Engineering New Zealand Engineering Heritage Jobhunt Foundation


WILKIE, James McGregor, (1879 - 1947)

John Wilkie

J. M. Wilkie, 1937-38. Past Presidents Album 1914-1966. IPENZ

Mr Wilkie was born in Dunedin in 1879 and received his secondary education at the Otago Boys' High School, after which he entered Otago University, gaining the Associateship in Mining in 1900 and in Metallurgy in 1903. In 1901 he was dredging on the Molyneux, in 1902 he surveyed the Waikakihia estate in Canterbury, and in 1903 he was at the Waikino treatment plant. Later the same year he went to Australia, and for a short time was at Sons of Gwalior, in Western Australia, and then for two years he was metallurgist to the Viven Gold Mines, Western Australia and from 1906-9 he managed Menzies Gold- Mines in the same State.

Mr Wilkie then returned to New Zealand, and during 1910 and 1911 he was timber milling on the West Coast until, in 1912, he joined the engineering staff of the Otago Harbour Board as Surveyor. In 1914 he was appointed Assistant Engineer, in 1916 he was promoted to Resident Engineer and in 1919 to Engineer. He was responsible for rebuilding and extending the mole at the Heads, for the reclamation of Logan Park for the New Zealand South Seas Exhibition in 1925, for the widening of the Leith Canal, for the reclamation of the Southern Endowment, for the extension of the Dunedin wharves and sheds, for the removal of a reef at Quarantine Island, and for the opening and operation of several large quarries. In 1926 he studied harbour development in Britain and America, and, from information obtained abroad, designed the dredge, "Otakou", Mr Wilkie retired in 1944, but he continued to serve the Board in the capacity of Consulting Engineer, and, just before he died, he had presented a report on the condition at the harbour entrance, on the future development of the harbour front and the Southern Endowment, and he had investigated the possibility of constructing another dry dock at Port Chalmers.

During the war he had a particularly difficult time owing to depletion of staff and the many calls made upon him for improved dock facilities at Port Chalmers. He was personally in charge of the EPS demolition squad charged with the denial of resources to the enemy.

Mr Wilkie joined the Institution in 1915; he was promoted to .Member in 1920. He was on the council from 1930 to 1940, was vice-president from 1935-37, and president for the 1937-38 term. His death took place on 26th September, 1947 following an illness.

This biography is from the Proceedings of NZIE, 1948, Vol. XXXIV, p 530.

Refer also to:

Obituary, New Zealand Engineering, December 1947, p 1255