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Halbert family

Thomas Halbert and various Maori women

Arrived: 1832
Country of origin: England
Area in New Zealand: Poverty Bay
Source: Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Details: Known as Tame Poto (Tommy Short) born 1807 at Newcastle Upon Tyne became a trader after whaling and was connected through matrimonial alliances to three East Coast tribes.
Simpson, Elspeth M. & K. M. Simpson. 'Halbert, Thomas 1807/1808? - 1865'. Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, updated 22 June 2007
The original version of this biography was published in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography Volume One (1769-1869), 1990.

A life that has extended over a full century came to a termination yesterday with the death of Mrs Donaldson Maora Pani of Manutuke. The deceased lady who was a child two or three months old when the Rev Mr Marsden preached his first sermon in New Zealand one hundred years ago, was born in this district, and had spent her whole life here. She enjoyed good health until a few weeks ago and retained all her faculties to the last, conversing with the son Mr Thomas Halbert, quite interestingly and vividly about events of the early days but a short time before her death. Her recollections were most interesting. She well remembered the arrival of Captain Read, the first trader to establish himself in Gisborne. As showing her great age, it may be mentioned that deceased married her first husband m 1834, being then a grown up woman. In 1836 there was a war in the North, and deceased, who was very strong-willed, was most anxious to go to the front with other natives who were leaving Gisborne. The men refused to take her, but she succeeded in hiding in their canoe and was not discovered until they had proceeded some little distance on their voyage. When discovered, the men threw her over, the boat being about half a mile or so from the land, and Maora, who was a fine swimmer, had no difficult in getting ashore. Her prowess in the water was further illustrated by an incident at Young Nick's Head. She was very fond of diving in the sea for succulent crayfish and pawas, and one day whilst diving amongst the rocks at Young Nick's Head, was observed by other member's of the party to have disappeared. An alarm was raised and they saw a black object struggling under the water, and it was fully 2-3 minutes before their companion reappeared. She had been caught by a huge octopus, and it was only her strength and skill and the fact that she carried a knife in a belt round her waist and used this with advantage that enabled her to escape. Deceased was a very brave woman and remained staunch to the Christian faith through the many severe trials that professing Native Christians were put to in the early days of this district. She was the beloved mother of a numerous family, of whom Mrs Woodbine Johnson, of Wairakaia, is her tenth, and Mr Thomas Halbert of Manutuke. her fourteenth child.

Reports from Poverty Bay concur in stating that never were the Natives of that and neighbouring places in a more unsettled condition than at present. Taught by the notorious Henare Matua, the tribes of those districts have come to believe that they will get back all the lands sold to Europeans. A half-caste lady, Mrs Wyllie (nee Halbert), appears to have done good service, by confronting Henare 'Matua whilst he was haranguing his dupes and I hear it is perfecty true that she so severely exposed his mendacity, that he was glad to beat a retreat for that time.

Wiremu Pere born 7th March 1837 at Gisborne to Thomas Halbert and Riria Mauaranui of Rongowhakaata and Te Aitanga a Mahaki.