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Descendants of Thomas Halbert 1806-1865

Thomas Halbert imageThomas Halbert 1806-1865 – Image courtesy of the Tairawhiti Museum in Gisborne, Poverty Bay, New Zealand. Unknown source for the image. Possibly from a private collection. Do you know where this image originally comes from? – please Contact Me if you do. The earliest I can find this image being used is in 1927 in the following book.

Thomas HalbertImage courtesy of the Tairawhiti Museum

Ive created this webpage to look at where Thomas Halbert came from, who his family were and to try to work out why he came to New Zealand. Unlike other settlers a lot of this information has been lost. Where possible I am using original source documents to accurately record dates of birth, marriage and death of his ancestors and descendants and to identify where he was living throughout his life.

I would like to encourage descendants of Thomas Halbert 1806-1865 to come forward with information, photos and stories about some of our earlier ancestors including the children and grandchildren of Thomas. I understand that some descendants do not want to look at this history but many others do. Like most families there are skeletons in the closet which people do not want aired and so its a delicate balance trying to find the family history when some do not want it explored or told.

Some of the major family lines who are descended from Thomas include the Halbert, Pere, Wyllie, Heany, Mataira, Cuff, Gordon, Cunningham, Tatae, McGaveston, Harker, Paratene, Kohere and Gannon families among many others. I would like to collate as much birth, marriage and death information about the families and eventually have this published in a book. To do this I need your help with the family history/whakapapa. There is a Contact Me form at the bottom of this webpage if you would like to help.

The second major purpose of this was to find a direct male Wi Pere or Thomas Halbert Jr descendant who was willing to help me find who Thomas Halberts parents and family were using modern scientific methods – Family Tree DNA testing.

This is a work in progress and Ill add more as time allows. If you would like something clarified, images added or anything else I’m only an email away.

If you are going to use images or information from this site please acknowledge where you got them from.

While most of my information is on this website you can connect with some of your other Halbert/Pere cousins using this Thomas Halbert facebook group:

Thomas Halbert

Contents of this webpage:

  • Preface
  • About the Author
  • Acknowledgments
  • Updates
  • Introduction
  • The Origin of the Halbert families of Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead
  • Thomas Halbert 1806-1865 – facts, myths and more
  • Thomas Halberts life – A chronological history
  • How we know about Thomas Halbert – investigating what we know
  • The Australian Halberts
  • Did Thomas have a middle name?
  • Tracing Thomas family using modern techniques
  • Thomas Halberts 6 wives
  • Resources
  • In memory of Thomas Halbert

About the author

I am a descendant of Thomas Halbert and Kaikiri. Kaikiri (also known as Keita Kaikiri/Kaikeri) was Thomas 5th wife. They had four girls who survived to adulthood. The last of those born was Martha (Maata) Rewanga Halbert who is my direct ancestor. Martha married Arthur Francis Cuff and had one daughter Ada Materoa Cuff. Martha died having her second child leaving Ada as an only child until her father remarried. Ada had 5 children with Charles Winford McGaveston. Charles son John Wynn McGaveston married Dorothea O’Donnell and had my grandmother who is still alive aged 97 and living in Hastings.

Like all of you Thomas Halbert is one of my many ancestors. I research all of my family lines – both male and female. I believe in preserving knowledge for future generations and encourage all of you to start creating your own family tree.

None of my blogs will contain information about living people for privacy reasons.


During my research I have been helped by an increasing number of friends, newly found family members (many of whom we have a common ancestor Thomas Halbert 210 years ago) and other people interested in Thomas Halbert.

I also offer my thanks to the Thomas Halbert Jr descendant in Hastings, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand who has taken the DNA test on behalf of the New Zealand Halberts.

A big thank you to the two different Australian Halbert family lines – Garry Halbert and Steve Halbert who have taken a DNA test and shown that we – The New Zealand Halberts – are directly related to them. We have the same common ancestors William and Sarah Halbert from Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

As always thanks go to my cousin Ailsa who is based in Queensland, Australia who has offered me much research advice and research support as well as spending countless hours researching some of the descendants of Thomas Halbert.

Thanks go to those who have gone before me and tried to find the origins of our Halberts before the advent of the internet. Some letters of correspondence between the New Zealand and the Australian Halberts from the 1980s are still around today.

Last but not least I am indebted to Ingrid in England who has spent countless hours going through 300 year old documents to research the births, baptisms, marriages and deaths of our Halbert family and she is not even related to us!

Tracing Thomas Halbert has and will continue to need your support. There is still plenty of time for you to Contact Me if you have photos, stories or any genealogical information about the descendants of Thomas Halbert – particularly your family whakapapa.

Nga Mihi Nui



30 December 2017 – One of our cousins has provided a Halbert descendant photo which has been uploaded to this website. It is truly one of the best images I have ever seen of so many of the Halbert descendants.

I have ordered more digital photos from the Tairawhiti Museum. Once I receive them I will upload them for everyone to see.

10 June 2017 – I have added a photo of Hetekia Te Kani Pere

18 February 2017 – I added some images of Kate Halbert/Wyllie/Gannon to the blog.

17 December 2016 – I added a letter from Bishop William Williams to Sir Donald McLean which mentions Wi Pere and Thomas Halbert among others

20 August 2016 – I have added Thomas Halberts arrival in Tasmania in 1829 and shipping record to Port Jackson in 1830.

3 July 2016 – I have added two shipping records I think demonstrate that Thomas Halbert was in New Zealand as early as 1832 and travelled to Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

10 June 2016 – I have added more information about Thomas Halberts 1806-1865 aunts, uncles, grandparents and their origins plus some of the other Halbert families who may/may not be related to us and who emigrated from Scotland in the 1850s and 1860s.

12 March 2016 – I have added a letter written by Thomas Halbert in 1845. This shows his signature. I have also added some information about the Te Kupenga I land on the River Arai that Thomas Halbert sold and was later resold.

12 December 2015 – I have added some more information about Thomas Halbert written by Ruth Guscott in her book in 1943 called Summary of European Settlement Prior to 1840 on the East Coast of New Zealand from Ahuriri to Wharekahika.

31 July 2015The YDNA (direct male line) results have come back to show we (The NZ Halberts) have the same common male ancestor as the Australian Halberts who are from Newcastle upon Tyne/Gateshead in England.

Many thanks to our cousin in Hastings, Hawkes Bay who volunteered to take the test. Without his help I would not have been able to prove Thomas Halbert was related to the Newcastle upon Tyne/Gateshead families and more importantly Thomas was the son of one of the Halbert men.

The second purpose of the test is to try and work out who the Australian and NZ families common ancestor is. We need to know if that common ancestor is William Halbert 1742-1803 or his son William Halbert 1766-1815 or one of his brothers George Halbert, Joseph Halbert or John Potts Halbert. It is very unlikely John was Thomas father as he had a family of his own.

In order to be able to work this out I paid to upgrade the tests of the NZ Halberts. The Aussie Halberts (Garry and Steve) have graciously paid to upgrade their own results. Its not a cheap exercise costing around $220 USA per test to upgrade the results from YDNA 37 to YDNA 111.

Please take 5 minutes to view the following document. This briefly shows you what we were trying to work out. I know this conflicts with the information provided by Thomas Halbert Jr and later used by the authors of the book about Wi Pere but no one has undertaken detailed research into Thomas Halbert and his English and Scottish origins.

TH20 July 2015 – I added Thomas Halberts death certificate. There is no doubt that he died in the Taruheru River near Makaraka, Gisborne, Poverty Bay, New Zealand.

31 March 2015 – Recent test results by the Australian Halbert line show that the New Zealand Halberts are related!!! The Aussie Halberts match 6 members of my immediate and close family which are the children of Kaikiri. The centimorgan (cM) matches range from 31cM to 9cM. This definitively confirms Thomas was from the Newcastle upon Tyne/Gateshead families. The test was called the Family Finder test which looks at DNA from the test subjects parents, great grandparents all the way to the great great great great grandparents. The next test called the YDNA test shows whether Thomas Halbert was a direct male descendant from the Newcastle upon Tyne families. The were two lines of Halberts who moved to Australia from England from the mid to late 1850s. I believe that both of these family lines were Thomas Halberts nephews. They were his brother John Halberts children.

The Origins of the Halbert Families of Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead

The Halberts of Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead started their lives in Scotland. William Halbert married Alison (Alice) Potts in Kelso, Roxburghshire, Scotland on 21 August 1763. Kelso had a textile industry and this is perhaps where William Halbert learnt his craft.

William Halbert marriage to Alison Potts 1763The marriage of William Halbert to Alison Potts in 1763. Image purchased from Scotlands People.

I have found a baptism for Alison Potts in Scotland but not found one for William Halbert. Was William born in another part of Scotland? It is unlikely that William would have traveled far from where he lived to marry Alison unless he had moved to establish himself for work purposes. There was a family of Halberts living in Newcastle prior to William and Alison moving there but there are no known links between the families.

Alison Potts father was named John Potts. Most likely her mother was Isabel Steele and they married on 14 May 1731 in Kelso, Roxburghshire, Scotland. John died on 27 April 1802 in Coldstream, Berwick, Scotland and Isabel died on 13 December 1804 in Coldstream, Berwick, Scotland.

They had at least four girls:

  • Janet Potts baptised on 26 August 1733 in Coldstream, Berwick, Scotland. She married William Wilkison on 30 April 1755 in Coldstream, Berwick, Scotland
  • Isabel Potts baptised on 31 August 1735 in Coldstream, Berwick, Scotland. She married Robert Old on 9 August 1772 in Coldstream, Berwick, Scotland
  • Mary Potts baptised 24 May 1741 in Coldstream, Berwick, Scotland. She married Andrew Ker on 22 August 1763 in Coldstream, Berwick, Scotland.
  • Alison Potts 1743-1814 was baptised in Coldstream, Berwick, Scotland on 13 November 1743. She married William Halbert on 21 August 1763 in Kelso, Roxburghshire, Scotland.

Alison Potts 1743 BerwickThe baptism of Alison Potts. Image purchased from Scotlands People.

If you view a modern map of Kelso, Roxburghshire, Scotland and Newcastle upon Tyne the distances between the two locations is very small even if you take into account the lack of ‘modern’ roads in the 1760s. The area where they married was a short distance from Coldstream a place well known in that time period for English people to travel and marry.

Kelso MapIf you have explored any of these lines in greater detail please contact me.

The Halbert families of Newcastle upon Tyne begin with William and Alison (Alice) Halbert (nee Potts). William was a successful tailor. They had at least 14 children but tragically most of them died very young.

  1. Elizabeth Halbert Abt 1766-1771 was one of their first children. There may have been others born before they left Scotland or even after their arrival in Newcastle. She died on 27 Jul 1771.
  2. William Halbert abt 1766/1777- 1815. He died on 27 June 1815 in Black Boy Charre, Newcastle. He married Sarah (surname unknown). She died in February 1814. William was buried in the Ballast Hills Burial Ground, Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland, England on 28 June 1815.

They had multiple children:

  • Sarah Halbert died 1795 (unknown birth date but before 1798)
  • William Halbert born 1792 (unknown death date)
  • Alice Halbert born 1794 (unknown death date)
  • John Halbert 1796-1854
  • Sarah Halbert born 1798 (unknown death date)
  • Elizabeth Halbert born 1799 (unknown death date but before 1804)
  • George Potts Halbert 1802-1851
  • Joseph Halbert 1803-1838
  • Elizabeth Halbert 1804-1807
  • Mary Ann Halbert 1805-1806
  • Thomas Halbert 1806-1865

William and Sarah both died young and left behind a young family. There are no family stories about who looked after the children or whether they were raised by other family or became orphans. William and Sarah died penniless.

3. John Potts Halbert 1768-1826 married Mary Ann Hixon and had at least 10 children.

  • Richard Halbert 1793-1807
  • John Halbert 1794-1795
  • Mary Ann Potts Halbert 1798-1836
  • Alice Halbert 1799-1846
  • William Halbert 1800-1800
  • Elizabeth Halbert 1801-1880
  • Frank Hixon Halbert 1804-1805
  • John Potts Halbert 1808-1879
  • Richard Jackson Halbert 1809-1862
  • Isabella Halbert Abt 1811-?

4. George Halbert 1771-1773

5. George Halbert 1773-1822 married Mary Elliot and had at least 1 child

Sarah Halbert 1807-?

6. Elizabeth Halbert 1775-? married Matthew Corner and had no children.

7. Joseph Halbert 1776-1776

8. Alice Halbert 1778-1824 married Edward Aitkine Davidson 1777-1825 and had at least 7 children

  • Jane Aitkine Davidson 1805-1856
  • Alice Potts Davidson 1806-1817
  • Catherine Davidson 1807-?
  • William Davidson 1810-?
  • Edward Aitkine Davidson 1812-?
  • Elizabeth Davidson 1814-1818
  • Thomas Featherson Davidson 1815-?

9. Joseph Halbert 1779-1813

10. Robert Halbert 1781-1786

11. Isabella Halbert 1783-1838 married George Gouinlock and had at least 1 child

  • Georgina Isabella Gouinlock 1813-?

12. Anna Halbert 1784-1789

13. Anne Halbert 1785-?

14. Jane Halbert 1787-1789

Thomas Halbert 1806-1865

Thomas Halbert (also known as Tame Poto Harapata, Tommy Short or Tommy) is one of my ancestors and by descent there are a few thousand people currently alive in New Zealand who can trace their ancestry back to him due to a colourful life and a large number of children with multiple different wives. “Thomas six alliances with Maori women of high standing made him famous locally, and earned him, among Europeans, the nickname of Henry VIII”.

Compared to the other settlers in Turanganui-a-Kiwa “Great standing place of Kiwa” later Turanga then later Gisborne in Poverty Bay, New Zealand very little is known about Thomas prior to his arrival in New Zealand. Apart from a handful of memories by Thomas son we glean a lot of what we know about Thomas from historical documents in libraries in Gisborne, the Tairawhiti Museum in Gisborne,  the Alexander Turnbull Library, Archives New Zealand, Old Land Claims by Thomas, early census, shipping logs, electoral roles, newspapers and books held by various libraries throughout New Zealand and Australia.

There is a painting of Thomas at the Rongopai Marae at Waituhii along with his son Wi Pere painted in much more recent times. The image I have used above is of Thomas but little is known about its origin. Who supplied it to the Tairawhiti museum? It may have been Peter Gordon but no one has recorded who gifted the image. This blog is to encourage my cousins and other descendants of Thomas to help me find out where he came from and to clarify the enduring misinformation about Thomas – some of which has been printed and some of which is passed down generation to generation without ever seeking out the source.

In life Thomas worked as a whaler, trader, land dealer and farmer and is considered one of the founding fathers of modern day Gisborne in Poverty Bay, New Zealand. Thomas place in history should not just be consigned to that of progenitor. While he had far more successes matrimonially than as a businessman who sold items on credit then never got paid for them he was one of a handful of Pakeha (foreigner) men and women settlers and missionaries living in Turanga for decades prior to heavy colonisation.

Thomas like John William (J.W) Harris who arrived shortly before him was a pioneer settler in Turanga. Turanga in the 1830s was a land under Maori control and this control was maintained for decades after Thomas arrived. For some descendants of Thomas Halbert his arrival along with Harris and others marked the end of Maori life as it had been for hundreds of years. The foreign cultures clashed with Maori culture and tradition despite Turanga having a slower pace of change compared to to other populist areas of New Zealand. Only in the mid 1860s did this dynamic drastically change and so the fortunes of the original peoples of the land.

I feel compelled to point out that this isn’t a blog debating Thomas and his contemporaries impact on Maori society. I know that some 150 years on some descendants still don’t like to talk about Thomas in a positive light but know that many others do. Thomas is one of their tipuna and also one of mine. No one has undertaken systematic research into the Halbert English/Scottish families until now. As with all good research I need your help to fill in the missing pieces so that if you can help I encourage you to Contact Me.

Thomas had a lot of opportunity to be as successful as other settlers but for the most part appears to have chosen a different path. He was heavily connected to local tribes who initially utilised his access to guns, gunpowder and modern tools and amenities. When bans on selling guns and gunpowder to Maori were in effect Thomas remained connected to the local tribes and his importance was maintained with marriages to high ranking women resulting in the many children of Thomas that were born.

Rongowhakaata and The Crown by Bruce Stirling better explains one element of the relationship between settlers and local Maori than I can:

If nothing else, Halbert’s colourful life epitomises several characteristics of Turanga settlement. Early settlers were closely tied to their Maori patrons (with marital ties clearly being severed should a new patron adopt a particular settler)……”

Halbert’s experience also indicates that the links between settlers and Maori were wide-ranging, and that the links between local iwi ran even deeper and were further developed through marriages to settlers.

Some of the earliest information we have about Thomas comes from his son Thomas Matewai Halbert (junior) 1863-1928. Thomas Halbert Junior was 2 years old when his father died so his information about his father is likely to have come from his mother, family and associates of Thomas Halbert senior.

He stated that his father was from Newcastle on Tyne and of Anglo Scottish descent. He said Thomas senior was the son of Robert Halbert. It was believed that he was English on his fathers side and Scottish on his mothers side. Nothing was handed down to the exact place of Thomas birth nor the exact date so we had estimates ranging from 1802-1808.

Thomas Halbert junior was interviewed in the early 1920s by author J.A MacKay. It is highly likely that some of his memories may not be as accurate as we would have liked. Memories 60 years after the fact aren’t ever going to be perfect, especially when they aren’t his memories. Thomas Halbert junior recalled things as he remembered them and I have been researching which of these memories can be proven using historical birth, marriage and death documents.

In 2013 I paid a researcher in England to find Thomas and his parents based on his birth being in Newcastle upon Tyne. Despite a lot of research no concrete evidence of any Thomas being born in Newcastle upon Tyne was found. We did find a Thomas Halbert being baptised in Gateshead in 1814 at aged 8 meaning his birth was 1806. Gateshead is right next door to Newcastle so its very likely that while Thomas may have been born in Newcastle he was baptised in Gateshead.

The baptism that was found is the only baptism of any Thomas Halbert who is descended from the Newcastle upon Tyne families. Just to make things that much more difficult for my research the baptism records Thomas Halberts parents as Thomas and Sarah Halbert.

I believe the original baptism registration was most likely a mistake and Thomas father was incorrectly listed. If Thomas Halberts parents were accurately recorded then there is no birth or marriage record for Thomas and Sarah Halbert currently available but this is unlikely because Thomas is one of the Newcastle upon Tyne Halberts.  The Halbert families of Newcastle upon Tyne all descend from William and Alice Halbert and were related to each other.

The baptism record directly conflicts with the information about Thomas father being named Robert mentioned by Thomas Halbert Jr and also used in the book about Thomas son William (Wi) Pere. There is no evidence of any Robert Halbert who could have been Thomas father. The only Robert born in Newcastle upon Tyne to William and Alice Halbert died at aged 5. Robert Halbert was born on 17 October 1781 in Newcastle upon Tyne. He was baptised on 18 Oct 1781 at Castle Garth Presbyterian-NC, Newcastle upon Tyne and he died on 30 Mar 1786 in Newcastle upon Tyne.

On the same day Thomas was baptised in Gateshead a Sarah Halbert was baptised but to John and Dorothy Halbert nee Gibson. John was Thomas older brother making Sarah Halbert his first cousin. The baptism certificate of Thomas Halbert is most likely our Thomas. It is the only record to fit the right age and location. I believe that Thomas fathers name was incorrectly entered on the baptism register by the priest (these things did happen and happened in other records for other Halbert families). John Halbert would have known who Thomas fathers was as they had the same father. There are no other Thomas Halberts born before our Thomas Halbert 1806-1865. There are no other families who moved into the area who could account for Thomas parents. In support of this is the fact that there are no other Halberts born in a 30 year time frame to Thomas and Sarah Halbert or a Thomas Halbert with any other wife. This would make Thomas an only child and also does not explain what happened to his parents and why there is no marriage record or record of any other Thomas Halbert.

Supporting Facts

There is no mention of a Thomas Halbert alive when William Halbert Sr (Thomas grandfather) died in 1803. William Halbert left a Will detailing who his surviving children were. When this Will was created our Halbert family were the only Halbert family living in Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead. The family were not living in Scotland. The Halberts had not been living in Scotland for 30+ years. All living children of William Halbert Sr were mentioned in his Will. If our Thomas father was named Thomas he would have appeared in William Halbert Will. If he was an outcast from the family there would have been a baptism, marriage or death record for him and there isn’t. I am continually checking in case new records come to light but there is no evidence of a Thomas born before our Thomas was born in 1806 in Newcastle upon Tyne/Gateshead.

The following is William Halberts Will. Note the names of all the surviving male and female children at the time of his death. There is no Robert Halbert. In case you are having trouble reading each image please ensure you click on the image then click it again to enlarge it.




record-image14 record-image15

In the Will of William Halbert 1842-1803 he names George Halbert as his executor. William leaves ample provision for his wife Alice with the stipulation that if she dies the residual monies are to be distributed to his other children. All the following children were alive in 1803. All the other children predeceased them. He names:

  • John Halbert
  • William Halbert Jr
  • George Halbert
  • Joseph Halbert
  • Elizabeth Halbert
  • Alice Halbert Jr
  • Isabella Halbert

And their mother Alice Halbert

William Halbert signature in 1803William Halberts signature and seal taken from his Will.

There is no Thomas and Sarah Halbert as the parents of any children before or after Thomas. This would make Thomas an only child and also does not explain what happened to his parents.

The people who I believe are Thomas parents are William and Sarah Halbert died in 1815 and 1814 respectively. Both were around 49 years old and they had a young family who would largely have been of working age when they died. Thomas was baptised on the same day in the same place as his cousin because his older brother was now his carer.

William Halbert Jr died 6 months after Thomas was baptised leaving him as an 8 year old without parents. Thomas had older brothers and sisters who would have cared for him. I do not believe Thomas was part of the John Potts Halbert (brother to William Halbert Jr and Thomas uncle) family as they didn’t baptise him. Similarly if he was George Halberts son why didn’t he raise him and why wasn’t his name recorded on the baptism record? George Halbert married Mary Elliott on 22 Apr 1807 at Saint Nicholas, Durham, England and had a daughter on 20 December 1807. It’s very unlikely George was Thomas Halberts father. George may have helped raise Thomas Halbert but there are no family stories to tell us this. Joseph Halbert most likely died in 1813 so this rules him out of raising Thomas. In 2016 I found the death of Joseph Halbert who died in 1813 in St Mary’s, County Kilkenny, Ireland. Joseph was a member of the Northumberland Militia. While this doesn’t rule out Joseph being Thomas father it makes it very unlikely.

By process of elimination we can rule out most of the other male lines as being Thomas father. If Thomas wasn’t part of the family of William and Sarah Halbert or John Potts Halbert then the only other people who could have been his father were George Halbert or Joseph Halbert and Thomas did not name any of his surviving children George as was the naming tradition. Because Thomas was baptised on the same day as John Halberts child Sarah then there is the good possibility that John may have raised Thomas.

Could Thomas Halbert have been the illegitimate child of William Halbert or George Halbert or Joseph Halbert or John Potts Halbert? That is always a possibility but the DNA tests the New Zealand and Australian Halbert families have undertaken has proven Thomas is the son of one of those four men.

William and Sarah Halbert died poor and this was noted on the burial register. The family couldn’t afford the funeral costs. With a young family the kids wouldn’t have had the money to pay for the funeral so perhaps this is where the “poor” part comes in as someone working as a tailor should have been doing well unless he was sick and dying for a long period. Tuberculosis was estimated to have killed one third of all people who died in Britain between 1800 and 1850. If this is the case then no other family member helped pay the funeral costs. Williams two brothers John and George and mother Alice were all declared bankrupt a few years earlier with only John recovering his finances. Joseph is almost non existent in the records.

This is a copy of the baptism register showing Thomas Halbert being baptised in 1814 at aged 8 and on the same day as Sarah Halbert who I think is his first cousin – Thomas older brother (John Halbert) daughter. John Halbert married when he was 17 years old.

Thomas Halbert baptism - 25 Dec 1814 Copy 1I believe this record shows that Thomas Halberts father incorrectly recorded and that the evidence shows that Thomas parents were William and Sarah Halbert. Williams parents (Thomas grandparents) were William Halbert and Alison (Alice) Potts.

Thomas Halbert 1806-1865 parents were:

William Halbert (Tailor) died in Black Boy Chare, Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland, England. He was buried on 28 June 1815 at the Ballast Hills Burial Ground, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northumberland, England. He was aged 49 years.

Sarah Halbert (maiden name still unconfirmed – possibly Kemp) died Quayside, Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland, England. She was buried on 20 Feb 1814 at the Ballast Hills Burial Ground, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northumberland, England. She was listed as the wife of William Halbert, Tailor, Age 43 Years, Poor (the family couldn’t afford the burial fee).

If you can find their marriage please Contact Me.

The good candidate for their marriage is (but this is not confirmed): William Halbert married Sarah Kemp on 31 August 1791 at Saint Botolph Without Aldersgate, London, London, England. Protestants had to get married in the church of another faith in order for that to be considered a valid marriage.

In searching the records for the marriage of William Halbert of London there’s nothing else on him. There are no London tax records, no Wills, no children being born, no burials for him and Sarah – nothing!

Did William and Sarah marry then move back to Newcastle upon Tyne and have their children?

I found that there were other Halberts living in Saint Botolph Without Aldersgate, London, England. This may derail the marriage theory or it could be pure coincidence. Their names include

  • Martha Halbert baptised 17 February 1782. Father James and mother Elizabeth.
  • Elizabeth Halbert died 4 December 1792 aged 79 and was poor.
  • Eleanor Halbert died 11 October 1799 aged 86.

The 10 children of William and Sarah Halbert were:

  • William Halbert born 1792-?
  • Sarah Halbert died ?-1795
  • Alice Halbert born 1794-?
  • John Halbert born 1796-1854. Died 9 Apr 1854 at Gateshead, Newcastle upon Tyne, England.
  • Sarah Halbert  born 1798-?
  • Elizabeth Halbert born 1799-Before 1804
  • George Potts Halbert born 1802-1851. Died At Sea aboard the Barque Ellen on 2 Sep 1851.
  • Joseph Halbert born Abt 1803 and died in 1838. I am still searching for his marriage.
  • Elizabeth Halbert born Abt 1804-1807. Buried 30 Apr 1807 at the Ballast Hills Burial Ground, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northumberland, England. Aged 2
  • Mary Ann Halbert Abt 1805-Sep 1806. Buried 3 Sep 1806 at the Ballast Hills Burial Ground, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northumberland, England. Aged 1.
  • Thomas Halbert  born 1806-1865

There were large families of Halberts in Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead all were related to each other from the late 1760s onwards. Many of the successive generations had large families. Not all records for Newcastle upon Tyne/Gateshead are available or have been scanned in.

In the late 1850s another Halbert moved from Scotland to Newcastle upon Tyne and also had a large family. It is unknown if they are related but their names need to be considered when doing research.

Other Halbert families in Newcastle upon Tyne, Gateshead and surrounding localities.

George Halbert was born about 1831 in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Scotland and was also a tailor. His mother was Jane Smith. He married Sarah Haswell in 1858 in Newcastle upon Tyne and had the following children:

  • Sarah Jane Halbert born abt 1858
  • Margaret Halbert born abt 1860
  • Robert Halbert born abt 1864
  • Joseph Halbert born abt 1866
  • George Halbert born abt 1868
  • Christiana Halbert born abt 1870 died 1880
  • Ellen Halbert born abt 1872 married George Noble Lowther
  • John Halbert born abt 1874
  • Louisa Halbert born abt 1876
  • William Halbert born abt 1878

There is another Halbert family. James Halbert emigrated from Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland.

He married Ann Jupe in Hartlepool at the Church of St. Hilda. On 25 Oct 1873 James Halbert (bachelor, iron-worker), age 24, of Hartlepool, son of James Halbert (wool-dresser) married Ann Jupe (spinster), age 20, of Hartlepool, daughter of George Jupe (mariner), married after banns by D. R. Falconer Witnesses: J.A. Osbon, C. Pollock

They had the following children:

  • Jane born abt 1875
  • Henrietta (Hetty) born abt 1876
  • Mirian born abt 1877
  • George born abt 1881
  • Annie born abt 1883
  • Robert Rankine Halbert born abt 1886
  • Abraham born abt 1889
  • Stephen born abt 1892
  • Christina born abt 1894
  • Fred born abt 1896

Thomas Halberts life in New Zealand

While in New Zealand Thomas lead a full life living with local Maori before building/purchasing his own home and land. Thomas stayed connected to local tribes with a series of marriages and there is some evidence he played a part in the lives of some of his children and grandchildren. There seems to be a perception among some of his descendants that he abandoned his children but if this was the case why did he continue to live so close to many of them. He could have easily left Poverty Bay or moved into Gisborne or gone back to Australia or Newcastle upon Tyne if this was the case. Thomas also gifted land to at least one of his grandchildren. Thankfully some of Thomas life is documented and we do have some letters that he wrote at the time which are housed in the Alexander Turnbull archives.

Our knowledge of Thomas prior to his time in New Zealand is very limited. Like many New Zealand settlers he first appears in Australian shipping records.

The following shipping records show Thomas Halberts arrival in Hobart, Tasmania (Van Diemans Land) on 14 December 1829 aboard the ship the Surrey. The Surrey left London on 11 Aug 1829 carrying 200 prisoners to Tasmania. When the ship arrived only one convict had been lost. Thomas Halbert was listed as one of the ships crew. He was not a convict and he was not a ships Captain.

Source: Tasmanian Archives

Surrey The Hobart Town Courier Sat 19 Dec 1829Source: Trove. The Hobart Town Courier Sat 19 Dec 1829

Thomas most likely worked his way to Tasmania on the ship Surrey perhaps in search of a better life or simply for adventure. We can rule our Thomas jumping ship as sailors, military personnel and others who deserted their commitments invariably ended up in the local papers and Thomas was not one of these. Thomas lived in Tasmania for around 6 months before he boarded the brig ‘The Bee’ on 2 May 1830 bound for Circular Head, Tasmania as part of the Van Diemans Land Company. By some odd fortune and incompetence by the ships captain Thomas never made it to Circular Head, Tasmania and ended up in Port Jackson, New South Wales on 5 May 1830.

imaus1787_081195-0668The ships manifest shows that Thomas had signed onto the Van Diemans Land Company to work as a ‘mechanic’. A mechanic was used to describe most trades from shepherds, servants, to actual tradesmen like carpenters etc. In 2016 I paid a researcher to see if Thomas was paid a wage by the Van Diemans Land Company and he was not. This indicates he never went back to Tasmania and instead stayed in Port Jackson where the opportunities were far greater.

Thomas Halbert - The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser Thursday 6 May 1830Thomas Halbert is mentioned as a passenger on the brig ‘The Bee’. Source: Trove. The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser Thursday 6 May 1830

Family stories state that Thomas Halbert landed on the East Coast of New Zealand on a whaler based out of Sydney and on his arrival he was in his mid 20s. There are no records to show how long Thomas was in Mahia but same family stories state that ‘His first home in New Zealand was Nukutaurua in Mahia where he resided for 18 months. He like other Pakeha traders, whalers and settlers had a Maori wife and they had a child (a boy) together who died in infancy. When he moved to Poverty Bay she did not accompany him’.

If Thomas had a child and that child died in infancy then Thomas had been living in Mahia for at least 10 months with family stories stating this was as long as 18 months. Thomas may have arrived in Mahia in early 1831. Thomas was in his mid 20s when he arrived in New Zealand.

The following two records show Thomas Halbert arriving in Port Jackson, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia from New Zealand.

imaus1787_081196-023419 December 1832 Thomas Halbert left New Zealand aboard the Prince of Denmark schooner and arrived in Port Jackson, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia with a cargo of 40 tons of flax and 1 ton of whalebone on 2 January 1833. Thomas was a steerage passenger. Source: New South Wales, Australia, Unassisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1826-1922. Courtesy of ancestry.com

The Prince of Denmark was a known flax and whaling ship based out of Sydney, Australia which also hunted seals along the coastlines of New Zealand. There are records which show this schooner landed in Poverty Bay.

imaus1787_081196-083813 October 1834 Thomas Halbert left New Zealand aboard the Bardester barque and arrived in Port Jackson, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on 2 November 1834. Thomas was a passenger in a cabin.

The note by the Captain appears to say: This vessel saw nothing of the Alligator or the schooner. The natives of Cooks (County) ? ? have taken and destroyed another vessel belonging to Robert Lawson? called him “Mary and Elizabeth”.

Source: New South Wales, Australia, Unassisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1826-1922. Courtesy of ancestry.com

On the same ship were three ‘New Zealanders’ (Maori). Also aboard the same ship was Barnett Burns who had strong links with Poverty Bay. You can read more about the colourful character Barnett here:

Some family stories state that Thomas jumped ship in New Zealand. The fact he sailed back to Port Jackson in 1832 and 1834 disputes this. Thomas worked for John William Harris (J.W Harris) in the late 1830s. J.W Harris was employed by J.B Montefiore based out of Port Jackson and Thomas may have well been employed in a capacity to harvest whales and seals working for both of them or simply manning a whaling station and working with local Maori for items to trade for the Australian market under the direction of Montefiore or J.W Harris.

Ruth Guscott looks for evidence that Thomas Halbert was living in Poverty Bay from 1832 before indicating that there is not enough evidence to dispute the 1832 arrival date. Ruth didn’t find the records I found above and nor has any other researcher or interested family member. Records from the era are scant at best and Thomas own testimony that he had lived in the area for 8 years is used to support this date of arrival. Thomas contemporary J.W Harris supported the 1832 date of arrival. Thomas oldest son Otene Pitau birth date varies depending on the source of the information. If his birth was around 1834 that would indicate that Thomas had been living there for nearly a year prior to that date. Thomas may have had other children other than his child in Mahia before Otene Pitau who did not survive birth or childhood.

2015-01-28 11.58.40 2015-01-28 11.58.47Images courtesy of the Tairawhiti Museum, Gisborne, Poverty Bay, New Zealand.

Thomas Halbert continued to be involved in whaling working for another settler J.W Harris in 1837 at the mouth of the Turanganui River.

On 5 May 1838 Thomas was witness to a land sale by Kautia – chief of Turanga. The land known as Waiangaruawai was bought by J.W Harris and R Espie for 10 pounds sterling.

Th_1838 Small

Image courtesy of the New Zealand Electronic Text Collection –  NZETC.

By 1839 Thomas had moved on to raising pigs for export.

In 1839 Halbert had been gifted a block of land by Te Whanau-a-Kai for his son, William Pere (Wi Pere). This was the 1004 acre Pouparae Block situated on the northwest of the Matawhero Block. Halbert, who knew William Williams quite well, sold this block to him and J.W. Harris, on 18 December 1839 for goods and cash.
This block later became the subject of legal proceedings as Wi Pere contested the ownership and sale of the land. Ultimately Wi Pere withdrew his claim.
I do wonder if Thomas sold the land because of the relationship he had with Wi Peres mother which appears to have been fractured at best. Contrast this with Thomas giving blocks of land to some of his other grandchildren for their future.
William Williams had married Thomas and Riria Mauaranui (Wi Peres mother) and most likely married Thomas to his later wives. My own ancestor Kaikiri – Thomas 5th wife was later known as Keita Kaikiri most likely after her conversion to Christianity.
On 20 October 1839 Thomas name was mentioned in a land sale as his property bordered another being sold. The property being sold was called Tutoko and was sold by three chiefs Moike, Poki Poki and Huri Miti.  Abraham Selvey purchased it for 12 pounds sterling.
On 14 December 1839 Thomas purchased 4 acres on the River Arai for 15 pounds sterling. This was printed in an Australian newspaper in the next year.
Thomas Halbert The Sydney Herald 30 March 1841
Image courtesy of Trove. The Sydney Herald 30 March 1841
On 17 December 1839 Thomas purchased “Tahunuiorangi” in Turanga, Poverty Bay which was about 6 acres with a house and fence. He paid 37 pounds sterling. The witnesses were J. Jury and Thomas Uren.
Halbert Land
Image courtesy of the New Zealand Electronic Text Collection –  NZETC.
On 18 December 1839 Thomas purchased 1000 acres on the River Arai. The price paid was consideration, cash and merchandise with a value of 300 pounds sterling.
On 4 Nov 1840 Thomas Halbert while in Auckland wrote to claim that he had purchased some blocks of land. These lands were purchased pre Treaty of Waitangi. On 3 Sep 1844 his claims to the land were not upheld. Much like other settlers who traded a lot of guns, gunpowder, blankets etc for land when the Treaty was signed the settlers had no written proof of the sale and their claims were voided by the government. This changed the way they did business in later years.
TH1 smallTH2 smallTH3 smallTH4 small
Images courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Library.
On 20 Feb 1843 a Mat Halbert was the witness to a land transfer between  Abraham Selvey and Thomas Uren. Selvey sold one half of his Tutoko block for 15 pounds sterling. (This is most likely a typo and the name should be Thos Halbert).
Halbert Land 7b
Thomas Halbert was named as a land claimant in 1844.
Thomas Halbert - Daily Southern Cross, Volume I, Issue 43, 10 February 1844, Page 3Source: Daily Southern  Cross, Volume I, Issue 43, 10 February 1844, Page 3
 On 28 January 1845 Thomas was a witness to a block of land called Matawhero being sold to Thomas Norcross. Payment was one female horse. The land was sold by two chiefs of the Whanau a Iwi.
Halbert Land 3
On 3 Feb 1845 Thomas was the witness to land known as Koupou being sold to J.W Harris. The land was sold by the Ngatikouwaipia chiefs. The land was sold for one female horse.
Halbert 2 Land
On 15 February 1845 Thomas Halbert transferred land title to James Henry King. The value was 105 pounds sterling. The witnesses were J.W Harris and Robert Deacon.
On the same day James Henry King transferred land title to Thomas Halbert for 30 pounds sterling. Witnesses were J.W Harris and Edward Deacon.
On 18 Feb 1845 Thomas transferred land title to John Williams Harris in trust for his son Edward Francis Harris. Consideration was one old bay Mare valued at 35 pounds sterling.

TurOldP0400 smallThe following is an undated letter by Thomas to Sir Donald McLean. Note the signature of Thomas. This becomes important later when trying to decide if Thomas ever had a middle name. A recent book has added middle name for Thomas when there never was one.

Horse Sale Thomas Halbert to Sir Donald McLean (1)The following is a letter from Thomas Halbert dated 4 December 1845. This earlier letter is used as part of an 1869-1872 land claim to Te Kupenga I which I have listed further down this page.

026Image courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Library http://mp.natlib.govt.nz/detail/?id=1001245. Photographed by “Spades”.

Thomas is mentioned by Sir Donald McLean in his travels from Hawke’s Bay to Poverty Bay seeking land to buy, and carrying out some of his magistrate duties. McLean took the yearly production figures from settlers in Turanga including those of Thomas Halbert:

Yearly returns from Thomas for 1851:

  • 2000 bush wheat
  • 20 bush maize
  • 2 tons pork
  • 8 tons potatoes
  • 5 head cattle

Thomas Halbert yearly export figuresImage courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Library http://mp.natlib.govt.nz/detail/?id=1001245

The census was undertaken in 1851 and Thomas is included. He is listed as a trader for W Morris. Thomas Halbert is listed as having 2 boys and 3 girls.

The two boys could have been Otene Pitau and William Halbert (Wi Pere). As Otene was adopted then perhaps Thomas didnt count him as his child anymore and there was another unknown son of Thomas. The 3 girls could have been Kate Halbert, Sarah Halbert and perhaps a child who died. Mary Halbert was born about 1853 and Martha Halbert born about 1856 so could not have been counted in the 1851 census. It is very likely that Thomas had more children with Kaikiri who died while very young. The gaps between the childrens ages confirm that Thomas and Kaikiri were together for an extended period and had most likely had more kids. The age difference between Kate and Sarah is nearly 10 years.

The earliest detailed statistics concerning the European population of Poverty Bay (including the names of half-castes), together with particulars of the district’s exports, its wooden buildings, its stock and the amount of land in cultivation by Pakehas in February, 1851, appear in lists among the McLean papers in the Alexander Turnbull Library at Wellington. Probably they were compiled by W. B. Baker, of Tolaga Bay, but some of the particulars are in Mr. McLean’s handwriting. Where the wife was a native, her name is not shown. The return enumerates 44 adults (including 14 women), 35 children and 25 half-caste children ranging in age from 1 year to 17 years. Additions and corrections made by the author appear in parentheses.

  • Thomas Albert (Halbert), a trader for (W.) Morris.
  • Peter Simpson, a trader for (W.) Morris, and Mrs. Simpson.
  • Peter Pullman (? Poulgrain), trader, his wife and six children.
  • Rev. T. S. Grace (who was relieving Archdeacon Williams), Mrs. Grace and three children.
  • (George) Rich, settler, Mrs. Rich and the Misses Rich (2).
  • (Andrew) Arthur, shoemaker.
  • “Carrots,” or Stapleton, sawyer.
  • “Shoemaker Dick,” or Bourke, shoemaker.
  • “French Peter,” or Gerron, sailor.
  • “Scotch Jock,” or Gemmell, sawyer.
  • “Old Con” (Cornelius) Ryan, sawyer.
  • W. B. Cooper, carpenter, Mrs. Cooper and four children.
  • (J. H.) King, settler, Mrs. King and four children.
  • William Tarr, settler, Mrs. Tarr and eight children.
  • Mr. (J. W.) Harris, settler (and trader).
  • Edward Deacon, trader.
  • A Frenchman (name untraced).
  • Thomas Norcross, bullock driver.
  • William McMillan, settler.
  • John Hervey, trader.
  • “Old McKay” (James Mackey), sawyer.
  • William Brown, trader.
  • (Robert) Espie, carpenter.
  • “Old Browne” (J. G. Browne), blacksmith.
  • “Bob,” or Robert Newnham, ship’s carpenter.
  • “Jock,” or John Baxter, labourer.
  • “Jack the Shoemaker,” or John Burton, shoemaker.
  • (Thomas) U’Ren, stonemason, Mrs. U’Ren and eight children.
  • (James) Dunlop, settler, Mrs. Dunlop and two children.
  • (A.) Smith (“Yankee” Smith), trader, and Mrs. Smith.
  • Misses Williams (2) (daughters of Archdeacon W. Williams).

The half-caste children are listed with only the father’s surname: Simpson (1 boy), Harris (3 boys), Halbert (2 boys and 3 girls), Mackey (2 boys), Arthur (1 boy and 2 girls), Jones* (1 boy and 2 girls), Smith (1 girl), Campbell* (1 girl and I boy), Brown (1 girl and 2 boys), Espie (2 girls). In the cases marked with an asterisk the fathers were, apparently, out of the district. Several of the early residents bore the surname “Smith,” although “Yankee” Smith is the only one enumerated in the census.

Census information courtesy of J.A MacKay.

No records or oral histories state what happened to Keita Kaikiri after the birth of her last child Martha Rewanga Halbert. Did she die in child birth or another unknown cause? When did she die and where? If you have any information please contact me.

Swift Justice

On 20 February 1851 McLean issued a search notice for Thomas house after other traders J.W Harris, T U’Ren, R Espie, J.H King and J Dunlop informed him that Thomas was selling guns and gunpowder to Maori. McLean had been in Turanga since early February 1851 and the other settlers seized the opportunity to contact him.

Letter to McLean About Thomas Halbert smallImage courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Library. http://mp.natlib.govt.nz/detail/?id=1015977

The following is Robert Espies letter to McLean about Thomas Halbert. McLean countersigns on 20 February 1851.

015smallBelow is confirmation letter written on 20 Feb 1851 by McLean that he had received Robert Espies letter about Thomas Halbert selling gunpowder. McLean formally acknowledges receiving the letter. No doubt this is what Espie used to show Thomas.

Halbert Court 1 small Halbert Court 2 smallImages courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Library. http://mp.natlib.govt.nz/detail/?id=1010187

Halbert Charge of Selling Gunpowder 1851The above image is McLeans diary entry which mentions Espie and Uren – a transcript of the relevant section is below:

Thursday 20th. February 1851.

Issued a summons for T. Halbert to appear before me at 10 a.m. tomorrow, to answer the charge of Espie for having sold gunpowder to an aboriginal native, named Paraone te Wae; also swore in a man named Uren, to act as Special constable, giving him a search warrant for seizing any munitions of war he might find about the premises of T. Halbert.

Thomas Halbert Search Notice Feb 1851A transcription of the above letter authorising Thomas Uren to search Thomas Halberts home is below:

Turanga Poverty Bay.

To Mr. Thomas Uren, Special Constable.

You are hereby authorised to enter and search the house and premises of Thomas Halbert, trader, at Whero Whero, and to seize whatever powder, guns, percussion caps, shot, lead, or other munitions of war you may find there.

Given under my hand this 20th. day of February 1851.

Donald McLean.

McLean swore in Thomas Uren. It appears that Uren didnt know how to spell Thomas Halbert name when he recorded that he served the summons to Halbert to appear in court. The following document was written 20 Feb 1851 shows Uren referring to Halbert as Alfred:

Thomas UrenImage courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Library. http://mp.natlib.govt.nz/detail/?id=1025988

This led to Thomas being charged and he was the first person to appear in court in Poverty Bay.

The following are McLeans witness statements from the court case on 21 February 1851 and subsequent verdict.

Th Testimony 1 smallTh Testimony 2 smallTh Testimony 3 smallTh Testimony 4 smallTh Testimony 5 smallTh Testimony 6 smallTh Testimony 7 smallImages courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Library. http://mp.natlib.govt.nz/detail/?id=1019660

005 small006small007small008small009small010small011small

I have transcribed the above letter by McLean to the Governor about the case and the subsequent fine levied.

51/459 17 March 1851 Insp Police N Plyth reporting conviction offence of Thomas Halbert for selling powder to the Natives.

Turanga 22 February 1851

When preparing on the 20th inst to return to Ahuriri I received information that a trader named Thomas Halbert had been guilty of dispersing of a quantity of powder to the natives of this district.

Not having a policeman with me I swore in a special constable to apprehend Thomas Halbert issuing at the same time a warrant to search for whatever powder and ammunition might be found on his premises. The search was conducted with vigilance but only one canister of powder was found.

 It seems that Thomas Halbert at the request of the natives purchased a cask containing several canisters of powder from one of the trading schooners that frequent this coast. Leithart the master of the schooner having informed Halbert that the law respecting the retail of powder was either repealed or relaxed.

 Yesterday I held a court to enquire into the case which was numerously attended by natives and Europeans although it was the first held in this part of the island. I am glad to state that the upmost decorum was observed by all who were present.

 As the case is one of considerable importance in its various bearings I have deviated from the usual course of transmitting the depositions through the legal authorities and herewith enclose them direct to yourself in the hope that you will have the goodness to bring them first under the consideration of the Governor in chief should his excellency be returned from the ? when this letter reaches Auckland.

 At first sight this fine inflicted for such a serious violation of the “Arms Importation Ordinance” may appear small, but I must his Excellency write justify the decision when I state the reasons by which I was actuated.

1st I considered it advisable that the case should be summarily settled in the presence of the several natives concerned, all of whom expressed ? sympathy on behalf of Thomas Halbert a poor trader who has lived upwards of 18 years among them, is connected with them by marriages has several half caste children and generally bears a good character.

 2. In order to save Halbert from being committed to save (of which the natives her have a particular horror aligning their dread of one as principal objection to the sale of their land) they agreed not only to give up the 15 canisters of powder sold to them, but also to pay a portion of whatever fine may be inflicted either in produce or money very justly observing that Halberts guilt in selling the powder was not so great as that of the importer who had brought such a temptation on the coast.

3rd his excellency will no doubt be pleased to hear that the natives have actually come forward to pay a portion of the fine inflicted, one of them a young teacher named Paora has on his own account paid 4 pounds, another Raharuhi offered to dispose of his cattle sooner than let Tommy as they call Halbert go to the Auckland gaol nor have the Europeans been backward in their contributions to prevent such an alternative, although I am glad to find that they generally condemn the act of which Halbert has been guilty.

Under these circumstances, it being the first offence and taking into consideration the doubts entertained at Turanga as to the existing force of the “Arms importation and sale ordinance”, having also the powder sold to the natives returned, I considered it would have been impudent to impose on an indigent party a higher penalty even if it were within my jurisdiction to do 20 than 20 pounds, which amount with 14/b costs is herewith forwarded 20 pounds – 14/6 to be disposed of as his Excellency the Governor may be pleased to direct.

The adjudication of this case on the spot will be productive of much good among the natives by showing them that the laws although mildly administered cannot be trampled upon by English subject without impunity

I have the honor to remain Sir your most obedient Lieutenant

Donald McLean

Inspector of Police

McLean Magical Effect on Natives 1851The above diary entry by McLean shows that after the fine was paid he noted:

I hear that the settlement in the powder case has had a magical effect on the natives; many of them paying up debts that were given for lost; and demanding what was due to them from the traders.

On 13 September 1851 Thomas was mentioned in a Sydney newspaper as assisting the passengers and crew of The barque Eudora which ran aground in Poverty Bay.

The Shipping Gazette and Sydney General Trade List 13 Sep 1851Image courtesy of Trove. The Shipping Gazette and Sydney General Trade List 13 Sep 1851

The court case also seems to have the desired effect on Thomas Halbert who wrote the following letter to McLean on 23 September 1851

Thomas Halbert Horse Sale 1851

Again the signature of Thomas Halbert is Thos Halbert. The major other variant is Thomas Halbert. There is no mention of a “Lindsay” in Thomas Halberts name (more about this later on).

On 30 June 1853 Thomas had an unclaimed letter.

Thomas Halbert - New Zealand Spectator and Cook's Strait Guardian, Volume IX, Issue 855, 12 October 1853, Page 4Image courtesy of Papers Past. New Zealand Spectator and Cooks Straight Guardian Volume IX Issue 855 12 October 1853.

Between 1853 and 1864 the electoral roles listed Thomas as a settler and trader in Turanga, Poverty Bay who had a Freehold Estate and at other times he is listed as a householder. The early record keepers often confused Turanga with Tauranga and Thomas is listed twice in both locations. This is one of the reasons for renaming Turanga to Gisborne.

31832_226067__0001-00033In April 1854 Thomas was living in Wero Wero, Poverty Bay, New Zealand

thomas-halbertSource: Papers Past – New Zealander, Volume 10, Issue 834, 12 April 1854

On 4 October 1854 Thomas Halbert has another unclaimed letter.

thomas-halbert-new-zealander-volume-10-issue-884-4-october-1854Source: Papers Past. The New Zealander, Volume 10, Issue 884

On 15 June 1855 Thomas contributed towards the patriotic fund.

Thomas Halbert Daily Southern Cross, Volume XII, Issue 831, 15 June 1855, Page 2Image courtesy of Papers Past.

On 17 July 1855 Thomas Uren transferred land to Thomas Halbert called Tutoko for the sum of 10 pounds sterling.

On the same date Uren and Corenlius Ryan also sold another parcel of land at Tutoko to Thomas for 20 pounds sterling.

On 18 Nov 1856 Thomas Halbert transferred land title from himself to his son in law James Wyllie child named William H Wyllie. Most likely this is William Hince Wyllie who was born in 1855 and was killed by Te Kootis men in 1868.

TurOldP0398 smallThe following letter was written by Thomas Halbert to Donald McLean on 2 June 1857.

2 Jun 1857 by Thomas Halbert in Poverty Bay to Sir Donald McLean (1)2 Jun 1857 by Thomas Halbert in Poverty Bay to Sir Donald McLean (2)Images courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Library. I have transcribed the letter:

Poverty Bay June 2 1857

Mr Maclean

Sir I am sorry to trouble you But under existing circumstances I am obliged so to do on this day a party of natives came down to me about a house payment for the piece of land my house stands upon which was a previous agreement with them and morris I ? rent the house from morris at present but them hearing of my having had 3 homes handed ? down to take one and couple it with my Boat I am quite agreeable to give them a house according to agreement but hearing that buying or leasing is illegall but cannot think of so doing until I hear from you I have received the greatest unmanly abuse from them and they treated simpson with a double allowance of abuse besides taking his mear (mare) by force Because he would not consent to give it to them I have to say that raharuhi was not in this as far as I can hear a few lines sir from an ? to them might be good

Your ? humble servant

Thos Halbert

P.D if you do not consent to their wishes we are to be drove from this place at any moment they think proper which would be to our own great disadvantage them being in our debt

The following letter is supposedly penned by Thomas Halbert and is written in Maori. It is dated 18 January 1862. I have to follow up why its attributed to Thomas apart from the Poto reference.

TH Letter in Maori 1

TH Letter in Maori 2

Images courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Library. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22831920

A transcription of the letter can be found below. Was Thomas writing it on behalf of Paremata Uruotaane?

Paremata, Uruotaane

18 January 1862

To McLean, Searancke and the people appointed to work for the Queen

Greetings to you both. I’ve a question for you about the £500 for Waitotara that you both laid down at Whanganui for the people of Waitotara. Sirs, I don’t know how that money was used up, and if you know about that, then explain it to me. For I don’t know about it and no letter has yet come to me about it, although I’ve heard that that money was all taken by Ngararu. So I’ve another request of you, that if a letter has come to you setting out the allocation of that money, then give some for me, £300, and at once when my letter gets to you two. For I haven’t had any of that money and that is why I ask you to give me some now, and because I myself own a side of that land that was given to you. If you will arrange that, then write to me, and if not, still write to me. That is all.

From Poto

In 1863 Thomas was mentioned in the Land Claims Commissioner Report. I havent been able to verify if this is the Pouparae block that Wi Pere Halbert later tried to claim as his rightful inheritance.

Thomas Halbert 1863 Land Claims Commissioner ReportOn 30 June 1864 Thomas had an unclaimed letter:

thomas-halbert-wellington-independent-volume-xix-issue-2083-5-july-1864Source: Papers Past – New Zealander, Volume 10, Issue 884, 4 October 1854

On 30 June 1865 Thomas had an unclaimed letter. If it was a letter from his family they probably didnt know he had died by this stage. At best it would have taken at least 8 weeks for the news to reach his family by ship from England.

Th 1865 Letter27 May 1869 The following are 3 pages of a letter from Bishop William Williams to Sir Donald McLean which mention Wi Pere and Thomas Halbert among others.

mclean-1018238-1-1-1800w-c32-thomas-halbert-1 mclean-1018238-1-2-1800w-c32-thomas-halbert-2 mclean-1018238-1-3-1800w-c32-thomas-halbert-3Images courtesy of Papers Past. Translation of the text can be found below:

Napier May 27, 1869 My dear Mr. McLean Mr. Domett in his note of April 17 says, ”The objection before Mr. Bell was made by the mother (Riria Te Mauharanui) of the half-caste son of Thomas Halbert, to the effect that the land was given for her child by the original owners”. In answer to this I have to remark 1st That Rawiri Titirang the father of Riria was one of the principal promoters of the transfer of the land from Thomas Halbert to myself, and expected that the land would be occupied by a son of mine who afterwards died. 2. No objection was ever mooted until after the marriage of Mr. Wyllie to a sister of Wi Pere, at whose instigation it was that the objection was raised. 3. There were others among the principal owners who upon the hearing of the case before Mr. Bell supported the objection of Riria. These natives all withdrew their objection subsequently and assisted in the survey, particularly Wi Haronga who was chief of the original owners of the land. 4. Mr. Biggs was appointed by the Government to enquire into this claim and certified that there is no longer any objection raised to my claim. Believe me, My dear Sir Most truly yours W. Waiapu D. McLean Esq.

The following related to Thomas Halbert sale of Tu Kupenga and subsequent ownership of Te Kupenga I from 1869-1872.

022023024025On 30 October 1882 Wi Pere mentioned Thomas Halbert (as his father) over land Thomas sold to Bishop Williams. It appears that at one point Bishop Williams agreed to sell it back but after the Hauhau uprising this offer was rescinded.

THWP3Source Native Claims to Land in Poverty Bay – Session II 1884 New Zealand.

On 10 June 1927 Thomas was mentioned by J.W Harris Jr in a letter he wrote to the local paper.

Thomas Halbert Auckland Star, Volume LVIII, Issue 135, 10 June 1927, Page 6Image courtesy of Papers Past. Auckland Star, Volume LVIII, Issue 135, 10 June 1927, Page 6

In 1949 Joseph Angus (J.A) McKay released his book Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z. Thomas featured in that book in a chapter called “Tommy Short” and His Six Wives.

You can find the book here. I have copied the information below:

Known to the natives as “Tame Puti” (“Tommy Short”), Thomas Halbert reached Poverty Bay in 1832. One of his land claims (4/11/1840) bears a declaration to the effect that he had then lived in the district for eight years. In the Harris Memoirs it is stated that, soon after Harris settled in Poverty Bay in 1831, Halbert arrived, and then some others, notably R. Espie and A. Arthur.

Thomas Halbert junior (born in 1863) told the writer that his father was born at Newcastle-on-Tyne; that he was of Anglo-Scottish descent; and that he landed at Poverty Bay from a three-masted whaler. He went to trade at Mahia for a short period before he settled permanently in Poverty Bay. [As Barnet Burns had cleared out from his trading post there, it is not unlikely that Halbert was sent by Harris to replace him.] Whilst his father was at Mahia he made the first of six matrimonial ventures. His initial spouse belonged to the Rongo-wahine tribe. They had a son who died in infancy. The first Mrs. Halbert did not accompany her husband upon his return to Poverty Bay.

Whilst Halbert was at Mahia he had for an assistant a pakeha who had landed from the same vessel. Cannibalism had not then been completely given up there. One day, they found portion of a human body which had been sent as a gift to their hosts by a neighbouring tribe, but they feared that, if they buried it and the grave was found, that method of disposal would lead to suspicion falling upon them.

Upon his return to Poverty Bay, Halbert set up as a trader in the locality now known as “The Willows.” Soon, he began to do a roaring trade in muskets as well as tobacco, blankets, etc., but, on account of giving too much credit, he had to give up business. On many occasions after his death, his son Wi Pere said to old customers: “Look here, you fellows! Pay me what you owed my father!”

It was probably in 1834 that Halbert took up his residence at Muriwai. He had married again, his second wife being Pirihira Konekone, who belonged to T’Aitanga-a-Mahaki tribe. They quarrelled after she had become an expectant mother, and she went to live with Lazarus (Raharuhi), who, having no children of his own, gladly adopted her infant at birth. The child was named Otene Pitau, and he became a leader among the natives at Pakirikiri. Otene married Mere Whiti Hone (a sister of Tom Jones). He died at Manutuke on 13 August, 1921.

Halbert then associated with Mereana Wero, also of T’Aitanga-a-Mahaki tribe, but she was quickly displaced by a rival named Riria Mauaranui. So disgusted was Mereana by being slighted in such a manner that she took a negro for husband; there was no issue of the union. In turn, she entered into another marriage to become the mother of Peka Kerikeri. Riria, who belonged to T’Aitanga-a-Mahaki, bore a son. Wi Pere, who was destined to play an important part in the political life of Poverty Bay and the East Coast. He told the Native Land Court (Gisborne minute book No. 26) that he was born on 7 March, 1837, and that date also appears in his own account of his life which was posthumously published in The Gisborne Times on 16 February, 1916.

When Halbert went to Turanganui in 1837 to assist Harris to operate his whaling station, he retained his home at Muriwai. Its position is shown on a marine survey plan of the East Coast which was compiled in page 105 that year by Captain Wing of the schooner Trent. His neighbours then, according to evidence given before the P.B. Crown Grants Commission in 1869, were William Morris, James Wilson and Peter Simpson.

Upon purchasing “Pouparae” in 1839, Halbert went to reside there for the purpose of rearing pigs for export. During the hearing of his claim to the property, he stated that Wi Pere was his only child at the time of the purchase. His omission of Otene Pitau can be explained only by the suggestion that, as Lazarus had adopted that child, he (Halbert) felt that he had no further claim to him. A statement by Halbert in 1859 with reference to Wi Pere: “Now that he is 21 years old” has been taken in some quarters to mean that Wi was not born until 1838. On the other hand, his father might have intended merely to indicate that Wi had attained legal age.

Halbert’s fifth marital alliance was with Kaikeri, who belonged to Rongowhakaata tribe. This proved a much more durable marriage, the issue comprising several children: Keita (Kate), who became the wife of James Ralston Wyllie, and, after his death, the wife of M. J. Gannon; Mere, who became Mrs. Heany, and, later, Mrs. Donald Gordon; Maata (Mrs. Cuff); and Sarah (Mrs. Cunningham), who was the mother of Moana Paratene, a sister of whom married Reweti Kohere, of East Cape.

It fell to Halbert’s lot to have still another wife, Maora Pani, who also belonged to Rongowhakaata tribe. [She had been married previously to Tiopira, and a child of that union became Mrs. J. Woodbine Johnson.] Their children comprised: Thomas Halbert junior; twins, who died in infancy; and Matewai (Alice), who became Mrs. Mataira, of Nuhaka. Maora lived until October, 1913. Upon Halbert’s death, she had remarried, her second husband bearing the name Donaldson.

Death in a terrible form overtook Halbert one dark night in April, 1865. With two brothers named Yates, he had been drinking on board a schooner that was lying in the Taruheru River near Makaraka. On their way back to the landing-place, their flat-bottomed boat overturned in a shallow, but very muddy, spot. According to a correspondent of the Hawke’s Bay Herald, all three were wearing heavy sea boots. One of the Yates brothers got ashore, but the other (George) and Halbert sank so deep in the silt that they could not extricate themselves, and had so to remain until the tide rose and death put an end to their sufferings.

In 2010 a descendant of Wi Pere named Joseph Anaru Te Kani Pere launched the book called Wiremu Pere: The Life and Times of a Maori Leader, 1873-1915. The book chronicles the life of Wi Pere, a son of Thomas Halbert.

How we know about Thomas Halbert

The most widely quoted and misquoted information about Thomas Halbert comes from the author J.A McKay.

There are notes that J.A McKay used in the preparation of his book “Historic Poverty Bay” in 1949 which contains some information about Thomas Halbert. The following are notes from manuscripts some of which didn’t make it into his book:

  • It is understood that Thomas landed on the East Coast of New Zealand on a whaler based out of Sydney and on his arrival he was in his mid 20s.
  • His first home in New Zealand was Nukutaurua in Mahia where he resided for 18 months. He like other Pakeha traders, whalers and settlers had a Maori wife and they had a child (a boy) together who died in infancy. When he moved to Poverty Bay she did not accompany him.
  • Thomas disclosed to his contemporaries that he had at least two brothers and two sisters at “home” probably referring to somewhere in England or Scotland.
  • After he had taken up residence in New Zealand one of his sisters a Mrs Carrot, latterly of London, had maintained correspondence with him.
  • In the early days Thomas was visited by some of his nephews who were living in Australia. Whether they emigrated or not no one remembers.

I have been working with an English based friend to discover more about the Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead Halberts which supports some of the information that McKay wrote but not all of it.

In Gateshead a Mary Halbert married a man named David Carrott on 22 August 1836. This is likely to be the sister to whom Thomas referred but is most likely his first cousin. Mary had a different father than what is named on Thomas baptism certificate and there are no records of any other Thomas Halbert from the early 1800s in Gateshead or Newcastle Upon Tyne apart from the baptism. Marys sister Sarah Halbert was baptised at the same time and in the same place as Thomas. This is not just a coincidence. Thomas was too old to be part of Mary or Sarahs families – the parents of those children were too young. The parents of Sarah and Mary were John Halbert and Dorothy Gibson. John was born in 1796. John would have been 10 years old when Thomas was born so this is not Thomas father!

Australian Halberts

One of the old stories about Thomas Halbert is that he was visited by his nephew/s from Australia. The nephews, the story goes on to say, were the children of James Halbert who it is said was Thomas brother. I think this information was confused as James Halbert arrived in Australia in 1854. He had no sons who would have been old enough to sail to New Zealand to visit Thomas before he died in 1865. More likely if someone did visit him was that it was James or Michael Halbert – his nephews. It was common for emigrants to write home to thier families and while there are no letters surviving newspapers documented that Thomas received letters. A generation after Thomas Halbert was born his cousins were naming their children Thomas. Id like to think its because he stayed in contact with his family. As we know Thomas was in New Zealand in 1832 his niece Mary Halbert married David Carrott on 22 Aug 1836 in Gateshead Fell, Durham, England. Some of the information about Thomas Halbert has some truth in it but it is not quite accurate.

James Lamb Halbert 1828-1907 sailed from Liverpool on the 13th June 1854 and arrived in Melbourne on the 18th August 1854 aboard the SS Great Britain. In the passenger logs hes listed as James Charlton. He married Isabella Miller 1828-1906 and had 13 children. This is most likely the James Halbert referred to as being Thomas brother. Remember that some of the names and dates of people may have been mixed up by Thomas Halbert Jr. James would be 22 years younger than Thomas. Its extremely unlikely that James is Thomas brother but is likely that James was Thomas nephew. James got into a bit of trouble before leaving England hence the alias. James Halbert and his brother Michael had a brother Thomas born in 1842 so while some families do have children of the same name this usually only occurred when they thought the first child was going to die so named another child the same name. If the first child survived then there would be two in the same family with the same name.

Michael Lindsay Halbert 1838-1907 also moved to Australia but we haven’t found his departure from England or arrival in Australia. His death certificate says he arrived about 1854 but death certificates in general rely on someone else to provide the information so aren’t always accurate as we would like. I also believe Michael is a nephew of Thomas. Michael married Clara Smith 1839-1899 on 24 March 1860 in Kingower, Victoria, Australia and had 12 children.

If Thomas was visited during his lifetime these are most likely the nephews who visited him. There is some evidence that a Michael Halbert from Australia moved to Gisborne in the 1890s before returning to Australia. He would have met Thomas Halbert Jr and this could be where the memory is derived. There are shipping records to show that other Newcastle based Halberts visited New Zealand during and after Thomas Halberts death.

Did Thomas Halbert have a middle name?

No. The only source which has said Thomas had a middle name was the book about Wi Pere. There is not one documented piece of evidence to show Thomas had a middle name. Neither Thomas Halbert Jr nor J.A McKay ever mentioned a middle name. None of the letters Thomas wrote contained a middle name. This name was only added by the authors of the book about Wi Pere. As the focus of the book was about Wi Pere no one did research into Thomas Halberts background and as such the information about him is not referenced beyond stating that Thomas Halbert Jr provided it when Thomas Jr did not state his father had a middle name.

Unfortunately once something is published the information ‘becomes pseudo fact’. I encourage you all to research this aspect yourself. There is not one piece of evidence to show Thomas Halbert ever had a middle name. The only person who had the Lindsay middle name was Thomas nephew Michael Lindsay Halbert who was born in 1838 in Gateshead, Durham, England.

You are welcome to contact me if you think you can show that Thomas Halbert had a middle name!

Tracing Thomas family using modern techniques

McKays book (again quoting Thomas Halbert Jr) says that Thomas had a brother James who emigrated to Australia. In Australia there are still living descendants of the Newcastle upon Tyne Halberts. The Australian families had big families as well – a Halbert trait?

I have one person descended from Thomas Halbert Jr who has taken a test through this company-  Family Tree DNA. The tests have conclusively shown a link between the families.

Many thanks to the two different Aussie Halberts for graciously taking the YDNA test and showing that the New Zealand and Australian Halbert families are related.

If there is an English Halbert will to take the test please contact me. This will provide the cross check between the New Zealand and Australian samples.

If you arent sure what a DNA test can do Ill briefly explain it.

In order to take the YDNA test you needed to be a direct male line descendant of Thomas Jr, the son of Thomas Jr or his son and so on. We could not use any children adopted into any of the Halbert families nor use any female descendants. The YDNA test only used male DNA and required a direct male ancestor with the Halbert surname.

A man’s patrilineal ancestry, or male-line ancestry, can be traced using the DNA on his Y chromosome (Y-DNA) through Y-STR testing. This is useful because the Y chromosome passes down almost unchanged from father to son, i.e., the non-recombining and sex-determining regions of the Y chromosome do not change. A man’s test results are compared to another man’s results to determine the time frame in which the two individuals shared a most recent common ancestor, or MRCA, in their direct patrilineal lines. If their test results are a perfect, or nearly perfect match, they are related within genealogy’s time frame.[8]

For example:

Thomas Halbert had two sons who survived to adulthood and had families. Wi Pere and Thomas Halbert Jr. Otene Pitau did not have any biological children that anybody knows of.

Thomas Halbert Jr had three male children. These children could have been tested

  • Thomas Tawera Halbert
  • Rangi Halbert
  • Hoane John Halbert

Those three males had male children. Their male children could each be tested. Each subsequent generation of males ccould be tested if their father was a Halbert. No daughter or sons of daughters could be tested. The test will not work if you are from a daughter of Thomas Halbert or any other line that does not have the Halbert surname.

You needed to be a direct male descendant.

If you are living in England or Scotland you would need to be a direct male line descendant from any of the other male Halbert families and would carry the Halbert surname.

The test worked like this: A mouth swab is sent to you in the mail. You swab the inside of your mouth then place the swab inside a tube and send back to the USA by normal airmail. Your test results are available about 8 weeks after being received. Once available, the results are compared to other members online without identifying you. In the case of the YDNA test it showed The Aussie Halberts and The New Zealand Halberts are related.

By looking at the direct male line I hope to refine who the NZ and Australian Halberts common ancestor is ie: do they have the same father, grandfather, great grandfather etc.

A second test I paid for was called Family Finder which compares the results of the test subjects males and females lines in the last few hundred years so that if the Australian Halbert descendants and New Zealand Halbert descendants had a different father but a different same mother we could see they are related that way. This results of the test showed the the Australian and NZ families were genetically linked ie we had a common ancestor in the last 5 generations.

The test involved a cotton bud wiped on the inside of a persons cheek with a sterile swab – there was no blood involved!

The tests were analysed in the USA – not in NZ or Oz. Ive taken these tests myself as have my family.

This is what the test kit looks like:

swab-kit All the test required was a swab of the the inside of  a persons mouth. Once that was done the mouth swab was put into the vial and mailed back to the lab.  It was that easy and took about 2 minutes to complete. No blood! No needles! It still took me over 9 months to find one of our cousins to take the first test and another year to find another Halbert descendant to take the second test and there were many knock backs and cousins who weren’t interested.

Thomas Halberts six wives

If you know more information about Thomas six wives please contact me. A lot of the information from this period needs to clarified. Most of this information can be found in the story Tommy Short and his six wives. I have added some notes which never made the book or were changed from the book. If you have birth, marriage or death certificates you can share please contact me. It will save me having to purchase them.

The six wives of Thomas were:

  1. Name unknown of the Rongomaiwahine tribe in Mahia
  2. Pirihira Konekone of Manutuke, Turanga
  3. Mereana Wero of Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Turanga
  4. Riria Mauaranui of Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Turanga
  5. Kaikiri of the Ngati Kaipoho hapu of the Rongowhakaata people of Manutuke, Turanga
  6. Maora Pani of the Rongowhakaata and Rakaipaaka tribes

The eight children of Thomas Halbert who survived to adulthood are (these are largely the anglicized names except Otenes):

  1. Otene Pitau Halbert
  2. William Pere Halbert
  3. Kate Halbert
  4. Sarah Halbert
  5. Mary Halbert
  6. Martha Rewanga Halbert
  7. Alice Matewai Halbert
  8. Thomas Halbert

Scholars have suggested Thomas Halbert had 11 children who survived to adulthood but I disagree. If you think Thomas had more children please Contact me. Peter Gordon in his research into the descendants of Thomas also highlighted that Thomas only had 8 children who survived to adulthood. There is good evidence that Thomas had other children who died while young but their births, names and other details are unknown.

Thomas eldest child (whom he probably named) may have been named after his own father or grandfather as was Scottish tradition. The names of Thomas children are very similar in that they follow naming conventions to his own family in Newcastle upon Tyne. Otene Pitau was most likely not named by Thomas or his name was changed after he was whangai.

More about these women and their families is detailed below. If you have additional information to add please Contact me.

The wives and families of Thomas Halbert 1806-1865

1. Her name is unknown. There was no living issue as the boy died in infancy. She was likely from Nukutaurua in Mahia and this occured around 1830/1831. If your whanau (family) have maintained their oral history perhaps someone knows who this person was. If you do could you please contact me.

2. Pirihira Konekone 1810-1902 of Manutuke who belonged to Te Aitanga a Mahaki. Thomas married her around 1834-1835. They had one son named Otene Pitau. Otene was immediately adopted by Raharuhi Rukupu (Lazarus) and raised as his own son and was for many years a leader of the Ngati Kaipoho hapu of Rongowhakaata. It is unlikely that Thomas Halbert got to name his son.

Otene PitauThis picture shows members of the first meeting of the Takitimu Maori Council, in front of the second Poho o Rawiri Meeting House on 10 June 1902. They are: seated; Mr Brooking; Otene Pitau. Front row standing; Takina of Kaiti; Charles Ferris of Gisborne; Hetekia Te Kane Pere of Gisborne; Paratene Tatae of Manutuke; Hemi Tutapu; Matenga Taihuka Te Kooti (on far right). Back row; Hapi Hinaki of Whangara; Paora Kohu of Muriwai; Pewhairangi of Tokomaru Bay; Rangi of Tolaga Bay; Arani Kunaiti of Te Reinga. Image courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.

10 June 1902This picture shows Otene Pitau seated in the center and Hetekia Te Kane Pere standing third from the right at the back. Photo courtesy of the Tairawhiti Museum. Taken in June 1902 in front of the second Poho o Rawiri Meeting House.

According to the Rogan Family papers Otene adopted his brother (Wi Pere) daughter Mere Tahatu Pere who died in 1883. Otene also adopted Heta Te Kani grandson of Rawiri Te Eoke after whom the Poho O Rawiri Meeting House was named.

3. Mereana Wero 1817-? of Te Aitanga a Mahaki. She was almost immediately replaced by Thomas next wife much to her disgust. There were no children from the marriage. Mereana immediately married a man of African descent before marrying again and becoming the mother of Peka Kerikeri. Some descendants of Mereana have said that Thomas was not in a relationship with Mereana.

4. Riria Mauaranui  1812-1902 belonged to Te Aitanga a Mahaki. According to McKay their child was destined to play a very important part in the political life of the East Coast. Wi Pere 1837-1915 developed into a bright and shrewd youngster and consequently his father was anxious that he should secure a good education. If he could have his way Wi Pere would have gone to Auckland for his schooling. It so happened that Riria did not like the idea of her son being separated from her. At this time Halbert was about to embark on a trading journey and he invited her to think over the matter in his absence. This Riria did and to her disgust she learned that the school to which her husband wished Wi to be sent was presided over by a Negro. In due course Halbert returned and when he again raised the question of Wi’s schooling Riria at once created a very angry scene. “Do you imagine” she said to Halbert “that I will agree to have any son of mine taught by a mangamanga?”. Halbert was non plussed. Riria at the time was using a meat chopper and raising it above her head and gesticulating fiercely. She ended the argument by averring that sooner than allow Wi to go to a school of such a character she would chop him up in little bits.

Thomas married Riria on 21 April 1839 two years after Wi Peres birth. They were married by Bishop William Williams. Shortly after this official marriage Thomas left Riria and married his next wife.

Wi Pere 2 Wi Pere. Gordon, P J : Maori portraits. Ref: 1/2-034936-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23096412

Wiremu Pere

This image is one of the few that shows Wi Pere had light (blue) coloured eyes.

Clarke, William Henshaw, 1831-1910. Photograph of Wiremu Pere. General Assembly Library :Parliamentary portraits. Ref: 35mm-00114-C-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23091665

Wi Pere 1Wiremu Pere. Hamlin, E J : Portraits of Maori men. Ref: 1/2-020082-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22852547

WPPortrait of Wiremu Pere. General Assembly Library :Parliamentary portraits. Ref: 35mm-00189-B-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23037355


  • On floor (L-R); Henare Te Raumoa Balneavis, Henare Ruru, Timoti Maitai.
  • Seated; Wi Pere (2nd left), Te Huinga (Lady Carroll, 4th left), Patoromu Ruru, Paora Kohu (1st & 2nd right).
  • Standing; Idie Ferris (2nd left), Take Kerekere (right)

Gordon, Peter , fl 1970. Maori Leaders of Gisborne. Ref: 1/2-044562-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22678554

20015c.tifMembers of the House of Representatives. Ref: 1/2-032234-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23178299

Wi PereDeputation of Urewera chiefs to Richard John Seddon (4th from right), at the Ministerial Residence in Molesworth Street. James Carroll is on the extreme left. Taken by an unidentified photographer in September 1895.

The deputation of Urewera chiefs included: Marunui, Harehare, Rewi, Tokopounamu, Mihaere, Te Korowhiti, Paraki, Te Peere, Wharekotua, Wharepapa, Tuhoto, and Ngapuhi. Wi Pere, MP for the Eastern Electorate, was also present. Not all of those named are in this photograph.

Ref: 1/2-098554-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22824026

None of the images of Wi Pere show that he actually had blue eyes. This seems to be a mark of the photographic methods of the time as some of my other ancestors with blue or green eyes show as having brown eyes.

Wi Pere married Arapera Tautahi O Te Rangi Matenga 1837-1918 and had at least 7 children:

  • Albert Pere
  • Aotea Pere
  • William Bill Pere
  • Te Pakaru Halbert 1853-1857
  • Hetekia Te Kani Pere Halbert 1859-1925 married Riripeti Rangikohera Ranginui 1859-1903. Hetekia also married Paku Peperatua Tipoki and Taraipine Tutaki 1862-1948.

Hetekia Te Kani Pere Copy smallHetekia Te Kani Pere with the mother of Rev Wi Tangahau. Image courtesy of the Tairawhiti Museum.

Hetekia Ta Kane Pere smallHetekia Te Kani Pere is seated in the front row on the left. Image courtesy of the Tairawhiti Museum.

Back row: ?, Maui Pomare, Taare Wherihi (Charles Ferris)

Front Row: Hetekia Te Kani Pere and Apirana Ngata

OLD SETTLER REUNION PICNIC: Photograph taken at Ewen Cameron’s property, Toanga, Cameron’s Bush, Bushmere Road, Makauri in 1898. Granny Tarr is in the centre. Others include Mesdames Atkins, Steggall, M. Hall, W. Benson, Goldsmith, A. Gray, T. Finnucane, G. Davis, and Steele, with Messrs Tibbel, Chas. Evans, T. U’Ren, M. Hall, Blackstock, Tarr, Finnucane, J. Woodbine-Johnson, Hume, W. C. Walsh, J. Maynard, W. Bidgood, A. Parkes, W. Tarr, Lawson, R. Thelwall, M.Jennings, J. McKenzie, J. Atkins, McDermot, Wm. King, C. W. Ferris, and Hetekia Te Kani Pere in front reclining on the ground. Image courtesy of the Tairawhiti Museum.

Hetekia and Riripeta had at least 4 children:

    • Apanihitia Halbert 1881-1883
    • Putiputi Halbert 1882-1906

020-3-15_A_PERE_Putiputi&Mirianata copy smallThis is an image of Putiputi Halbert and Mirianata Halbert – first cousins. Image courtesy of the Tairawhiti Museum.

    • Te Mana O Turanganui A Kiwa i Tangohia Halbert 1884-1889
    • Rongowhakaata Pere Halbert 1894-1973 married Patehepa (Pat) Tamatea and had at least 7 children
  • Hineikoia Riripeti Halbert 1916-1969
  • Te Iho o Te Rangi Halbert 1917-1976
  • Arapera Halbert 1919-2001
  • Te One Matariri (Doss) Halbert 1920-1979
  • Rangiwahipu Te Waituhi Halbert 1921-1984
  • Te Raumiria Nita Halbert 1926-1974
  • Te Nonoikura (Nona) Hinemanuhiri Halbert 1933-1999

Hetekia and Paku had at least 1 child

  • Kairangatira Pere Halbert 1878-1976 married Henry Kingi 1880-1963
  • Mere Tehatu Halbert 1860-1883
  • Moanaroa Te Pere 1865-1935

5. Keita Kaikiri (Kaikiri) 1818-? was married to Thomas around 1839/1840. I havent been able to locate a reference to them being married in a church but suspect that Thomas married most of his wives in a church or was married by a minister. I havent been able to find much about Kaikiri. Historians have ostensibly concentrated on Wi Pere and his lineage and Kaikiris daughter Keita (Kate) Halbert who later became Mrs Wyllie then later Mrs Gannon. If you are another Kaikiri descendant and have any information about her please contact me – shes my tipuna too! The daughters of Kaikiri seem to know very little about their mother. I do wonder if Kaikiri died after having Martha Halbert and the surviving children were raised by Thomas Halbert and Maori relatives before James Ralston Wyllie and his wife Kate Halbert had guardianship of Sarah, Mary and Martha Halbert. Did Thomas Halbert marry Maora Pani because Kaikiri had died?

Kaikiris parents were Noamaitai and Ani Ranigmatepii II. Noamaitai and Ani Ranigmatepii II had at least 3 children:

  • Kaikiri
  • Maata Rewanga
  • Apera Te Awahuka

Noamaitai and Ruta had one child:

  • Maraea

The 4 children of Thomas and Kaikeri were (Note: Ive seen reports that Thomas and Kaikiri had 7 children. This appears to be information from MacKay that gets quoted an re-quoted without checking the facts). They may have had 7 children but only four survived to adulthood. The census information for 1851 bears out that Thomas and Kaikiri had a larger number of children. There are also a large gaps between the childrens births which may indicate that other children were born:

  • Keita (Kate) Halbert 1840-1913, became the wife of James Ralston Wyllie 1831-1875 on 14 August 1854 and after his death became the wife of Michael Joseph Gannon 1853-1922 on 9 June 1881.

Kate WyllieKate Wyllie (Halbert) with her brother Wi Pere. Photo courtesy of the Tairawhiti Museum. The was also identified as a photo of Martha Rewanga Halbert and Wi Pere by other whanau. The majority view is that this is Kate Halbert and Wi Pere.

Kate Wyllie with her son Gavin Ralston Wyllie. Photo courtesy of the Tairawhiti Museum.

Kate Wyllie 2Kate Wyllie (Halbert). Photo courtesy of the Tairawhiti Museum.

Kate Wyllie

wyllie_kate_900-4-copyImage courtesy of the Tairawhiti Museum in Gisborne, Poverty Bay, New Zealand.

Kate Wyllie in Wellington, New Zealand

Image courtesy of the Tairawhiti Museum in Gisborne, Poverty Bay, New Zealand.

Kate Gannon, daughter and her extended family by marriage at a Graham Family party.

Image courtesy of the Tairawhiti Museum in Gisborne, Poverty Bay, New Zealand.

101-18-colour-Gisborne1871 copy smallThis is Gisborne, Poverty Bay, New Zealand in 1871. This is shortly prior to the Wyllie house being built but it gives you a good idea of what Gisborne was like shortly after Thomas Halberts death. If you are going to order the original from the Tairawhiti museum it will look different as the original was hand coloured. I have removed the colour to bring out the details in the image. Image courtesy of the Tairawhiti Museum in Gisborne, Poverty Bay, New Zealand.

101-54_WFC_A260_1876 copy smallThis is the house of James and Kate Wyllie (Halbert) circa 1875. The Wyllie house is on the opposite bank to the township in a field by itself. Photo courtesy of the Tairawhiti Museum. Please note I have edited the image to remove some of the spots and other damage done. If you are going to order the original from the museum its going to look different.

Kate and James had 9 children

  • William Hince Wyllie died 1855-1868 – slain by Te Kootis men.
  • Hannah Tungia Ralston Wyllie 1857-1880 married Robert George Gibbons Jr
  • Flora Sarah Ralston Wyllie 1859-1930 married Henry Christopher Lynch Boylan then Edgar Henry Pavitt
  • Gavin Ralston Wyllie 1862-1930 married Te Paea Parengaio Wirihana then married Maud Emily Skeet
  • Alexander Ralston Wyllie 1863-1949 married Sylvia May Wilkinson
  • James Ralston Wyllie 1865-1886
  • Nigel Ralston Wyllie 1867-1934
  • Kate Ralston Wyllie 1869-1941 married Edgar George Stevens
  • William Anderson Wyllie II 1875-1940 married Evelyn Alice Mansel

The following image is of Kate Halberts son Gavin Ralston Wyllie

Image courtesy of the Tairawhiti Museum in Gisborne, Poverty Bay, New Zealand

The following is an image of Kate Halberts daughter Kate Ralston Wyllie.

900-wyllie-03-wyllie-katejnr-copyImage courtesy of the Tairawhiti Museum in Gisborne, Poverty Bay, New Zealand.

After James died Kate married Michael Joseph Gannon on 9 June 1881 in St Marys Cathedral, Wellington, New Zealand. She names her father as Thomas Albert and mother as Keita Kaikiri. At this stage she is referring to her self as Isabella Kate Wyllie. The following is a copy of her marriage certificate.

Kate Wyllie marriageKate and Michael had 4 children

  • Arthur Te Wawata Gannon 1878-1943 married Edna Hiria Kelly then Mary Theresa May Lindsay
  • Lockie Gannon 1881-1949 married Eleanor Rogan
  • Eleanor Rewanga Gannon 1882-1964 married Hugh Gresham
  • Mere (Mary) Catherine Tahatu Gannon 1883-1984 married Robert Bertie Young

Kate Gannon (seated in black holding the baby Laughlin Gresham) with Wi Pere (seated front left), Heni Materoa (Lady Carroll) is standing back left, Mary Gannon (later Mrs Young) is standing behind her mother slightly to her left, Nellie (who became Mrs Gresham) is sitting directly behind her husband Hugh Gresham in Auckland, New Zealand. Hugh Gresham is seated in front with the dog.

wyllie_900-9-copyImage courtesy of the Tairawhiti Museum in Gisborne, Poverty Bay, New Zealand.

Kate Gannon (fourth from the top left) at a wedding reception.

wyllie_900-10-copyImage courtesy of the Tairawhiti Museum in Gisborne, Poverty Bay, New Zealand.

The following is Kate Gannon (nee Wyllie, nee Halbert) death certificate. Thomas Halbert is named as her father.

Kate Gannon DeathThe certificate was purchased from the NZ Births, Deaths and Marriages website.

  • Hera (Sarah) Ngaihika Halbert 1850-1920 who married William Alexander Wyllie on 12 August 1864 then married James Cunningham on 29 November 1866 then Paratene Tatae. If you know more about Paratene and Heras marriage please contact me. Sarah died in November 1920 and is buried at the Manutuke Urupa, Manutuke, Gisborne, Poverty Bay, New Zealand

Before people got married they were required to fill out an Intention to Marry (ITM). This is Sarah and Williams ITM from the 9 August 1864. Thomas Halbert was still alive when Sarah got married. Once again Thomas Halbert name has no mention of as middle name. Interestingly Thomas Halbert signature is only represented with an “x”. As with Sarah Halbert he may have been absent and not able to sign. There is overwhelming evidence Thomas could write.

Sarah Halbert ITM

This ITM was purchased from the Auckland Archives but these can be obtained for free if you visit the archives.

This is the marriage certificate of Sarah Halbert to William Alexander Wyllie. The witness here was James Ralston Wyllie. Sarah has signed using her mark. This usually indicates she was not able to write or was not present.

William Alexander Wyllie marriageThe certificate was purchased from the NZ Births, Deaths and Marriages website.

This is William Alexander Wyllies death certificate. James Ralston Wyllie was the informant:

William Alexander Wyllie deathThe certificate was purchased from the NZ Births, Deaths and Marriages website.

Sarah married James Cunningham two years later. James Ralston Wyllie was the witness:

James Cunningham marriageThe certificate was purchased from the NZ Births, Deaths and Marriages website.

Sarah and James had 7 children

  • Jean Cunningham
  • Robert Cunningham 1869-?
  • Jane Cunningham 1871-?
  • Bridget Cunningham 1872-?
  • William (Bill)  Cunningham 1874-1927
  • Walter Cunningham 1876-?
  • James Cunningham 1879-?

Sarah and Paratene had 4 children

  • Moana Paratene 1881-1943
  • Keita Kaikiri Tatae 1886-1865
  • Reremoana Paratene 1889-1981
  • Kauna (Karina) Paratene 1891-?

Image courtesy of the Tairawhiti Museum. If you are going to order the original from the museum it will look a lot different than this.

  • Mere (Mary) Halbert 1853-1932 married Sergeant Major Alexander M Heany in 1871 and she divorced him in 1892 and then married Donald Gordon 1862-1952

Alexander Heaney Marriage 1871This is Mary Halberts marriage to Alexander Heaney. They have recorded Marys surname incorrectly. James Ralston Wyllie was the witness to the marriage and was most likely Marys guardian. The certificate was purchased from the NZ Births, Deaths and Marriages website.

Mary and Alexander had 8 children:

  • William Halbert Heany 1871-1918 married Annie Mary Lukashefske
  • Mary Jane Heany 1874-? married William McLeod
  • Arthur M Heany 1876-1900
  • Blanche Martha Heany 1878-1924
  • Ernest Heany 1881-1916
  • Herbert Norman Heany 1881-?
  • Herbert Heany 1884-1948 married Olive Saies
  • Walter Selwyn Heany 1887-1952 married Kate Joseph

I believe the following document is Marys marriage to Donald Gordon on 27 April 1892. Peter Gordon also believed this was the marriage of Mary to Donald Gordon. It was nearly unheard of for women to divorce men in New Zealand in the 1890s. Mary married Donald a few weeks after her divorce from Alexander Heany. When a woman divorced she could refer to herself as a spinster (unmarried woman). You will see that Mary has listed her mother as Ki Kira. I think this was meant to be Kaikiri. The person writing down the name may not have had a good understanding of Maori names or Marys mother may have died when she was very young and she never really knew her mothers name. There is the possibility that Mary was asked her mothers married name. On Marys death certificate it says that she married Donald in Auckland. It also says her mother was Kikeri Halbert and her father was Thomas Halbert a Sea Captain. Once again there is no mention of a middle name for Thomas Halbert.

Donald Gordon marriageThe certificate was purchased from the NZ Births, Deaths and Marriages website.

Mary and Donald had 5 children:

  • Arthur Gordon
  • Cyril M Gordon 1895-1899
  • Donald Paratene Gordon 1896-1911
  • Ruby Delia Gordon 1894-1948
  • John Claud Gordon 1889-1942. Also known as Claude John Gordon. His birth certificate lists Alexander Heany as his father and he was born Claude John Heany. In order to prove whether Alexander Heany or Donald Gordon was the biological father of John Claud Gordon you would need a direct male descendant of Donald Gordon to YDNA test plus one of Donald Gordons brothers descendants to YDNA test. Alternatively you would need a direct male descendant of Donald Gordon to YDNA test plus one of Alexander Heanys brothers descendants. It must be an unbroken male line from each of the two families. If this is something you want to pursue and need help I can offer you advice on how to proceed.

This is Mary Ann Gordon (nee Wyllie, nee Halbert) death certificate.

Mary Ann Gordon DeathThe certificate was purchased from the NZ Births, Deaths and Marriages website.

  •  Maata (Martha) Rewanga Halbert 1856-1874 married Arthur Francis Cuff 1841-1909. Do you have any photos of Maata or her sisters or mother? If so please Contact Me.

Helen (nee Younger), Arthur, Bertha, Louise, Lionel and Arthur Cuff Edited 2This photo is of Arthur Francis Cuff and his second wife Helen Murray Younger and family. Arthur remarried a year after Maata died. Arthur Francis Cuff is seated on the right of this picture.

Arthur Francis CuffArthur Francis Cuff.

Martha and Arthur had 1 child before she died while giving birth to her second child on Friday 12 August 1874. Martha was buried in Turanganui Native Church grounds on 14 August 1874. This church is long gone but the remnants of the cemetery are now located in Hirini Road Cemetery, Kaiti, Gisborne, Poverty Bay, New Zealand.

Martha Cuff Death EnhancedMartha Cuff Death - The Standard Final

  • Ada Materoa Cuff 1872-1919. Ada married Charles Winford McGaveston 1871-1945

Ada Materoa Cuff (small)Ada Materoa Cuff. Source: Collection of Cameron Day.

IMG_0613 copy 2 smallAda Materoa Cuff. Source: Collection of Royce Lincoln

Ada and Charles had 5 children:

  • John Wynn (Jack) McGaveston 1898-1955 who married Dorothea O’Donnell 1897-1988
  • Charles Arthur (Arthur) McGaveston 1900-1945 married Jeanie (Jean) Harrison 1908-1987
  • Winnona Margaret McGaveston 1901-1952 married Hugh Ogilvie Rowley 1904-1973
  • Doris Isabella Bertha McGaveston 1904-1956 married David Alen Ivory 1907-1973
  • Murray Robert Piers McGaveston 1906-1976 married Loma Royce Gordon 1920-2000

JUDD-MCGAVESTON-JOHNSTONECampc1910 LargerA photo taken in Gisborne of the McGaveston, Judd and Johnstone families camping on the beach in 1910. Photo courtesy of the Jim Fairhall Collection.

LF_2016_Scan_1 copyAda Materoa McGaveston with three of her five children: Murray Robert Piers McGaveston at back. Winnona Margaret McGaveston on the left and Doris Isabella Berth McGaveston on the right. Image taken around 1909. Photo courtesy of Dean McGaveston.

Ada Materoa McGaveston Death Poverty Bay Herald, Volume XLVI, Issue 14852, 4 March 1919, Page 4Image source: Papers Past. Poverty Bay Herald, Volume XLVI, Issue 14852, 4 March 1919, Page 4

Ada died suddenly in 1919 at Kaiti Beach leaving a young family behind. One of the  family stories are that Charles sister moved from Nelson to Gisborne to help him raise the children.  However – most of Charles children were of a reasonable age by the time Ada died except Murray who our family says was looked after by his older brother John and his wife Dorothea.

Ada was later buried at Taruheru Cemetery. Her gravesite was unmarked until recently when I paid for a headstone to be erected in October 2014. The plot is a double plot likely intended for Charles to be buried there as well.

Ada HeadstoneThis spectacular photo was provided by one of our cousins. Having so many of Halberts and their descendants in makes it difficult to put it under one of the descended families. As it has Sarah Halbert and Mary Halbert who are the daughters of Kaikiri I have included it here.

6. Maora Pani 1813-1913. Maora was previously married to Tipira Hape and had around 10 children with him, When she married Thomas in 1860 she had a further 4 children but only two survived to adulthood. She was in her late 40s at this time.

  • Thomas Halbert (Junior) 1863-1928 who married Matehaere Brown 1864-1953.

They had 7 children:

  • Thomas Tawera (Moana) Halbert married May Tuihana Smith 1886-1944 then married Jennie Humphreys
  • Horiana Halbert 1887-1888
  • Iria I Te Rangi (Rangi) Lawrence Halbert 1888-1958 married Katarina Hiratu Rangi Bennett 1895-1988
  • Hoani John Te Tahinga Halbert 1890-1958 married Mary (Molly) Elizabeth Drain
  • William (Billy) Parekura Halbert 1892-1964 married Emmeline Young
  • Heni Te Raupare Halbert 1897-1985 married Leonard (Len) Charles Eade 1909-1980
  • Huia Te Oriwa Halbert 1902-1992 married George Mervyn Chrisp 1903-1993.

Huia and Heni Halbert. Image courtesy of the Tairawhiti Museum.

020-3-32_HALBERT_Huia_&_Heni copy smallHuia and Heni Halbert taken about 1910. Image courtesy of the Tairawhiti Museum.

Thomas Halbert Jr Family (resized)Thomas Halbert II with his wife and family. From left, Rangi, Hone (John), Matahaere, Heni (standing) Huia sitting, Thomas & William (Wiremu). Photo courtesy of Adrian Clark.

044561 copyThis photo comes from the collection of Peter Gordon some of which is held in the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington. Peter wrote that the people were:

Back: ? , Matehaere Halbert,?
Front left: Reweti Kohere, ? , Idie Ferrie, ? , Thomas Halbert II

Having showed this photo to the Kohere family they have confirmed that is not Reweti Kohere. Based on the age of Matahaere who is framed by the doorway I think Thomas Halbert II is on the left.

Maora and Thomas then had:

  • Twins who died in infancy
  • Matewai Arihi (Alice) Halbert 1865-1938 who married Karepa Tukareaho Mataira 1853-1929

Alice and Karepa had 13 children:

  • Haerengaarangi Mataira 1883-1950 married Hamuera Runga Te Ngaio
  • Maora Pani Mataira 1884-1919
  • Karepa (Joe) Paku Mataira II 1885-1964 married Kate Smith
  • Alice (Arihia) Mataira 1887-1940 married Wi Katena
  • Te Ratu Mataira died as an infant
  • Te Ratu Jack Calvin Mataira married Hine Wirangi Whakaware (Brown)
  • Wiremu Pere Mataira (Rev) 1895-1961 married Agnes Olivia (Akenehi Oriwia) Patricia Newton
  • Emma Materoa Mataira died as an infant
  • Matenga Tukareaho (Dick) Mataira married Oka Wilson
  • Elizabeth (Riripeti Nanny) Mataira married Waaka Beattie . Elizabeth married Ray Kahuroa Hohipa. Elizabeth married Turei Ataria.
  • Lena (Erina or Rina) Ira Mataira married Piha Waerea. Lena married James Waerea
  • Eunice Wahanga Mataira married Munro Smith. Eunice married Arthur Pere
  • Manutuke (Manu) Mataira 1914-1990

Otene Pitau, Thomas Halbert Jr, Wi PereThis image is of three sons of Thomas Halbert – Otene Pitau, Thomas Halbert Jr and Wi Pere. I would dearly like a better copy than this one. This image is from Mackays book Life in Early Poverty Bay.

If you have a better copy of this image could you please Contact Me.

020-1-1_PITAU_Otene_HALBERT_Thomas-Jnr_PERE_Wi copyThe three sons of Thomas Halbert – Wi Pere, Thomas Halbert II and Otene Pitau. Image courtesy of the Tairawhiti Museum. This is an adapted cut-and-place version from the bromide. This image has also been used in one of the Manutuke Maraes and colour and painted highlights have been added.


Thomas life in New Zealand is fairly well documented and you can find snippets about his life, matrimonial adventures and brush with the law in varying sources including:

In the following books brief references to Thomas can also be found. The first is written about his son William Pere Halbert known as Wiremu Pere (Wi Pere). This book utilises most of J.A MacKays information about Thomas but also injects some information that I have been unable to verify and it is not referenced. The book refers to Thomas having a middle name of Lindsay but no other sources or historical manuscripts refer to Thomas having a middle name. No other sources including his son Thomas Halbert Junior ever referred to Thomas as having a middle name. If you have the answer to where this middle name came from please contact me.

Wiremu Pere: The Life and Times of a Maori Leader, 1873-1915. I have just bought this book myself and this is a great book not only for Pere descendants but for people of Poverty Bay. This is the source which refers to Thomas having a middle name when he did not. It also says Thomas father was Robert Halbert when he was not.

The second is written by the great grandson of Thomas named Rongowhakaata Pere Halbert and his family called Horouta – The History of the Horouta Canoe, Gisborne and East Coast.

If you are going to buy it – its actually cheaper on eBay (as of October 2014) and well worth it for descendants of the East Coast tribes. I just bought it myself.

The third is written by J.A MacKay called Historic Poverty Bay.

Papers Past has some old newspaper stories about Thomas and some of his children such as Otene Pitau, Kate Halbert/Wyllie/Gannon and Wi Pere. Its a free to use resource.

In memory of my tipuna (ancestor) Thomas Halbert 1806-1865

The colourful Halbert met a terrible death. On the night of 12 April 1865 he was returning from a drinking session on board a schooner berthed in the Taruheru River, when his boat overturned in the shallow muddy water. Halbert sank deep into the silt and was drowned by the rising tide. A short distance from where he died Thomas was laid to rest.

Thomas_Halbert_Death_1865_5762This is Thomas death certificate I purchased from the New Zealand Births, Deaths and Marriages website. It confirms where and when he was found following his accident. I do not think the age given is correct as this is likely to be a guess by J.W Harris. You will also note there is no middle name for Thomas.

The certificate states Thomas was “Found drowned in the River Taruheru near Makaraka on 16 April”.

Thomas was buried in the Makaraka (Houhoupiko) Cemetery, Gisborne, Poverty Bay, New Zealand. No records were kept of where exact Thomas was buried in the cemetery – do you know the location? If you do know please contact me. Thomas was buried in a grave next to George Yates who died along with Thomas on that fateful night. As one of his descendants I along with other descendants would like to have a plaque put up commemorating Thomas but cannot begin this process until the exact location of Thomas burial has been established. Rest assured that if we ever do find the location of Thomas burial we will consult with the descendants prior to putting up a plaque or headstone.

In recent decades the Gisborne council staff further trashed the cemetery burying some headstones, throwing others in the Taruheru river and when some were in disrepair they hastened their loss. It is unlikely that Thomas had a headstone which may have survived that long. Even if he did it may have been destroyed during the great purge of the cemetery although it isnt recorded by the diligent people who have been monitoring what has happened to the cemetery. There is no desire by the council to correct wrongs from previous councils who trashed the cemetery. The council is meant to be erecting a plaque to those people who lost headstones. It still doesn’t mean that Thomas will have his name on that plaque as it only covers people who are known to have had graves.

Another source has said that Thomas Halberts grave was washed away many years ago. Heni Eade said that Thomas Halbert was buried at the back of the Makaraka Cemetery close by the river and when the river changed course it undermined the bank and the grave site. She also said that his headstone was leaning up against the fence in the back corner with a number of others but these are all long gone.

Someone must know where exactly he is buried – please contact me if you do!

Thomas Halbert Hawke's Bay Herald, Volume 8, Issue 602, 25 April 1865, Page 1Source: Hawke’s Bay Herald, Volume 8, Issue 602, 25 April 1865, Page 1

Thomas Halbert Death 1865Source: Papers Past – New Zealand Herald, Volume II, Issue 462, 6 May 1865

Thomas Halbert Hawke's Bay Herald, Volume 8, Issue 607, 6 May 1865, Page 3Source: Hawke’s Bay Herald, Volume 8, Issue 607, 6 May 1865, Page 3