Macaulays in New Zealand


The movement of Macaulays / McAuleys to New Zealand was the result of environmental conditions,(the potato famine in Ireland), industrial revolution (hand looms replaced by machines), clearances of land for sheep grazing in Scotland, overcrowding in towns, or just the opportunity of a better life in the colonies and for some assisted shipping passages.  The gold rush in the 1860s also brought Mcauleys to the Otago area and many took up farming as areas were opened up for freehold or lease.

Our Macaulay family came from the Paisley area of Glasgow, their father James being the first Instructor of Weaving at the Glasgow Technical College. In 1881 their eldest son John was a mechanical draughtsman, daughter Jessie an elementary school teacher, another son, James, a tapestry salesman and Andrew an assistant Instructor of Weaving – all living at home. Another son Robert had already emigrated to Canterbury in1878 and was working on a farm. By 1890 only John was left in Scotland and the others were all farming in the South Canterbury area. Shipboard diaries describe the voyages and each made great contributions to the sheep rearing, Scottish pipe bands, teaching, arts and local body affairs. This tradition is still practised by their descendants today.

Another Robert McAulay arrived in New Zealand in 1875 from County Armagh, Ireland. He was the son of James and Elleanor McAulay. He landed in NZ with only £5 in his pocket and the first wages he earned he sent home to his widowed mother who eventually came to New Zealand. Robert married Margaret McPherson in Napier 1884 and they owned a farm Rosewood at Elsthorpe, Hawkes Bay.  Of their 9 children, 6 lived and in 1987 a large family reunion of over 250 was held at Hastings and Elsthorpe and a book written by Nola and Stan McAulay was published.

In 2012 the McCauley family of Katikati near Tauranga Nth Island held a family reunion celebrating the arrival from Ireland Clougher, County Tyrone, of John McCauley(1826-1900)with his family on board the Jessie Osborne in 1876. In the 1878 land ballot John (Snr.) was granted 20 acres and John (Jnr) 30 acres in adjoining properties near Katikati.

One of their descendants was a world champion axeman George Thomas McCauley. A hundred year old footage of the Eltham Axemans Carnival of 1911 was shown at the gathering. Debbie McCauley wrote a book for the reunion entitled “The McCauley Family of Katikati New Zealand 1876-2012”

Another Macaulay family from East Kilbride Lanarkshire Scotland arrived on the “Cheviot” 1859. Robert (born1821) managed the New Zealand and Australian Land Company’s Edendale Estate near Bluff, Southland, later Moeraki Estate and finally settled and farmed “Totara Park” in the Oamaru district. William, Robert, Thomas and Alexander and Margaret were all familiar Macaulay names whose families made great contributions in this Otago region.

Also in the Otago region was John McAulay from Caithness Scotland arriving 1861. He and his family farmed for many years at Flag Swamp near Hampden.

Alexander Macaulay, who married Lilias Sutherland 1861 in Dunedin, farmed in Mataura Southland and in Middlemarch Otago.

Mr James Thomas McAuley, who died in 1914, was a member of the 1st New Zealand Contingent for South Africa and was famous for his miraculous escape at Doornspruit in the Boer War. He formed one of the escort which accompanied the Duke of York (later King George VI) when he visited New Zealand.

MacAulays from the Isles of Lewis also settled around New Zealand. There are several Macaulay streets in New Zealand and the river Macaulay that flows into Lake Tekapo was named by Julius Von Haast in 1862, after Thomas Babington Macaulay 1780-1859, the great historian and poet.

Perhaps one of the most famous of the Macaulay descendants is Suzie Moncrieff who started the World of Wearable Arts Awards in Nelson and now Wellington where in October each year entries from all over the world are paraded and judged, with many on display in a museum.

Wherever Macaulay, McCauleys, McAulays have settled, hard work, strong family ties, traditions, painting, weaving and love of the land have been dominant traits from which New Zealand has benefitted.

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Jessie (nee Macaulay) and David Dick, and son David (arrived in New Zealand in 1887)

Text and photos supplied by Ruth Cooper (New Zealand Commissioner for MacAulay Clan), New Zealand.