Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

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

Chapter XLII — Brief Biographies — Typical Pioneers and Maori Leaders

page 456

Chapter XLII
Brief Biographies
Typical Pioneers and Maori Leaders

Percival Barker, Sen. (born in England in 1824), settled in Dunedin in the early 1860's, going into business first as a tailor, and, then, as an hotelkeeper. In 1875 he moved to Poverty Bay, and, in conjunction with Alan McDonald, took up the Kaiti and Whataupoko runs. When the partnership was dissolved he retained Whataupoko and, later, acquired Poututu and other properties. His sons Walter and Frank broke in Poututu, Walter and Richard founded Glenroy station, and, later, Frank and Percy went on to portion of Tauwhareparae. Members of the family, also gained substantial land interests in the Ruakituri district and in the Bay of Plenty. Mr. Barker, senior, died on 12 March, 1902.

Elsdon Best (born at Porirua in 1856) took up station work at Waerenga-a-Hika in 1874. He went off to Taranaki when the Parihaka trouble occurred in 1879, but returned to Poverty Bay. From 1883 till 1886 he roughed it in the United States. He afterwards lived for 16 years in the Urewera Country, where he amassed a large fund of information concerning the history, legends and customs of the Maoris. Scholefield (Dictionary of New Zealand Biography) quotes Sir A. T. Ngata as having remarked in 1922: “There is not a member of the Maori race who is fit to wipe the boots of Elsdon Best in the matter of knowledge of the lore of the race to which we belong.” He died on 9 September, 1931.

Thomas William Bilham (born at Norfolk in 1834) landed in New Zealand in 1868. He moved from Hawke's Bay to Lavenham in 1871, and was a heavy sufferer from the 1876 flood. In 1878 he took up a property at Patutahi. For some years he was a large grower of tobacco. He died in 1910.

Octavius Lawes Woodthorpe Bousfield (a brother of Bishop Bousfield of Pretoria) made his home in Hawke's Bay in 1850, and entered the service of the State as a surveyor. He began the survey of the Porangahau block (130,000 acres) in 1855. Then he took up Woodthorpe station. In 1869 he moved to Poverty Bay to carry out the survey of the southern boundary of the site for Gisborne township. He was also responsible for the survey of the external boundaries of Patutahi block. His death occurred on 19 May, 1882.

Augustus Septimus Braithwaite, C.E. (born in England in 1802) spent the evening of his life in Gisborne. In 1829 he and a partner (Captain Ericeson) constructed a locomotive, the Novelty, which competed for a prize of £500 (offered by the Liverpool-Manchester Railway Company) against Robert Stephenson's Rocket and T. Hackworth's Sans Pariel. Ritchie (Railways and the Steam Engine) says that, on the first trial, the Rocket attained 13 4–10 m.p.h., Sans Pariel 12 4–10 m.p.h. and Novelty 17½ m.p.h. In the second trial Rocket reached 14 2–10 m.p.h., and Novelty, whilst travelling at 15 m.p.h., came to grief on account of a tube bursting. Sans Pariel had dropped out of the contest. He died in March, 1884.

Robert James Breingan (born in Fifeshire in 1816) reached Wellington in the early 1840's, but, some years later, moved to Hawke's Bay. In 1872 he took up the lease of the Waerenga-a-Hika mission station property. His large family was a welcome addition to the scant European population of that district. He died at Toanga on 14 April, 1885.

page 457

James Brown (born in Glasgow) came out to Dunedin with his parents in 1859, and was apprenticed to the engineering trade. In 1878 he assisted to install the machinery in King's flourmill at Gisborne. He then went into business, first with J. Ballantyne, and then with J. Smaill. For some years he was an engineer at the Taruheru freezing works and, later, at the Kaiti works. In 1897 he again went into business. He served on Gisborne Borough Council, the Harbour Board and the Hospital Board, and was prominent in musical circles. He died on 9 March, 1918.

Charles Agnew Brown (born in Sussex) was educated at Eton and Oxford. He was one of the staff officers at the Battle of Omarunui (Hawke's Bay). In the early 1870's he took up “Whakawhitira” (Poverty Bay), but, in the 1890's, went Home to reside for some years. He died in November, 1920. A brother (Cartwright Brown) was one of the earliest runholders in the Matakaoa district.

Henry Clayton, senior (born in London), settled in Hawke's Bay in the late 1850's. In 1872 he started in business in Gisborne as a builder. A shop which he built in 1873 on the north-west corner of Gladstone Road and Lowe Street is (1949) the oldest building of its kind in Gisborne. He was a member of Gisborne's first borough council. His death occurred on 30 December, 1891.

Louis Direy, a noted French scholar, spent his last years in Gisborne. He was born at Lille in 1816, and, for some years, was a professor at the Royal University of France. In addition to being a gifted poet and grammarian, he was an authority on Shakespeare. He died on 5 February, 1892.

James Erskine (born in Belfast in 1855) was in business in Gisborne as a baker from 1875 till 1920. He died on 6 April, 1939.

John Forbes (born in Manchester in 1826) hag lived in Australia and Otago before he moved to Poverty Bay in 1867 to build the Albion Club Hotel. On account of the disturbed state of the district he shifted to Auckland with his wife and three daughters—who became Mrs. M. G. Nasmith, Mrs. J. Creswell and Mrs. A. J. Fyson—just before the Massacre, but returned afterwards. Among the buildings which his firm (Forbes and Skeet) erected was St. Mary's Church. He died on 18 October, 1892.

William E. Goffe (born at Paihia in 1863) claimed descent from the General Goffe who, with his son-in-law. (Whatley) signed King Charles I's death warrant. He became an interpreter in Parliament, and, then, a lands purchase officer in the Native Lands Department at, in turn, Wellington, Wanganui and Gisborne. Mrs. Goffe is a granddaughter of John King who arrived in New Zealand with Samuel Marsden in 1814. She traces her descent from King Edward III, through Admiral Collingwood. Mr. and Mrs. Goffe were the first husband and wife in New Zealand to hold appointments as Justices of the Peace, and, on several occasions, sat on the Bench together. Mr. Goffe amassed a fine range of Maori curos. He died on 8 August, 1940.

Elioth Gruner (born at Gisborne in 1882) gained fame in art circles abroad. He studied at the Sydney Art School and won the Wynne Art Prize. One of his early paintings, “Sydney Harbour,” fetched 100 guineas. His Murrumbidgee Landscape,” painted in 1921, was purchased for the Commonwealth National Art Gallery at 400 guineas. He had paintings hung at the Royal Academy in London and at the Paris Salon. He died on 18 October, 1939.

Duncan Hepburn (born at Auckland in 1844) engaged in farming, seafaring, coalmining and goldmining before he settled in Gisborne in 1870. He opened a brickworks in Aberdeen Road in 1874. His public service included terms on the Borough Council, Hospital Board, Harbour Board and Cook County Council. He died on 25 September, 1917.

page 458

Richard Leach (Tiki Riiti) was born at Whangara in 1870. He was a son of John Stewart Leach (a whaler who became a settler) and was trained as a woolclasser. Well versed in the history and customs of the East Coast Maoris, he took an important part in tribal gatherings. He died on 6 December, 1944.

John Salter Lincoln (born in London in 1855) was brought out to Auckland by his parents in 1856. The family moved to Gisborne in 1874, and he settled at Tolaga Bay in the following year. He was the chairman of the first public school committee there. His death occurred on 19 January, 1942.

Henri Loisel (born in Holland) migrated to Melbourne to become a clerk with a wool firm. In the early 1870's he went on to “Taharangi” (Tolaga Bay) as a cadet. He acquired a lease of “Puatai” in 1875. Five years later he took up “Waihau,” which he converted into a freehold. During the First Great War he was prominent in connection with patriotic activities. He died in October, 1932.

Thomas Morrison (a son of William Morrison) settled in Gisborne with his parents in 1875. He was conductor of the City Band for 20 years, served in the East Coast Hussars, was a member of the Gisborne Fire Brigade for over 50 years, and, for some years, held a seat on the Borough Council. His death occurred on 1 June, 1946.

Patrick McLoughlin (who settled in Poverty Bay in the 1870's) assisted in the work of erecting the telephone line between Gisborne and Tolaga Bay, hauled much of the stone required for the first section of Gisborne breakwater from Tuamotu Island, built a number of bridges and carried out road works for various local bodies. In 1892 he took up a farm at Patutahi. He died in December, 1917.

Matthew Gray Nasmith (born at Tranent, Scotland) came out to Dunedin in 1860 with his parents and grandparents. In 1871 he opened the first jeweller's shop in Gisborne. He took a keen interest in the Turf and bowling. His death occurred on 18 June, 1926. A daughter (Mrs. Douglas Blair) was the author of Land of Toi, By Pacific Waters (short stories) and Kowhai Blossoms (a book of verse).

Arthur Parnell went on to a bush property at Mangapai (North Auckland) in 1867, but, in 1872, he joined H. Boylan in an ironmongery business at Gisborne, and, later, opened on his own account. Mrs. Parnell lived in a house in Palmerston Road for 70 years. She was 92 years old when she died on 16 July, 1942.

Samuel J. Parsons took up portion of the Bloomfield Estate at Mata-whero in 1869. He was an expert agriculturist and a prominent supporter of the Turf. Mrs. Parsons was 93 years old when she died at Napier in May, 1941.

Wiremu Potae, eldest son of Henare Potae, was born at Tokomaru Bay in 1855. He was one of the most progressive Maori sheepfarmers on the East Coast. His death occurred on 13 July, 1941.

Alexander Robb (born at Peterhead, Scotland, in 1837) settled in the Taieri district in the early 1860's. In 1865 he obtained employment on Captain Read's Matawhero property. He was present at the engagement at Paparatu, but, after the Massacre, he went to live in Hawke's Bay until 1878, when he again took up farming in Poverty Bay. He died on 18 August, 1907.

Edward Richardson (son of William F. Richardson) was born at Selby, Yorkshire, in 1856. He took up a section in Waimata Valley in 1884, but disposed of it to his father. When the Motu district was opened up in 1887, he became one of its first settlers, remaining there until 1929, when his son George took over the property. He died on 16 October, 1940.

Henare Ruru, whose mother was Kato Puha, a daughter of William page 459 Brown the Whaler, was a member of Taupara hapu of T'Aitanga-a-Mahaki tribe. He was chairman of Mangatu Trust (which controls about 100,000 acres) and one of the orators of the tribe. He died on 10 May, 1943. His son Jack met with a fatal accident on 1 September, 1934, during a Prince of Wales Cup Rugby match at Rotorua.

Arthur Sawyer (born at Edmonton, England, in 1858) came out to the Waikato with his parents in 1868. He settled in Gisborne in 1876, engaging first in a carrying business, and then with J. A. Lucas in a cordial manufactory. His death occurred on 26 October, 1944.

John Somervell (born at Greenock in 1840) worked as a shipwright at Auckland from 1856 till 1862, when he went to Invercargill to assist in building a jetty. Moving to Thames, he took up contracts for the erection of mining machinery. Between 1877 and 1895 he was in business as a builder and bridge contractor in Gisborne. At the outset two of his brothers were associated with him. As the trio bore the Christian names John, James and Andrew respectively, they became known as “The Three Apostles.” Their specialty was the removal of buildings without dismantling them. Returning to Thames, he was, for some years, manager of the Deep Sinker mine. In 1901 he again entered the building trade in Gisborne. He died on 12 June, 1928.

John Score (born at Portland, England, in 1856) settled in Gisborne in 1879. He conducted a butchery first at Ormond and then at Gisborne. His next venture was a butter factory. Score Point, Kaiti, is named after him. He died on 1 September, 1913.

Horiana Tupeka was reputed to be 110 years old when she died at Gisborne on 8 September, 1935. She was a member of T'Aitanga-a-Mahaki tribe, and claimed that she was in Kekeparaoa pa when it was besieged in 1832.

John Walsh (born in County Cork in 1844) served on a warship in Chinese waters when he was a lad. He migrated to New Zealand in 1863, and went on active service in Taranaki with the 2nd Forest Rangers. In 1870 he joined the Armed Constabulary, and was posted to Poverty Bay. He took up a dairy farm at Matawhero in 1881, and, later, resided at Mangapapa. His death took place on 31 December, 1929.

George White, a son of Bennett White, merchant, was born at Matata in 1852. He and his father were on board the cutter Kate when she was plundered at Whakatane in 1865; James Fulloon and four others were slain. Subsequently, his father was murdered, and the murderer was captured in the Urewera Country. Mr. White died on 5 August, 1949.