Topic: George Vesey Stewart (1831-1920)

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George Vesey Stewart (MBE, JP) was born in Brighton, Sussex, England on 3 October 1831. He was christened there on 20 January 1832. Stewart was elected the first Mayor of Tauranga in 1882. He had arrived in New Zealand in 1874 searching for suitable land to create a new settlement, his 'Ulster Plantation' which was eventually located in Katikati. It is believed that he enticed over 4,000 people to settle in New Zealand. Story researched and written by Ellen McCormack.

George Vesey Stewart.

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George Vesey Stewart was the founder of both the Katikati and Te Puke settlements.

He was the first Chairperson of the Katikati Highway Board and Katikati School Board. Among his many other achievements he was elected the first Mayor of Tauranga in 1882.

Vesey Stewart, the name by which he was known locally, was born in Brighton, Sussex, England on 3 October 1831. His parents were Captain Mervyn and Frances Stewart (nee Vesey) from Martray, County Tyrone, Ulster, Northern Ireland.

Due to his Mother's ill health the family spent long periods on the Continent, so George's education was irregular. In 1848 he entered the College of Engineers at Putney, to train as an Estate Agent and by 1852 he was an undergraduate at Trinity College Dublin, later achieving honours in Classics amongst other awards.

He was a visionary who tried many ideas, some with great success, others as failures. However his thoughts were always to the future, and that is why he arrived in New Zealand in 1874 looking for suitable land to start his own plantation of people from Ulster away from the religious problems and greedy landlords.

Vesey Stewart arrived in Port Chalmers on the 'Mongol' in early 1874. He then spent the next few months travelling the country looking for land that suited his requirements.

The land had to be of first class quality, which could be easily cleared. Easy access to a town Proximity to the goldfield, which would provide a market.

In late April 1874 Vesey arrived in Tauranga and was very impressed with the area.

The Survey Office put at his disposal a young man named Sam Middlebrook and together they rode towards the northern end of the harbour, through trackless hills, swamps and rivers. They eventually reached Aongatete and Vesey could see the harbour stretched out before him. He decided that perhaps his search was nearly over, being satisfied that his conditions had been met.

Application for 10,000 acres of land was made to the Waste Lands Board and Vesey returned to England and began the task of recruiting suitable families and friends through the Orange Lodges in Northern Ireland to join his Ulster Plantation in New Zealand.

On 8 June 1875 the Carisbrooke Castle left Belfast with 238 settlers bound for Katikati, including his wife Margaret and their nine children aged between 2 and 19.

For the next 45 years Vesey Stewart made his mark not only in the Bay of Plenty but right throughout New Zealand. He returned to England many times recruiting more settlers to the country. It is believed he enticed over 4,000 people to settle in New Zealand.

George Vesey Stewart and dog 'Tim' gardening at Martray, July 1899

The Tauranga County Council, The Tauranga Harbour Board and the Tauranga Hospital Board are among a few of his other community involvements.

In early 1920 Vesey was unwell and suffering from bronchitis so was advised to visit Rotorua for health treatment. He died there on 3 March 1920 which was also the day of the annual Katikati A and P Show. He is buried in the Katikati Cemetery next to his second wife Alice.

Anyone interested in the history of Katikati should have available to read 'An Ulster Plantation' by Arthur J. Gray. First published in 1938, it was republished in 2000 by the Athenree Homestead Trust and is available from The Trust at a cost of $30.

by Ellen McCormack (2011).


Note: The photograph to the right is of George Vesey Stewart and dog 'Tim' gardening at Martray in July 1899.

In 1918 Stewart was made Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) for 'services in connection with the war’.


The eleven children of George Vesey Stewart:

(Nine children with Margaret Torrens Miller, two with Alice Amelia Ellen Hagerty):

  1. Emily Charlotte Sophia Stewart (1857-1957).
  2. Mervyn Archdale Stewart (1859-1951).
  3. George Vesey Stewart (Jnr) (1861-1892).
  4. John Rowley Miller Stewart (1862-1945).
  5. Mary Phoebe Stewart (1865-1962).
  6. Hugh Alexander Montgomery Moore Stewart (1867-1954).
  7. Andrew Charles Henry Arbuthnot Stewart (1870-1961).
  8. William Nassau Stewart (1873-1954).
  9. Reginald Stewart (1887-1949).
  10. Kathleen Norah Hagerty (1890-1974).

This page was archived at Perma cc April 2017

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George Vesey Stewart (1831-1920)

First Names:George Vesey
Last Name:Stewart
Date of Birth:3 October 1831
Place of Birth:Brighton, Sussex
Country of birth:England
Date of death:3 March 1920
Place of death:Rotorua
Place of burial:Katikati Cemetery
Occupation:Mayor, Estate Agent, Businessman, and Emmigration Agent
First settled:Katikati
Date of Arrival:13 February 1874
Name of the ship:SS Mongol
Date of sailing:19 December 1873
Port of arrival:Port Charmers
Spouses name:Margaret Torrens Miller and Alice Amelia Ellen Hagerty
Spouses date of birth:29 March 1835
Spouses place of birth:Desertlyn, County Derry, Ireland
Spouses date of death:28 July 1914
Spouses place of death:Grey Lynn, Auckland
Spouses place of burial:Waikumete Cemetery
Date of marriage:17 April 1856 and 1917
Place of marriage:Desertlyn, County Derry, Ireland and Katikati
Fathers name: Mervyn Stewart
Fathers date of birth:27 May 1794
Fathers place of birth:County Tyrone, Ireland
Fathers date of death:9 September 1886
Fathers place of death:Martray House, Katikati
Mothers name:Frances Vesey
Mothers date of birth:1802
Mothers place of birth:Dublin, Ireland
Mothers date of death:19 April 1893
Mothers place of death:Martray House, Katikati
Name of sibilings:Hugh Stewart, John Archdale Stewart, Mervyn Stewart, Barbara Frances Stewart, Phoebe Julia Stewart, and Mary Stewart
Name of the children:Mary Phoebe Stewart , Kathleen Norah Hagerty, Hugh Alexander Montgomery Moore Stewart , Andrew Charles Henry Arbuthnot Stewart, William Nassau Stewart , Emily Charlotte Sophia Stewart, Mervyn Archdale Stewart , George Vesey Stewart (Jnr), John Rowley Miller Stewart, Reginald Stewart, and Frances Vesey Montgomery Moore Stewart