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Thu 14 December 2017
FEATURE ARTICLES
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PLACE: LAKE MCRAE, SOUTH ISLAND
According to the book "MacRaes to New Zealand" (see MacRae Books), Lake McRae was discovered in 1850 by William McRae when with others he was looking for a route to take sheep from Awatere Valley in Marlborough through to Amuri in Canterbury. William, born in 1825, was the third of 11 children of George McRae and Helen Sutherland from Inverness-shire. They emigrated to New Zealand with all but one of their children in 1841, arriving in March 1842. The last child was the only one born in New Zealand.

A privately published history of George McRae and his children entitled "Red River to Blairich" includes the following passage:

"During 1850, Lieutenant Impey with William McRae, a whaler named Jordan and two Maoris explored up the Awatere to find a suitable track to drive sheep to the Port Arthur Plains and Amuri. The trip commenced on May 9th taking the two horses, good little skipper and lazy Wooden legs. They named the river Medway which Impey thought rose in the Tapuaenuku Range. They passed Weld's Hill. They named and passed the River Jordan, Jordan's Nob, River McRae and the River Ribble where they camped several days as it came on to rain. The dogs kept them supplied with wekas to add to the food supply. On the 7th day out, the weather cleared and they went on up the valley and named more rivers, the Isis, Cam and the Gladwyn. Here they camped and had "delicious rats for dinner". By the 13th day, snow commenced, the Maoris were sick and the country so rough that they decided to go no further. William McRae went off on his own and returned the next morning covered with snow and his clothes frozen. He had seen Lake McRae in the Clarence Valley, named after him, due east and about ten miles distant."

With thanks to Brian Dodds
descendant of Nehemiah McRae, the 9th child of George McRae and Helen Sutherland.

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