Queen's Service Medal

Heather McLean: Queen's Service Medal

"Genealogy is a bit like a rash," Queen's Service Medal recipient Heather Yvonne McLean says.

"It's like an allergy. You start, and that's it, you keep going."


The 81-year-old Gate Pā resident received a 2019 New Year Honour today for services to genealogy and historical research.

She has been involved with the New Zealand Society of Genealogists since 1972 and has been an active member of the society's Tauranga, Te Puke and Katikati groups.

McLean's key contribution has been transcribing headstones in Bay of Plenty cemeteries, which she has done since 1973 for the benefit of family historians and researchers.

For years, she has also volunteered her time every week at the Mormon Church's Family History Centre, the Pyes Pā Cemetery office and the Tauranga City Library.

In 2016, McLean completed a database of air-related deaths from 1899 to 2016, for use by the New Zealand Society of Genealogists.

As a member of the Tauranga Historical Society she has also given talks on the history of the area and, once a month, she holds a meeting in her home to help and instruct beginner genealogists.

McLean has been on the Tauranga WWI Centenary committee since 2013 and has co-ordinated local commemorative activities, including initiating the restoration of the headstones of three soldiers in a local cemetery that had been destroyed.

Heather Yvonne McLean. Photo / Supplied
Heather Yvonne McLean. Photo / Supplied

"My husband could never understand why I worried about dead people," McLean told the Bay of Plenty Times.


"But if it wasn't for the dead people, we wouldn't be here today."

She said her QSM came as a surprise, was "wonderful" and she appreciated whoever put her name forward.

"I actually haven't done this for what I get out of it; I thoroughly enjoy helping people."

As well as her genealogy and historical research work, McLean volunteered with Meals on Wheels for 11 years in Tauranga and is a bit of a philanthropist, regularly donating to various charities and organisations.