John Andrew Chapman

‘he was a young New Zealander – tall, handsome, kindly, chivalrous, with some of the old world culture as an added grace – a man of whom all men spoke well and whom all men liked’.

John was the second son of Rev John Chapman Andrew of Ica Station, Wairarapa. His mother was Emma Fendall and the Christchurch suburb of Fendalton is named for her brother’s landholding there.

On 7 April 1904, Inspector Ellison received a cable from a constable at Martinborough to say that John Andrew was lost in the bush. He had been on his first deer stalking mission over Easter with friends James Wilson and W.E. Hughes on the Whatarangi Station.

They had set up camp 25 miles southeast of Martinborough. On the Tuesday morning John left camp on a solitary stalk saying that if he was not back by nightfall, they shouldn’t worry as he may camp out overnight. It had been arranged between the party that if any one of them ‘got bushed’, the signal to be used was five shots from a rifle. Recent visitors to the station reported thick fog in the area which may have accounted for the delay in his return.

The Premier, Mr Seddon, on his arrival in Featherston for a holiday requested that a selected detachment of artillerymen skilled in bushwork be sent from Wellington to assist with the search. By the 11th April it was estimated that over 100 men were involved in the search and were being paid 10 shillings per day. A substantial reward of £400 was also offered.

On 12th April the sad news reached Wellington that John’s body had been found by Frederick Steffin, a member of another hunting group. For three days Steffin’s party had heard shots in the Ruakokoputuna district in response to their firing but attached no importance to them until they arrived in Martinborough and heard of the missing man. Steffin and his friend Jack Ross went back to where they had heard the shots the previous week. They found John’s body with a rifle and empty cartridges were lying next to it. All of the ammunition had been used.

An inquest was held in Martinborough. Dr Andrew, brother of John, examined the body and determined he had died several days earlier. His opinion was that John had died due to exposure to damp and cold.

John was born in Wellington and attended Nelson College where his father was headmaster. He attained a BA at Oxford University and on his return to Wellington was admitted to the bar in 1891. He married Jessie Morrison in 1894, the daughter of another Wairarapa settler John Morrison of Blairlogie. The couple have five children, then youngest of which was only 9 months old when he died.

He was member of the Council of the Wellington Law Society,  a member of the Wellesley Club and vestryman of St Mark’s Church.

The funeral was held at St Mark’s Church conducted by the Rev Coffey. The Premier, Mayor and several members of the city council attended. The last rites were performed graveside at Karori Cemetery.

Jessie remarried and his buried in Nelson. John is the only interment in this plot.

Ch Eng/O/61

By Julia Kennedy

John Andrew Chapman. NZ Mail
Chapman Plot, courtesy of FindaGrave