Topic: Settling the Western Bay

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 Looking strange ? see an archived version hereGeorge Vesey Stewart.

The European settlement of western Bay of Plenty land owned by central government was the work of an Irishman, George Vesey Stewart.  Failure of a business venture in Northern Ireland combined with the troubles there made him decide to emigrate.  An agreement was reached allowing Stewart 10,000 acres near Katikati for a group of special settlers, drawn mainly from his fellow countrymen.

The first ship, the Carisbrooke Castle, arrived in Auckland in 1875 and the settlers soon began to break in farms on the confiscated block.  Tauranga residents were ecstatic, certain that the future prosperity of the region was assured.  A second ship, the Lady Jocelyn, came out in 1878, also with settlers for Katikati.

Unfortunately the settlement did not flourish to the extent that Stewart had expected, the difficulty of access to Auckland and the general depression of the 1880s and 90s causing many families to leave.  Those who stayed sold produce mainly to the Waihi miners. A delightful account of life in the settlement can be read in Adela Stewart's 'My Simple Life in New Zealand'.

Stewart did not rest on his laurels.  He raised another party of settlers for Te Puke in 1881, and was responsible for six shiploads of settlers coming to the Bay of Plenty.  He returned to London during the 1880s, acting as an emigration agent, and is credited with bringing about 4,000 emigrants all told to New Zealand.

Stewart was elected the first Mayor of Tauranga when the township became a borough in 1882.  He also owned the Bay of Plenty Times for many years.  His popularity waned because of his domestic arrangements, and although he stood for parliament for the Bay of Plenty he was not elected.

See also The Missionaries, The Traders, The Military Settlers.

Further information is available through the Tauranga City Libraries’ New Zealand Room.

See also:

Western Bay Street Names (4.9mb pdf)

This page was archived at perma cc January 2017

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Settling the Western Bay