This Anzac Day sees a new section on the Clan Matheson New Zealand website about New Zealand Mathesons who served in the Second World War. Telling their stories is a large exercise, made difficult in part because the WW2 service personnel files have not yet been digitised, unlike those from WW1.

MATHESON, Farquhar Duncan gravestone NZWGP download (Custom)To kick this project off I’ve started with those Mathesons and Mathiesons from New Zealand and serving in the New Zealand forces who died overseas during WW2. There are 12 in all, listed on the linked page but with their individual stories told on separate pages.

Their stories are as diverse as that global conflict, and there are twists and turns in their tales. The deaths of some are somewhat mysterious, but we have a fuller account of others.
Why is someone who died in Germany commemorated in Egypt? Out of these 12, two died on the same day in the same place.

I’m grateful to those who have helped with this project, including some with family connections to the deceased. I hope I have done justice to the stories of their kin. Any further information would be welcome.

We know of 80 Mathesons who went overseas from New Zealand to fight in the First World War.  They’re listed on our website, and you can now follow links from 25 of the 80 entries to find out more about some individuals.

In passing I’ve written accounts of four Mathesons who served in other countries’ armed forces during that war.

I’ve discovered two more publications about Mathesons in New Zealand, and profiled them on the Clan Matheson website.

By ‘Chance’ to Victoria is, despite the title, more about New Zealand than Australia. It recounts the stories of the families of John and Elizabeth Matheson and Christopher and Ann McRae.

The Paparimu Matheson family tree details the Mathesons who settled at Paparimu and Clevedon (both near Papakura in south Auckland). It contains transcripts and copies of original material dating back to the 1840s.

Publications such as this are invaluable treasuries of family stories and important parts of our history. Have you considered collecting your family stories and weaving them into an account that you can publish, in hard copy and/or online? How about kicking off this Christmas by talking to older relatives, and starting to scan and copy important family documents? Would starting such a project be a good New Year’s resolution?

The Onward Project seeks to locate and publish a photograph of every member of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force who served overseas during the First World War of 1914-1918.  Each image is captioned with the name and service number of the individual, plus a reference to the source of the photo.  Three volumes in the series have been published so far, and photos are being collected for a fourth volume.

This Clan Matheson site contains quite a lot of information on Mathesons who served in the First World War, both overseas and in New Zealand. In a comment on one of the pages Christine Barbour says she’s sent the Onward Project a photo of her grandfather, Roderick Dugald Matheson, who is included in our list here. That’s a great idea, and I’d encourage others to do this too.

I’ve updated the article on the Strathtaieri pipe band, and included a new photo.

After Lake Matheson on the West Coast, Mathesons Bay near Leigh north of Auckland may be the best-known Matheson place name in New Zealand.  You can read more here about who this attractive bay was named after; hard-working, brave settlers.

There’s a brief update to our page of further information about Mathesons and Mathiesons who served in the First World War.  Kenneth Mathieson (listed third from the end) had lived in New Zealand and was popular in his local community.  He died in the early stages of the war while serving with a British regiment.


Thanks to the sleuthing efforts of Zelda Matheson, and the resources of the Westport Genealogy and History Group, another mystery has been solved.  I couldn’t work out why T A Mathieson was commemorated on the Granity war memorial on the West Coast, yet I could find out nothing about him on the Cenotaph database or at Archives New Zealand.

Thomas Alexander Mathieson from the West Coast had gone to the UK before WW1 and joined the British Army, and was killed in Belgium during the German spring offensive of 1918.  He was married, and might have left children behind; we don’t know.  Read more of his story in this article on the website.

War is tragic and the First World War was especially so, but it had an interesting outcome in connecting New Zealanders of Scottish descent with their ancestral homeland.  A new article on this website links to a researcher’s blog post on this topic, and uses one example of this ‘roots tourism’ that was generated by WW1.


Answering the callOur list of published family stories of New Zealand Mathesons has grown to six, with the addition of a new book about one person’s First World War service.  ‘Answering the call: Colin Matheson in the First World War’ tells the story of the father of Doug Matheson, who was trained to fight and sent to the Western Front in the latter years of that conflict.

Researching and writing the stories of individuals or their families brings history to life, and records people’s experiences for future generations.