Topic: John Lees Faulkner (1807-1882)

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John Lees Faulkner was an early Tauranga trader, arriving in the area in 1840. The following information is from the Tauranga City Council and Historic Places Trust sign about John Lees Faulkner's house at Otumoetai which was built in 1844. Additional research and information by Debbie McCauley.

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John Faulkner was born at Nottingham in Nottinghamshire, England in 1807. While John was serving as an apprentice shoemaker he was arrested in the company of a pickpocket and sentenced to seven years. He was aged just 12 years old. John was transported to Australia on board the convict transport ship 'Princess Royal' in 1823. He learnt the art of boatbuilding at the Government Dockyard in Sydney. Shown on his 'Certificate of Freedom' dated 22 October 1828 are the occupations shoemaker and boatbuilder as well as his birth year of 1807.

In around 1832 to 1833 Faulkner moved to the Bay of Islands in New Zealand, where the South Pacific whaling fleet visited to replenish their stocks of food, water and firewood, and for repairs to their ships. With his carpentry skills Faulkner prospered. The demand for potatoes, pigs and salted port by the whalers led him to venture as far south as Tauranga for supplies.

In 1835, the year in which his eldest son was baptised in Kororareka (now Russell), Faulkner purchased half an acre of land from the chief Kiwikiwi at Otuihu (Pomare’s Pa) near the deepwater anchorage of the Kawakawa river mouth. It is not known whether he met his first wife, Ruawahine Irihapeti (Elizabeth), with whom he had 13 children, in the Bay of Islands or on one of his voyages to Tauranga. Ruawahine belonged to the Ngāi Tukairangi hapū of Tauranga's Ngāi Te Rangi iwi, the last people to occupy Otumoetai Pa.

John Lees Faulkner (c1812-1882)

In 1840 the family moved to Tauranga, staying first at Maungatapu Pa for a short time before taking up residence on Ruawahine’s land at Otumoetai, half a kilometre east of the pa. He continued trading with the Bay of Islands and the growing town of Auckland. As well as potatoes, pigs and salted pork, Faulkner traded in wheat, maize and kauri gum produced by Tauranga Maori, bartering European goods such as blankets, clothing, iron tools and implements and some staple foods. On these trading voyages he sailed with Maori crews, but sometimes employed other captains.

Reverend Alfred Brown married John and Ruawahine in Tauranga in late June of 1842.

Faulkner is known to have built four vessels of around 30 feet length overall between 1846 and 1854. He probably built smaller unrecorded boats for both himself and local Maori at his conveniently located harbourside home in Otumoetai which he built in 1844. Some of the vessels were named after his daughters, and one was called “The Children.” Later he is recorded as the owner or part owner of various other craft, notably the topsail schooner “Tauranga”.

Faulkner House, Tauranga

Faulkner House [built by John Lees Faulkner] when owned by the Procter family (1936).

The couple's children were well educated, being sent away to boarding schools in Auckland and Sydney. The girls became the wives of European settlers, often moving away from Tauranga, while the boys remained in the district. Ruawahine died, aged 44, on 24 September 1855.

On 26 January 1857 Faulkner married Elizabeth Humphries, an Englishwoman recently arrived in Auckland whom he had known whilst growing up. It is at this time that John Faulkner added his mother's maiden name as his middle name, becoming 'John Lees Faulkner'. The couple had one son, John Daniel Faulkner (1857-1917), who continued his father’s connection with the sea by establishing Faulkner’s Ferries which operated between Tauranga and Mount Maunganui.

The fifteen children of John Lees Faulkner:

  1. Joseph Faulkner (1835-1918). Baptised by Henry Williams on 20 May 1835. He married Heeni Potier who was half French and half Maori. Joseph died on 17 April 1918.
  2. Died in infancy (c1836-?).
  3. Elizabeth Faulkner (c1838-1869). She married William Henry Beazley,  son of George and Isabella Beazley, on 7 January 1853 at the Te Papa Mission Chapel. William was born at Wandsworth, Surrey, England, on 20 October 1820. He arrived at the Bay of Islands in New Zealand on board the 'Patriot' in 1836. Elizabeth died on 5 February 1869 (reg. 1869/3505), possibly in childbirth (reg. 1869/3518). She was buried at Symonds Street Cemetery, Auckland. William remarried to Elizabeth Boyce. William died at Pt Chevalier, Auckland, on 7 March 1910.
  4. Maria Faulkner (1840-1897). Born in Tauranga in 1840. She firstly married Hamuera Paki, a Matapihi farmer, and they had two children. She left the children with their father when she went up north to care for her ailing older sister Elizabeth. Maria never returned to her family, but married James Maxwell at Omapere, Hokianga, on 17 September 1876, and had four more children. Maria died on 31 January 1897 (reg. 1897/450).
  5. Jarvis Faulkner (1841-1882). Jarvis was born in Tauranga on 1 September 1841. He married Elizabeth Hine Tatai at the Te Papa Mission Station chapel on 11 June 1868. Elizabeth was born in Tauranga in 1845. Jarvis was reportedly the largest wheat grower in the area at one stage. He died at Ōtūmoetai in Tauranga, age 41, on 20 December 1882 (reg. 1882/4422). Elizabeth died in Tauranga, aged 48, on 27 February 1892. Jarvis and Elizabeth are buried together in Plot 13 at Tauranga’s Anglican Cemetery on the corner of 17th Avenue and Grace Road.
  6. Jane Faulkner (1842-1884). Born at Otumoetai in 1842. She married Captain Daniel Sellers at St Barnabas, Auckland, on 20 January 1857. Daniel was born on the Isle of Arran, Scotland, on 25 November 1830 to Peter and Isabella Sellars (nee Clarke). He died in Tauranga, aged 50, on 22 September 1880 and was buried at Te Papa Mission Cemetery on 25 September 1880. Jane died in Tauranga, aged 43, on 7 July 1884.
  7. John Faulkner (c1844-1857). He died, aged 13, on 9 February 1857. Buried with his mother in Mission Cemetery, the service being conducted by Archdeacon Brown.
  8. Eliza Faulkner (c1845-1927). She married Robert Smelt Bush, Resident Magistrate, at the Auckland Registry Office on 3 April 1872. Eliza died, aged 82, on 30 December 1927 (reg. 1927/9514).
  9. Alfred Faulkner (c1847-1905). He never married. By September 1876 Alfred was operating a hotel at the Katikati heads. Alfred died on 15 May 1905. He was buried at Te Papa Mission Cemetery.
  10. George Faulkner (c1848-1873). George was born in Tauranga in c1848. Alfred Brown married George and Jane Piercy, daughter of James John Piercy of Maketu, at the Te Papa Mission Chapel in Tauranga on 27 February 1868. George died, aged 25, at the home of his father in Otumoetai on 28 September 1873 (reg. 1873/10820). He was buried at Te Papa Mission Cemetery with full military honours.
  11. Isabella Faulkner (c1850-1931). She married James Lovell Neighbour [Constable A.C. Force]. James was born in Maidenheads, Perthshire, England. Isabella died in 1931 (reg. 1931/12131).
  12. Christopher Faulkner (1852-1936). Born in Otumoetai on 28 July 1852. Christopher was a trooper and despatch rider during the New Zealand Wars. He became one of the best-known captains in the Northern Steamship Company. He married Jane Kotiro and Alice Capper. Christopher died in Queen Street, Onehunga, on 12 August 1936. His obituary appeared in the Bay of Plenty Times on 15 August 1936.
  13. Died in infancy (c1854-?).
  14. Pauline [Porina] Faulkner (c1855-1947). Born in c1855, likely just before her mother died in September 1855. She married Charles Haare Bidois (1856-1932) son of another early trader, Louis Bidois. Pauline died in Te Puna on 2 January 1947 (reg. 1947/32160).
  15. John Daniel Faulkner (1857-1917). Son of John Lees Faulkner and his second wife Elizabeth Faulkner (nee Humphreys). John was born in Auckland in 1857. He married Annie Lizzie Piercy, daughter of Hartis and Sarah Piercy, on 24 June 1880. Annie was born in Hull, England. They and their children were the last of the Faulkners to live in the Otumoetai homestead. After the family moved to Tauranga in the early 1900s, John Daniel founded Faulkner's Ferries, which ran between the township and Mount Maunganui. John was accidentally killed on his launch 'Farina' at 10am on 7 August 1917. The launch struck the projecting headstock of the Mount Maunganui Railway Wharf which crushed John, killing him instantly. At the time he was living in Devonport Road (Bay of Plenty Times, 8 August 1917).

In 1860 Faulkner was appointed the first postmaster in Tauranga, having acted unofficially in that capacity for some time. On the outbreak of the Waikato land war in 1863 the family moved to Auckland for safety, returning to open a store on the waterfront in Tauranga which was patronised by the British troops who were ordered to Tauranga in January 1864. Shortly after the Battle of Gate Pa on 29 April 1864, their unoccupied home at Otumoetai was ransacked by soldiers.

Faulkner was able to claim Ruawahine’s land, confiscated in 1865 along with other Tauranga Maori land, on behalf of their children, who received a Crown Grant of 88 acres (35.6 hectares). He himself received a grant of about half an acre on the waterfront containing his home, Okorore. After the New Zealand Wars Faulkner returned to live at Otumoetai.

Faulkner died in Tauranga, aged 75, on 8 September 1882 (reg. 1882/5627) at his son John Daniel’s home on Cameron Road [The Yorkshire Grey Hotel on the corner of Cameron Road and Sixth Avenue in the then suburb of Quarter Acres]. His obituary appeared in the Bay of Plenty Times on 9 September 1882. John was buried with Ruawahine and his son John, who had died in 1857, in Tauranga's Mission Cemetery (Otamataha Pā).

Headstone of Ruawahine, John and John Lees Faulkner

Headstone of Ruawahine, John and John Lees Faulkner. Photo: Debbie McCauley.

Faulkner left his second wife, Elizabeth, a life interest in the Otumoetai homestead. It was leased for a time in the 1890s by a horticulturalist, W. C. Berridge. The Otumoetai School was held in one of the outbuildings from its establishment in 1895 until 1897, when it moved to its present site on Otumoetai Road. The property was sold in 1912, after Elizabeth’s death the previous year, aged 91, on 17 December 1911. Elizabeth was buried in Tauranga Anglican Cemetery.

In 1986 Faulkner House, located at present day 25 Beach Road, Otumoetai, was removed to Tauranga Historic Village Museum.

Faulkner Family Reunion Plaque (2004-2005)

Faulkner Family Reunion Plaque (2004-2005). Photo: Debbie McCauley. 

For more information see Tauranga historian Jinty Rorke's article on John Lees Faulkner by clicking here or puruse the Faulkner file held at the Tauranga City Library (Vertical File: Biographies). 


References: - Certificate of Freedom (1828)

Avery, Max (2013). Maritime Tauranga 1826-1970.

Births, Deaths and Marriages Online (New Zealand).

Bush, E. E. (1963, June). John Lees Faulkner (1811-1882), trader and pioneer (Journal of the Tauranga Historical SocietyNo 16, pp. 9-12.)

Convict Records: John Faulkner.

McLean, Heather (1999). Burial Records: Tauranga, New Zealand (1881-1992).

McLean, Heather (1997). Tauranga Anglican Cemetery Headstones.


How to cite this page: McCauley, Debbie (2013). John Lees Faulkner (c1811-1882). 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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John Lees Faulkner (1807-1882)

First Names:John Lees
Last Name:Faulkner
Date of Birth:1807
Place of Birth:Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England
Country of birth:England
Date of death:8 September 1882
Place of death:Tauranga
Place of burial:Mission Cemetery, Tauranga
Occupation:trader and boatbuilder
First settled:Bay of Islands
Date of Arrival:1832-1833
Place of settlement in Bay of Plenty:Otumoetai
Date of arrival in Bay of Plenty:1840
Spouses name:Ruawahine Irihāpeti (Elizabeth) Puihi (c1811-1855) and Elizabeth Humphries (c1822-1911)
Spouses date of birth:c1811
Spouses place of birth:New Zealand
Spouses date of death:24 September 1855
Spouses place of death:Tauranga
Spouses place of burial:Mission Cemetery, Tauranga
Spouses nationality:Ngāi Te Rangi iwi
Date of marriage:June 1842 and 26 January 1857
Place of marriage:Tauranga and St Matthews Church, Auckland
Fathers name:Jarvis Faulkner
Fathers date of birth:7 June 1782
Fathers place of birth:Alrewas, Staffordshire, England
Fathers date of death:1865
Fathers place of death:Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England
Mothers name:Elizabeth Lees
Mothers date of birth:8 April 1786
Mothers place of birth:Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England
Mothers date of death:19 December 1824
Mothers place of death:Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England