Some New Zealand Mathesons, including members of the Clan Matheson Society, have written their family stories.  If you know of any more please let us know.

You can find out which libraries hold these books by using the New Zealand Libraries’ Catalogue, and if necessary use your local library’s interloan service to borrow a copy.  Some of the titles are still available for purchase.

Answering the call — Colin Matheson in the First World War

The centenary of the First World War has stimulated a lot of interest in our family members’ experiences during that time.  Almost everyone in New Zealand today has relatives who went through this period of global conflict, whether as servicemen or women (in the service of New Zealand, our allies or even those who were then our enemies), or those who stayed at home but lived in a very different society.

Answering the callThis book is an example of how ordinary family stories illustrate the world’s first global conflict.  It tells the story of an unlikely soldier of the time, who in his forties was called up and trained to fight.  Andrew Matheson recounts a detailed narrative of his great-uncle Colin Matheson’s wartime experiences — training in New Zealand and England, and combat on the front line in France.  He draws on the surviving letters and diary written by Colin when on active service, letters written by those with him and sharing similar experiences, and on official records.  It is the chronicle of an ordinary man sent to do extraordinary things, who answered the call to duty to the very best of his ability.

This 177-page book was privately published for some of Colin’s descendants, but Colin’s son Doug Matheson (Chief’s Lieutenant for New Zealand) has provided copies for these libraries: Auckland Central; Auckland War Memorial Museum; Waipu Museum; National Army Museum (Waiouru); National Library of New Zealand (Wellington).

By ‘Chance’ to Victoria: John and Elizabeth Matheson, Christopher and Ann McRae and their descendants, 1800–2001

By chance to Victoria Despite the title (which is a play on the name of a ship), this book is more about New Zealand than Australia.  Like all our stories, it starts in Scotland and then describes family members’ long sea journeys to the other side of the world.  As with many of our stories, Australia was the first destination for these migrants, but the heat and hardship of the dusty continent led some family members to move on and cross the Tasman.

Balclutha family historian Mary Webb has produced a thorough account of these families and their New Zealand descendants, many of whom settled at Waikaia in Southland.  There’s also a connection with Waipu in Northland, through the McRae and McKay families.


Fac et Spera (do and hope): the Mathesons of Fourpenny

Fac et spera coverpiece (Custom)Former Clan Matheson Society genealogist Monica Kidd wrote this story about her Scottish ancestors James Matheson and Helen Murray from Sutherlandshire, their migration to New Zealand in 1858, and their life in Dunedin and Milton.  The story of their eldest son George and his descendants is the focus of the New Zealand part of this book.  It’s a good example of how every family has an interesting story that’s worth recording, and how with good research and a nice way with words these stories can come alive.

Unfortunately this book hasn’t been published, and exists only as one of the manuscripts compiled by the New Zealand Society of Genealogists for New Zealand’s sesquicentennial in 1990.  You can see a copy at the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington.

Highland heritage: four Scottish families and their migration stories

Family historian and author Andrew Matheson recounts how four Scottish families — Matheson, McLeod, McKenzie and McDonald — migrated from the Highlands to the four corners of the earth.Highland heritage cover (Custom)

Two Scottish emigrants in the mid-19th century, Norman McLeod Matheson and Ann McDonald, travelled separately to New Zealand where they met, married, and raised a family of ten in that young pioneer country.  This book tells the story of their lives in the Scottish Highlands and in New Zealand, and spans the centuries to draw together fascinating accounts of their Matheson, McLeod, McKenzie and McDonald relatives.

These four Scottish families, who ultimately became connected in New Zealand, had members who stayed in Scotland, and others who settled in England, Canada, Australia and the United States of America.  Some worked and lived in far-away places in India, Africa and South America, while others travelled the world as mariners.  Many from these families migrated to New Zealand, both directly and with sojourns of varying lengths in other lands.

Author Andrew Matheson’s great-great-great-grandmother arrived in New Zealand in 1853, at the end of a journey of about 50 years that took her half way around the world, via two continents from her birthplace in Scotland.  From family papers, public records and oral history, he has woven together this story of ordinary lives lived in extraordinary circumstances.

Published  in 2011, this well-illustrated book of 480 pages (including references) is available for $48 plus postage and packing at cost ($6 within New Zealand) from Andrew Matheson, PO Box 10425, Wellington 6143,

Read a sample chapter here.

Matheson 1875-1975: an Otago family history

matheson-1875-1975-an-otago-family-history-customThis tells the story of the Mathesons of Otago descended from Murdo and Christina Matheson of Rosshire in Scotland.  It was written by Elliot Hugh Matheson and self-published in about 1970.  The author wrote widely on this history of Strath Taieri, including about the Strath Taieri Highland Pipe Band which wore the Matheson tartan.

This book is in the Dunedin public library and the Hocken library at Otago university, and may be found occasionally in second-hand book shops.

Matheson of Kintyre

Matheson of Kintyre is a true family effort by Neta Holme of Queensland, her brother Graeme Matheson of Rangiora and their relative Elizabeth Matheson, and it presents the fruits of research over a long period of time.

In 1972 Graeme wrote to all the Mathesons in New Zealand telephone directories to try and find any relatives of his ancestors and other relatives who migrated to New Zealand in the early 1860s.  He got one reply that had a connection.  The following year Neta wrote to a newspaper in Kintyre, Scotland, seeking information, and got three replies.  Following these initial breakthroughs and after a lot of work, Neta published Matheson of Kintyre in 1982.

Matheson of Kintyre coverMore than 20 years later Elizabeth Matheson updated the 1982 book, adding material gathered by Graeme.

Matheson of Kintyre recounts the stories of Matheson relatives, and contains copies of original letters and photographs as well as family tree information.  The first pioneers to New Zealand of this Matheson family were Dugald and his brother Duncan, who arrived in Port Chalmers in 1863 and settled in Canterbury.

This is a good example of the stories and invaluable historical material that many clan members could produce.  As Neta said in her introduction to the first edition: “I hope this booklet will be of interest to present and future generations of Mathesons.  From this beginning I hope other Mathesons now and in the future will add to these papers, especially concerning their own personal families.  The details of a generation are lost so quickly”.

Matheson of Kintyre is available in the Canterbury Museum, on microfilm from the Mormon family history library catalogue, and the New Zealand branch of the Clan Matheson Society.  For further information contact Graeme Matheson at

Matheson saga

Matheson saga: a story of foresight, courage and endeavour.  Alice McKenzie starts this account with the story of her grandparents, Captain James and Christina Matheson.  They left Peterhead in Scotland in 1858 on James’s own ship with a broad mandate: “for a voyage to Port Natal and thence as required to any other port or place in the Cape Colonies, North and South, Pacific Oceans, India and China Seas and Straits and the Australian Colonies as employment may be found”.Matheson saga

This adventure took them to Africa, Mauritius (where their son John was born), Australia, and finally in 1861 to Port Chalmers just as the Otago gold rushes were under way.  After a period running a shipping line James took the position of harbour master at Kakanui just south of Oamaru, where he also set up business as a merchant.  James later became a fellmonger (dealer in hides and skins) and wool scourer.  The family business developed and branched out into venison and property management.

Clan committee member Wayne Matheson of Queenstown is a descendant of Captain James and Christina Matheson, and contributed to this 1990 publication — which is a good collection of stories and pictures that preserves an important part of Matheson heritage in New Zealand.

Paparimu Matheson family tree

Paparimu Matheson family treeClan Matheson Society stalwarts Graeme and Robin Matheson, and Keith and Shirley Matheson, researched and compiled this account of the Matheson family who have lived and farmed in Paparimu and nearby Clevedon (south of Auckland) since the 1850s.

It contains valuable copies and transcripts of original material, including a diary started by James Matheson in Scotland in 1848, and letters from the 1860s.





South Ardoyne to Southland

South Ardoyne to SouthlandA story of Southland kin is told in South Ardoyne to Southland — history of John and Isabella Mathieson and descendants.  John was born in Oyne in Aberdeenshire, and with Isabella departed Scotland in 1883 on the Forfarshire.  They arrived in Port Chalmers in June 1883, and settled in Southland at Woodlands and later at Forest Hill.

This account of the couple and their descendants was compiled by the John and Isabella Mathieson Book Committee and edited by Tony Harris, and was published in 1985.  It is an important part of our clan heritage in New Zealand.


  1. Peter Henderson

    Hello i am a decedent of Faraquh Matheson.can anyone help me to get a copy of the matheson family tree book that was printed in 1982?

  2. Hello Peter

    Thanks for your enquiry. Which Matheson family tree book are you after? If it’s the second edition of ‘Matheson of Kintyre’, this bok is available in the Canterbury Museum, on microfilm from the Mormon family history library catalogue, and the New Zealand branch of the Clan Matheson Society. For further information contact Graeme Matheson at


  3. Jo archibald (nee Mathieson)

    I wondered if anyone would have any information on my great grandfather Robert Mathieson who went to the Chatham Islands in 1890’s he and his wife Annie had two sons both born on the Chathams my great grandfather Albert ernest cooke mathieson and a his brother Robert who was an All black in 1920’s. My g grandfather died on the Chathams in 1900 and is buried near Owenga.
    I would just like to know what kind of life they would have had, how they got to the Chathams, how long it took to sail there and in what ship etc.

  4. Hello Jo

    Thanks for your enquiry. I’m not sure I know the answer to your questions. I can’t find anything about life in the Chathams through a simple Google search. By the way, I also can’t find Albert Ernest Cooke Mathieson’s death in births, Deaths and Marriages Online. There is some information (including a photo) about Robert; apparently he was the only All Black born in the Chatham Islands.

    I’ll post your query on our Facebook page ( to see if anyone can help.


  5. Jo Archibald née Mathieson

    , thank you for your quick response. I mistakingly wrote Albert Ernest Cooke my grandfathers name was Alfred Ernest Cooke Mathieson born 1900 Owenga Chatham Islands.
    Regards, Jo

  6. Barry Billington

    My links.
    William(1784-1876 and Catherine McKenzie(1873-before 1876)Dingwall Ross and Cromarty.
    Son William and Catherine Matheson nee Drysdale came to NZ on ship Ruapehu 1886. Farmers Konini Pahiatuha.
    Unable to really trace back in time as William(1784-1776) and Catherine Matheson nee McKenzie records difficult to locate.
    Charlotte Matheson(1862-1947) married my Great Grandfather Joseph Edward Wade(1865-1949) Konini.

  7. Barry

    Thanks for posting your query. We have a starter’s guide to family history research on this website here. Your best bet would be to dig deep into Scotland’s People. It seems from this list that their database contains a lot of material from the Old Parish Registers for Dingwall.

    Good luck with your searching!


  8. Barry Billington

    Is anyone able to assist here please ?
    I was a member of NZ Clan Matheson but do not think I am still as I have not met the membership fee.
    I had Don Scott researching but have not heard from him.
    I have now established that William Matheson was born 26 June 1783 at Rogie Fodderty, Dingwall Ross and Cromarty Scotland.
    He married c.1800; Catherine McKenzie, born 6 September 1787 Urquhart Scotland and died before 1876 Pyramid Cottage, Fodderty, Dingwall Ross and Cromarty Scotland.
    Her parents were; William McKenzie married to Janet Steuart at Dingwall Scotland.
    I have managed to trace records of my Scottish kin back to the present day.
    I would like to know if someone has access to the ScotlandsPeople records site and can trace whom children of William and Catherine Matheson were “apart” from a son William Matheson born 12 June 1801 whom was a Policeman at Fodderty.

    I am also interested if anyone can tell me;
    Whom are the parents of William Matheson born in 1783 and died before 1876 Pyramid Cottage 18 George Street Fodderty Scotland.

    If this is not possible then I thank you for your time.


  9. Barry

    Thanks for your query.

    Descendants of Scots have it easier than most when it comes to finding out about their ancestors. You’re right, Scotland’s People is the place to look. You don’t have to be a member, but just have to purchase a few credits to get started with.

    You might find this guide on our site to family history research useful.


  10. Hi Jo
    My grandfather was Robert mathieson born in Chathams in 1901. My father was john, his brothers were Brian and ken.they lived in oamaru I have an interest in the Chathams also.i have a photo of Roberts gravestone and the church where he was buried. His wife brought the boys back to Dunedin after his death as she was a plunket nurse. Grandad was an all black in 1922. I would love to hear from you as I have researches further back.
    Peter mathieson

  11. Mary mathieson

    Jo Archibald
    My name is Mary mathieson. My grandfather was Alfred Ernest as well. I have asked my mum for info but she does not know much as dad was from Alfred’s second marriage to May Elisabeth mclennan

  12. Mary, Peter

    Thanks very much for your interest. I’ve posted your query on the Clan Matheson Facebook page and will put it in the February issue of the Clan Matheson Society newsletter, to see if anyone can help you.

  13. Sharon Hall (nee Mathieson)

    I am trying to get information on my Grandfather’s family. My grandfather’s name was James Joseph Mathieson born 24 May 1900 and he died 18 September 1973.

    His father was John Thomas Mathieson and his mother was Emily Verran. The only information I have is that James Joseph had one brother (who we think was called Tom) and two sisters (who we think were called Bessie and Chrissie). The family lived in Paeroa.

    I have drawn a blank with any further information from family so would really appreciate it if someone else was able to help or point me in the right direction.

  14. Hi Sharon


    Thanks very much for your query. I’ve put together some information from the Births, Deaths and Marriages online site, and a bit of searching around the web.

    John Thomas Mathieson died in about 1925 (his death was registered in that year, though the low registration number of 1925/2915 means he might have died late in 1924). He was aged 66, so born in about 1859, but I can’t find a birth registration record for him. Perhaps he wasn’t born in New Zealand.

    John Thomas Matheson (note the different spelling) married Emily Verran in about 1885 (registration 1885/1948). Now, here’s where it gets interesting. The only child registered as being born to Emily and John Thomas Mathieson since 1880 is Thomas Birge Mathieson, born in 1940. That’s way too late to be your people, even though you mention a great-uncle possibly called Tom. Yet see below; I wonder if the date is wrong, and this is your great-uncle Tom.

    There are three children born to Emily and Joseph Thomas Mathieson: Rachel Emelia (1893), James Louis (1895) and Chrissy Amelia (1897). Interesting that you think one of your great-aunts was called Chrissie. Did your great-grandfather go by the name Joseph as well?

    Searching for children born to Emily Matheson shows that Emily and Thomas John Matheson had Louisa Elizabeth in 1887; the date fits, as does the name Bessie as a contraction of Elizabeth. I’ve often seen errors in BDM records, either spelling errors like Matheson/Mathieson or transcription errors such as John Thomas / Thomas John, so this is a very likely link given your memory of a great-aunt called Bessie.

    Emily Mathieson died in 1947 aged 85, so born in about 1862 which puts her about three years younger than John Thomas Matheson, which fits your family story.

    John Thomas and Emily Mathieson are in the 1914 and 1919 electoral rolls, with John a farmer at Netherton (on the Hauraki Plains, not far from Paeroa). Interesting thing, Thomas Birge Mathieson is in the 1919 roll as a farmer at Rotokohu, which is just south of Paeroa. This is such a distinctive name I wonder if the 1940 birth date mentioned above is a transcription error.

    Another good place to look for people of this era is the Auckland War Memorial Museum’s Cenotaph database of service personnel. A Thomas Berge Mathieson served in the First World War, but his father lived in Taranaki. A Henry Burge Mathieson also served, but his next of kin was his mother, who lived in Auckland. Burge/Birge/Berge is an unusual family name, though.

    Here’s where I may have hit gold for you. There’s an interesting article in the Ohinemuri Regional History Journal of September 2004 about infant class teachers at the Paeroa Central School. It’s by Gordon Mathieson, who states that “Mrs Eileen Mathieson, nee Sorensen (1904 – 1981) was a great-aunt of the writer of this article. Her husband, James Joseph Mathieson (1900 – 1973) was a younger brother to my paternal Grandfather, Thomas Mathieson (1890 – 1958).”

    There’s a G Mathieson in the Paeroa phone book( 07 862 6451, 40 Claremont Ave) who might be this Gordon.

    Good luck with your further searching!


  15. Jo archibald

    Peter and Mary ,
    Firstly let me apologize for not keeping up with my genealogy . Peter, firstly uncle Bob and Auntie Olive your grandparents were wonderful to me as a young girl my sister Pamela and I have very fond memories of staying and visiting them in Omarau. Uncle Bob was of course our grandfathers brother.
    Mary , you must be Uncle Grants daughter, Nanna Mathieson , May McLennan was our step grandmother whom we loved and often went to stay with her in Christchurch. Our family has dispersed over the years Dad, James Cooke Mathieson died two years ago this month and Mum, Peg is living in Mosgiel , We are all going over to NZ for her ninetieth birthday which is on the 22 nd of Feb.
    I live in Melbourne , Pam in NSW Robert in Dunedin, Helen in Surrey UK and Sarah in Invercargill.
    I have done a family tree albeit an amateur effort and you are both on it.
    It would be great to hear from you both

  16. Hi there, I was doing a search looking for my fathers birth mother and it brought me to your site. Probably a long shot but do you have any records of a Mary matheson (not sure of spelling) or family living around dunedin in the 1950/60s?? Anything would be a great help

  17. Hi Danielle

    We don’t have any records of the family but some of our readers might. Do you have any more information?

    Check out the article on this website about getting started with your family story. Electoral rolls would probably be a good place to start.


  18. Chris Mathieson

    Hi there, My husband Gordon Mathieson was born in Greymouth (09/03/56) Does anyone on here have any connections to the ‘Coast’ Mathiesons and where they might have originated from. Thanks

  19. Roman Lee-Lo


    I am organising a Hazlett Family reunion and I am trying to locate the descendants of a Matheson that married a Hazlett.

    His name was Donald John Matheson (Jock) youngest son of Donald Lachlan Matheson of Invercargill.

    Donald John married Ethel Florence Hazlett in 1909 in Dunedin. It is understood that they resided in Melbourne and they had 2 x children, Hilda Macintyre and James Matheson?

    I hope someone can help us reach out to the descendants to help us complete this lineage as we look to celebrate 156 years of the Hazlett Family in NZ.

    Many thanks,


  20. Roman

    Thanks for your query, which I’ve posted on the New Zealand Clan Matheson Facebook group. Best wishes for your search!


  21. John M Palmer

    Im looking for the Matheson Clan of Ellen MATHESON who married John WHITE and had 4 children in Waipawa, Hawkes Bay between 1860 and 1871.John Died in 1872 and she then remarried James McINTYRE and died as Ellen McINTYRE in 1877 in Taradale, Hawkes Bay
    My name is John Matheson PALMER (after both of them)

  22. Hi John. I’ve posted your query on the Clan Matheson New Zealand Facebook group:

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