The Passing of John Anderson


The First White Child Born in Dunedin


  • Fred Waite (author)


Otago Daily Times

Issue Date

11 August 1923


Julius Vogel & William Cutten






Died on August 8, loved and respected by all who knew him, John Anderson, of “Carol,” Waiwera South, well known to all the early settlers of Otago as the first white child born in Dunedin.

When this nation of New Zealanders has a past such as that of the United States of America, those of our great-grand-children who survive us will look back with pride to the particulars of those heroic souls who, in the days when New Zealand was young, came out here to the ends of the earth to establish a freer and more independent Britain of the south. Before the John Wycliffe and the Philip Laing arrived, however, there were the few hardy pioneers. We must go back to the year 1844 and contemplate the arrival of two historic families at Koputai (Port Chalmers). This was on December 30, 1844. The McKays stayed at Koputai but the Andersons pushed on and finally settled at what is now known as Anderson's Bay. The chief surveyor, Mr Kettle, arrived on February 23, 1846, and Mr Anderson took service with this early survey. The Anderson family subsequently shifted over to Pelichet Bay, and here it was on December 10, 1846, that John Anderson was born And now in Dunedin, on August 8, 1923, John Anderson passed away. During his lifetime he has seen the city of Dunedin grow from the surveyors' huts to the magnificent city it is to-day. In one main lifetime has this marvel been achieved.

John Anderson was a little toddler of 15 months old when then first emigrant ship arrived in Otago Harbour on March 22, 1848. As the years slipped by and the little village of Dunedin grew into a small town, those with the pioneering spirit went farther and farther afield. John Anderson's people out to the Taieri Plain. A bullock sledge was to have met them somewhere in Dunedin, but the driver of the sledge was late and there was nothing for it but starting to walk, hoping to meet the sledge on the way. The father and mother, with the two elder boys walking, the father with hewards; he saw the procession of the old settler with the reaping hook, the marvel of the back-delivery and that modern miracle, the reaper and binder; and then came the motor car and the tractor threatening his beloved horses; and one day he and I stood on a tussock hill and heard a low booming that puzzled his sense of hearing. “This is not the time for a threshing mill to be out,” he said. I pointed away towards Popotupoa at the small silver-grey object in the air. “A flying machine,” he gasped and he put his hand over his eyes. “Who would ever have thought flying machines would be seen Otago?” But so it was his lifetime has seen the greate development of the triumph of man's mind over material obstacles: has seen the transformation of a wilderness of swamp and tussock to smiling pastures and comfortable homes. John Anderson was a good churchgoer. What England and Scotland - and this young country too - owes to those who have clung to the simple faith, no one can ever tell. But much of the greatness of our Empire is based on the unquestioning faith and that real, practical Christianity that does not shrink in the market place but quietly and simply works for the betterment of mankind -works to make the country a better home for the children that are to be.

Those who were priviledged to know Mr Anderson knew him for a good sport. His interest in cricket he maintained to the last, and how he loved a good horse! A year ago I had from Scotland a review of all the farm aniamls for a hundred years back - horses and cattle and sheep. I took the paper to Mr Anderson. He turned the pages over fairly rapidly, looked carefully at the pictures of the polo ponies and then came to the advertisements at the back. He looked disappointed. “Are there no pictures of blood horses?” he asked. He never said ill of any man. Charitable, good-humoured, those of us priviledged to know him will never forget that kindly smile that would light up his honest old face. He dearly loved a joke; for hours he would tell his stories of old Otago life with his own inimitable way. His adventures at the old sports meetings and picnic in Otago would make a very humorous and readable book. He was always ready for a day off out on the hill, whether it was hunting for Maori ovens or after a few trout from the Waiwera. Unto the time of his death he rode around the wire-netting fences and amonth the sheep every day - wet or fine. Every [undeciphered], every clump of bush would recall and old-time pig hunt or an adventure with some new chum out from Home. He saw everything in a kindly humorous way. We will miss him in South Otago but the loss to the good people of “Carol” is irreparable. His homelife was saddened by many misfortunes to his family but through it all his devoted wife and he never murmured against Fate. It was a lovely sight to see this old couple grown old together, so wrapped up in each other. And now one is taken away and the other left - but it must be some satisfaction to know that John Anderson will be universally remembered as a [undeciphered] and upright man, honourable in all his dealings, one of the strong nails that hold this frail world together. The loss to the community is great, the loss to the family is inestimable but it can be trly said that [undeciphered] all up and down Otago, many of us are better men and women [undeciphered] in our day and generation we came under the kinidly influence of John Anderson.




Date Known

23 February 1846

Mr C.H. Kettle's surveying party arrives in Dunedin, New Zealand and immediately hires John Anderson. Sources: 2