Remembering Allan Hedley

Allan Hedley and family, Collection of Waitaki District Archive 9290

Allan Hedley was an auctioneer and commissioning agent who was a partner in the firm Fleming and Hedley. He lived in Oamaru for close to fifty years and was a prominent citizen in Oamaru’s history. Hedley passed away in 1918 at the age of 76; he is peacefully at rest in the Oamaru Cemetery.

Hedley was born in England in the county of Northumberland in 1842 and grew up in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. As a young man he ventured to New Zealand aboard the Ida Ziegler, arriving initially in Auckland. There Hedley was employed for a short time as a farmer before he was offered a position managing Awamoa Estate for Matthew Holmes in Oamaru. Hedley took the position and moved south in 1865.
A number of years later Hedley moved on from his duties at Awamoa Estate and went into the butchery business with Neil Fleming. This venture did not last long however and eventually Fleming and Hedley became auctioneers and stock and station agents, taking on business throughout North Otago and South Canterbury. At this point Fleming and Hedley was one of the principal firms in Oamaru.
Fleming and Hedley also had interest in agricultural and pastoral pursuits and were breeders of draught horses; they had a farm called Incholme, which was also a showground for their horses. The two men were also involved in the operation of a number of estates in the Canterbury region but when economic hardship hit, the stock and land were sold and the men returned to their auctioneering business.
After the death of Neil Fleming, Hedley continued running the firm on his own until he merged with the North Otago Farmers Cooperative, taking on the position of stock department manager.
Hedley was also involved in local authority politics. He was elected to the Oamaru Borough Council in 1889 representing the Jetty Ward. Hedley also held the position of Mayor from 1901-1903. He did not seek re-election as Mayor in the 1903 polls but he did remain a councillor until his retirement in 1907.

The Northern Agricultural and Pastoral Association was another of Hedley’s interests. He was a significant part of the organisation from 1868 till it became the North Otago Agricultural and Pastoral Association. He was a judge, a member of the committee, and at times was also the secretary, treasurer, vice-president and president. Hedley also showed the draught horses he bred with Neil Fleming with successful results.
Allan Hedley was a keen church man. He was involved with St Pauls Presbyterian church from its inception. Noted as being one of the church managers in 1866, he was elected again in 1875, remaining in the role for another 40 years. At his departure he received an illuminated address from the congregation of St Pauls.

Mrs Jane Hedley passed away in 1913 and was buried in the Oamaru Cemetery with the couple’s infant daughter. At the time of Janes death the Hedley’s had been living with one of their daughters, south of Oamaru. Allan Hedley himself fell ill while visiting a son in Duntroon and was placed in private hospital care in Oamaru. He was released into the care of a daughter living in St Clair, Dunedin, although he relapsed and passed away on 29 May 1918. He was buried with his wife and child in the Oamaru Cemetery.
All information in this article comes from the North Otago Museum Archive.

Sources for this article:

• Hedley, Allan (1864) Copy of diary of voyage to New Zealand. North Otago Museum Archive, n 55473.
• North Otago Times (31 May 1918) ‘Obituary, Mr Allan Hedley’.
• Oamaru Mail (30 May 1918) ‘Obituary, Mr Allan Hedley’.

Written by Shanann Carr, Curator of Archives February 2009 to June 2010.