Topic: Asher Asher (1822-1899)

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Asher Asher arrived in New Zealand in 1842. He was involved with fire fighting in Auckland, moving to Tauranga in 1877 where he served as a Tauranga Borough Councillor and honorary Fire Inspector for the Tauranga Fire Brigade.

Asher Asher was born at 90 Rosemary Lane in London, England on 30 April 1822. His Jewish parents were Benjamin and Rayner Asher who paid their own passage to New Zealand. Rayner died in Auckland on 16 August 1863 (reg. 1863/7328). Benjamin returned back to England after nine years in New Zealand and died in London on 19 June 1866.

Asher arrived in Auckland, New Zealand in 1842 when he was 20 years old. His sister Hannah, along with her husband Henry Davis and four children, were lost at sea when the 'Josephine Willis' sank after a collision on 3 February 1856.

Asher married Hannah Keesing in Auckland on 4 February 1846. They had 11 children together:

  1. Benjamin Asher (1847-1848). Born in Auckland on 27 April 1847, Benjamin died there on 24 June 1848 (reg. 1864/7875) and was buried in Symonds Street Cemetery.
  2. Rosetta Asher (1848-1891). Born in Auckland on 26 October 1848 (reg. 1848/1758). Rosetta married Louis Josiah Lee in Australia on 27 April 1870. They later ran a drapery business on The Strand in Tauranga which was destroyed by fire on 31 May 1881. Louis died in Symonds Street, Auckland on 19 June 1887, at the age of 54 (reg. 1887/2116). Rosetta died in Auckland East on 11 June 1891 and was buried in Waikumete Cemetery.
  3. David Asher (1850-1919). Born in Auckland on 31 December 1850 (reg. 1851/1242). Involved with the first Volunteer Fire Brigade in Wellington in 1867. He had a business on The Strand in Tauranga and married Katarina Te Atirau in Tauranga on 27 November 1894 (reg. 1894/3069). In 1894 he was the licensee of the Tauranga Hotel and was fluent in Te Reo Maori. David was active in the Tauranga Fire Brigade and Masonic Order. He died, aged 70, on 23 July 1919 (reg. 1919/5660) and was buried in Ngapeke Cemetery, Welcome Bay, Tauranga.
  4. Henry Asher (1852-1913). Born in Auckland on 9 December 1852 (reg. 1853/1403). He was a draper in Cambridge. Henry married Priscilla Moss on 23 November 1881. Henry died in Melbourne in 1913.
  5. Hannah Asher (1855-1926). Known as 'Annie' she was born in Auckland on 4 May 1855 (reg. 1855/2112). Annie married Abraham (Alfred) Isaacs on 21 March 1874 in Auckland (reg. 1874/5697). They ran a business in Cambridge. Abraham died in Melbourne, Australia, on  24 November 1914. Annie died at St Kilda in Melbourne on 23 April 1926 and was buried in Brighton Cemetery.
  6. Harriet May Asher (1857-1908). Born in Auckland on 26 September 1857 (reg. 1857/3580). She married Richard Alvin England on 7 October 1879 at Otahuhu's Holy Trinity Church. Harriet died in 1908 at the age of 50 (reg. 1908/9159). Richard died on 6 September 1927 and was buried in Otorohanga Cemetery.
  7. Albert Asher (1859-1942). Born in Auckland on 12 September 1859 (reg. 1859/4440). He did not marry. Albert is buried in Waikumete Cemetery.
  8. Alice Asher (1861-1928). Born in Auckland on 17 November 1861 (reg. 1861/6034). She firstly married Scots journalist Samuel Lionel Buchanan Campbell. He died in c1892. Alice remarried to Samuel Thomas Holland. She died on 23 January 1928 and was buried in Waiuku Cemetery.
  9. Victoria Rayner Asher (1863-1942). Born in Auckland on 28 October 1863 (reg. 1863/8649). She did not marry. Victoria died on 10 November 1942 and was buried in Waikumete Cemetery.
  10. Caroline Asher (1865-1924). Born in Auckland on 17 December 1865 (reg. 1866/24311). She married Jonas Tobias (John) in Auckland. John died on 10 April 1909 and was buried in Waikumete Cemetery. Caroline died on 15 June 1924 and was buried in Waikumete Cemetery.
  11. Catherine Asher (1868-1953). Known as 'Kate' she was born in Chapel Street, Auckland on 2 April 1868 (reg. 1868/10728 & reg. 1868/12753?). She married Cambridge schoolteacher Robert Jones Parry in 1887 (reg. 1887/1740). He died at age 49. Kate then married George Dickinson in 1918 (reg. 1918/2862), and then in 1930 John Charles Davis (reg. 1930/10982). Kate died in 1953 and was buried with her first husband in Waikumete Cemetery.

Asher worked as a merchant in Auckland and was involved in fire fighting activities. According to Nan Payne he joined 'the Auckland Volunteer City Rifles, Royal Company in 1858-59, and saw service in the Land Wars of 1863-1864'. He was the first Superintendent of the Auckland Fire Brigade in 1857.

Asher moved to Tauranga in 1867 and opened a branch store. He returned to Auckland, but was still involved in grain and produce purchases in Tauranga and from Motiti Island between 1872 and 1877. He wound up his business in Auckland and returned to Tauranga to live in 1877.

The family firstly built a house on Willow Street, then Wharf Street and then on the corner of Durham and Spring Streets.

He served as a Tauranga Borough Councillor and Cemetery Trustee as well as a honorary Fire Inspector looking after the appliances of the Tauranga Fire Brigade which he was associated with for the rest of his life. In Tauranga, Asher was also involved in:

  • Tauranga Public Cemetery trustee
  • The Masonic Lodge

In 1882 Asher ran for Mayor of Tauranga but was unsuccessful in the election held on 14 March 1882. George Vesey Stewart was elected instead.

Asher Asher (c1889)

Asher Asher in c1889. Photo: Tauranga City Libraries.

Asher died in Tauranga on 16 February 1899, aged 76 (reg. 1899/676). He was buried in the Jewish Section of Symonds Street Cemetery in Auckland. His obituary appeared in the Bay of Plenty Times on 20 February 1899:

THE LATE MR ASHER ASHER. The death of the above mentioned gentleman last week removed one of the connecting links between the first troublous days of this Colony and its peaceful and prosperous present. Mr Asher, who was 76 at the time of his death, was quite one of the old identities, having arrived in the Colony as a young man of close on 21 in the year 1843. One of his first ventures was the coasting trade in the Hauraki Gulf in which he became associated with the late Sir Donald McLean. Later on, acting on the advice of some of his co-religionists of the Hebrew faith, he started in business in Shortland Street, Auckland, meeting with considerable success. In 1845 Mr Asher married Miss Keesing, of Auckland, and celebrated his golden wedding four years ago. He gave early attention to Fire Brigade matters and soon rose to the position of Captain of the Auckland Brigade and Fire Inspector, his services being rendered voluntarily. The appreciation of his services by the citizens was shown by the presentation to him of a handsome illuminated address, made at a public meeting by ex- Governor Bowen.  In 1859, when the volunteer movement was started, Mr Asher was one of those who took a prominent part and though offered a commission, declined it and subsequently served his Company for many years as Senior Sergeant. His Company was among the first sent to the front in the Maori war and claimed to be the first of the British volunteers to go under fire, being in action at Te Wairoa and other places. Sergeant Asher had the unique experience, on the return of the troops to Auckland, of keeping a Minister of the Crown, Sir Thomas Russell, and the Attorney-General, Sir Frederick Whittaker, in the guardroom for seeking to break some of the general orders given to the guard re allowing persons to pass out at night; the story of this experience was a favourite one with the deceased when describing the scenes of his early life. Mr Asher was a prominent member of the Masonic fraternity and rose to high rank in Lodge Ara. In 1867 he came to Tauranga and opened a branch store, being contractor for general supplies to the troops in various parts of the country, subsequently returning to Auckland and again coming back to Tauranga in 1870, from which date he has resided here. In public life Mr Asher held the position of member of the Town Board of Auckland, prior to its formation into a Borough and later became a City Councillor. He also sat for some years as a Borough Councillor in Tauranga, Cemetery Trustee, etc. He held the honorary post of Fire Inspector here for many years and made the care of the Brigade appliances the first charge on his spare time. Even to the last he was always to the fore when the Brigade turned out for practice or to a fire. Deceased had a family of eleven, three sons and eight daughters, of whom nine survive; much sympathy will be felt with Mrs Asher and the family in their bereavement.

Hannah died on 26 September 1909, aged 86 (reg. 1909/9135) and was buried with her husband Asher.



Bay of Plenty Times (20 February 1899, p. 2).

Bellamy, Alan Charles (1982). Tauranga 1882-1982.

Births, Deaths and Marriages Online (New Zealand).

Payne, Nan (1988). Asher Asher: His Life and Time 1822-1899.

Symonds Street Cemetery, Auckland: Jewish Portion (p. 78).

Tauranga Fire BrigadeHistory 1874-2003.


This page was archvied at Perma cc April 2017

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Asher Asher (1822-1899)

First Names:Asher
Last Name:Asher
Date of Birth:30 April 1822
Place of Birth:London
Country of birth:England
Date of death:16 February 1899
Place of death:Tauranga, New Zealand
Place of burial:Symonds Street Cemetery, Auckland
Occupation:fire brigade
Date of Arrival:1842
Spouses name:Hannah Keesing
Spouses date of birth:15 August 1823
Spouses place of birth:London, England
Spouses date of death:26 September 1909
Spouses place of death:Auckland, New Zealand
Spouses place of burial:Symonds Street Cemetery, Auckland
Date of marriage:4 February 1846
Place of marriage:Auckland, New Zealand
Fathers name:Benjamin Asher
Fathers date of birth:1799
Fathers place of birth:Heath, Middlesex, England
Fathers date of death:19 June 1866
Fathers place of death:London, England
Mothers name:Rayner Jacobs
Mothers date of birth:1801
Mothers place of birth:Mile End Old Town, Middlesex, England
Mothers date of death:16 August 1863
Mothers place of death:Auckland, New Zealand
Military Service:New Zealand Wars

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