William and Sarah (Hera) Honeyfield

Updated 28 December, 2021

William Henry Honeyfield was born in Gillingham, Dorset and was baptised on 31 March 1833 at St Mary’s church.

Sixteen years later William arrived in New Plymouth in 1850 with his older sister Harriet.

Sarah (Hera) was born in June 1835 at Dicky Barrett’s whaling station at Te Awaiti Bay on Arapaoa Island in Queen Charlotte Sound.

More information about William’s initial three years in New Zealand is available on the posting about the Honeyfield siblings emigration to New Zealand.

William and Sarah were married by the Rev H.H. Turton on 4th of April, 1853, at The Chapel of the Grey Institution in New Plymouth. William was aged 19 and Sarah was 17. In a letter to the government agent, Donald McLean, Dr P Wilson of New Plymouth wrote:

Sarah, the youngest daughter of old Barrett the whaler is to be married today to a young English farmer at Tataraimaka named Honeyfield, a very respectable lad and brother to Mrs Newman.

It is worth noting that William had left England as a 16 year old with little prospect of securing a future as a leaseholder, let alone a landowner. In New Zealand he had leased a farm with his cousins, and was now onto the second farm he had owned, this one on Timaru Road, and married at the age of 19.

William and Sarah’s first child, Richard Barrett Honeyfield, was born two months after the wedding. He was to be the first grandchild of the late Dicky and Rāwinia Barrett and the first Honeyfield to be born in New Zealand.

After Sarah’s marriage to William, and with the start of their family, a succession plan was implemented to safe guard land that Sarah had inherited. Her portion of Barrett’s Reserve A, C and D were sold into a trust administered by the Rev. Turton. This was to prevent the land being sold by Sarah, her husband or their children.

William and Sarah initially lived with William’s cousins, the Morgan’s, at Tataraimaka, as housing at the time was limited and primitive. However, they did not stay long at Tataraimaka, moving back to Moturoa to live in Dicky and Rāwinia’s substantial old house close to where the whaling station once was beside the Hongihongi lagoon in the lee of the islands. It was there that William and Sarah settled to raise their family and farm the Barrett Reserve land. William and Sarah’s farm was targeted by Māori during the first Taranaki land wars in August 1860, when some of their cattle and horses were driven away by raiders from Taranaki and Ngāti Ruanui (Taranaki Herald, August 1860, PapersPast).

Honeyfield residence, Moturoa (c1870)

Hamer Humphrey Arden, collection of Puke Ariki, New Plymouth

William and Sarah had six children altogether. There was:

Richard (Dick) Barrett

  • Born 1853
  • Married Florence Loveridge in 1876.
  • Their children were Gertrude Blanch (Duffin), Laurence Hugh, Ethel May (Hodge) Jessie Eliza (Perry) and Isabella Cholwill.
  • Died 1917

William John (Jack)

  • Born 1855
  • Went on to become a farmer / businessman in his own right operating from the Honeyfield’s Moturoa farm at Barrett Reserve A. He supplied local shipping for many years with produce from his farm.
  • Died 1933.

Hannah Lavinia

  • Born 1857
  • Hannah was the first Honeyfield to die in New Zealand in 1861 and is buried with Dicky and Rāwhinia at the Waitapu urupa, Ngamotu

Henry (Harry) James

  • Born 1859
  • Married Bessie Adams
  • One son, Cyril
  • Spend some time in the military. The photo below was taken at Parihaka.
  • Died in NSW, Australia, in 1938.
Harry Honeyfield top left

Ellen Caroline

  • Born 1861
  • Married Hugh McLean
  • Two sons, William John and Ronald McLean. William joined the army and was killed during World War 1.
  • Ellen was one of the founders of the Kawaroa Park Committee and she did much for the establishment of the seaside park.
  • Died at New Plymouth, 1941.

Ellen inherited an interest in Ratapihipihi A East Block from Sarah (Hera) that was passed on to her surviving son Ronald McLean on 5 August 1942. Sarah acquired her interest in the land from Rāwinia’s sisters, Renata Kauereia and Harata Waikauri, the original owners of the land title (source: Ann Hodgson, Maori Land Court 27/1317 – see below).

Ronald’s son William sold the interest he inherited from his father to the Maori Trustee in 1970. The land (which had formed part of the West Coast Settlement Reserve Block of Māori land ranging from Waitotara in South Taranaki north through to Mokau) was subsequently vested to Parininihi ki Waitotara (PKW) in 1977, a body formed by a collection of Māori landowners in Taranaki to stop the proliferation of Māori land sales and control the land in the interests of landowners (Source: Ann Hodgson, Maori Land Court – see below).

Ellen with her two sons, William John & Ronald McLean
Ellen’s obituary, Taranaki Herald

Edmund Charles

  • Born 1863
  • Died in Sydney in 1916.

On 15 May 1864, at the age of 31, William died of typhoid fever and was the first Honeyfield to be buried at Te Henui cemetery. William was not the first Honeyfield to die in New Zealand. His daughter Hannah Lavinia died at four years of age in 1861. Hannah is buried with her grandparents, Richard and Rāwinia Barrett at the Waitapu urupa, Ngamotu.

According to William’s probate, he left all his estate to his ‘dear wife Sarah Mary Honeyfield’. William left Sarah with five children aged from 4 months old to 11 years of age.

After William died, Caroline Barrett and James Honeyfield came to Sarah’s help. James mentored his brother’s sons, in particular William John. After James and Caroline married and subsequently moved to Tataraimaka in 1869, William John, aged 14, accompanied them where he learnt farming.

By 1870 Sarah was operating a general store from her home to supply the needs of visiting ships. Sarah also participated in the purchase of the Honeyfield’s Blagdon Farm. Over the years several of both Sarah’s and Caroline’s children lived and worked from the Blagdon Farm including Sarah’s oldest son Richard (Dick) who ran a stable and livery business from there. Ownership of the farm eventually changed to James after Caroline and Sarah passed on.

New Plymouth 1870

In the photo above the remnants of Te Kawau Pā just to the north of Huatoki Stream are evident. The Honeyfield’s land is further south.

Sarah died in June 1898 at Ngamotu at the age of 63 and is buried at Te Henui cemetery along with William at the Honeyfield plot. In Sarah’s obituary published in the Auckland Star on 4 July, 1898, Sarah was described as an “…old Taranaki settler”.


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