Burial register ID: 14489
Surname: DUNCAN
First name: PETER
Middle names:
Gender: Male
Age: 74 Years
Cause of death: Unknown
Burial type:
Date of death: 23-Apr-1927
Date of burial: 25-Apr-1927

Block: 191A
Plot: 89

Bio contributor: Ken Duncan

PETER DUNCAN 1854-1927

Peter Duncan was the son of George Duncan and Elspeth (nee Wilson) who arrived in Dunedin in 1849 from Aberdeen in Scotland. George Duncan engaged successfully in a number of business activities including the establishment of Duncan’s Flour Mill and the Well Park Brewery by the Water of Leith. He was an executive member of the Otago Provincial Government, succeeding Julius Vogel as Provincial Treasurer in 1869. Peter was the third of George and Elspeth’s fourteen children.

Peter was born in Dunedin on 31 January 1854 and was enrolled at Dunedin’s first school, the Beach School, the forerunner of the Arthur Street School, sited then by Dowling Street just above the then foreshore, now the Queens Gardens, at the tender age of four-and-a-half years. He had most of his schooling at Aberdeen from 1860 to 1865, a period at secondary school at Clifton, Bristol, and a year at Otago Boys High School in 1868. Peter attended lectures at the University of Otago when qualifying as a lawyer, and became managing clerk for Messrs Sievwright and Stout before going into partnership with John MacGregor, later the Hon John MacGregor, in 1876.

Peter was solicitor for and one of the original shareholders with the McGeorge Brothers in the very successful Electric Company the dredges of which secured 90,000 ounces of gold from a three-mile stretch of the Kawarau River near Cromwell in the short period of years from 1895 to 1903. The Company’s dredges included the famous Lady Ranfurly.

He was also a co-sponsor and a director of the Waipori Falls Company which began the development of the Waipori hydro-electric scheme in 1902. This was sold to the Dunedin City Council when the Council’s own rival Lee Stream project was proving too expensive to implement.

Those who travel through Central Otago will be familiar with the poplars and other plantings about the straight stretch of road at Fruitlands which provide a contrast from the rugged landscapes of the journey between Roxburgh and Alexandra. But where are the fruit trees? Peter Duncan was associated with Otago Central Fruitlands Limited. Forty thousand fruit trees were planted in three hundred and twenty acres of orchard irrigated from water brought down from the mountain streams during 1915 and 1916. A special wrapper was provided for each apple with the legend “Mountain apples grown in Fruitlands, Otago, New Zealand at an elevation of 1200 W’ Only one crop of fruit was picked and exported, the severe climate and frost proving too much for the orchard. The Company was more successful in the establishment of lucerne and pasture and the Fruitlands District is now a green oasis of pastoral farming making a change from the often dry and schisty hill surroundings.

Peter had confidence in the potential of Central Otago as a fruitgrowing area. About the time of World War One, along with P.R.Sargood and some others, he formed the Cromwell Development Company which acquired the exclusive rights to crown lands across the Cromwell Flats from Bannockburn to Lowburn. The plan was to irrigate using the water from a dam of unusual construction on the Kawarau River, augmented by the water from the streams coming off the Pisa Range. Various areas held by the Company were named. Ripponvale from an old Sargood Family name remains in use today. Peter named the section towards Lowburn Elizabeth after his Mother, but the name is not used today.

Many thousands of trees were planted and the water pumped from the river when the dam plan failed, proved very successful for growing irrigated pasture for sheep farming. The capital cost however proved too great, and the scheme fell through, the orchardists at Ripponvale being sustained by the water rights from the Mt Pisa creeks.

Peter and his wife Jeannie lived at Ross Street, Roslyn, and then in 1899 purchased the Tolcarne property in Maori Hill . The previous owner, Hon Richard Oliver, had just built a new house at Tolcarne so that the Duncans were the first to occupy it. Tolcarne stretched from the Town Belt to Highgate. Major subdivisions of Tolcarne were undertaken first about 1905-07 when Burwood Avenue and upper Grendon Street were formed, and again in the early 1920s when fourteen sections were sold in the Township of Grendon Subdivision in the middle Grendon Street area. After Peter Duncan’s death in 1927 some twenty sections were disposed of on either side of Tolcarne Avenue and lower Grendon Street, most of which were built on during the early 1930s.

Peter’s eldest son Frederick George Duncan, also a solicitor, and his wife and two children, Pat and Fred Jnr. lived at Tolcarne from 1923 and it remained as their home until after Fred’s death in 1954. It then passed to St Hildas Collegiate School as the site for the School Hostel.

Tolcarne was sometimes the venue for garden parties and for local school sports during the Duncans’ tenure.

Peter’s elder brother George Smith Duncan, also Dunedin born, was the engineer who constructed the Roslyn, Mornington and Maryhill Cable Car lines in Dunedin during the early 1880s, the first cable cars lines to be installed outside America.

Peter Duncan
Source: Ken Duncan

Source: Ken Duncan

There are 7 Interments in this grave:

Surname First names Age Date of death Date of burial
CARRODUS SARAH 82 Years 16-May-1946 17-May-1946
DUNCAN BABY 0 Days 02-Aug-1914 04-Aug-1914
DUNCAN EDMUND ALEXANDER 63 Years 01-Oct-1947 02-Oct-1947
DUNCAN FREDERICK GEORGE 74 Years 14-Nov-1953 16-Nov-1953
DUNCAN JEANNIE 66 Years 07-Sep-1922 09-Sep-1922
DUNCAN PETER 74 Years 23-Apr-1927 25-Apr-1927
GARDINER BABY 0 Days 13-Nov-1910 15-Nov-1910