Monday, August 6, 2007

Ebenezer and Mary's Gravesite - Hokitika

photo credit: Bruce White

Dr Ebenezer Teichelmann died at the Westland Hospital on 20 December 1938, of a cerebral haemorrhage following a cerebral thrombosis ten days earlier. Two days later he was buried at the Hokitika Cemetery. A service was held for him in the All Saints Anglican Church. At the graveside, Father J. Finerty, Roman Catholic priest, conducted the ceremony. This final gesture of having an Anglican Church service and a Catholic Father conducting the graveside rites for a man who professed by faith to be a rationalist, showed that there is hope for unity in this world. His whole life had been devoted to healing and discovery.
It was a poignant moment.
“O leave my bones at the Hokitika cemetery when I die,” he had said some years earlier, when questioned about his future, and being a lover of Stevenson’s poetry, it was indeed “here he lies where he longs to be.”
The Patriach had found his rest. He was in the forefront of applying scientific and medical knowledge as it became available, a voyage of discovery in surgery, medicine, rainforests, conservation and exploration. And on photographic plates he left his record.

Buried alongside his wife Mary, his gravesite is not far from the Westland Hospital where he gave over 30years of medical service to the district, and in the distance Mount Cook, Mount Torres, Mount Douglas, Glacier Peak, La Perouse — all peaks he climbed — dot the horizon. Not far away are the graves of his mates, of a kindred spirit; Charlie Douglas, G. J. Roberts, Dr. MacAndrew and Duncan McFarlane.
Even the day after he died, Teichelmann’s generosity was still being felt. Mrs K. Lee (nee Warren) was working in the Post Office Exchange and she said that “Teichie always gave Five Pound each year towards Post Office Christmas Cheer. This year Teichie died before Christmas, but before he died he had written out a cheque for Five Pounds, and the Post Office received the cheque the day after he died.”
Mount Teichelmann, Teichelmann Rock, Teichelmann’s Corner, Teichelmann’s Track, Teichelmann’s Creek, Ebenezer Peak and Teichelmann’s (Bed and Breakfast) guesthouse celebrate his memory.
Peter Graham recognized something many others were to verbalize in different ways. “I was drawn to the quaint little man,” he said. Others described it as an attraction, a charisma, or a magnetic personality.
'He had that rare gift of always seeing the very best in his friends, for he especially loved and had much consideratio for younger people, and I always felt he loved us in spite of our faults; yet; withal, he was so amazingly modest about his own gifts and especially concerning his mountaineering achievements,’ wrote another friend in the Alpine Club Journal.

A small man, without an ounce of flesh, his physical powers were amazing. I can still see him — slipping through the tangled bush like a Maori Hen and perfectly happy, while I panted and struggled behind in the vilest of tempers — and an enormous ‘swag’, above which the crown of a hat was just visible and below, the lower part of a pair of very thin legs.
… A fine character, a delightful companion, and one who, when climbing was almost dead in New Zealand, did so much by his climbs and his photographs to rekindle that enthusiasm for the hills which is bearing such good fruit among the new generation of climbers in the Southern Alps.’

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