James was born 28 November 1872 at Tokatoka, in the Northern Kaipara area, Northland (birth certificate number unknown). He was born the second son of Captain John James Stanaway and his fourth wife Sarah Ann Clark.
The first mention of James is at the Tokatoka Regatta in 1889 – from the New Zealand Herald 31 May 1889 we read;
Punt Race. (for boys under 16) – 1st prize, £2 B Brown; 2nd, 10s J. Stanaway. A protest was lodged against Stanaway by R McDonald, who came in third, on the ground that he was over 16 years of age.
We do not know what happened to the protest but John was 17. Further on in the same article we read;
A sculling match was arranged between J Stanaway and C.J. Clark. In rounding the buoy, Clark strained his wrist, and Stanaway finished alone.
In 1889 James fathers a daughter Stella Graham Clark-Stanaway, the mother is Margaret Maude Clark (1870-1958). Margaret is the daughter of Captain Charles John Clark (1828-1903) of the 57th Regiment and Sophia Isabella Graham (1836-1922), both parents were emigrated to New Zealand and married in Wanganui in 1861, and then had settled in the Kaipara by the 1870’s.
Margaret was about 19 at the time and it appears that they were not and did not marry.
Then In 1891 James found himself in some trouble. From the Auckland Star 4 September we read;
At the Police Court at Aratapu on Friday last, before Messrs T. Webb and J.A.Walker, J.P.’s, two youths named John Stanaway and William Russell were charged with larceny of a sack of Kauri gum at Tokatoka. Constable Scott conducted the Prosecution, and the bench found the accused guilty, and fined each of them £10 and costs £3 2s.
The same report from the New Zealand Herald on 1 September 1891 read;
ARATAPU POLICE COURT.
Friday, August 28, 1891. [Before Messrs. J. A. Walker and T. Webb. J.P.’s.] Stealing Kauri Gum. William Russell and John Stanaway, both aged IS, were charged, on the information of Constable Scott, with stealing kauri gum of the value of £4 15s, the property of Messrs. J. and J. Fitness. Mr. N. A. McLeod appeared for, the prosecution, and briefly explained the case. Mr. W. Vousden deposed that he was a gum buyer of 22 years’ experience, having bought both from Maoris and Europeans. There is a great difference between Maori-scraped gum and European-scraped. Maoris use the point of the knife in the hollows, whilst Europeans cut away the gum more. The witness then distinguished between the different exhibits produced. Joseph Fitness, storekeeper of Tokatoka, knew both the prisoners. He was a gum buyer, and had a store-room near the Tokatoka wharf, which was constantly used for storing gum. A bag of Maori-cleaned gum was missed from his storeroom on the 12th August. There were two pieces in the bag he could swear to as having been a considerable time in his shed. He found the pieces in Eves and Aikin’s store, amongst gum sold by John Stanaway. He also claimed some pieces in a heap sold by William Russell. Putere, a Kanaka, also identified the gum in Aikin’s store as having been dug and scraped by him and sold to Mr. Fitness. Samuel G. Burgess saw two natives, Putere and Bob, pick out some gum in Aikin’s store and claim it as having been dug by them. A good deal more evidence was taken, and the prisoners desired to be dealt with summarily. They pleaded not guilty, and called several witnesses in an attempt 1:0 set up an alibi. The bench considered the charge proved, and fined the prisoners £10 each and costs, £6 5s in all, or in default three months’ imprisonment with hard labour.—[Own Correspondent, August 28.]
In 1893 at 21 years old James marries Ellen (Helen or Nellie) Williams (Marriage Certificate number 1893/3047). We have not uncovered any details of Ellen’s family at this stage.
From our research we find that James becomes a Bushman, working in and around the Northern Wairoa, particularly the old settlement of Tangowahine. Perhaps he started working with his older brother George, or he was carving out his own enterprise, by this time the timber industry in the Kaipara was well under way, there were numerous mills demanding to be feed with more and more timber.
In 1896 James first child with Ellen is born – a girl he names after his mother – Sarah, however after only 9 months of life baby Sarah dies.
George Frederick is born in 1898 followed by Edward Percy in January 1899 at Mangapai.
In March 1902 another daughter is born, Lenora (Norah 1901) – but tragically she also dies before she is 4 months old.
On 28 November 1904 Helena (Lena) Beatrice is born.
In 1905-6 Electoral Roll – living at Omu – as a Bushman – with Nellie
Dinah Gertrude is born in 1906. Followed by Thomas John in 1908 and Laura May in 1910.
In 1911 Electoral Roll – living at Tangowahine – as a Bushman – with Nellie
Maud Isabel Josephine is born in 1912.
In 1914 Electoral Roll – living at Tangowahine – as a Bushman – with Nellie
Another daughter, Myra is born in 1915.
In 1919 Electoral Roll – living at Tangowahine – as a Bushman – with Nellie?
In 1928 Electoral Roll – we have James listed as a mill hand and living at Tangowahine with Ellen
In 1935 – we have James listed as a mill hand and living at Tangowahine with Ellen
From the 1938 Electoral Roll we have James listed as a mill hand and living at Tangowahine with Ellen.
By this time a number of mills had closed. The once large forests had been mostly felled, millions of tons had been processed over the life time of James. The Northern Wairoa had been transformed into sheep and dairy farms, the landscape had changed significantly.
James’ wife Ellen dies on 3 October 1945 aged 73 years and is buried in the Mt Wesley cemetery, Dargaville (Old Section) in plot number 809.
Some nine years later James dies – 20 March 1954 (Death Certificate number 1954/20283) aged 81 in Dargaville. He was buried at Mt Westley Cemetery Bock B plot 292.