MASON, John Blair, (1858 - 1927),
J B Mason was born in Dunedin on 22nd September, 1858. He served his apprenticeship in an Otago foundry, attending the Otago University at the same time. In 1882 he was articled to Messrs. Barr and Oliver, and later was Mechanical Engineer and Marine Surveyor as assistant to G. M. Barr, when Engineer to the Otago Harbour Board. He was in local charge of the investigations, design and reconstruction of the Queenstown water supply system. He went to Australia in 1887 and was engaged on Harbour surveys until 1890, when he was appointed Marine Engineer and Surveyor to the Ports and Harbours Department, Victoria. When leaving he received most admirable testimonials and certificate of service from the departmental heads. His experience was most extensive and varied.
In 1901 he commenced private practice in Otago and in 1904 became the Engineer, Secretary and Treasurer of the Otago Harbour Board, which position he held until 1913, when his engineering duties took up his whole time. He was elected M.Inst.C.E. that year. In 1916 he took up private practice again, but was retained by the Otago Harbour Board as their consulting engineer. In 1919 he removed his headquarters to Auckland, and in partnership with Messrs. Lee and Owen carried on an extensive and widespread business. He acted on special commissions with Messrs. Ferguson and Williams in connection with Gisborne, Waikokopu and Napier Harbours, and with Messrs. Ferguson and Furkert reported on improvement measures for Greymouth Harbour. His work in Otago Harbour, whereby great improvements were effected at moderate expense by groynes, was spectacular. He also did much dredging, reclamation and wharf improvements.
He was President of the N.Z. Society of Civil Engineers for the period 1917 - 1918, having been a foundation member. He was elected M.Inst.C.E. in January, 1913, and in 1915 he received the Telford Premium from the Institution of Civil Engineers for his paper on Harbour improvements and works at Otago Harbour. (See I.C.E., Vol. CC.) He died on 24th December 1927, at Devonport.
Extract from Furkert’s "Early New Zealand Engineers" Reed, 1953, p 222/3
Refer also to The Proceedings of NZ Society of Civil Engineers, Vol. XIV, p 289