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Moses South - Part 1 1867-1903 

The life of Moses South, spanning over 80 years and an amazing range of diverse experiences, has provided a very interesting exercise in historical research. The lives of most immigrants in the first century of European settlement in New Zealand illustrate great adaptability and resourcefulness.

Leaving the familiarity of relatives and friends, of' Edmonton, which lay to the north of London, his father's brickworks, and their Primitive Methodist Church, he was taken with his father, his new young stepmother, three older brothers and sisters and one baby sister to voyage on the sailing ship, the "Buckinghamshire" to the other end of the world. They came to Dunedin in the south of New Zealand.

On board the ship they were accommodated in "assisted" immigrants quarters which were most likely in steerage. After a voyage of nearly three months the "Buckinghamshire" arrived in early winter at a fairley new Scottish colonial town. However, within the past decade, Dunedin had experienced the boom times of the Central Otago goldrushes and his father was able to establish a brick works within the first year.

A bright lad, Moses was the first son to move past primary education. This was a time when few families thought of enrolling a child at secondary school. These were expensive. Moses took the course towards matriculation taken by many intelligent children wishing to advance their education. He became a pupil teacher. This meant being a teacher's assistant or "apprentice" for four years. There was an obligation on the head teacher to provide instruction after school hours to prepare the pupil teachers for a series of four examinations. After these four years the successful students had matriculated and could apply for a teaching position. Most country primary schools in the nineteenth century were staffed by teachers who had qualified in this way. It was an alternative to secondary education. With matriculation came the right to enter University or Teachers' College.

Moses decided to attend Dunedin Teachers' College, the first in New Zealand. Such was the demand for teachers however that he did not complete the two year course and went off to teach in Southland, and then in a remote area of Central Otago, at Nevis where there was still a lot of gold mining activity.

It seems that he had a quality that made him a leader in all communities in which he was involved - the Forbury Primitive Methodist Church, the Nevis gold mining community and then after his marriage to Emma Dodd, the Maori settlements in the far north and in northern Hawkes Bay where he taught until his retirement.

From a study of the intentions of the Native Schools service and the requirements from its teachers it appears that Moses and Emma were the ideal couple. Certainly what we know of their lives up in Whangape and in Nuhaka makes it obvious that they both served the communities, their school, and their local church, with wholehearted enthusiasm, and became highly respected there.

Doubtless many nineteenth century immigrants' lives displayed the considerable range of experiences found in the life of Moses. It is good to follow the career of this boy whose mother was illiterate, whose father was a brickmaker, whose grandfather was a farm labourer, probably illiterate. He took advantage of the challenges of a new way of life and made his own unique contribution to our social history.

J.A. Cranefield M.A.. Hist. (Hons.)

Moses South - Part 1 1867-1903

Early Days

Moses was the youngest child of Joseph and Emma (nee Bright). His parents were both born in Barley, Hertfordshire and were married there. Emma's father Henry was a brickmaker. Joseph and Emma worked their way south towards London. Moses, their eighth child, was born in Edmonton in 1867. Emma died of tuberculosis the next year.

A family story is told about Moses' name. Bess, his youngest half sister, said that Joseph gave each one of his 17 children a name from the Bible. (Hers was Dorcas which was her second name.) She said that when Moses was a little baby, one of Joseph's friends from the church was admiring him, and said ''He looks just like Moses in the bulrushes" and Joseph said "so Moses shall be his name". It was his only Christian name.

The area in which Joseph settled and started his own pottery in 1868 was in Angel Road, Edmonton. Although there is a prevailing legend amongst the New Zealand Souths that the family lived within the sound of Bow Bells, it is unlikely, even on a very quiet Sunday morning, that they would carry so far to the newly developing housing areas to the north of London.

In 1869 Joseph remarried, this time the daughter of his friend Daniel Dutton. His new bride, Mary Ann, was about 19, and this was not popular with his 18 year old son Samuel, still living at home. Samuel moved out to lodge with the Barnards who were dealers in cattle and hides. Later he married Annie Barnard and they had eight children.

Joseph and Mary Arm decided to emigrate to Dunedin, New Zealand and start another brickmaking business there. He sold his Edmonton pottery and brickworks to Samuel. The bill of sale still exists. In 1874, accompanied by Walter (14), Keziah (11), Arthur (9) and Moses (7) from the first family, and Mary Ann's new baby, Florence (4 months), the couple took up an assisted passage on the "Buckinghamshire" and sailed for New Zealand from London in March 1874. They were all in family quarters except for Walter. At 14 he had to go to single men's quarters. Leaving on 7th March, they arrived on 19th May.,

The Voyage:-

Recent publications discussing the conditions on the emigrant ships of the 1970s are of great interest to anyone trying to trace the details of young Moses' life. Certainly, "poor food and bad water were frequently the cause of ill health during the three month voyage". In 1874, therefore, when the Shipping Companies increased their fares, a standard dietary scale was scheduled. The regulations stipulated that the rations per week for each emigrant had to conform to a special dietary table. (see appendix).

Further research would need to be done to ascertain whether or not the Souths themselves benefited from these new regulations, but I think they were unlikely to be in operation by March. Borrie remarks "The greatest mortality was among infants, while after landing children were always in poor health and often infected with disease". Although reports give evidence of the unsavoury conditions which existed on many of the ships, "the fortitude with which the immigrants to New Zealand endured the trials of the long voyage is deserving of the highest praise" (Borrie). Generally the children suffered the most, but for everyone at best the voyage was long and tedious, the food poor, and the risk of disease considerable.

No information has come down to us about the South family's experiences on board the "Buckinghamshire". One wonders if Joseph had any idea of the realities of the long voyage. Only one memory of shipboard life remains. In this Les South has spoken of his father Moses remembering that he was very seasick and they feared for his life.

Arrival in Dunedin

We do not know why Joseph South decided to make Dunedin his destination. There was very good brick clay in the vicinity, and the Otago Provincial Geologist produced a report on this during 1875; also a more detailed account of possibilities for brick making in Otago was published in 1879 by the "Engineer in Chief for Middle Island". This information from these was published in England, but it was definitely not available early enough to have influenced the South decision. Mary Anm's parents, Daniel and Mary Jane Dutton also travelled to Dunedin in the same year on the "Waimea". Her father was a bootmaker or, as he preferred to call himself using old guild terminology, a "cordwainer".

Nor can we imagine their feelings on embarkation from the "Buckinghamshire" on 29th May, after that long time at sea. In 1872 immigration barracks had been built at Caversham for new arrivals. They could accommodate 400 people. However it may be that Joseph had sufficient means to afford to pay for better accommodation. On arrival, all immigrants and immigrants' quarters on the ships were inspected. If there was infection on board, those infected were dispatched to quarantine quarters, or the whole complement were quarantined on the ship. However, if a satisfactory report was presented the immigrants could land and were taken to the barracks where assisted immigrants could live for 7 days. During the boom times of the 1870s the majority found employment within that time.

We do know that later in 1874 Joseph South opened a brick and pottery works at Anderson's Bay. The first were in Tainui, but later he expanded his business by opening works on Walton Park (Fairfield) on the Old Brighton Road. This area had a good supply of clay suitable for the manufacture of bricks, flower pots and ornamental flower urns. Joseph and his sons operated both works until 1891 when he closed down at Anderson's Bay.

School days

It has not been possible to locate any directory entry for the Souths until 1888 when Joseph was listed as a farmer at Fairfield and Moses was already teaching at Nevis. However, Bess always spoke of the family living at first in Anderson's Bay. At that time the suburb appears not to have had surveyed streets and their residence there is not recorded. It is safe to say that the family moved to the Walton Park - Fairfield area soon after the South brickworks were opened there. At Anderson's Bay then at Fairfield Moses received his schooling, and although, unfortunately, pupil teacher records are not available before 1886, it is likely that he spent his four pupil teacher years at Fairfield School. Pupil teacher registers indicate examinations at four levels and head teachers were responsible for preparing these students for the examinations. A few did this well, many did it poorly. (See Appendix for details)

Teachers' Training College

In 1884 Moses applied for entry to Dunedin Teachers' Training College and was accepted for 1885. At that time Teachers' College classes shared a building in Moray Place with the Otago Normal School. Moses, now 18, was one of 76 entrants. He travelled to Dunedin each day by train - one from Walton Park to Green Island and then another in to Dunedin.

Dunedin Teachers' Training College was the first in New Zealand and had been opened in February 1876. Students spent one and a half hours a day in practice teaching in the adjacent school, and three and a half hours in academic instruction. Entrance from a background of pupil teaching required that male students had to be 18 and had satisfactorily completed their apprenticeship. Untrained teachers at Otago Education Board schools had to have an Inspector's recommendation for the course of study. There were two classes - those who had received "superior" education and were already qualified to pass the certificate exam (they just did teaching practice and school management) and those who had completed the ordinary school course as pupils or pupil-teachers (they studied towards the certificate exam as in a secondary school as well as having teaching practice). Students gained free tuition and a grant of £52 a year.

When the Teachers' Training College was first set up, it provided a one year course, and in 1877 a second year class was formed, but there was such a demand for trained teachers that this class was gradually dispersed in order to staff schools. The practice of pulling partly trained teachers into service continued. In 1882 a Committee of Investigation had looked into the conduct and efficiency of the Teachers' College and it was not impressed, and, in the same year, new regulations were passed to improve the quality of education provided for the students. Criticism of the amount of teaching practice that students received continued.

Only one memory has come down to us of Moses' time at College. His daughter Joyce remembers him speaking about taking a leading part in the students' end-of-year concert, and of writing humorous topical songs to well-known tunes.

Early teaching experience:

In the minutes of the Appointments and Selection Committee of the Otago Education Board for 1886 there are recorded applications by Moses South for positions at a variety of country schools. He was still uncertificated and had completed his first year at Teachers' Training College. In April 1886 he applied for teaching positions in White Sow Valley, Ahuriri, St. Bathans and Miller's Flat. He was applying with an "E" partial or E5 grading. There were 5 grades, each divided into 5 levels. These were based on length of service, and estimated efficiency, and they dictated the salary (see Appendix). This grading is not an indication of Moses' ability as a teacher but the result of the fact that the two year college course was incomplete. Also he had not yet worked independently as a teacher or received an Inspector's visit to examine his pupils and give him grading points.

In July 1886 Moses applied for Waikoikoi School, one of four applicants. He gained this position to start in February 1887, but in August he also applied for a teaching position at Manuka Creek School, and in October he applied for Saddle Hill School at a salary of £143 a year. Both these two schools were close to Dunedin.

Aged 20, in 1887 Moses South went to teach at Waikoikoi in Southland. It was a fairly new farming settlement between Tapanui and Gore. The school had an average attendance of 36. Both the schoolhouse and teacher's residence had been constructed in 1879. In Stone's Directory for 1887 Moses is listed as teacher and postmaster at Waikoikoi, and he appears to have stayed there for just one year.

His name next appears in the 1888 Directory as schoolmaster at Nevis in Otago Central. This was a mining settlement in what we would consider a very remote area, inland from Bannockburn and across the Old Woman Range. It could also be approached from Garston which lies south of Kingston at the end of Lake Wakatipu (see letter in Appendix from his sister "Nellie"). The school had an average attendance of 16 at the time. In the minutes of the Appointments and Selection Committee of the Otago Education Board there is no record either of a vacancy at Nevis or of the appointment. It therefore seems possible that Moses took the position initially in a relieving capacity. He was to stay there, a leader in the little community for seven years, until the beginning of 1895 by which time the average school attendance was down to seven. By the time the Stone's Directory for 1897 was published he was living in Alexandra teaching music. Nevis School attendances continued to be published after his departure and it remained -a "school district" but there is no record of a trained teacher being there. The roll did rise again and is likely that an untrained teacher was working in Moses' place.

In January 1897 his sister Cordelia Ellen (''Nell'') made the long trip up to Nevis (although Moses was no longer living there he had many good friends in the area). She went for reasons of health and her letter home from there still exists. She seems to have travelled on the Dunedin to Kingston train, getting off at Garston and spending a. night there. Moses met her off the train. She then travelled all the next day, leaving at 5.30 a.m. and arriving at Nevis mid afternoon. Her letter (see Appendix) describes the difficult journey and her warm welcome. She wrote to her mother on the 18th January and, tragically, died on 23rd January. A story handed down by her sister Bess tells of the difficulty of bringing her coffin down the steep winding and rough road from Nevis and stopping it sliding off the dray. Aged 22, she was buried in Dunedin.

The Inspector, Mr Petrie, visited the Nevis School in 1890 and his report still exists (see Appendix). During such visits the Inspector tested all the children, and it gives a good insight into the school system at the time.

There are a number of interesting stories of the seven years at Nevis that Moses told his children.

He told them about the intense heat of tile Central Otago summer and how he had bathed in a cold mountain stream with ice floating in it. Moses became fully involved in the life of the Nevis community and was a member of the cricket team and of the rugby team. Always a very musical young man, he played the piano often entertaining at a pub. He was teetotal, a true "blue ribbon boy", and would finish the evening with rows of full glasses of beer along the top of the piano. He used to remember one local identity who always carried a Bible. When he showed this Bible to Moses it opened to reveal a hollow inside just large enough for a bottle of whisky. His daughter Joyce remembers stories of the miners, and Moses playing the piano, this time for their dances, again with a row of full glasses of beer on the piano. The miners never came to terms with his opposition to "the Demon Drink They certainly trusted him. When they came in to Nevis for their gold to be weighed, Moses was their "bank". He was given enough money to look after so that they could get back to the diggings and buy sufficient provisions and he recorded this in an account book. They usually spent the rest on "grog".

His family remember that Moses taught at two remote sole charge schools, three days at one and three at another. So far it has not been possible to locate the other school in the archives of the Otago Education Board. Geographically it would seem most likely to have been Carricktown or Bannockburn. The former, like Nevis, has been deserted for a very long time now. The Department of' Survey and Land information map of Queenstown - Kingston (1995) does name an area called "Schoolhouse Flat" and a surveyed track still remains from there to both these former mining settlements. A memory still exists of a dangerous moment in the harsh winters. Joyce writes of the time when Moses was riding over the mountain track which would take him over the Duffer's Saddle in the Old Woman Range to Carricktown or further on to Bannockburn. His horse stopped suddenly and refused to go on. Moses dismounted to lead it and was shocked to find that they were on the edge of a precipice.

We have no record of his departure from Nevis other than a presentation watch dated February 1895, or of his time teaching music in Alexandra. In 1898 or 1899 he returned to Dunedin where he evidently lived with his parents who were now in South Dunedin, as there is no record of his residence in any directory. Similarly the lack of any record of him holding a teaching position suggests that he may have been working as a relief teacher in city schools.

His years back in Dunedin-

Moses had become engaged to Emma Dodd during these years. By 1900 he was very involved, like the rest of the family, in the affairs of the Kew Primitive Methodist Church, at Forbury Corner between South Dunedin and Caversham. When a decision was made to establish a choir there, in February of that year a committee was set up to to administer the choir. Miss Emma Dodd was its first Secretary-Treasurer, and in August Mr Moses South was a member of a committee to draw up rules for this choir.

In March 1901 Mr Moses and Miss Emma resigned and on the 13th of that month they were married. On April 2nd at the Choir Committee meeting it was proposed and carried that the new Secretary should write to Mr and Mrs Moses South, and "ask them to forget that they had resigned". They do not appear to have rejoined the committee. They were no longer living close by, however they did retain an interest for years. In May 1903, after they had already travelled up to North Auckland, Moses sent a donation of £1 towards the choir. Again in September 1906 he sent the choir a donation of £1 towards a church organ.

By 1902 he was employed at "Guillemot - Arcade Hairdressers and Drapers". The Royal Arcade was a fashionable roofed shopping centre that ran between 1 High Street and Maclaggan Street. They were now living at 23 Richardson Street in St Clair. Sadly, Emina and Moses lost their first baby, and she made a very slow recovery. Her doctor advised Moses to take her to a warmer climate. He wrote to the Education Department in Wellington and they appointed him to the Whangape Native School in North Auckland. In 1903 they sailed as far as the Hokianga Harbour and then rode on horseback from there to the Whangape Harbour. They had to order stores to last them three months. Emma was to be Moses' assistant at this school. A new life began for them both.



Passenger list from the shipping records of the Buckinghamshire held in the Otago Settlers' Museum.


"Immigration to New Zealand 1854-1938" by W. D. Borrie.




"The History of Brick, Tile and Pottery Industries in Otago" Unpublished thesis by Elizabeth M. Seed.






"The Otago Education Board, 1856-1956. A brief history" Published by the Otago Education Board and Reed.


Dunedin Teacher' College Centennial Register of Students 1876-1976


"Dunedin Teachers' Training College - the First Hundred yYears" by Carol Morton Johnston and Harry Morton


Kew Primitive Methodist Church Choir Committee Minute Book 1900-1916, in Methodist Church Archives held in Hocken Library 


B. Pupil Teachers

"A general examination of pupil teachers will be held as near the end of the school year as possible. Pupil teacher are expected to advance at least one grade at each annual examination.......Head teachers will he required to give instruction to their pupil teachers in the subjects of study laid down for them either personally or by competent assistants, five hours per week at least, outside the ordinary school hours." The teachers were paid for instructing the pupil teacher and received a bonus for passes, and more for good passes by their students.

Regulations quoted in "The Otago Education Board 1956-1956"

C. The bonus system for teachers

The Otago Education Board tried to reward, to some extent, teachers whose work merited special commendation from the Inspectors. As the examination and classification of teachers altered, a system was introduced that proved a real incentive to teachers to strive to improve their status as well as the quality of their work. A teacher's salary came to consist of two parts:

1) A definite amount known as "salary", depending on size of the school and the position he occupied on the staff.

2) A separate amount determined by scholarship, length of service, and proven efficiency, as indicated by an inspector's marks. This was called the "bonus".

There were five grades of "scholarship" from an A to a University graduate with Honours, down to a teacher who had passed an elementary examination, which entitled him to class E.

Each of these five classes of certificate was itself divided into five subclasses, according to length of service and estimated efficiency of the teacher.

[e.g. When a teacher passed the "C" examination lie would be put into class C, indeed, C5. As soon as he had gained five marks for service and efficiency he rose to C4 with a bonus of £10. With five more he'd rise to C3 - and so on!] Ref. O.E.B. History.

Note The inspector Moses dealt with was Mr D. Petrie M.A.

Bibliography of Sources

Borrie, W.D. "Immigration to New Zealand 1854-1938-

Macdonald, Nicol  "In the Shadow of Saddle Hill - school and district story of Walton - Fairfield 1872-1972"

Morton, Harry and Johnston, Carol Morton  "Dunedin Teachers' Training College - the first hundred years".

Olssen, Erik "History of Otago

Simpson, Tony "The Immigrants"


"The Otago Education Board 1856-1956" pub. Otago Education Board and Reed.

"The New Zealand Atlas" pub Reed in association with Department of Survey and Land


Unpublished material held at the Hocken Library:-

"The History of Brick, Tile and Pottery Industries in Otago

Unpublished thesis by Elizabeth M. Seed.

Methodist Church Archives

Otago Education Board Archives


Les South, Muriel Calvert and Joyce Hickling for reminiscences.

Wendy Moses for family tree, encouragement, and interest.

Kenneth Barker for research in England on the "South and Sons" potteries.

Dr David McKenzie for interest and advice.


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