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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Auckland Provincial District]

Mr. Edouard Eugene Cafler

Mr. Edouard Eugene Cafler, sometime of “Sans Souci,” Whangarei Mr. Cafler was born in 1798 near Douai in France, and was the youngest of a family of thirteen. His father was the founder of the beet-root sugar industry, and a staunch supporter of the First Napoleon, by whom he was commissioned to prosecute inquiries into the manufacture of sugar from beet. The English navies having swept French commerce from the seas, sugar was a searee commodity in France and large bounties were offered for its production. Several of his sons fought and fell in the wars of the great Emperor, and Mr. Cafler was himself included in the ceaseless levies which France poured forth so dauntlessly against Europe. When only eighteen he served in the ambulance corps at the Battle of Waterloo. After the overthrow of Napoleon, the Cafler family suffered great misfortunes and they saw their home and sugar-factory destroyed. In 1830 Edouard Eugene, the subject of this notice, who had received a good education at the Ecole de Commerce, left France for the Mauritius, and until the year 1840 was engaged in mercantile pursuits. His practice was to freight a vessel with Mauritius sugar and sail as his own supercargo to some eastern
The Late Mr. E. E. Cafler.

The Late Mr. E. E. Cafler.

page 553 port where the market was favourable, sell it and return to Mauritius laden with merchandise. In this way he visited Manilla, Canton, Macao, Singapore, Caleutta, Cape of Good Hope, Swan River, Hobart, Launceston, and New Caledonia, amassing during those ten years considerable wealth. An attack of yellow fever in China having seriously affected his health, he was advised to come to New Zealand and landed at Kororareka (now Russell), which block he purchased In 1840. There he enjoyed such robust health that he went to Australia and returned with all the necessary materials for building and improving his property. He enjoyed friendly relations with the Maoris and carried on a successful trade with them till 1845, when Heke's war broke out and Kororareka was sacked, every house except Bishop Pompallier's church being burned. Mr. Cafler remained in his house until it was riddled with bullets, but Heke afterwards conducted him through the Maori camp, which was filled with plunder, and undertook to restore whatever belonged to him as well as to indemnify him to the utmost of his power. After Mr. Cafler had removed to Auckland, Heke fulfilled his promise by returning three valuable horses, but it was not in the chief's power to make good the heavy loss Mr. Cafler had sustained. Leaving Auckland in February, 1846, in the French corvette, “Le Rhin,” commanded by Admiral Berard, he proceeded to Akaroa, where he possessed considerable interests. His claim, however, was subsequently ignored by the Government and he received no compensation. Mr. Cafler returned to France with the corvette, visiting en route the tomb of Napoleon at St. Helena, and arrived at Marseilles in August, 1846, He again left France In 1848 for Mauritius, where he remained until 1803, when he sailed for Sydney and during the next two years made several voyages between that port and Auckland and the Kaipara. He had decided to settle at the latter place, but was induced to give preference to Whangarel where he afterwards resided. Establishing himself in business he soon gained the esteem of all who came in contact with him and gradually extended his connections till he did nearly the whole trade of the district. Owing to a disastrous fire and other losses Mr. Cafler sold out his business and took up his residence at “Sans Souel,” where his house and tastefully laid out grounds were for years one of the principal attractions of Whangarei. Though ninety-five years of age he retained his health and good spirits and was able to ride his horse to within a short time prior to his death, with the agility of a much younger man. Mr. Cafler suffered from no physical disease beyond a gradual failure of strength and occasionally would complain that he felt “so tired.” He died on the 20th of February, 1893. peacefully and without a pang, in the presence of his sorrowing family, dying as he had lived “sans peur et sans reproche” through a very eventful career. About 1867, Mr. Cafler married a second time and by that marriage he left a son and daughter. The deceased was buried in the cemetery of the Church of England, to which faith he had become a convert in late years.