Trailblazing clan marks 150 years in Wakatipu

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The descendants of a pioneering Queenstown family will reunite this weekend to celebrate 150 years since arriving here. 

The Flint clan were among the first settlers to the Wakatipu – they can lay claim to the fact that the first European male baby born in the area was theirs and they also grew the first crop of oats in the region. 

Three generations of Flints will gather to acknowledge their ancestors’ with the special publication of a book on the family history, written by former Queenstowner Murray Flint. 

Murray’s great-grandfather was James Flint, who was employed by Queenstown’s founding father William Gilbert Rees. 

Scotsman James took a flock of his boss’s rams from Oamaru to Queenstown and his wife Mary travelled by bullock wagon with Rees’s wife Frances from Bluff. 

The Flints later settled at their farm Mary Hill – now known as Glenpanel, near Ladies Mile. 

The eldest of their eight children, William Wakatipu Flint, was born on October 3, 1861, and is officially the Wakatipu’s first male born to European settlers. He died aged three. 

Murray, 69, is the grandson of James and Mary’s youngest son William, who died in 1910, aged 36, of ptomaine poisoning after eating a meat pie from an Invercargill bakery. 

Murray and his brother Les, who died in 1999, were plumbers in Queenstown during the 1970s and 1990s. Murray and his wife Cara now live in Oamaru. 

Les’s widow Joy Flint, their daughter Debbie Jensen – and her two daughters – are the remaining Flint family members in the resort. The rest are scattered around New Zealand and overseas. 

“There’s a lot of history there. It will be nice to have everyone together,” Murray says. 

Lakes District Museum archivist Karen Swaine says Murray’s research will help increase the knowledge base of early local pioneers. 

“They’re shedding some light on that early, two, three, four years of this district because of their family history.”