Topic: Lennard John George McCauley (1904-1980)

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Remembered as one of 'nature’s true gentlemen' my grandfather was a 'prolific painter' during his retirement years, signing his work 'Len McCauley'. Currently the location of only six of his paintings are known. Efforts to locate Len's other paintings have so far yielded no result. The family is very interested in collecting photographs and information as to the whereabouts of Len’s work - Debbie McCauley (2013).

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Lennard John George McCauley, known as 'Len', was born in Te Puke on 12 January 1904 (reg. 1904/6812). His birth was registered under the name 'John George McCauley'. The name Lennard comes from his maternal grandmother who was Rachel Hamilton (née Lennard). As Rachel died in August of the year of Lennard’s birth his parents probably called him Lennard in her memory.

Waitekohe No. 3 School, 1914

Waitekohe No 3 School (1914) (Lennard, wearing a dark shirt, is standing next to teacher Joshua Smith Leech). 

An article in the Katikati Advertiser on 30 July 1985 reprinted a 1914 photograph of a group of schoolchildren from Waitekohe School of which Lennard is one. Waitekohe School opened in 1880 and was the third school to be built after European settlers arrived in Katikati. It still stands, renovated as a private residence, on the corner of State Highway 2 and Walker Road East, Katikati. In Tales of Old Katikati (1991) Elsie Lockington writes ‘Dances were sometimes held in the Waitekohe School, mostly farewells for departing residents, and always there was a dance in the evening of the school picnic... There was little or no drinking, but the young men would sometimes play tricks, such as unharnessing someone’s horse from a gig, pulling the shafts through the fence, and harnessing the horse up again’ (Lockington, 1991, p. 36).

Len McCauley on the Lund Road farm, Katikati

Lennard John George McCauley on the Lund Road farm, Katikati.

Lennard purchased a farm on Lund Road, not far from the Katikati Cemetery. It was the last farm at the end of Lund Road. After one to two years he sold the farm in order to become a carpenter (Zordia Mackie, personal communication, 8 November 2011). Lennard’s many jobs included supplying Baker’s Timber Mill in Katikati with wood, maintenance work on the Huia Dam (opened in 1929 and forms part of the water supply for Auckland), Gum Digging in the Northern Fields, working at the Martha Mine in Waihi and at the Totara Timber Co. in Maroa where there was only one school and one shop.

Katikati scene near the railway lines and river by Len McCauley (c1970s)

Katikati scene near the railway lines and river (c1970s).

Lennard was 25 years old when the stockmarket crashed in 1929 heralding the beginning of the ‘Great Depression’ which lasted until around the late 1930s.

On 11 July 1935 Lennard, Dairyfarmer of Katikati, was granted an Ordinary Prospecting Licence. This was for 'Approximately twenty (20) acres of State Forest situated in Block Four (IV) Aongatete Survey District to the west of Thompson's Track: as the same is more particularly delineated in the plan drawn hereon and therin coloured red in outline':

Ordinary Prospecting Licence: Lennard John George McCauley 11 July 1935

On 17 August 1936 Lennard, still being a Katikati Dairyfarmer, applied for another Ordinary Prospecting Licence. This looks to be for the same block being ''Twenty (20) acres of State Forest Reserve situated in Block four (IV) Aongatete Survey District'.

On 25 November 1936 Lennard married Eileen Pearl Wilson in Tauranga. Eileen was the illegitimate daughter of Edward (Sam) James Crawford (1887-1944). Eileen was raised in Katikati by Edward’s parents John (1860-1937) and Sarah Ann (1869-1956) Crawford (née Birkett) who married in Hawera, Taranaki, on 24 February 1883 (reg. 1883/225).

The six children of Lennard John George McCauley:

  1. Eric John Wilson McCauley (1935-1973). Born in 1935 prior to Eileen meeting Lennard. He was aged ten when his mother Eileen died. Eric died on 21 July 1973, his ashes being buried in Katikati Cemetery on 2 August 1973 (125 Anglican Block A, Plot 139b, p. 18). He was possibly adopted by Lennard but this is yet to be established. According to his brother Ken, Eric was in some sort of institution and was killed while he was riding his bike to work. I hold two small silver cups that Eric won for bowls in c1963 and Zordia holds his multitude of other silver cups.
  2. Zordia Pearl Rachel McCauley.
  3. Lennard John George McCauley (Graham) (1941-1941). Known as 'Graham', he was born in January 1941. He died on 17 August 1941 (reg. 1941/23019) at seven months old and was buried in Katikati Cemetery on 18 August 1941 (125 Anglican Block A, Plot No. 138a, p. 18). A white cross and plaque were placed on Graham’s previously unmarked grave during the Katikati Cemetery Restoration Project in 2010.
  4. Kenneth Hamilton McCauley (Ken). 
  5. Louis James McCauley (Lou) from Gladys Petchell’s previous relationship.
  6. George Arthur Lennard McCauley (1945-2017). Born on 15 January 1945. George was a blue baby (hole in the heart) and relatives say that he was one of the first to be operated on in New Zealand for this condition by pioneering surgeon Sir George Douglas Robb. He died in Milton, Otago, on 11 April 2017.

Lennard was aged 35 at the start of World War II. On 1 September 1939 Hitler attacked Poland which led to Britain and France declaring war on Germany two days later. It is believed that Lennard was a Pacifist and Conscientious Objector which possibly stemmed from his deep religious beliefs although it is unclear whether he belonged to the New Zealand Christian Pacifist Society (CPS). No hard evidence has yet been uncovered about Lennard's position, but  Lennard's son Ken remembers his father being referred to years later as a 'bloody conchie'.

His son Ken also recalls; 'one of his occupations was boat builder and he built a small boat for the manager of the Taupo Totara Timber Company (TTT Co) during the time he was working there as a saw doctor. He was also a caravan builder and built all his own furniture and cabinets, mostly in rimu. Dad was very knowledgable regarding explosives, one time showing us how to split large logs apart using only sodium and sugar. He was always reading and was mostly self educated. In his possession was a large collection of rocks of which he knew all the names and information about. He was also an absolute perfectionist when it came to finishing off a house'.

Eileen died, aged 36, on 27 September 1945 (reg. 1945/26555). Her causes of death were septic tonsillitis and kidney failure. She was buried on 28 September 1945 in Katikati Cemetery (125 Anglican Block A, Plot 139a, p. 18).

Boat & Jetty Painting by Len McCauley (1973)

Boat and Jetty Painting (1973).

In 1945 Lennard married his housekeeper Gladys Elsie Petchell (née Williams) who was born on 9 July 1921. She had a child from her previous relationship named Louis. The family lived in Whangamata and Cornwallis and then moved to Taupo. In Cornwallis Lennard looked after a farm for a Mrs Shirley. Once a month there would be a trip into Auckland for groceries. His son, Louis, recalls that he taught carpentry for a time at St Stephens College in Bombay, south of Auckland.

Lennard and Gladys were involved with various religions such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Methodists. Lennard was even a lay preacher [not ordained but appointed to lead church services] until some disagreement with the church. From 1953 they were in Taupo and rented in Kaimanawa Street and Heuheu Street before building their own home at 12 Terence Street. According to his son, Ken McCauley, Lennard became a ‘prolific painter’ when he retired, signing his work 'Len McCauley'. His paintings were mainly oils on hardboard. There are six confirmed paintings in existence, currently held by family members. Efforts to locate Lennard’s other paintings have so far yielded no result, but the family is very interested in obtaining photographs and the location of Lennard’s work.

The Stone Cottage by Len McCauley (c1970s)

The Stone Cottage (c1970s).

THE STONE COTTAGE. This oil on hardboard measures 44.5 x 37.3 cm (c. 1970s). As the title is indecipherable it is surmised that it could be a scene from Cromwell, Central Otago. This author has named it The Stone Cottage. In the foreground situated to the right is a stone cottage with a green roof and central chimney, overshadowed by the snow covered Southern Alps in the background. To the left foreground the flat land the cottage is built on appears to drop away into a valley. The middle ground is dominated by two vivid blue lakes. Behind the stone cottage appear to be a row of poplars in their yellow foliage. The scene contains elements of the picturesque with hills on either side framing the scene however the romantic sublime is in evidence due to the insignificant size of the stone cottage which is dwarfed by the majestic mountains. The painting also contains elements typical of a twentieth century New Zealand landscape style. The mountains are painted in rough brushwork in shades of white and grey, whereas the hills are mainly green and brown with highlights in yellow. The sky is a very pale blue with white clouds. The signature Len McCauley in white is in the lower right hand corner of the painting. Unfortunately some of what appears as cloud is actually damage from when this painting was found by this author wrapped in sodden newspaper, along with Shotover River, in a disused chookshed in Whakatane in the 1990s. (Debbie McCauley, 26 October 2010)

White Sailing Ship by Len McCauley (c1970s)

White Sailing Ship (c1970s).

In the mid-1990s I had a dream about my father being given two paintings of Grandad McCauley’s after his death. The next time I visited my father in Whakatane I told him about the dream and asked about the paintings. They did exist. He had forgotten about them and made an offhand comment about them possibly being in storage, waving vaguely towards his sheds (he had been a poultry farmer and was converting to hydroponics, hence the disused sheds). I went off on an exploratory mission and eventually discovered them stashed at the bottom of a cardboard box, underneath a pile of other stuff and wrapped in newspapers which were soaking wet. I carried them into his kitchen and carefully peeled away the newspaper, then left them to dry. I’m sure that if they had been left in that condition for much longer they would have been lost forever. (Debbie McCauley, 26 October 2010). The descriptions of the two paintings reproduced here were written while I was studying a humanities paper in 2010.

Shotover River by Len McCauley (c1970s)

Shotover River (c1970s).

SHOTOVER RIVER. Shotover River (n.d) is oil on hardboard measuring 43.2 x 30.8 cm (c.1970s) of another Central Otago scene, the title handwritten on the back of the painting in blue ink. The right foreground is dominated by the brown branches of either a deciduous or dead tree, behind which four yellow poplars stand sentinel. The signature Len McCauley in white is in the lower right hand corner of the painting which contains elements typical of a twentieth century New Zealand landscape style. Stretching up from the extreme left foreground is another tree trunk which cuts horizontally through the left of the picture all the way to the top of the frame. The green leaves from this tree hang down from the top middle of the picture, the light blue sky dusted with white clouds behind which may have once held a pink tinge suggesting either a sunrise or sunset. From the left foreground the Shotover River winds its way through the composition upwards until it disappears in the middle ground behind a forest covered green hill which is mirrored on the other side of the river by another green hill. In the distance appear barren brown hills festooned along the base with another row of poplars. In the background another range of hills appear in blue, the rough brushwork adding dimension and character. These hills appear to be highlighted in black; however this is not the case. The black is actually newsprint, a legacy of when this author found this painting, along with The Stone Cottage, wrapped in sodden newspaper in a disused chookshed in Whakatane in the 1990s. This also explains the streaks of missing paint apparent in the sky. (Debbie McCauley, 26 October 2010)

Blue Lakes by Len McCauley (c1979)

Blue Lakes (c late 1970s).

The large painting above, the Blue Lakes, measures almost twice the size of Lennard’s other work. It was to be the last one that he painted before his death in 1980. Lennard died, aged 76, on 11 October 1980 (reg. 1980/52606) of Cardiac Arrythmia and Coronary Thrombosis. His death notice’s read:

McCAULEY, Lennard John George. On October 11, 1980, at Taupo General Hospital, dearly loved husband of Gladys (12 Terrence St, Taupo) and loved father and father-in-law of Zordia and Ron Mackie (Putaruru), Kenneth and Joyce (Whakatane), Louis and Bev, George and Carol (Dunedin) and sadly missed by his many grandchildren. A service will be held at St Pauls Union Church, Taupo, at 11am today (Tuesday). Private cremation to follow. Cut flowers preferred or, in lieu of, donations to the Crippled Children Society may be sent to 177 Taharepa Rd, Taupo, or left in the collection box in the church foyer.

McCAULEY, Lennard. On October 11, 1980, at Taupo, beloved only son of the late Rachel and George McCauley (Katikati), dearly loved brother of Girlie; brother-in-law of Reg Bellamy (Katikati) and the late Olive Kelly, uncle to Valerie, Robin, Glenda, Rachel and Neville. Too dearly loved to ever be forgotten.

McCAULEY, Lennard. On October 11, 1980, respected brother-in-law of Gordon and Mercia, loved uncle of Warren, Deidre and Mark. One of nature’s true gentlemen at rest. (Notices courtesy of Mavis Kelly).

Lennard’s ashes were buried in Katikati Cemetery next to Eileen’s on 22 November 1980 (125 Anglican Block A, Plot 139c, p. 18), his address listed as 12 Terence St, Taupo. Lennard’s obituary appeared in the Korero newsletter of Katikati:

Len McCauley was 77 years old when he passed away in Taupo, somehow it seems hard to realise that the years have gone by so quickly. Born and bred on the property which is now called Sharp Road, Len attended the Waitekohe School with his sisters Muriel (Mrs Reg Bellamy) and Olive (the late Mrs Kelly). Len had a double stake with early Katikati history as his mother was the former Rachel Hamilton, and Len's links with the district were very dear to him. Carpentering was his life's work and after his marriage to the former Edna Crawford [correction: actually Eileen Wilson] he lived in his Crossley Street home. There was much sadness in his life as two of their sons died, and then his wife also died, leaving him with three young children. In time he met and married Gladys Williams from Devonport and there were two children of that marriage [correction: they had no children together]. Although he lived in Taupo for many years, Len chose Katikati as his final resting place. Len's uncle was George McCauley, who was once champion axeman of New Zealand, his name was spoken with the same reverence as was the All Black captain, Dave Gallaher, who started his football career in Katikati. (Korero of Katikati, November-December 1980).

Gladys remarried to a Mr Rush. Gladys Elsie Rush (née Williams, Petchell & McCauley) died, aged 85, on 13 July 2005 (reg. 2005/16968).



Births, Deaths and Marriages Online (New Zealand).

Christian pacifists challenged morality of war (Methodist Church of New Zealand).

Ken McCauley (personal correspondance 2012 & 2013).

The McCauley family of Katikati, New Zealand: 1876-2012 (2012) by Debbie McCauley.

This page was archvied at Perma cc April 2017

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Lennard John George McCauley (1904-1980)

First Names:Lennard John George
Last Name:McCauley
Date of Birth:12 January 1904
Place of Birth:Te Puke
Country of birth:New Zealand
Date of death:11 October 1980
Place of death:Taupo, New Zealand
Place of burial:Katikati Cemetery
Occupation:artist and carpenter
Spouses name:Eileen Pearl Wilson and Gladys Elsie Petchell (née Williams)
Spouses date of birth:13 February 1910
Spouses place of birth:37 Thompson Street, Wellington
Spouses date of death:27 September 1945
Spouses place of death:Katikati, New Zealand
Spouses place of burial:Katikati Cemetery
Date of marriage:25 November 1936
Place of marriage:Tauranga, New Zealand
Fathers name:George John McCauley
Fathers date of birth:10 December 1876
Fathers place of birth:Aboard the 'Jessie Osborne'
Fathers date of death:29 October 1943
Fathers place of death:Katikati, New Zealand
Mothers name:Rachel Hamilton
Mothers date of birth:19 May 1880
Mothers place of birth:Tuapiro, Katikati
Mothers date of death:10 November 1969
Mothers place of death:Tauranga Hospital
Name of sibilings: Muriel May McCauley (Girlie) and Olive Rachel Jane McCauley
Name of the children:George Arthur Lennard McCauley, Eric John Wilson McCauley, Zordia Pearl Rachel McCauley, Lennard John George McCauley (Graham) , Kenneth Hamilton McCauley , and Louis James McCauley
Military Service:Pacifist and Conscientious Objector