Nan Steel (72), a descendant of Margaret Blair, travelled
from Scotland to attended the McLay reunion with her
husband Douglas (78). Photo by Helena de Reus.
McLays from around the country gathered in Pounawea over
the weekend to mark 150 years since their descendants arrived
in New Zealand.
On December 1, 1862, widow Ann McLay (nee Aitken) with her
five sons, James, Robert, Moses, William, and David, and one
of her daughters, Mary, left Scotland on the ship Arima,
bound for New Zealand.
The family members arrived at Port Chalmers on March 19,
1863, and took a paddle-steamer to Dunedin before spreading
out across South and West Otago.
All of them eventually bought land at Ahuriri Flat, now known
as Otekura, in South Otago.
McLay family reunion committee chairman Cyril Wilden, of
Dunedin, said more than 170 people had registered for the
event held at the Pounawea Convention Centre.
The reunion was spread over three days, with a barbecue and
welcome on Friday evening, photos, a bus trip around South
Otago taking in former and existing family farms, and a
family dinner on Saturday.
Scottish woman Nan Steel visited New Zealand for the fifth
time to attend her third McLay reunion.
Mrs Steel is descended from Margaret Blair (nee McLay), who
was the only McLay family member not to emigrate to New
Margaret married James Blair only weeks before the ship
departed, and stayed in Scotland. She never saw her mother or
Mrs Steel said she attended her first McLay reunion in 1995,
but family members had kept in touch with the Scottish
She and husband Douglas were looking forward to touring the
South Otago area, and seeing where their relatives lived, she
The couple arrived in the country last Tuesday and depart on
The reunion also drew the parents of All Black captain Richie
McCaw - Donald and Margaret.
Margaret McCaw is a descendant of James McLay.
Mrs McCaw said it was the first time she and her husband had
attended a McLay family reunion, and they were enjoying
catching up with family members.
''I've never spent much time down here, so it will be nice to
see where the family is from.''
The reunion concluded yesterday with a church service and