Henry (Henare) Joseph Stanaway (Taniwe) 1850 – 1913

Captain Henry Stanaway was born on 8 April 1850 (birth certificate number unknown) in the Hokianga, Northland. (Note in his Obituary it states that he was born in the Northern Wairoa).

Captain Henry Stanaway.

Captain Henry Stanaway.

The first story we have of Henry was of him as a youngster swimming across the Wairoa River with his older sister Isabella to live with their father when he was about 7 years old. From this we can only assume that he and his siblings had moved down from the Hokianga about 1853. Also that his mother and siblings did not live with their father at Tokatoka but on the other side of the river most likely with his mother’s tribe, Rarawa, in the local Pa.

From the book “A White Tohunga” by P&G Kullberg – Page 40

Isabella wanted to be with her father and one day, when still a child, she took her little brother Henry, their clothes on her back, and swam over the Wairoa River to her father.”

Much of his early life has not been recorded, but I am very sure the Captain put him, his sister and his half siblings to work as part of his crew, from an early age. Again in his obituary it mentions him as a boy of 14 assisting his father in piloting vessels from Kaipara Heads to the Wairoa and later to Helensville. By his late teens he already has gained skills and knowledge in commanding vessels in and around the Kaipara Harbour.

Lotus Under construction - Sir George Grey Special Collection.

Lotus Under construction – Sir George Grey Special Collection.

By 1864 aged about 14, Henry obtained a junior ship-write position with James Simcock, a boat builder of Kaukapakapa. Henry assisted in building the schooner “Lotus” at the mouth of the Kaukapakapa River. Henry’s brother-in-law Charles Nelson help design the vessel as was also overseeing the construction. It is here Henry learns another skill, that of building and construction.

Another view of the Lotus under construction - Sir George Grey Special Collection.

Another view of the Lotus under construction – Sir George Grey Special Collection.

Schooner Lotus, under construction at Wakatiwai by Charles Simcock for William Bonar, timber miller, of Kaukapakapa, photographed in late 1863 by Daniel Manders Beere. The Lotus was wrecked at Kaipara Heads on 13 August, 1864.

Taken from the book “The Great Northern Wairoa” by E.K Bradley – Page 18

“Lotus – The lotus was built by Charles Simcock for Mr Bonar at a cost of 2,200 pounds and was the pride of the harbour. Her experiences should give readers some idea of the vagaries of conditions around the harbour Bar. Her dimensions were 78 feet 8 inches by 22 feet 9 inches by 8 feet 2 inches and of 81 tons. She was loaded with 60,000 feet of kauri under the command of Captain Nelson. Departure date was August 1864, the wind was light but a heavy sea was running across the Shoals. One such sea struck her carrying away her fore and aft gaff peaks. She was put about, intending to make back to Port but the wind died away and she was carried by the strong ebb to within a Cable’s length of the Bar. Here, the flood tide was met which sent her in again. Another wave hit her and stove in the skylight and smashed the lifeboat. Again, the South end of the South Spit was hit and she bumped over into the deep water. Waterlogged, her rudder gone, the Captain tried to steer with the sails and had the wind been stronger he may have succeeded. She next struck the outer North Spit but the roaming around ended and she was now stuck fast. At low tide the ship was high and dry in the middle of the Harbour entrance. The crew hastily patched up the broken life boat and were able to reach the main land without loss of life.”

There are no records on Henry from 1864 until 1869, we can only assume that, like his older half-brother William, he was most likely involved in various trades from assisting his father with piloting, and boat building, gum digging and later becoming a Captain of various craft in and around the Kaipara Harbour.

Rose McElroy.

Rose McElroy.

On 20 November 1869 at the age of 19, Henry Stanaway (occupation listed as a gum digger) marries Rose McElroy a servant and youngest daughter of Samuel and Ann McElroy. They were married at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church Parnell, Auckland.

Both William Stanaway and Isabella Nelson (nee Stanaway)were witnesses at the wedding.

Marriage Notice - New Zealand Herald 21 January 1870.

Marriage Notice – New Zealand Herald 21 January 1870.

Rose McElroy was aged 27. She was born in 1842 at Market Hill Armagh, Ireland. She was baptised on 18 December 1842 at Ballymore Ireland. Her father was a blacksmith. Henry and Rose lived in one cottage near the foundry where Samuel McElroy, Rose’s father worked.

From Men Came Voyaging – Chapter 9 – page 80

“The first of a long line of ships’ Captains, who came to Helensville, arrived in 1870. He was Henry Stanaway, son of James Stanaway, first Kaipara harbour pilot. Henry Stanaway’s sister was Isabel Nelson, who gave her brother portion of her Helensville land  on which in 1880 he built a home for his wife, formerly Rose McElroy of Ireland. This house, shorn of its glory, stands above Mr. Clive Reid’s residence in Rata Street. Here Captain and his wife raised five sons and three daughters.

Among the first boats sailed out of Helensville by Henry Stanaway was the cutter Paimarie, which he ran for P & I McLeod. This little vessel had the distinction of being the first boat built-in Helensville but soon after her launching in 1867, her builder-owner-skipper, Thomas Condon, was drowned when she capsized in the Tauhoa River.

Henry Stanaway, in return for fencing done by his friend Captain William Sandin, a Norwegian, gave the rear half of his section to Sandin who built a home, also still to be seen, at the left end of Captain Street.”

Taken from the book “The Great Northern Wairoa” by E.K Bradley – Pages 23-24

“Henry Stanaway, came to live in Helensville and also became a Captain and at different times commanded many of the river boats trading to the Wairoa taking the first mail to Dargaville in a cutter owned by McLeod’s, the Gemini. He was apprenticed to James Simcock, a boat builder of Kaukapakapa, and worked too as a house carpenter. For some time he was the Proprietor of the Kaipara Hotel, Helensville, and acted as an interpreter in the Courts for many years.”

From Barney Daniel’s notes on Captain John James Stanaway

“Henry Stanaway came to live in Helensville and became Master of many river boats, at one time he was the proprietor of the Kaipara Hotel in Helensville.”

On 24 October 1870 his first child is born, Mary Josephine.

In 1871 Henry with his father were mentioned in a “Sad Accident” as reported in the Auckland Star on 22 May 1871. He is named as Captain Stanaway of the Clyde, and was part of a team of men who tried to recover a vessel and two bodies lost in an accident on the Wairoa River. The mission was unsuccessful on both counts, the vessel broke up and the bodies were not recovered.

In November 1872 an article printed in the Daily Southern Star mentions Henry having to deliver the mail on the Wairoa River but the use of sailing ship and that it was about time the government provided a steam-powered vessel as the conditions, and local expansion and growth in the area, did not always allow for a regular mail service.

“Our Northern Wairoa correspondent writes: – I wonder when the Government intend placing a steamer on these rivers, for the conveyance of mails to and from Helensville? We have waited long enough and patiently enough in all conscience. Rumours have from time to time reached us of a steamer to be put on when the Kaipara Railway is finished: but when will the said railway be finished? Whilst the grass is growing the steed is starving. I am sure that the postal business on the Wairoa alone is sufficient to warrant such a step in the right direction as a steamer to carry the mails, to say nothing of the settlements on the other rivers. Business has increased in this district to a great extent during the past twelve months. If any proof of this be needed I refer you to my weekly shipping reports. Yet here we are, never certain as to the arrival of the mails – settlers at the back never knowing when to send for their letters: in fact, no end of inconveniences. The present mail boat has done its duty well, but its day has gone by. As to Mr. Henry Stanaway, her captain, there is but one opinion as to his efficiency and good management, but even he is unable to contend against tides, calms, and adverse winds, so as to ensure that regularity which is now so much to be desired.”

On 20 April 1872 Joseph Patrick is born.

In 1873 Henry is required to give evidence in the inquiry held on 26 May, into the drowning of John Sinnott. The deceased came to his death by drowning in the Kaipara River, near the wharf, at Helensville on Saturday night, the 10th day of May, 1873 having accidentally fallen into the said river.


“Lately I was engaged to take charge of the cutter Pai Mairire, belonging to Messrs P and J McLeod. On the 1st May I engaged the deceased, John Sinnott, to work at erecting a fence on the railway. Subsequently I required as additional hand in the cutter, and deceased consented to go a trip with me to the Wairoa in the Pai Mairire. On the 2nd inst. He accompanied me in the cutter to the Wairoa. He performed his duties in a work like manner. We returned to Helensville on Saturday, the 10th inst, and arrived at McLeod’s wharf at 7 o’clock. Deceased did not have any grog or liquor of any description whilst away with me in the cutter. Upon arrival he requested me to give him two shillings, as part payment for work done, which I complied with. This is the last occasion upon which I saw deceased. About half past ten o’clock I distinctly heard two cooeys, which sounded as if they proceeded from the direction of the store near my house. Not imagining that the sounds proceeded from any one in difficulty, I did not get out of bed. I believe that the body now viewed by the jury and myself to be that of the person John Sinnott, who has been missing since the 10th May.”

The Daily Southern Cross paper on 1 January 1874 lists the results of the annual cricket match between Married and Bachelor teams held on Boxing Day at Mangawhare. Both Henry and his half-brother William play in the match for the Married, Henry opens the batting and scores 14 in the first innings and 0 in the second. The final result was a tie (the game went on too long and players drifted off to catch ferries).

On Saint Patrick’s Day 1875 Henry and his half-brother William, enter into the Annual Northern Wairoa Regatta. Henry is entered in the third race – open sailing race with 8 other competitors. The race is over 10 miles, with price money to the first and second place getters. Henry, sailing Ripe, comes in third and the note from the correspondent was that the winning boat was “greatly favoured by the light breeze that was blowing.”

According to the New Zealand Herald on 14 September 1878, Henry becomes a gazetted interpreter under the Native Lands Act, 1873. An occupation he is from then on listed as in the general electoral rolls.

A few days late on 22 September 1873 Theresa Jane is born followed by Mary 1874, Henry Patrick 1875, Annie 1876, Isabel 1878, and James William 1880.

In 1879 Henry is issued with a “Certificate of Competency as Master of a River Steamer” (the same certificate his son Joseph Patrick will also obtain 17 years later).

The Stanaway home built by Henry.

The Stanaway home built by Henry.

Henry in 1880, builds the family home on Rata Street, Helensville, on land gifted to him by his sister. Unfortunately the house no longer exists or at least on its original site, perhaps good fortune has seen it relocated and restored elsewhere.

From Men Came Voyaging – Chapter 16 – page 188

“T.O. Robinson, who then lived in Henry Stanaway’s old home, was another accountant of that year who undertook work at home.”

At the time of this note, 1921 the house was still there but no longer in the family ownership.

July 1881 saw Henry and Rose have another son John Aloysius.

On 9 March 1881 Henry is listed as a Steward at the local Helensville Races, a pastime it seems that many of the Stanaway’s enjoyed.

In August 1881 the schooner Rona went missing of the coast of the South Head after a storm blew through. Henry was included in the search party to cover the area from the top of the South Head down to the Manukau.

The Auckland Star on 23 August 1881 printed the following story (They wrote his name as Harry instead of Henry);

“Harry Stanaway returned from the wreck of the Rona last night, having gone out on Saturday, via Wharepara. He went south of the wreck, and found nothing. He then traversed from the wreck to the South Head, about ten miles from the wreck.

Parallel to Shelly Beach, he found the body of a young man about 5ft. 9in. high, with a good set of teeth, light hair, and no whiskers, with all the flesh off the body except the hands and feet. It was possibly washed off by the action of the tide. He had on a pair of white drawers hanging on one leg, and worsted socks with white tops, and half-soled elastic boots. He had non no other clothing. He also found one of the ship’s hatches lying twenty yards away higher up on the beach.

Five miles further north he found one of the vessel’s coir wraps, and two miles north of that a keg of butter, and a mug, and one mile beyond another rope wrap.

There was no sign of the boat anywhere.

To Stanaway it is evident the vessel capsized at sea, and the man, whose body has been found tried to come ashore on the hatch but was washed off in the surf, there being no other piece of wreckage within five miles of the body.

Stanaway, who was accompanied by Henry Bailey, dug a hole in the sand above high water, and buried the body with the booming of the surf for a burial service. He brought up portions of the hair and forwarded it to Mr D. H. McKenzie. He could make no further examination on the wreck, as the water filled in holes as fast as he dug.

From the description of the body found it is concluded that it is neither that of Captain Kenneth McKenzie or his mate, Mr Robert Smith. They were both men who stood about 6 feet high, and the former was dark-complexioned. The probability, therefore, is that the body is one of the other two men, who are not so well-known here, and his friends will be able to recognise it by the description given.”

The New Zealand Herald printed a letter Henry wrote to the Editor on 24 August 1881 which reads as;

“A letter was received yesterday by Captain John McKenzie from H. Stanaway, who went from Kaipara to Manukau to search for bodies or traces of the wreck. The letter, which we give underneath, was written at Helensville, and is dated the 22nd instant. It contains some interesting information, notably, the finding of a body. Mr. Stanaway is of the opinion the Rona capsized at sea, and gives his reasons.

Captain McKenzie, upon visiting the wreck, concluded that she had come to grief not a hundred yards from where she lies. Apparently the body found was much further decayed than bodies of persons only lost about a week generally are. Mr. Stanaway writes;

Dear Sir,

H. Bailey and myself started from here last Saturday afternoon for Wharepapa, and stayed there all night, and at 8.30 am on Sunday we started. After searching the beach for about ten miles north of the wreck we found the body of a man.

He was about five feet nine inches in height. He had light hair, sharp features, and had on a pair of spring side shoes, which had been half soled, and a pair of blue woollen socks, with white tops, and white drawers hanging to one foot. All the flesh was off his body, and legs and arms. We dug a hole and buried him.

About five miles north of the body we found one of the schooners wraps, and about two miles further north we found a keg of butter, and a little further we found another of her wraps. This was the last thing we found of her, although we went down to the Heads.

I believe the Rona must have capsized at sea, because one of her hatches was about twenty yards from the body, and I think he must have come ashore on it until he got in the surf, and then must have got drowned, because there was none of her wreckage near for miles. I found a mug, which I expect came out of her, about fifteen miles north of the wreck.

Today we went south, but did not see anything belonging to her. We brought some of the hair from the body, thinking perhaps you would like to see it.

I am, &c., H Stanaway Helensville, 22nd August.

Captain Smith, of the Christina, proceeds to Helensville this morning. There he will meet Mr. Norman McKenzie, brother of the deceased master, with a party from Waipu. The intention is to institute a minute and through search along the coast for any traces of the crew, and they will probably start tomorrow.”

The Auckland star followed upon 27 August 1881 with;

“Captain Smith returned from Helensville yesterday, after having made further investigations into the wreck of the Rona. He searched along the beach for some considerable distance, but saw no further evidence of the shipwrecked crew. The body found by Stanaway was exhumed, but was not recognised, although the remark was made that it bore some resemblance to the mate of the brigantine James A Stewart, wrecked there about twelve months ago.”

On 11 November 1881, Henry wrote a letter to the Editor and it was published in the Auckland Star, it reads as follows;

“Sir, – I see by your Saturday’s issue that the remains of poor Captain R, McKenzie were found a few days ago on the North Spit, Kaipara Heads, by Mr George Kitchen.

Now, when Captain Smith came to the Kaipara some time ago, for the purpose of searching the beach from the South Spit to the wreak, after Mr H. Bailey and myself had traversed along the beach for the same purpose, I suggested that it would be better to continue the search on the North Spit, and stated my belief that if either the boat or any of the men were found it would be in the neighbourhood of the North Spit, because the flood tide sets right in to this, and nearly everything in the shape of wreckage, logs, swan timber, &c., drifts in there.

It will be remembered that we found two coils of rope, keg of butter, and other gear from the Rona, at least 15 miles north from where she went ashore, and about six miles south of the South Head.

Had my suggestion been acted on, the body just found might have been picked up more fully recognisable, and would have escaped the mutilation it had evidently received. This loss of life to the captain and crew of the Rona should stir up the Government to erect a lighthouse on Kaipara Heads, and I am glad to see that others are agitating on the subject.

Let it be a promise with our coming members, that they will press the matter before the next parliament.

Yours &c., H. Stanaway.”

From the tone of the letter above, its sounds as though the advice Henry had given to search the Northern Spit, was ignored by Captain Smith in his search a few days after Henry and Mr Bailey had already searched the Southern Spit. Perhaps listening to the locals would have resulted in the recovery of the bodies of the Rona crew being recovered sooner than they were. It was not until 1884 (3 years later) that a light house was completed on the North Head, where it still remains and is now under the Historic Places Trust.

The New Zealand Herald on 24 January 1883 lists Henry as being elected to the Helensville School Committee for the new school year.

This same year another daughter Rose is born.

In 1884 Henry completed the contract to build the new hall of the Ancient Order of Foresters in Helensville. The project cost 400 pounds and he was commended for the quality of the work.

“…. It is a handsome structure, seventy-five feet by thirty-five feet and reflects great credit on Mr. Stanaway, the contractor, the price being about 400 pounds.”

1884 saw another daughter Alice Eileen born.

On May 28 1884 Henry writes a letter to the Customs department it reads;FL39315893

Dear Sir, Will you be kind enough to let me know if a man holding a River Certificate would be allowed to take charge of a steamer trading from Auckland to Mahurangi, Thames or Coromandel much obliged. Yours Respectfully H Stanaway.


The reply was (in typical Maritime speak)

Vessels under steam trading from this port (Auckland) to either Coromandel or Mahurangi are considered as under extended limits, and the owners and masters must therefore strictly comply with the law, with respect to the appointment of both master and Engineer.

Perhaps Henry was looking to make a change to becoming a Master on the East Coast, the result was he was not qualified to take such a position.

From 1884 until 1886 Henry was a member of the Helensville Town Board. At this same time Henry was commissioned to build The Star Theatre, unfortunately this theatre was burnt down in 1933 (in the same fire Henry’s son John Aloysius lost his store).

From Men Came Voyaging – Chapter 17 – page 216

“The Star Theatre which had seen the beginning of the Secondary Department of the Helensville District High School was razed in a fire which also consumed Mr. Jack Stanaway’s nearby grocery store around 4 a.m. on 21st September 1933…… The Star Theatre, the property of the A.O.F. Lodge, erected by Henry Stanaway for $357 on a site donated by Daniel Stewart in 1884, was never rebuilt…… Mr. J. Stanaway reopened his grocery business in Megson’s original store across the road and nearer the Awaroa River. Mr Stanaway had scarcely begun trade in his new store when Stewart Bros. sixty year old premises on the opposite side of Commercial Road were completely gutted  by flames.”

In June of 1885 Henry was awarded, by the Native Land Court (June 1885. 85/39 Succs. Claim No 33), the land his sister, Isabella Nelson, had been given by the local chief in Helensville. Isabella had died 2 years earlier, and her four children were not considered “Aboriginal Natives” – it is understood that Henry saved the succession for her children anyway.

In July of 1886 Henry and Rose have their final and twelfth child Archibald Joseph.

On 27 April 1887 Henry is voted to the Helensville School Committee.

On Monday 23 April 1888 Henry is voted onto the Helensville School Committee.

In the seven years between 1889 and 1896, Henry and his wife Rose bury four of their daughters, the first was Mary 1889, then Theresa Jane 1893, Rose 1894 and then Mary Josephine 1896, all of whom are buried in the family plot in the Helensville Cemetery.

At the Helensville Town District Biennial Election in September 1890, Henry is nominated for the office of town board commissioners.

On 4 October 1890 the tender results to build the new wharf at Helensville is published in the New Zealand Herald, Henry’s tender price of 122 pounds was the highest of five bids for the work – We can assume that he does not build the wharf.

In 1893 Henry was the Captain on the steamer Minnie Casey (Constable Neil McLeod was shot dead on this steamer 3 years earlier by gum digger Henry Funcke, he was the first policeman killed in the line of duty in New Zealand).

By 1895 we know that Henry was the Captain of the steamer Kopuru which travelled around the Kaipara Harbour, and he was now being referred to as “Captain” Henry Stanaway. An incident occurred in May when a drunk passenger stole a pair of slippers and a pipe and case from Henry’s cabin.

In 1897, Henry captained the steam ship “SS Kina” but she was badly damaged by fire at Dargaville.

The later part of Henry’s life was consumed by serving the local community and in particular the township of Helensville, the town he literally helped to build in his younger years. He was a member of the town board for several terms, was the proprietor of the Kaipara Hotel, acted as an interpreter in the Courts for many years and was active on the local school board.

Rose, Henry’s wife passes away on the 6 October 1910, aged 68 at their home in Helensville. She is buried with her daughters in the Helensville Cemetery.

Rose's Death Certificate - Hill Family Collection.

Rose’s Death Certificate – Hill Family Collection.

Three years later on Saturday 26 July 1913 aged 63 years, Henry passed away, in his home at Helensville. An obituary in the paper at the time reads as follows;

“One of Helensville’s pioneer settlers and one of the best known master mariners in the Kaipara passed away last Saturday night in Henry Joseph Stanaway. The deceased had not been very well for some time past, and died as above stated owing to pleurisy and a weak heart.

The late Captain Stanaway was born in the Northern Wairoa and as a boy of 14 used to assist his father in piloting vessels from Kaipara Heads to the Wairoa and later to Helensville.

About 1864 he took ship-writing and assisted to build the schooner Lotus at the mouth of the Kaukapakapa River. Before the steamers were put on he for many years carried the mails between Helensville and Dargaville with a small cutter.

He generally followed a seafaring life and has been captain of many different steamers on the Kaipara Harbour, but has also worked as a carpenter and builder. His knowledge of the Kaipara Harbour and its channels was very complete and people had every confidence in him.”

The Stanaway plot in the Helensville Cemetery.

The Stanaway plot in the Helensville Cemetery.

His death notice appeared in the Auckland Star on 28 July 1913 which read;

“STANAWAY On July 26, 1913, at his late residence, Helensville (Capt.) Henry Joseph, widower of the late Rose Stanaway, in his sixty-fifth year. May his soul rest in peace. Funeral at 2pm tomorrow (Tuesday)”

Following the funeral the family placed the following notice in the New Zealand Herald;

“The Family of the late Henry Joseph Stanaway desire to tender their heartfelt thanks to all those kind friends who sympathised with them in their recent sad bereavement; also, for letters, telegrams and floral emblems.”

Henry's Death Certificate - Hill Family Collection.

Henry’s Death Certificate – Hill Family Collection.

Henry and Rose are both buried in the Helensville Cemetery, Block 1, Row B17, it is the same plot that he had buried 3 of his daughters in the 1890’s – Theresa Jane (1893), Rose C (1894) and May Josephine (1896).

Later Alice (Eileen) (1958) will also be buried here, and John Aloysius and his wife will also be buried in the same cemetery.

2 thoughts on “Henry (Henare) Joseph Stanaway (Taniwe) 1850 – 1913

  1. Cecilia Hill

    Hi Greg
    Just noticed that Henry (Henare) Stanaway’s heading is 1850 – 1930. His death was in 1913
    Cheers Cecilia



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