Photo: Mrs. Beryl Sedcole 1. Courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection


When Mrs. Lilian France of Derby imported the first American-bred Burmese into her 'Chinki' cattery in the United Kingdom in 1949, she opened a veritable flood-gate; one that would largely influence the spread of the Burmese breed around the globe. Her first imports were two females and a male, respectively named 'Chindwins Minou Twn', 'USA Ch. Laos Cheli Wat', and 'Casa Gatos Da Foong'2.

In 1953, Mrs. France, assisted by the late Lord Aberconway, imported another male, 'Casa Gatos Darkee'2. It was from various combinations of the lines of these two 'Casa Gatos' males and their sons and daughters, that enough breeding stock was eventually established in the United Kingdom to allow Burmese kittens of sufficient quality to be available for export to breeders located elsewhere around the globe.

When Mrs. France made a decision to move the Channel Islands in early 1954, all her Burmese stock were taken over by Mr. and Mrs. V. Watson in March of that year2.

'Nilgiris Buru Kaihou', a sable female, was sired by the original American imported male 'Casa Gatos Da Foong'. She was one of three sable Burmese imported into New Zealand in early 1957, by Mrs. Beryl Sedcole and her son, Mr. Hayden Pollock, of Auckland. The three were a male, 'Merrick Apollo', and two females, including 'Nilgiris Buru Kaihau' and the lovely little 'Paquita', who was a favourite with Mrs. Sedcole1.

These three cats were later supplemented by the addition of another sable Burmese male, 'Merrick Viking', imported by Mrs. Sedcole and Mr. Pollock in 1958. 'Viking' brought with him a much needed partial outcross, being sired by 'Darshan Khudiram', another American-bred sable Burmese, imported into the United Kingdom by Mrs. Watson. From these four cats, the Burmese breed gained its initial foot-hold in New Zealand, with the 'Ransein' cattery actively promoting the breed and sharing the lines within New Zealand and with breeders across the Tasman, in Australia1.


        CH Laos Teddi Wat of Yana
    CH Casa Gatos Da Foong
    |   Yana's Jo-Anna
Nilgiris Buru Kaihau, Apr-21-1956, sable Burmese, F
    |   CH Casa Gatos Darkee
    Lamont Oonagh
        Trinity Tatiana

'Buru Kaihau' was born on 26th April 1956, sired by Mr. and Mrs. Watson's 'Casa Gatos Da Foong' and out of Dr. and Mrs. Groom's queen, 'Lamont Oonagh'. Her dam, was sired by 'Casa Gatos Darkee' so in 'Buru Kaihau' the lines of both males were combined. 'Buru Kaihau' was in fact line-bred upon her sire 'Da Foong' as her maternal grand-dam 'Trinity Tatiana' was from a half-brother to half-sister mating, both parents being sired by 'Da Foong'.

People and Cats, contributing to the creation of 'Nilgiris Buru Kaihau'.
Left: Dr. W. Groom, her breeder, later Chairman of the GCCF.
Middle: Sire, 'Casa Gatos Da Foong'.
Right: Maternal Grandsire: 'Casa Gatos Darkee'

Photos: Dr. Groom, courtesy of Mrs. Molly Sasson3 Image courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection
'Casa Gatos Da Foong', and 'Casa Gatos Darkee', Cats Magazine.8 Images courtesy of The CFA Foundation

This line-breed on 'Da Foong', then out to 'Darkee' (considered to be a reasonable outcross) and back to 'Da Foong' gave 'Buru Kaihau' a fixed genetic make-up that was predominated by her sire 'Casa Gatos Da Foong'. From her photograph, loaned to the author some 36 years ago, we see a sable Burmese of definitive style, with a firm muzzle and chin, as well as good eye shape and appearing to be stockier than we would expect. This makes sense when we read Grace Burgess's description of 'Da Foong', when comparing him to Mrs. France's imported female:

"Ch. Laos Cheli Wat and Casa Gatos da Foong differed quote a lot in appearance - da Foong had shorter legs and both his head and body were broader. His eye colour was better than Cheli's but her face was more oriental and her coat was closer-lying than Da Foong's."2

'Buru Kaihau', along with 'Paquita' and 'Merrick Viking' was registered in the joint ownership of Sedcole and Pollock, on 1st May 19572.

Mrs. Sedcole was already a successful breeder of Persians under her own 'Ellrose' prefix, with an established reputation. She and her son Hayden met Miss Kathleen Yorke when the latter visited New Zealand to judge at Auckland Cat Club's show in June 1956. Miss Yorke was impressed with the standard of the cats she had handled and assessed and had apparently voiced her opinion that she would like to see the Burmese breed established in New Zealand. Her description of the Burmese impressed the young Mr. Pollock, who apparently decided he would like to breed them and subsequently worked to convince Mrs. Sedcole to support his proposal. Mrs. Sedcole, being worldly-wise knew that most of the work in feeding and looking after the cats would fall on her shoulders, so she proposed that they go into a partnership in order to breed Burmese1.

According to Grace Burgess: "They wanted a prefix indicative of the breed and so chose 'Ransein' - the 'Ran' for 'Rangoon' and the 'sein' from 'Bashien' - two large cities in Burma."2 The cats, she advises, were brought through an agent in England, who chose the cats and made all the arrangements surrounding travel and travelling boxes2.

Mrs. Beryl Sedcole, with her three initial Burmese imports from the United Kingdom. Left to right: females 'Paquita', and 'Nilgirus Buru Kaihau', both daughters of 'Casa Gatos Da Foong', and the male, 'Merrick Apollo', a son of 'Ch. Casa Gatos Darkee'.
Photo: NZ Free Lance, 1957 7
Image courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection


As a daughter of 'Casa Gatos Da Foong', 'Buru Kaihau' has a great many sire siblings. Most numerous among these are in the main, those bred by Mrs. France under her 'Chinki' prefix5, out of her two American imported queens 'Laos Cheli Wat' and 'Chindwin's Minou Twm'. There are equally numerous cats by 'Da Foong' also bred by his secondary owners, Mr. and Mrs. Watson, under their 'Sealcoat' prefix6. But other well-known breeders who more than a handful of kittens from 'Da Foong' included the likes of Mrs. M.Smith 'Sablesilk'5 and Dr. and Mrs. Groom 'Nilgiris'5.

There are in fact, at least five kittens recorded in the litter which included 'Nilgiris Buru Kaihau', born 26th April, 1956 - three being the females and one male. Two of the other three females were 'Nilgiris Buri Atakata' and 'Nilgiris Buro Raumahora', who were both exported to France, which left one female 'Nilgiris Buru Kinhau' and the male 'Nilgiris Bura Turea'. Records also indicate that a repeat breeding later produced another full sibling, namely the female 'Nilgiris Bura Kilimanjaro' born 15th June, 1956.5

Another sire sibling of note in this case is 'Paquita', born, 11th June, 1956, bred by Miss S.M. Dunn, as it was she who was exported to New Zealand along with her half-sister 'Buru Kaihau' and the male 'Merrick Apollo' who was a son of 'Casa Gatos Darkee'.

Sire-siblings: 'Paquita' and 'Nilgiris Buru Kaihau'
Photos: Cropped from image by NZ Free Lance, 19577
Images courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection

A litter brother to 'Paquita', named 'Tomahawk', was originally retained by Miss Dunn, but later sold to a syndicate in Australia. Grace Burgess gives us further insight into this sire-sibling of 'Buru Kaihau':

"Miss Dunn had already sent one of the first Burmese (Paquita) to New Zealand but had kept her litter-brother Tomahawk for the English show season. At this time it was not compulsory in the United Kingdom to use a prefix and I understand Miss Dunn preferred to keep the use of her prefix for the progeny of cats of her own breeding. This season had proved very successful for Tomahawk as he was only one point behind the winner of a points cup awarded for the most successful Burmese kitten of the year."2

Eventually however Miss Dunn let it be known to her contacts in Australia that 'Tomahawk' was available for purchase. A syndicate of four breeders was formed and in due course, 'Tomahawk' arrived in Sydney in August 1957, aged 14 months2.


'Nilgiris Buru Kaihau' became the first Burmese to successfully gain her Championship title in New Zealand.

Not long after their arrival in New Zealand, 'Apollo', 'Paquita' and 'Buru Kaihau' were finally benched at a show organised by the Auckland Cat Club and the Auckland branch of the Official Siamese Cat Club. This took place in the Concert Chamber of the Auckland Town Hall on 2nd March, 1957, with all three cats being placed on 'Exhibition Only'2.

Subsequent to this initial public exposure, 'Nilgiris Buru Kaihau' became the first Burmese cat to be shown competitively in New Zealand, successfully gaining her Championship title on 7th June, 1958 - a hallmark date for Burmese in New Zealand! 'Merrick Apollo' and 'Paquita' followed suit, gaining their respective Championships on the same day, 12th July, 19581.

At the Hamilton Cat Club show of 1957, Judge Mrs. Bernice (Bunny) Downey, had placed 'Buru Kaihau' ahead of 'Paquita' in the class. This somewhat surprised Mrs. Sedcole, who had been told by the English agent that she expected 'Paquita' to do better at shows and that 'Buru Kaihau' would be a useful brood queen2. It therefore appears possible that the decision of Mrs. Downey to award a first to 'Buru Kaihau' and a second to 'Paquita', may have played some part in the fact that it was 'Buru Kaihau' who first gained her Championship.


Although 'Buru Kaihau' appears to have had a rocky early start to her breeding career, she eventually became an extremely reliable brood queen. Grace Burgess elaborates further:

"Strangely enough, Paquita had seven kittens in her first litter and Nilgiris Buru Kaihau had only one kitten - born dead. However, both queens proved to be prolific breeders and Paquita had seven or eight litters of seven kittens each time, and normally her litters were of five or six kittens. Nilgiris Buru Kaihau, in spite of her poor start, also proved an exceptional queen and often had litters of six or seven kittens and had one litter of nine kittens, all of which were reared."2

Litter of nine sable Burmese kittens by 'Merrick Apollo' and out of 'Nilgiris Buru Kaihau'
Bred by Messrs Sedcole and Pollock

Mrs. Beryl Sedcole and Mr. Hayden Pollock 4
Image courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection

"Mrs. Sedcole said that with this litter, to rear it, once a day she hand-fed all the kittens and so took some of the burden off the little mother."

Confirming the progeny of 'Nilgiris Buru Kaihau' presented the writer with some difficulty, as Volume Three of the NZ Governing Council of the Cat Fancy's Stud-book appears not to have been published. This would have covered the period between the end of Volume 2, (31st December, 1954) and the start of Volume Four, in the late 1950s. Fortunately copies of the pedigrees of Mrs. Sedcoles imports are preserved, and details of their New Zealand registration, can be found in Grace Burgess's invaluable book, Burmese Cats published in 1970. Grace also provides a list of the names of 'Ransein' cats exhibited at major New Zealand shows between 1958 and 1963. But although we find the names of the cats in this publication, it does not identify the parentage of each exhibit. So this information has had to be gathered from a combining research of old pedigrees and examining early Australian studbooks.

Confirmed progeny of Ch. Nilgiris Buru Kaihau (Imp.UK), now includes:

  • 'Ransein Prince Imrahil' (Sable Burmese), owned by Mr. & Mrs, N.C. Tasker of Christchurch. Sons of 'Ransein Prince Imrahil' that made their way to Australia, included 'Chindah Beyan' and 'Chindah Balek', both bred by Mr. & Mrs. Rowlands.9. Both 'Beyan' and 'Balek' left a considerable number of progeny on Australian pedigrees.
  • 'Ransein La Rue' (Imp.NZ) (Sable Burmese), owned by Mrs. E. Henry, of Brisbane, Australia.2
  • 'Ransein Silmarein' (Sable Burmese), owned by Miss E.F. Christie, New Zealand.2
  • 'Ch. Ransein Chief Chindet' (Imp.NZ) (Sable Burmese), appears in the pedigrees of many early Australian Burmese, and 'Chindet' holds the distinction of being the first Burmese ever to be Best Male Cat in the Sydney Royal Easter Show.2 He was sired by 'Ch. Merrick Apollo', and out of 'Nilgiris Buru Kaihau'.9

At the time of writing, we are seeking to confirm the backgrounds of the following 'Ransein' cats from this period:

'Ransein Hyraji' (Imp.NZ) and 'Ransein Fu-Yen', (Imp.NZ) were two Sable Burmese bought by Mrs. Harold Abbott, of Sydney; so it is extremely likely that at least one of these two females was out of 'Buru Kaihau'. 'Gr.Ch. Ransein Lucasta' (Imp.NZ) is another female that is currently being traced. She was the dam of the Blue Burmese 'Gr.Ch. Mimboo Lucifer' bred in 1962, owned by Mrs. J. Caird, and he was the first Blue Burmese in Australia to become a Champion, and then Grand Champion2. 'Lucasta' was out of 'Ch. Ransein Blue Angel', another Sable Burmese.


NZ Champion Nilgiris Buru Kaihau (Imp.UK), as an adult. New Zealand's first Burmese Champion
Photo: Mrs. Beryl Sedcole and Mr. Hayden Pollock 4
Image courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection

A young 'Nilgiris Buru Kaihau' shortly after her arrival in New Zealand, in 1957, held by her co-owner Mrs. Beryl Sedcole.
Photo: Cropped Image from NZ Free Lance, 1957.7
Image courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection


None currently available.

In Summary:

'Nilgiris Buru Kaihau' is a sable Burmese female with a string of 'first's' to her credit. She was one of the three first Burmese cats to arrive in New Zealand. Similarly she was among those three when they became the first Burmese to be benched at a New Zealand Cat Show. She was then the first Burmese cat to become a New Zealand Champion. She was likely to have been the first Burmese female in New Zealand to produce and raise a litter of nine kittens. She was also the sire-sibling of 'Paquita', the dam of the sable Burmese female who produced not only the first Blue Burmese to be born in New Zealand, but the first all Blue litter out of Sable parents born in the southern hemisphere.

Her son 'Chindet' was the first Burmese cat to be Best Male Cat in Show at a Sydney Royal Easter Show.

But more than this, the story of 'Nilgiris Buru Kaihau' is a poignant reminder that when people choose to work together, and to share their valuable bloodstock, they create amazing opportunities for their selected breed to expand and cross national boundaries. It should be remembered that 'Niligiris Buru Kaihau' and her travelling companions 'Paquita' and 'Merrick Apollo' were the direct progeny of American-born cats. Therefore the dream to recreate and define what was a true breeding Burmese cat, developed as a team effort in the United States, with so much care and attention to detail, was now being realised in the farthest corners of the known world. An original bloodline that started in California was now seeding itself on what was a essentially a somewhat large island, at the bottom of the South Pacific; in 'Aotearoa', in the 'land of the long white cloud.'


  1. Notes from an interview with Beryl Sedcole by John G. Smithson, for an article in the NZCF Yearbook(1980)
  2. Burmese Cats, by Grace Burgess, 1970
  3. Photo of Dr. W. Groom' courtesy of Mrs. Molly Sasson.
  4. Photos from Mrs. Beryl Sedcole & Mr. Hayden Pollock (Ransein)
  5. Kensington Kitten& Neuter Cat Club Show Catalogues, 1952-1956
  6. Fur and Feather, August, 1954
  7. NZ Free Lance (1957)
  8. Cats Magazine, March/April, 1971
  9. The Stud Guide to Australasian Registered Cats (All Breeds), 1969
  10. Photos and Quotations as per credits noted.

Registers associated with this article include The Incorporated Cat Fanciers Association of Great Britain (TICFAGB), National Cat Club (NCC), The Cat Club (CCR), Beresford Cat Club (BCC), Feline Federation Francaise (FFF), Siamese Cat Registry (SCR), US Register & Studbook for Cats (USR)including Supplement(USRS), The Studbook of the American Cat Association (ACA), and the Studbook & Register of the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA).


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