The origin of the word "Kilmog" has been debated for
decades in Dunedin circles. A letter in yesterday's ODT
raises the question once more and occasions the publication
of the following edited extract from the authoritative
Spurious Maori Placenames of Southern New Zealand, by George
Kilmog: One of the most important vernacular relics of
southern Maori dialect, from kirimoko (Griffiths &
Goodall, Maori Dunedin, p45).
Beattie (Our Southernmost Maoris, p126) repeating a quote out
of Canon Nevill's notebooks: "'Kilmog and muki muki
(coprosma) tea' in early days."
Also Beattie (Lifeways, p193): "This kirimoko the collector
has been informed is the small kind of manuka called 'kilmog'
by the early settlers and it is said that Mount Kilmog
between Dunedin and Oamaru was named because of its
Although, for many years, this name was attributed to all
sorts of origins, the most convincing proof of its real
origin can be found in a little-known book, Reminiscences
of a Voyage Around the World in the Forties, by Captain
Burr Osborn (Union City, Michigan, 1892), chapter 10;
"Stealing a Blacksmith from Bluff".
Describing a passage from Bluff to the New River Estuary
through "Killmogue swamp", it continued: "The 11 miles
through Killmogue swamp was only a narrow foot-path made by
the natives, perhaps centuries ago. The mud and water was a
foot or more in depth the whole distance, and the path was no
wider than a man's body all the way. The leaves of this bush,
or Killmogue, makes excellent tea, and both the whites and
natives use it for that purpose."
"The bush is about 10 feet in height and the brush part is
very fine. The Whites use the brush for brooms if they use
anything. It is of a resinous nature and the natives utilise
it for torches when travelling by night" (reprinted in
Richards, Foveaux Whaling Yarns, p42).
Otago Provincial Gazette, December 3, 1862, p269,
reporting on the road between Dunedin and Waikouaiti: "In
Kilmog Bush, one mile and three-quarters have been formed and
metalled . . . track through Kilmog Bush to be widened". No
mention of "the Kilmog" by itself.
Hocken's notebook (pp68-69): "Kilmog Hill. Pratt, the Maori
member, says that when a boy (say circa 1840) his grandfather
being desirous that he should learn English sent him to
Otakou where he lived with Fowler the whaler.
"He remembers well the drinking of tea made from the leaves
of the scrub manuka (Leptospermum scop.) which was also
called kilmog (if so this must have been a rough patois). He
says that this hill was then covered with kilmog and that he
often heard Fowler and others call it Kilmog hill.
"Note. I do not believe this at all. I know Pratt (Tamati
Parata) well, and have often asked him questions connected
with his race which he did not answer satisfactorily . . .
"He is a modernised Maori. Within the last eight or nine
years, however, especially since he has been an MHR, he seems
to have accepted the role of an informant to the various
questions with which he is constantly plied. My friend, F. R.
Chapman, gives me Pratt's sanction, but neither of us can
convert the word into whalers' slang Maori  . . .
"As regards Kilmog's etymology, I can only further suggest
some alteration of mok-mok with some Irishman's prefix of Kil
. . . This was suggested by a name in an old Witness and I
cannot now give the number. I think, however, this suggestion
unworthy . . . After all Pratt is right.
"Mr W. H. Pearson, an old identity, tells me that in an
ancient expedition to Stewart Island, his companion, the
whaler, frequently made kilmog (manuka) and mikmiki