Horace (Hori) Edward Rowlands 1886 – 1975

Horace Edward Rowlands was born 9 July 1886, (Birth Certificate number 1886/9120) in Waipu. The first child of Phoebe and Donald Rowlands.

We do not have any records of Horace’s early life but we can assume that it is much the same as his siblings and other children at that time.

The first record we have of Horace is from the 1911 Electoral Roll which lists him living in Kirikopuni and working as a Bushman.

By the age of 25 we have Horace living near Whangarei, we have a record from the Auckland Star 9 January 1912 which reads;

THE RIVALS. A CASE OF ASSAULT. At the Hikurangi Police Court yesterday a charge was preferred against Harry Wilson Telfer of assaulting Horace Edward Rowlands. Considerable interest was displayed in this case because of the circumstances connected with the charge.

Both young men had been suitors for the hand of a young lady residing at Kaimamaku. She first favoured Telfer and became engaged to him, but recently broke it off, and then kept company with Rowlands.

Rowlands proceeded to the home of the girl’s parents, on Christmas Day, to ask their consent. Telfer also appeared on the scene at this time, in possession of a double-barreled gun, with which he threatened to kill Rowlands and the girl.

A struggle ensued, and the gun was eventually taken away from Telfer by the combined efforts of Rowlands, the girl and her mother. Daring the struggle Rowlands received a blow on the head from the stock of the gun, and had to have medical aid. Telfer was bound over by the justices to keep the peace for twelve months, under two sureties of £50 each, and ordered to pay costs.

Horace embarks on a career as a ‘Bush-man’, where he also learnt to speak Te Reo Maori and is becomes quiet proficient at it.

From the 1914 Electoral Roll we have Horace living in Emma Street in Mt Roskill, Auckland and working as an Engineer.

In 1917 Horace suffers a serious accident – from the New Zealand Herald and the Thames Star 2 November 1917 we read….


THE DRIVER INJURED, AUCKLAND, November 2 Serious injuries were received by Horace Rowlands, as the result of an accident last Saturday on a bush tramway near Mokai, Rotorua. He was employed as locomotive engineer, and when the accident happened, he was driving a train laden with timber from Bentley’s sawmill. As the train was running down a long incline, the brakes failed, and the brakes man, a Maori, fell off the train as it rushed dawn the hill. Rowlands made his way along the footboards towards the rear. The train was wrecked at the bottom of the hill, and Rowlands was buried under the second truck. Over 100 railway sleepers had to be moved before he could be released. Three other men on the train escaped unhurt.

From Donald Rowland’s book “Listen” we read…..

He (Horace) lost that (one leg) driving a bush steam train. A bogey jumped a rail, throwing him off, showering him with logs, breaking both his legs. All this in the middle of nowhere. By the time they got him to hospital gangrene had set
in. The doctor explained it as gently as he could:
‘If we cut your leg off we’ll save your life and if we don’t you’ll be dead in the morning.’
‘Was ya waitin for?’
Horace Rowlands made his own peg leg. Later, a state-of-theart replacement would arrive from the USA.

On 10 October 1919,aged 33 Horace marries Ruby Winifred Harrison (Marriage Certificate number 1919/7204) at __________. Ruby was born 13 February 1896 (Birth Certificate number _______).

Ruby was the daughter of (Victor) Frank Harrison and Eleanor Wright who were married 24 August 1882 in Te Kopuru, Northland. Frank Harrison was born 8 August 1853 in Granville, Manche, Normandy, France. He arrived in NZ aboard the Schiehallion, departing from London on 13 September 1876 and arriving at Lyttelton, NZ on 27 December 1876.

From Donald Rowland’s book “Listen” we read …..

Ruby Rowlands was proper alright, singing her boys French lullabies as they lay in their shared bed. Yes, proper and French: the daughter of a Parisian master mariner, who jumped ship to settle in the new colony.

Horace ran the saw mill in Owhango for the Dominion Timber Company.

Horace and Ruby have six children – Vernon (1920-1920), Ericson Horace, (Sir) Donald David (1926-2015), Elva Winfred, Katherine, and Merle Dorothy (Living).

Young Vernon was named after Horace’s late brother Vernon who was killed in 1917 during WW1, unfortunately young Vernon died of pneumonia on 11 October 1920. A death notice was published in the NZ Herald 16 October 1920 which reads…

On October 11, at Rangataua. Vernon, dearly beloved infant son of Horace and Ruby Rowlands, aged 4 weeks – RIP.

In 1935 Horace and Ruby have a still born child (Birth Certificate number 1935/31652).

From Donald Rowland’s book “Listen” we read …..

His father (Horace) didn’t smoke or drink or swear or hit his children; never raised a hand to his boys. Horace shaved with a cut-throat razor sharpened on a leather strop. If the boys were naughty he would rattle that strop. Never bring it out, just rattle it.

Horace was at this stage working for the Dominion Timber Company, in the little hamlet of Owhango, in New Zealand’s King Country, in the centre of the North Island, overseeing many men hauling large trees out of the forest using wire rope and steam powered winches.

The men respected Horace. No one could sharpen a six-foot diameter saw the way Horace could. A saw sharpened by Horace ran true and gave a perfect cut and maximised the return on every log that went through that mill. He managed the mill until he retired at eighty.

The 1972 Electoral Roll has Horace and Ruby living at 23 Ngahere Street, Tauranga.

Horace passes away 2 January 1975, aged 88 years (Death Certificate number 1975/25730) in Tauranga. He is buried in the Mangere Cemetery, Auckland

Ruby passes away 23 September 1981 aged 85 years (Death Certificate number 1981/41321) in Pakuranga, Auckland. She was buried 26 September 1981 with her husband.