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Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.



William Knox Chambers (born in South Australia in 1850) was taken by his parents in 1854 to Hawke's Bay, where he was brought up to sheepfarming. In 1873 he bought Repongaere. He served on the Ormond, Waikohu and Ngatapa Road Boards, Cook County Council and Gisborne Harbour Board.

James Macfarlane (born in North Canterbury in 1853) took up a run in the Amuri district. For nine years he was chairman of Amuri County Council. In 1892 he bought Takapau (10,470 acres). He served on Cook County Council, the Hospital Board, the Farmers' Union and the Poverty Bay A. and P. Association. The Government acquired Takapau in 1903.

Charles Gray (born near Huntingdon, England, in 1840) followed the sea early in life. In 1870 he and a brother went to Queensland, where page 400 they engaged in pastoral pursuits. He acquired Waiohika in 1877. His public service included the chairmanship both of Cook County Council and Cook Hospital Board. He died at Dunedin on 8 March, 1918. His second wife (a daughter of Bishop W. L. Williams) was born at Whakato in 1856 and died in 1942.

Thomas Jex-Blake (born at Norwich in 1857) was employed in Poverty Bay first of all by his uncle (J. W. Johnson). For some years he managed Taureka, and then bought properties at Waerenga-o-Kuri and Te Arai. He died in April, 1928.

Charles Matthews (born in England in 1878) came out to Poverty Bay with his parents, assisted his father to develop Te Ruanui, and then bought properties on his own account. He was a member of Cook County Council for 24 years, and also served on the Poverty Bay Power Board and Cook Hospital Board. He died on 8 December, 1942.

John Warren (born at Woolwich in 1844) arrived at Auckland with his parents in 1847. He fought in the Waikato War. In 1873 he moved to Gisborne, which then had only 116 houses, many of them being only shacks on sledges. His first job was in connection with the erection of the first Masonic Hotel. He was the sponsor of Oddfellowship in Gisborne, a keen volunteer and a strong supporter of the hospital. A foundation member of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, he was a Sunday School teacher from 1874 till 1888, and then superintendent for nearly 30 years. He died on 30 March, 1919.

De Gennes Fraser (born at Karachi in 1852) left India with his parents for Jersey upon the retirement of his father from the service of the East India Company. He came out to New Zealand in 1870. Whilst he was engaged in Government survey work with a party in Taranaki in 1878, trouble arose with the natives, who sent their womenfolk to remove the flags and pegs on Ngutuwera block. A native named Hiroki was hanged at New Plymouth for murdering McLean, the camp cook. Mr. Fraser became engineer to Pahiatua County in 1889 and to Wairoa County (1900–01). During his term as engineer to Cook County the road to Tolaga Bay was greatly improved by the construction of deviations from the treacherous beaches at Puatai and Tapuae. In 1916–17 he was engineer for Gisborne Borough. He died at Auckland on 4 June, 1938.

Robert Mixer Skeet (born in 1832) migrated in 1854 to Nelson, where he spent several years. Next he engaged upon survey work in Hawke's Bay. From 1865 till 1871 he was Wellington city surveyor. In 1872 he advertised himself in Gisborne as “a civil engineer, surveyor, land and general agent.” He was the first engineer to Cook County (1877–78) and afterwards engaged in private practice in Gisborne. He died on 21 March, 1894.

John Joseph Keane came to Gisborne from the West Coast (South Island) in 1902 to join the staff of the Public Works Department. In 1908 he became overseer to Cook County, and, in 1921, he was appointed engineer. He had a fatal seizure on 20 December, 1927, whilst he was driving his car over a temporary bridge at Waimata.