A Brief History of the Club
1969 – 2019
In 1969, a month before man set man on the moon, our Club was born. There were very few Burmese, either here in New Zealand, Britain or indeed in the States where the Burmese breed originated.
1930’s San Francisco
Our present day Burmese derive almost exclusively from a little brown female cat called Wong Mau who was acquired by Dr Joseph Thompson – Mau prefix (apparently she came from Frank Buck who was a wildlife expert) and brought to San Francisco in 1930. Wong Mau, was not a ‘burmese‘ as was discovered when she was bred to a Sealpoint Siamese (named Tai Mau – used because he was judged to be of similar in type to her) – and a mixture of ‘brown cats’ and Sealpoint Siamese were born.
Fortunately for the fledgling breed the original people involved, as well as Dr Thompson, were Clyde Keeler (a geneticist) and breeders, Virginia Cobb (Newton prefix – she was a well known Siamese breeder), Madeleine Dymytryk, and (a little later?) Mrs Gerst (Gerstdale prefix) all were versed in the genetics of the time and together devised a breeding programme to test Wong Mau’s heritage. Consequently Wong Mau was then mated back to her son (Yen Yen Mau who had similar colouring to his mother) – the resultant litter produced the first dark brown kittens (that is ‘prototype Burmese’), Sealpoint Siamese and kittens of similar colour to their Sire and Dam, in other words Wong Mau and her son, Yen Yen Mau, were what came to known as Siamese/Burmese hybrids (these have since been developed into Tonkinese breed)
1949 and into the 50’s
However in 1949 the first Burmese (presumably not registered as such) were imported into the UK by Lilian France (Chinki prefix), they were Casa Gatos da Foong (a male) and Chindwins Minou Twm (female) and in 1950 their first living litter (all males) were born. A little later another female (USA) CH Laos Cheli Wat was imported , her first UK litter was born to Casa Gatos da Foong in 1951. These three, together with a second (slightly outcrossed) male, Casa Gatos Darkee, imported a couple of years later, and then (slightly later again in 1956) an unrelated male Darshan Khudiram provided a much needed outcross. In 1952 GCCF accepted Burmese as a breed.
1949 HMS Vanguard Postage Stamp
1949 Miss New Zealand MAry Woodward
Club Foundation Year – 1969
The upshot was that with such a small number of Burmese everyone knew everyone else and we needed to communicate! So in 1969 Arthur (who else!) drew up suggestions for a Specialist Breed Club, to be spilt into three regions with one region appointed to be the Managing Committee – for starters this would be the Southern Region. Dorothy was roped in (she worked as a law clerk at the time) to refine the ideas. I didn’t have much to do with the Club at this point (baby and a Pharmacy business were somewhat limiting!) however I soon joined in, as did Joan Terhuppen and together with Helene, the NZ Burmese Cat Club (now the Burmese Cat Club of NZ) was born. Arthur as President, Helene was Vice-President, Dorothy was Secretary/ Treasurer and Joan and I (I, as Editress – quaint, eh? – of the Burmese Bulletin) became Committee members.
In real life Arthur was a pilot for NAC (later Air New Zealand) and also farmed out at Kaiapoi (firstly on his father’s farm and later on his and Helene’s own – he often said that he got his best Cat Fancy ideas when his plane was on autopilot or when he was driving his tractor!). Not many of you may know that Helene was an accomplished artist (in fact she hand painted pottery professionally) and it was she who designed our Club badge, and Joan ( formerly Harrington) was a wonderful tailoress.
And so our Club was born – unfortunately Dorothy and I are not sure who the original Committee members were in the other regions but we think the Northern Region Committee included Beryl Sedcole, Hayden Pollock and Mike and Pam Flanagan – later Gifford (Kyaba prefix). The Central Region included Doreen Cross ( Chatswood prefix), Kay Thresh (Barinya prefix), Grace Burgess (Graceful prefix) and possibly Mary(?) Boniface (Robinlee prefix) may have been involved.
For the first ten years, we didn’t hold a show (I’m not sure if Specialist Clubs were able to in those days) but we did offer Club rosettes to one show in each NZCF region (and possibly the National?) for Best Burmese Cat, Kitten, Neuter/ Spay Cat and Kitten. These were in the Club colours of gold, blue and brown, chosen to represent eye colour and the two original Burmese colours.
Following the birth of the Club, Burmese rapidly became one of New Zealand’s favourite breeds. Such was the popularity of Burmese that by the end of 1975 (only six years!), in addition to those above, the following prefixes had been registered (Edition No 5 (1971 -1975) NZCF Stud Book) (E&OE). I’ve arranged them in the ‘regions’ where (it’s likely) the breeders resided.
Northern Region prefixes:
Vicky Firth – ATALANTA Bob & Iris Kerridge – ADIRAJA
Sam & Sue Rae – ASHLEA Bessie Christie – CASA FELIX
Mr & Mrs Nordstrand – CHINOOK. Ernie & Freda Mexted – DOMBURSIA
Mr & Mrs Livingstone – PEKERAU. Mrs Bolster – TAI GWAI
Jane Vallings – TERRANOVA. Shirley (?) Ellison – QUIMBAYA
Heather Davis – TREETOPS. J.Horricks – WAIPA
Central Region prefixes:
Betty Bayley – HOOBABA. Mr & Mrs Jerome – KOSHKA
Mr & Mrs Randall – REDWING. John Brown – TAIPEE
Mr & Mrs Flood – TIROMOANA. Graeme & Sue Gordon – GRAFTON
Southern Region prefixes:
Mr & Mrs Kerr – ANTARCTICUS. Mr & Mrs Heaney – AUDON
Leona Rains – CHILTON. Mrs Brundell – CORONA
Betty Green – DANUM. Toni & Paul Coulson – DEBONAIRE
Pat Hogan – FURPURRSON. Mr & Mrs Murray – HYHILLS
Graham & Kathy Rennie – KASHAN. Vera Stickney & R.Corlett – MUONG
Wyn Murfitt – NANCHI. Mollie Pettit – PERFECTORS
Mr & Mrs R Sutherland – THANH MAI Mr & Mrs Rodgers – YODRAK
Just a further snippet, Betty Green (DANUM) is Genevieve Rogerson’s grandmother!
– Ann Skilling