Burial register ID: 7796
Surname: MASON
First name: WILLIAM
Middle names:
Gender: Male
Age: 87 Years
Cause of death: Unknown
Burial type:
Date of death: 22-Jun-1897
Date of burial: 22-Jun-1897

Block: 111
Plot: 3

No headstone remains on this plot.

Bio contributor: Ann Trewern

William Mason (1810 – 1897)

Architect, businessman and farmer: One of New Zealand’s earliest colonists and Dunedin’s First Mayor.

William Mason was born in Ipswich, Suffolk in 1810. He was educated at a private school and articled to his father who was an architect and builder in Ipswich. In 1832 he moved to London and worked in the office of Sir William Blore, an eminent architect. He married there and returned to Ipswich where he practiced as an architect. In 1838 he immigrated to New South Wales in the midst of a severe drought and commodity shortage and immediately found employment in the Colonial Architect’s office. He submitted plans and won two prizes for designs for the Sydney Mechanics Institute building.

William Mason applied and was accepted for the position of Clerk of Works for Hobson’s Government to be established in New Zealand and moved to the Bay of Islands where he stayed until the seat of government moved to Auckland in 1841. In Auckland he supervised the erection of old St Paul’s Church on Britomart Point. Tragedy befell the Mason family when his only son fell into a well constructed on the site and was killed.

Soon after this tragic accident William Mason left the government employ and went into partnership with another architect for several years. He pursued cattle farming in Mount Eden, and later at Tamaki with some success. He was also a keen politician and was an elected member for parliament for the Pensioner’s Settlement at Howick, Onehunga, Otahuhu and Panmure. Sir George Grey had brought out old soldiers from Britain during Hone Heke’s war and established outposts around Auckland to prevent the possibility of a ‘native incursion.’

In 1862 William Mason came to Dunedin to supervise the erection of the Bank of New Zealand building. He subsequently designed and supervised the erection of a number of buildings throughout the colony for the Bank of New Zealand. He also supervised the building of the Old Hospital in Dunedin. He established several business partnerships first with David Ross and then with William. H. Clayton. During his partnership with Clayton he designed the structure for the Dunedin-based New Zealand Exhibition. He then leased land at Otepopo with an option to purchase. However he relinquished the land and entered into partnership with Nathaniel Wales under the title of Mason and Wales. While in Dunedin he did not take any part in colonial politics. He was, in July 1865, elected to be the first mayor of Dunedin on the dissolution of the Old Town board and was re-elected for a second one-year term in 1866.

His wife Sarah died in 1873. In 1875 he retired from business and went to live in Queenstown and after a few years moved to Paradise where he purchased about 400 acres and remained for some years. William Mason was a keen horseman and a crack shot.

William Mason is buried with his wife Sarah and daughter Catherine in Block 111 Plot 3. Although there is evidence that there was once a grave marker, the Mason grave is now unmarked.

Source: Otago Witness 1 July 1897 p.12 .

William Mason, First Mayor of Dunedin 1865 – 1867
Source: Ann Trewern, from Otago Witness 1917 p.44.

There are 3 Interments in this grave:

Surname First names Age Date of death Date of burial
MASON CATHERINE 74 Years 29-Nov-1914 01-Dec-1914
MASON SARAH 78 Years 22-Sep-1873 24-Sep-1873
MASON WILLIAM 87 Years 22-Jun-1897 22-Jun-1897