EDWARD HOOPER (1830 - 1899)

by Kae Lewis

Edward Hooper was born on the 28th August 1830 in Wareham, Dorset on the southwestern coast of England. He was the eldest son of John Street Hooper (1803 - 1890) and his wife Mary nee Grady (1808 - 1888) who lived at 67 East Street in the center of Wareham from at least 1841 until their deaths. John Street Hooper was a boot and shoemaker, and in the period 1841 to 1851, he was employing 3 men in his business (1). John Street Hooper and his wife Mary were members of the Independent church known as the West Street Meeting in Wareham. Their eldest son Edward was baptized into this church on 26th Dec 1830. Altogether they had 9 children baptized there, 3 daughters and 6 sons (2). John Street Hooper and his wife Mary are buried together in the churchyard of the Wareham United Reformed Church close to East Street where they lived (3).

67 East Street, Wareham, Dorset, England
The Hooper house is in the middle
with the black front door

In the 1851 census, Edward Hooper was living with his parents at 67 East Street, Wareham. At this time, Edward was aged 20, unmarried and working as an apprentice ironmonger (1). He left Dorset some time between 1851 and 1861 and went to South Australia, South Australia. On December 25th 1863, Edward Hooper aged 33 married Elizabeth Ann Bates aged 23 at the Wesleyan Chapel at Kooringa, in the district of Burra Burra, South Australia (5).

Elizabeth Ann Bates was born on 16th October 1842 in Finshampstead, Berkshire, England the eldest daughter of Henry Bates, an agricultural labourer and his wife Hannah nee Maynard (6). Henry and Hannah Bates had a family of 6 children, 3 daughters and 3 sons. Elizabeth spent most of her childhood in the village of Eversley in Hampshire, across the county border from her birthplace. (7) She emigrated to Australia alone, possibly working her passage as a maidservant. Henry Bates died on 30th January 1881 in the Union workhouse at Winchfield in the parish of Eversley, Hampshire, aged 77 (7).

Edward Hooper
Miner at Tapu, Thames 1868 - 1872

Burra Burra is north of Adelaide and was a large copper mine from about 1850 to 1877. Kooringa was one of the miners' villages built around the mine. In 1863, when he was married, Edward Hooper gave his occupation as ironmonger, having reverted to his old trade, presumably in the Burra Burra cooper mine

On August 2nd 1864, their first son, Edward Stanley Hooper was born in Kooringa with Edward still working as an ironmonger. When their daughter Julia Elizabeth Hooper was born on 24 April 1866 at Apoinga in the district of Burra, South Australia, Edward gave his occupation as labourer (5).

Although the Thames, New Zealand gold field officially opened on August 1st 1867, it was April 1868 before The Gold Fields Act 1866 was proclaimed and the miners started to arrive in earnest. By August 1868, the population was estimated to be about 18,000 men, women and children (8). And once more, Edward Hooper answered the call of the Gold.

Edward Hooper and his family arrived in Thames some time in July 1868 within three months of this official proclamation of the goldfield in the Auckland Provincial Government Gazette. At the considerable cost of 1, he purchased a Miner's Right (#8554) on the 29th July 1868 (9). His claim was located at Tapu, in the goldfield block of Waikawau, some 14 km north of Shortland (present day Thames) on the coastline of the Coromandel Peninsula. Paying another 1 a year later, he renewed this Miner's Right (#6011) on 26 August 1869, staying on the Waikawau block at Tapu. (9). On the 8th April 1869, before this second Miner's Right had expired, he bought a share in a mine called Count of Mont Cristo at Tapu with four other men (10). Three of the men, Frederick Hutchens, August Urlich and William Coatley had registered the claim initially on 23 February 1869, and a few weeks later had added Edward Hooper and Thomas Dodd, making the claim now five men's ground (250 X 300 feet in area.) Each of the five men had one full share in the claim.

Tapu Creek just upstream from Tapu. Miners were
able to find alluvial gold in this creek 1867 - 1868.

Click to enlarge the photograph.

Elizabeth and their two children, Edward Jnr and Julia, accompanied Edward on this journey from South Australia to New Zealand in 1868. On 6 October 1868, just three months after they landed on the shores of New Zealand, Elizabeth gave birth to their second son Frank Arthur Hooper at Shortland (11). At this time, Edward gave his occupation as Miner. To travel the 14 kms from Waikawau to Shortland, Elizabeth could have gone by sea in a cutter or there was a bridle track over the very steep coastal hills. There was no continuous beach between Hastings and Shortland as the hills plunge directly into the sea at this point. She may have had to travel alone because the rules of the Miner's Right was that the miner could not leave his claim for more than 24 hours at a time, except on Sundays. If he did, the ground could be legally taken by a claim jumper. There were an abundance of unscrupulous claim jumpers just waiting to pounce on a good claim (13).

On September 5th 1869, Frank Arthur Hooper was baptized by the Methodist minister, Rev George S. Harper (14). It is not known where this baptism took place but by 1869, there was a Wesleyan Church close to the Holdship's timber wharf at Grahamstown. At the time of his son's baptism, Edward was still working as a miner, and the family were living at Tapu. There is no record that Edward ever transferred his Miner's Right to another field in the Thames district during the first two years (9).

My great grandfather, Herbert George Hooper was the third son of Edward and Elizabeth Hooper and was born at Hastings (or Tapu as it was also known) on 15th August 1870 (11). Edward had once more given up mining for gold and had reverted to his trade as an ironmonger. The Count of Mont Cristo claim must have played out by this time, lasting no longer than 16 months after its inception.

Tapu Landing with the mouth of Tapu Creek left center. The Count of Mont Cristo Claim was somewhere in the hills behind the Tapu village, seen in the foreground as it is today.
Click to enlarge the photograph.

Tapu Beach showing the road to The Thames and part of the Hauraki Gulf.

Click to enlarge the photograph.

By 1868, there was a large sawmill milling Kauri trees at Waikawau, a few miles north of Tapu (12). Since they were still living at Tapu, Edward could have been working for the sawmill or for one of the various mining companies in the area. The use of tramways and horses was widespread throughout the goldfield at the time and consequently there would have been plenty of work available for an ironmonger.

Records of the time seem to alternate between calling this settlement on the coast Tapu and Hastings. The two names seem to have been used simultaneously. It was originally a Maori village named Rauwhitiora. Then it appeared on official maps as Hastings, named after Warren Hastings the first Governor General of India. When the miners began to arrive, the local Maoris erected a sign saying 'tapu' (sacred) to warn them off. Over time the whole district became known to the miners as Tapu, and this is the name of the township today. (16)

The hills behind Tapu village where most of the
quartz mining at Tapu during 1868 - 1870 took place.

Click to enlarge the photograph.

There is a description of Hastings in 1867 - 1868 in the School and District Reunion booklet (16). Gold was found there by McIsaacs and his party of ten men in 1867, and this lead to quite a rush to Hastings. At that time, Hastings consisted largely of canvas dwellings, including seven hotels constructed using calico over wooden frames. Strong winds that whipped in from the Hauraki Gulf tore down these flimsy structures quite frequently. As time went by, the sawmill at Waikawau began to produce the pit-sawn timber needed to construct more substantial buildings.

It is most likely, at the start at least, that the Hooper family lived under canvas. Later, if Edward had had a showing of gold in his pan, they may have been able to construct one of the rough wooden whares as shown in the photo taken at nearby Tararu goldfield. It is a tribute to Elizabeth that she raised four children, all under five years old and including two newborns, keeping them all alive and healthy under these very primitive conditions. They arrived in July in the middle of winter when rain, wind, mud and bitter cold would have been a daily occurrence. The food supplies would have been scarce, and there was apparently a total lack of fresh vegetables.

Tararu Goldfield 1868 showing the digger's
whares. Tapu in 1868 would have looked
similar to this, with many of the miners and
their families living under canvas.

Gold found through most of the Thames goldfield had to be extracted at great cost from the quartz in which it was bound. This meant that only miners with the capital to invest in stamping batteries or crushing machines could succeed, and the Thames goldfield quickly became the domain of the large mining companies. It is doubtful that Edward would have had the capital to invest in extracting gold from the quartz, and so the Waikawau would have suited him. However, Edward Hooper never did become rich despite his decade or more of searching for gold.

By 1870, the gold had run out, Tapu was declining and the population was moving on. However, the town still had three hotels, two stores, two butchers, a shoemaker, a baker, a post office, public hall, a Catholic chapel, two private schools, and three quartz crushing machines.

At some time in 1871 or 1872, Edward and Elizabeth took their family of three sons and a daughter to Gisborne. It is most likely they traveled by coastal steamer, perhaps the SS Pretty Jane which at that time sailed regularly between Auckland and Gisborne taking passengers and freight, including livestock on the deck. They would stop at Shortland or Hastings when needed. The passengers were accommodated in a tiny cabin with a small enclosed berth for the ladies on board. The ship's cook on the Pretty Jane at that time was William Perston whose daughter Catherine, yet unborn, would eventually marry Edward's baby son Herbert George Hooper in 1899 and become my great grandparents.

William King (1838 - 1903)
Sawmiller, soldier, contractor, builder.

We do not know when the Hooper family arrived in Gisborne but they were there by the beginning of 1873 because on 16th January 1873, their fourth son Sydney Stephen Hooper was born at the Makauri saw-mill, 6 km inland from Gisborne (11). Edward was employed as an ironmonger at the sawmill which was owned by William King. It was William King who was the informant that registered the birth of the child for Edward a month later on 20th Feb 1873, giving his address and occupation as William King, Contractor, Gisborne. Although this is quite a common name and we cannot be certain if it was the same man, it is perhaps no coincidence that on 4 July 1868, a William King took out 3 miner's rights at Karaka on the Thames goldfield (9). In this case, it would seem likely that Edward knew he had a job at the Makauri sawmill before he left Tapu. Like Edward and Elizabeth Hooper, William King was a member of the Wesleyan Church.

Eventually the sawmill at Makauri grew until there were about 40 - 60 hands whose cottages were scattered in the bush and formed the small settlement of Makauri. The mill had an output of 7000 ft of timber per day, mostly kahikatea (white pine) (21). It was connected to the road with a tramway because it was impossible to use bullock drays to bring out the timber in the winter. A new engine and steam boiler was installed in March 1873 and a timber yard opened in Gisborne in October 1874. In December 1874, William King bought another new boiler, such was the demand for the Makauri sawn timber (23).

This photo, taken by William F. Crawford
in 1905 near Gisborne shows the use of wooden
tram rails to extract logs from the forest

On 29th January 1875, the fifth son, Walter Hooper was also born at Makauri (11). Edward was still an ironmonger at Makauri, and this time the birth was registered in Gisborne one month later by J. West of Makauri. From this, we can deduce that Edward and Elizabeth Hooper seldom if ever made the trek by horseback to Gisborne and that their supplies were transported out to Makauri by others.

William Perston, the cook on the SS Pretty Jane had by this time left his seafaring life and brought his family to Gisborne, sometime after 1876. Initially he worked as a cook at Makauri where his eldest daughter Margaret Perston was born on 29 January 1877 (11). At this time, William was aged 27 and gave his occupation as cook. By July 27 1878, William Perston had moved back to Tolaga Bay and was working as a baker. Not however before cementing the friendship between the Hooper and Perston families and leading many years later to the marriage of Herbert George Hooper and Catherine Perston, my great grandparents.

On 13th January 1878, Emma Hooper, the second daughter of Edward and Elizabeth Hooper was born at Makauri (11). At that time, Edward was aged 46, and his occupation is given as clerk. Elizabeth was aged 35. Later that year, in December 1878, disaster struck at the mill. A fire destroyed the mill and many of the mill cottages. Everything was alight except the roadway, and everyone worked hard to save what they could. They were able to save some of the timber, milling equipment and employees' furniture. The loss was a great personal tragedy to the mill owner and employees alike. (23)

Elizabeth Ann Hooper nee Bates
died 1894 Gisborne, New Zealand.

It is not known what loss the Hooper family incurred in this fire but it seems most likely that they were greatly effected. When their 16 month old daughter Emma died of diphtheria and croup on 24th May 1879, the family was living in Gisborne (10). The story is told in our family, that when Emma died, Elizabeth Hooper was seriously ill. She suffered from diabetes and Edward did not tell her until much later about the death of her baby daughter. When she asked for her daughter, Edward told her that she was out in the garden with the other children. In 1879, Edward Hooper was still a clerk, possibly now working in the King timber yard in Gisborne. Two years later, they were still living in Gisborne when their last child, Mabel Hooper was born on 14th December 1881 (11). Edward was now aged 50 and gave his occupation once more as ironmonger in 1881. Elizabeth was aged 40.

Elizabeth Ann Hooper nee Bates died in Gisborne on the 7 June 1894 at the age of 54 (11). Her early death when her youngest daughter was only 12 years old, was caused by diabetes. Edward Hooper died at the Gisborne hospital aged 69 on 14 January 1899. He had contracted poliomyelitis. Elizabeth and Edward Hooper are buried together with their daughter Emma in Plot E91 of the old section of the Makaraka Cemetery in Gisborne (24). Although he usually used the name of Edward Hooper for all official documents, he was often known as Edwin. He is recorded in the Makaraka Cemetery records as Edwin Hooper. There is no headstone there today, and it seems likely that there never was.


  1. UK Census records.
  2. West Street Meeting (Independent), Wareham Church Register. LDS Film #0593800
  3. Wareham United Reformed Church, Monumental Inscriptions published by the Dorset Family History Society.
  4. Passenger Lists- Victoria Australia Outwards to New Zealand Ports fiche.
  5. Birth and Marriage civil records, South Australia
  6. UK Birth certificate
  7. Eversley, Hamspshire, England Bishops Transcripts LDS Film #1596094
  8. Thames Goldfields Centennial 1867 - 1967
  9. Miners' Rights, Thames. Archives New Zealand (Auckland) document BACL 14358 2a & 3a
  10. Claim Register, Thames. Archives New Zealand (Auckland) document BACL 14397 3a #1424.
  11. New Zealand birth and death certificates
  12. Thames Gold Fields Miners' Guide. Carpers Press 1868.
  13. Thames: 1867 - 1917 - Fifty Years a Goldfield (Waikato University Library).
  14. Methodist Church New Zealand Parish register
  15. A History of Goldmining in New Zealand by J.H.M Salmon 1963.
  16. Tapu-Kereta School and District Reunion 18?? - 1979.
  17. Thames: The First 100 Years by William A. Kelly, published by Thames Star, 1968.
  18. Historic Gold Trails of Coromandel by Tony Nolan. AH & AW Reed, 1977.
  19. Thames: 1867 to 1917 - Fifty Years A Goldfield. Published by the Old Thames Boys' Association.
  20. Auckland Provincial Gazette Jan 25th 1868
  21. The "Times" Jubilee Souvenir, Gisborne 1927.
  22. The Gisborne Herald, Weekly Outlook 6th May 1999.
  23. The Standard and Peoples Advocate, Gisborne. March 19, 1873, Oct 24, 1874, Dec 9, 1874.
  24. Makaraka Cemetery, Gisborne burial records read at Gisborne Public Library

The Hooper Family of Australia and New Zealand.

Edward (Edwin) Hooper
    born 28 Aug 1830 Wareham, Dorset, England.
    baptised 26 Dec 1831 Wareham, Dorset, England.
    died 14 Jan 1899 Gisborne, New Zealand.
    buried Makaraka Cemetery, Gisborne.

Elizabeth Ann Bates
    born 16 Oct 1840 Finchampstead, Berkshire, England.
    died 7 June 1894 Gisborne, New Zealand.
    buried Makaraka Cemetery, New Zealand.

Married 25 Dec 1863 Wesleyan Chapel, Kooringa, South Australia.

  1. Edward Stanley Hooper
    born 2 Aug 1864 Kooninga, Burra, South Australia.
    died 14 May 1902 Whataupoko, Poverty Bay, New Zealand.
    buried Makaraka, Gisborne.
    married 26 May 1888 Holy Trinity Church, Gisborne to Margaret Hepburn

  2. Julia Elizabeth Hooper
    born 24 April 1866 Apoinga, South Australia.
    died 20 Sept 1942 Gisborne.
    married 15 Feb 1890 Holy Trinity Church, Gisborne to Henry Wilson

  3. Frank Arthur Hooper
    born 6 Oct 1868 Shortland, Thames, New Zealand.
    baptised 5 Sept 1869 Tapu Methodist Church.
    died 28 Feb 1957 Gisborne.
    married June 1895 Gisborne to Ellen Elizabeth Hepburn

  4. Herbert George Hooper
    born 15 August 1870 Tapu, New Zealand.
    died 26 October 1945 Gisborne.
    married 15 April 1899 Registry Office, Gisborne.

  5. Sydney Stephen Hooper
    born 16 Jan 1873 Makauri.
    died 12 July 1937 New Lynn, Auckland.
    married circa 1923 Waiuku to Eliza Burrows.

  6. Walter Hooper
    born 29 Jan 1875 Makauri.
    died 19 June 1962 Gisborne.
    married 1899 Te Araroa to Ngatai Tunoa Parapara.

  7. Emma Hooper
    born 13 Jan1878 Makauri, Poverty Bay.
    died 24 May 1879 Gisborne.
    buried Makaraka Cemetery, Gisborne.

  8. Mabel Hooper
    born 14 Dec 1881 Gisborne.
    died 1970 Tauranga.
    married Jan 1904 Patutahi Valley, Poverty Bay to Joseph Patterson.


Contact: Kae Lewis