Topic: Ebenezer Goddard Norris (1830-1890)

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Tauranga General Merchant and ship owner Ebenezer Goddard Norris had in store in Wharf Street. Story by Debbie McCauley.

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Ebenezer Goddard Norris was born at Brixham in Torbay, England on 20 August 1830. He was the eldest child of Gregory and Sarah Norris (nee Clarke). Gregory Norris was a Minister whilst Sarah's brother, missionary George Clarke, emigrated to Kerikeri in New Zealand. When Gregory died Sarah made preparations for the family to join her brother in New Zealand but unfortunately died in England. 20-year-old Ebenezer took charge of the preparations and arrived with his siblings in Kerikeri in 1851. He leased the old Stone Store at Kerikeri.

He married Charlotte Kemp in Kerikeri on 16 March 1859. She was the youngest daughter of missionary James Kemp. They had one child together before moving to Auckland. Charlotte died in Parnell on 22 August 1865.

Ebenezer was a member of the Volunteer Militia and after fighting during the New Zealand Wars became a Captain. In 1866 he moved to Tauranga, opening a store facing west on the right hand side of Wharf Street. This was just two years after the battles of Gate Pa and Te Ranga and Ebenezer Captained the Tauranga Rifle Volunteers. Their uniform was made from Grey Nelson Tweed with dark blue facings and silver lace.

He married Amelia Harriet Campbell (1846-1935) at old St. Mary's in Parnell on 21 July 1868. She was the daughter of Captain Colin and Rosa Campbell. They arrived in Tauranga aboard the 'Star of the South'. There was no wharf in Tauranga at the time which made landing difficult but the local armed constabulary formed a double line along Tauranga's waterfront in their honour.

The couple made their home at 'High Trees' which was originally built by Colonel Harrington. It was situated in what is now called Harington Street (site of Mrs E. T. Baker's flats). Together they had a further five children:  

  1. Ada Kate Norris (1863-?). Born in Russell on 5 March 1863. She married Robert Harris but they had no children. Ada died, aged 34, in 1897 (reg. 1897/3805).
  2. Colin Campbell Norris (1871-1926). Born at 'High Trees' in Tauranga on 16 July 1871. He was christened in Auckland at old St. Mary's church where his parents married. He was in the Merchant Navy. Colin married Edith Annie Chivers at St Hilda's Church in Island Bay on 30 August 1911. He died in Tauranga on 4 August 1926.
  3. Amy Marian Norris (1873-1945).  Born at 'High Trees' in Tauranga on 17 March 1873 and christened at 'The Elms' by Canon Jordan. She married C J Millar. Amy died in Tauranga on 9 November 1945.
  4. Gregory George Norris (1875-1947). Born at 'Barbreck House' in Tauranga on 21 July 1875. He joined the Defence Force. He married Grace Jordan, youngest of Canon Jordan's daughters. Gregory died in Tauranga on 29 July 1947.
  5. Ruby Rosamund Norris (1881-1946). Born at 'Barbreck House' in Tauranga on 26 August 1881. Ruby was a Tauranga businesswoman. She died in Tauranga on 5 March 1946.
  6. Constance Amelia Norris (1884-1978). Born at 'Barbreck House' in Tauranga onAugust 1884. She married George Bell. She died in Tauranga on 19 March 1978.

From 'High Trees' Amelia released the first English birds in Tauranga which proved to be a disaster later in time. The family often had to flee to the safety of Monmouth Redoubt whilst Captain Norris and his volunteer and regular's saw to the defences. This was the time when Te Kooti was leading raiding parties.

In 1870 Ebenezer was elected to the Tauranga District Highways Board. He was also a candidate for the mayorality of the new borough in 1882 but this was won by George Vesey Stewart. He was Chairman of the Town Board five times and carried out other civic minded activities.

He built 'Barbreck House' and the family lived there from 1874. The home was situated on the corner of Second Avenue and Devonport Road. Ebenezer's nephew Fred who had been orphaned came to live with the family.

Ebenezer died in Tauranga on 27 August 1890 and was buried in the Tauranga Mission CemeteryAmelia took in lodgers after his death to support the family. She died in Tauranga on 3 July 1935.



Norris Family (Tauranga City Library: Research Collections, Biographical Vertical File).

The Life and Times of Captain Ebenezer Norris (June 1972) by Mrs A.A. McKenzie (Journal of the Tauranga Historical Society, No. 45, pp. 12-16).


How to cite this page: McCauley, Debbie (2014). Ebenezer Goddard Norris (1830-1890). Retrieved from (Tauranga Memories, last updated: *insert date*). In-text citation: (McCauley, 2014)


This page was archvied at Perma cc March 2017

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Ebenezer Goddard Norris (1830-1890)

First Names:Ebenezer Goddard
Last Name:Norris
Date of Birth:20 August 1830
Place of Birth:Brixham, Torbay
Country of birth:England
Date of death:27 August 1890
Place of death:Tauranga, New Zealand
Place of burial:Tauranga Mission Cemetery
Spouses name:Charlotte Kemp and Amelia Harriet Campbell
Spouses date of birth:26 July 1838
Spouses place of birth:Kerikeri, New Zealand
Spouses date of death:22 August 1865
Spouses place of death:Parnell, Auckland
Spouses place of burial:St. Stephens Churchyard, Auckland
Date of marriage:16 March 1859
Place of marriage:Kerikeri
Fathers name:Gregory Norris
Fathers date of birth:8 September 1785
Fathers place of birth:Brixham, Torbay, England
Fathers date of death:January 1848
Fathers place of death:Tendring, Essex, England
Mothers name:Sarah Clarke
Mothers date of birth:2 September 1801
Mothers place of birth:Wymondham, Norfolk, England
Mothers date of death:1850
Name of sibilings:William Norris, Joannah Kemp, George Norris, Sarah Etherden, Eliza Cross, Rosamond Key, Mary Davis, and Gregory Norris
Name of the children:Constance Amelia Norris, Ada Kate Norris, Colin Campbell Norris, Amy Marian Norris, Gregory George Norris, and Ruby Rosamund Norris

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