Hororata War Memorial, Canterbury, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2018

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: 
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Laurence Binyon — For the Fallen

In memory of

Henry Marshall Wright (19 August 1891– 7 August 1915)

Thomas Boswell Bisset (9 November 1890 — 2 April 1917)

George Brown (7 May 1892 — 11 April 1917)

Eric Andrew Gray (20 October 1895 — 27 March 1918)

John Klukosky (1899 — 20 July 1918)

Leonard Claude Steele (1886 — 8 October 1918)

Stewart Cameron Cruden (8 November 1903 — 9 March 1942)


Headstones and hidden histories

Headstone, Nurse Isabella Maude Manning (1870-1918). O’Neills Point Cemetery, Bayswater, Auckland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Anabel at The Glasgow Gallivanter often writes about the women who have helped shaped history in her part of the world; sometimes telling their stories through the physical memorials that exist to them.

A couple of years ago, Anabel’s post Hidden Histories inspired me to search Auckland for public art that commemorates women (Suffrage and service, celebrating women in Auckland’s public art). More recently, her visits to the Glasgow Necropolis and Cathcart Cemetery reminded me how much I enjoy wandering around cemeteries reading the headstones – and how easily I fall down the rabbit hole of researching the lives those inscriptions only hint at.

Which brings me to Isabella Maude Manning (1870-1918).

I first read about Maude (the name she seems to have gone by) Manning about a year ago, on an information board at O’Neill’s Point Cemetery in Bayswater, Auckland. The board commemorates twenty one victims of the 1918 influenza pandemic who died in the Fort Takapuna army camp nearby at Narrow Neck.

Twenty are buried at O’Neill’s Point; nineteen soldiers and Nurse Manning.

It was easy to find the soldiers’ graves, as almost all are official Commonwealth War Graves, with well-tended and easily identifiable headstones. But despite quite a lot of trudging up and down (it’s a hilly cemetery), I couldn’t find Maude Manning.

Some of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstones, for servicemen who died in the influenza epidemic. O’Neills Point Cemetery, Bayswater, Auckland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Fortunately, the Auckland Council website has an online register of burials.

Unfortunately, while I found the plot reference, I couldn’t find a map to tell me where that particular plot was located, and the graves themselves had no numbers attached.

Eventually I found it by searching the names on headstones I could see, and using their plot numbers as a guide.

It seemed from her rather neglected — and definitely not CWGC — headstone, that Nurse Manning wasn’t, as I’d assumed, a military nurse.

That piqued my interest, and sent me off researching her life.

Although I found Nurse Manning’s name on the “Roll of Honour” of New Zealand Army Nursing Service (NZANS) members who died in the 1918 pandemic, an article I found about her life makes it clear that she had spent her career as an Anglican Mission nurse, working specifically with Maori communities.

Her history

Maude Manning was born in Christchurch in 1870; the fifth of 10 children born to Samuel Manning and Ellen Piper (m. Christchurch 1861). 

The Manning family was one of Christchurch’s most affluent. Samuel Manning had arrived in New Zealand as a sixteen year old in 1856. Both he and his father were brewers by trade, and after working in his father’s business for a few years, he established his own brewery. During the course of his life, he held directorships of a number of companies and served as the Mayor of Christchurch between 1885-1890.

It’s not clear exactly when Maude became a nurse. I found a newspaper article from June 1891 which reports that had she sat and passed the St Johns Ambulance First Aid exam, but the first record I can find for her that clearly shows her in a nursing role is in 1909, when she joined the Anglican Mission House in Paeroa, as a nurse/midwife.

This is supported by a memorial article in an Anglican newsletter (October 2018, vol. 8; issue 9) which says that she trained at Christchurch hospital before joining the Mission as a nurse/midwife to local Maori, where she learned Te Reo Maori (the Maori language). The article goes on to say that in 1910 she transferred to another mission house at Kaitaia in the Far North, again working with Maori communities. The following year, during an outbreak of typhoid in nearby Ahipara, she volunteered to nurse fever patients, until she too contracted typhoid and was eventually sent home to Christchurch to recuperate.

By 1914, the electoral shows that she had returned to the Mission House in Paeroa, where she continued to nurse until the 1918 when she volunteered to move to Auckland and nurse influenza patients.

This decision was in response to a nationwide call by the government for nurses to care for the many returned servicemen who had contracted influenza. Military camps in New Zealand (and probably worldwide) recorded a very high incidence of influenza infections. This is hardly surprising given the communal living arrangements, and the fact that most of the men living there had very recently returned from war.

Fort Takapuna had been a military base since the late 1880s. In 1915 it began housing a training camp – known as the Narrow Neck camp — specifically for the Maori Contingents of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. Nurse Manning’s experience working amongst Maori, and her ability to speak the language, would have made her invaluable.

About the Maori Contingent

The formation of a separate Maori Contingent (which also included Pacific Islanders) in New Zealand’s military was an initiative of Maori leaders at the time, who:

…  hoped that military service would increase both the status of Māori, that Māori service (made more visible by separate units and Māori leadership) would result in their recognition as full and equal citizens of New Zealand, and that they would be treated as such. In short, Māori military service would serve to affirm both the rights of citizenship, reminding both the Crown and Pākehā that Māori were equal citizens as guaranteed under Te Tiriti o Waitangi/Treaty of Waitangi, and to demonstrate that Māori could live up to the duties and the ‘price’ of that citizenship.

Equality and Autonomy:  An Overview of Māori Military Service for the Crown, c.1899-1945 Ross Webb A report commissioned by the Waitangi Tribunal for the Military Veterans Kaupapa Inquiry (Wai 2500)

In October 1918, the camp was home to around 400 servicemen – mostly Maori and Pacific Island – recently returned from Europe. Around 200 had already contracted the disease.

Within three weeks of arriving at Narrow Neck, Maude Manning had also contracted influenza and died.

The Influenza Epidemic

Worldwide, the 1918 pandemic killed an estimated 50 million people. In New Zealand, the number was around 9000, around 2,500 of them Maori.

The actual number may seem very low, but it has to be remembered that we are a small group of islands separated from the rest of the world by vast oceans, and at the time, the country’s total population was barely more than one million. One of the more sobering facts I found was that “half as many New Zealanders lost their lives in little more than two months than during the entire First World War.” NZ History.

Another is that the death rate for Maori in the epidemic was 49 per 1000 people, compared to about 6 per 1000 residents for Europeans. Amongst the military and medical staff the rate was over 20 percent, and included the country’s first woman GP.

Dr Margaret Cruikshank graduated from Otago University School of Medicine in 1897 and spent her career in the South Island town of Waimate. She died 10 days after Maude Manning, on November 28, 1918, aged only 45.


As well as the headstone in O’Neill’s Point, Nurse Manning is commemorated on her family’s headstone in Sydenham Cemetery, Christchurch, in the Nurses’ Memorial Chapel also in Christchurch, and on a plaque dedicated in her honour in St Paul’s Church, Paeroa.

Day Two, no baking but a family story finally told

last coffee shot edited

Turns out, it was a two-coffee story. Image: Su Leslie

For anyone who didn’t know, I originally started blogging to document the family history research I’d begun in 2011. That blog, Shaking the Tree, has been much neglected of late.

In part that’s due to the general bustle of life, but also because every research avenue I’d optimistically entered had turned into a cul de sac. Recently however I’ve had a couple of breakthroughs. And with my enforced Covid 19 confinement to barracks, today seemed like the right time to set out some hypotheses I’ve developed regarding a 3x great grandfather, Thomas Boswell Bisset.

I won’t try and tell the story here, but if you are interested, part one can be found in A tangled web, while today’s tentative conclusions are in Tall tale? Or true.

And a little woo hoo in praise of bloggers. Looking for an image to accompany today’s post, I found Something Over Tea. For completely unrelated reasons, Anne had visited the site where the man who probably wasn’t my 4x great grandfather had died during Britain’s 19th century wars in South Africa. She took photos of the memorials erected there, including one specifically dedicated to my possible ancestor.

fort hare gordon memorial

Memorial to John Gordon (1808-1850). Many thanks to Anne at Something Over Tea, who took this photo and included it in her post The University of Fort Hare.’

How flipping cool is that!

In the presence of the past

kirkmichael kirkyard resting place of James Wallace and Ann Cunnison

The kirkyard, Kirkmichael Parish Church, Perthshire, Scotland. Image: Su Leslie 2013

Churchyards and cemeteries hold great fascination for family historians. Headstone inscriptions can provide invaluable clues to an ancestor’s life, and in the process of finding one person, it’s not uncommon to discover other family members buried nearby.

They are also places of contemplation.

The tiny village of Kirkmichael in rural Perthshire, is where my 4x great grandparents, James Wallace (1799-1874) and Ann Kinnison/Cunnison (1806-1882) lived and died.

They lie in the bottom corner of the kirkyard, down by the burn; their lives commemorated by a headstone bearing the following inscription:

Erected by
Greeley Colorado USA
in memory of his father
who died at Benauld, Kirkmichael
20th March 1874 aged 74
and his mother
who died at Blairgowrie
18 February 1882, aged 78.
The above Charles Wallace
died 16 May 1925
Interred in Greeley Cemetery Col. USA

I’ve visited the graves of quite a few ancestors now, but the Kirkmichael visit stays in my mind particularly. Partly because it was such an isolated place — I was totally alone there — and partly because James and Ann are the oldest links in the chain of my history whose physical resting place I’ve touched.

Posted to Ragtag Daily Prompt | Past


DP Photo Challenge: names, take 2

Headstone of Emily Keeling, a 17 year old girl shot in Auckland, 2 April, 1886. Image: Su Leslie, 2012

Seen several years ago in an old Auckland cemetery. I read the word “shot” on this headstone inscription and knew I had to learn more about the life of Emily Keeling. Image: Su Leslie, 2013

Sometimes, all that remains for us to know and honour the dead are their headstones in long-abandoned cemeteries.

Four years ago, I found — quite by accident — this headstone.

Sacred to the memory of Emily Mary the beloved daughter of George and Emily Keeling of Arch Hill who was shot while on her way to the Primitive Methodist Church Bible Class Alexandra Street April 2nd 1886. Aged 17 years.

Guns deaths have traditionally been rare New Zealand, so I was curious as to how a 17 year old girl came to be shot dead on what was, even in 1886, an urban street.

So like any family historian, I went home and researched the life and death of Emily Keeling.

It’s a tragic story. Emily was a victim of intimate, or partner, violence — shot by a young man whose offer of marriage she had rejected.

I’ve written about Emily’s story in more detail in other posts:

And now for something completely different

A monument to loss, and a touchstone for action

Remembering Emily Keeling and working to end domestic violence

Four years ago the name Emily Keeling meant nothing to me. Now that I know her story, she has joined that tragically long list of names of New Zealand women murdered by men who knew and claimed to love them.

Names we must never forget — a list we must work to end.

On narrow streets and the life to come

Looking up a cobbled wynd in the Scottish town of Falkland, Fife. Image: Su Leslie, 2013. Edited with Snapseed.

Cobbled wynd. Sharp’s Close, Falkland, Scotland. Image: Su Leslie, 2013.

In Scotland and northern England, a narrow street or alley is called a wynd or a close (/ˈkls/ pronounced with a soft ‘s’ rather than a ‘z’ at the end).

A few years ago, I stood at the entry to this wee street with its old cobbles worn slick, and saw, in the creamy stone and whitewashed houses, my family’s past.

My ancestors — overwhelmingly working class Fife men and women — lived not in Falkland but in Dysart, Auchtermuchty, Wemyss, Kinglassie, Abbotshall and Gallatown. In streets with names like Pittesdown Close and Watery Wynd; Coal Wynd and Dobie’s Close.

For some, their whole lives were lived in those narrow streets, moving from one rented dwelling to another in the same village or town. Others left Scotland altogether; sensing a wider future for themselves in Canada, the United States, Australia, southern Africa and, in my parents’ case, New Zealand.

I love the way this poem —Wynd, by fellow Fifer Andrew Greig — gives tangible, geographical form to the almost universal condition of being young and caught between the seemingly narrow world that is known, and the vaguely suspected vastness of a future to come.


It’s back again, the how of rain
pleating off leaky roans, binding
strands that curve down stanks, curl
by high-walled wynds and dreels,
past sweetie shops with one faint bulb,
bell faltering as the pinnied widow
shuffles through from her back room –
What can I do for you the day?
She hands me now
no Galaxy or Bounty Bar
but a kindly, weary face, smear
of lipstick for her public, the groove
tartan slippers wore in linoleum
from sitting-room to counter, over thirty years:
the lost fact of her existence.

Currents ravel past the draper’s
where Mr Duncan and his unspeaking sister
sort shirts by collar size, set out
Mason’s cuff links and next season’s vests;
on stiff white cards their flowing pens
price elastic, Brylcreem, dark tartan braces.

Floods tangle, splice, uncoil
down Rodger Street, past bank and tearoom,
the dodgy garage where they sold airguns to anyone,
the steamed-up window of the ‘Royal’
where fires warms the bums of men who like
to drink standing, bunnets jammed down tight.
At Shore Street the rain-river
leaps the pavement, scours a channel
through pongy weed behind the sea wall
where damp frocks shiver under umbrellas
by the market cross, waiting for their lucky day
or at least the bus to Leven –
which won’t come for ages, because it’s Sunday.

In the hours between Stingray and the evening meal,
when the strings of family, place and history
working us, are all too bleeding visible,
as gutters burst the adolescent wonders
whether to have a quick one or read French poetry.
Smouldering with solitude, the prince of boredom
stands at the window, watching rain,
wondering when life ends, or will finally begin.

Fall, flow ache.
By those cramped streets, the kenned wynds,
loans, closes, byways, dreels,
the dying shops, fishermen’s damp houses
with empty sail lofts, broken pantiles,
wash-houses not ready for witty conversion;
by the constricting, cherished dreichness of our town
whose high tide had ebbed before ours began;
by the draper with its yellow blinds pulled down,
the angle of a bent streetlamp,
the budgie cage in old Jeanie’s window;
by the secret path behind the allotment,
the steep slalom of Burial Brae,
the short-cuts, the dank kirks and graveyards –
by these details we did not know we loved,
we grew up provincial, in the heart of the world.

You are standing at the bedroom window
watching rain, homework abandoned on the desk.
The parents are somewhere unimportant,
wee brother plays keepie-uppie in the gloom –
time to belt the shorty raincoat, go
in search of nothing but the life to come.

Andrew Greig

— from the Scottish Poetry Library

A contribution to the Daily Post Photo Challenge, on the theme of narrow.

Friday flip through the archives

"The ones who made you, the ones who brought you here ..." (Six60, 'Don't Forget Your Roots'). Image: my dad and little brother, my beloved Uncle Tom and me, Carshalton, UK 1967. Leslie family archive.

“The ones who made you, the ones who brought you here …” (SIX60, ‘Don’t Forget Your Roots’). Image: my dad and little brother, my beloved Uncle Tom and me, Carshalton, UK 1967. Leslie family archive.

NZMM2016_jpgAs part of my focus on NZ Music Month, I’ve discovered some new songs and artists, and been introduced to others by the boy-child.

I particularly liked this song by Dunedin band Six60.  As a family historian, I probably interpret the lyrics slightly differently to how writers Matiu Walters and James Fraser intended, but the key message is the same nonetheless.

As my son increasingly spreads his wings and flies with people outside our family circle, the importance of holding onto the thread of belonging seems more important to me than ever.


Anzac Day: on helping us to remember

Small boy examining Field of Remembrance cross, Auckland Museum. Private Augustine Bond, from Papakura, Auckland, served with the Auckland Infantry Battalion, and died on April 25th, 1916, in first landing at Gallipoli. He is buried in Baby 700 Cemetery, Anzac, Turkey. Image: Su Leslie, 2015

Private Augustine Bond, aged 25, from Papakura, Auckland. He served with the Auckland Infantry Battalion, and died on April 25th, 1916, in the first landing at Gallipoli. He is buried in Baby 700 Cemetery, Anzac, Turkey. Image: Su Leslie, 2015

April 25th is Anzac Day in New Zealand and Australia; our most important national day of remembrance, for all Australians and New Zealanders:

“who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served.”

ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps; a term – and an entity – that came into existence in World War One.

This year is the 100th anniversary of Anzac Day, and its role in our national culture has, if anything, grown in recent years. It is not uncommon for whole families to attend dawn services, not only at our major war memorials, but even in the smallest local communities.

The Fields of Remembrance Project has been set up to honour New Zealanders who lost their lives in WWI. White crosses are being placed in locations all around the country; each one bearing the name, rank and service number of one of this tiny country’s 18,200 dead.

Field of Remembrance Cross, Auckland Museum. Private Edwin Cox, from the Auckland Infantry Battalion 16th (Waikato) Company; died on the first day of the disastrous Gallipoli landings; 25 April 1915. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Private Edwin Cox, from the Auckland Infantry Battalion 16th (Waikato) Company; died on the first day of the disastrous Gallipoli landings; 25 April 1915. He had celebrated his 23rd birthday two weeks earlier. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

The Auckland Museum’s Field of Remembrance has 1684  crosses (and currently two Stars of David); bearing the names of those who died in 1915 or 1916, and who served with Auckland regiments or came from the wider Auckland region.

Star of David, Field of Remembrance, Auckland Museum. Private Maurice Simon Caro joined the 2/13th Kensington Battalion, The London Regiment, 1914. Born Christchurch and resident in Auckland, Maurice Caro was a wine importer before the war. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Private Maurice Simon Caro joined the 2/13th Kensington Battalion, The London Regiment, 1914. Born in Christchurch but resident in Auckland, Maurice Caro was a wine importer before the war. He died on July 2, 1916, during the First Battle of the Somme. The Caro Bowl, an Auckland tennis competition trophy, was established by his parents in his memory. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Next year, the names of those who died in 1917 will be added to the Fields; the same will happen in 2018 for those who died in the final year of WWI — including the Big T’s great uncle Eric.

I have no connection with the men commemorated above. Their names appear prominently in these images mainly because of the way the Field was laid out and the practical considerations of taking a photo.

But it seemed wrong to share them without trying to know a little about the men whose names they bear. Most of the biographical information that I found has come from Online Cenotaph, a project undertaking as part of the WWI commemorations, by the Auckland War Memorial Museum and the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

This project not only collates official information about our war dead, it is also open to family members and other researchers to add information, images and memories. As a family historian, I am hugely excited by this clever (and very user-friendly) application of technology to help preserve the memories of those who died in the service of our country.

As a personal plea to my NZ readers; if you have family members who served in the NZ military, and you haven’t already explored the Online Cenotaph, please click on the link and take a look. This is our resource, and a wonderful opportunity to contribute to our nation’s collective memory.