Phoebe Maria Stanaway was born in Tokatoka on the Northern Wairoa on 22 October 1866 (Birth Certificate Number 1866/10866). She was the third child of John James and Sarah Stanaway.
Not much is known about her childhood other than she was about eight years old when her father died and about ten when her mother remarried. We suspect that her schooling would have been completed under the system which her father help bring into being. Live would have been much the same as her siblings and other children living in the area at that time.
The first record we have on Phoebe is her marriage on 15 March 1886 to Donald Rowlands (Marriage Certificate Number 1886/206) at the age of 19.
Phoebe and Donald have their first child – Horace Edward on 9 July 1886, born in the Northern Wairoa.
A second child is born, Sarah Pearl in April 1888 in Waipu.
Laura is born in 1889, but only lives for less than a day.
From the Observer news paper on 16 December 1899, Phoebe is mentioned (Mrs D Rowlands) as having attended the ball at Whangarei Heads, wearing a pink blouse and dark skirt. All pronounced it to be the dance of the season.
A fourth child is born, Helena Evaline in October 1891.
Frances Katherine a fifth child is born in January 1893.
Phoebe and Donald have their eighth and final child, Roderick Kenneth in October 1896, born at Whangarei Heads.
From the New Zealand Herald dated 11 April 1907, we have an incident where Donald finds himself before the Whangarei Courts, it reads;
At the Whangarei Police Court this morning Donald Rowlands was charged with committing as assault on Roland Elliott, who said while he was standing with his hands in his pockets last night, accused came up to him, and, without the slightest cause, struck him in the face. Sargent Drake, who corroborated the previous witness’ evidence, said the assault was entirely without provocation. On this charge accused was fined £2, and 12s costs, or in default 14 days imprisonment. On a further charge of using threatening behaviour to John Angelo, Rowlands, who had persistently annoyed and challenged complainant to fight, was fined £1, or in default seven days imprisonment.
Then in the New Zealand Herald on 18 April 1907 the case concluded with;
Sergeant Drake applied for a prohibition order against Donald Rowlands, who, he said, through not having been convicted of drunkenness, came into Whangarei every Saturday night, and, after taking a few liquors, made himself a nuisance. Constable Wade said that Rowlands was a quarrelsome disposition when under the influence of liquor. Rowlands stated that he had never been arrested for drunkenness, never drank to excess, and was not injuring his health. He had always paid his debts during the last three years. The wife of defendant gave similar evidence. Mr Dyer adjourned the case for three months, the issue of a prohibition order to be dependent on the Police report on defendants conduct during that period.
Some time between 1907 and 1911 the family move from the Whangarei area south to Auckland.
The 1911 Electoral Roll has Phoebe living in Leslie Avenue, Morningside, Auckland, and listed as married, with Donald at the same address and who is listed as a Quarryman.
In 1912 Phoebe had two of her daughters marry, Frances and Helena.
The 1914 Electoral Roll states that Phoebe and Donald were living at Emma Street, Mount Roskill, Auckland and Donald was listed as a Contractor.
1917 was not a good year for Phoebe and Donald, both the twins Vernon and then Clara die. Vernon is killed in the battle of Messines on June 4, and Clara died May 1 of……… . They were both just 22 years old. From Clara’s death notices we know the family were living at King Edward Avenue at this time.
In the Electoral Roll of 1919, Phoebe, Donald and his brother Roderick are listed as living at 10 King Edward Avenue, Epsom, Phoebe is listed as married, Donald as a Contractor and Roderick as a settler. We also have them at Williamson Street, Epsom in the same roll (we assume they moved this year, It is also unclear if this Roderick is their son or one of Donald’s relations as you will see in the 1928 electoral roll).
The 1928 Electoral Roll has Phoebe and Donald again at two addresses with one having two Roderick’s living with them. the first is at 99 Selwyn Street, Onehunga. Donald has no occupation and the two Roderick’s are listed as a clerk and a labourer. The second is at 511 Dominion Road, where Donald is listed as a labourer and Roderick as a clerk.
The 1935 Electoral Roll has Phoebe, Donald and their son Roderick all living at 1 Short Street, in Auckland. Phoebe is listed as married, Donald as a labourer and Roderick as a Canvasser.
On 18 March 1938, Phoebe passes away, aged 71 (Death Certificate number 1938/15384). She is buried in the Hillsborough Cemetery. Her husband will be buried in the same plot nine years later.
We know she passed away in her home at 10 Mount St. John Avenue, Epsom and her funeral was held in the Watney Sibun and Son’s chapel, Newmarket.
Donald Rowlands (1861 – 1947)
Donald Rowlands was the child of Horace Thomas Edward Rowlands (1824 – 1882) and Christina Urquhart (1840 – 1914). He was born on 16 June 1861 at Whangarei Heads and grew up around the surround Whangarei area, in particular, Waipu.
Donald was the third child of nine children to Thomas and Christina Rowlands. His father was born in England and his mother from New South Wales, Australia. We have no further information on Donald’s parents.
Donald is mentioned a number of times in the Waipu Athletic Sports day held on Queens Birthday in June 1881. Then again in the New Years Day athletics in 1883. In 1888 he appears in the Waipu Cricket team batting at number eight playing against Mangapai CC. The game was played on 15 February, Waipu won by 5 wickets.
A D. Rowlands appears in the Wairoa Gum-diggers Local Union List in 1895.
The 1938 Electoral Roll has Donald and his son Roderick living at 10 Mount St. John Avenue, Donald is listed as a contractor and Roderick as a pensioner.
The 1946 Electoral Roll has Donald as living at Cornwall Park Hospital and listed as having no occupation.
On 11 April 1947, in Auckland (We assume in Cornwall Park Hospital) Donald Rowlands passes away aged 83 years (Death Certificate Number unknown). He is buried n Hillsborough Cemetery in the same plot as his wife.
Special Note – It is worth mentioning that Phoebe and Donald Rowlands grandson (from their son, Horace Edward) was the late Sir Donald David Rowlands – KNZM CBE AM (1926-2015), the figure-head of New Zealand Rowing.
Sir Don Rowlands won a total of two medals as a New Zealand representative rower at the British Empire Games in 1950 and 1954. In Vancouver in 1954 he raced in the single scull to win gold.
He was awarded The Olympic Order Medal in 1982 and FISA Distinguished Service Medal in 2009. Don Rowlands had also won two Halberg Awards for leadership and service to sport. In 2010 the Don Rowlands Centre was opened on Lake Karapiro.