Topic: Denis Stephen Foley (1840-1900)

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Denis Stephen Foley lived at Rereatukahia, Katikati. He married Heni Te Kiri Karamu (1840-1933) who claimed she gave water to the wounded in the aftermath of the Battle of Gate Pa. Denis drowned in the Uretara River at Katikati. The articles on this page were uncovered by Katikati Historian Ellen McCormack in 2010.

Looking strange? see an archived version here

Christine Clement's article on the Foley Family can be found here.

Denis Foley was born in 1840 to Edmund (1811-1884) and Winifred Foley (nee O’Shanassy) (1813-1861) who married in c1833. He was one of eight children.

3 May 1864: The first data we have about him is from a newspaper called the New Zealander: The Natives and the Brave 40th Regiment which mentions the Orakau battle and an incident relating to Mr D. Foley:

On the 25th the troops did not go out, but Lieut. Greer discharged a few shells amongst them, upon which a most impudent fellow jumped upon their trenches and in a most daring manner defied danger. The rebels have taken away from the friendly natives 23 horses, and two belonging to the Europeans. Mr. D. Foley, finding one of his cows and calf had wandered away, went out in search of them; and as he was driving them back the rebels followed him, and kept firing at him; but Denny was determined not to let them have his cow, and every time he saw them fire, down went Denny’s head, until he got in sight of the camp, when the rebels ceased and fled.  

Major Colville, whilst engaged in the action on the 21st became very thirsty, and asked the friendly ones to fetch him some water; but to this there was not one  that was disposed to assent, when Mr. Dinnis Foley who was nobly assisting the forces , volunteered, and in the midst of a shower of balls which were passing round him, risked his life in order to relieve the wants of the gallant major and fetched the water. (New Zealander, 3 May 1864)

28 December 1869: Denis Foley marries Heni Te Kiri Karamu in Maketu.

The People of Many Peaks, 1769-1969 also has an entry on Denis Foley:

Denis Stephen Foley married Heni Te Kiri Karamu,on the 28th December 1869  and they had three daughters and three sons. In 1870 they moved to a farm at Katikati. About this time Heni Pore, as she was known, also attended a theological school [etc]. On 20th November 1870 Denis Foley, who was a heavy drinker, attacked Heni with a bill-hook, breaking her arm and severely cutting her about the head and body. He claimed she was bewitching him; he was certified insane, and committed to the Auckland Provincial Lunatic Asylum. Heni subsequently applied for a protection  order against him and was granted maintenance of ten shillings a week [Query: When did the six children arrive as according to this story this attack happened within the first  year of their marriage?]

18 September 1875: The Bay of Plenty Times recorded a court case between Armitage and Foley: Armitage v Foley. Claim for 11 pound 18 shillings for medical attendance on Mrs. Foley, at Katikati. There was no appearance of the defendant. Judgment for plaintiff for full amount with costs.

19 February 1876: A letter to the Editor appeared in the Bay of Plenty Times: A letter to the Editor [abbrev] “The other day I was passing from Bowentown to Tauranga, and the first thing that I saw on the road at Te Rereatukahia, was a number of cattle belonging to Mr. Dennis Foley seized and fastened with ropes to posts, for having trespassed on some paltry maize through a gap made at the end of a rotten manuka plantation. The natives were demanding as many pounds as there were pennys-worth of corn destroyed; the cattle they had possession of, and dared either the owners of them or the authorities to release them until their full and unreasonable demands were first satisfied.” (Bay of Plenty Times, 19 February 1876)

9 August 1876: Another letter to the Editor appears in the Bay of Plenty Times: Letter to the Editor from Denis Foley; Rereatukahia, 3rd August, pointing out the dangers of crossing the Te Mania creek and that his horse got bogged and he had much difficulty getting both the horse and himself out. (Bay of Plenty Times, 9 August 1876)

11 October 1876: An article in the Bay of Plenty Times records a devastating fire at Denis Foley's home: Mentions the total destruction of Mr. Denis Foley’s house and effects by fire last week. (Bay of Plenty Times, 11 October 1876)

21 October 1876: The full story appears in the Bay of Plenty Times: The full story of the fire at 8.15a.m. on the 5th inst. His little girl struck a match, which fell on some rubbish outside [etc]. Much sympathy is felt for Mr. Foley, whose uniform courtesy and willingness to oblige has won him many friends. [no mention of Mrs Foley] (Bay of Plenty Times on 21 October 1876)

3 January 1877: An article in the Bay of Plenty Times mentions a Boxing Day Sport Event: Boxing Day Sports Event held in Mr. Denis Foley’s paddock between the Te Rereatukahia and Te Manaia rivers, which with his usual kindliness, he has placed at the disposal of the settlers for the occasion. Mr. Denis Foley acted as Clerk of the Course. (Bay of Plenty Times, 3 January 1877)

12 September 1878: An advertisement appears in the Bay of Plenty Times: Advertisement by Denis Foley giving notice of his intention to apply for a Slaughter-House license on Lot 15, Parish of Tahawai, Katikati. (Bay of Plenty Times, 12 September 1878)

12 September 1878: Either the Uretara or Foley’s farm would suit just now, but the future rather that the present should be considered. [Discussion regarding shifting the Telegragh Station from Bowentown to Katikati]

10 December 1878: Tauranga Historical Society’s Journal No 53. The Katikati Story.

10 December 1878: Some notes on the Katikati Special settlement. Mr. E.T.Jordan, has studied these notes and remarks as follows: Notes regarding the Foley family in Katikati. The article describing an inspection of the southern part of the Katikati district starting from the Uretara Hotel inter alia states - p37…..”A little further on is the Rereatukahia river….. Mr.Clark who has built a large hotel on the opposite side has thrown a horse bridge across the river - Opposite the hotel [i.e. to the seaward side as indicated in the next paragraph] is Mr. Foley’s butchery; he kills every Monday and Thursday, and forwards meat to any part of the settlement.” After travelling up Rea’s Road and back the writer continues southward. p38…..Returning to the hotel------ nearer to the sea, are the green and fertile paddocks of Mr. Foley. Mr. Foley is not one of the immigrants, having lived there for some eight years, but the splendid grass and crops on his land ought to silence at once, any who express doubt as to the capabilities of the land in the district. [Note.1. “eight years” indicates that the Foley’s took up this land about 1870. Note 2. No source for this article is given in the T.H.S.Journal]. Mr. Jordan has drawn a map showing the Rereatukahia River, the Te Aroha Track and Foley’s farm etc. [I believe Mr. Jordan’s reason for this assessment of where Denis and Jane Foley lived is the same reason that we today are questioning the authenticity of some of the data written regarding Dennis and especially Jane Foley. Mr. Jordan was an extremely knowledgeable local Katikati historian who died in c1990. The source of the article in the T.H.S. Journal will be from “Visits to the Settlement”  by early travelers on horse-back, who recorded who lived where and the activities in the district. Many of these visits were recorded in the B.O.P.Times and are held at the Katikati Archive.]

20 June 1882: From the Bay of Plenty Times: I hear that Mr. Dennis Foley has gone thoroughly into dairy-farming, and that his milk produce yields him weekly 40 pound and upwards of good sound butter, for which he has a ready sale at remunerative prices and no doubt the diggers, as spring comes on, will be large consumers; this should induce others to do likewise. (Bay of Plenty Times, 20 June 1882).

27 March 1884: From the Bay of Plenty Times: Denis not responsible for Jane’s debts. (Bay of Plenty Times, 27 March 1884)

25 November 1887: From the Bay of Plenty Times: Mr. John A. Clark reports having negotiated the lease of Mr. D. Foley’s valuable farm at Katikati to Mr. E. F. Buckworth on very satisfactory terms. Mr. Foley is the oldest settler at Katikati and at the time Mr. Vesey Stewart brought out his first settlers sold the original homestead at Mount Stewart to Mr. Stewart. [That statement is completely untrue, as apart from lots of other data, Arthur Gray mentions in his book about a meeting on the 11th May 1876 held on the lawn in front of the leaders half-finished house.] Further on in the article it says: Mr. Foley, we understand, will shortly leave for Whangamata, where he holds a considerable interest in the prospectors’ claim. (Bay of Plenty Times 25 November 1887).

16 May 1888: From the Bay of Plenty Times: Honi Motutara v Jane Foley for 13 pound, the value of two tons of potatoes and maize. [Mrs. Foley gave evidence in Maori.] (Bay of Plenty Times, 16 May 1888).

23 July 1888: From the Bay of Plenty Times: We learn that Mr. J .A. Clark has sold Mr. D. Foley’s farm at Katikati to Mr. E. F. Buckworth. (Bay of Plenty Times, 23 July 1888).

7 September 1888: From the Bay of Plenty Times: Mrs. Foley has purchased 30 acres of land at Katikati from Mr. Cecil Gledstanes. (Bay of Plenty Times, 7 September1888).

1 June 1900: According to the Bay of Plenty Times Denis Foley was drowned in the Uretara River on the previous Tuesday evening shortly after 8 o’clock (Bay of Plenty Times, 1 June 1900).

4 June 1900: An inquest was held at Katikati; a verdict of “accidental death” was returned, stating that the body was being taken to Auckland for interment.

2 June 1900: Denis's death notice appeared in the New Zealand Herald on Saturday: Foley. On May 29 1900, accidentally drowned at Katikati, Dennis, second son of the late Edmund and Winifred Foley and brother of Thomas Foley, of Shakespeare Hotel, aged 60 years. The funeral will leave the Shakespeare Hotel, Albert Street for the Symonds Street Cemetery tomorrow at 3p.m. Friends please accept this intimation. (New Zealand Herald, 2 June 1900)



Bay of Plenty Times.

Clement, C (2012). The Foley Family. Retrieved, January 12, 2013, from

Ellen McCormack (2010).

New Zealand Herald.

New Zealander.

This page was archived at Perma cc may 2017

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Denis Stephen Foley (1840-1900)

First Names:Denis Stephen
Last Name:Foley
Date of Birth:1840
Date of death:1900
Place of death:Katikati
Place of burial:Symonds Street, Auckland
Spouses name:Heni Te Kiri Karamu
Spouses date of birth:14 November 1840
Spouses place of birth:Kaitaia
Spouses date of death:24 June 1933
Spouses place of death:King George V Hospital, Rotorua
Spouses place of burial:Rotorua Cemetery
Spouses nationality:Maori
Date of marriage:28 December 1869
Place of marriage:Maketu
Fathers name:Edmund Foley
Fathers date of birth:1811
Fathers place of birth:County Tipperary, Ireland
Fathers date of death:1884
Fathers place of death:Auckland
Fathers nationality:Irish
Mothers name:Winifred O’Shanassy
Mothers date of birth:1813
Mothers place of birth:County Tipperary, Ireland
Mothers date of death:30 October 1861
Mothers place of death:Auckland
Mothers nationality:Irish
Name of sibilings:Micheal Foley, William Foley, James Foley, Thomas Foley, Mary Ann Foley, Edward Foley, and John Foley
Name of the children:Margaretta May Foley , James Dennis Foley , John William Foley , Sophie Bertha Foley , Robert Henry Foley , and Isabella Foley

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