Thursday, 11 July 2013

July Meeting: Oliver Macey Quintal by Vivien Edwards

Many thanks to Vivien Edwards who spoke at our July meeting. On seeing Oliver Macey Quintal listed as a Pitcairner on Norfolk Island she recognised the name. In 1878 he was a Tauranga barrister, at the inquiry of the ship Nellie, which hit Astrolabe Reef then foundered on Motiti Island. Soon after he was a passenger on the Taranaki wrecked on Karewa Island.

Finding Quintal’s name at Norfolk raised the question of how a Pitcairner, isolated from the rest of the world except for passing ships, could become a New Zealand barrister?

Macey (as he was called), was born in 1842 to William Quintal and Maria Christian. He was great grandson of both Matthew Quintal and Fletcher Christian. When the Pitcairners relocated to Norfolk Island in 1856 he was 14 years old.

Given to Bishop Selwyn by his family, Macey was to be trained for missionary work in the tropics, but instead he was articled to Outhwaites’ law firm. In 1868 he passed his examination for admission as a legal practitioner of the Supreme Court. In 1871 Quintal and Outhwaite handled the estate of Reverend Patteson, Bishop of Melanesia, after his murder in the Solomon Islands.

Quintal played cricket and football. He participated in Auckland society, joining various committees, which included organising citizen’s balls for visiting Governors.

Bay of Plenty Times, 8 July 1876
He set up in Tauranga in 1876. Vesey Stewart’s first settlers were in Katikati. The Tauranga/ Taupo road was open; there was a regular steam service to Auckland on the Rowena, and the Staffa had started a service to Opotiki. Quintal practised with W.B. Hawkins in the old BNZ building in Harington Street, later shifting to McLean then Willow Streets.

Bay of Plenty Times, 1 August 1877
He played for Tauranga Cricket Club: was vestryman for Holy Trinity and secretary for the parishioners’ annual meeting; he served on committees for the 1879 Regatta, the Mechanics’ Institute, the Choral Society, and to form a brass band. He helped welcome the Governor and participated in deputations, promoting Tauranga’s interests to Ministers.

Bay of Plenty Times, 29 September 1877
His court cases included cushions and a sofa stuffed with flax instead of horse hair, and injury to a horse used to erect the Taupo telegraph line. He defended Mrs. Ogden, who strung washing across Anson Street and was hit with her clothes prop by a neighbor. He unsuccessfully defended Mrs. Anne Robertson whose ownership of Ohinemutu Lakes Hotel was challenged by Robert Graham after she purchased the lease from Isaac Wilson. Local Maori forcibly evicted her.

Quintal faced the law himself, charged by William Shaw from ‘Woodlands’ Katikati, with forging and uttering a certain bill of sale with intent to defraud. He had tried to help Shaw and the case was dismissed.

In 1883 he returned to Auckland, but came back to Tauranga periodically to handle land deals. He married Jemima Buffet from Norfolk Island in 1889. They had two children; Laurie Ida and Oliver. Quintal and his family returned to Norfolk Island in 1893 where he chaired the Executive Council and participated in the island’s affairs. He died there 23 February 1922.

[Newspaper images courtesy of Papers Past]


  1. I never cease to be amazed at the interesting people who have passed through Tauranga over the years. A great talk Vivien. I really enjoyed it.

  2. Good afternoon,
    I am delighted to find this account as Oliver Macey Quintal was my great grandfather and I live at Flagstaff, which was his home, in Norfolk Island

    1. Thanks Gaye. I've forwarded your message to Vivien, who presented the talk and did the original research.