Topic: Alister Hugh Matheson (1925-2011)

Topic type:

Alister Matheson was a respected Tauranga Historian whose family arrived in Ōtūmoetai in the late 1860s. In 1999 he received the Tauranga Heritage Award from the Bay of Plenty branch committee of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust for his contributions to preserving and documenting Tauranga's history which included Ōtūmoetai and Maketu. Photos: Lee Switzer.

Alister Hugh Matheson was born on 2 August 1925. His parents were Alister Hugh and Olive Constance Matheson (nee Haskell) who married in 1922 (reg. 1922/5749).

Alister's grandfather, Robert Matheson, established a farm called Fairview on the Ōtūmoetai Pā site. The land was originally part of the Tauranga land raupatu (confiscation) by the Government following the battles of Gate Pā and Te Ranga in 1864. Surveys began in the Ōtūmoetai area in early September of 1864. Some of the Ōtūmoetai land was returned to chiefs.

In 1869 Robert Matheson purchased 109 acres from the Foley family who had bought it from Tomika Te Mutu in around 1866. In 1870 Robert purchased another 11 acres from the Government. The last remnant of this, 1.99 hectares (nearly 5 acres) was purchased from Alister by Tauranga City Council in 2004 in order to establish the Ōtūmoetai Pā Historic Reserve.

In 1881 Robert purchased almost 3 acres from Hori Ngatai and Renata Toriri, making Fairview 123 acres which extended from the seashore to Ōtūmoetai Road, and the boundary with the Tollemache farm.

Most of the land in this Historic Reserve was acquired from the Government by Robert Matheson in 1870. The eastern half of the beach land was purchased from Hori Ngatai and Renata Toriri in 1881. This, together with the 110 acres of land on the western and southern sides purchased from James and Edward Foley in 1869 brought the Matheson farm up to a 123 acres. The farm extended along the western side of the Otumoetai road from the seashore to about the number 400 on that road, the old boundary with the Tollemache farm “Bentley” (“Bentleigh”). The boundary then ran west to near the railway line, then north through the line of Meadowland Street across the present Levers Road to the seashore (Tauranga City Council, p. 16).

Alister's father served in the South African War, 1899-1902 and during World War I (1914-1918).

Fairview reached a peak of production and profitability during and shortly after World War I. The Matheson Homestead was built in the 1920s and parts of the farm were sold to Bishop Sedgwick and the Western, McLaughlin and Mander families. Further sales took place over the years. The Government leased part of Fairview for vegetable growing during World War II.

Alister was educated at Ōtūmoetai Primary School and King's College in Auckland. In 1999 he received the Tauranga Heritage Award from the Bay of Plenty branch committee of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust for his contributions to preserving and documenting Tauranga's history which included Ōtūmoetai and Maketu.

Alister Hugh Matheson (1925-2011)

Alister was a prolific researcher and writer. The articles he contributed to the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography include:

The 41 articles he wrote for the Tauranga Historical Society's Journal can be found at this link: Alister Matheson: Historical Review Articles

Alister's books include:

  • 1975: The Wairere Track: ancient highway of Maori and missionary.
  • 1979: Motiti Island, Bay of Plenty.

His extensive notes make up manuscript collection's held in Research Collections at Tauranga City Library (MS 015 & AMS 181).

Alister died in Tauranga, aged 85, on 11 January 2011 (reg. 2011/1107). He was cremated at Pyes Pa Cemetery on 14 January 2011.

Alister Hugh Matheson (1925-2011)



Auckland War Memorial Museum: Cenotaph Record: South African War.

Auckland War Memorial Museum: Cenotaph Record: World War I.

Bay of Plenty Times (2011). Historian from pioneering family dies.

Matheson, Alister: Historical Review Articles.

Ministry for Culture and Heritage (2012). Otumoetai Pa Historic Reserve Opens Soon.

Rorke, Jinty (2011). Alister Hugh Matheson 1925-2011. In Historical Review Vol. 59, No. 1 (pp. 3-4).

Tauranga City Council (n.d.). Otumoetai Pa Historic Reserve.

Whakatane Historical Review.


This page was archived at Perma cc February 2017

Discuss This Topic

There are 0 comments in this discussion.

join this discussion

Alister Hugh Matheson (1925-2011)

First Names:Alister Hugh
Last Name:Matheson
Date of Birth:2 August 1925
Country of birth:New Zealand
Date of death:11 January 2011
Place of death:Tauranga, New Zealand
Place of burial:Pyes Pa Cemetery, Tauranga
Occupation:Tauranga Historian
Place of settlement in Bay of Plenty:Ōtūmoetai
Fathers name:Alister Hugh Matheson
Fathers date of birth:1876
Fathers place of birth:New Zealand
Fathers date of death:1 November 1953
Fathers place of death:Tauranga, New Zealand
Mothers name:Olive Constance Haskell
Mothers date of birth:18 January 1900
Mothers place of birth:New Zealand
Mothers date of death:2 January 1993
Mothers place of death:Tauranga, New Zealand
Name of sibilings:Isobel Matheson
Member of Society:Tauranga Historical Society