A BRIEF HISTORY OF OUR CLUB

Our Story

An example of a Siamese at the turn of the century

1800's

History of the Burmese

Brown cats had been shown in Britain in the late 1800’s, their progeny being known as Chocolate Siamese, however the efforts to breed them soon died out, possibly these Chocolate Siamese were hybrids, which meant they wouldn’t breed ‘true’ (little was known about genetics back then).

1930's

San Franciso, USA

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)

Wong Mau -Widely considered the first Burmese

1947 One Shilling Coin which was roughly 1/20th of a pound.  The word Shilling was included on the freshly minted 10 cent coin to assist with the transition to decimal currency in 1967. 

1947

The Post War Years

Such was the popularity of the new breed that early breeders, perhaps (it is thought) not understanding the genetics of the breed, were selling hybrid kittens as Burmese which resulted in the CFA de-registering the breed in 1947 (it was not until 1953 that they were restored to the CFA register).

1950's

1949 and in 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.

An example of a 1949 HMS Vanguard Postage Stamp celebrating the 1949 Royal Visit that never took place.   39 million stamps were printed and all were all destroyed but for 3 stamps.   No one knows how they survived but they're each worth a small fortune

Teddy Boys; Britain's feral youth of the 1950's.   Their look was an adaptation of Edwardian romanticism; tailored velvet blazers and button-down shirts coupled with drainpipe jeans or trousers, skinny ties, and chunky leather shoes. To top off the outfit with a quiffed up hairdo, and you have the look of a classic Teddy Boy.

1957

Thank You Britain

Thanks to the early British breeders, our first NZ Burmese (all progeny or grandchildren of the original cats) arrived in 1957 – so very early on! They were, of course, imported by Beryl Sedcole and her son Hayden Pollock (Ransein prefix). There were two females – Paquita (by Casa Gatos da Foong), Nilgiris Buru Kaihau (who was similarly bred) and a male, Merrick Apollo whose sire was Darkee ( a little later two more males were imported – Merrick Viking (by Beryl and Hayden ) and Omaheeni Ariel (by Lil and Andy Carian, Seabury prefix)).

1964

The Swinging Sixties

A few Burmese were bred by various breeders around NZ (Pekerau prefix springs to mind) but it was Christchurch fanciers that rocketed Burmese to the forefront of the NZGCCF (as it was at the time). The earliest I can locate arrived in Canterbury 1961-1964. Ransein Prince  whose name I can’t recall ), Ransein Chan  (Helene and Arthur Rowland’s first Burmese – a neuter), Tai Gwai Tamiko a tiny, attractive little female, owned by Joan Terhuppen (Tai and Tai Rama prefixes), and Seabury Sabu (a neuter – originally owned by Peter Woodill (Ahmavir prefix), Sabu lived with Peter’s sister Ann Skilling (then Frost).

  However it was a rather sway-backed, somewhat knock kneed, second generation NZ bred Blue Burmese female, Ransein Mai Ling, (the Rowland’s foundation queen) who, when bred with Omaheeni Ariel, produced the most superb kittens – litter after litter! Chindah Asmara, Chindah Adiratna, Chindah Asahan, these all within their first year of breeding! Chindah Bahari (Frost (Skilling)’s original queen – Chuntao prefix), Chindah Beyan and Chindah Balek (both of whom were exported to Australia, after short but illustrious show careers here) – these three were born in the Rowlands’ second year of breeding. Their third year produced he first Burmese Grand Champion, Chindah Cherita, a simply stunning female and multiple major award winner. Another from this year was Chindah Chendarek, a lovely Blue girl, Asahan’s daughter – Dorothy Horton’s (Xzandu prefix) beautiful foundation queen. A wonderful, amazing record for a rather ordinary little girl especially in light of the limited gene pool! Or maybe it WAS because of the limited gene pool – Mai Ling was closely related to Omaheeni Ariel, as was Ransein Prince Imrahil (who sired some of their second generation cats).

21 June 1964; The fab four (The Beatles) land in New Zealand for a four stop concert tour of the four main centres; Wellington, Dunedin, Christchurch, and Auckland.  The tour had a huge impact on New Zealand's own rock'n'roll music scene but it would take a further 30 years before New Zealand artists would achieve significant airplay on their own local stations.

Peter Snell, a middle distance runner and winner of three Olympic gold meals.   His second and third gold medals were acheived at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan where he set a new Olympic record in the 800 metres and won the gold in the 1500 metres.  Winning the Olympic double was a feat that hadn't been broken since 1920 and to this day is still yet to be repeated.

1969, One Giant Leap For Mankind.  Apollo 11 became the first man'ed spacecraft to land successfully on the moon.   6 hours later Neil Armstrong became the first human to step foot on the lunar surface followed by Buzz Aldrin some 20 minutes later.  The landing not only signified a giant leap forward for science and exploration, but also proved to be a significant US victory in the Space Race for spaceflight superiority.

Wait what???  Cats in space????

1969

Establishment of the Club

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.

The 70's

The First 10 Years

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.

 

The 1970's were a decade of change, especially economically and culturally.  Carless days were introduced in the 1970's to combat the second petrol shortage.  It turned out though that it did little to reduce comsumption so it was scrapped by May 1980.

Early Burmese Breeder Prefixes

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

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

Southern 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

Just a further snippet, Betty Green (DANUM) is Genevieve Rogerson’s grandmother!

A Brief History of the Club was written by Ann Skilling in 2020

Burmese Cat Club

of New Zealand

We are a progressive, welcoming, non-profit organisation and our key mission is to promote the welfare of the Burmese breed of cat, responsible and ethical breeding of the Burmese breed, and the showing of purebred cats and de-sexed domestic cats.

We are a registered member of New Zealand Cat Fancy and as a specialist club we are focused on the Burmese cat (and related breeds) to offer breeder advice and guidance where possible.  We  also organise two annual cat shows per year.

Our North Island and South Island committees meet on a monthly basic to discuss specialist issues to assist breeders and owners, breed standards, and the welfare of the breed.

Contact the club for more information