Topic: Peter Grant (1845-1924)

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Peter Grant has been described as a deserter from the British military who became a 'pakeha' Māori, the only known person of European descent that adopted the Pai Mārire Māori religion, and a horse thief as well as an early Te Puke settler. Story and photo: Debbie McCauley.

Peter Grant was born in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1845, said to be the twin brother of Logie Grant. Their parents were Logie Pirie and Barbara Adia Grant (nee Allan) who married on 25 November 1841. Peter was baptised at St Nicholas in Aberdeen on 14 November 1845. His baptismal name was 'Patrick Allan Bannerman Grant'.

It seems that Barbara and some of the children emigrated to Victoria, Australia, in July of 1861 aboard the Ocean Chief.

Peter enlisted with the 1st Waikato Regiment No 6 Company from Geelong, Melbourne on 1 September 1863. They departed Australia aboard the Star of India on 31 August 1863. The ship arrived in Auckland on 13 September 1863. The regiment was based at Otahuhu for around three months before being moved to Orakau and then back to Auckland. 

Peter had three children with Pare Piahana [Polly Pearson].

The Waikato Regiment arrived in Tauranga after the Battle of Gate Pa [29 April 1864] and took part in the Battle of Te Ranga [21 June 1864]. However it seems that Peter did not take part in the battle as on 4 June 1864 he had received a punishment of 84 days imprisonment.

He deserted later that same year, on 29 December 1865, but was retaken prisoner on 24 February 1867. Legend tells that he 'deserted to the Hauhau followers and supplied Māori with stolen horses and rifles' (Clement, p. 139). The Press reported on 7 March 1867:

February 24 The notorious Peter Grant has just been brought into Te Papa by the Arawas. He is a deserter from the Ist Waikato Regiment. He escaped from the stockade here several months ago with handcuffs on; since then he has been a perfect terror to the owners of horses in the district, and has been living with the Hau-haus in the different settlements in our neighborhood. Should he be forwarded to the Auckland stockade it will behove its guardians to keep a sharp look-out or he will slip through their fingers. He was brought over from Matapaha handcuffed... Peter Grant is said to be very much depressed. He states that there are three other white men with the Hauhaus, aud offers to impart all the information in his power. He is a young man about twenty-four, rather prepossessing; is from Melbourne, where his parents reside. He is heavily ironed (p. 3).

On 11 March 1867 the Daily Southern Cross reported on Peter's escape: 

Last Thursday night, Peter Grant, the deserter from the Ist Waikatos and an avowed Hauhau, whose capture by Retreat Tapsell [Iene (Hans) Tapsell] was so cleverly effected, as detailed in our paper some time ago, managed to escape. He was confined in the stockade, was heavily ironed and handcuffed, and supposed to be well and effectually guarded. A high palisading runs round the stockade. Our informant states that early on Friday morning the fact of his escape became known; that the irons were left behind, as he doubtless thought they would be inconvenient to carry. When the 'Tauranga' sailed nothing further was known (p. 5).

On 18 March 1867 he was court-martialed, receiving two years imprisonment, fifty lashes and a brand as punishment as reported in the Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle on 4 April 1867: The Arawas have recaptured Peter Grant, a deserter. He received fifty lashes, and was branded with a cross on his hip (p. 3).

He was later put to work as a despatch rider between Opotiki and Thames. His obituary records: This was a dangerous undertaking over unbridged rivers and through country that was heavily invested by the enemy. On one of these missions he had two horses shot under him, but promptly secured possession of a Māori horse and escaped (Bay of Plenty Times, 4 February 1924).

Peter was married to Caroline Moon at Te Papa Mission Station by Archdeacon Alfred Nesbit Brown on 26 March 1870 (reg. 1870/5379)Born in Bombay, India in 1850, Caroline was the daughter of Colonel William Moon and his wife Elizabeth who lived in Gate Pa, Tauranga. They had three children together.

The children of Peter Grant:

  1. Jack Grant.
  2. Hikiera Grant.
  3. Makere Grant.
  4. William Grant (1871-1934). Born in Tauranga on 17 July 1871 (reg. 1871/18761). He married Mary Anne Harriet Potier (known as Harata), daughter of Alfred and Jane Fairfax Potier (nee Johnson). William died in Te Aroha in 1934 and was buried in Te Aroha Cemetery.
  5. Barbara Allan Grant (1874-1895). Born in Tauranga on 16 October 1874 (reg. 1874/42177). She married Samuel Tanner in 1894. Barbara died, aged 20, in Tauranga after childbirth on 19 August 1895. She was buried in Mission Cemetery (Otamataha Pā). See:
  6. Logie Peri Grant (1876-1881). Born in Tauranga in 1876 (reg. 1876/505). He died, aged 5, in 1881 (reg. 1881/2194) and was buried in Tauranga.
  7. Kathleen Grant (1897-1979).  [Katerina] Born in Manoeka, Te Puke in 1897 -?. She married Leigh Hilton McKenzie James in 1913. They had seven children. She died in Wanganui in 1979 and was buried at Aramoho.
  8. Joseph Grant (1898-1993). [Hohepa] Born in Manoeka, Te Puke in 1898. He married Hazel Mary Rayner in 1932. He had twenty-four children. Joseph died in Manoeka in 1993 and was buried at Otaraninia Urupa.
  9. Peter Allan Grant (1901-1958). Born in Manoeka, Te Puke, in 1901. He married Mary Caines. He had three children. He died in Te Aroha in 1958 and was buried in Te Aroha Cemetery.
  10. Barbara Allan Kaumai Grant (1903-1991). Born in Manoeka, Te Puke in 1903. She married Kahungunu Kerekere in 1918. They had six children. She died in Gisborne in 1991 and was buried in Wainui Urupa.
  11. Isabella Grant (1911-1998). [Hipora] Born in Manoeka, Te Puke, on 10 September 1911 (reg. 1974/144025). She married Kepa Nuku. They had nine children. She died in Tauranga in 1998 (reg. 1998/8266) and was buried on Motiti Island.

In 1872 Peter was sentenced to twelve month's imprisonment for cattle-stealing from Harry Coward Crapp (Daily Southern Cross, 15 October 1872, p. 3).

Peter worked as a contractor. He built whare for George Vesey Stewart's Katikati settlers in 1875. In 1881 he was running the Atuaroa Hotel in Te Puke [also known as Travellers Rest Hotel and Grant's Hotel].

In 1900 Peter owned a thoroughbred named Tam o' Shanter over which he became embroiled in an argument in Tauranga's Masonic Hotel. He wagered that his horse could make it from Tauranga to Te Puke in an hour, a distance of around 18 miles over a rough, mudhole filled road, offering a stake of £50. His son, William Grant (8 stone at the time), was to be the rider. Billy set out at dusk and reached the front door of Grant's Te Puke Hotel 57 minutes later, winning his father the wager (Bay of Plenty Beacon24 July 1945, p. 6).

On 7 December 1901 the Star reported Peter's divorce from Caroline: Caroline Grant v. Peter Grant and Maringi (co-respondent)Caroline reverted back to her maiden name of Moon and remarried to Robert MacGregor in 1903 (reg. 1903/2237). She died in Te Puke, aged 74, on 30 July 1926 (reg. 1926/6069) and was buried in Te Puke Cemetery.

The New Zealand Herald reported on 12 August 1903 that Peter was charged with wounding a horse and mare at Te Puke (12 August 1903, p. 3).

Peter had another five children with Maraea Maringi (born c1867-9 September 1945), marrying on 6 June 1907 (reg. 1907/2430).

On 11 December 1913 Peter applied for a New Zealand War Medal with Captain Gilbert Mair and Colonel J M Roberts writing letters in support of the claim. His claim was rejected in April of the following year, the letter stating:

The Regulations governing the issue of the N.Z. War Medal render it imperative that an applicant must have been actually under fire in some engagement with the enemy. I have also to inform you that the Records of the 1st Waikato Regiment show that one Peter Grant of Aberdeen was punished for desertion (8 April 1914).

Peter died in Te Puke, New Zealand, on 2 February 1924 (reg. 1924/7479). He was buried in the Tauranga Mission Cemetery.

Peter Grant (1845-1924)


Bay of Plenty Beacon (24 July 1945, p. 6).

Bay of Plenty Times (4 February 1924): Obituary.

Births, Deaths and Marriages Online (New Zealand).

Daily Southern Cross (11 March 1867, p. 5).

Daily Southern Cross (15 October 1872, p. 3).

Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle (4 April 1867, p. 3).

Peter Grant (Tauranga City Library Biographical Vertical File).

Press (7 March 1867, p. 3).

Index to the Register of Baptisms for St Nicholas parish in Aberdeen from September 1838 to March 1848.

Report on Conference and Annual General MeetingHeld in Tauranga 8 to 10 April 2011 (New Zealand Federation of Historical Societies Inc).

Scotland, Births and Baptisms 1564-1950 (FamilySearch) - Baptismal Record.

Star (7 December 1901, p. 5).

Star of India 1863.

Te Puke Primary School Roll 1883-1905.

Te Puke Times (5 February 1924): Obituary.

The New Zealand Herald (12 August 1903, p. 3).

The Pioneers, Settlers and Families of Te Puke and District (2011) by Christine Clement (pp.138-141).


How to cite this page: McCauley, Debbie (2015). Peter Grant (1845-1924). Retrieved from (Tauranga Memories, last updated: *insert date*). In-text citation: (McCauley, 2015)

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Peter Grant (1845-1924)

First Names:Peter
Last Name:Grant
Date of Birth:1845
Place of Birth:Aberdeen
Country of birth:Scotland
Date of death:2 February 1924
Place of death:Te Puke, New Zealand
Place of burial:Tauranga Mission Cemetery
Date of Arrival:13 September 1863
Name of the ship:Star of India
Date of sailing:31 August 1863
Port of arrival:Auckland
Sailed from:Melbourne, Australia
Spouses name:Pare Piahana, Caroline Moon, and Te Maringi Maraea Te Kapaiwaho
Fathers name:Logie Pirie Grant
Fathers date of birth:1807
Fathers place of birth:Aberdeen, Scotland
Fathers date of death:1891
Fathers place of death:Geelong, Victoria, Australia
Mothers name:Barbara Adia Allan
Mothers date of birth:8 September 1811
Mothers place of birth:Aberdeen, Scotland
Mothers date of death:23 July 1867
Mothers place of death:Geelong, Victoria, Australia
Military Service:1st Waikato Regiment