Barrett’s role in NZ Company land purchases

Updated 2 October 2019

The socio-economic context of the land purchases by the New Zealand Company over 1839 – 1840 was a fascinating intermingling of Māori and European cultures, divergent and convergent economic and social interests, adventure and geopolitical politics, such as:

  • Māori had invited European traders to ‘live among’ them, in order to secure muskets and other weapons to augment their capabilities in all-too frequent inter-tribal conflicts, and for the exchange of goods for European merchandise.
  • The New Zealand Company, formed to populate parts of New Zealand with migrants from an overpopulated Great Britain, was at haste to secure land purchases from Māori ahead of the British Government’s announced intent to secure a treaty with Māori for sovereignty of New Zealand, and to then prevent all private purchases of land. The Company’s plan was to buy land cheaply from Māori and resell at higher prices to settlers. The first of the company’s immigrant vessels departed England before word of land purchases having been secured.
  • Although they were fluent in te reo, missionary’s resident in New Zealand at the time were concerned about Māori rights and welfare, and refused to act as translators for the New Zealand Company.

Dicky Barrett played a pivotal role in assisting New Zealand Company representatives. Ron McLean’s thesis nicely outlines Barrett’s role as a land broker / interpreter, and some of the consequences. ‘Dicky Barrett played a key role in brokering deals between Maori and the New Zealand Company. He interpreted not only the language, but also Maori attitudes, actions and customs. Barrett drew on his family and tribal affiliations in the negotiations that obtained the land the Company wanted. All three of the transactions that Barrett was involved in were with Te Ati Awa [sic] and in particular with Rawinia Barrett’s Ngamotu and Puketapu kin. Rawinia and the Barrett children were present at all of the negotiations and their presence was influential. However, the land transactions were controversial, and the Land Claims Commission set up under William Spain in 1842 revealed that the Maori and Europeans involved in the ‘sales’ had different perceptions of the transactions. Barrett failed to bridge adequately the gap between the two cultures, and much of the confusion and bitterness that followed stemmed from this failure. However, he was not solely to blame. The Company pressed ahead with its plans, regardless of Maori opposition.’ (McLean, page 92).

Similarly, Edward Gibbon Wakefield noted that:

The acquaintance and assistance of Dicky Barrett promised to be most advantageous to us, as he was related by his wife to all the influential chiefs living at Port Nicholson.

Adventure in New Zealand, page36.

The following is a brief overview of events.

Arrival of the Tory at Te Awaiti, August 1839

The New Zealand Company’s vessel Troy, under the company’s Principal Agent,Colonel William Hayward Wakefield, arrived at Queen Charlotte Sound in mid-August 1839 and happened across the whaling station at Te Awaiti where Dicky Barrett and his family lived.

According to the Evening Post article ‘The First Ships’ (published on 3 April, 1920) Barrett informed Wakefield that, while ‘…owing to numerous inter-tribal wars the ownership of the lands was in a very unsettled state’ he apparently suggested to Wakefield that he could purchase Port Nicholson for the Company, ‘…by having a native wife who had a Family belonging to the same Tribe’ (McLean).

Quickly grasping Dicky Barrett’s potential value in securing land, the Company’s representatives wanted him to come to their assistance. Barrett, however, was not so easily persuaded to help the Company … McLean noted that in a letter that Barrett wrote to his brother, he made it clear he was not so magnanimous, or as willing to help as the Wakefield’s indicated. Rather, ‘after a great deal of persuasion I was induced to accept on the promise of a considerable sum …’ (page 94).

Another factor was that Barrett’s whaling business was struggling at the time … dwindling numbers of whales were being caught. With inducements offered by the Company, plus with added economic opportunities likely through the arrival of British settlers, Barrett was drawn to the opportunities for him and his family.

And so, on 20 September, Dicky, Rāwinia and their children boarded the Tory and sailed to Wanganui-a-Tara (Port Nicholson).

Soon after passing through the Port Nicholson heads – with James Worser Heberley as the pilot – two waka approached the Tory, carrying senior Te Atiawa rangatira, Te Puni and Te Wharepouri, both were said to be relations of Rāwinia. According to the ‘First Ships’ article, after Colonel Wakefield’s desire to found a white settlement at Port Nicholson was explained to Te Puni and Te Wharepouri, both expressed ‘the liveliest satisfaction’.

Te Wharepouri
Te Wharepouri

Te Atiawa had been resident in Te Wanganui A Tara since 1834. ‘Rawinia’s Ngāmotu kin lived at four of the eight pā in the area. Te Puni and Te Wharepouri resided at Petone and Ngauranga respectively; Wi Tako Ngatata and his father Ngatata lived at Kumototo. Wairarapa and Te Ropiha Moturoa, Te Wharepouri’s father and uncle respectively, resided at Pipitea.

According to ‘The First Ships’ article, after dropping anchor the Tory ‘…was boarded by a number of Natives, who came in two canoes from the Petone beach and greeted Barrett as an old friend and companion in past dangers’.

Rawinia, too, was welcomed by relatives, many of whom had not seen her for five years. The presence of a woman of such mana among her own people must have been influential but the European accounts ignored her. It is likely however that Rawinia used her influence to support her husband and convince her relatives to support the transaction’ (McLean). Hilary and John Mitchell also claimed that Rawinia’s presence assisted Barrett and Wakefield, as she and members of her household renewed relationships with her close relatives'(H & M Mitchell, 2014: 337).

Edward Jerningham Wakefield observed that:

Several of us landed at a large village opposite our anchorage, and witnessed the ceremony of crying over E Rangi [Rāwinia], whom many had not seen for five years … The tangi, or crying, continued for a long period.


In a similar vein to persuading Barrett to set up a trading station at Ngamotu, Te Puni and Te Wharepouri’s advocacy for the sale of land to the New Zealand Company was in part due to their precariousness of the position. Ngati Kahungunu, Ngati Raukawa, Ngati Tuwharetoa and the Waikato were contesting Te Atiawa’s presence in the area. So, while other rangatira were resistant to the sale of land, all were very cognisant of the on-going threat of renewed inter-tribal conflict and the protection afforded by sourcing muskets from the New Zealand Company.

Eventually, the setting aside of one-tenth of the land for the ‘vendors’, and the prospects of more Europeans coming to help bring an end to tribal conflict, resulted in a large majority being in favour of selling all their rights to the harbour and districts under what was known by the Company as ‘The First Deed of Purchase from the Natives’. The Deed of Sale – as explained by Barrett – was signed or marked by all 16 chiefs.

It is now understood that Māori had no knowledge or experience of negotiating away the rights to their land permanently. The closest concept was a custom known as ‘tuku whenua’ where use rights may be given, but with mana whenua (power and authority over the land) remaining with the tribe. The giving of muskets and other goods would have been regarded as utu (compensation) in return for use rights (McLean).

Moreover, the 1,500 word deed written in English was reduced by Barrett to 116 words in Māori and failed to cover adequately the main provisions of the deed. There are other claims of misleading or misunderstood information. Barrett told some of the chiefs that if they signed the deed the Queen might send them presents and that the English would know they were chiefs. In any case, New Zealand company representatives were intent on acquiring land and ignored opposition to the sales even when raised by Barrett (McLean).

As it later transpired, Te Wharepouri – despite having been to Sydney with Barrett (the white population of Sydney in 1828 was 36,598 – had discounted the impact of European migration. According to Edward Jerningham Wakefield, Te Wharepouri told him that:

I know that we sold you the land, and that no more White people have come to take it than you told me. But I thought you were telling lies, and that you had not so many followers. I thought you would have nine or ten, or perhaps at each pa, as a White man to barter with the people and keep us well supplied with arms and clothing; and that I should be able to keep these White men under by hand and regulate their trade myself” (McLean, page 106).

Barrett went on to participate in land negotiations for purchase by the New Zealand Company at Queen Charlotte Sounds and what was to become New Plymouth.

According to Wells, on 8th November 1839, a deed was signed by 30 Māori signatories, and co-witnessed by Barrett, that included provision of land in Taranaki to be reserved for ‘…Mr Barrett and the children of the late Mr Love as for the Native chiefs; these two Englishmen having lived for some many years among the Ngatiawa [sic] during their wars, and  having had children born of Maori – wives on the spot, have long been considered as belonging to the tribe’ (page 34).

Wakefield used another interpreter for the negotiations with Ngati Toa in the Kapiti area, and for purchases in Nelson negotiated around the same time.


When the Tory arrived at Ngamotu in November 1839 there were less than 60 Te Atiawa living in the area, but that number included Rāwinia’s father, Eruera Te Puki ki Mahurangi. Kura Mai Te Ra, Rāwinia’s mother, had been taken captive to Kawhia in 1833 by the Waikato. She was released in December 1839. According to Dr Ernst Dieffenbach, a young naturalist travelling with the Tory.

On our arrival [at Ngamotu] being known, they [remaining Te Atiawa] assembled around Mr Barrett, and with tears welcomed their old friend. In a singing strain of lamentation they related their misfortunes and the continual inroads, of the Waikato. The scene was truly affecting, and the more so when we recollect that this small remnant had sacrificed everything to the love of their native place. I perceived in the evening how much they stood in dread of the Waikato [who] had been observed in the direction of Kawhia, and the fear that the Waikato were again on their way to Taranaki kept them awake during the greater part of the night.

Wells, page 41

Wakefield left Barrett and his family to conduct the negotiations and intended to soon return. As cited in Wells ‘History of Taranaki’, Wakefield expressed a great deal of confidence in Barrett, claiming that

… the agent I have employed is from his connection with the natives, perhaps the only man who could negotiate the bargain, I have every hope that on my return here the completion of it will be effected. 

Wells, p37

However, due to a series of events, Wakefield did not return until February 1840.

Giving the long years of hardship that he had suffered in keeping hold of his tribal lands, it is not surprising that Rāwinia’s father was initially opposed to selling the land, viewing the offer in exchange to be ‘a mere nothing’ compared to his land – despite Dicky and Rāwinia’s desire to re-establish their lives there. It was not until Barrett threatened to leave with his wife and children that a deal was done (McLean). The formal deed of sale was signed by 75 Māori individuals on 15 February 1840 – the same month as the Treaty of Waitangi was signed.

Similar problems with differing perceptions about the nature and extent of the deals and disputes about entitlements to sign – as transpired in Port Nicholson and elsewhere – were also the case at Ngamotu as became evident in the subsequent Land Claims Commission hearings in Wellington.

Te Atiawa today conclude that ‘many Maori were unfamiliar with the process and effects of land purchases according to English land law’.

Migration south and life at Barrett’s shore whaling station at Te Awaiti

Updated, 9 September 2019

Although Te Ātiawa were victorious in the Battle of Otaka Pā, in the expectation of retribution by the numerically stronger northern tribes the iwi subsequently decided to join their relatives who had moved south in two earlier migrations. A small number choose to remain, including Rāwinia’s parents. Chiefs leading the Te Heke Tama Te Uaua (as the migration south was called) included Tautara, Te Puni and Te Wharepouri. According to Rangi-pito of Ngāti Rāhiri who was a boy at the time, the heke comprised members of the following hapū of Te Ātiawa: Ngāmotu (including Ngāti Tuwhirikura), Puketapu, Manukorihi, Pukerangiora and Ngāti Rāhiri (Smith, 1910, p50). Te Ātiawa settled in Te Uruihi near Waikanae, with some subsequently moving on to Te Whanganui-a-Tara (in what was later to become Wellington).

Also fearful of the hostile environment, and facing a greatly diminished supply of dressed flax due to the imminent departure of those producing it, Barrett, his family and most of his fellow traders joined the heke. Their objective was to join the profitable shore whaling industry at Te Awaiti on Arapawa Island that had first been established (on a permanent basis) by John Guard in 1827.

The heke was not without its problems. In his journal, Barrett described it thus:

Packing our pikau each adult had carried 40lbs, including the women, we took a quantity of guns and ammunition. We made our way by the Te Whakaahurangi track, much hard work was entailed in cutting our way, but favoured by good summer weather we made fair progress but was compelled to rest a great deal on account of the children becoming foot sore. On reaching Whanganui we found ourselves involved in a serious battle, in which we lost a few men. Continuing our journey we reached Port Nicholson after three months of hardship, the party numbered about 2000 all told.

Barrett and co initially spent some time on the Kapiti coast, where they met the famous Ngati Toa chief, Te Rauparaha, a man with reputation as an innovative and relentless fighter.

Barrett and Love initially settled at Te Uruhi where they were known as part of the Ngāmotu hapū because of their exploits during the siege of Otaka pā (J & H Mitchell, page 323). The Mitchells went on to record that ‘Barrett and his colleagues were accorded high mana by the tribes and hapū of Ngāmotu as exceptionally brave men whose intervention was instrumental in saving Otaka Pa from almost certain destruction by the Waikato/Maniapoto in 1832. Further, their entrepreneurial spirit and fair dealings enabled many Taranaki Māori to benefit from the new economy they helped as traders in Taranaki and whalers and traders in Tory Channel’ (page 333).

Resettlement along the Kapiti coast became a challenge for Te Ātiawa. Tautara was at the Battle of Haowhenua Pā (on the south side of the Otaki River) after unrest between Ngāti Raukawa and Te Ātiawa led to Ngāti Raukawa laying siege to the pā. Although many were killed in the conflict Te Ātiawa managed to fend off the attack. However, the underlying conflict between the tribes triggered the relocation of some Te Ātiawa to Arapawa Island (in the Marlborough Sounds), and area already claimed by conquest by Te Ātiawa.

Barrett and Love also met John Guard, the whaler who had set up more than one whaling station in Te Wai Pounamu. Guard was persuaded by Barrett and Love to hand over his whaling operations at Te Awaiti to them.

And so Barrett & co arrived in Te Awaiti in late 1833, prior to the Battle of Haowhenua Pā. Guard had moved to Cloudy Bay, although his former lieutenant, Joseph Thoms, remained. The Europeans were accompanied by about 60 Te Ātiawa from Waikanae (joining their relatives who had first migrated to the area in 1827 and had helped John Guard establish the first whaling station) and several Ngati Tama and Ngati Toa.

The area though was not without inter-tribal conflict. For several years there were raids on Te Awaiti from the southern iwi, Ngai Tahu, and between Te Ātiawa and Ngati Toa, at times forcing the whalers on to ships or into the bush to avoid the conflict, and at other times the whalers joined forces with Te Ātiawa to drive off Ngai Tahu raiders. It was perhaps for this reason that local rangatira regarded the close proximity of whalers as being advantageous to them, and so they were keen to keep them around. Te Rauparaha also perceived the same advantages, and was happy to have whaling stations based at Kapiti and Moana Islands (Trevor Bently, 1999).

The new whaling crew had limited equipment initially, and at first just whale bone was sold to passing ships (Caygill). During that early period at Te Awaiti the Pakeha/Maori community lived in close co-existence with the resident Māori – particularly Te Ati Awa – and relied on them for protection. Barrett’s marriage to Rawinia ‘…was important in an area with a significant Te Ati Awa population’ (McLean).

Wakaiwa Rawinia and other Māori wives also played a significant role. The Mitchell’s noted that ‘It is highly likely that partnerships formed between resident whalers and Māori women were made with the assistance of senior Atiawa women such as Wakaiwa, Mereruru Love and Hikimapu Keenan (page 336).

As the whaling season lasted just four months of the year, and despite the terrain being mountainous with steep sided valleys and small areas of flat land, the community managed to supplement their seafood diet by cultivating vegetables and fruit in the area, and raising pigs.

After overcoming their initial hardships, Barrett and his crew went on to establish a second whaling station at Te Awaiti. Over time the station became better organised and fully equipped via funding by Sydney merchants, and the whalers obtained more arms and ammunition.

Life at the station, particularly during the whaling station, was a distinctive male culture where large quantities of alcohol was consumed, often leading to violence and disciplinary measures of various kinds. Singing and the spinning of yarns were frequent sources of entertainment, and Barrett developed a penchant for storytelling.

While the male culture was strong, the Māori wives of the whalers played a moderating role and were able to exercise some influence over the behaviour of their partners. The whalers’ wives ‘… adopted European clothing and grooming habits. The women and children spoke English in addition to Maori’ (McLean).

Barrett eventually become too fat to go out in the whaling boats. However, in his role as chief headsman, Barrett was in charge of running the whaling station. In that role that he built and maintained relationships with local chiefs and with merchants in Sydney, traded with local Māori for pigs and agricultural produce, and supplied the whaling crew with goods and services – including rum – the cost of which were deducted from their share of the catch.

Barrett and the other chief headsmen were seen as leaders or rangatira (chiefs) by both European and Māori, and as such were expected to show hospitality and generosity – values shared by the whalers and Māori. ‘When Edward Jerningham Wakefield visited Barrett’s house at Te Awaiti it was reported to be half full of whalers and Maori. Barrett was noted for his kindness to both Maori and whaler’ (McLean).

As chief headsman, Barrett was responsible for keeping order and for resolving disputes. McLean noted that Barrett ‘… had a reputation for hospitality and kindness that was highly valued in [the] male culture’. According to Edward Wakefield, a stranger at Te Awaiti ‘was always welcome to a share of the meal, a drop of the grog and a seat on a stool …’ (McLean).

During the whaling off season, Barrett resumed his trading activities in the Harriet, a 40 tonne cutter, and gained a thorough knowledge of the coastal area. The Harriet made a sealing trip down the west coast in 1836; it was sighted north of Wellington and it was used to collect coal from Manganui, near Cape Farewell (Mclean).

By the time Colonel Wakefield arrived on the Tory in 1839, there were three whaling stations at Te Awaiti, under the direction of Joseph Toms, Dicky Barrett and Captain James Jackson (Caygill, 1948:23). Barrett’s whaling station was the largest, operating nine boats, making it the largest whaling station in New Zealand at the time. Many of the Māori employed by Barrett were from Nga Motu. Te Awaiti had a population of 40 to 60 Europeans, 25 Maori/European children and 200 Maori. Interestingly, the crew of the Tory noticed that many of the Maori spoke a good deal of english (Emily Owen, 2007).

Interestingly, Barrett and Love both took their wives and children to Sydney in December 1836 on the Hannah. According to James Heberly’s journal, while they were in Sydney they heard that the ‘southern part of the North Island was to be settled by the English’, so they bought tobacco and blankets to purchase land at Port Nicholson (J & H Mitchell, p 300). So by the time the Tory arrived in 1839, Barrett would have had time to dwell on the expected arrival of English settlers and get prepared for that.

Edward Wakefield described Barrett’s house as being, “… a very superior edifice, built of sawn timber, floored and lined inside, and sheltered in front by an ample veranda. A long room was half full of natives and whalers. His wife, Rangi, a fine and stately woman, gave us a dignified welcome and his pretty half-caste children laughed and commented on our appearance to some of their mothers relations, in their own language” (E Wakefield, Adventure in New Zealand).

E J Wakefield recorded that, ‘Barrett has adopted a son of an old trader and friend of his named Jacky Love, who was on his deathbed, regarded by the natives as one of themselves … his son Daniel was treated with that universal respect and kindness to which he was entitled by the character of his father and the rank of his mother’ (page 33).

Jacky Love died at Te Awaiti in October 1839. Wakefield went on to record that, “During our absence from Te Awaiti, Jacky Love, the trader whom I mentioned as having the affection of the natives had died. 200 natives followed his body to the grave; and they subsequently erected a monument over it such as usually graces the tomb of a great chieftain” (page 99).

Memorial to John Agar Love

Hikirau Street in New Plymouth is named after Jacky Love.

Battle of Ōtaka Pā 1832

Updated 10 July 2022

Seeking utu for their defeat at Motunui in 1822, in 1831 a Waikato-Maniapoto taua (war party) under the leadership of  Pōtatau Te Te Wherowhero launched an attack on Te Ātiawa. By early in 1832, following their successful siege at Pukerangiora Pā, the taua moved on to attack those Ātiawa assembled at the Ōtaka Pā, Ngā Motu. As recorded by Trevor Bently, Ōtaka Pā at the time was occupied by chief Te Wharepōuri and the Ngāti Tawhirikura and Ngāti Te Whiti hapū to whom he was closely related (Bently, 2014:96).

Bently’s description of the siege drew on interviews of the former combatants by William Skinner, including Caroline Honeyfield and Dicky Barrett.

Having had advance knowledge of the attack, Te Ātiawa had built emergency earthworks and palisades. Although the taua were armed with muskets, Te Ātiawa also had muskets provided by Barrett and Love, and the British traders operated four canon that had been purchased from a trading vessel. Other members of the trading station at Ngā Motu included George Ashdown, Billy Bundy, John Wright and William Keenan. Although Te Ātiawa were outnumbered, after a siege that lasted three weeks, the taua was eventually driven off.

Bently described the Ātiawa victory as being ‘The most celebrated use of tribal artillery in a defensive role during the Musket Wars occurred at the Seige of Ōtaka Pā, Ngā Motu during Jan – Feb 1832.’  The defenders ‘… deployed 100 muskets, four ships cannon, a carronade and swivel gun during heroic three week defence. Assisted by their women, some 300 defending toa and eleven Pākehā-Māori fought off a succession of attacks by 1600 musket armed [Waikato-Tainui] warriors.’ (2014:95).

While Te Ātiawa were victorious, W. H. Skinner claimed their defences had been hurriedly put up and ‘…Otaka would have met the same fate as Pukerangiora had it not been for the determined stand made by the British traders and whalers living with the tribe under the leadership of John Love and Richard Barrett’ (Journal of Polynesian Society: History and Traditions Of The Taranaki Coast).

Skinner’s map of Ōtaka Pā is shown below in what is now land on the seaward side of Breakwater Road, across from the intersection with Pioneer Road (formerly part of Barrett Road) and through to Bayly Road, New Plymouth.

Otaka Pa drawing by W H Skinner

During the siege several attempts were made to negotiate a truce. Negotiators on the Te Ātiawa side included Te Wharepōuri and Tautara. At one point the locals were inclined to accept the Tainui terms of surrender, but the Englishmen would not hear of it.

Part of the negotiations involved Jacky Love meeting with Te Wherowhero on board a visiting schooner, the Currency Lass, from Sydney, but he was not persuaded of the enemy’s expressions of good intent (B Wells, 1878). At that point, Te Wherowhero stated that the Pākehā heads ‘… would be steamed and preserved for sale…’. Love retorted that “… they were perfectly satisfied with the position their heads occupied” and then swam back to shore through a hail of musket shot, while the Currency Lass sailed away.’ (Caughey, page 50)

There were various social interactions between members of the taua and Te Ātiawa that must have seemed particularly odd to the Europeans … until they too were involved, trading blankets and tobacco for muskets and ammunition.

According to Wells, after a three-week siege the Waikato-Maniapoto launched an attack at dawn, with some gaining a breach into the pā, but they were repulsed, and at that point ‘British courage now rose to heroism. The three remaining cannonades were served with celerity and precision, the missiles which they belched out inflicting horrible wounds in the bodies of the assailants. The enemy charged again and again, until at last a panic seized him [sic], and he retreated, dragging his dead chiefs but leaving his wounded. Three hundred and fifty bodies lay around the pā, some dead and some living. Then the Ngamotus [sic] rushed out to wreak vengeance on the wounded’ (B Wells).

Angela Caughey described the role of the pākehā as follows: ‘… the belching cannon, coupled with the inspiration and leadership of Barrett and Love, repelled and almost literally shattered the invaders’ (page 51).

Ron McLean’s research  suggested that the role played by Barrett and his fellow traders was not so decisive. Given the short amount of time that the Europeans had been living as ‘Pākehā-Māori’, and that they had not by then witnessed Māori at war, McLean suggested that the Europeans ‘…saw Te Atiawa actions as puzzling and bizarre … [that] attempts by traders to alter Te Atiawa’s behaviour were unsuccessful … [and that] Te Atiawa bore the brunt of the fighting and saw no need to change’.

However, the role played by the europeans is put into the right context through Bently’s research, which concluded that ‘Contrary to accepted versions of the siege, Love and Barrett never directed the defence of Ōtaka Pā and the artillerymen operated strictly in accordance with tikanga or Māori military protocols. Te Wharepōuri and his chiefs listened to the advice of their Pākehā-Māori artillerymen, but ultimately made their own tactical decisions’ (2014:103-104).

However, as the Te Ātiawa were outnumbered, and the Taua was well-supplied with muskets, it seems likely that the British men and their canon played a decisive role, particularly on the final day of fighting.

In December 1846, Barrett gave a detailed description of the battle to Harcourt Aubrey, Inspector of Police, Taranaki. As recorded by Inspector Aubrey, Barrett’s account – being ‘as fresh in his memory as if it had only recently happened’ was as follows:

… while this massacre was perpetuating at Pukerangiora, he [Barrett], assisted by the relatives of a woman he then cohabited with [Rāwinia, who was formally married to Barrett in 1841], consisting of a part of the Ngamotu, Pukitappu [Puketapu], and Ngatiawa [Te Ātiawa] tribes, intrenched himself at Moturoa, the enemy as was expected, made an attack a few days later, but received a warmer reception than they had anticipated, 4 iron cannon of different calibre … proved of great assistance in thinning their numbers, they remained for 3 weeks, and made several attempts to force the intrenchments but without success. In one of these they lost 150 men who were cut up and devoured with surprising quickness by the Ngamotu and other tribes opposed to them – To use Mr Barretts own words, he could only compare the interior of the Pa at this time to Leadenhall Market, there were so many parts of the human frame hanging up preparatory to being cooked – Notwithstanding the Waikatos were greatly superior in numerical strength to the Ngatiawas, the latter forced them to retreat and showed no quarter to those that fell into their hands (letter from Aubrey to Donald McLean, National Library).

According to research cited in Alan Riwaka’s Nga Hekenga O Te Atiawa (page 104) on H Snow’s Notes on Barrett’s Journal, 1979, Barrett recorded the following version of events at Ngā Motu:

In the middle of the year 1832, one early morning Love sighted some small craft well to the east of Motoroa Island. We all arose, and after scanning them for some time we arrived at the conclusion that they were Maori raiders in canoes. We hastily took to our boat, including all womenfolk and headed for the shore.

On arrival we aroused all the Maoris, handed out the guns, about 750 in all, distributed powder and slugs at various points, taking up our positions along the water front which we had built up some time previous with huge trees sand banks and flax bushes.

Love, myself, Keenan and Williams manned the cannon on the hilltop and prepared for action, the rest of the natives being armed with spears.

After landing, the raiders, led by their chief, chanting ake, ake, ake, which meant that they would fight on forever, came along the beach. Love had given the signal to commence by firing a cannon, the charge dropping amongst them causing havoc, our guns were now mowing them down, and their numbers were dwindling. We discharged the remaining three cannon, immediately reloading and joining in. By this time many had reached the barricades, but in attempting to climb in they were promptly speared by the women.

The battle lasted about eight hours, when they retreated to the waters edge. Keenan who was now amongst the Maoris as the pakeha tohunga noted that the enemy were short of food. He suggested that as the battle was done we should feed them before their return. Love said, “If you are game to ask them it will be all right”. Keenan advanced with his right arm raised above his head, talking to them at the same time. They laid down their arms at the request of their chief, the food being carried out to them by Keenan’s disciples and the drink by some of the women.

That ended the raid, as they returned that evening leaving about 400 dead bodies for us to bury.

Many may wonder why we fed them, but here is the answer. Keenan through continually preaching had a band of adherents about 800 who believed in the Bible and he had taught them the text of Holy Scripture, which had suggested the deed. ‘If thine enemy thirst give him drink; if thine enemy hunger, feed him.’ Keenan was quite pleased with this act and no doubt he was becoming a force of great good in settling the many squabbles which took place in time settlement.

Our losses were only fifty, principally members of the Ati-awa. We buried the dead to the east of the settlement.

William John (Jack) Honeyfield

Edited 7 May, 2020

William John Honeyfield was born on December 8, 1855 to parents Sarah Mary Honeyfield (nee Barrett) and William Henry Honeyfield.

When James and Caroline Honeyfield moved to Tataraimaka in 1869, William, aged 14, accompanied them where he learnt farming.

William was known as Jack to others and as Uncle Jacky to the Honeyfield family.

Uncle Jacky went on to become a farmer in his own right on the Moturoa farm at Barrett Reserve A. It is possible that Uncle Jacky eventually sold off some of the Barrett Reserve A land for residential and commercial development. He supplied local shipping for many years with produce from his farm, and received royalties from oil drilling operations on Barrett Reserve A land. He was also a hotel keeper, operating the Moturoa Hotel adjacent to his mother Sarah’s store. By all accounts, Uncle Jacky was a successful businessman and well-respected member of society.

Moturoa Hotel owned by Jacky Honeyfield and Sarah Honeyfield’s trading store, 1880s

Uncle Jacky built an impressive home in Moturoa, Mikotahi Villa.

Mikotahi Villa

After he retired, one of his interests was in clearing, planting and fencing the burial ground (Wahitapu) at Bayly Road where Dicky and Rawinia and several others are buried.

Another legacy was that much of the shaping and planting of Ngamotu Domain was done by Uncle Jacky or under his supervision. Jack was a member of the Moturoa Progressive Association and the Ngamotu Domain Board.

Jack also had a concrete seat built in Ngamotu Domain overlooking the site of Otaka Pā and Ngamotu Beach. Unfortunately the pathway and site of the seat is currently overgrown and out of repair. The plaque reads ‘Presented by Mr and Mrs W. Honeyfield Moturoa 9th December 1925’. In its day though it would have been a remarkable place to sit.

Uncle Jacky married Alice Matilda Hoskin on June 26, 1876 and they had four children:

  • Newton Leslie
  • Nora Mary, born 1879, died 09.08.1957
  • Archibald Charles
  • Ruth, born 1882

Unfortunately, Alice died on July 6, 1889. William married Sarah Sophia Morris on July 21, 1892.

Uncle Jacky passed away at the age of 77 on March 9, 1933 and is buried at Te Henui Cemetery.

William John Honeyfield
William John Honeyfield

From: “N.Z Obituaries” Vol.19, page 1029

Obituary first published in the “Auckland Star” on Sat 6.5.1933

“Mr John Honeyfield

The death has occurred of Mr John Honeyfield (N.P.) at the age of 78 years.

The late Mr Honeyfield was the second son of Mr and Mrs William Honeyfield, his mother being a daughter of Richard Barrett, pioneer trader, whaler and native agent.

Mr Honeyfield was born at the home of the Barrett’s at Moturoa on the banks of the little Hongihongi lagoon, and was educated at M Schofields private school. His father died when he was quite young and he was then given home with his uncle, Mr James Honeyfield, who married a sister of his mother, at Tataraimaka. Here he was thoroughly trained in methods of farming and stock raising, which occupations he followed for the greater part of his life. He was a successful farmer and retired some years ago to live at Moturoa near his birthplace. More recently he moved to Westown on account of his wife’s health. He came from good English yeoman stock on his father’s side and on his mother’s through his grandfather, was closely connected with the foundation of European settlement, not only in Taranaki but around the margin of Cook Strait.

For many years he was valued and respected member of the Taranaki Agricultural Society in which he took a keen interest. One of his hobbies in later life was the clearing, planting and fencing of the original burial ground of the whalers, first European settlers and Maoris at Wahitapu, overlooking the sea at the bottom of Bayly Road on the northern side, just below the Blenheim oil bore. His grandparents and many relatives on his mother’s side were buried here. He worked on this place almost single handed for a long time and it was entirely a labour of love.

A very old friend of over 70 years standing said that he was always regarded as a honourable man, whose word was always his bond and who had lived a clean life.”

From “Cyclopaedia of Taranaki”

“W.J Honeyfield

Farmer, “Moturoa farm”, New Plymouth

Mr Honeyfield’s present property contains 100 acres and the situation of the homestead is a charming one commanding a splendid view of the surrounding country. The farm produce is principally supplied to shipping, Mr Honeyfield having held contracts for this for the past 14 years. He was born in New Plymouth in 1856 [actually 8.12.1855] and educated privately.

Mr Honeyfield has shown what perseverance and energy properly directed can do and may be justly regarded as a type of the successful colonist. He has taken considerable interest in public matters and is a member of most of the local societies.”

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”.

Tribal conflict lay behind Te Atiawa invitation to establish a trading station at Ngamotu

Long before the Waikato (a confederation of Tainui iwi) became a problem in the 1820’s and 1830’s, ongoing conflict between Te Atiawa and their southern neighbours the  Taranaki had been a historical norm since the 15th century. Te Atiawa’s relations with Ngāti Mutunga and Ngāti Tama to the north however, were much more cordial and the three friendly iwi combined in war with Taranaki. On occasion the Tainui and Ngapuhi further to the north and north-east also joined in the battles against the Taranaki. Ngāmotu lay at the southern boundary of Te Atiawa territory.

Map of “Taranaki Coast” beginning of 19th century

Taranaki coast and iwi boundaries beginning 19th century


In the first decade of the 19th century, the Taranaki iwi sought revenge for Te Atiawa’s attack and capture of Koru Pa (located on a bend of the Oakura River south of present day New Plymouth).

The Rewarewa Pā (occupied by the Ngāti-Tawirikura hapu) was situated on the north bank of the Waiwhakaiho River between a bend immediately inside the river mouth and the sea. New Plymouth’s coastal walkway now crosses the Waiwhakaiho over Te Rewa Rewa Bridge.

Te Puni managed to evade the Taranaki iwi’s capture of the Rewarewa Pa. Te Puni and a fellow rangatira, Rawa-ki-tua made good their escape by plunging headlong from the cliff into the Waiwhakaiho and, emerging on the south side, ran over the sand hills and onwards to the safety of Te Ātiawa’s Pukeariki Pā (The Capture of the Rewarewa Pa by a Taua of the Taranaki Tribe – 1805-10, S. Percy Smith).

Te Atiawa first saw muskets in action when Ngapuhi led a taua (war party) against Taranaki in 1816. It was the first of several Ngapuhi and Ngāti Toa (Kawhia) taua to the area. Due to the close relationship between Ngāti Tama and Ngāti Toa, there was no resistance to the taua from entering the region, and Te Ātiawa actually joined in the action against the Taranaki.

However, events changed for the worse for Te Atiawa. Following skirmishes between Te Ātiawa and the Waikato, and the loss of several leading Waikato chiefs, the Waikato sought utu from Te Atiawa. Notably, the Waikato had been successful in obtaining muskets from Ngapuhi (who, by 1828, had a Pākehā trading station set up under John Kent, who settled at Kawhia).

That’s why it became necessary for Te Atiawa to have their own Pākehā trading station, so that they too could obtain a supply of muskets and other European goods.

However, having a trading station offered Māori other benefits from trade, including highly desirable goods that were new to them, such as iron pots for cooking, blankets, clothing and tobacco. Tribes in the far north of New Zealand had established the practice of offering chief’s daughters as a wife to entice traders to remain and set up trading stations to store and ship flax and other goods to trade (Wells).

There was a problem, however, in that trading ships had avoided the Taranaki region due to the lack of a natural harbour and rough seas. It was evident that Te Atiawa had to take matters into their own hands … see the posting on Establishing a trading station at Ngamotu for more details.

Caroline (Kararaina) and Sarah (Hera) Barrett

Updated 28 December 2021

Caroline (Kararaina) and Sarah’s (Hera) lives transcended a period of rapid economic, social and cultural change in Aotearoa/New Zealand. They were born into one of the first Māori/Pākehā families and witnessed a number of major historical events, including inter-tribal conflicts, the arrival of the New Zealand Company and negotiation of land sales, and the early British colonial period from 1840, involving land sales, the Land Wars between Māori and the Crown, and subsequent land confiscations, lands placed in native reserves and land compensations. In their life time Aotearoa/New Zealand was transformed from a naturally pristine country with a small population of around 100,000 Māori living within the independent iwi / hapū structures of traditional Māori society with a handful of European residents, to a British colony of around 1 million overwhelmingly British immigrants.

Caroline was only three year’s of age when she left Ngāmotu in 1832 as part of the migration south (Tama-Te-Uaua) to avoid more conflicts with the more powerful Tainui. While most of their whānau settled in Waikanae or Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington), from late 1833 or early 1834 to November 1839 the Barrett family lived at a whaling station at Te Awaiti in the Marlborough Sounds – within a largely white-male dominated culture but also cohabited with Te Atiawa kin. The location was not without conflict with other tribes however, as the whaling station residents from time to time sort refuge at sea from Ngai Tahu war parties.

Caroline was aged 10 and Sarah was four when the family eventually sailed with NZ Company representatives on board the Tory, to Port Nicholson where their father, Dicky Barrett and mother Rāwinia, played influential roles in persuading their Whanganui-a-Tara relations to sell land to the Europeans.

Caroline and Sarah witnessed the first arrival of settlers from England, firstly at Wellington and then New Plymouth. Moving from an isolated and small whaling community to Wellington must have been a huge change, such as when their father’s hotel became the civic centre for the new colony. By the time of the Barrett family’s next re-location to the new settlement of New Plymouth in 1841 the sisters were living a largely European way-of-life… but still at least initially, within a whaling community at Ngamotu.

The sisters spent some time within their hāpu following Dicky Barrett’s death early in 1847. Eruera (Rāwinia’s father), Rāwinia, Kararaina and Hara were included in the census of Ngāti Te Whiti in 1847. Rāwinia died in 1849 and her father died in 1851.

The sisters were both young when both their parents had died by the late 1940’s. In a community that was in the very early stages of European settlement, their lives would no doubt have been made that much harder while on-going disputes over land sales may have adversely affected their relationships with their Māori kin.

Caroline (Kararaina) and Sarah (Hera) Barrett (c1853)

Carroline and Sarah Barrett

Lawson Insley, collection of Puke Ariki, New Plymouth

The daguerreotype portrait of Caroline and Sarah shown above is thought to have been taken by Lawson Insley just before Sarah’s marriage to William Henry Honeyfield in April, 1853. According to Andrew Moffat’s research, there is evidence to suggest the portrait may have been commissioned by the Reverend Henry Hanson Turton and given to Sarah as a wedding present. Reverend Turton had a daguerreotype of himself done at the same time. Rather than being styled by others for the occasion, it is likely the sisters had dressed themselves. Caroline was 24 and Sarah was 17 when the portrait was taken.

Although the sisters wore European clothing, they would have been bilingual and bicultural through their hapū inter-relationships, at least in their early years when their father, Dicky Barrett lived as a Pākehā-Māori. Both were given Maori names: Kararaina (Caroline) and Hara (Sarah).

Given Sarah’s first child, Richard Barrett Honeyfield, was born on 10 June 1853, Sarah would probably have been pregnant at the time of the portrait setting. The original of the portrait has been held at Puke Ariki after having been gifted by a descendant of Sarah in 1967.

Rev. Turton’s wife died in 1849 leaving him with four sons to care for. As the sisters were also suffering from family bereavement at around the same time – Caroline had just turned 20, and Sarah was only 13 years of age when their remaining parent, Rāwinia, died in February, 1849 – Caroline and Sarah may have joined the Turton household for a while. According to Moffat’s research, there is evidence of this from a letter written by Turton in the late 1840’s, ‘In it, he complains of an incident in which Mrs Billing (a fellow settler) struck Sarah Barrett with a stick, making the part swell and the girl cry. When she told me I went over to Manihera … and told him and Poharama to go to Billings and his wife and advise them to keep their hands of [sic] the girls, because we should not allow them to be struck’. That is significant also in that Turton obviously regarded the Ngāmotu rangatira has having an ongoing role in caring for their kin, the two Barrett daughters.

Reverend Turton had joined the New Plymouth Wesleyan Missionary Service (WMS) with his family in 1844. However, Turton’s first appointment in New Zealand was in 1840 when he was charged with developing a new mission house at Aotea, located between Kāwhia and Raglan.

The Turton family relocated to New Plymouth in 1843, so he would have known Dicky and Rāwinia. From the mid 1840’s Turton assisted in land claim negotiations for Governor Fitzroy. In 1848, Governor Grey established an industrial school for Māori youth on missionary land at Ngamotu, and placed it under the care of Rev Turton and his wife (Wells).

Mission House and Grey Institute, Ngamotu, 1864

Around the mid 1850’s Turton returned to Kāwhia.

Wesleyan Mission House, Kawhia harbour, 1845 (centre of the photo).Source: Alexandra Turnbull Library.

Caroline and Sarah were not forgotten by their whānau. In a letter from their uncle Epiha Karoro to Donald McLean on 28 March 1951, Epiha wrote “Another matter for you is that my children be bought here, that is, the children of Dicky Barrett. One of them is with you, with Te Paka”. Epiha, son of Tautara, was living at Port Nicholson (Wellington) at the time. The letter also reveals an ongoing interest by Donald McLean in the affairs of Barrett’s children following Rāwinia’s death in 1849, with one or both of them perhaps living in his household for a time.

However, there is evidence that the girls grand-father, Eruera, died around February 1851. There is every possibility that Caroline and Sarah continued to reside with him in the Barrett residence following Rāwinia’s death in 1849. That timing also coincides with Epiha’s subsequently asking for the girls to be bought to him.

Following Sarah’s marriage in 1853 Caroline joined the Turton household and spent several years working at the Kāwhia mission, a place she would have known to have family connections, as her whakapapa traces back to Ngāti Maniapoto, and as far back as the great waka, Tainui. How long Caroline remained at Kāwhia is uncertain, for Turton did not stay in Kawhia for that long and resigned from the WMS in 1859. He went on to hold several positions with the colonial government, including at Coromandel and the Waikato. He was a member of parliament between 1863 – 1864. No longer part of the Turton household, and with missionary work in the Waikato suspended during the land wars, it is likely that Caroline was back in New Plymouth by 1859 or earlier, before the land wars started.

The sisters inherited estates from their father, Dicky Barrett and from their mother, Rāwinia, being 23 hectares at Moturoa, and 68 hectares at what was called Barrett’s Lagoon Farm, now the site of Barrett Domain Walkway. According to Barrett’s will, Caroline and Sarah were not entitled to their inheritance until the age of 21 or upon their marriage.

According to the Crown Grants Gazette Notice published in the Taranaki Herald on January 10, 1884, Caroline and Sarah were granted the following land in the Grey and Omata districts:

Caroline – Grey District  330 perch (1,659.6m);  Omata District 166 perch (835m)

Sarah – Grey District 349 perch (1,755.2m); Omata District 180 perch (905.3m)

The Grey District land was part of a Māori Reserve A & C. Caroline was granted Reserve D and Sarah Part Reserve 48A of the Omata District. I assume this was land originally occupied by Rāwinia’s parents in the Ratapihipihi area.

The Honeyfield emigration from North Dorset, England to New Zealand

(Revised 18 April, 2022)

Five of the 11 children of tenant farmers John and Hannah Honeyfield – (Harriet) Matilda, William, Henry, James and Edmund – emigrated from North Dorset, England to Taranaki, New Zealand between 1849 – 1856.

The young Honeyfield’s left Dorset in search of a better life, one where the climate was more suited to dairy farming, and they could acquire land and be their own masters free of tithes to pay. An agricultural depression in England around 1847 – 1852 no doubt was another big influence on their decision.

The first British settlers had arrived to establish the town of New Plymouth only nine years before, in 1841. While new to the settlers, Māori first arrived in Taranaki hundreds of years previously, with the area of British settlement previously being known as Ngā Motu (The Islands).

Matilda and William, 1850

Matilda Honeyfield, aged 23, and her younger brother, William Henry Honeyfield, aged 17, departed from London on the Berkshire on 4 October 1849 and arrived just off New Plymouth on the 8 January 1850. Matilda and William were accompanied by their cousins John and William Morgan. In total the Berkshire carried 100 passengers and had a crew of 30.

Matilda was the first ashore, spending her first night in fledging town of New Plymouth at the Masonic Hotel on the corner of Devon and Brougham Streets.

In a good example of the hazards in the lack of a natural harbour, William had to wait a bit longer as an approaching storm meant the ship had to sail out to sea for a few days before all the remaining cargo and passengers could disembark. William claimed the storm was worse than they had on the whole voyage. Apparently, the poor cow on-board could not stand for days afterwards.

Along with his two cousins, the Morgan brothers, William readily found short-term work harvesting wheat and clearing fern. After three weeks of arriving in Taranaki, they entered into a 12 month lease of the Peachtree farm, just across the Waiwhakaiho river … and of course, there were no bridges over the Waiwhakaiho in those days.

About three years before the Honeyfield siblings arrival in New Zealand, Governor George Grey, in response to settler demand for land, purchased several blocks of land from Maori, including land at Omata and Tataraimaka.

About eight months into the Peachtree farm lease, William and his two cousins purchased 50 acres at Omata. Incredibly, they paid in cash, putting 80 gold sovereigns on the table. Apparently, the agent said it had been a long time since he had seen so much gold! Actually, the farm had been foreclosed and by paying cash simply meant that the mortgagee and mortgagors split the sovereigns to an acceptable level and, after scooping up the gold coins, went on their merry way. Cash was king and made for simple business.

The Omata block was next door to where Matilda had settled, now married to John Litchfield Newman. When the Peachtree farm lease expired, William and the Morgan cousins lived with John and Matilda, working the two Omata farms together. It must have been confusing at times with four men living in the house and working the land, two named John and two named William.

They attempted a wheat crop but compared to the well developed farms in England, the crop was poor. In John Morgan’s papers he wrote:

This to young beginners was a great blow, but it so happened that compensating circumstances came to our aid.

The aid came by way of the following (source: If walls could talk … Succession):

In earlier years the natives had imposed a restriction on settling north of the Fitzroy Pole. More immigrants were arriving and with little to no open farmland for sale the price of land rose rapidly. The 50 acres at Omata had risen to be worth 300 pounds in one year … a 375 percent increase in 12 months.

Also, the settlers who had been ordered off what they thought was to be their land north east of the Fitzroy pole, had been given script, which was a promissory note, to take a certain amount of land when new blocks from the New Zealand company or the Crown became available. This script was tradable and the Tataraimaka block was to be made available for script holders.

First presence at Tataraimaka

The following is an extract from, If walls could talk … Succession.

The Morgan brothers sold their 2/3rd share of the 50 acre Omata block to William Henry for 200 pounds, assumably funded from debt, and purchased enough script for 212 acres at 1 pound an acre. They moved to Tataraimaka, the land immediately across the Timaru Steam from the high tide mark following the river upstream. 

A year later, William sold his 50 acres at Omata to John Newman, and followed his cousins, buying adjoining land to them at Tataraimaka.

John & William Morgan had built a second house on their Tataraimaka farm. The first was simply a dirt floor shelter with trees felled from Cutfield’s Bush property three miles up Timaru Road. It was only flax and fern growing on the Morgan land by the river mouth. The second house had three rooms and a veranda with proper window joinery that had been rowed in by boat to the Timaru Steam river mouth from New Plymouth. The Morgan brothers had bought the first plough to Tataraimaka, traversing Maori land with no roads connecting Tataraimaka to Omata. They had succeeded in getting some imported grass growing so that at the very least their bullocks would be happy to graze instead of continually trying to run back to Omata for better pasture.

On the 4th March 1853, John left for an expedition to Kai-Iwi just north of the little known town of Wanganui. They were to drive 799 ewes and 222 lambs to New Plymouth.

On returning to his farm at Tataraimaka in early June 1853, John Morgan wrote:

On arrival home I found that strange events had taken place. My brother and I had been batchelorising, and I left my brother to batchelorise alone. On my return I found a married couple had sought a home for a time with us. My cousin had sold his section in Omata to his brother-in-law and had purchased land at Tataraimaka. He had commenced building a house on the land, and in the meantime to facilitate matters, had got married [to Sarah Barrett] and for the time being until the house was finished, had taken up his quarters in our establishment.

It certainly had a civilising effect in our quarters; the cooking and household affairs were handed over to the lady of the house, so that my brother and I were at liberty to get on with our work. Up until the advent of this lady, there was but one lady on the Block, and to us this was convincing proof that the settlement was advancing in our district. At this period there was no European house between Tataraimaka and Kai-Iwi, except 2 mission stations. On my return, I found in addition to the occupancy of the house, that the grass we had sown was growing quite luxuriantly, in fact my brother had been able to cut some of it and made a little hay, so that should we be able to get a horse, we could keep him in a stable. In fact our holding was beginning to look like an Oasis in the desert.

As a consequence of their younger cousin William now married, the Morgan brothers agreed:

It was time they also engaged in the folly of marriage and in the not so distant a future.

They agreed that if they both took wives it would not be fair to have two women in the same house so the agreement was made that John would sell his 1/2 of their 212 acres to their adjoining neighbour Robert Greenwood and move to New Plymouth.

The split between the Morgan brothers happened in October 1853 even though it appears there were no apparent suitors for wives, John was a married man two months later.

Henry John and James Charles, 1852

Henry John Honeyfield, aged 22 and his younger brother, James Charles, aged 13, departed London, England on 24 May 1852 on the Joseph Fletcher and arrived in New Plymouth on the on 8 October 1852. Henry recorded a diary during the voyage, noting the incidence of smallpox onboard, catching flying fish and porpoise to supplement their diet, and that young James suffered a good deal from sea sickness.

Henry started a drapery business. James joined his brother William farming at Barrett Road [on land acquired by Dicky Barrett, then transferred to Sarah and her sister, Caroline].

Edmund Charles, 1855

Henry went back to England In 1854 but returned to New Plymouth with his first wife Elisa and his younger brother Edmond Charles, departing from Gravesend on 26 October 1855 on the Ashmore and arriving at New Plymouth on 27 March 1856.

Edmond married Catherine Gane in 1877. They went on to farm at Patea in South Taranaki.

Other Honeyfield migrations

The remaining children of John and Hannah remained in England. Two descendants from England attended the 2015 Honeyfield Reunion in New Plymouth.

Two of John and Hannah’s grandchildren emigrated to New Zealand. Ambrose (son of Robert and Rhoda) sailed to New Zealand in 1876 on the Rangitiki and set up farming in the Stratford area. He married May Piggott in 1878 and they had nine children:

  1. Alberta Selina, born 1882; married Fred McDonald
  2. Alice, born 1886; married Christopher Topless
  3. Laura Eileen, born 1887; married Ivan Walters in 1903
  4. Grace, born 1888; married Stan Riley, 1928
  5. Rhoda May, born 1889
  6. Margaret Ellen, born 1893
  7. Henry Robert, born 1895; married Lydia Amy (Fisher) Axten in 1927
  8. William Newman, born 1901
  9. Charles Rufus, born 1906; married Christine Lepper in 1932

Kate, John and Hannah’s granddaughter, emigrated to New Plymouth in 1875 along with her husband, Edward Pretty.

Three of Robert and Rhoda’s grandchildren (children of James and Mary) emigrated to New Zealand in 1910:

  1. William Henry, born 1882. William worked on orchards in the Te Puke area. He died from asthma in 1926.
  2. Walter Augustus, born 1885. Walter worked on a sheep and cattle station at Kaipikeri, inland from Urenui. During World War 1 Walther served in France and Germany. After the war he purchased a two acre property at Moturoa where he cleared the land and ran a small farmlet, including one dairy cow. Walter married Dorothy Tylee. Walter and Dorothy later moved to a 100 acre dairy farm at Inglewood.
  3. Herbert Sidney, born 1893, married Mary Crompton in 1917. Walter died in 1954 at Te Puke.

John and Ellen Honeyfield, grandchildren of John and Hannah, left Park Farm in 1908 and settled in Manitoba, Canada.

Other Honeyfield relations also migrated to Canada and the USA. James and Mary’s granddaughter, Miriam, emigrated to the USA in 1875, followed by her nephew James in 1880.


James and Caroline (Kara) Honeyfield, 1829 – 1911

Last updated 14 August 2021

James Charles Honeyfield

James was born in Gillingham, Dorset in southwest England and was baptised at St. Mary’s Church on 9th of June 1839. Prior to emigrating to New Plymouth, James attended Orchard House, a school for farmer’s sons in Gillingham.

After emigrating to New Plymouth in 1852, James joined his brother, William farming at Barrett Road.

When the first Taranaki wars broke out in 1860, James joined the local militia and took part in the Battle of Waireka. James also saw active service in the Waitara district under Major Nelson.

Caroline (Kararaina) Honeyfield (nee Barrett)

Caroline (or Kara) was born on 2nd February 1829 at the Otaka pa, Moturoa (Ngamotu) which in terms of size was really more like a kaianga (village). See the posts on Dicky & Rāwinia and Caroline & Sarah for more information about Caroline’s younger years.

By 1849, after her parents had died, Caroline and her sister Sarah continued to live in the house build by Dicky Barrett, but they were under the care of their grandfather, Eruera Te Puke Mahurangi until he died in 1851. After Sarah married William Honeyfield in April 1853, Caroline joined the household of Reverend Hanson Turton for several years at the mission station in Kawhia. While it is not known when Caroline moved to Kawhia, the mission established by Rev Turton at Raoraokauere Block in the Aotea District in 1840, was by the mid 1850’s being run under Māori leadership under the supervision of Rev Schnackenberg – who was based initially at Mokau but from 1858 was in Kawhia (Robin Astridge, November 2013).

The Aotea mission (then known as ‘The Beechamdale Mission’) continued until the conflicts between Māori and Pākehā in the 1860s forced the closure and withdrawal of all mission endeavour south of Raglan in 1863. After the cessation of hostilities attempts to reopen the missions at Aotea and Kawhia were unsuccessful as both sites lay beyond the Aukete (confiscation line) in Māori held territory (Astridge) … by which time Caroline had returned to New Plymouth. The coincidence of the Aotea mission having been established by Turton, and Caroline’s years spent living up that way, together with her return to New Plymouth by 1863, suggest that Caroline was likely to have been involved with the Aotea mission in some way.

We do not know how long Caroline remained at Kawhia. The Rev Turton left the mission in 1858. It is possible that either Caroline continued with the Aotea mission until it was forced to close in 1863, or she returned to New Plymouth earlier than that.

James and Caroline marry

After both coming to the aid of Sarah after William Honeyfield’s untimely death in 1864, James and Caroline were married six months later by Rev John Whiteley on 2nd January 1865 at James’s residence in Moturoa, New Plymouth. James was 25 and Caroline was 34.

Soon after they got married, James established a butchery business. It must have been successful as indicative with one of his invoices in 1869 being for £246 owing to him from the Crown for supplying meat to the military – a very large sum of money in those days.

Caroline (Barrett) Honeyfield

Caroline (Barrett) Honeyfield

They went on do have five children:

Octavia Lavinia

  • Born December 17, 1865
  • Married Thomas Johns
  • Died 14 May 1901


  • Born October 1, 1867
  • Died 1932


  • Born September 30, 1870
  • Died 1933


  • Born April 6, 1872
  • Married Ethel Mary Morris 1897
  • Died 27 September 1932

Charles Edward

  • Born September 2, 1874
  • Married Mary Allison, 1878
  • Died 1927, burned to death in his car

Farming at Tataraimaka

The Tataraimaka block, having initially been acquired from Taranaki iwi by the Crown in 1847 under the direction of Governor George Grey, was allocated by Crown grant to the New Zealand Company in April 1950 (Parsonson). The land acquired by James and Caroline had initially been purchased from the New Zealand Company by Robert Greenwood in 1850. In 1869, after the birth of their two eldest children, the couple purchased the 180 hectare farm with the homestead at Tataraimaka for £1250 from Mr Greenwood. This is the land between the Greenwood and Timaru Roads to the hide tide mark but excluded Oxenhams farm down the bottom of Timaru Road. Settlement date was the 15th May 1869.

Robert Greenwoods original house had been burnt down nine years earlier during the New Zealand land wars. It is assumed Greenwood built a new one on the same site, using the same foundation stones. During renovations on the house in 1988, the base of an old chimney was discovered under the floorboards that may well of been from Greenwoods original house.

James and Caroline did not have to clear heavy bush to commence farming the property. At the time it was described as park-like countryside with beautiful shrubbery. For many years prior to the arrival of Europeans, Māori had cultivated the land for kumara and taro. However, the land had been let to fallow for 30 years following conflicts between the Taranaki iwi and northern tribes. Yet, it was easy land to cultivate compared to the heavy bush further down the coast and inland.

It was back in 1818 that the northern iwi turned up at the beach by Tataraimaka pa, bearing muskets. The local Taranaki people had never seen or heard of a musket before. Their chiefs were shot and slaughter followed. The invaders raided all the crops and it was from then the land was left to fallow for 33 years before the Morgan cousins bought the first plough to Tataraimaka.

James had to adapt to the markets of the day, from sheep, beef, and cropping, He planted shelter to establishing a dairy herd and processed his own milk. James converted an old flour mill into the first butter factory in the area.

James introduced four sparrows to the property, paying four pennies per sparrow. The grain grown on the farm today is loved by sparrows, and an annual cull is necessary.

James also introduced pheasants, and recent generations of these birds can still be seen from time to time. One story reported in the local paper stated that James had wadded out into the sea to retrieve one of the first peasants that had become disoriented. The event was witnessed and reported by a passing ship.

James proved to be a very good farmer. By 1878 he had acquired 420 acres comprising: wheat, 35 acres; potatoes, 3.5 acres; swede turnips, 8.5 acres; with 370 acres in grass. James entered the farm in the Taranaki Agricultural Society’s ‘Prize Farm’ award, and won! The judges commented that:

The crops on this farm are the best we have inspected, the fences are in good order, with good gates where required, and the farm generally in good order … Dwelling house 44 feet by 40 feet, with verandah around three sides, containing eleven good rooms, iron roof – a first-class dwelling-house, with lawn and flower garden in front, a credit to the keeper thereof (as reported in the Taranaki Herald, 5 December 1878).

The Tataraimaka Pā site was part of the ‘Bank Farm’ that James purchased in 1897. It was called the Bank Farm as it had been managed by the National Bank for many years until James purchased the property. Over the years James accumulated more land in the area to have an uninterrupted block of 486 hectares.

By the turn of the century, James and Caroline’s sons were all farming, William on the original farm, Charlie was on a farm at Oakura, and Barrett at the Bank farm at Tataraimaka.

Barrett ended up leasing out the Barrett’s Lagoon farm and he moved to Parnell, Auckland. Barrett died in Parnell on January 24, 1933. His only child Murray eventually inherited, and then sold his land, to live his life out in Surfers Paradise. It is believed he and his wife had no children.

Charlie sold his farm (at Tataraimaka by that time) around 1916 to take his farming interests elsewhere. His son Arthur Huia Honeyfield, who had his schooling at Tataraimaka, went on to establish the avocado industry in Katikati on his property he called “Tatara”.

William continued living in the Homestead until his death. He had a heart attack whilst milking the cows.

Today, 97 hectares is still owned and farmed by the family, including the original 150 year old Honeyfield Homestead.

Return to Moturoa

The Otaka Pā site in Moturoa where Caroline was born was very close to where James and Caroline returned to some time in the mid 1890’s. The photo below of Caroline and James was taken after their retirement to Moturoa.

Caroline and James Honeyfield

Caroline and James Honeyfield, 1890’s

James and Caroline continued to farm on the Blagdon farm were the Blagdon shops are today, land that they purchased with Caroline’s sister Sarah.

As reported in the Taranaki Herald, in August 1896 there was a petroleum gas explosion from a bore within 50 metres of James and Caroline’s residence at Moturoa. The strong westerly wind blew fragments of burning material over the residence with some falling on the roof, although the house was saved. However, it was a close thing and the family had to carry their valuables and some of their furniture to safety.

The photo below is of the Honeyfield family with some of the grandchildren, taken at the home of James and Caroline in approximately 1899. With Caroline and James at the rear, at the front there is William on the left, Barrett, with Thomas Johns, in the middle and Charles on the right. Octavia, with baby Oscar Johns, is in front of Caroline and Sarah is to the left. William’s wife Ethel, with baby Eric, is sitting just above William.

Honeyfield family 1899

Unfortunately, Octavia passed away on May 14, 1901 with the cause of death being typhoid. Her sister, Sarah took over raising the Johns family. James leased out the Blagdon property and purchased a larger property of 40 hectares at Bell Block for the Johns children to farm. Sarah remained a spinster living with the Johns family until she finally returned to Tataraimaka farm to die aged 65.

Land holdings

After coming from tenant farming background in North Dorset, England, fifty years previously, James had acquired a large land holding, from Tataraimaka to the south of New Plymouth, to Bell Block and within New Plymouth. Included in the Honeyfield land holdings were the Barrett reserves A, C & D. See below of a map of the land holdings (prepared for the Honeyfield family reunion, 2014).

Final years

Caroline died in November 1899 at the age of 70. Her obituary in the Taranaki Herald, on 13 November 1899, read that she:

…earned the respect and esteem of her fellow settlers, who will deeply sympathise with those she leaves behind her – a widower, three sons, and two daughters, as well as a number of grandchildren.

Caroline left a life interest in her estate to James, and then equally to her children. Her interest in a Ngāti Rāhiri land holding trust passed to her children in 1901.

Caroline’s obituary was published in the Taranaki Herald on 13 November 1899. In a subsequent article published on the masthead of the Taranaki Herald on 21 November 1899, Caroline’s extraordinary life was celebrated. The article noted that Caroline was:

Born at time when the European influence was beginning to make it felt amongst the ruthless tribes of the southern part of this island, she had seen the district emerge from a state of wild confusion and lawlessness and develop into the present state of advancement. What changes had occurred at Ngamotu during her life of three score years and ten!

James died on 21st February 1911 at the age of 72, with the cause listed as ‘valvular disease of the heart’ and exhaustion. James is buried alongside Caroline at Te Henui Cemetery.

Prior to his death, James’s sons were effectively given the land they were farming on, although it is evident there was some debt associated with the Tataraimaka farms.

Sarah Honeyfield with her father, James

In his will James left Sarah:

  • his household effects
  • 12 acres on land at Barrett’s Reserve C
  • a lifetime interest in the Bell Block farm and then to Octavia’s children.

James left the Blagdon farm to Octavia’s children, and parts of the Barrett Reserve A, Moturoa, and a section to Edgar, Oscar and Thomas Johns.

Richard (Dicky) Barrett and Wakaiwa Rāwinia (Lavinia), 1807 – 1849

(Last updated 5 April, 2021)

Richard Barrett

Although Richard (Dicky) Barrett’s place of birth has been regarded as uncertain, Anne Hodgson’s and Ron McLean’s research indicates there are records in the United Kingdom stating that Dicky was born in Cherry Garden Street, Rotherhithe, South London in 1807 to parents Matthew & Sarah Barrett. Dicky was their third child, one of seven children.

According to McLean, ‘…the South Bank [had became] a dumping ground for the dirtier trades that had been shut out of the City. Tanners and leather dressers were confined to Bermondsey because of the obnoxious nature of their trade, and by the end of the eighteenth century, Bermondsey was characterised as a place of slums and alleys’. However, despite his impoverished upbringing, Barrett did learn to read and write, as is evidenced from the journal that he went on to keep, and in other correspondence such as letters to his family.

There is a British Merchant Navy record of Richard Barrett, aged 14, being indentured in the British Merchant Navy, bound on 12 January 1821 for five years. This would link with the age of Dicky Barrett as he too was born in 1807. 

What motivated the young Dickey Barrett to go to sea> Dicky was aged nine when his mother died. He may have been unhappy at his father’s re-marrying. Or he may have simply needed to get out and earn a living, which in those days would have been common for children at age 12 to 14 or younger. As Dicky’s grandfather was a ’waterman’; and his father was a ‘mariner’ and ‘lighterman’, it made sense for Dicky to seek a trade in the maritime industry.

After gaining qualifications and experience during his time in the merchant navy, on 12 January 1826 Dicky Barrett set sail as a crew member on board a trading vessel bound for the South Pacific. As we shall see, young Barrett was an adventurous, inquisitive and gregarious man, bound for a very interesting life.

By 1828, Dicky had become the first mate, with John (Jacky) Love as the captain, on the 60 ton schooner Adventure. The vessel was owned by Sydney merchants Thomas Street and Thomas Hyndes. Jacky, Dicky and their crew worked the trans-Tasman trade, leaving Sydney in February 1828 loaded with clothes and blankets, muskets and powder, tobacco, razors and rum, barley and corn, and discharging to storehouses in Kororareka (Russell) and in what is now known as Queen Charlotte Sound and Port Nicholson (Wellington). They returned to Sydney with pigs, flax and potatoes.

Arrival at Ngāmotu, 1828

On its second trip in 1828, the Adventure was intercepted off the coast of Taranaki by two waka (canoes) paddled by 40 warriors from the Te Atiawa tribe, led by rangatira (chiefs) Honiana Te Puni-kokopu (Te Puni) and Te Wharepouri. On board the Adventure along with Love and Barrett were George Ashdown, James Bosworth, William Bundy, Joseph Davis, William Keenan, a chap called Lee from the USA, a chap called Oliver, James Robinson and Daniel Sheridan, Robert Sinclair and .

The Adventure’s arrival off the coast of Taranaki came almost 60 years after Captain James Cook’s first voyage in 1769. Although Cook returned to New Zealand twice, he did not go ashore in Taranaki.

Up to that point Te Atiawa had limited exposure to Europeans. However, Te Ātiawa would have acquired some knowledge about the benefits of contact with Pākehā (European) traders – particularly from the acquisition of iron tools, woollen blankets and muskets – from the experiences of other iwi and from some limited previous contact, and were keen to build a trading relationship with Pākehā for the purposes of securing arms and other goods. While Pākehā had set up trading stations in other parts of Aotearoa, the lack of a natural harbour in Taranaki meant traders lacked the incentive to go ashore and investigate the potential for trade on their own initiative, let alone establish a permanent base there. Around that time there were an estimated 300 Pākehā living in Aotearoa/New Zealand, and at least 100,000 Māori (Te Ara: Maori-Pakeha Relations).

Love and Barrett, keen to expand their trade connections, agreed to go ashore at Ngā Motu (The Islands) to see what was available to trade, where they inspected flax and pigs. According to Bremner, ‘Te Atiawa, pressing for a trading post permanently occupied by Pakeha to ensure prosperity and preservation, presented high born Te Atiawa women to Barrett and Love. Barrett’s partnered Wakaiwa and he took the Māori name of Tiki Parete. Jacky Love’s Māori name was Hikirau and his partner was Mereruru Te Hikinua. By staying at Ngamotu (as the site is called now), Barrett, Love and their men became the fist European residents in the Taranaki region’.

The practice of giving a wife to distinguished visitors was a well-established custom within Polynesia as the people regularly travelled from their home lands to other islands. The relationships formed were accompanied with land transfers which in turn became inheritable by the offspring of visitors (History and Traditions of the Māoris of the West Coast, North Island of New Zealand prior to 1840: Chapter V – The canoes of “The Fleet“).

Wakaiwa Rāwinia

Wakaiwa Rāwinia (also known as Rangi, but Barrett called her Lavinia, an anglicised version of Rāwinia) was the daughter of Eruera Te Puki-Ki-Mahurangi and Kuramai-Te-Ra and granddaughter of Tautara, the ariki (paramount chief) of Te Atiawa, and Maheuheu. Tautara, who resided at the Puketapu Pā (in the present day Bell Block), was the son of Te Puhi-Mañawa and Mairangi. Tautara was related to ariki in other iwi and could trace his whakapapa (genealogy) back over six hundred years, to the origins of Maori from the southern Cook Islands and Tahiti in East Polynesia. Angela Caughey traced Rāwinia’s ancestry back seven generations to Tukiarangi. Rāwinia’s full whakapapa is available here.

Being a woman of such high-ranking, Rāwinia’s marriage to Barrett was a reflection of the high status in which the trader was held by Te Atiawa.

Te Atiawa trace their origins to their founder Awanuiarangi, and their ancestral migration to Aotearoa on the Tokomaru waka (canoe) in about 1350.

According to research by Angela Caughey and others Rāwinia belonged to the Ngāti Rahiri and Ngāti Maru hapū of Te Atiawa (J & H Mitchell, p333) however there are no direct links from Rāwinia’s parents to those two hapū. There are many references to Rāwinia being of the Ngāti Te Whiti, and that is backed up by Rāwinia, her children and her father being recorded as Ngāti Te Whiti in the census completed by Donald McLean in 1847.

Rāwinia’s grandfather, Tautara has been described variously as belonging to the Puketapu, Ngāti Rahiri and Ngāti Tawhirikura hapū of Te Ātiawa. I have yet to find any evidence of a link to the Ngāti Maru.

In any case, Rāwinia can be unambiguously described as part of the Ngamotu hapū that was the dominant hapū in the area during her lifetime. See my posting on Rāwinia’s hapū connections for more details and analysis.

By the weight of evidence the Mitchells rightly concluded that, ‘By virtue of her own status within the tribes she afforded protection and support that helped ensure the success of her husband’s commercial endeavours’ (page 335). The Mitchell’s included Rāwinia in the section of their publication covering Nga Wahine Toa – brave women or women leaders.

Rāwinia was reputed to have been one of the most beautiful and talented Māori woman of her time.

Barrett family

Dicky and Rāwinia had three daughters. Caroline (Kararaina) was born at Ngamotu in February 1829, followed by Mary Ann (Mereana) in December 1831. Sarah (Hera) was born in June 1835 at Te Awaiti Bay on Arapawa Island in Tõtaranui (Queen Charlotte Sound).

Mary died in 1840 at the age of eight years. Sarah married William Henry Honeyfield on 5 April, 1853. Caroline married James Charles Honeyfield in 1865.

Departure from Ngāmotu

As well as being a trader, Dicky went on to become an explorer, a whaler, interpreter and agent to the NZ Company, a publican and farmer.

After leaving Taranaki in 1832 (covered in a separate posting) Dicky established a shore based whaling station in Te Awaiti Bay, Tōtaranui (Queen Charlotte Sound).

Not long after the New Zealand Company’s Tory arrived in 1839, Dicky was engaged by Colonel William Wakefield acting as interpreter in negotiations for the sale of land at  Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Port Nicholson, Wellington), Tōtaranui and Taranaki. More details about the negotiations and subsequent disputes are covered here.

Wakefield apparently described Barrett as being fond of relating “wild adventures and hairbreadth scapes”.  Edward Jerningham Wakefield (William’s nephew) described Barrett at the time they met as:

Dressed in a white jacket, blue dungaree trousers and round straw hat, he seemed perfectly round all over, and good-humoured smile could not fail to excite pleasure in all beholders (Adventure in New Zealand).

Ernst Diefenbach, naturalist on the Tory, noted Barrett’s sunny disposition. ‘His ruddy and good-humoured countenance showed, at all events, that such a life had not occasioned him many sleepless nights, and that in New Zealand a man might thrive, at least as far as regards his bodily welfare’ (J & H Mitchell, page 336).

The only known portrait of Barrett seems supportive of the Wakefield’s assessment.

Wakefield named a hazardous reef at the western side of the entrance to Wellington Harbour  Barrett Reef, after Dicky.

There are other testimonies to Barrett’s skill for storytelling. McLean stated that:

[Barrett] regaled credulous settlers on numerous occasions with tales about the siege at Otaka Pa, including long and detailed accounts of cannibalism to shocked audiences. Other accounts included tales of being tied to a stake while Māori prepared to cook him for dinner (page 74).

Dicky went on to develop various business interests in the new settlement in Wellington, including establishing Barrett’s Hotel which became something of a civic centre in the new colony.

Return to Ngāmotu

Barrett’s whaling business suffered heavy losses and, after he was forced to sell his hotel in 1841, he led a party of Te Atiawa back to Taranaki and went on to help establish new settlers in New Plymouth.

While in Wellington however, Barrett, as the New Zealand Company’s chief agent for the proposed settlement of New Plymouth, was engaged by the Plymouth Company’s surveyor, Frederick Carrington, in January 1841, as a pilot / interpreter on Carrington’s mission to select possible sites for the establishment of a new settlement. As Barrett was already planning on returning to Ngamotu he set out to persuade Carrington to select the Ngamotu area as the new site. One of Barrett’s tactics was to guide Carrington around the steep and mountainous areas of land in Queen Charlotte Sounds, and the Te Atiawa settlement at Motueka, where the land was low, swampy and liable flood from the rising sea. The area then known as Nelson Haven, which on closer inspection had the advantage over Taranaki in having a natural harbour, was over-looked by Barrett.

A small number of Te Atiawa had remained at Ngamotu, keeping the home fires burning. They lived on one of the islands, Mikotahi, which was a semi-island fortress. Among this group of people were Rāwinia’s parents.

On 28 March, 1841, Dicky and Rāwinia were married by the Wesleyan missionary Reverend Charles Creed at the Mission House, Ngamotu. Their surviving daughters Caroline and Sarah were also baptised that day. In his December 1846 letter to Donald McLean (at that time the Inspector of Policy), Harcourt Aubrey wrote, “His [Barrett’s] marriage gave him additional influence over his wife’s people, for the natives seem now, fully as as well Europeans, to understand the binding nature of the marriage contract” (Papers Past, National Library). By then Aubrey would have got to know Barrett quite well, having came out to Aotearoa/New Zealand in 1840 as an assistant surveyor with Frederick Carrington. In his letter Aubrey described Barrett as “a remarkable individual”, having experienced much in his 20 years in Aotearoa.

At about the time of Barrett’s return to live in New Plymouth he wrote a letter to his brother asking for news of home and his family, but also complaining about previous correspondence not being replied to. It was not until 1842 that Barrett had news from his family in England, some 15 years after he had left home (McLean).

Barrett went on to be one of the first men to drive cattle from Wellington to New Plymouth, and he introduced new crops and vegetables to Taranaki. He established a cattle farm and horticulture business, while continuing in whaling and trading in flax.

Barrett and his crew regularly provided assistance to new emigrant arrivals in New Plymouth, providing them with temporary accommodation and assisting with the landing of cargo with his whaleboats. In a letter to the directors of the Plymouth Company on May 2, 1841, Mr George Cutfield wrote that,”Mr Barrett has done everything in his power to assist us in land the cargo [from the William Brian] with one of his whaleboats for which I shall have to pay him.” (Wells, B). The following watercolour painting by Arthur Messenger captures one such scene in 1842.

Painting of Barrett & crew on row boat
Dicky Barrett goes aboard an emigrant barque off New Plymouth, 1842 – watercolour by Arthur Herbert Messenger

Barrett’s shore-based whaling station, consisting of trypots, harpoons, wind lasses and long boats that lay on Ngamotu beach, could be quickly utilised whenever spotters on the lookout at nearby Paritutu saw a whale offshore. ‘Once caught the carcass was floated back to shore where it would be stripped of baleen and oil and the remains were left to rot on the sand’. (from Ngamotu – more than just a beach, Puke Ariki Learning & Research).

Whaling tools harpoon and rope tools found at the power station, New Plymouth in the 1970’s thought to be Dicky Barrett’s

As Barrett was instrumental in securing land at New Plymouth from The New Zealand Company, he was allocated Barretts Reserve A, 23 hectares (56 acres) between the Hongi-hongi Stream and what is now Pioneer Road (which used to be part of Barrett Road).

Another 68 hectares (168 acres) known as Barrett Lagoon (Barrett Reserve C & D) had been given over to Barrett by Rāwinia’s father, Te Puke Mahurangi when Barrett first partnered Rāwinia in 1828 (in keeping with the well-established Polynesian custom of giving local interests to distinguished visitors). The land allocated to Barrett would not have been a transfer of land ownership in the European sense as it was not Te Puke’s land to sell as all land was held by hapū collectively. In keeping with traditional Māori custom, the land would have been allocated to Barrett as a form of use rights.

The area contained Kororako Pā. Part of this – 5.67 hectares of what was part Barrett Reserve C & D – was either gifted by Barrett Honeyfield to the local authority in the early 1900’s as a reserve for the people of New Plymouth, or taken under the Public Works Act. The land containing the pā was acquired by the New Plymouth District Council in 2012 and is recorded as wāhi tapu (a place regarded as sacred to Māori) in the New Plymouth District Plan. The area is identified as an archaeological site by the New Zealand Archaeological Association, as site 19/52. The defensive ditches of the pā area not easily visible today and an old farm track that led over the pā is now used for pedestrian access (Barrett Domain Management Plan, New Plymouth District Council, August 2013). The photo below taken in January 2019 shows that pā on the left hand side.


The official name of Barrett Lagoon was changed to Rotokarei/Barrett Domain under the Treaty of Waitangi Deed of Settlement between the Crown and Te Atiawa in 2014. The reserve has a number of attractions and walkways. The location of the pā is set out in the map below (source: New Plymouth District Council).

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Barrett’s land holdings were confirmed in being awarded 73 hectares (180 acres, being sections 23 and 37) by the Spain Lands Commission in May, 1844. Commissioner Spain also awarded 24,000 hectares to the New Zealand Company and 40 hectares to the Wesleyan missionaries (Dicky Barrett Part 3: Quest for Land, by Rhonda Bartle, Puke Ariki Learning and Research).

However, in August 1844 Governor Fitzroy, being critical of Commissioner Spain and Barrett’s role in the NZ Company land purchases – particularly in the transactions not having involved or recognised the interests of Te Atiawa who were absent or held in captivity by the Waikato at the time of the land purchases –  set aside the Commissioner’s award of 24,000 hectares to the NZ Company, substituting it for a 1,400 hectare block which included the town site and immediate surrounding area. No change was made to Barrett’s land holdings.

In a letter to the then Inspector of Police, Donald McLean in December 1846, Harcourt Aubrey described Barrett’s farm as being the only one of any consequence in the Moturoa area. Aubrey noted “…the readiness with which Mr Barrett afforded me information on every required topic, and before we parted he required me to assure you that he should always feel the greatest pleasure in rendering you any assistance that lay in his power” (Papers Past, National Library).

Fitzroy was replaced as Governor by George Grey in 1845. Grey managed to purchase more land for European settlement in 1847, including blocks at Tataraimaka and Omata.

According to the Taranaki Maori Land Court minute No.7, page 205, Rāwinia was also awarded interests in Ngāti Rahiri sections 3 and 9 and Ratapihipihi A East block (H & J Mitchell, page 347).

Barrett’s role in the new community of New Plymouth diminished somewhat after being criticised by Te Atiawa and Pākehā alike for his role in what became highly disputed land sale negotiations between the New Zealand Company and Te Ātiawa.

It is worth noting however, that much of the subsequent land disputes giving rise to the Māori wars in the 1860’s was due to disputed land transactions between the Crown and Te Atiawa.

Despite setbacks in the community, Barrett’s whaling operations continued. Soon after Governor Fitzroy’s decision some twenty tons of oil and more than one ton of whalebone from Barrett’s whaling operations were shipped to Sydney (Wells).

As the two daughters of Richard and Rāwinia married Honeyfields, the Barrett land eventually came under Honeyfield ownership.

Richard (Dicky) Barrett died at Moturoa, on 23 February 1847, possibly from a heart attack or following injury after a whaling accident, and was buried in Wāitapu urupa (cemetery) at the seaside end of Bayly Road, adjacent to Ngāmotu Beach, New Plymouth, along side his daughter Mary Ann. They were joined later on by Wakaiwa Rāwinia in 1849 and Hannah, daughter of William and Sarah, in 1861. Wāitapu was the first cemetery in New Plymouth and the first recorded burial was Mary Ann.

Barrett’s will left one third of his estate held in trust to pay income to Rāwinia for life. The rest of his estate was left to his children.

According to a letter from the Crown’s Surveyor, Edwin Harris, to the Colonial Secretary dated 9 August 1847 (following the Crown’s purchase of the Grey Block on land in 1847) 120 acres (49 hectares) were reserved especially for ‘Barrett’s widow and children that they should have in exchange for land at Moturoa A block. The Moturoa native reserve included Otaka Pā, the Waitapu urupa as well as 56 acres of the estate claimed by the late Richard Barrett which has been cultivated and is in the possession and occupation of natives’ (Boulton, page 99). Boulton also stated that ‘Barrett and his whaling crew … in exchange for their skills as traders and whalers, had been given use rights to portions of tribal lands’ (page 54).

Indeed, of the crew who were on board the Adventure in 1828 and who went on remain with Barrett – Bosworth, Bundy, Robinson, Sinclair and Wright – were all granted sections of land at ‘Whalers Gate’ in 1847 (Mullon, p 5).

The exchange referred to by Harris appears to have been to formalise the return to the Ngāmotu hapū as native reserve the 56 acres of land that had been allocated to Barrett by the New Zealand Company. The transfer was negotiated by Donald McLean, who noted in his 17th August 1847 letter to the Colonial Secretary, that the Māori reserve “includes 56 acres of the Estate claimed by the late Richard Barrett, which had been cultivated and in the possession and occupation of the natives …. In the absence of an Executor to represent Mr Barrett’s interests, I have proposed to his widow and children that they should have in exchange for the above land at Moturoa, a block of 120 acres beyond and adjoining to Mr Spain’s award and forming, with two other sections within that award, a continuous block, of which a considerable portion was cultivated by Mr Barrett” (Papers Past, National Library).

The background context of the re-occupation of the land after Barrett’s death appears to have been in relation to a long-running dispute between Barrett and some of Rāwinia’s kin. Donald McLean, then in the role of Sub-Protector, Protectorate of Aborigines, noted in October 1844 that Barrett had complained to him that “Wiremu Kawahu and Poharama had fenced off the road upon which he carried his produce, and drove cattle to and fro putting him at considerable inconvenience as he would have to go a round of a mile with his horses and cattle” (Papers Past, National Library). According to McLean, the natives had various grievances leading them to fence off the road, including that Barrett had owed them for some timber that had not been paid. Making it harder for Barrett to earn an income to repay debt does not seen like a sensible intervention. The more likely cause was due to those who refused to accept the sale of land by the Ngāmotu people to the New Zealand Company in 1840, and in particular Barrett’s acquisition of land including the site of the old kainga (village) and associated cultivations. They also apparently had a dispute with “Barrett’s natives [including] the father [Eruera Te Puki-ki-Mahurangi] of the native women he is married to” – probably due to the land dispute. I feel it is worth noting that Eruera stood up to other Ngāmotu rangatira, representing further evidence of his being of rangatira standing.

We can only imagine the grief and stress that Rāwinia and her children must gone through after Barrett’s death, and to then have the land dispute with their kin manifest in occupation by those kin. McLean’s subsequent intervention and assistance to provide land in exchange for that returned to the hapū would no doubt have been welcomed by the Barrett family.

Donald McLean went on to play a substantial role in the colonial government, respected by settlers for his pragmatism, and by Māori for his te reo skills and understanding of their culture, but stained by his controversial role in land sale negotiations. He eventually became Minister of Native Affairs and Defence and a substantial land owner in the Hawkes Bay.

Wakaiwa’s native reserve lands passed through Native Court determinations to the Honeyfields. In the early 20th century one of the Honeyfield family gave a portion of a block at Ngamotu as a public reserve (H & J Mitchell, 2014: 347).

Wakaiwa Rāwinia died almost two years to the day after Dicky passed away, she was only 38 years of age.

Barrett Headstone2015
Barrett and Honeyfield headstone, Waitapu cemetery, Ngamotu

In what appears to be an acknowledgement of Rāwinia’s contribution to the early history of New Plymouth, Rawinia Street was named after her. In the background provided in Kete New Plymouth, Rawinia Street is in the suburb of Moturoa and is located very near to the site of Otaka Pā.

Kete New Plymouth also has an historical note to describe Barrett St, New Plymouth, named after Dicky Barrett.

While Dicky and Rāwinia died relatively young, ‘they made a lasting impact on the history of New Plymouth and showed that a relationship between the two cultures could be beneficial to both’.

Herbert Mullon described Barrett as “one of the outstanding men in pre and early colonial days, respected by Maori and Pakeha (page 25)

Barrett’s name remains a legacy in New Plymouth and Wellington, with Barrett Street (named by Carrington) and Barrett Road and Barrett Domain in New Plymouth, and Barrett’s Reef at the entrance to Wellington’s harbour, named in Barrett’s honour by William Wakefield. A residential sub-division near to where the Barretts and crew members were allocated land is called ‘Whaler’s Gate’.