Friday, 1 February 2019

Heather McLean 1937-2019

Heather and a young helper at a cemetery working bee, Tauranga Methodist and Children’s Cemetery, 2011. Photo: Fiona Kean, Private Collection
Members of the Tauranga Historical Society will be saddened to learn that Heather McLean died yesterday, 31 January 2019, at Waipuna Hospice.

Born in Tauranga in 1937, Heather’s childhood was spent playing in and around the Te Papa Peninsula, a place and time she always remembered as idyllic. Heather attended Tauranga Primary School in 5th Avenue which was a short walk from her home in Cameron Road. In 1951 Heather started at Tauranga College and after leaving school she joined the New Zealand Post Office as a telephone operator. In 1954 this work took her to live in Wellington. Heather returned to Tauranga in 1964 and met her future husband Bill McLean at an Orange Festival dance.

Settled back in Tauranga, and with two young children, Heather's interest in genealogy began. In 1972 she joined the Tauranga Branch of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists and the New Zealand Society of Genealogists in 1973.

Heather and the Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy at a special ceremony where Heather received her QSM, Sunday 27 January 2019. Photo: Fiona Kean, Private Collection
Her research skills and sincere desire to help others would lead Heather to volunteer her time to many groups and organisations, including the Tauranga Historical Society.  Within the Society her knowledge of local history, and in particular her expertise on Tauranga’s cemeteries, was well respected. Heather’s transcriptions of headstones, completed over more than 40 years, continues to be an invaluable resource.

Recently Heather’s work was officially recognised, first with the Tauranga Heritage Award and then in the 2019 New Year Honours List, a Queen’s Service Medal for her services to genealogy and historical research.

Heather will be greatly missed by her friends in the Society, who offer their condolences to her family.

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