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Murdo Macaulay of Hacklete and New Zealand

Murdo Macaulay of Hacklete and New Zealand

Anges Maclennan Achmore writes about her uncle Murdo Macaulay, 4 Hacklete who settled in New Zealand.

Murdo was born in 1901. He joined the Glasgow Police Force in 1921 and later moved to China where he became a Police Inspector in Shanghai. In the early thirties he went to New Zealand and in 1936 he joined the Public Works Department - which later became the Ministry of Works. He was a member of the Aerodrome Construction Unit, which specialised in the building of aerodromes at strategic points in the Pacific Islands. He spent some time in Fiji and then he and his family lived in Rarotonga in the Cook Islands for six years, where Murdo was Officer-in-charge for Maintenance of the aerodrome and Administration Officer of the island. Later he became Maintenance Officer at Taiori Aerodrome. When the Dunedin Waitati motorway was under construction he shifted to Dunedin to work on the project as Construction Overseer and remained there with the MOD until his death in 1965 aged 64 years.

Murdo was married to Alice Gertrude Pile and they had a family of two sons and one daughter. The late Donald John the older son, was married to Raewyn and they had one daughter Johan. Raewyn lives at their property called Bernera Heights in Tauranga North Island with her daughter Johan and family. Murdo's second son, George Murdoch was married to Merle Ann Woodford as his first wife. They had one son and two daughters Keith, Patricia and Christina. George Murdoch is now married to Judy and they live in Hastings, Hawkes Bay. Christina is married to Graham Scott and they have one son and one daughter - Wayne and Shelly. The Scotts now live in Australia. Alice, Murdo's widow lived in Motuaka in the South Island after moving from the home in Dunedin, and she called her house Achmore. She is now in a Rest Home in Motuaka, - still active with her embroidery and rug-making for various charities and keeping in touch with her family and relations in Lewis.

Their house in Dunedin was a home from home for many islanders coming into the harbour. Murdo would meet the sailors coming ashore and take them back home where the conversation would centre on Lewis and its people. This way he met some of his relations. Cousin Donald Martin, nephew Angus (son of Neil) Kenneth, Garynahine husband of his niece Chrisetta, Aonghas a Mhorgan and Murdanie Linshader. Murdo was Chief of the Gaelic Society of New Zealand from 1955-58 and Alice is a Life Member and still in touch with some of its members.

While Murdo, Alice and George were in Rarotonga, Donald went to school in New Zealand. They had a home provided on the aerodrome. Alice had a house-girl, and laundry lady and a yardman who was also a night watchman. Alice provided morning coffee, afternoon tea and freshly baked scones for the NAC plane crews. Murdo had bought a fishing net and after work about twelve men would go out fishing. They would give Murdo enough of the catch for a meal and they would keep the rest.

Alice remembers Rarotonga as a place of shortages and primitive conditions. Meat was highly priced and although rolls of bacon and ham were shipped in from New Zealand, there was no ship during the three-month cyclone season. They made do with self-reared chickens and lagoon caught fish.

In 1993 Merle and Agnes, Murdo's niece from Achmore visited the Cook Islands on a nostalgic journey to the place of which they had heard so much. They met the Chief Executive of the Airport Authority, Mt Neville Macleod and were able to pass on some photographs of the airport during construction. A Mr Colin Hall was in the process a book about the original making of the airport and the extension, which was opened by the Queen. Mr Hall was delighted with the photographs and Agnes interviewed Alice on his behalf for her reflections on Rarotonga. The book was published in 1994 entitled 'Coming in on a Jet Plane' and Alice, Merle and Agnes received copies. Some of the photographs and parts of the interview with Alice were used in the book, and a note of their contribution was mentioned in the acknowledgments.

Donald and George both followed their father into the construction business. Christina had three shops in the Nelson area in the South Island, which she sold when they moved to Australia.
Alice and Merle kept the Bernera link intact with Murdo's sister, Mairi an Sheorais who was married to Domhnall a Mhaighstear at 3 Kirkibost, his sister-in-law Mairi an t-sheannbhaile, and cousin Mairi lomhair. They still keep the link going with the latter who is now in the Care Unit in Kirkibost and with Chrisetta at Garynahine and Agnes at Achmore.


Title: Murdo Macaulay of Hacklete and New Zealand
Record Type: Stories, Reports and Traditions
Gaelic Name: Murchadh an Sheorais
Type: Personal History
Record Maintained By: CEBL
Subject Id: 56398