Topic: James Farrow (c1800-1880)

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Known to Maori as Hemi, Farrow first came to Tauranga in 1829. Maori bartered their produce at James Farrow's Trading Post for European goods. It is believed Farrow's purpose was to obtain flax fibre for Australian merchants in exchange for muskets and gunpowder. It seems his younger brother Daniel Farrow was also in the flax trading business.

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James Farrow was born in London, England, in c1880. His parents were Edward and Catherine Farrow. Edward was a whitesmith, a person who makes articles out of metal, especially tin.

James Farrow, the first permanent trader in the Bay of Plenty, acquired half an acre of land at the western end of the Otumoetai Pa from the chiefs Tupaea, Tangimoana and Te Omanu on 10 January 1838. This was the earliest authenticated land purchase in the Bay for which a Crown Grant was later issued.

Hori Tupaea (c1800-1881), principal chief of Ngaiterangi and leading chief of Otumoetai Pa, one of those responsible for donating land for the Catholic mission and selling land to James Farrow. Tupaea is believed to have lived in the upper part of the pa above the Catholic mission and James Farrow's land.

Known to Maori as Hemi, Farrow first came to Tauranga in 1829. It is believed his purpose was to obtain flax fibre for Australian merchants in exchange for muskets and gunpowder. He is said to have married an unnamed local Māori girl.

Farrow gave testimony which is recorded in Maori Land Court Minute Book 3 (p. 336), transcribed by Stephanie Smith:

James Farrow (sworn) I reside in Auckland. I first came to New Zealand in 1825. I first went to reside at Tauranga in 1829. I was there a year and then went to Sydney. I went in November or December 1830. I was about eight weeks absent before I returned to Tauranga. When I went away the natives were going to Taumatawiwi to fight - Te Waharoa and Ngaiterangi. When I returned from Sydney it was all over. It took place shortly after 1830. I came back from Sydney in the latter end of January, 1831. Before I went to Sydney I had been in the habit of supplying Te Waharoa with guns and power among(?) other things. I don't know why the natives went to fight. I heard that Te Waharoa and party completely beat the N. Maru. I heard it from Te Waharoa and his people. Parengaienga(?) was killed at this battle ? brother. When I got back from Sydney the Maiutuahu had left Haowhenua. I was in communication with the Thames natives at that time. It was the N. haua natives who told me that Marutuahu had left Haowhenua - they told me that they had gone back. That they had to leave - had to run for it, and since Auckland has been established the N. haua have told me that they were sorry that they had not come to Hauraki and taken possession of it, as it was a nice place. After this I used to go to Matamata. I went first about three months after I returned from Sydney. The N. haua were supplying me with flax. They carried the flax from Matamata to Tauranga. They were cutting flax about Matamata, at Paparahi, and on the Waihou River at Waiharakeke. It would take about three or four hours to go on foot from Matamata to Waiharakeke. I never went further North than Waiharakeke. The N. haua were scraping flax all about there. I heard of the Marutuahu and Ngapuhi coming to attack the Matamata for (it was all?) talk(?). I don't think they dare attack at Matamata (?). I should have heard of it had they attacked it. I used to be constantly going to Matamata every day and all hours of the night (the natives used to be constantly coming to Tauranga every day and all hours of the night). I only heard that Maiutuahu were coming to Matamata. I did not hear that they attacked the pa. I heard of Taraia's attack at Waiharakete - that he came up secretly and made an attack and that N. haua followed him some distance. I don't remember the date. I think it must have been after 1832. I remember Cowell coming to Tauranga from Kawhia. I lived at Tauranga hill about eight years ago. We Tamehana was living at Tauranga before the King movement started. He lived there some years before it. He stayed some time with Mr Brown and then went farming. He used to go to Matamata. His permanent place was Tauranga. I don't know why he left Tauranga for Matamata. I remember hearing when gold was discovered at ?. I don't know where Tamehana was living then. Maori set great value on guns in former times. They would work day and night to get them.

A portion of the cross-examination by Mr Preece: Did you hear which side lost the greatest number? They told me N. maru did. My wife was there and she told me. They told me that N. haua had beaten Marutuahu, and compelled them to leave the district, this was all they told me.

Soon after Phillip Tapsell arrived at Maketu as flax trader for Te Arawa in late 1830 Farrow became his Tauranga agent.

Farrow dealt mainly with the chief Te Waharoa of Matamata, whose tribe cut, scraped and carried the flax. Although the trade was intermittent, it involved large quantities of flax fibre. It is known that loads of up to 70 tons were carried over the Kaimai range by the Wairere track for shipment from the Te Puna river mouth to Tapsell’s Sydney merchant, Richard Jones.

By the late 1830s when Farrow settled at Otumoetai the flax export trade had declined, being largely replaced by that in pigs, salted port, potatoes, maize and wheat. These locally produced commodities, transported in the cutters and schooners of traders such as Farrow and Faulkner, were sold to ships visiting New Zealand, especially whalers in the Bay of Islands. From 1840 the growing town of Auckland provided an expanding market for Maori produce. Tauranga Maori soon prospered sufficiently to buy their own sailing vessels, one of which, the schooner “George”, was skippered by James Farrow.

On 21 January 1843 the New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator ran an article on how Farrow's boat was stolen in December 1842 and used to carry out an attack on Tuhua (Mayor Island). 

In Auckland on 7 November 1861 Farrow married Anne Phillips (reg. 1861/2053).

Farrow left Otumoetai before the Waikato land war spread to Tauranga in 1864. He retired to Auckland, where he died in Dublin Street, aged 80, on 3 November 1880 (reg. 1880/4102). Ann died on 20 June 1882 (reg. 1882/3279). His brother Daniel Farrow died in 1885 (reg. 1885/2019).



Auckland Star (6 November 1880, p. 2).

Births, Deaths & Marriages Online (New Zealand).

Death Certificate (3 November 1880).

James Farrow (Tauranga City Libraries Research Collections, Vertical File, Biographical File).

New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator (21 January 1843, p. 2).

New Zealand Herald (30 June 1882, p. 4).

Tauranga City Council and Historic Places Trust sign erected on the site.

The Pioneers, Settlers and Families of Te Puke and District (2011) by Christine Clement (p. 340).


How to cite this page: McCauley, Debbie (2013). James Farrow (c1800-1880)Retrieved from (Tauranga Memories, last updated: *insert date*). In-text citation: (McCauley, 2013)

This page was archived at Perma cc February 2017

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James Farrow (c1800-1880)

First Names:James
Last Name:Farrow
Date of Birth:c1800
Place of Birth:London
Country of birth:England
Date of death:3 November 1880
Place of death:Auckland, New Zealand
Place of burial:Symonds Street Cemetery, Auckland
Date of Arrival:c1824
Place of settlement in Bay of Plenty:Otumoetai, Tauranga
Spouses name:Anne Phillips
Spouses date of birth:1800
Spouses date of death:20 June 1882
Spouses place of death:Auckland, New Zealand
Spouses place of burial:Symonds Street Cemetery, Auckland
Date of marriage:7 November 1861
Place of marriage:Auckland, New Zealand
Fathers name:Edward Farrow
Mothers name:Catherine
Name of sibilings:Daniel Farrow (1808-1885)
Name of the children:No children