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John George Blackett

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John George Blackett (1852-1885)


1886 Obituary [1]

JOHN GEORGE BLACKETT, eldest son of Mr. John Blackett, M.Inst.C.E., the present Engineer-in-Chief of New Zealand, was born at New Plymouth, in March 1852.

Mr. Blackett was educated at Nelson College, where he made a very creditable appearance, having taken a Government Scholarship. He joined the New Zealand Public Works Department as a cadet in 1671, being articled to Mr. John Carruthers, M.Inst.C.E., then Engineer-in-Chief. During his cadetship he was chiefly engaged on the survey and construction of the railway over the Rimutaka Range. This was an excellent school for a young engineer, and Mr. Blackett availed himself fully of the opportunity it afforded for getting a good knowledge of his profession.

After completing his apprenticeship, he was for three years engaged as assistant engineer on railway-works and surveys in Nelson, Wellington, and Otago. On the recommendation of Mr. William N. Blair, M.Inst.C.E., then Engineer-in-Charge of the Middle Island, Mr. Blackett was in 1878 appointed Resident Engineer for the Nelson and Marlborough Districts, which office he held till his death.

In this capacity he had charge of the Nelson-Roundell and the Picton-Awatere Railways, and extensive roadworks through a wide and rugged country. He constructed bridges over ten large rivers, and the main roads between Blenheim and Nelson, and Nelson and the West Coast, were completed during his tenure of office.

He died at his home in Nelson, on the 13th of September, 1885, after a few days’ illness, from a neglected cold, which culminated in inflammation of the lungs.

Mr. Blackett was skilled in his profession, a faithful public servant, a genial companion, and a true friend. The Parliament of New Zealand was in session at the time of his death, and the Hon. Edward Richardson, C.M.G., Minister for Public Works, referred to him in the following remarks, which are extracted from the New Zealand Hansard. ”I wish to take this opportunity of expressing my very deep regret at the death of Mr. George Blackett, the son of the Engineer-in-Chief of the colony, one of the first cadets who joined the Public Works Department in 1871. Through his zeal and steady attention to his duties, he rose to the responsible position of Resident Engineer, and in that position he won the respect of every officer of the department. He was looked upon as a most promising officer by every person who has held the office of Minister for Public Works in the colony, and he won the good feeling and, I might almost say, affection of the people of the Nelson District, to which he was attached. Sir, this gentleman was a bright example to all the young men rising in the service of the Government, and by his premature death the colony has lost a most valuable officer.”

Mr. Levestam, Member for Nelson, and Mr. Samuel, Member for Taranaki, also spoke in the same strain. Mr. Blackett was elected an Associate Member, on the 28th of May, 1878.



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