a mill and worked it for a time then he sold it to R Robinson Jnr., who worked it  until the flax was cut out.  Brown went to Southland to start in a bigger way but got killed with a scutcher before he had been at it long.  The next mill to start was T & H Williams in 1904 and then J Lothain started up about a year later.  Both worked until the flax was all cut out.

The first building in Berwick Township was the school and residence combined which was built about 1862.  The year the school started James Cameron was the first schoolmaster.  Education was at that time paid for quarterly, so much per head and 10 shillings for advanced students.  The township was not surveyed at that time but the school was built on what was thought to be the most suitable place.  When the town was surveyed and put up for sale it all sold as blocks which were fenced into small paddocks.  Henderson sold his land to J T Chaplin and came into town and built a small stone post office.  This was sold to M Starbuck who had the first hotel on Berwick.  This hotel was only run for a year and when he let the licence lapse the sign was pulled down and it became a private residence. He became a carter.  Henderson who had but a house on his township block enlarged it, obtained the licence and opened up the Royal Berwick Hotel.  Goodbody built the store but soon sold out and left the district.  T George built the Commercial Hotel and ran a coach to Outram until the railway started running.  P W Fergus was the local blacksmith for a few years before selling to Grant & McDonald.  R Meldrum started another shop but was soon closed down as there was not enough for two.  Henderson built another place, which was divided for shops with dwellings behind, but they were not a success.  Several shoemakers tried to make a living but failed.  J Trumblane, Brooks and Mitchell were all carpenters and Donald Campbell did most of the early bridge building in the district.  In 1877 T Crossan, a baker came over from Milton, built and oven  and started a bakery, general store and butchery all combined.  This was a good business, which continued for over thirty years.  Shennan and Thompson started a creamery and store combined.  They had a butter factory at Maungatua and worked it for some years then shut down and sold the store in Berwick. 

The first sports were held on New Years day in 1868 and continued yearly at Maungatua and Woodside depending on whose turn it was until 1878 when Berwick was formed into a Caledonian Society and has held sports on New Years Day ever since.  The Berwick public hall was built in 1886 and the Presbyterian Church in 1923.

The flat is good land but very liable to floods as is Taieri.  All the big floods have been in both rivers at the same time - 1868, 1877 and 1892 were all in February.  Being harvest time heavy losses were caused to the farmers.  In 1868 the north end of the Outram bridge was washed away over the Taieri River and a punt was put on until the bridge was rebuilt.  The floods in 1877 caused a heavy loss of stock to the Henley Company.  When J McKerrow surveyed the Block in September 1861 he left a reserve of 57 acres at the boat landing for the township but it was never surveyed into allotments until December 1869 by B Shanks the then district surveyor.  It was mostly laid off in quarter acre sections unless along the main road, Tweed Street.  When it was open land it was a great camping place for travelling stock.  A good few mobs of cattle went northwards in the early days and they generally camped for a day or two at the site.

John Lawson, the sawmiller was the first to attempt to harness the Waipori River for electric power with one or two others.  He secured the water rights at the falls.  Their intentions were to generate electric power but did not have sufficient water and steam was too expensive.  However the Dunedin City Corporation saw a good thing and bought them out and since then the Hydro schemes on the Waipori River have supplied Dunedin and a good-sized area of the surrounding countryside.  In the dry seasons the shortage of water bothered them but once the dam was built up to 67' the problems were solved.  Today Lake Mahinerangi covers the flat and the old Waipori Township.  After the sluicing claims were worked out the dredging booms moved in and there was a new lease of life for the area for a while. 

The Family

The Petrie Men each owned farms in the area.  James� farm was 80 acres at Maungatua and was valued at �800, Robert and Christina owned 497 acres in Berwick valued at �2,274, William, Robert�s son had 278 acres at Hindon - �417 and Alexander (Robert�s son) had 279 acres at Hindon worth �419.  William never worked his farm and lived all his life at Berwick with his sister also named Christina after their mother.  The older William (James and Robert�s brother) worked for both James and Robert on their farms as well as being a bullock wagon driver. 

There was another Petrie in the area.  His name was Alexander Petrie and he also came from Aberdeenshire.  He was a Wagon driver who became successful in the gold diggings and purchased a farm at Puerua which is just south of Balclutha.  He also owned a threshing Mill and a sawmill.  He claimed to have been the first white man to see the Maniatoto Plains when he journeyed with his bullock team, before purchasing his farm.  James, Robert and William would from time to time journey on foot down to Alexander�s threshing mill to work for him.  A relationship between these two families of Petries has not yet been proven.

James Petrie married Jane Robertson.  Jane was born in Kincardine O�Neil in Scotland in 1836, the daughter of Isaac and Mary (Diack) Robertson.  Jane�s sister Ann owned and ran a fancy goods store in Fochaber and it is believed she died there. One of Jane�s brothers went to America and became the owner of an Iron Foundry, which produced farm implements including traction engines.  The foundry was known as Robertson�s Machinery.  His daughter became the mistress of a girl�s school and on her death a memorial was erected in her memory.  At this point we do not know the town or State. 

Jane Robertson was a very kindly soul who would welcome anyone into their home, no matter who they were this to the consternation of some of their friends and relatives, who were concerned for her safety.  But it is believed kindness was in her nature and kindness watched over her.  One of James and Jane�s children, Alexander was adopted.  Apparently a �well to do� family from Dunedin had a daughter who became pregnant, so James and Jane took her to their farm and there she had the baby.  James & Jane adopted the baby boy and called him Alexander.  He was told this story when he �became of age� and told he could meet his mother and perhaps change his name to his mother�s.  However, Alexander was adamant that he did not want to meet his mother and stated he was proud to be a Petrie.  

Another of James & Jane�s children Jean went on to marry William Barclay but after they had three children William ran away to sea and was never seen again.  This left Jean with three children to bring up on her own.  Her eldest also called William but known as Bill became a very respected man on the Taieri.  He married very late in life and adopted two children, one of whom was part Maori and was to cause him a great deal of worry.   Jean�s other two children were girls.  One of them married a German and went back to Germany with him.  The other daughter of Jean�s was adopted, when Jean died, by a family called Adams.  When this girl married she became Mrs Treloar and lived in Christchurch.  At this stage we have been unable to connect her with the Treloar�s from Invercargill.

James and Jane were very staunch Presbyterians.  James insisted that all his grandchildren, when visiting, would have to recite a verse from the Bible before being allowed in their home.  This may seem hard but we are told he was a gentleman and loved children.  In fact we are told that the Petrie men (James, Robert and William) were all rather �laid back� and nothing seemed to put them up or down and they had a great attitude to life in general.  This trait carried on down through the Petrie children.  They lived at Maungatua on their farm which they called �Mayfield�.  Jane died there in 1920, ten years after James� death in 1910.  Their children were Mary-Anne, James, Alexander, Jean, Arthur, Duncan and Christina.  James Married Mary Elizabeth Carr in Kakanui, North Otago. 

The Carr family originated from Manchester, England.  Mary�s Parents were William and Martha (Musson) Carr.  William and Mary married in Oamaru in 1877 and had a family of girls:- Mary, Emily, Sarah, Anabella, Agnes, Lucy, Martha and Ada.  Mary was born on the 29th of August, 1878 in Weston, North Otago.  In January 1901 James Petrie and Mary were married.  In May Martha Jane Petrie (My Grandmother) was born.  She was followed by Eva (Mary Evaline Antonia), Bill ( William Anthony Alexander), Joe (Stephen James) and Millie (Agnes Amelia).

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Last modified: November 30, 2008