Wellington City Libraries

Te Matapihi Ki Te Ao Nui


Te Wai Heberley


James Heberley and his wife, Te Wai Heberley, circa 1870s Te Wai was the daughter of Manukonga and grand daughter of Te Irihau and a member of the Te Ati Awa iwi. She was also known as Maata Te Naihi Te Owai, Mata Te Naehe or Te Wai Nahi. Her family crossed the Strait to live at the top end of the South Island.

James Heberley was born at Weymouth, England but his father who was born at Wurtemberg, in Germany, died when James was eight years old.

James Heberley ran away to sea at the age of eleven years, and came to the Bay of Islands with whalers, in 1827. He returned on 14 April, 1830, to Te Awaiti, Tory Channel and there met Maata Te Naihi.

About a year after arriving at the Sounds, James and Te Wai were married according to Maori custom. On 13 December 1841 the Rev. S. Ironside married the parents on the same day that he baptised three of their children.

After the arrival of Edward Gibbon Wakefield in the Tory, Heberley became a pilot for ships entering Te Whanga-nui-Tara, and in time, was given the name of Worser Heberley. The family moved to Wellington Harbour in 1841, to live at Tarakena Bay on land belonging to Te Wai's uncle and relations but later they moved to a section at Pipitea Pa at the invitation of Kopiri and still later returned to Arapawa Island. Some of the children were born in the Wellington area. In 1852 James and Maata were successful in their bid for a grant of land at Pipitea Pa. This is the area now occupied by the Bodyworks Fitness Centre at 75 Thorndon Quay.

Heberley went on expeditions with Ernest Dieffenbach, and indeed, preceeded Dieffenback, on Christmas Eve, 1839 to the summit of Mt Egmont/Taranaki, thus becoming the first European to stand on that summit.

Eight of their children reached adulthood. These were Mary-Ann (1832), John (1834), Sarah (1840), James (1842), Thomas, Jacob (1852), Henry, Joseph (1854). James often referred to his eldest daughter Mary-Ann as Margaret.

The families of three of these children figure prominently in the early history of Te Whanganui-a-Tara and Taranaki.

Mary-Ann married Robert Woodgate. Their daughter, Mihi Korama Woodgate married Hapi Tutua Puketapu, (son of Mohi Puketapu and Harata Porutu). The five children of Mohi and Harata were Ihaia, Hirini, Piripi, Raepakoko and Neta Toea.

Sarah Heberley married William Keenan and their children were William, Martha, Louisa and John. William Keenan figures prominently in the history of the rohe of Taranaki.

Joseph Heberley married Miss Freeman, and their eldest son, Thomas, became a master carver at the National Museum. Thomas' daughter, Flora Heberley married Sir Makere Rangiatea Ralph Love.

After Te Wai's death, James or 'Worser' Heberley married again in 1879 a widow, Charlotte Emily Joyce. A daughter in Charlotte's family was the grandmother of Janet Frame the New Zealand novelist. References:

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography : The Turbulent Years 1870-1900.
Thessman, Jack. Worser the Whaler, in, The Dominion, 15 January 1988.
Wellington Land Court Minute Book ; Vol. 1 p. 242
Buick, Thomas Old Marlborough. p. 214.
Wakefield, Edward Jerningham Adventures in New Zealand. p. 102-134.
Jacob William Heberley: cited in Te Ara.

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From the National Library of New Zealand's Paperspast database :

Maori Land Deeds

A to Js Online

The petitioner states that in 1840, 1841 and 1842 he lived at Worser's Bay, in the Province of Wellington.

That the bay was then the fishing station of E Puni and Waripori, Native chiefs of the Ngahau trive.

That he is related to the above-named chiefs through his wife Te Wai.

That in 1840, E Puni, being then the owner, gave to petitioner and his wife a portion of the land lying between a place called Pinnacle Rock and the Cave, from the shore to the foot of the hills. That the land has been taken by the Government and sold to private individuals.

He prays for redress or compensation.

I have the nonor to report that, as no sufficient evidence has been offered to the Committee with respect to this case, they have opinion to offer. 27 October, 1876.
Thomas Kelly, Chairman.

1876 Session 1, I-06, page 29.

Letters & Manuscripts

Alexander Turnbull Library:

Papers relating to 'The Cook Strait whalers', by Richard John Seddon.
ATL Reference Number: MS-Papers-9616-7.
Available via the Alexander Turnbull Library.
Folder comprises correspondence and research material relating to Kidson's unpublished work `The Cook Strait whalers'. Also includes manuscript and typescript drafts of the first two chapters of this intended work, a James Worser Heberley family tree, a copy of a typed extract from Richard Barrett's journal held at the Alexander Turnbull Library and newspaper cuttings
Reminiscences, by James Heberley
Reference Number: MS-Papers-qMS-0943, qMS-0942 & MS-0970. [3 Manuscript files]
Available via the Alexander Turnbull Library.
Includes description of whaling and the life of a whaler in Cook Strait and the Marlborough Sounds. Includes description of the ascent of Mount Taranaki with Dr Dieffenbach and others, Dec 1839.

Other National Library resources :

Here is a link to a search on TAPUHI (TAPUHI contains records for the items held in the Alexander Turnbull Library unpublished collections) for all material relating to Hemi Parai:

TAPUHI search (67 records in total)

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