Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.
Contemporary Traders — The Elusive Cooper
The Elusive Cooper
No further details concerning the shadowy trader Cooper (Kupa) appear in the minutes of the P.B. Crown Grants Commission. The records of the Native Land Courts make no mention of him. No one named Cooper—apart from Daniel Cooper, of the Sydney firm of Cooper and Holt—was a claimant to land in Poverty Bay, and nobody of that name witnessed the signatures of any party to an early land claim. The first resident named Cooper of whom there are some details was William Binson Cooper, a carpenter who was attached to the Turanga mission station. In 1843 he was sent to Rangitukia to build a house for the Rev. J. Stack. This Cooper had a pakeha wife, and in 1851 they had four children. He became the manual instructor at Waerenga-a-Hika mission station. In the early 1860's he went on to Otago, but some years afterwards he turned up in Auckland.
There was a trader (later a whaler) named Cooper on the Bay of Plenty coast prior to, and for some time after, 1840. Te Hata told the Seth Smith-Hone Heke Royal Commission when it was inquiring into the ownership of Tunapahore and adjacent blocks (minute books 2 and 4) that Cooper was the name of the first pakeha who settled at Te Awanui page 103 (near Omaio). As rent he was required to give a cask of tobacco. He took for wife Apuhau, but she was taken away from him. Cooper was joined there by another pakeha named Webster. According to Tamati Ru (another witness), Cooper and Webster whaled at Te Awanui before they established a whaling station at Whangaparaoa. The Bay of Plenty Cooper might not have been the Poverty Bay Cooper.