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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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).
Send mail to
Patricia Taggart with
questions or comments about this web site.
Census Records | Vital Records | Family Trees & Communities | Immigration Records | Military Records Directories & Member Lists | Family & Local Histories | Newspapers & Periodicals | Court, Land & Probate | Finding Aids