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The Arms of Admiral Sir Joseph Nias, KCB

By Roger Barnes

On the 29th of January 1840, HMS Herald, under the command of Captain Joseph Nias and with (the soon-to-be Lieutenant-Governor) Captain William Hobson as a passenger, sailed into the Bay of Islands. Eight days later, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in a marquee at the residence of James Busby, with Hobson sitting between Nias and Busby. Over the next few months, Nias took Major Thomas Bunbury (who was deputising for Hobson because of his illness) and a copy of the Treaty (aboard the Herald) to other places in the North Island and to the South Island for further signatures of Maori chiefs. The Herald also went to an uninhabited part of Stewart Island, and to Ruapuke Island, in Foveaux Strait, where three chiefs signed. The Herald arrived back in the Bay of Islands on the 2nd of July with 27 signatures. The signature of Nias, as a witness, is to be found on the original treaty signed at Waitangi and, I presume, also on the copy taken on the Herald, the so-called “Herald-Bunbury Treaty Sheet”. Nias is not as well known in the history of New Zealand as he should be.

Nias Signature

The signature of Nias from the document signed at Waitangi.


HMS Herald

H.M.S. Herald in Sylvan Cove, Stewarts [sic] Island, 1840 by Edward March Williams (1818-1909).

Nias was accused of not having paid due deference to both Hobson and Busby, and of being unco-operative with the former. These allegations were discussed by T. D. H. Hall in his book Captain Joseph Nias and The Treaty of Waitangi — A Vindication (1938).

According to Hall, Nias’s ancestors were from the Netherlands: “In 1653 a Dutch ship was captured in a sea fight, and her crew were interned in England. Among them was one, Nias. Peace came in due course; but Nias elected to remain in England, and married there. … At the peace Nias settled in Newbury [Berkshire]. … In the third generation a Joseph Nias married a Miss Merriman, … The son of this union, also Joseph [a ship insurance broker], settled in London. He married Ann Cropper …”.

Their third son, born in London on the 2nd of April 1793, was the Joseph Nias who came to New Zealand in 1840. He had entered the navy in 1807, and served on the sloop Nautilus and the frigates Comus and Nymphen. During his last few weeks on the Nymphen (in 1815), Nias was in charge of one of her boats and was employed in rowing guard around the Bellerophon in Plymouth Sound, keeping away the sight-seers who had hoped to catch a glimpse of Napoleon who was being held prisoner on board. In 1818, Nias was appointed to the brig Alexander, with Lieutenant (later Sir) William Edward Parry, for an expedition to the Arctic under the command of Captain (later Sir) John Ross. In the period 1819-1823, Nias took part in at least one further expedition to the Arctic, spending two winters there, and was promoted (in December 1820) to the rank of lieutenant.

During several years of service in the Mediterranean Sea, Nias was promoted to the rank of commander, and was given his first command — the brig Alacrity. In 1838, he commissioned the frigate Herald for the East India station, which then included Australia, China, and the Western Pacific. It was from Sydney that Nias and Hobson sailed on the Herald to New Zealand. During the First Opium War (1839-42), Nias served in the operations leading to the capture of Canton. He was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1841. He returned to England in 1843, in which year his armorial bearings were granted.

Sir Joseph NiasIn 1855, Nias married Caroline Isabella Laing, daughter of John Laing, of Montague Square, London. They had two sons and three daughters.

Between 1850 and 1856, Nias had several other appointments (mostly ashore), and was promoted to rear-admiral in 1857, vice-admiral in 1863, and Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in 1867. In that same year, he was promoted to the rank of admiral. After retirement, he lived in London, and died at his home in Montague Square in December 1879. The ODNB describes Sir Joseph Nias as “an able, resourceful, and determined officer. His promotions were secured on merit, and he was sensitive of his reputation.”



The Arms of Sir Joseph Nias, KCB

Arms:    Party per pale Gules and Azure, a naval crown, and issuant therefrom a flag Or, inscribed with the word “China” in letters Sable, between four Cornish choughs Argent, beaked and membered of the First.

Crest:     On a wreath of the colours, an anchor fessewise, with cable Sable, thereon a Cornish chough Proper, gorged with a collar engrailed Or.

Motto:   Juvante Deo [By the help of God].

Granted by the English Kings of Arms, 26 August 1843 [Coll Arm Ms Grants 46/369].

The arms were granted to Nias two years after he was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath, and 24 years before he was knighted. The illustration here, however, shows the knight’s helmet to which he became entitled in 1867. The anchor, the naval crown and its flag inscribed “China” have obvious reference to Sir Joseph’s career, particularly his time in that country. The Cornish chough (pronounced “chuff” or the onomatopoeic “chow”), Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax, is a member of the crow family, and has in recent decades returned to nest on the sea-cliffs of Cornwall after an absence of half a century. It is not uncommon in the heraldry of that county. When blazoned Proper, it has a black body with red beak and legs. Although those on the shield have their bodies blazoned Argent, their red beaks and legs, unfortunately, would not show clearly on a coloured painting of these arms, the field of the arms being red and blue. I am unaware of any significances for Nias of these birds and of the collar of the one in the crest, but it is interesting to note that the crest bears some resemblance to that of Lord Nelson’s mentor, the first Viscount Hood (a Cornish chough Proper resting the dexter claw on the fluke of an anchor placed in bend sinister Or).



Martin Doutré, The Littlewood Treaty, Dé Danann Publishers, Coatesville, 2005.

A.C. Fox-Davies, Armorial Families, Hurst & Blackett, London, 7th edition, 1929, p.1433.

T.D.H. Hall, Captain Joseph Nias and The Treaty of Waitangi — A Vindication, Wellington, 1938.

Alan Lambourn, Major Thomas Bunbury, Heritage Press, Waikanae, 1995.

J.K. Laughton (revised by Andrew Lambert), ‘Nias, Sir Joseph (1793-1879)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, www.oxforddnb.com (2004).

Claudia Orange, The Story of a Treaty, 1989, reprinted 2001 by Bridget Williams Books, Wellington.

David Tomlinson, ‘The Wild Week’, Country Life, 28 June 2001 (an article about Cornish choughs).


My thanks to Peter O’Donoghue, York Herald, College of Arms, for the date of the grant, and confirmation that the beaks and legs are red.


Welcome to the Heraldry Society of New Zealand’s official blog

This is a warm welcome to all and singular! If you are interested in heraldry, particularly in New Zealand, or if you wish to learn more about the science of heraldry, then you have come to the right place!

The Heraldry Society of New Zealand (HSNZ), established in 1962, is the principal New Zealand learned society concerned with the scholarly study of armorial bearings, the law of arms, heralds, and officers of arms.

The Society publishes a quarterly journal, The New Zealand Armorist. This blog is intended to complement the society’s journal by posting heraldry-related notices, as well as keeping the society’s members updated on upcoming events.

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Badge of the Heraldry Society of New Zealand

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Sir Ernest Shackleton

By Roger Barnes

Sir Ernest Shackleton's  Arms

Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Arms

This year [2015] is the centenary of the start of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Trans-Antarctic expedition during which he showed remarkable endurance, bravery and leadership. Over a period of 21 years (1901 to 1922), he made several expeditions to Antarctica and the islands of the Southern Ocean, travelling via New Zealand on numerous occasions.

Ernest Henry Shackleton was born at Kilkea House, in the County of Kildare, Ireland, on 15 February 1874, the second child and elder son of Henry Shackleton (1847-1921) a farmer, and his wife Henrietta Letitia Sophia Gavan (1845-1926). Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage (1963) gives a male-line descent from John Shackleton, of Shackleton House, Bingley, Yorkshire, born in the 16th century. John’s great-grandson Abraham settled at Ballitore (about 50 km south-west of Dublin, and also in the County of Kildare) in the early 18th century. The family was prominent among the Quakers. The surname is probably derived from a small Yorkshire hamlet of the same name, 16 km south-west of Bingley, and 2 km from Hebden Bridge. The hamlet’s name is possibly of Old English origin: scacol (tongue of land), and tun (farmstead).

Henry abandoned farming, and trained as a physician. In 1884, the family moved to Croydon and then to Sydenham, both now southern suburbs of London. Henry had a medical practice in Sydenham, and Ernest attended nearby Dulwich College, where he was a below average pupil, but did well in English history and literature, and mathematics. He left Dulwich at the age of 16 to join the mercantile marine. In 1901, he joined Robert Falcon Scott’s Antarctic expedition (on Discovery), having been commissioned a Sub-Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Reserve. This expedition travelled via New Zealand. Scott and Shackleton did not get on well with each other, and in 1903, Scott sent Shackleton home on the pretext that the latter was ill. He spent a period of “convalescence” in New Zealand.

In January 1904, Shackleton was appointed to the secretaryship of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, and in April of that year, he married Emily Mary Dorman. (They subsequently had two sons and a daughter. The second son, Edward Arthur Alexander, was created Baron Shackleton (life peer) in 1958.) In August 1907, King Edward VII appointed Shackleton a Member of the Royal Victorian Order.

Shackleton Banner

Sir Ernest Shackleton with Banner

Shackleton commanded another Antarctic expedition on the ship Nimrod which left Lyttelton Harbour in New Zealand on 1 January 1908. He and three other men travelled over the ice, reaching about 88° 23’ south (about 190 km from the pole) before turning back on 9 January 1909. It was the closest that anyone had been to the South Pole. The expedition returned (via New Zealand) to England, arriving a few months later. On 10 July, King Edward promoted Shackleton to the rank of Commander of the Royal Victorian Order. In November 1909, he was made a Knight Bachelor. He and others in the Nimrod shore party received the Polar Medal. The Irish press claimed him, quite rightly, as their own.

After Roald Amundsen reached the South pole in 1911, Sir Ernest turned his attention to the making of a crossing of the great southern continent. One of the Trans-Antarctic expedition’s ships (previously named Polaris) was re-named Endurance when it was acquired, apparently on the assumption that Fortitudine in the Shackleton family motto meant “By Endurance”. Despite the out-break of war on 3 August 1914, Endurance was directed to proceed to Antarctica. The ship’s captain was a New Zealander, Frank Worsley. The ship was crushed by ice in the Weddell Sea in October 1915, and after some months camped on the ice and several days at sea in three small boats, the party reached Elephant Island, named for its elephant seals which, by this time, had been hunted to extinction. After about ten days, Sir Ernest and a smaller party (in one boat) crossed the Scotia Sea, and landed on South Georgia on 9 or 10 May 1916. He, Worsley and Tom Crean then crossed the island, arriving at a Norwegian whaling station on 19 or 20 May. Those left on the other side of the island were then rescued. After three failed attempts, Shackleton returned to Elephant Island (in a Chilean sea-going tug-boat) to rescue those men left there. He also returned (via New Zealand) to the Antarctic to rescue the Ross Sea party which had been establishing supply depots on the opposite side of the icy continent from where he had started. Three of these men had died.

Sir Ernest Shackleton spent the remainder of the First World War on diplomatic missions to South America and Russia. He was commissioned a Major in 1918, and appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (Military Division) in 1919. His last voyage was on the Quest to South Georgia, arriving on 4 January 1922. He died of a heart attack in the early hours of the next morning. He was buried, at his wife’s request, at Grytviken on South Georgia.

Alexander Macklin, who had been senior surgeon aboard Endurance and was with Shackleton when he died, described him as “an outstanding personality — there radiated from him something strong and powerful and purposeful so that even to meet him was an experience …”.

During his life-time, Sir Ernest Shackleton was received by kings and queens, and was awarded many honours within the UK and from overseas, and numerous places have been named after him. Although his standing was, for several decades, eclipsed by that of Robert Falcon Scott, there has been, in the last half century, greater recognition of the qualities of the former, and some criticism of the latter.

Apsley Cherry-Garrard, who had been with Scott on his Terra Nova expedition (1910-13), wrote: “For a joint scientific and geographical piece of organization, give me Scott; for a Winter Journey, Wilson; for a dash to the Pole and nothing else, Amundsen; and if I am in the devil of a hole and want to get out of it, give me Shackleton every time.”

The Armorial Bearings of Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton

Shackleton Arms tricked

Shackleton Arms tricked

The earliest reference that I have found to a Shackleton coat of arms is in Kennedy’s Book of Arms, sub-titled or originally titled “Sketches Collected chiefly from the Records in Ulster’s Office and other authentic Documents by Patrick Kennedy Herald Painter”, and dated 1816. The arms (reproduced here) have the tinctures tricked. The blazon would therefore be: Or, on a fess Gules, three lozenge-shaped “Buckels” fesswise Or. The crest is “a Buffaloes Head ”. No motto is shown. Burke’s General Armory (1884) gives similar arms but with a poplar tree as the crest, for Shackleton (with no place of residence shown).

The arms, with the buckles being more specifically described, and with the addition of a cross humettée (couped at the ends of its arms) on a canton, were confirmed to Joseph Fisher Shackleton (a cousin of Sir Ernest’s father) of Lucan in the County of Dublin, and to the other descendants of his grandfather Abraham Shackleton (Sir Ernest’s great-grandfather), on 21 December 1898 by Sir Arthur Edward Vicars, Ulster King of Arms (who at that time had jurisdiction over all Ireland). However, the crest granted or confirmed by Ulster was a poplar tree charged with a buckle.

Arms: Or, on a fess Gules, three lozengy buckles, tongues paleways Gold; on a canton of the Second, a cross humettée of the Third.

Crest: A poplar tree Proper charged with a buckle as in the arms.

As Sir Ernest inherited the arms and crest, they show no symbolism that is particular to him. What the various charges mean, if anything, is not entirely clear. The “lozengy buckles” (i.e. lozenge-shaped buckles) might be an attempt at a play on the surname, in that both shackles and buckles fix together belts, chains, etc. The poplar tree may well be a reference to the family’s being Quakers, or a play on the surname, in that the leaves of the poplar quake or shake in the wind. The significance of the buffalo’s head in the earlier crest is unclear. The Latin motto means: By strength we conquer.

The helmet, with its raised visor, is that of a knight or baronet. As the achievement shows no other indication of knighthood or baronetcy, then the helmet means that the bearer is a Knight Bachelor. (The badge and neck ribbon for knights bachelor were not introduced until 1926 and 1973 respectively.)

Below the shield, and to the dexter, is the badge (suspended by the neck ribbon) of a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order. To the sinister is the (breast) badge and ribbon of an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (Military Division). The central design of the badge includes Britannia pointing to her overseas empire, with the sun in the sky, and is surrounded by the Order’s motto “For God and the Empire”. (In 1937, the central design was changed to crowned heads of King George V and Queen Mary.) The purple ribbon’s central scarlet stripe indicates the Military Division. (Also in 1937, the ribbon was altered to rose pink with edges of pearl grey, with the central stripe of the latter colour for the Military Division.)

Sir Ernest’s younger brother Francis Richard (1876-1941), Dublin Herald of Arms (1905-07) of the Order of St Patrick, was probably involved in, but later officially exonerated of, the 1907 theft from Dublin Castle of the Sovereign’s insignia of the Order, also known as “Ireland’s Crown Jewels”.

Shackleton Banner

Shackleton Banner

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Walter Oliver Cernohorsky 1927-2014

By Gregor Macaulay

Walter Oliver Cernohorsky

Walter Oliver Cernohorsky

Walter Cernohorsky, longstanding member and councillor of The Heraldry Society of New Zealand (HSNZ), and valued contributor to the Society’s journal The New Zealand Armorist (the Armorist), died in Auckland on 23 September 2014, aged 87. Walter was born on 30 June 1927 in Brno, in what is now the Czech Republic, the youngest son of Jan Cernohorsky (an hotelier descended from a noble Czech family that had held medieval lordships in Bohemia and Moravia) and his wife Maria (née Markova). Walter’s parents died when he was seven and so he was brought up by his brother Jan and sister-in-law Vlasta. He lived through the German occupation of his homeland and recalled the requisition of the family’s hotel and the execution of an uncle, an officer in the Czech army who was shot by the Germans. Walter was at university, studying architecture, when the Communists came to power in Czechoslovakia. Having been warned that the Communist authorities were looking for him, he decided to leave the country. Without being able to return home for papers or belongings, or to say goodbye to his brother, Walter and a friend hid on a train and escaped in 1948, never to return. He spent a period working as a translator for the American army (he spoke Czech, English, German, and some Russian) and in 1949 sailed from Italy as a refugee for Australia. He worked in Queensland cutting sugar cane and in factories and brickworks and as a surveyor. At the Golden Plateau Mine in Cracow, Queensland, he met his wife Irene. They married in 1953 and departed for Fiji, where Walter was chief surveyor at the Emperor Gold Mines in Vatukoula until 1968.

Walter Cernohorsky c1960

Walter Cernohorsky c1960

A fascination with photographing shells developed into a passion for conchology and a deep interest and expertise in malacological science. In 1968 he was awarded a research associateship at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. His hobby eventually became his job and in 1969 he was appointed Curator of Molluscs at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, where he was a popular colleague. His first book, Marine Shells of the Pacific (volume 1), had appeared in 1961 (volume 2 followed in 1972) and he was the author of many other scientific publications, especially on the families Mitridae, Nassaridae, and Terebridae, about which he was a recognised authority. Five new species of molluscs were named in his honour. His other interests included numismatics, philately (he designed three values of a Fijian stamp issue of 1968 – featuring shells), heraldry, and chivalry. His knowledge of languages and continental nobility informed his numerous contributions on European heraldry to the Armorist. Walter’s wife Irene died in August 2012 but he is survived by his son Roy and daughter Diana. Walter’s 2003 bookplate (below), by Jim McCready, shows (clockwise from top right) the arms of Bohemia, Moravia, New Zealand, the Linnaean Society of London (of which Walter was a Fellow; the arms are flanked by shells of Ziba cernohorskyi), Cernohorsky (original arms), and the crest and banner of an ancestor, a Cernohorsky of Horaimierzicz, who was Chief Commissioner of Customs for Ferdinand I, King (later Emperor) of Bohemia, who granted him personal arms in 1552. These arms are canting: the black triple mount is from the crest of the Cernohorskys of Cerna Hora (‘black mountain’) and blazoned as schuppenartig (‘scale-like’). Cernohorsky bookplate The following legendary account of the origin of Walter’s ancestral arms is taken from an article by the Czech heraldist (and Communist collaborator) Jiří Louda (The Coat of Arms, vol. VIII, no. 59, July 1964).

Cernohorsky Arms

Cernohorsky Arms

The forests of Moravia formed the setting for another legend. The King of Moravia (whoever that may have been) lost his way when hunting and was glad to find a shabby cabin owned by a poor man called Velen. Velen, not knowing who his guest was, gave him a square meal and brought him to a brook where he made the King sit on a cushion and helped him to wash himself with two bunches of oak leaves. Afterwards, he even combed the King’s hair with a simple wooden comb. Then the King departed, asking Velen to visit him at the castle in Brno where he said he was working as a servant. We may well imagine Velen’s surprise when he was, on arriving at Brno, led straight to the King who ennobled the good man and granted him for arms: Gules, a comb Argent (represented invariably as a chevron dancetty of seven), and for crest, two bunches of oak leaves in saltire, Proper, on a cushion Gules, to commemorate Velen’s hospitality. Velen became, so the legend asserts, the ancestor of the noble lords of Boskovice. Acknowledgements Assistance with information for this obituary was kindly provided by Diana Cernohorsky, Ian Thwaites, and Roger Barnes. G.A.M.

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The Battle of the River Plate: Achilles and Admiral Graf Spee

Article by Roger Barnes

Achilles Badge

December 2014 marked the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the River Plate in which New Zealanders were significantly involved, and in which the enemy ship was the German “pocket battleship” Admiral Graf Spee. December 2014 was also the centenary of the death of the eponymous Admiral Maximilian Graf von Spee.

The Second World War battle, named after the Rio de la Plata between Argentina and Uruguay, involved HMS Achilles (New Zealanders made up the majority of its crew), HMS Ajax and HMS Exeter — a Royal Navy fleet hunting the Admiral Graf Spee. The battle, on 13 December 1939, left the German ship critically damaged, and it limped into the Uruguayan port of Montevideo, at the mouth of the River Plate. After the captain, Hans Langsdorff, was told that his stay could not be extended beyond four days, he scuttled the ship rather than face the superior force that the British had led him to believe was awaiting his departure. On 20 December, he committed suicide. The Battle of the River Plate was the first Allied victory of the Second World War, and the Achilles was the first New Zealand warship (which it was, in effect) to take part in a naval battle. The Achilles was under the command of London-born Captain Edward Parry, who later became the first New Zealand Chief of Naval Staff and, eventually, Admiral Sir Edward Parry, KCB. The ship was sold to the Indian Navy in 1948, and scrapped in 1978.

The badge of HMS Achilles depicts, on a red field, the golden head of Achilles, couped at the neck, wearing a helmet, also golden, which is drawn back to reveal his face. Achilles was a hero of ancient Greek mythology, and the central figure of Homer’s Iliad. The design comes from an unofficial badge (circa 1908). It was submitted for the approval of the Admiralty Board by Major Charles Foulkes (who wrote his name anachronistically as “ffoulkes”) on 10 July 1931, and approved 10 days later. Foulkes designed many badges for Royal Navy ships. The pentagonal shape was, at that time, used for light cruisers. The ship’s motto is FORTITER IN RE (Bravely in action).

The Achilles arrived back in Auckland on 23 February 1940 to a heroes’ welcome, and there was a parade of the ship’s crew up Queen Street, with a civic reception at the Town Hall. On 13 December 2014, there was a commemorative parade down the same street, with the only four crew men of the Achilles who are still alive, in the presence of the Governor-General, Sir Jerry Mateparae.


Admiral Graf von Spee

The Admiral Graf Spee was launched on 30 June 1934. It was named after Admiral Maximilian Graf [Count] von Spee who was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, in June 1861, but whose ancestors were of the Rhenish nobility, i.e. of the Rhine Valley in Germany. He had a distinguished naval career before the First World War. After the New Zealand invasion of German Samoa (shortly after the war was declared), von Spee sailed to Samoa, but decided that re-taking the islands was not worth the trouble, so sailed towards South America, where his ships were engaged in battle with two British cruisers (which the Germans sank). The German fleet then proceeded to the South Atlantic where they were engaged in battle with a British fleet off the Falkland Islands. Von Spee died, along with his two sons, in that battle on 8 December 1914.

Rietstap’s Armorial Général has an entry for Spee which can be translated as follows: Spee — Westphalia (Counts of the Holy Empire, 9 May 1739.) Arms: quarterly 1 and 4: Argent, a cock crowing and raising one foot Gules, coronet Or, standing on a terrace Vert (Spee); 2 and 3: Or, three lozenges Gules (Troisdorf). Two helmets [Proper?] crowned [Or?]. Crests: first, a cock issuant and contourny Gules, coronet Or, the wings extended and each charged with a square of the arms of the first quarter; mantling of Argent and Gules (Spee); second, an escutcheon of the arms of the second quarter, between a vol [i.e. two wings] Gules; mantling of Or and Gules (Troisdorf). Motto: SPES DURAT AVORUM [The hope of my ancestors endures.]

The illustration of von Spee’s arms in von Volborth’s Heraldry of the World omits the green terrace, and shows escutcheons rather than squares in the von Spee crest. The cock is not crowing, nor is its foot raised. Two other depictions of the shield which I have found omit the terrace, but have the cock’s head and foot raised.

Westphalia and the northern part of the German Rhine are adjoining, if not overlapping, regions in the west of the country, now combined in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

The badge of the Admiral Graf Spee consists of a shield of the quartered arms of von Spee and Troisdorf.

Spee Shield

Badge of the Admiral Graf Spee

This article was originally published in The Heraldry Society of New Zealand’s quarterly publication The New Zealand Armorist (No.131). This publication is a benefit of membership to the society. To become a member visit the membership page.

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On Monday 18th May, a reception for Dr Claire Boudreau (Chief Herald of Canada), Mr Kevin MacLeod (Canadian Secretary to The Queen), Madame Emmanuelle Sajous (Deputy Herald Chancellor and Deputy Secretary to the Governor General of Canada), and Dr Christopher McCreery (Private Secretary to the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia) was held at the Northern Club, Auckland. Dr Boudreau and Mr MacLeod gave short addresses. Dr Boudreau talked about heraldic aspects that would have been reasonably understandable to the listeners. Mr Colin Davis, the President of the Heraldry Society of New Zealand, and two Council Members were present, along with about 50 other people from groups such as the Royal Commonwealth Society (Auckland Branch) and Monarchy New Zealand.

Auckland Institute and Museum’s Achievement of Arms

On Tuesday 19th, Martin Collett, Manuscripts Librarian at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, hosted a visit by Dr Boudreau and her Canadian colleagues. They were shown the Jones of Brawdy pedigree; the New Zealand Roll of Arms, which they specifically requested to see; the John Brigham inlayed illuminated manuscript, featuring the arms of Auckland City; Percy Barnett’s book on armorial bookplates; the Carlton Studio watercolour of ‘Whaowhia’ [the Auckland Institute and Museum’s coat of arms (1920s)]; the 1878 edition of Sir David Lyndsay’s facsimile of an ancient heraldic manuscript; and a manuscript book of crests and monograms. Martin reports:

“All the items were very enthusiastically received and there was much focus and discussion over the New Zealand Roll of Arms. The beaver crest for the arms of the Borough of Blenheim was very quickly spotted by our guests and was a source of much comment. Unfortunately, I was unable to enlighten them as to its exact connection but did say that it was likely an allusion of some sort – thanks to The New Zealand Armorist (No. 4, December 1970), I now know about the beaver connection!” [The borough was originally known as the Town of Beaver].

Dr Boudreau and her Canadian colleagues also attended the conference Constitutional Monarchy in the Commonwealth Realms: Opportunities in Common at the Parliament Buildings in Wellington from 21st to 23 May. On Thursday 21st, at 6pm, there was a “Welcome Reception” at Parliament for those attending the conference (including the four Canadians). On Friday 22 May, the opening address was given by the Hon. Maggie Barry MP, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage. In the several sessions during the day, speakers from Canada, Australia, and New Zealand presented papers on various aspects of the monarchy and heraldry, such as Kevin MacLeod on “A Canadian Secretary to the Queen”, Richard d’Apice on “Symbols of the Crown”, Dr Boudreau on “The Canadian Heraldic Authority”, Dr Sean Palmer on “The Crown’s Continuous Adaptation”, Sir Tipene O’Regan on “Maori [sic] and the Crown”, Professor Stephen Levine on “The Crown and Academic Achievement: the Regius Professorship”, and Dr Christopher McCreery (Canada’s leading authority on that realm’s honours and decorations) on “The Crown and Realm-Specific Honours”. In the evening, the conference dinner was held in the Beehive. The Hon. Michael Kirby (from Australia) was the guest speaker.

Dr Claire Boudreau's Achievement of Arms

Dr Claire Boudreau’s Achievement of Arms

On Saturday 23 May, there were three concurrent “workshops”. Kevin MacLeod led his workshop on “Patriating the Crown”, Emmanuelle Sajous on “Honours Systems in the Realms”, and Claire Boudreau on “Today’s Heraldry” where she showed some illustrations of modern Canadian heraldry, with examples showing its cadency system, First Nations heraldry, and modern heraldic art. Dr Boudreau and several other conference attendees had a look through a portfolio of heraldic illustrations, and she was given a sketch of an armorial supporter in the form of a green taniwha. Further discussions on heraldry took place over lunch at an eatery in Lambton Quay.

There were seven HSNZ members (including the Secretary and the Editor of The New Zealand Armorist present at the conference. The papers which were presented will be published in some form (at least “digitally”, but possibly as a printed book). The conference proved to be a valuable opportunity for New Zealand members of the Society to establish and deepen personal contacts with the Chief Herald of Canada and others from Canada and Australia. Dr Boudreau’s presentations were especially interesting concerning organisational matters and creative forms of heraldic expression if a patriated heraldic authority is ever established in New Zealand.

Thanks to Mr Simon O’Connor MP and Dr Sean Palmer (an HSNZ Council Member) and the others who assisted in organising the conference.

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Obituary: James Macintosh McCready


By: Gregor Macaulay

Jim McCready, for many years New Zealand’s leading heraldist, died in Dunedin on 18 December 2012, aged 89.  His funeral was held on 21 December.

James Macintosh McCready was born on 10 February 1923 in Dunedin and, except during the Second World War, lived and worked there for his entire life.

He began a long and loyal association with King’s High School (founded 1936; Scottish arms matriculated for both the school and its Old Boys’ Association in 1960) in Dunedin as a pupil from 1937 to 1940.  In 1941 he enrolled for an Arts degree at the University of Otago (founded 1869; Scottish arms granted 1948) and also began teacher training at the Dunedin Teachers’ College.  However, his studies were interrupted by war service, initially in the Army (in New Zealand) but later as a pilot in the Royal New Zealand Air Force (in New Zealand and the Pacific).  He returned to the University in 1946 and completed the requirements for a BSc degree in 1948 and for a BA degree in 1950.  He undertook his Teacher’s Certificate (completed 1950) concurrently at the Teachers’ College and his record describes him as follows: “quiet manner and pleasant disposition; excellent academic ability; well-balanced type; excellent promise as a teacher; splendid College record”.

He married Maida Whyte in 1947 and they had two children, Christopher (Kit) and Lynley.

He returned to King’s High School, as a teacher, in 1950 and, rising to be Deputy Rector, remained there until his retirement in 1980.  The rigour and quality of his teaching is remembered with gratitude by his past pupils.  He was also active in the school’s Old Boys’ Association, serving as President in 1958-1959 and again in 1983-1984, and was instrumental in arranging for a crest, “which may be used badgewise”, and associated motto to be granted to the school in 1984.

Jim’s interest in heraldry had been sparked after his return from the war, when he set out to carve a Perspex brooch of a knight on horseback for Maida and, with typical thoroughness, sought to make the heraldic detail on the painted shield as authentic as possible.  His interest was nurtured by Dr Morris Watt of Dunedin, who was largely responsible for the flowering of civic and educational heraldry in New Zealand in the middle of the twentieth century.

Jim joined the (English) Heraldry Society in 1952 and was made an Honorary Fellow in 1997. He joined the Heraldry Society (New Zealand Branch) – now the Heraldry Society of New Zealand – in 1963, was awarded a Fellowship of the Society in 1972 and was its Vice-President from 1980 to 1983. He was Editor of the New Zealand Armorist from 1983 to 1999, and was awarded the title of Emeritus Editor in 2000, having been made an Honorary Life member in 1999.  He joined the Heraldry Society of Scotland in 1979, and was an Associate Member of the Society of Heraldic Arts from 1996, a member of the Church Monuments Society (London) from 1980, and a member of the Bookplate Society (London) from 1999.

He was a member of the Dunedin Branch of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists from 1973, and served as Dunedin Branch Chairman from 1975 to 1977. From 1975 to 1985 he conducted evening classes in heraldry and genealogy in Dunedin, and in 1983 lectured at the First and Third Australasian Congresses of Genealogy and Heraldry, receiving a Merit Award.

Jim built up an outstanding heraldic library and also compiled annotated scrapbooks and albums of a wide range of heraldic and related material, with special strengths in New Zealand heraldry, heraldic art (he had a particular interest in Germanic armorial design, heraldic stained glass, and philatelic heraldry), arms and armour, seals, and bookplates.

Although not formally trained, he was a talented and prolific heraldic artist, producing work for the Armorist, bookplates for himself and others, Christmas cards, and, most notably, for The Green Book of St Lazarus, a roll of arms either granted to or assumed by members of the Order of St Lazarus in New Zealand.  He encouraged members of the order to regard possession of arms as an indication of their commitment to one of the prime objectives of the order: the promotion and maintenance of the principles of Christian chivalry.  He also introduced thousands of boys to heraldry by displaying his work throughout King’s High School: one old boy says that he learnt more about art from Jim than from any art teacher.

Jim had joined the Order of St Lazarus as a Commander Companion in 1962 and his contributions to its activities were reflected in his promotions: KLJ (knight) in 1973, KCLJ (knight commander) in 1993, appointment to the Order of Merit in the rank of Knight in 1986, and the award of the Gold Cross in 1993. Jim was appointed Kowhai Herald of Arms for the order in 1995 and edited The Lazarite, the order’s journal in New Zealand, from 1998 to 1999.

Failing eyesight in recent years limited Jim’s artistic work, but his enthusiasm for heraldry remained undimmed.

Jim arranged a Scottish grant of arms to his father, Stanley McCready, in 1976 and inherited the undifferenced arms on his father’s death in 1988.  The quarterly fess and trefoils are features of other McCready arms; the narcissus reflects Stanley McCready’s passion as a grower and hybridiser of daffodils; the cabbage trees (making their first appearance in heraldry) give a distinctive New Zealand touch; and the compass crest alludes to Jim’s war service and illustrates the motto.

Jim’s contribution to heraldry and the Society has been considerable, as editor, artist, author of innumerable articles, lecturer, and mentor.  He put the Armorist on a sound footing after a period of irregular publication, and his articles on heraldic art and artists, arms and armour, and other aspects of heraldry dealt not only with the heritage of the past but also with contemporary uses of heraldry and future developments – he looked forward to a time when New Zealand would be independent in heraldic matters.  His knowledge, wisdom, and encouragement will be greatly missed.

Jim is survived by Maida, his wife of 65 years, who supported him in all his endeavours, his two children, and three grandchildren.


This obituary incorporates information compiled by John Scott and published in the Grand Priory Yearbook of the Order of St Lazarus, May 2011.

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Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

2012 marks 60 years of the Queen’s reign. Queen Elizabeth II became New Zealand’s monarch on 6 February 1952.

The Diamond Jubilee will be celebrated at various events around New Zealand. In November 2011, the Governor-General, and Patron of the Heraldry Society of New Zealand, His Excellency Lieutenant General The Right Honourable Sir Jerry Mateparae, GNZM, QSO, released a Diamond Jubilee emblem.

The emblem was designed by Phillip O’Shea CNZM, LVO, New Zealand Herald of Arms Extraordinary, for use at Jubliee events in New Zealand.

The following information was sourced from the Ministry of Culture and Heritage website (http://www.mch.govt.nz/nz-identity-heritage/diamond-jubilee-2012):

Symbolism of the Emblem

The shape of the emblem refers to the diamond (or 60th) anniversary, and the colour alludes to New Zealand’s highly prized pounamu (or jade).

The emblem contains the Royal Cypher (the letters and Roman numeral, E II R), which is the personal emblem of The Queen.

Also featured is the Royal Crown (St Edward’s Crown) which is part of the New Zealand Coat of Arms and represents the fact that The Queen is our Head of State.

The koru (which often features in Māori art) is used in the form of those on the chain of The New Zealand Order of Merit. The chain (or collar) is only worn by The Queen and the Governor-General.

The gold of the emblem represents value and achievement.

The chain links represents the role of the Sovereign as a part or link in the New Zealand constitution and the historic links between the Crown and Maori.

The manuka flowers relate to the Badge of The Queen’s Service Order (QSO) which is based on stylised representation of this flower. The QSO was named to commemorate the fact that The Queen is the first ‘Queen of New Zealand’. Manuka and manuka honey are well-known for their health enhancing properties.

More information:

For more information on the Diamond Jubilee, and for events being held around New Zealand, visit: http://gg.govt.nz/content/diamond-jubilee-emblem.