Topic: Gilbert Mair (1843-1923)

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Captain Gilbert Mair compiled a history of the Battle of Gate Pā (Pukehinahina), 29 April 1864, which has proved a valuable tool for researchers.

Looking wrong? Archived version here.

Gilbert Mair was born on his father's farm  'Deveron' in Whangarei on 10 January 1843 to Gilbert (1799-1859) and Elizabeth Mair (1809-1870) (nee Puckey) who married in New South Wales, Australia, on 12 September 1827. His father was a sailor and a merchant trader who was present at the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. 

Gilbert had two children with Keita Hemi Kupa (1846-1911):

  1. Whareahuru Gilbert Mair (1876-1938).
  2. Hemi Kupa Mair (1878-?).

Gilbert married Eleanor Catherine Sperrey in Wellington on 19 September 1888. They had two children together:

  1. John Gilbert Mair (1889-1896). Born on 5 July 1889. He died at age 7 on 8 August 1896 and was buried in Shortland Street Cemetery, Thames.
  2. Katherine Irene Mair (1891-?). Born on 22 January 1891. Katherine married Ralph Frederick Vane (1881-1928).

Although not present at Gate Pā he compiled The Story of Gate Pā, April 29th, 1864 (1926) from various records and first hand accounts.

Mair took a leading role in campaigns against Te Kooti. He was presented with many taonga (ancestral treasures) by Māori communities throughout the North Island which were passed to the Auckland Museum in 1890. These were sometimes obtained under dubious means. The Museum’s Ko Tawa: Māori ancestors of New Zealand exhibition is a selection of 28 taonga from Mair’s collection of 247 that showed at the Tauranga Art Gallery from 15 March to 11 May 2008.

Katherine died in Blenheim on 23 April 1893 and was buried in Bolton Street Cemetery in Wellington.

Mair retired to Tauranga where he died on 29 November 1923 at the age of 80. He is buried in the cemetery of Te Arawa at Ohinemutu, Rotorua.

Ko Tawa’s Tauranga taonga include a pounamu mere (Te Raukaraka) from Otamataha Pā presented to Mair in 1866:

Te Raukaraka (pounamu mere) 

And a tewhatewha (two handed whale bone fighting weapon) dug up from Gate Pā in 1875:

Tewhatewha (Pukehinahina)



Auckland Museum

Identity and the Battle of Gate Pa (Pukehinahina), 29 April 1864 (5 August 2011) by Debbie McCauley (Tauranga Memories: Battle of Gate Pa, 1864 kete).

Maori Treasures of New Zealand: Ko Tawa (2006) by Paul Tapsell.

The Story of Gate Pa, April 29th, 1864 (1926) by Gilbert Mair.



This page archvied at Perma CC in March of 2017:

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Gilbert Mair (1843-1923)

First Names:Gilbert
Last Name:Mair
Date of Birth:10 January 1843
Place of Birth:Deveron, Whangarei
Country of birth:New Zealand
Date of death:29 November 1923
Place of death:Tauranga, New Zealand
Place of burial:Te Arawa Cemetery, Ohinemutu, Rotorua
Occupation:Surveyor, Interpreter, Soldier, and Public servant
Spouses name:Eleanor Catherine Sperrey
Spouses date of death:23 April 1893
Spouses place of death:Blenheim, New Zealand
Spouses place of burial:Bolton Street Cemetery, Wellington
Date of marriage:19 September 1888
Place of marriage:Wellington
Fathers name:Gilbert Mair
Fathers date of birth:23 May 1799
Fathers place of birth:Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Fathers date of death:16 July 1857
Fathers place of death:Deveron, Whangarei, New Zealand
Mothers name:Elizabeth Gilbert Puckey
Mothers date of birth:27 November 1809
Mothers place of birth:Penrhyn, Cornwall, England
Mothers date of death:12 November 1870
Mothers place of death:Deveron, Whangarei, New Zealand
Name of sibilings:Charlotte Mair, Lavinia Laura Mair, Jessie Eliza Mair, Matilda Helen Mair, Emily Francis Mair, Caroline Elizabeth Mair, Robert Mair, William Gilbert Mair, Marianne Mair, Sophia Marella Mair, and Henry Abbott Mair
Name of the children:Whareahuru Gilbert Mair , Hemi Kupa Mair, John Gilbert Mair , and Katherine Irene Mair
Military Service:New Zealand Wars