Updated 7 May, 2020
The legacy of William and Ethel Honeyfield is extensive and proud, leaving fond memories of a couple deeply rooted in their community and family. Generous and welcoming hosts, and loving parents to nine children, their story traverses the early colonial period through to modern times.
William (Will) was born on April 6, 1872 and was the oldest son of James and Caroline Honeyfield, grandson of Dicky and Rāwinia Barrett. Will lived his entire life at the Homestead in Tataraimaka.
Will married Ethel May Morris on 10th of November 1897 at St. Peter’s Church, Tataraimaka.
By the turn of the century Will and Ethel were farming the original Honeyfield farm purchased by Will’s parents James and Caroline in 1869.
Ethel was born in the Morris family household on Tapaue Hill, on June 7, 1875 (registered at Camberwell, London). Ethel’s father, Frederick Joseph Morris, was born in Middlesex, England in 1849. Ethel’s mother, Emily Sarah Wareham was born in 1849, in Hackney, London. Frederick and Emily married in Lambeth, London in 1870.
Ethel was four and a half years of age when the Morris family emigrated to New Zealand, in 1879. The Morris family, like all other passengers on board, made the journey at their own expense, and were therefore regarded as ‘a very respectable class of people’ (Otago Witness). The Morris family made the trip in the saloon area of the vessel. It was an eventful voyage on board the vessel Taranaki, with great sorry and great joy. There was great sadness from the death of Ethel’s brother, Sydney Arthur, who died during the voyage from tabes mesenterica. Happily, there was great joy with the birth of Thomas Wareham just one month out from arrival at Port Chalmers on 21 December 1879, 82 days after leaving Glasgow. One of Ethel’s early stories was of being scolded for losing one of her shoes when she was being carried ashore on their arrival at New Plymouth.
The Morris family arrived in New Plymouth in 1880 and settled in Tapuae (not far from Oakura) where they started dairy farming.
Thanks to some research by Heritage Taranaki Incorporated we know that the Morris family’s first home was the former Pahitere Blockhouse that was constructed in 1864 for military use during the Second Taranaki Land War. Built on the old pā site Pahitere, soldiers huts were dug into the eastern slope.
Fred and Emily relocated the blockhouse to its present location, residing in it until 1888 when they shifted into the villa across the road.
Frederick went on to chair the Oakura school committee, the Oakura Road Board, and was a member of the Taranaki County Council. The old Morris house where Ethel grew up still stands today. Ethel attended Oakura School.
Ethel’s younger brother, Fred Morris, was born in London in 1877. Fred and Ethel were among the earliest pupils of Oakura School. Like Ethel, Fred lived a long life. At the age of 99 he was living by himself, keeping his lawns and gardens in immaculate condition, and continued to play bowls (Oakura School and Districts 110th Jubilee Souvenir Booklet).
The farm purchased by Fred and Emily remained in the Morris family until about 1939.
Will and Ethel had nine children in 14 years in the Homestead. The house was without an indoor toilet, although they renovated the place to include the timber finished ceiling in the sitting room.
Eight of the Honeyfield children were educated at Oakura School. The children had to get up early to catch the horses to ride to school along the coast road.
More information about the children, and some memories of them, follow.
- Born 1st October 1898
- Eric attended school at Oakura, riding his pony along the beach road
- Married Doris (Topsy) Corbett. Eric and Topsy lived in a house opposite the Honeyfield family homestead on Lower Timaru Road
- Served in the Home Guard during WWII
- Eric had a great interest in horse racing and was an owner-trainer. His involvement with the Taranaki Hunt Club led to his property being used for the annual Hunt meetings.
- Director of the Patua Dairy Company from 1935 to 1956
- Died suddenly on 16 September 1956 while returning from a race meeting with his wife and daughter, Gwen.
- Born 15th November 1899
- Educated at Oakura School
- Married Amy Longley in 1924
- Rex had an interest in horse racing
- Died 1966
- Born 8th December 1900
- Married George Mills & moved to Palmerston North
- Clarice was an enthusiastic bridge and croquet player
- Died at Wanganui on 9th April 1985
- Born 20th June 1902
- Married Les Wooldridge in 1925
- Farmed on Dover Rd
- Died 16th May 1951
Kenneth (Ken) William
- Born 3rd February 1904
- Attended Oakura School and then the New Plymouth Boys High School as a border
- Worked on the Honeyfield farm at Tataraimaka and eventually moved to the Honeyfield homestead as the owner. He was a director of the Patua Dairy Factory
- Married Mary Dommett from Marton in 1930
- Like his siblings and father before him, Ken had a keen interest in training racehorses, winning the Desert Gold Stakes in Wellington in 1951 with ‘Princess Loch’
- Died from a heart attack on 16 May 1964.
Kenneth (Ken, or Poppa to his grandkids) and Mary were grandparents to Paul Roberts and Kevin Honeyfield, contributors to this website.
As a young child Paul Roberts remembers many trips to Tataraimaka to visit Ken and Mary at their cottage and/or Uncle Peter, Aunty Val and his cousins at the Honeyfield homestead. The kids spent long hours playing all sorts of games. Afternoon teas were amazing, with lots of yummy cakes and scones for everyone.
Farm stays were frequent and that involved farm duties like feeding the calves, feeding out hay or insilage to the cows, grubbing for weeds, bringing the cows in for milking. The extended family all helped out on the farm during hay making.
Going to the beach for swimming and picnics was a frequent occurrence, whether at Oakura, Lower Timaru Road or Ngamotu Beach, New Plymouth as the photo below shows. Ngamotu is of special significance to the Honeyfield whānau, being Rāwinia’s whenua; the location of Dicky Barrett’s trading post and whaling station, and the location of early Honeyfield farming and trading activities.
- Born 15th October 1905
- Educated at Oakura school and then Tataraimaka school after the bride over the Timaru River was washed away.
- Married Thelma Knott in 1932
- Sold his farm at Tataraimaka and then owned the Okato Drapery. He also had a farm at Victoria Road, Oakura
- Died in 1959.
- Born 27th December 1906
- Educated at New Plymouth Girls High School
- Married Donald Robertson 1934
- Lived in Palmerston North for awhile before returning to New Plymouth,
- Held the positions of President, Secretary and Treasurer at various times for the Westown Country Women’s Institute
- Died in 2003
School picnics were held quite regularly down by Katikara river for the day or sometimes we might have gone up to Rileys paddock for fun days and school concerts were also held. These were organised by the assistants at the school and were a big occasion in the district. There were three assistants at the school; a Miss Gibson, and Kath Giddy and Oma Patterson who were friends of the family. They used to spend a lot of time at the farm often staying the night. We used to see a lot of those two.
Ethel had eight lunches to cut before they all went to school every day and when they came home there was always something to eat as the children were hungry by the time they rode their horses home. She had quite a busy time preparing all the food for the family.
Hay making was an important time on the farm starting late spring til early January – cook for 15 men, bake scones for morning tea, cook dinner then buns for afternoon tea and after that the girls had to do the milking. No men helped and sometimes one of the girls would have to go out and rake the hay. Sometimes they also had to lead the horse to the hay stack so the hay could be thrown up on top of the hay stack. They walked miles a day doing this, and at this time the female was the jack of all trades.
There was a rather eccentric Minister of Religion in the district. They never knew when he would call. He would knock on the door and never waiting for the knock to be answered he would burst in and call out ‘Ha Ha Ha! here’s Charley’. He had an awful laugh. It would usually be when the family was sitting down to the evening meal and they would have to make room for him at the table. The children would sit and watch him eat. They reckoned he chewed each mouthful 30 times and would watch and giggle amongst each other and try and mimic him. Mother used to get a bit hot under the collar and the meal seemed to go on and on. They used to get a bit fed up at times. His full name was Charley Addenbrook. Of course there had to be a bed for the night and as he travelled by gig someone had to unharness and put the horse away. After tea he would chase kids around the house for half an hour. There were glass doors at the lounge and one night one of the kids closed the door and Charley went crashing through them and that finished that game. But beside all that he was a well read man as he used to sit up with mother and father talking about things going on in the world and at home, and also helped with the kids homework especially arithmetic which he was quite clever at. For all his silliness he had brains.
On New Year’s day we all got together and had a picnic at Oakura Beach not only the family – neighbours as well – some fishing, some swimming, and when I was 14 on boxing day some went to the races. These were the Christmas outings as a teenager.
Guy Fawkes was celebrated every year until the children grew up and started leaving home. A great occasion. Rubbish was collected for weeks before time and we had a real high bonfire when the time came. The neighbours would come and there would be quite a crowd and we would have a great time on Guy Fawkes night and they never had an accident. Some times they went to Father’s brother’s place, Charley Honeyfield. He too had a large bonfire and things so Guy Fawkes was really looked forward to.
When I was just a little kid i used to watch out for the cart to go along the back road down to the Pitone factory at the bottom of Pitone Road by the beach. I was just a horse and cart in those days. Later on this factory was closed and the Patua factory opened in 1915 and Dad was made Chairman until his death in 1932. Father had a bad accident at Patua. He was filling a can with whey when the cart overbalanced and he was tipped over on his back. He was in hospital for some time after that.
The old factory was used as a milking shed by Charley Honeyfield who also used the old waterwheel.
The boys and their father used to ride along the beach to Oakura Beach to search for mussels and sometimes came home with about a sack full on the horses back. They were usually put into two sacks so the load was carried by two horses and gee, they were good – all fresh from the sea – nothing like what you get these days from town – they are not so fresh. They used to get oysters by the sack-full in their shells from the Bluff oyster beds down south. They would light the fire and put a tin over the fire and put the oysters over the top and let them cook enough to open the shell up. And then we would eat them like that either raw or cook them some other way.Reminiscences of Ada, transcribed by her daughter Allison Harris, published in The Honeyfields of Taranaki, 2014
Irene (Rene) Octavia
- Born 31st December 1908
- Married Don Fox
- They worked together in their shop during WWII, supplying both grocery and drapery goods, with a bakery incorporated. The couple found time to play tennis and bowls competitively.
- In 1953 the couple moved to a dairy farm in Horsham Downs, near Hamilton. That proved to be unsuccessful as the land was poor, so they moved a few miles away to Komakorau, this time more success.
- Retired to Tauranga
- Died 1966.
- Born 21st September 1912
- Educated at Tataraimaka school
- After leaving school Monty worked for a steel works at Nelson
- Married Hazel Richardson in 1932
- Monty and Hazel went sharemilking in the King Country, returning to Taranaki in the 1950s where they bought a farm on Wiremu Road
- Died 1983
Below is a photo of the family taken some time in the 1920’s.
Will continued the work his father James had started with dairy company involvement, ongoing roading improvements and community affairs. Will was instrumental in the local hall being built and the management of the Tataraimaka cemetery.
During the great flu epidemic of 1918, Will put himself, and his family at risk to take the temperatures of all the local residents and report back to the doctors in New Plymouth.
From handed down family talk, we hear that on Sundays a meal would be prepared for up to 30 people, all at the same large table. Travellers would be welcomed, even the crew of the Gairloch stayed after their ship ran aground.
Will’s niece from his double cousins side, Dorothy McLean, quoted in 1977:
Uncle Will…a great racing man, but neglected his farm in favour of racing; it was run by Newton Kings who divided it amongst his sons when he died.If Walls Could Talk … Succession, 2019
In 1932 William died suddenly at the age of 60. Ethel continued to live in the homestead for another eight years. Then the 223 hectares owned at the time was formally divided into four farms for the four oldest sons.
Rex became the owner of 42.5 hectares originally held by the Morgan brothers in the 1850’s. He sold that land in 1943 and moved to Morrinsville where he farmed for awhile. Rex returned to Taranaki and farmed at Inglewood before retiring to New Plymouth.
The original block of approximately 197.5 hectares was surveyed with three new titles created. The new titles were transferred in February 1940 to Eric, Ken and Jim. Although recorded as an inheritance, all four sones needed external finance to make the farm transactions happen. Jim got the farm that included the Honeyfield Homestead, with Ken farming up the road in one of the new houses.
Incidentally, Eric, Ken and Jim continued their fathers love and involvement with race horses. Rex was also interested in race horses but to a lesser degree.
Ethel retained a life time interest in the four farms and retired to New Plymouth where she lived for many years in St Aubyn St, much loved by her children, grand-children and great-grand children. Her daughter, Clarice, looked after her for many years. Her interests, apart from family, were gardening, knitting, crochet and playing cards.
In February 1972, as the oldest parishioner, Ethel had the honour of cutting the Jubilee cake at the St. Paul’s Church, Okato, 75th anniversary. For 25 years she had been the organist at St. Paul’s.
At the age of 96, she was quoted in a newspaper report as saying;
I’m just the same – only my legs won’t go but I’ve got all my senses. I’m very lucky, really.
At the age of 98 Ethel was a resident at Omahanui Home in New Plymouth and was recorded at that time as having 29 grandchildren, 93 great grandchildren and nine great great grandchildren.
Ethel was a good Christian woman who took a great deal of interest in the district and the people around her. She died at the age of 98 on 24th February 1974, 42 years after William, and is buried in the Okato Cemetery.
In the words of their great-grandson, Kevin Honeyfield (extract from Honeyfield reunion bus tour notes):
Ethel Morris, or Grandma Honeyfield as she was known to some … became a very important member of the Honeyfield family. She was married to one of Dicky Barrett’s grandchildren, but outlived all of Dicky and Rawinia’s grandchildren, which left her as a trustee to close off all the loose ends of the Barrett Reserve legacy farms. Ethel also outlived six of her nine children, with just Clarice, Ada and Montague (Monty) surviving her.
Apparently at the age of 60, after her husband died, Grandma Honeyfield decided she needed a car, learnt to drive and rumour has it that she became very forthright and exciting in her driving habits. Grandma Honeyfield’s 1936 Dodge is now owned by Ash Heydon, proprietor of the Oakura garage. His wife Nona was one of Ethel’s grandkids.
The Honeyfields [William and Ethel] became very instrumental in developing dairying in the area [Tataraimaka]. William was the first chairman of Tataraimaka Cooperative Dairy Factory, and he remained chair till his death 18 years later. The co-operative factory was preceded by private dairy companies that James Honeyfield had developed.
Not many people recognise the Tataraimaka corners with the name ‘ghost valley’. The corners have been notorious for spin outs. The first ever car crash in Tataraimaka was by another of James’s daughter-in-laws … Charlie, the youngest son, bought his wife an Edsal, one of the first cars in the district. When she spun out at the Tatra corners she claimed a ghost had jumped out in front of her and hence the old name Ghost Valley. Actually, cars and Charlie didn’t really mix. Later on Charlie and his family moved up to Te Awamutu and Charlie was killed in a freak car explosion.